Saturday, January 23, 2016

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Massive, Historic, Record-Breaking And RELENTLESS Snowstorm "SNOWZILLA" Paralyzes Cities Across The United States East Coast With Up To 30 INCHES OF SNOW - Travel Ban And States Of Emergency As Snow And Floods Cripple Over A Dozen States; SIX-METER WAVES; Thousands Of Car Accidents; Infrastructure Collapse; At Least 14 DEATHS; WORSE Than Hurricane Sandy; Storm Seen From Space! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

January 23, 2016 - UNITED STATES - A huge snowstorm has struck the US East Coast, causing heavy floods and paralyzing cities with a record amount of snow. Governors of ten states have declared a state of emergency, with New York being among the latest. At least 14 deaths have been reported.

Snowstorm ‘Jonas’ caused six meter waves, as well as hurricane-force winds with speeds of up to 120 kilometers per hour in the town of Rehobeth Beach, Delaware. Town beaches have overflowed. Water in Lewes – another Delaware city – rose to its second-highest record level, beating that witnessed during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

A number of cities in neighboring New Jersey suffered from severe floods: The streets of Atlantic City, Sea Isle, North Wildwood and Cape May were submerged.

Both Delaware and New Jersey’s governors as well as the heads of eight more states including Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia declared a state of emergency.

The suite was followed Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who declared a state of emergency for New York City as well as Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Putnam Counties.

The huge snowstorm, jokingly dubbed ‘Snowzilla’, paralyzed cities of the US East Coast with up to 30 inches (about 72 centimeter) of snow – the level registered in Terra Alta, West Virginia, USA Today reported.

WATCH: Huge snowstorm hits Washington D.C.

In Washington DC, the federal government closed its offices and the underground system has been suspended, CBS News reports.

“We need the public to listen, is to stay home and to stay off of the streets.

That includes people who are attempting to drive, but that also includes people who are walking,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said as cited by WAMU radio’s website.

In New Jersey 40,000 people suffered power cuts on Saturday according to CBS News.

The snowstorm also caused transport chaos across the East Coast states. Almost 1,000 car crashes were reported by Virginia police by late Friday. 14 people died in accidents across the country because of the storm. One more death – because of a heart attack – is reported in DC region.

WATCH: Heavy snowfall hits Arlington, D.C.

New York authorities are going to introduce a travel ban in the city, ABC News reports.

About 8,300 flights were canceled Friday and Saturday, as well as sporting events and band concerts, according to the USA Today.

People, however, do not fall into despair, sharing in the social networks with unusual photos and videos with streets full of snow, football stadiums covered with snow and even pandas playing in the snow.

The storm was even photographed from space – but we are not sure US astronaut Scott Kelly feels like going down.

- RT [Edited].

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Failed Talks Raise Specter Of Biggest Default In Puerto Rico Crisis!

 Creditors stopped short of declaring the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to be in default. Credit Christopher Gregory for The New York Times

January 23, 2016 - PUERTO RICO - Negotiations to restructure roughly $9 billion of the debt of Puerto Rico’s power company collapsed late Friday, raising the prospect of the biggest default yet in Puerto Rico’s deepening debt crisis.

The creditors blamed the utility, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or Prepa, for scuttling the talks, saying Prepa officials had decided to let a critical expiration date pass without taking action. But Prepa said it was the creditors’ fault for trying to impose a requirement that Prepa had already rejected.

Prepa is one of the largest single issuers of Puerto Rico’s $72 billion in debt, most of it in the form of municipal bonds, which are widely held through mutual funds and other investment firms. It is a monopoly, owned by the residents of the island, and until 2014, it was self-regulated.

“They had no incentives whatsoever to be efficient,” the president of Puerto Rico’s Senate, Eduardo Bhatia, said of Prepa in a recent interview. “This is incredible. Our power plants look like the cars in Cuba.”

They run like old cars, too, and one goal of the restructuring was to provide money for a long-awaited modernization.

The creditors released a statement at midnight on Friday, as soon as the expiration date had passed, saying the hard-won deal was off. They did not say whether they would now declare Prepa in default. Doing so could have major repercussions.

In August, Puerto Rico missed a $58 million payment on what it called "moral obligation bonds," saying it did not have any legal obligation to make the scheduled payment on that type of debt. On Jan. 1, it defaulted on $163 million worth of payments to a low-ranking type of bond, in order to save cash to pay its highest ranking general obligation bonds. Insurers of the affected bonds have filed lawsuits, which in turn prompted Puerto Rico to intensify its pleas to take shelter in bankruptcy court, which would require an act of Congress.

Prepa does not take in enough cash to cover its costs, and it has a debt payment of about $400 million due to bondholders on July 1. It also owes about $700 million to two institutions that finance the shipments of fuel that Prepa burns to produce energy. The utility does not have the resources to make those payments.

In a recent congressional hearing, Prepa’s chief restructuring officer, Lisa J. Donahue of AlixPartners, said it “would, in my opinion, be a disaster” if Prepa failed to make those payments. She said its fuel shipments could then stop, and if it ran out of fuel to generate power, “blackouts across the island” would result. The government here has been desperately trying to court new investment and revive the island’s shrinking economy. Widespread blackouts could undo those efforts.

Prepa issued its own statement early Saturday, saying that even though its restructuring deal had “terminated,” it remained willing to pick up the pieces and try to get a new deal. It said the talks broke down because the creditors had said they were willing to roll back the expiration date from Friday to Feb. 12, but tried to impose new requirements in exchange. “Prepa had rejected these same conditions in December 2015,” the utility said in its statement.

The negotiations have been underway since 2014, when Prepa ran out of cash, precipitating a crisis, and creditors agreed to refrain from enforcing their claims. As part of their forbearance agreement, they allowed Prepa to dip into prepaid reserves to make bond payments, something that could otherwise be considered an event of default.

In September 2015, the parties reached a tentative debt-exchange agreement, in which a big group of creditors agreed to exchange their Prepa bonds for new bonds that had a face value of 15 percent less, a lower interest rate and other relief. The existing bonds were rated as junk, and the deal called for the new bonds to get investment-grade ratings, something that would require Prepa to seek the first increase since 1989 in the base rate it charges customers.

The Puerto Rico Legislature also needed to approve the deal. Some lawmakers said Prepa and its creditors were rushing to close the deal before the island’s new public utility commission — the first independent regulator in Prepa’s 75-year history — could properly review it.

The creditors expected the Legislature to approve the deal in December. When that did not happen, they said they would wait until Jan. 22. The creditors also offered to buy an additional $115 million of bonds from Prepa to help cover the cost of a debt-service payment that the utility made on Jan. 1.

But as the deadline loomed this week, lawmakers said they were still not ready to approve the agreement. One person familiar with the negotiations said the creditors were willing to wait until Feb. 12 for the enabling law, but tried to make the $115 million financing mechanism contingent on the new public-utility commission signing off on the increase in the base rate by then. The person, who spoke anonymously, said the commission could not work that quickly because it had not been set rates before and would probably need until May.

The Prepa creditors said they could not wait that long because, among other things, the Federal Reserve was nudging up interest rates, and the deal had a fixed interest rate that would soon fall behind. Their statement said, “It was our desire to be as supportive of the legislative process as possible,” and added that they found it “extremely disappointing and perplexing that Prepa has chosen to take this stance.”

The creditors said that they remained open to resuming talks.

Prepa’s statement quoted Ms. Donahue as being disappointed as well. “Prepa remains willing to continue discussions,” she said. - NY Times.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Weather Phenomenon - Bright Halo Seen Around The Sun In Stockholm, Sweden And Cape Cod, Massachusetts!

Sun halo over Cape Cod.

January 23, 2016 - SWEDEN / UNITED STATES - A massive winter storm is barreling up the east coast of the United States. Heralding the storm's advance, icy clouds are wafting over some states, producing spectacular halos around the sun. Chris Cook photographed the specimen from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on January 22nd.

These luminous structures around the sun are caused by sunlight shining through ice crystals in "the high cloud shield of this weekend's east coast winter storm," says Cook. "It was a nice display including a 46° halo, 22° halo, a pair of sundogs, a parhelic circle, an upper tangent arc and a Parry arc. A circumzenithal arc was also visible but off the top of the frame in this horizontal panorama."

Observers along the storm track should be alert for such halos before the opaque snow clouds arrive. Ice halos can appear not only around the sun, but also around the full Moon. According to folklore, this weekend's full Moon is the "Wolf Moon." However, "Storm Moon" might be more apropos. - Space Weather.

A halo is seen around the sun in Stockholm, Sweden on January 22nd 2016.

© Reuters/Marcus Ericsson

- Explore Instagram.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 4.9 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Near Oregon Coast - USGS!

USGS earthquake location.

January 23, 2016 - OREGON, UNITED STATES - A 4.9 magnitude earthquake shook off the Oregon coast Saturday morning at 10:05.

The tremor originated from a depth of 30 km.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake shook 95 miles west of Bandon, 105 miles west of Coos Bay.

USGS shakemap intensity.


Oregon - Earthquake History

A strong earthquake in Del Norte County, California, on November 22, 1873, caused chimney damage in many places as far north as Port Orford, Oregon, and east to Jacksonville, California. The tremor was felt from Portland to San Francisco and onboard ships at sea. Chimneys were damaged (intensity VII) in the Portland area from an October 12, 1877, earthquake apparently centered in the Cascade Mountains.

Another severe shock affected Portland on February 3, 1892. Buildings swayed, and terrified people rushed into the street (VI). The earthquake was felt strongly at Astoria and Salem; the total area affected covered about 26,000 square kilometers. Some damage to buildings at Umatilla (VI-VII) resulted from a March 6, 1893, earthquake. Details on this shock are lacking.

On April 2, 1896, three shocks in succession awakened everyone in McMinnville (VI). The main shock was felt at Portland and Salem. A similar occurrence on April 19, 1906, awakened people at Paisley (V). Three additional shocks followed within 1 1/2 hours. A strong earthquake on October 4, 1913, in the Seven Devils Mountains of western Idaho broke windows and dishes (V) in the area. On May 18, 1915, a sharp local earthquake rattled dishes, rocked chairs, and caused some fright (V) at Portland; three shocks were reported.

USGS seismicity map of Oregon.

Three shocks were felt at Fort Klamath (V) on April 14, 1920. The center was probably in the vicinity of Crater Lake. People in a small area around Cascadia felt an earthquake on February 25, 1921 (V). A shock that was probably rather strong in an unsettled region of southern Oregon occurred on January 10, 1923. Plaster fell at Alturas, California, and the tremor was felt strongly (V) at Lakeview, Oregon. The felt area extended to Klamath Falls. Another earthquake was felt widely over a sparsely settled area in eastern Oregon on April 8, 1927. The center was apparently in eastern Baker County; the maximum intensity (V) was noticed at Halfway and Richland.

A damaging earthquake occurred at 11:08 PM PST on July 15, 1936, near the State line between Milton-Freewater, Oregon, and Walla Walla, Washington. The magnitude 5.75 shock affected an area of about 272,000 square kilometers in the two States and adjacent Idaho. Ground cracking was observed about 6.5 kilometers west of Freewater, and there were marked changes in the flow of well water (VII). Many chimneys were damaged at the roof level in Freewater; in addition, plaster was broken, and walls cracked. Similar damage was reported from Umapine. Total damage amounted to $100,000. There were numerous aftershocks up to November 17; more than 20 moderate shocks occurred during the night, and stronger ones were felt (V) on July 18 and August 4 and 27.

A shock of intensity VI affected about 13,000 square kilometers in the vicinity of Portland on December 29, 1941. A downtown display window was shattered, and a few other windows were broken in other parts of Portland. The earthquake was also felt strongly at Hillsboro, Sherwood (where many were frightened), and Yamhill. The felt region extended into Washington; Vancouver and Woodland experienced minor damage.

On April 13, a major earthquake (magnitude 7.0) caused eight deaths and an estimated $25 million damage at Olympia, Washington, and a broad area around the capital city. The depth of focus was estimated to be slightly greater than normal, which, in part, accounted for the large felt area - 388,000 square kilometers in the United States. In Oregon, widespread damage was observed, several injuries occurred at Astoria and Portland. A maximum intensity of VIII was experienced at Clatskanie and Rainier, where many chimneys twisted and fell, and there was considerable damage to brick and masonry.

Minor damage in the Portland area resulted from a December 15, 1953, shock. There was one report of a cracked chimney and slight damage to fireplace tile (VI). Additional reports of plaster cracking were received from Portland and Roy, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington. The total felt area covered about 7,700 square kilometers.

Similar damage occurred at Salem on November 16, 1957, from an earthquake felt over a land area of 11,600 square kilometers in northwestern Oregon. The tremor frightened all in the city (VI) and caused some cracked plaster in West Salem.

elationship between the present-day stress field and plate boundary forces in the Pacific Northwest, Geophysical Research Letters,

On August 18, 1961, another earthquake caused minor damage at Albany and Lebanon, south of the 1957 center. The magnitude 4.5 shock was felt (VI) by all in the two cities. Two house chimneys were toppled, and plaster cracked. The felt region extended into Cowlitz County, Washington; the total area was about 18,000 square kilometers. Portland experienced another moderately strong shock on November 6, 1961. Slight plaster cracking (VI) was the principal damage reported. Also, part of a chimney fell, and windows and lights broke. The earthquake was felt over a large area (about 23,000 square kilometers) of northwestern Oregon and southwestern Washington.

A series of earthquakes near the Oregon-California border began on May 26, 1968, and continued daily through June 11. At Adel, old chimneys fell or were cracked, and part of an old rock cellar wall fell (VI) from a magnitude 4.7 tremor on June 3. Some ground fissures were noted in Bidwell Creek Canyon, near Fort Bidwell, California. The total felt area in the two States covered 18,000 square kilometers.

Numerous other shocks located in California, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, and offshore points affected places in Oregon. The 1959 Hebgen Lake, Montana, earthquake was also felt in the State; slight damage was reported at Richland. - USGS.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Weather Phenomenon - Beautiful Sun Halo Seen In Inner Mongolia!

© Xinhua/Zou Jianpu

January 23, 2016 - MONGOLIA - The photographs in this story were taken on January 22, 2016 and shows a view of a solar halo over Jinhe Township, Genhe City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The temperature dropped to minus 48 degrees Celsius in Jinhe Friday.

- People.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Rescuers Fail To Save Stranded Sperm Whale On Beach In Hunstanton, UK?!

The sperm whale stranded on Hunstanton Beach near the cliffs.  © Matthew Usher

January 23, 2016 - UNITED KINGDOM - Battered and bruised, it came to rest on the beach as its life ebbed away with the tide.

First light today revealed the giant of the deep that washed up on Hunstanton Beach.

Overnight, the tide had moved the creature towards Old Hunstanton, washing it onto the rusting remains of a shipwreck close to the cliffs.

Hundreds of sightseers walked the half mile from the prom steps to see it.

The 30ft bull sperm whale was one of four seen swimming off the resort yesterday afternoon.

While three of the pod appeared to swim away to safety, one became stranded beneath the cliffs.

Hunstanton lifeboat crew launched their hovercraft and tried to coax the creature back out to sea.

Lifeboat spokesman Geoff Needham said: "This large animal although still alive and wallowing about, was unable to make for the deeper water. As the tide was dropping away nothing more could be done.

"I understand that the experts were going to monitor it in the hope that it still might be saved. In the last few years we have had about half dozen such strandings in the Wash none have survived, the clean up bill runs into thousands, a very sad end to such a magnificent animal."

Brian Long, portfolio holder for the environment with West Norfolk council, said specialist contractors would be brought in to cut up the carcase and remove the animal. He said the operation was unlikely to begin until Monday.

"It's a terrible thing, we'd advise the public to keep away from it," he said. "They do attract a lot of attention, being such big animals, people do flock to look."

The dead sperm whale washed up on the beach at Hunstanton.  © Ian Burt

Today security guards were keep a watch on the whale, to prevent souvenir hunters stealing its teeth. Removing the creature will be hampered by the rocky terrain.

Scientists from the Natural History Museum will take samples from the whale, to try to ascertain how it died. A number of bull whales have stranded in the southern North Sea in recent weeks.

Earlier, experts from the British Divers Marine Rescue group rushed to the scene, as police and coastguards cordoned off the beach. They were stood down, when it became clear they could not save the creature.

Member Beth Phelps said: "We can't move it, it's not in good shape, it's bleeding a lot. We haven't got the capacity to euthanase an animal that size. It's 30ft long and about 20 tonnes."

As the tide retreated, the whale's struggles became weaker. First its great tail flukes broke the surface, then its back as it ran out of water.

Its injuries could clearly be seen as the moon rose over the cliff tops, great gashes and wounds gouged by the chalk and carr stone boulders which litter the beach.

Earlier, crowds gathered on the prom to watch the drama as searchlights lit up the sea. News of the whales' arrival off Hunstanton had spread by social media.

Nigel Croasdale, manager of Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary, said: "We received a number of calls from members of the public, saying that they had seen large animals, sharks of whales, along the coast.

"We went out to have a look to see what was going on. We saw at least four individual whales which we believed to be sperm whales swimming around in the shallow water.

WATCH: Hunstanton sperm whale.

"They seemed to be moving slowly. I think at that point, they were finding themselves partially-beached.

"One or two of them appeared to be rolling, as if partially-beached. The tide was still on its way in at that point."

Peter Naylor, 29, from Old Hunstanton, said: "I saw three myself, but there has been talk that there are four, while I've heard the Humber coastguard has reported there could be as many as six.

"When I got down there, there was one which had made its way out into The Wash and there were two very much stuck. The tide was coming in and one of them managed to get away.

"One of them was really stuck and it was still there when I left. It looked like it was really stuck and there's not a lot anyone can do. It's a huge whale, it must be about as big as a bus and it looked like it had cut itself up quite badly."

Lindsay Bird, 24, from Ingioldisthorpe, a frequent walker on the beach, said: "I walk down here two or three times a week and I've never seen anything like it before."

On Christmas Eve 2011, a sperm whale washed-up at nearby Old Hunstanton. Thousands flocked to see it.

A warning was issued to visitors urging them not to touch the body, or allow their dogs to contact it directly, as it was decomposing on the sand.

The Health Protection Agency and Food Standards Agency also issued a joint statement which also warned watersport participants to stay away. - Eastern Daily Press.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Legionella Bacteria Discovered In Water At Flint Hospital - Report!

Flint hospital finds Legionnaires' bacteria in water

January 23, 2016 - MICHIGAN, UNITED STATES - While a spike in Legionnaires’ disease was occurring in Flint, Michigan in 2014 -- around the same time the city switched its water supply to the Flint River -- testing discovered the potentially deadly bacteria in the water of a local hospital.

The Detroit News reported that the Legionella bacteria was found in the water at McLaren Regional Medical Center. The hospital also hired an expert who told the news outlet that the organism likely came from the Flint River.

In an email to the news outlet, McLaren spokeswoman Laurie Prochazka confirmed the hospital undertook “aggressive testing” in the spring of 2014, after medical officials noted a rise in Legionnaires’ cases not just at McLaren, but also at other facilities.McLaren hired Jane Stout, an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and an expert in Legionnaires’ disease, to analyze the outbreak, The Detroit News said.

She said this week that the bacteria probably made it into the facility in brown water from the city water system. The water itself would have contained matter that the bacteria consume.Governor Rick Snyder and other administration officials disclosed the outbreak last week but said they weren’t sure if the spike could be linked to the ongoing lead-contaminated water crisis.

Health officials said 87 Flint residents were infected in the outbreak from June 2014 until November 2015, nine of whom died. The county containing Flint usually has fewer than 12 cases a year, according to The Detroit News.

Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman told the News a “strain match” would determine whether the source was the Flint River but identifying the strain will be impossible because “samples were never kept from the patients who had Legionnaires’.”

McLaren’s Prochazka said, “All Legionella testing continues to show the McLaren Flint water supply is well within safety and quality standards.”

The disease itself is caused by Legionella bacteria, which can thrive in water systems such as cooling towers, plumbing systems, hot water tanks and even hot tubs.

The bacteria infects people once they breathe in contaminated mist from water containing the bacteria, but it cannot be spread from one person to another, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is fatal 10 to 15 percent of the time. - RT.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Weather Phenomenon - Surreal Tower-Like Lenticular Cloud Captured In Lakewood, Colorado!

© Mike Herman via VK

January 23, 2016 - COLORADO, UNITED STATES - The tower-like strange cloud formation was photographed by Mike Herrman at Lakewood, Colorado, USA on January 18, 2016.

Lenticular clouds (Altocumulus lenticularis) are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form in the troposphere, normally in perpendicular alignment to the wind direction. Lenticular clouds can be separated into altocumulus standing lenticularis (ACSL), stratocumulus standing lenticular (SCSL), and cirrocumulus standing lenticular (CCSL). Because of their shape, they have been offered as an explanation for some Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) sightings.

© Mike Herman via VK

As air flows along the surface of the Earth, it encounters obstructions. These are man-made objects, such as buildings and bridges, and natural features, like hills, valleys, and mountains. All of them disrupt the flow of air into eddies. The strength of the eddies depends on the size of the object and the speed of the wind. It results in turbulence classified as ‘mechanical’ because it is formed through the “mechanical disruption of the ambient wind flow”. Where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to the dew point, moisture in the air may condense to form lenticular clouds.

As the moist air moves back down into the trough of the wave, the cloud may evaporate back into vapor. Under certain conditions, long strings of lenticular clouds can form near the crest of each successive wave, creating a formation known as a "wave cloud."

The wave systems cause large vertical air movement, enough that water vapor may condense to produce precipitation. The clouds have been mistaken for UFOs (or "visual cover" for UFOs), particularly the round "flying saucer"-type, because these clouds have a characteristic lens appearance and smooth saucer-like shape; also, because lenticular clouds generally do not form over low-lying or flat terrain, many people have never seen one and are not aware clouds with that shape can exist.

Bright colors (called irisation) are sometimes seen along the edge of lenticular clouds. These clouds have also been known to form in cases where a mountain does not exist, but rather as the result of shear winds created by a front.

- Strange Sounds | Wikipedia.

RATTLE & HUM: Mysterious Sounds Heard Across The Planet - Loud Inexplicable Boom Rumbles Across Tracy, California?!

Downtown Tracy. © Adiaz9710/ Wikimedia Commons

January 23, 2016 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - A loud boom heard across Tracy rattled windows and nerves Wednesday evening.

Social media reports began appearing shortly after 8 p.m., describing a muffled boom that reportedly shook local homes.

Residents from Linne to Grant Line roads, as well as in Mountain House and Lathrop, reported the sound.

Tracy Police Department dispatch records include three reports from residents who heard a bang.

One caller on Finale Way said it sounded as if someone had come up and hit their living room window.

Tracy police Sgt. Dean Hicks said the department did not receive any calls explaining the sound heard across town.

He said nothing had been reported from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Site 300 test site southwest of Tracy.

According to monitoring data from the California Integrated Seismic Network, through the U.S. Department of Geological Survey, the most recent earthquake in Northern California was on Friday.

A magnitude 3.5 quake struck near The Geysers, the world's largest geothermic field, roughly 72 miles north of San Francisco.

No damage was attributed to Wednesday's unexplained boom. - Tracy Press.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVALS: Sinkholes Keep Popping Up Across The United States - Large Sinkhole Appears At Oregon Institute Of Technology, Klamath Falls, Oregon!

Sinkhole at Oregon Tech campus.
© Kevin N Hume

January 23, 2016 - OREGON, UNITED STATES - Staff at Oregon Institute of Technology were surprised to find a large sinkhole on campus Tuesday night.

Located in a median near Parking Lot E in the southwest, the sinkhole is believed to have been caused by a leak in a storm drain and worsened by recent rain and snow storms.

"With as wet as it is and as much snow as we've had, it's not to be expected but completely understandable," said school spokeswoman Ashley Van Essen.

© Kevin N Hume

© Kevin N Hume

She said campus staff are keeping an eye on the sinkhole to ensure it does not pose a threat to persons or property. She said repairs are not likely until warmer weather dries the area later this year.

An email to faculty and students was sent Wednesday morning and said the sinkhole was "of no threat to the campus community." - Herald and News.

EXTREME WEATHER: Deadly Lightning Bolt At Church Camp In Adelaide Hills, Australia - Pastor Killed!

January 23, 2016 - AUSTRALIA - A young pastor and father has been killed by lightning during a freak storm at a church camp.

Kris Guglielmucci, 39, from Adelaide, was struck and killed by lightning at Cornerstone College oval as a wild storm battered the city just after 2:30pm on Friday, reports The Advertiser.

The father of four has been honoured in a touching tribute from the Victory Church, which is offering counselling to the 100 high school students and 20 leaders who attended the camp.

'Kris was a much loved member of our staff and church and our hearts go out to Lisa and the children during this time,' the statement reads.

'Our priority now is to care for the children who attended Summerfest, the amazing youth leaders of Victory Youth and our church family.' A 19-year-old female church member who was at the scene rushed to Royal Adelaide Hospital with serious leg injuries.

WATCH: Kris Guglielmucci fatally struck by lightning at church camp in Adelaide.

Churchgoers voiced their grief at the ordeal and said they were struggling to come to terms with their loss. 'It's a bit of a rough night — there are a lot of family and friends that have just found out,' said one.

The college's oval, which was dotted with children's pools, water balloons and slippery slides, was abandoned on Friday as police investigated the accident.

Storms lashed the city and winds of up to 89 kilometres per hour were recorded at Adelaide Airport, triggering flash floods and mass power outages.

- Daily Mail.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Mass EVACUATION Alert In Mexico City - One Of The World's MOST DANGEROUS Volcanoes Threatens To Blow! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Video footage of the erupting volcano this week. EYEWITNESSNEWS

January 23, 2016 - MEXICO - The Popocatépetl volcano, just 35 miles from Mexico City and only 20 miles from nearby city Peubla sent a mile high plume of ash into the air, putting thousands of people living within 10 miles of it on a yellow alert to be ready to evacuate should activity increase.

The Mexican capital is the world’s fourth most populated city and home to 20 million people, while Peubla has more than 6 million people living there, and all could be at risk in both cites in the event of a catastrophic eruption.

The volcano alert follows fears earlier this month that a second large volcano in Mexico - the 3,850 metres-high Colima in western Mexico - could be about to face a large scale eruption for the first time in 100 years.

This image of Popocatépetl at night shows how many people live around the fire mountain. GETTY

Thousands of people were placed on an evacuation warning this week. EYEWITNESSNEWS

Popocatépetl last saw a major eruption in 2000, but early warnings saw 41,000 people evacuated in advance, averting a major disaster.

In 2005 it had a minor eruption, but activity has been increasing since 2012, with this week's some of the most notable, prompting officials to issue the warning.

If the volcano experienced a massive eruption, an estimated nine million people would be in the blast zone and the impact on the atmosphere could be catastrophic.

Popocatépetl has erupted more than 20 times since 1519, according to records.

The glacier-covered peak is 5,426 metres-high.

WATCH: Popocatepetl erupts.

Meanwhile Colima experienced a saw an ash cloud of 1.8 miles high expelled earlier this month.

This also put locals on standby for evacuations immediately afterwards.

A local report on said: "Two Mexican volcanoes have been increasingly active.

"Popocatépetl produced a number of explosions as lava reaches the surface at the active vent, as evidenced by incandescence spotted at the volcano’s summit.

"Most of the explosions produced ash-rich plumes that reached hundreds of meters over the volcano,

"Some officials are saying that there is a heightened danger of a large explosive eruption from Colima because it has been over 100 years since that last large eruption.

"The heightened explosive activity at Colima has prompted preparations for evacuations if the restlessness continues or increases."

The warnings come after two eruptions of significant volcanoes the same day on Tuesday.

Angry mountain: Colima has been stirring over recent years. GETTY

More than 1,200 people were evacuated from a 1.9-mile containment zone around Mount Egon in Kupang, eastern Indonesia, after toxic gas and volcanic ash erupted.

It was before officials in Russia had to cancel flights near the Zhupanovsky volcano on Russia's eastern coast after it spewed lava FIVE MILES into the air, also on Tuesday.

Although the two volcanoes are separated by around 3,000 miles, they are on interconnected tectonic plates – sparking fears of a major seismic shift, more volcanic activity and even earthquakes and tsunamis, due to recent activity.

Worryingly, scientists say research over the last 300 years of volcanic activity shows we are currently in a "volcano season" meaning increased activity is expected.

Volcanoes are also more likely from November to April in the northern hemisphere when ice, rain and snowfall can compress the bedrock.

Research said the world should expect a major catastrophic volcanic eruption in the next 50 to 80 years, but we are woefully unprepared for the fallout. - Express.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Historic And Mammoth U.S. East Coast Blizzard Hammers South, Tracks North - Could Make The Top Ten List Of The Most Devastating Winter Storm; Could Paralyze Cities And Cost BILLIONS Of Dollars In Damages; Over 80 MILLION PEOPLE In Its Path; Snow Falling At 3 INCHES PER HOUR FOR 24 HOURS In Some Areas; At Least 9 Dead So Far; EMERGENCY Declared In Several States; Life-Threatening Conditions; Nearly 1,000 Car Crashes In Virginia Alone; Over 7,600 Flight Cancellations! [VIDEOS]

Michael Rainey got his face full of snow after tubing down the hill along Broad Street in Bristol, Tennessee. (Earl Neikirk/Bristol Herald Courier via AP)

January 23, 2016 - UNITED STATES - Tens of millions of residents from Georgia to New Jersey have embraced the stern warnings and forecasted snow falls and have hunkered down as the brunt of the blizzard could dump 2 feet or more of snow in some areas.

Though snow started to fall in some areas on Friday, the worst of the mammoth storm was still yet to come, with strong winds and heavy snow expected to produce “life-threatening blizzard conditions” throughout the day Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. The Mid-Atlantic could potentially see serious coastal flooding while the Carolinas might see a half-inch of ice accumulate.

At least nine people have already died because of storm-related incidents across several states. Five deaths were reported in North Carolina. Four motorists died in car accidents when broached with treacherous traveling conditions. A child was killed in a separate accident along Interstate 77. State Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Baker said the 4-year-old was restrained in a car seat and died as a result of the impact in a pickup truck one of his family members was driving.

WATCH: Residents across East Coast hunker down as mammoth blizzard ramps up.

In Tennessee, a car slid off the roadway due to speed and slick road conditions, killing the driver and injuring a passenger, the Knox County sheriff’s department said. A woman was killed after the vehicle carrying her and her husband slid down a 300-foot embankment Wednesday night, Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford. The woman’s husband was able to climb the embankment and call for help.

A man died in Kentucky Thursday after his car collided with a salt truck, state police said. The man was pronounced dead at the scene on state Route 92 in Whitley Country. A Virginia man died Friday after his car went off the snowy George Washington highway and slammed into a tree, Officer Leo Kosinski said.

As the storm started to pull out of the Midwest, it had already dumped up to 18 inches of snow in parts of Kentucky. The National Weather Service said at least 7 inches had already fallen in Washington, D.C., up to 13.5 inches in Maryland and reports of 15 inches in Virginia.

© US National Weather Service/Graphics/AFP

Other states that recorded snowfall amounts greater than 6 inches included Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Various locations in Georgia and Alabama received between 1 and 3.5 inches of snow.

Washington, D.C. could see up to two feet of snow once the storm moves out to sea. New York City itself could see up to a foot of snow or more.

By late Friday, Virginia State Police had reported 989 car crashes statewide since the storm started, and had assisted nearly 800 disabled vehicles, said Ken Schrad, a spokesman for the Virginia State Police Joint Information Center.

In Kentucky, Mike Edmonds was stuck at a truck stop Friday as snow piled up around him, not daring to venture his big rig out of the slick parking lot and onto an interstate strewn with wrecked vehicles.

"We've got trucks here that literally cannot get out," Edmonds told the Associated Press. "We're spinning. It's not worth even getting out on the road."

Forecasters warned that much of the blizzard is still on its way. The heavier snow and wind gusts are expected to create blinding whiteout conditions once the storm joins up with a low pressure system off the coast, said Bruce Sullivan, a forecaster at the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

By Friday evening, wet, heavy snow was falling in the capital, making downed power lines more likely, and yet many people remained on the roads, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said. "Find a safe place and stay there," she beseeched.

"They're slipping and sliding all over the place," said Kentucky State Police Trooper Lloyd Cochran — as soon as one wreck was cleared, other cars slammed into each other, causing gridlock for hours on interstate highways.

Conditions quickly became treacherous all along the path of the storm. Arkansas and Tennessee got 8 inches; Kentucky got more than a foot, and states across the Deep South grappled with icy, snow-covered roads and power outages. Two tornadoes arrived along with the snow in Mississippi.

The storm could easily cause more than $1 billion in damage, weather service director Louis Uccellini said.

Even before the snow began to fall Friday afternoon, states of emergency were declared, lawmakers went home, and schools, government offices and transit systems closed early from as far south as Georgia to as far north as New York City.

In Washington, the federal government closed its offices at noon, and all mass transit was shutting down through Sunday. President Barack Obama, hunkering down at the White House, was one of many who stayed home.

"Find a safe

place and stay there," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser implored residents and visitors alike.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declared a state of emergency Friday as forecasters predict up to 2 feet of snow in some parts of the state. Coastal flooding is also a major concern for beaches from Delaware up to Long Island. Christie urged motorists to stay off roadways in light of the storm.

Broadway's shows were still going on in New York, but as snow fell in Atlanta, people there were urged to stay home all weekend, rather than risk a repeat of the city's 2014 "icepocalypse," when a relatively mild winter storm caused days of commuter chaos.

More than 82 million Americans are expected to see at least one inch of snow in this storm. Around 47 million will see more than 6 inches, and 22 million will get more than a foot, Ryan Maue at WeatherBell Analytics said Friday.

About 7,600 flights were canceled Friday and Saturday — about 15 percent of the airlines' schedules, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware. They hope to be fully back in business by Sunday afternoon. - FOX News | CNN.

MASS SHOOTING: Gunman Shoots Up First Nation School In La Loche, Saskatchewan, Canada - 4 People Killed, Multiple Injuries; Deadliest School Shooting In Canada In The Past 26 Years!

January 23, 2016 - CANADA - Four people have been killed and others injured in a shooting at a First Nation school in Saskatchewan, Canada, law enforcement has confirmed.

The suspect has been detained.

It was initially stated that five people were killed, but that number was later corrected to be four.

“We all grieve with and stand with the community of La Loche and the province of Saskatchewan on this terrible and tragic day,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

At first, law enforcement did not describe the incident as a shooting, but Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall confirmed "shootings" took place.

“The community usually pulls together really strong in times like this. Right now, La Loche is devastated,” chief of the Clearwater River Dene Nation, Teddy Clark, told Saskatoon StarPhoenix newspaper.

The incident occurred at La Loche Community School, CBC News reported. Both it and the community elementary school are in lockdown.

According to the school's Facebook page, an "emergency" took place at the Dena Building, and the lockdown won't be lifted until the area is declared safe. The school is asking the public to stay away.

"Parents and community members are asked to not attend the Dene High School at this time due to the active, ongoing incident. Parents only are asked to attend the Ducharme Elementary School on Mission Street in La Loche," RCMP said in an emailed statement, according to BNO News. "We are in the preliminary stages of investigation. Further details will be provided as they become available."

Earlier reports stated that a local hospital was accepting patients with gunshot wounds.

"Words cannot express my shock and sorrow at the horrific events today in La Loche," Premier Wall said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims, their families and friends and all the people of the community."

The La Loche shooting is said to be the deadliest school shooting in Canada in the past 26 years. Back in 1989, a 25-year-old man opened fire at École Polytechnique in Montreal, killing 14 people and injuring 14 others, mostly female students. He then committed suicide. - RT.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: The Alarming Spread Of The Zika Virus - CDC Investigates Link To Paralyzing Condition, Adds 8 More Countries To Travel Warning; Latin American And Caribbean Countries Asks Women Not To Get Pregnant Until 2018!

Pediatrician Danielle Cruz checks up on 9-week-old Luhandra, born with microcephaly, a condition of abnormal brain development, while mother Jusikelly da Silva,
32, watches at the Professor Fernando Figueira Institute of Medicine, a public hospital in Recife, the capital of Pernambuco state, Brazil. Recife
has the largest number of microcephaly cases.
Lianne Milton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post

January 23, 2016 - AMERICAS - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reported this week that a dozen cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in the United States, is expanding its advisory that pregnant women should avoid travel to countries currently seeing high rates of infection.

The agency's initial list contained 14 countries, but the CDC on Friday added eight more -- in South America, the Caribbean and Polynesia -- as places where the reach of the virus is growing.

WATCH: What you need to know about the Zika virus.

The CDC now is working with authorities in Brazil to study a potential link between the mosquito-borne virus and a rare syndrome known as Guillain-Barré that can lead to paralysis. In Brazil, which is currently the epicenter of Zika, public health officials were already investigating a link between the virus and a rare birth condition called microcephaly. That country has seen nearly 3,900 suspected cases since October, with the babies involved suffering serious brain damage.

In recent days, several countries have taken drastic measures to try to combat the virus. Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador and Jamaica are all calling on women to consider delaying becoming pregnant.

So far, the known U.S. cases are of people who were traveling and likely bitten by mosquitoes while abroad -- but infectious disease experts say the rapid spread of the tropical virus in the Americas may mean an outbreak here.

Cleane Serpa, 18, bathes her 1-month-old cousin, Maria Eduarda, at her aunt’s home in Recife. Lianne Milton/Panos Pictures for The Washington Post

Here's the latest on the virus:

What is Zika?
A summary of the history of the virus from our Health section:
The virus was discovered in 1947 in a feverish rhesus monkey living in the Zika Forest of Uganda, but until 2007 scientists knew of only 14 human cases of the disease. That year it arrived on the travel-brochure-perfect Yap Island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Within a few months, nearly three-quarters of the island’s 11,000 or so residents older than 3 had been infected.

At first, those sick with Zika developed fever, joint pains and eye inflammation; then a red, bumplike rash erupted, sometimes followed by painful swelling of hands and feet. Some people vomited. Others were sensitive to light. But the symptoms usually resolved a couple of days later, and no one died.
In 2013 Zika popped up again, this time in Tahiti and other parts of French Polynesia. An estimated 28,000 people (about 11 percent of the population of those islands) felt sick enough with the virus to seek medical care. By 2014 it was showing up in several other South Pacific spots: New Caledonia, east of Australia; the Cook Islands; and, early this year, Easter Island, which marked the official arrival of the disease in the Americas, since that remote island is part of Chile.

Zika showed up in Brazil in May.
What's going on in Brazil?
The country is facing an unprecedented number of Zika virus cases -- more than 1 million -- as well as an unprecedented number of microcephaly cases that health officials believe are linked. In recent months, Brazil has spent more than $300 million to battle the mosquito, mobilizing hundreds of soldiers in the effort and going door-to-door to try to wipe out places where mosquitoes breed.

According to correspondent Dom Phillips:
The Brazilian Health Ministry says 80 percent of those who catch Zika show no symptoms. The rest may suffer fever, muscle pain and rashes for a few days. Most people who come down with it recovery quickly.

“We never paid too much attention to this virus,” said Paulo Zanotto, a microbiology professor at the University of Sao Paulo who is coordinating a network of 42 laboratories studying Zika. “I’m really worried because we have no idea of the amount of spread.” The government estimates that there are between 400,000 and 1.4 million Zika cases in the country.
On Wednesday, the government release new figures regarding Zika and microcephaly:

Total number of suspected Zika-related microcephaly cases since Oct. 22 when the government introduced a mandatory reporting requirement - 3,893

Number of confirmed cases - 224 with six being caused by Zika,

Not microcephaly - 282 cases

The rest are still being investigated.

What's the scientific basis for the suspected link between Zika and microcephaly?

The World Health Organization and the CDC, which is assisting Brazilian authorities in their investigation, have yet to definitively establish a connection between Zika and microcephaly. But the CDC has confirmed the presence of Zika in the bodies of two newborns with microcephaly who died and in the placentas of two women who miscarried children with microcephaly.

In this Dec. 23, 2015 photo, 10-year-old Elison nurses his 2-month-old brother Jose Wesley, who was born with microcephaly,
at their house in Poco Fundo, Pernambuco state, Brazil.
(AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

What other complications related to Zika should I be worried about?
The CDC is working with Brazilian health officials to investigate a possible link to a growing number of cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare disease that occurs when your own immune system damages nerve cells. Most people recover fully from it, but others experience long-term nerve damage or paralysis. In rare cases, people have died.

In Brazil, health officials have identified hundreds of cases of Guillain-Barré, a significant increase from last year.

What do we know about the cases in the United States?

Health officials said Zika virus may be the reason for a baby born in Hawaii with microcephaly -- the first such case in the country. The mother is believed to contracted the disease while living in Brazil last spring. The Associated Press reported that the state's epidemiologist, Sarah Park, said the mother no longer had the virus when she arrived in Hawaii and neither did the boy so there is no chance a mosquito could have bitten them and spread it.

Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas and Hawaii have confirmed that residents who recently traveled to countries where Zika virus has been found in mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus.

How is the virus transmitted?

When a mosquito bites an infected person and then bites someone else. It is cannot be transmitted from person to person.

The map above shows Zika spreading across the globe. How close is it to us?

Haiti said on Jan. 15 that it had confirmed its first cases of Zika virus in five people in the area of Port-au-Prince, the ountry's capital. There were cases last year in Panama and Puerto Rico.
Colombian officials said Wednesday that 13,500 people are infected already and that the number could grow rapidly.

"We expect an expansion similar to what we had with the chikungunya virus last year, to finish with between 600,000 to 700,000 cases," health minister Alejandro Gaviria told journalists, according to Reuters.

How vulnerable is the United States?

Some infectious disease experts believe it's only a matter of time before mosquitoes with the virus make their way to the United States. They believe Zika is likely to follow a path similar to dengue fever in the United States, with outbreaks beginning in Puerto Rico and Florida and spreading across the Gulf states.
The nation’s Gulf Coast presents an ideal setting for the virus because of its warm climate and the multiple species of mosquitoes there that can transmit the disease -- including A. aegypti, which carries Zika. The region also has another risk factor: poverty. In poorer parts of the South, many residents still live without window screens or air conditioning and in proximity to stagnant water sources that are ideal mosquito breeding grounds.

Yet much of the entire country could be vulnerable. Scientists believe the virus could spread northward due to warming weather.

What can I do to reduce my risk of becoming infected or sick?

According to CDC guidance issued this week:
Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. Knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is evolving, but until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:

Women who are pregnant (in any trimester): Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.

Women who are trying to become pregnant: Before you travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection. Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip. Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time.
As of Thursday, here are the counties and territories impacted, according to the Pan American Health Organization:
Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname and Venezuela, as well as Puerto Rico.
On Friday, the CDC added eight more countries to the list:
Barbados, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guadeloupe, Saint Martin, Guyana, Cape Verde, and Samoa.
If you're traveling to one of these countries, here are some tips from the CDC for travelers to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes:
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use insect repellent approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as directed.
  • Use products with a higher percentage of the following ingredients: DEET (products include Off!, Cutter, Sawyer and Ultrathon),  Picaridin, also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin (products include Cutter Advanced and Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, as well as Autan outside of the United States), Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (products include Repel), or IR3535 (products include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart).

- Washington Post.