Tuesday, February 2, 2016

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: More Signs Of Magnetic Polar Migration As The Black Celestial Event Nears - Stunning Nacreous Rainbow Cloud Spotted In The Skies Over Ireland; Rose-Coloured Sky In Northern Canada Amazes Iqaluit Residents; And Nacreous Rainbow Cloud Seen Over Leicester, UK! [PHOTOS]

Rare Nacreous clouds otherwise known as polar stratospheric clouds are being spotted across the island.
Twitter: Cecilia Daly

February 2, 2016 - EARTH - The following constitutes several of the latest reports of stunning cloud and light formation in the skies across the globe, as magnetic polar migration increases.

Nacreous rainbow cloud spotted in the skies over Ireland

The stunning clouds were pictured by people in a number of places, including Dublin and Belfast

A number of people noticed amazing rainbow coloured clouds in the sky over Ireland this morning.

The stunning clouds were pictured by people in a number of places, including Dublin and Belfast.

More images from Twitter:

They are known as polar stratospheric clouds or nacreous clouds and usually appear during winter at high latitudes like Scandinavia, Iceland, Alaska and Northern Canada.

The clouds are quite rare in Ireland and are mostly visible within two hours after sunset or before dawn.

They appeared as Storm Henry continues to batter the country. - Irish Mirror.

Rose-coloured sky in northern Canada amazes Iqaluit residents

Light scattering likely cause of deep red colouration, says CBC meteorologist

Residents of Iqaluit, Nunavut woke up on Tuesday morning seeing red — literally.

The city took on a strange rose hue throughout the day, wowing residents and leading to plenty of theories. CBC North's Nick Murray snapped a photo of the colouration outside CBC's Iqaluit bureau, which was shared widely across Facebook and Twitter. By Wednesday afternoon, the photo had reached nearly 200,000 people on CBC's Facebook pages alone.

The photo was quickly confirmed by other Iqaluit residents, some of which had their own theories.

Nick Murray snapped this photo outside of CBC North's Iqaluit office on Tuesday. Numerous other Iqaluit residents commented on the city's red hue,
which was likely caused due to light scattering. 
© Nick Murray/CBC

Another unfiltered photo of the pink colouring that fell over Iqaluit Tuesday afternoon. Ashley Brauweiler, CBC North's meteorologist, says the colouration was likely
caused by light scattering. This photo was taken approximately 30 minutes after Nick Murray's, explaining the darker colouring.
© Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC

A snapshot of the reaction on Facebook to the red hue that fell over Iqaluit Tuesday.
Some people commented on their awe at seeing the scene, while others offered up theories.
© Facebook

Murray's original photo, taken Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. local time, is on the left. A second photo of the same location, taken Wednesday at noon, is on the right.© Nick Murray/CBC

"Ziggy Stardust just flew by," commented Kevin Robinson, a reference to the recent passing of David Bowie.

"Is it be cuz [sic] of your sunglasses?" asked Susie Pinguatuq, commenting on CBC Nunavut's Facebook page. Light scattering likely culprit

However, the likely answer for the strange colouration isn't related to pop icons, or eyewear: instead, it's rooted in how light reacts with the atmosphere.

CBC North meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler says Iqaluit's red sky is likely a result of light scattering, where sunlight is reflected through particles in the atmosphere. The colouring was also likely intensified by the time of day the photo was taken — near sunset — when the sun is lower in the sky.

"When the sun is at a low angle in the sky, the light has a longer distance to travel," said Brauweiler. "The blue [colouration, which leads to a more common 'blue sky'] gets removed by the ice crystals and salt in the air, which leaves red visible." "The clouds are much larger than light waves, which allows them to take on the colour, in this case pink."  - CBC News.

Nacreous rainbow cloud seen over Leicester, UK

The cloud that appeared earlier this evening over Leicester, UK.
© Chris Gordon
People across Leicester were left astounded this afternoon when an unusual cloud formation appeared in the sky.

The formation, which looked like a rainbow around an oval of bright light, appeared at about 5pm in an otherwise murky, grey sky.

Witnesses took photos of the phenomenon and uploaded them to Twitter, many commenting on the "beautiful" appearance.

Leicester Mercury weatherman Dave Mutton said the formation was the result of a cold front moving from the North down to the South. He said that when a cold front meets a warmer front, bits of cloud break off, creating a gap in cloud cover.

Today's 'gap' occurred just as the sun was setting behind it, creating the ethereal oval of light.

He said the rainbow effect appeared because of the light refracting through ice crystals or water droplets in the clouds.

Dave said: "It would have been quite a sight with the sun setting behind it."

However, Dave said it could have also been a polar stratospheric cloud.Polar stratospheric clouds form at very high altitudes, between 15km and 25km (about 50,000 to 80,000 feet) and at very cold temperatures (around -78 deg C).

They are also known as nacreous clouds, from nacre, or mother of pearl, due to their iridescent nature.

Lisa Tubby, of Thurnby Lodge, was among the many people intrigued by the phenomenon, but said it made her feel slightly anxious.

She said: "To be honest, at first I thought it was another planet because of its circle shape, but also because I'd never seen anything like it before.

"I told my daughter to come and have a look at it, and she said it was similar to when petrol and water mix, but I told her that of course it wasn't that as there isn't any petrol in the sky.

© Chris Gordon

© Chris Gordon

"I then went to my mum and dad's, who live just down the road from me, and my dad said it was a rainbow, and my mum said that it was unlike anything she had seen in her life. She's 52 years old."

On Twitter, Leicester Schools Welcome Refugees said that a similar cloud formation appeared in Birstall at 4.30pm this afternoon.

Mercury photographer Chris Gordon captured the phenomenon, which was only briefly in the sky, on camera.

He said: "It's amazing. I've never seen anything like it. It's very reminiscent of a rainbow.

"I decided to take the picture as everyone in the office was so excited about it. Plus, I've always loved sunsets - they're my favourite spectacle."

Posts on Twitter suggested the spectacle was visible all around the UK.

- Leicester Mercury.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - North Sea Sperm Whale Death Toll Increases To 23, As Another 8 Are Washed Up On German Coast; And Humpback Whale, 2 Dolphins And Porpoise Found Dead Along Oregon And Washington Coast?! [PHOTOS]

Bleak scene: The creatures are male and about the same age as a number of others who have washed up on the coast of northern Europe over the last few weeks

February 2, 2016 - EARTH - The following constitutes the latest reports of unusual and symbolic animal behavior, mass die-offs, beaching and stranding of mammals, and the appearance of rare creatures.

North Sea sperm whale death toll increases to 23 as another 8 are washed up on German coast

Eight dead sperm whales have died after they were washed up on a German beach today, taking the total number of dead whales to 23 after a devastating number of beachings during the past month across northern Europe.

The eight whales found near the northern town of Friedrichskoog were young bulls, around the same age as the animals discovered three weeks ago at various North Sea spots.

They were lying close to each other in the mudflats of a restricted area of the Wadden Sea national park, the Schleswig-Holstein regional environmental authority said in a statement.

Since the 1990s, a total of 82 sperm wales have been found stranded in the Wadden Sea in Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany.

The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales, and the largest toothed predator.It can measure up to 20 metres (67 feet) long and weigh over 50 tonnes. 'The males of this population spend their winters in the north Atlantic.During their migrations, individual animals mistakenly wind up in the shallow and nutrient-poor North Sea,' the authority said.

The shallow water makes it difficult for them to use their acoustic orientation to navigate and many become beached.

Wildlife protection groups also blame the underwater noise from sea traffic and oil platforms for interfering with acoustic signals.

Huge: There are various theories why the whales end up in the North Sea rather than the Atlantic - but the nutrient-poor waters can prove catastrophic for them

Sombre: Eight sperm whales were washed up on this beach near the northern town of Friedrichskoog in Germany

The devastating news comes as three of the dead sperm whales which were washed up on a British beach were covered in sand to stop them being moved by the tide and later taken to a landfill site to rot. The majestic creatures are thought to have died at sea before beaching at Skegness in Lincolnshire and have since become something of a gory tourist attraction, with people taking selfies with the corpses and some scavengers even attempting to cut off 'trophies' from the creatures.

East Lindsey District Council Council workers covered up the bodies with sand to stop them being moved by the high tide and a spokesman confirmed they will then be taken to a landfill site.

'We are well rehearsed when it comes to removing whales from the beach, we have had a few down the years including one which is bigger,' a council spokesman said. 'The whale at Lagoon Walk, which was further out on its own, moved overnight in the high tide so it is now further up the beach.

'We are preparing to move the whales, but it won't be today. Today, we are bringing in tractors to cover the whales in sand so they don't move again.

'Because there are three of them we need to find landfill that's deep enough. We are almost there but we have to do it properly.

'We are putting sand on them this afternoon because if we don't they could move further along the beach where it might be more difficult to reach them.'

The bodies of the whales were cordoned off by council workers in a bid to protect the carcasses as they are examined by scientists trying to work out why they died.

A build-up of methane gas later caused one of the whales to explode as marine biologists collecting samples for a post-mortem examination cut at its skin and blubber, with shocked witnesses describing a bang and a 'huge blast of air' followed by a foul stench.

The three whale carcasses were found on the Skegness beach on Sunday morning, after another was washed up on beach in Hunstantonm, Norfolk, last Friday.

A fifth whale was also found at former RAF bombing range in nearby Wainfleet - five miles from Skegness - last Monday, and is believed to be from the same pod.

Shocking: At least 23 whales have been stranded across the coastline of northern Europe and may have come from a single whale pod

Graffiti has been sprayed on the bodies of two of the whales on the beach near Gibraltar Point in Skegness. Messages reading 'Fukushima RIP', 'CND' and 'man's fault' have been written in white lettering on the bodies of the whales.

Scientists from the Zoological Society of London were carrying out post mortem examinations on the whales yesterday, and experts are investigating whether the group are linked to 12 sperm whales that have washed up on the Dutch island of Texel and the German islands of Wangerooge and Helgoland since January 11.

Samples have been collected from four of the five whales, but the team from the Zoological Society were struggling to reach the fifth whale, which was washed up yesterday on a former Ministry of Defence bombing range, which could contain live explosives.

The samples will then be brought back to London to be analysed in the hope that this could explain why the whales died.

It is thought that the sperm whales accidentally entered the North Sea - where the sea floor is not particularly deep.

As the animals rely on sonar to navigate, when they end up in a shallow sandy seabed, they can become disorientated and die.

Richard Johnson of the UK Coastguard said: 'We believe that the three whales at Skegness died at sea and then washed ashore.

'We are advising members of the public to stay away from the beach. We have informed the Receiver of Wreck and we are expecting an officer from the Zoological Society of London to attend the scene and carry out tests on the whales.' - Daily Mail.

Humpback whale, 2 dolphins & porpoise found dead along Oregon and Washington coast

This dead whale washed up on the beach in Seaside on Sunday. © The Daily Astorian

A 24-foot humpback whale was among four marine mammals that washed ashore last weekend, along a stretch of the Oregon and Washington coastline, according to Keith Chandler, the manager of Seaside Aquarium.

The whale was found on the beach in Seaside on Sunday, a harbor porpoise washed up near Fort Stevens on Saturday and a striped dolphin was found on Cannon Beach on Saturday, Chandler said. Another striped dolphin washed up in Ocean Park, Washington, also on Saturday.

Chandler said the deaths could be in some way connected and all of the mammals were dead before they reached the shore.

"It's quite a wide area, but it's a big ocean," he said. "We had some really heavy surf, so when you see one, you often see more than one."

He explained that the deaths could be disease-related, or another issue. But there were no obvious signs of trauma.

As first reported by The Daily Astorian, a team of marine experts from Portland State University and the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network will conduct a necropsy on Tuesday, to try and determine the whale's cause of death. They will collect samples and take measurements and photos as they study the dead whale. Then, the samples will be sent to PSU for further study.

Chandler said the humpback was fairly small, and looked to be a juvenile, probably not more than a year old. Young whales usually remain close by their mothers at that age, but he said no adult whales have been spotted near Seaside recently.

Gray whales are most common along the Oregon Coast, but it's not rare to see a humpback whale farther offshore, he said.

Last September, a group of humpbacks were spotted feeding in the mouth of the Columbia River. It caused quite a spectacle.

As for the whale that washed up Sunday, Chandler said a city crew will bury it under the sand, once the necropsy is completed on Tuesday or Wednesday.

He added that people who are curious can feel free to come by to take a look. However, he warned not to touch the whale, as it may carry diseases which could potentially spread to humans or pets.

"We have some orange fencing around the whale, to discourage people from going in, and some signs explaining that it may have diseases. We're most concerned about dogs getting close. Hopefully people will make sure their dogs will stay away," he said. - KGW.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Storm Drops Over A Foot Of Snow In Denver; Japanese City Sees FIRST RECORDED Snowfall; RECORD COLD Kills More Than 50,000 Livestock And Poultry In Vietnam; HEAVY Snowfall In Saudi Arabia!

Snow continues to fall as Rob Smith clears his driveway outside his home in Lakewood, February, 02, 2016. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

February 2, 2016 - EARTH - The following articles constitutes several of the latest reports on heavy snowfall, low temperatures and snow storms as global cooling continues across the Earth.

Storm drops over a foot of snow in Denver

The worst of the weather is over for at least a week in Denver, forecasters said following a heavy storm that dumped more than a foot of snow in some parts of the city.

Lingering light snow could fall through noon in the metro area, said National Weather Service in Boulder meteorologist Todd Dankers, but it should taper off as the sun peeks through.

"We're not seeing any more accumulation," Dankers said. "Through this afternoon, things should considerably improve."

Wind is still hammering the plains northeast of Denver, causing blowing snow that is wreaking havoc on road visibility. The heavy gusts are likely to continue until 4 p.m. in places like Limon and Akron.

Temperatures will drop Tuesday night, Dankers said, with wind chill values making it feel like -2 degrees in Denver.

Cars slowly make it down the street in Denver. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post)

Snow continues to fall as Rob Smith clears his driveway outside his home in Lakewood, Feb. 2, 2016. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

A man grabs a large broom to brush off his car along Jackson St. near Illiff Ave during a heavy snowstorm February 02, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Young Tre Schlegel, 5, makes a path across Warren Ave at Madison St. to make way for his grandmother later in the day during a heavy snowstorm February 02, 2016.
(Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Eric Serrano, left, and Art Tellez puts on chains on their garbage truck, February, 02, 2016. The two garbage men were sliding all over the road
when they decided to chain up for the rest of their route in Lakewood. 
(Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

Tuesday is expected to be dry and mostly sunny, Dankers said, with a high in the upper 20s.

The next chance of snow could be Monday when a surge of colder Canadian air moves in.

"It could just be light snow," Dankers said. "It's hard to tell right now."

The storm seemed slow to arrive before hitting the metro with force overnight, dropping as much as 14 inches in some areas. Denver Public Works deployed its fleet of residential plows Tuesday morning to help keep residential streets passable. The residential snowplow drivers will make a single pass down each of Denver's residential streets, shaving off the top few inches of snowpack to make the roadways more drivable and prevent rutting, according to a news release.

Meanwhile, Denver's fleet of big snowplows will continue to run their routes, plowing and dropping de-icing materials on Denver's main streets, or most streets with stripes.

The worst hours for the storm were between 8 p.m. and 10 to 11 p.m. Monday, with the storm hitting the mountains and higher foothills hardest.

The Tuesday morning commute was complicated by snowpacked, slick roads. Many schools announced closures for the day.

Adverse weather and treacherous conditions forced the closure of I-70 from just east of Denver, at Airpark Road, to the Kansas border Monday night.

Denver International Airport reported 10 inches of snow to the National Weather Service, and as of about 8 a.m. 126 flights had been canceled for Tuesday.

"We're in full-de-icing mode so expect delays of 20 minutes for that," said Heath Montgomery, DIA spokesman.

He added that flights could be delayed a total of one hour because of blowing snow. Some 200 people are working to clear the airport's runways and tarmacs.

"Peña Boulevard is in pretty good shape this morning but there are patchy areas of ice so please be careful going to the airport," Montgomery said.

The high Tuesday in Denver is expected to reach the mid-20s before dropping into single digits overnight.

Snowfall amounts varied around the state. Crested Butte received 7 inches of new snow and Wolf Creek got 25.

Thirteen inches of snow fell in Westminster and Boulder and 11 ½ inches fell in Fort Collins. Colorado Springs got about 12 inches with up to 16 inches in northern El Paso County around the Palmer Divide, the Gazette reports.

Temperatures are expected to gradually climb through the week as the storm clouds clear out. The high is expected to be 29 on Wednesday and 34 on Thursday and Friday. - Denver Post.

Japanese city sees first recorded snowfall

People try to navigate heavy snowfall in Amami Ohshima in Japan, an island that has not seen snow in more than a century. (Source: TV Asahi/CNN)

The Japan Meteorological Agency confirmed Nago on the tropical island of Okinawa saw snow for the first time in recorded history, while the island of Amami Ohshima had its first snowfall in 115 years.

Many other cities throughout western and northern Japan experienced historic snowfalls, including in Nagasaki. The city was blanketed in about 7 inches despite snow being a rarity there.

At least three people died on Sunday. In Niigata city, a 63-year-old man was washed away while trying to shovel off snow blocking a river. His wife was also discovered dead after trying to rescue him. Another 80-year-old man was run over by a snow shovel car.

WATCH: Raw - First snow on tropical Japanese island.

More than 60 flights were canceled due to heavy snow, according to transport authorities.

Record low temperatures have wreaked havoc in several Asian countries, with 85 people reported dead in Taiwan and tens of thousands stranded at airports because of the unprecedented cold snap.

In South Korea, more than 90,000 saw their flights canceled over the weekend due to bad weather. More than 10,000 travelers faced severe delays at Kunming Airport in southwestern China.

Taiwan authorities advised people to stay indoors after the deaths, and temperatures in Hong Kong, China, forced kindergartens and primary schools to shut Monday.

China renewed an orange alert, its second most serious weather warning. Major highways were blocked by snow and sleet as peak travel season for the Lunar New Year vacation kicked off. - World Now.

Record cold kills more than 50,000 livestock and poultry in Vietnam

Unforgiving cold in the north has killed more than 50,000 cattle and poultry, according to newspaper reports. This includes more than 9,000 animals and 43,000 poultry.

At a press conference on Jan 29, 2016, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development announced that the Ministry has recommended support for the people affected by the record cold. 

He proposed “the rescheduling of bank loans to households, especially those with livestock and poultry dead.” - Vietbao. [Translated]

Heavy snowfall in Saudi Arabia

The 24 second video shows a car and a tent covered under a thick layer of snow.

28 January 28, 2016 – After suspending classes in Saudi Arabia’s Northern border, the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment warned of decreasing temperatures throughout the Kingdom.

It is likely for Northern areas to witness temperatures below 0°C in light of the continual snowfall in Arar and Sakakah.


Thanks to Argiris Diamantis for this link
“In the past we have seen snowfall in Saudi Arabia (Tabuk area), but now for the first time the word HEAVY snowfall is being used,” says Argiris. “The 24 second video shows a car and a tent covered under a thick layer of snow.”

- Ice Age Now.

EXTREME WEATHER: United States Spring Forecast - March Snow To Threaten Northeast; April Warmth To Fuel Widespread Severe Weather Outbreaks!

February 2, 2016 - UNITED STATES - Punxsutawney Phil failed to see his shadow on Feb. 2, 2016, indicating an early start to spring for the United States. The decision marks only the 18th time Pennsylvania's most famous groundhog hasn't seen his shadow since the tradition began in 1887.

For the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, AccuWeather meteorologists are concerned for just the opposite, as cold air and the potential for snow will linger into the start of March. Elsewhere, springlike severe weather isn't predicted to become widespread until April.

The full 2016 U.S. spring forecast can be found above.

Cold air and snow possible for mid-Atlantic, Northeast into March; Drought may develop for Great Lakes, Ohio Valley.

Warm weather lovers in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast will have to be patient, as winter plans to linger into March across both regions.

Cold air and stormy weather will take the stage from late February into the start of March, opening the door for a potential late-winter snowstorm.

"There could be a last surge of winter before we see the transition into spring," AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said. "For the Northeast, there's still an opportunity for some snow, although there's a higher chance that we'll see a cold snap rather than a big snowstorm."

A quick warmup will follow, however, allowing milder air to arrive faster than it has in the past two years for both regions.

"A lack of arctic air in the region and the sun getting higher and higher in the sky will make it feel pretty nice, I think, by mid-March in the Northeast," Pastelok said.

Through April, the weather pattern will lend itself to the occasional damp and dreary day before a turnaround in May.

"Big cities around the Great Lakes will have nice weather for outdoor projects and early planting in May," Pastelok said. "Expect mild temperatures, frequent sunshine and cooler nights."

May could also yield drought concerns for the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, prompting some early season heat. During the same month, the threat for severe weather will loom for the mid-Atlantic.

Severe weather outbreaks to target Southeast, Gulf Coast, Tennessee Valley; Chance for early tropical impact low.

Spring will kick off with periods of wet weather across the Southeast, increasing the risk for flooding throughout the region. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina will be at an especially high risk.

From late February through March, the threat for severe thunderstorms will ramp up in Florida. Elsewhere however, severe weather will get a slow start with below-normal tornado totals predicted for the month.

Come April, warmer air will help to fuel severe storms, allowing multiple, widespread outbreaks to occur. Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Chattanooga and Nashville, Tennessee, are all in the line of fire.

In the Gulf Coast states, the severe weather may turn into flooding events during April and May.

Those concerned for early tropical development can breathe a sigh of relief: The chance for an early impact will be low.

Severe weather to ramp up in April for Plains, Mississippi Valley, Midwest.

Stable air in place across the central Plains and the Mississippi Valley during March and early April will help to hold back severe weather.

However, that will change as April progresses and storms track from the Southwest, leading to increased severe weather in the central and southern Plains, Mississippi Valley and Midwest.

"Intense warmth ahead of these storms coming out of the West is going to promote severe weather. Those are the ingredients you need," Pastelok said.

"The thing that worries me the most is that it could turn into heavy rain producers that could lead to flooding. And we've seen lots of flooding already over this past winter season in the Mississippi Valley."

Across the southern Plains states, flooding this year is not predicted to be as severe as last year, when between 15 and 20 inches of rain inundated Oklahoma and Texas.

Western drought woes to continue into spring.

An El-Nino weather pattern has delivered rain and mountain snow to the western United States this winter, and that trend will largely continue during spring.

Drier-than-normal conditions will affect the Northwest in March; however, the rest of the West may continue to have surges of moisture into April.

Snow is forecast to fall across the high ground of the central and southern Rockies in March. In California, abundant precipitation could lead to additional flooding problems.

"Throughout the winter, the focus for precipitation has been on both northern and central California. While this will continue to be the case into spring, one or two systems are on the radar for Southern California in March," Pastelok said.

Rain and mountain snow have helped to ease short-term drought woes in the Golden State, but the long-term water crisis will continue.

"We've gotten the snow in the Sierra. We've gotten the rain in the short term. It will continue through the end of the wet season, which is good news as well," Pastelok said.

"That will help out agriculture in the short term. That will help out the drinking water situation. However, will it relieve all the other problems that occurred over the last four and a half years? Probably not. I think we need another season like this." - AccuWeather.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong Magnitude 6.6 Temblor Shake Near The Kermadec Islands Triggering "GHOST QUAKES" In North Island, New Zeland - But Why?!

Tuesday's earthquake was centred near the Kermadec's Raoul Island, about 1000km northeast of New Zealand.© Massey University

February 2, 2016 - NEW ZEALAND - The magnitude 6.6 quake that struck off the coast of the North Island on Tuesday was widely felt and triggered false reports of shakes in New Zealand.

It is not uncommon for earthquakes to confuse seismic readings as energy from tremors travels large distances.

These "ghost quakes" register as local earthquakes when the GNS Science system starts to receive data.

Seismic graphs show the earthquake waves at 8am on Tuesday detected by the northernmost seismographs.© John Ristau

Let's dive right in to the world of ghost earthquakes.

What happened on Tuesday?

A large magnitude 6.6 quake centres about 850 kilometres north of Whakatane at a depth of 360km.

The epicentre was near the Kermadec Islands and the Kermadec Trench.

The location of the quake. Deep quakes off the coast can be initially recorded as multiple quakes.© USGS

The United States Geological Survey located the earthquake 120km north-northwest of a barren outcrop known as L'Esperance Rock.

Below the North Island, the Pacific plate is subducting beneath the Australian plate, which causes deeper quakes.© GeoNet

ell me more about this part of the Pacific.

The trench is the fifth deepest point of the world's oceans.

It marks the point where the Australian plate meets the Pacific plate.

A national seismic trace shows the earthquake detected progressively, from Raoul Island southwards.© GNS Science

Geographically, the entire region is one of the most seismically active areas in the world.

So, about all that shaking people "felt" in New Zealand.

A still from the Raoul Island webcam on Tuesday at 9.20am.© GNS Science

New Zealanders felt the quake's energy, but it wasn't in New Zealand.

Seismographs interpreted the waves as locally sourced and triggered alerts for the North Island.

"Ghost" quakes sometimes appear on the seismic monitoring system, the GeoNet array of around 200 seismograms dotted around New Zealand, after a large regional earthquake.

Magnitude 6.6 is a big shake and has the potential to cause a disaster.

Sensitive equipment picks up the seismic waves created by earthquakes. Equipment gets confused and pushes out an earthquake alert interpreted as locally sourced to the public, when the shake could be hundreds of kilometres away.

As in this case?

Yes, the earthquake was around 1000km away and deep.

This is all a bit confusing.

It's simple.

As the seismic waves travelled south from the source they are picked up progressively by detectors.

First Raoul Island, which has a webcam by the way, picked up the earthquake then the network detected the waves as they quickly moved southwards.

The "ghost" or "false" quakes, reported on Tuesday as three severe quakes in the Bay of Plenty region, were removed from the GeoNet alert system after initial reports.

This kind of thing has happened before.

In 2013, a quake near the location of Tuesday's shake triggered ghost earthquake readings in New Zealand.

Why don't scientists wait to confirm an earthquake's location?

In short, it's important to get information and data out to the public quickly.

As soon as readings start coming in from the seismic network that information is automatically publicly notified.

Later, once GNS Science review data, they can revise the reported magnitude and pinpoint the precise location.

Let's get technical shall we?

OK, it's all about different types of seismic waves, known as P-waves and S-waves, and the types of detection equipment.

P stands for primary waves, S for secondary.

Broadly, the equipment confuses the secondary waves for primary shaking, hence the three severe shakes initially reported by GeoNet and felt by New Zealanders.

GNS seismologist Dr John Ristau says:

"People actually felt the quake. It was quite deep.

"Our automatic system, generally, for 99 per cent of the time it actually works quite well.

"We know there's a problem when we have large earthquakes north of the North Island, particularly when they are deep.

"Our automatic system gets fooled.

"Primary waves are the fastest. That triggers the system. Then you have the secondary waves. The S-waves come in well defined...so the automatic system gets fooled into thinking it's another earthquake."

Can scientists do anything about the confusion?

The current system is the best available.

Ristau says GNS Science would rather have the system detect earthquakes as false than re-calibrate it and risk failing to detect a locally-sourced shake.

Plus, it's important to get information out to the public as quickly as possible in New Zealand and the Pacific.

Seismograms are extremely sensitive aren't they?

They can pick up wind and traffic noise, so it's no surprise when they detect tremors from earthquakes hundreds, or even thousands, of kilometres away.

They picked up the Foo Fighters blasting Auckland in 2011, remember?

That area of the ocean sounds interesting.

The Kermadec Islands and the surrounding area lie within a marine sanctuary created in 2015.

Once fully enacted as a reserve by the Government in 2016, the sanctuary will be one of the largest and most protected marine regions in the world.

It's even possible to visit, although you'll need a permit. - Stuff.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Dog Kills Woman In Kamloops, Canada?!

February 2, 2016 - CANADA - The BC Coroners Service says a Tk'emlups Indian Band elder who died after she was mauled by a dog Saturday night was trying to feed her grandson's dog at the time.
RCMP and paramedics rushed to a property on West Shuswap Road Saturday night after being called by a frantic relative.

78-year-old Kathleen Green was pronounced dead at the scene.

"We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family who have suffered a recent loss. She was a well respected elder in the community," says Chief Fred Seymour, Tk'emlups Indian Band. The dog was chained to a building at the time, but Corporal Cheryl Bush of Kamloops RCMP says those responding had to kill it in order to get to the woman.

"The dog was residing at the residence, not exactly clear on the ownership of the dog, and it was a mixed breed dog, and a fairly large dog," Bush told CFJC Today.

Regional Coroner Larry Marzinzik says the dog weighed about 27 kilograms or 60 pounds.

Marzinzik says investigators are still trying to nail down the chain of events.

"Our main focus right now will be on the cause of death itself, just seeing if the scene and the examination of the decedent will be able to help us determine the cause of death related to it, and then also just confirm the fact that it would have been from injuries received during the attack," said Marzinzik.

WATCH: Deadly dog attack in Kamloops.

The Tk'emlups Indian Band is in shock, counselling has been made available to help guide the community through this tragedy.

"The family would like to thank everyone for the well wishes and supports through this hard time. The family is deeply saddened and shocked by the tragedy that took place, and they ask that the community and media please respect their privacy at this time of mourning of their mother, grandmother, sister and aunt," says Chief Seymour.  - CFJC Today.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN: Precursors To A Global Financial Collapse - Over 100 Walmart Stores Shut Down For Good In The United States In Small Towns And Rural Areas; A "Double Blow" For Many Frustrated Residents; Will Impact THOUSANDS Of Employees; Company Shares Down 25 PERCENT Over The Past 12 Months!

February 2, 2016 - UNITED STATES - More than 100 Walmarts around the country shut their doors Thursday for good -- many in small towns and rural areas with few other shopping options.

The retailer cites a long-term strategy shift and financial performance. Company shares are down 25 percent over the past 12 months, and the nationwide closures will also impact thousands of employees, reports CBS News correspondent David Begnaud.

"It's maddening because Walmart chose to do this," said resident Retha Thompson, who feels betrayed by Walmart's decision to leave Whitewright, Texas just 12 months after its grand opening. "They chose to come here and then when they put the other grocery store out of business, they want to close down and leave. I'm mad."

She's talking about "Pettit's," the mom and pop grocery that was a mainstay in this small town for nearly 60 years.

"Business - it just quit coming," Larry Deeds, the store's co-owner said.

Pettit's closed about nine months after Walmart opened.

"It's almost enough to bring a tear to your eye to see all these shelves empty," said Will Pettit, who worked here since he was 16.

When Walmart moved in last year, Whitewright's Mayor Allen West said a little competition from Walmart was a good thing. But now that it's leaving, "it's going to hurt the city financially, it's going to hurt the citizens economically and not good for their mental status," the mayor said.

Walmart is closing 154 stores in 27 states, many of them in small towns. In a statement to CBS News, Walmart said:
"The decision to close some of our stores was not easy and we share in the communities' disappointment. We're always searching for opportunities to serve more customers throughout the country -- especially those in underserved communities. We're now focused on where we can help impacted communities through our plans for charitable giving and expediting the process to work with potential buyers for these locations."
"Communities are finally getting a look at not only the effects of when Walmart comes into town, but also when they leave," said Bloomberg news reporter Shannon Pettypiece. "And I think that is a double blow for a lot people."

But Deeds said Walmart doesn't deserve all the blame.

"I lost some customers that had been coming to me for 20 or more years," Deeds said.

And now that Walmart is closed, Retha Thompson will drive half an hour to the closest grocery store.

"It won't be Walmart. I'm done with Walmart," Thompson said.

Two of Thompson's daughters-in-law were Walmart employees. They were offered either a severance package or the opportunity to relocate to work at another store, as goes for thousands of other employees across the country. - CBS News.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Very Strong 6.6 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes North Of New Zealand - Geonet! [MAPS + TECTONIC SUMMARY]

USGS earthquake location.

February 2, 2016 - NEW ZEALAND - A 6.6 magnitude earthquake 1100km off the North Island was responsible for the tremors that shook New Zealanders this morning.

Geonet seismologist John Ristau said the tremors felt in Bay of Plenty, Tararua and Canterbury were not official earthquakes.

There had been reports that a 5.3 magnitude quake was recorded 35 km south of Murupara and that 5.0 magnitude quake struck 20 km north west of Pongaroa.

A third quake was said to have hit 15km south-west of Amberley.

USGS shakemap intensity.

The shakes weren't official earthquakes but ripple effects of a 6.6. earthquake near Raoul Island.

Geonet received more than 500 reports of people who had felt shakes, Mr Ristau said.

There would be few aftershocks because the earthquake was so deep, he said.

Several people have reported feeling the quakes on social media, in areas including Bay of Plenty and Wellington.

Fire Service and police northern communications have received no reports of damage.

A spokesman for the Murupara police said he was outside when the earthquake was recorded as happening and he didn't feel a thing. He said there had been no calls from members of the public.

A woman spoken to at Murupara Area School was also surprised to hear reports of a quake - saying she didn't feel anything and nobody at the school had felt the quake. - New Zealand Herald.

Seismotectonics of the Eastern Margin of the Australia Plate

The eastern margin of the Australia plate is one of the most sesimically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates. In the region of New Zealand, the 3000 km long Australia-Pacific plate boundary extends from south of Macquarie Island to the southern Kermadec Island chain. It includes an oceanic transform (the Macquarie Ridge), two oppositely verging subduction zones (Puysegur and Hikurangi), and a transpressive continental transform, the Alpine Fault through South Island, New Zealand.

Since 1900 there have been 15 M7.5+ earthquakes recorded near New Zealand. Nine of these, and the four largest, occurred along or near the Macquarie Ridge, including the 1989 M8.2 event on the ridge itself, and the 2004 M8.1 event 200 km to the west of the plate boundary, reflecting intraplate deformation. The largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand itself was the 1931 M7.8 Hawke's Bay earthquake, which killed 256 people. The last M7.5+ earthquake along the Alpine Fault was 170 years ago; studies of the faults' strain accumulation suggest that similar events are likely to occur again.

USGS plate tectonics for the region.

North of New Zealand, the Australia-Pacific boundary stretches east of Tonga and Fiji to 250 km south of Samoa. For 2,200 km the trench is approximately linear, and includes two segments where old (greater than 120 Myr) Pacific oceanic lithosphere rapidly subducts westward (Kermadec and Tonga). At the northern end of the Tonga trench, the boundary curves sharply westward and changes along a 700 km-long segment from trench-normal subduction, to oblique subduction, to a left lateral transform-like structure.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 60 mm/yr at the southern Kermadec trench to 90 mm/yr at the northern Tonga trench; however, significant back arc extension (or equivalently, slab rollback) causes the consumption rate of subducting Pacific lithosphere to be much faster. The spreading rate in the Havre trough, west of the Kermadec trench, increases northward from 8 to 20 mm/yr. The southern tip of this spreading center is propagating into the North Island of New Zealand, rifting it apart. In the southern Lau Basin, west of the Tonga trench, the spreading rate increases northward from 60 to 90 mm/yr, and in the northern Lau Basin, multiple spreading centers result in an extension rate as high as 160 mm/yr. The overall subduction velocity of the Pacific plate is the vector sum of Australia-Pacific velocity and back arc spreading velocity: thus it increases northward along the Kermadec trench from 70 to 100 mm/yr, and along the Tonga trench from 150 to 240 mm/yr.

The Kermadec-Tonga subduction zone generates many large earthquakes on the interface between the descending Pacific and overriding Australia plates, within the two plates themselves and, less frequently, near the outer rise of the Pacific plate east of the trench. Since 1900, 40 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded, mostly north of 30°S. However, it is unclear whether any of the few historic M8+ events that have occurred close to the plate boundary were underthrusting events on the plate interface, or were intraplate earthquakes. On September 29, 2009, one of the largest normal fault (outer rise) earthquakes ever recorded (M8.1) occurred south of Samoa, 40 km east of the Tonga trench, generating a tsunami that killed at least 180 people.

Across the North Fiji Basin and to the west of the Vanuatu Islands, the Australia plate again subducts eastwards beneath the Pacific, at the North New Hebrides trench. At the southern end of this trench, east of the Loyalty Islands, the plate boundary curves east into an oceanic transform-like structure analogous to the one north of Tonga.

Australia-Pacific convergence rates increase northward from 80 to 90 mm/yr along the North New Hebrides trench, but the Australia plate consumption rate is increased by extension in the back arc and in the North Fiji Basin. Back arc spreading occurs at a rate of 50 mm/yr along most of the subduction zone, except near ~15°S, where the D'Entrecasteaux ridge intersects the trench and causes localized compression of 50 mm/yr in the back arc. Therefore, the Australia plate subduction velocity ranges from 120 mm/yr at the southern end of the North New Hebrides trench, to 40 mm/yr at the D'Entrecasteaux ridge-trench intersection, to 170 mm/yr at the northern end of the trench.

Large earthquakes are common along the North New Hebrides trench and have mechanisms associated with subduction tectonics, though occasional strike slip earthquakes occur near the subduction of the D'Entrecasteaux ridge. Within the subduction zone 34 M7.5+ earthquakes have been recorded since 1900. On October 7, 2009, a large interplate thrust fault earthquake (M7.6) in the northern North New Hebrides subduction zone was followed 15 minutes later by an even larger interplate event (M7.8) 60 km to the north. It is likely that the first event triggered the second of the so-called earthquake "doublet".

More information on regional seismicity and tectonics