Tuesday, February 23, 2016

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Passenger Train Hits Crane And Derails In The Netherlands - 1 Dead, 10 Injured!

Emergency services intervene on the scene of a derailed passengers train near Dalfsen, eastern Netherlands, on February 23, 2016 © ANP / AFP

February 23, 2016 - NETHERLANDS - At least one person has been killed and 10 injured after a passenger train derailed after hitting a hydraulic crane on a crossing in the Netherlands, officials told Dutch radio.

The incident took place near the town of Dalfsen, in the northeast of the country.

"There were not too many people on the train. The evening train is usually full, but not in the mornings," Mayor Han Noten told Dutch radio broadcaster NOS. He added that at least 10 people received non-life-threatening injuries.

RTL Netherlands has posted the first video of the crash, showing rescuers working at the scene of the incident.

Photos on social media and reports claim that the train is half in a field, and half on the track.

"I was at home, the train comes to us from behind. I immediately went to [the scene]," Ria van der Ham, a local eyewitness, told Radio 1. "I saw several carriages lying on their side. It's a big mess, really terrible."

"The whole front of the train is washed away,” another eyewitness said.

WATCH: Train derails in the Netherlands.

Many of the passengers have been already rescued from the derailed train, media reports said, adding that they are currently been treated by emergency services.

The crane operator was very shocked, but wasn’t injured although he jumped from his 2-meter-high platform, authorities said, adding that he was later arrested. - RT.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 4.9 Magnitude Earthquake Rattles California - The Biggest In More Than A Year; Study States That California's "BIG ONE" Could Trigger Super Cycle Of DESTRUCTIVE QUAKES! [MAPS]

USGS earthquake location.

February 23, 2016 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - A 4.9-magnitude earthquake shook just after 4 p.m. Tuesday about 22 miles outside of Bakersfield, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake is the biggest earthquake in California in more than a year, according to the USGS. Lucy Jones, a USGS seismologist, told KPCC that Tuesday's earthquake is the biggest shake the state has had since 2014's 5.1 in La Habra and the 6.0 Napa earthquake.

There was also a 5.7 earthquake offshore in January 2015, and a 4.8 that came close just a week ago (it was a 4.77, while this was a 4.9).

"All of California is earthquake country, this is a relatively less common site down under the basin — but we have seen earthquakes here before," Jones said.

USGS shakemap intensity.

The earthquake was reportedly 13 miles deep, which is why it was felt as far away as the Los Angeles area, Jones said. According to KPCC's earthquake tracker, 280 people have reported they felt the quake.

There were no injuries or damages reported, Kern County Fire Department spokesperson James Dowell told KPCC.

A map from the USGS shows locations of where people felt the shake, and how big of an impact the shake had.

To tell USGS what you felt, fill out the "Did you feel it" report on the agency's website. - SCPR.

California's "BIG ONE" Could Trigger Super Cycle Of DESTRUCTIVE QUAKES - Study! 

A major earthquake – the Big One – is statistically almost certain in California in the coming decades, and there is even worse news below the ground: it is likely to be followed by a series of similar-sized temblors, according to a leading seismologist.

The current relatively quiet seismic period – in which “far less” energy is being released in earthquakes than it is being stored from tectonic plate motions “cannot last forever,” said University of Southern California earth sciences professor James Dolan while delivering a new paper during the Seismological Society of America conference in Pasadena.

Image from usgs.gov

“At some point, we will need to start releasing all of this pent-up energy stored in the rocks in a series of large earthquakes,” Dolan stressed.

The earthquake could spark a “super cycle,” meaning “a flurry of other Big Ones, as stresses related to the original San Andreas fault earthquake are redistributed on other faults throughout Southern California,” he said.

Earthquake fault heightens California tsunami threat, experts say http://fw.to/ahAEFkh

While there would not be a literal cannonade of destruction, the earthquakes could come just decades apart, like, for example, the 7.5 major quake in 1812 on the San Andreas fault, followed by a 7.7 in 1857.

Incidentally, that was the last major earthquake in that system, one of the factors that led the US Geological Survey to conclude last month that there is a 7 percent chance of an earthquake measuring 8.0 or greater on the Richter scale to occur in California in the next 30 years alone.

Scientists behind the March report said that the fault lines in California – which is home to almost 40 million people – are much more interconnected than previously thought, and similarly claimed that “tectonic forces are continually tightening the springs of the San Andreas fault system, making big quakes inevitable.”

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck the coast of Northern California at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18.

Dolan made his discovery while studying the Garlock fault line ‒ state’s second-biggest. He said the Garlock was “switched off” for 3,500 years before creating four major earthquakes from 250 AD to 1550. During that period, the fault lines were moving four times as fast, as during the pause.

“We’re not focused especially on the seismic threat posed by the Garlock,” said Dolan.

“This study focuses on the deeper scientific significance, the more general importance of how faults interact with one another over long time and distance scales, and fundamentally on helping us to understand how faults store and release energy,” he added. “These are issues of absolutely basic importance for our understanding of seismic threats from all faults.”

The most destructive recent earthquake in California was the Northridge in 1994, which caused more than 50 deaths and $20 billion worth of damage despite its modest magnitude of 6.7. - RT.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Python Attacks Sleeping Boy In An "Extremely Rare" Event In Australia?!

Tyler's face was covered in blood. A family friend said he was bitten by a snake as he slept. Photo: Facebook/Craig Baker

February 23, 2016 - AUSTRALIA - Tyler's face was covered in blood. A family friend said he was bitten by a snake as he slept.

A mother awoke to blood-curdling screams after her six-year-old son was attacked in his bed by a three-metre long carpet python.

The boy, Tyler, was sleeping in the top bunk in his bedroom at his family home near Macksville, on the NSW Mid North Coast, on Friday night when the snake bit him several times on his face and hand.

Tyler's mother, Tamara, told the Guardian News she ran into the room and ripped the snake off his body.

"It was like a nightmare," the Nambucca Heads newspaper reported Tamara as saying.

"It was a terrifying scream and I didn't know what had happened - I certainly didn't think it involved a snake.

"I have no idea how it even got into the house."

When Tamara entered the bedroom she said the snake was wrapped around her son's belly.

"I tried to pull Tyler from the bed but he didn't come with me ... I had to roll him, then pull," she said.

"I saw his face and the blood and his eyes were still closed so I don't think he was fully awake. "I tried to check him over but he wouldn't let me touch him anywhere."

Within five minutes Tamara's cousins arrived at the property and "dealt with the snake" while Tamara drove her son to Macksville District Hospital.

"Tyler doesn't remember anything - which is the best part," Tamara said.

"He was only complaining about his finger hurting. He tapped his head on the way to hospital and he asked me why he was bleeding.

"He wouldn't know that a snake had bitten him if we hadn't told him or if people hadn't been talking about it."

A family friend, Craig Baker, posted an image of Tyler's bloodied face on Facebook, with another photograph, of her cousin Brady, holding up the snake. Brady is seen holding the snake above his head - but it is so long it drapes on the ground at his feet and is curled around his hand.

Mr Baker wrote that the python bit Tyler several times on his face and hand, before Tamara heard his screams and ran to his aid.

"Tammy ... had to pull the snake off him," Mr Baker said.

When contacted, a spokeswoman for the Mid North Coast Local Health District said a six-year-old boy was taken to Macksville District Hospital just after midnight on February 19. The child was transferred to Coffs Harbour Hospital, and was released later that morning.

Brady holds up the carpet python that reportedly bit the boy on the face. Photo: Facebook/Craig Baker

Mr Baker said Tyler was "fine" following the bite.

Attack very rare: snake expertsTwo snake experts told Fairfax Media that such an attack was extremely rare.

Carpet pythons, which are not venomous, are found right along the east coast of Australia, and usually eat small animals such as possums, flying foxes or rats, they said.

"I've worked with snakes for well over a decade, and it's unheard of in my experience for a carpet python to attack a child," said Gary Pattinson, a reptile handler for the wildlife rescue organisation WIRES.

Mr Pattinson said snakes were "pretty fantastic, and can eat things much larger than themselves, but there's not a chance on this planet that that snake could have eaten that child".

Tim Faulkner, the general manager of the Australian Reptile Park, said it was possible the carpet python has miscalculated the size of the child.

"The snake wouldn't usually go for a food item that big, but it would comfortably swallow a brush-tailed possum, or something like that, which is about the same size as a small child's head," he said. "If the snake couldn't see the rest of the body - see it with heat sensitivity and the rest - it might have miscalculated how big the little fellow was."

He said such an incident was "very, very rare".

"Places like Borneo or Indonesia have got snakes - reticulated pythons, Burmese pythons, anacondas - that could swallow someone," he said.

He considered this incident to be "a freak accident on the snake's behalf".

Mr Faulkner said a carpet python had backwards facing, curved teeth so they could hook into their prey, before constricting it.

"Basically every time the prey breathes out, the snake squeezes tighter," he said.

Both snake experts stressed that carpet pythons were not venomous and did not usually pose a risk to humans.

The snake that bit Tyler was killed on the night of the incident, according to reports.

"No one has ever been swallowed by a python in Australia. To keep it in perspective, it's far more dangerous driving your car than worrying about these pythons," Mr Faulkner said. - Sydney Morning Herald.

RATTLE & HUM: Mysterious Sounds Heard Across The Planet - Strange Inexplicable Sounds Heard In Greggsport Addition, Nebraska City?! [AUDIO]

February 23, 2016 - NEBRASKA, UNITED STATES - Nebraska City residents in the Greggsport Addition are used to hearing trains whistle through the night, but sounds recorded at 11:34 p.m. on Feb. 21 were more akin to the mysterious Sounds of the Apocalypse circulating on the Internet and social media sites.

YouTube posts since 2011 have captured mysterious noises, some seeming to come from the sky. Reports of eerie trumpet sounds have been posted from around the world, including the Philippines, Australia, Germany, Russia and the United States.

Snopes.com reports that the US Geological Survey experts note that unusual sounds can be attributed to deep earthquakes and waves crashing into distant cliffs. While the sounds are expected to have an earthly origin, some scientist say atmospheric noise can also be caused by meteor flashes and acoustic gravity waves.

Click below to hear a sound recorded at Riverview Park in Nebraska City Sunday night. It is 1 minute and 50 seconds long. There is a train whistle at 45 seconds, otherwise it is just the trumpet blast.

- News Channel Nebraska.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Jamaica Activates National Influenza Plan Following Spike In Swine Flu Cases - 10 H1N1 Cases Since The Start Of The Year, Including The Death Of A Female Doctor; Country On High Alert!

February 23, 2016 - JAMAICA - The Ministry of Health is putting measures in place to prepare the health sector for more influenza cases, following an increase in cases of H1N1, commonly referred to as Swine Flu, and one death linked to that illness.

And Minister of Health Horace Dalley says he has instructed the National Emergency Operations Centre team to activate the national influenza plan.

“We have been reviewing our systems to ensure that we are able to manage any increase in cases that may come at our public health facilities. The team has been instructed to ensure that the necessary resources are put in place across all the Regional Health Authorities,” he said.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Winston De La Haye says the ministry has been monitoring symptoms associated with influenza viruses through its surveillance system and has noted an increase in cases over the past six weeks.

Minister of Health Horace Dalley (Photo: Jamaica Gleaner)

As a result doctors have been advised to report cases of influenza on suspicion within 24 hours.

“We have confirmed 10 cases since the start of the year and so far identified two strains of influenza viruses that are circulating among the population. Nine of the ten cases are H1N1. That nine includes one death. We have been strengthening our systems and increasing our supplies of medication to deal with this increase,” Dr. De La Haye said.

Over the weekend, a female doctor who was infected with H1N1, died in hospital. It was the first H1N1-related death in Jamaica.

The ministry says additional supplies of Tami Flu, used to treat H1N1, have been acquired with more supplies to come. But Dr. De La Haye noted that Tamiflu is only used to treat symptoms in severely affected patients and does not prevent illness.

Other measures put in place include: frontline staff being offered the flu vaccine, isolation areas in hospitals prepared, additional equipment, testing capacity being increased and increased public education.

Dr. De La Haye is urging citizens to also take steps to protect themselves and others from infection by observing proper hygiene practices.

Influenza is a viral respiratory illness that presents with symptoms including fever, sore throat, cough, stuffy nose, headache and body aches and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may also be experienced.Influenza viruses are mainly spread from person to person through droplets produced while coughing or sneezing, or by persons touching surfaces contaminated with droplets. - Caribbean 360.

DISASTER IMPACT: Dozens Killed After Powerful Cyclone Winston Ravages Fiji - Experts Warn Of Zika And Dengue Threats! [VIDEOS]

A remote Fijian village is photographed from the air during a surveillance flight conducted by the New Zealand Defence Force on February 21, 2016 © NZ Defense Forces

February 23, 2016 - FIJI ISLANDS - Dozens of people have been killed by the powerful cyclone Winston, which has been ravaging Fiji in recent days. Experts warn that the island country can suffer possible outbreaks of the Zika and Dengue viruses.

The footage posted on the Fijiian government website shows a massive scale of destruction on the small island - whole villages have been flooded amid Winston's destructive winds, which reportedly reached about 325 kph.

"The images emerging from early aerial assessments of affected areas are truly heartbreaking, leaving little doubt about the ferocity of this cyclone," said Osnat Lubrani, UN Resident Coordinator in Fiji. Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said that the recovery process will take "a long time."

"Almost no part of our nation has been left unscarred. And many of our rural and maritime areas bore the brunt of Winston's fury," he said.

Aid agencies said that Fiji now may face outbreaks of the Zika and Dengue viruses, both of which are caused by infected mosquitoes.

"The threat of dengue and Zika in the coming days in Fiji is real," said Chris Hagarty, senior health program manager at Plan International Australia. "The period immediately following a disaster of this scale can be a particularly dangerous one."

WATCH: Cyclone Winston devastates Fiji.

According to the UN, more than 8,100 people "are currently sheltering in evacuation centers" and 150 houses have been destroyed in the storm.
"The cyclone is estimated to be one of the most severe ever to hit the South Pacific," the organization said.

WATCH: Playlist of the Cyclone Winston's destruction.

According to Alice Clements, a Communications Specialist with UNICEF Pacific, "the amount of destruction to infrastructure [in Suva, Fiji's capital], livelihoods and homes that something like this can do is just immense. It can also completely destroy or severely damage school facilities and health facilities." - RT.

GLOBAL VOLCANISM: Experts Sent In To Monitor Volcano Hotspot In Nicaragua - As 3 More Magma Mountains Erupt!

Nicaragua’s Momotombo Volcano continues to erupt after a century of inactivity, on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016. © Álvaro Sánchez/The Tico Times

February 23, 2016 - NICARAGUA - Disaster experts are keeping a close eye on a seismic hotspot after three large volcanoes began erupting with fears of a fourth in the offing.

Volcano experts from the US, UK, Costa Rica and local geologists are observing activity at four active peaks in Nicaragua after the flurry of explosions.

The biggest, and most active, is the enormous 1,297-metre Momotombo stratovolcano, near the city of León.

Monotombo re-awoke with a spectacular explosion in December.© YouTube

A violent lava eruption of Momotombo seen from above

Momotombo, on the north of Lake Managua 25 miles from Nicaragua's capital Managua, blew for the first time in 110 years in December, and has been active ever since.

In a post about the situation Costa Rican English-speaking news site The Tico Times wrote it had sent "geologists and local townspeople into a tizzy" It added: "In fact, there's been so much volcanic and seismic activity in Nicaragua lately that experts from the United States, the United Kingdom, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are carefully studying and observing the situation."

Geologists from the US Geological Survey announced last week they are studying and assessing risks from Momotombo and the other active volcanoes in the country.

Both Télica and Masaya began erupting at the same time as Momotombo, and continue to do so.

Meanwhile, Cerro Negro, which has so far not erupted,
recorded bursts of seismic activity last week. - Express.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Strong 5.9 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Off Antarctica In The Indian Ocean, South Of Australia - USGS! [MAPS]

USGS earthquake location.

February 23, 2016 - ANTARCTICA - A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 has struck the Indian Ocean between Antarctica and Australia, seismologists say.

No tsunami warnings have been issued.

The earthquake, which struck at about 5:08 a.m. Sydney time on Wednesday, was centered about 454 kilometers (282 miles) northeast of the French scientific station Dumont d'Urville in Antarctica, or about 2,261 kilometers (1,405 miles) south of Hobart on Tasmania.

USGS shakemap intensity.

The earthquake struck at a depth of about 7.7 kilometers (4.8 miles) below the seabed, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported.

The earthquake was not strong enough to generate a tsunami, and no alerts were issued by the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre.

No damage or casualties were expected from Wednesday's earthquake. - BNO News.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Massive Explosion In Washington State - Home Leveled; "FELT LIKE A SONIC BOOM"; Blast Felt Miles Away! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

South Kitsap Fire and Rescue confirms the explosion happened at a residential structure. The building was leveled.© South Kitsap Fire and Rescue

February 23, 2016 - WASHINGTON STATE, UNITED STATES - A massive house explosion in a Seattle suburb knocked out windows several hundred yards away and was mistaken by some locals to be an earthquake.

Officials told CBS affiliate KIRO-TV in Seattle the explosion occurred in a residence in Port Orchard shortly after 4 a.m.

It is not known if anyone was home during the blast.

Officials said the home was leveled by the blast, and the fire has been contained. The cause of the explosion is unclear.

An elementary school several hundreds yards away saw many of its windows shattered.

WATCH: Home leveled by explosion in Washington.

Several nearby residents told KIRO they initially thought it was an earthquake. One resident told KIRO that officers at Naval Base Kitsap in nearby Bremerton across the inlet from Port Orchard sent officers searching the base for the source until they realized what had happened. - CBS.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFFS: Disaster Precursors - 26 Dead Gannets Found At Ormond Beach, Florida?!

One of many dead gannets washed ashore on Ormond Beach on Feb. 19. © J. Walker Fischer

February 23, 2016 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - Twenty-six dead Northern Gannets have been brought in to the center since Valentine's Day.

While Ormond Beach resident Walker Fischer was taking a stroll on the beach this past Friday, he counted four dead Northern Gannets and a pelican within a mile's walk.

The Volusia County Beach Patrol said the increase was not uncommon for this time of year.

Due to migration patterns, there is an increase in the amount birds in the area, and they find a few dead birds every day. They believe the recent death are mostly like of natural causes.

However, the Marine Science Center reported a significant number of dead Northern Gannets this past week. Since Feb. 14, they've received 26 gannets and a few other types of sea birds.

"At the present time, we do not have a definitive answer on the cause of these numbers," said Michael Brothers of the science center. "We are getting additional information and hope to have a more complete picture soon." - Ormond Beach Observer.

ICE AGE NOW: Global Cooling Continues Relentlessly - Heavy Snowfall Paralyses Daily Life In Sivas, Turkey; 60% Of Lake Erie Freezes In Two Days With Record Snow And Cold In Canada; And 5 Stunning Natural Sculptures From This Winter Across The Globe! [VIDEOS]

Heavy snowfall in Sivas, Turkey.
© Turan Temel

February 23, 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.

Heavy snowfall paralyses daily life in Sivas, Turkey

Central Turkish province of Sivas, which had been witnessing spring weather conditions in the middle of the winter for a while, took heavy snowfall, paralyzing daily life across the city.

Snowfall which has begun with blizzard in the late hours continued until the morning hours of Saturday. Following the snowfall the snow has reached 50 centimeters in depth across the province. As walking on the pavement has nearly become impossible since the thick snow layer also many cars have stayed under the snow drift.

WATCH: Heavy snowfall paralyses daily life in central Turkish province of Sivas.

Many people, who intended to reach their working place, had difficulty while clearing their car from the snow banks. People shovel up the ways of their working place. Heavy blizzard also causes traffic congestion at the main highways, it is seen many vehicles hardly moved on the roads.

Local residents who had been witnessing spring weather since days said they encountered 50 centimeters when they woke up in the morning. - Cihan.

60% of Lake Erie Freezes in Two Days with Record Snow and Cold in Canada

Record one day snow total of 51.3 cm in Ottawa, Canada as well hundreds of cold records shattered and snow records broken. Lake Erie magically 60% frozen in a single weekend, right out of movie The Day After Tomorrow.

Temperatures in Windsor, Ont., for instance, dipped to - 17 C on Sunday.

On Friday, satellite imagery showed three per cent of the shallowest of the Great Lakes to be covered in ice. By Sunday, it was 64 per cent covered, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

WATCH: 60% of Lake Erie Freezes in Two Days.

- Adapt 2030.

Amazing ice: 5 stunning natural sculptures from this winter

Lake Superior. © RadiantSpiritGallery/YouTube
As winter wanes and spring creeps in for much of the northern hemisphere, we checked out some impressive images of ice, particularly surrounding the world's largest - and coldest - lakes.

Whether it's ice stacking on Lake Superior in the US, car-shaped icicles in Canada, or floating blocks on Lake Baikal in Russia, mother nature has put on quite a show this season.

Lake Superior, USA

As sheets of ice crashed on the shore of the great Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota, they stack up like broken glass, creating a beautiful and somewhat hypnotic scene.

WATCH: Lake Superior ice stacking.

Lake Baikal, Siberia

With temperatures dipping to -19 degrees Celsius (-3 Fahrenheit) and strong winds, a block of ice can be seen floating across the frozen lake as though it's just off to meet another block further along.

WATCH: Baikal ice.

Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

An ice imprint of a car's front bumper was all that was left behind in Ontario after the mysterious vehicle moved on. That, or as the video narrator notes, it could be a "top secret ice coating", like James Bond's Aston Martin Vanquish in Die Another Day.

WATCH: Cornwall ice.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, USA

This ice "sculpture" was co-created by humans who ignored warnings and parked on what they thought was a frozen lake during Winterfest in the US city of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

WATCH: Lake Geneva ice.

New York, USA

In an unspecified part of New York, YouTube user Jeff McCaskey recorded the effects of the changing weather on a local "ice fountain" tower, ultimately resulting in its collapse due to the weight of the ice.

 WATCH: Ice fountain time-lapse.

- RT.

EXTREME WEATHER: Severe Storms Eye Louisiana To Florida - Will Bring Outbreak Of Damaging Tornadoes, Strong Winds, Intense Thunderstorms, Disruptive Snow And Large Hail! [MAPS]

February 23, 2016 - UNITED STATES - Severe weather, including the threat of tornadoes, will return to the Southeast and southern mid-Atlantic by the middle of this week.

The same winter storm set to spread disruptive snow into the Midwest and push drenching rain across the Northeast's Interstate-95 corridor threatens to ignite severe weather in the Southeast.

Locally heavy thunderstorms will first ignite in south-central Texas and will expand and strengthen as they roll eastward into Tuesday.

For a portion of the central Gulf Coast states, this may develop into a very dangerous situation.

"There is the potential for not only a severe weather outbreak, but also a number of tornadoes from Louisiana to western Georgia and the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity.

After rain and thunder to start the week, severe thunderstorms will erupt across southeastern Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi on Tuesday.

A secondary batch of locally heavy thunderstorms may develop in the Carolinas on Tuesday morning, before weakening, while lifting northward.

"Conditions will be conducive for severe thunderstorms to spread into the mid-Atlantic region on Wednesday," AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Storm Warning Meteorologist Alex Avalos said.

The main batch of severe thunderstorms will push eastward across the Carolinas and southern Virginia and southward through the Florida Peninsula on Wednesday.

Cities in the severe weather threat zone include: Houston; New Orleans and Lake Charles, Louisiana; Jackson and Gulfport, Mississippi; Mobile and Montgomery, Alabama; Atlanta, Jacksonville and Tampa, Florida; Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia.

Some of the same communities at risk are still dealing with the aftermath left by the severe weather early last week.

The risk will extend northward to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore Wednesday night.

The strongest thunderstorms will be capable of producing damaging winds, hail and downpours.

"A few tornadoes will be possible on Wednesday," Avalos said. "The tornado threat should be confined to more of eastern North Carolina and the Chesapeake Bay area of Virginia during Wednesday."

Farther north, a band of drenching rain with strong winds at the coast will push through the remainder of the I-95 corridor in the Northeast late Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

Even in the absence of severe weather, residents are reminded to seek shelter as soon as thunder is heard. Stay ahead of violent thunderstorms with AccuWeather MinuteCast®.

The passage of a cold front will sweep away the severe weather danger and open the door for drier and less volatile air to filter in later in the week. - AccuWeather.

FUK-U-SHIMA: "No One Knows What To Do With Fukushima" As Nuclear Expert Says That The "PLUTONIUM IS EVERYWHERE" - The Plutonium Is Being Redeposited In "UNANTICIPATED LOCATIONS"; "BLACK RADIOACTIVE DUST Just Go Wherever You Go"; Running Right Into The Pacific Ocean; Plant Is In "CRISIS MODE"; Fuel Has Melted Through Containers; Official Says Corium May Never Be Extracted, Government Suggests DUMPING IT UNDER THE PACIFIC OCEAN; Official Report States That North American West Coast Hit With 220,000,000 Atoms Per Liter Of Iodine-129 In Rain After Fukushima Meltdown, 15 MILLION Year Half-Life; Detected In Aquifer That Supplies DRINKING WATER TO LARGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE In United States And Canada; ELEVATED LEVELS Continued For Many Months!

February 23, 2016 - JAPAN - Five years after nuclear meltdown, no one knows what to do with Fukushima… one huge question remains: What is to be done with all the radioactive material?… Tepco has built a 1,500-yard-long “ice wall” around the four reactor buildings… however, Japan’s nuclear watchdog blocked the plan, saying the risk of leakage was still too high… [M]ost problematically, there’s the nuclear fuel from the plant itself… “The biggest challenge is going to be the removal of the nuclear fuel debris,” [Akira Ono, Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi superintendent] said. “We don’t even know what state the debris is in at the moment.”… one of the options the government is considering is building a nuclear waste dump under the seabed, about eight miles off the Fukushima coast… Many groups… staunchly oppose the idea of burying the radioactive material at sea in such a seismically active area. “At some point it would leak and affect the environment,” said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center. - Washington Post.

NRA commissioner suggests plan to remove all fuel debris at Fukushima plant may not be best option — A Nuclear Regulation Authority commissioner has suggested that removing all fuel debris from reactors at the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant may not be the best option. “I wonder if the situation would be desired that work is still underway to extract fuel debris 70 or 80 years after” the nuclear disaster, NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa told reporters Friday. “There are a variety of options, including removing as much fuel debris as possible and solidifying the rest,” he added… Fuketa said that unlike the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, it is “not realistic” to construct concrete buildings to cover reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant because the situation is different. The commissioner also questioned whether construction of an underground ice wall around the reactor buildings to prevent radioactive water buildup will prove effective. - Japan Times.

Five years ago this month… half of the facility’s uranium cores to overheat and melt through their steel containers… Today the disaster site remains in crisis mode… - Scientific American.

A recently published paper (by myself and colleagues from uOttawa and Environment Canada) investigates… [Iodine-129] which was released by the Fukushima-Daichii [sic] Nuclear Accident… Within 6 days of the FDNA 129I concentrations in Vancouver precipitation increased 5-15 times… sampling of groundwater revealed slight increases in 129I… The results in rain show an increase in 129I concentrations of up to 220 million atoms/L… 129I anomalies [in groundwater wells], which occurred exactly when the recharge age predicted they would, suggests that some of the 129I deposited by Fukushima was reaching the wells… [P]ulses of elevated 129I occurred for another several months. Elevated 129I concentrations were measured in two wells… indicating that 129I from Fukushima can be traced into groundwater… [M]odeling has shown that 129I can be rapidly transported to the water table… - Matt Herod, Univ, of Ottawa Ph.D Candidate.

The atmospheric transport of iodine-129 from Fukushima to British Columbia, Canada and its deposition and transport into groundwater
  • The Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident (FDNA) released iodine-129 (15.7 million year half-life)… The mean pre-accident 129I concentration in rain was [31,000,000 atoms/L]… following the FDNA, 129I values increased to [211,000,000 atoms/L]… [P]ulses of elevated 129I continued for several months
  • The 129I in shallow… groundwater showed measurable variability through March 2013 with an average of [3,200,000 atoms/L]… coincident with modeled travel times…
  • Radionuclides released from the FDNA have been detected across the globe… [R]eleases of 129I and 131I… travel great distances
  • The Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer… spans the Canada–U.S. border between [B.C., Canada and Washington, US] and supplies ∼120,000 people with drinking water
  • A pulse of 129I in precipitation with maximum concentrations of [211,000,000 atoms/L] in Vancouver and [221,000,000 atoms/L] at Saturna Island was observed 6 days following the FDNA. A value of [311,000,000 atoms/L] was also measured during the first week of July…
  • The high 129I concentrations while the FDNA was ongoing are attributed to the rapid trans-Pacific transport of 129I from Fukushima… This response in 129I concentrations shows that radionuclides from Fukushima were transported rapidly from Japan to the west coast of Canada and the US… [Sampling from Washington State], which is a composite of rainfall events spanning 15 March 2011 to 16 April 2011 shows a significantly elevated 129I concentration of [95,000,000 atoms/L]…
  • There was a spike in 129I concentration observed in the precipitation sample from the period of 1 July 2011 to 8 July 2011 [which] rose to [311,000,000 atoms/L]… a substantially higher concentration than any other sample… As monitoring at Fukushima detected no pulse of 129I in precipitation in July… this spike is likely due to a… nuclear fuel reprocessing facility. Modeling of the air parcel back trajectories… for the sampling period shows air mass trajectories from Hawaii, north Japan, and Russia…
  • The initial increase in 129I concentration at the water table appeared within ∼95 days, with a maximum concentration of [10,500,000 atoms/L]…
  • In the model cases, 129I reached the water table very rapidly
  • Groundwater 129I concentrations in two nearby wells showed minor anomalies over the sampling period which could be due to rapid infiltration of the FDNA atmospheric 129I signal… [M]odeling shows that it was possible for a component of the 129I deposited by the FDNA to be conducted rapidly from the ground surface to the water table… We conclude that it is possible that a fraction of 129I from the FDNA is transported conservatively in this aquifer via preferential flow paths to the water table…
  - Scientists from Univ. of Ottawa’s Dept. of Earth Science and Environment Canada (Government of Canada).

Excerpts from interview with Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds’ chief engineer and former nuclear engineer during speaking tour in Japan, Feb 17, 2016 (at 2:30 in):

Full interview here: Soundcloud | YouTube

 - ENE News.

GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS: Scientists - Increasing Drought Threatens Almost All U.S. Forests, Making Them Vulnerable To Future Declines!

Wildfires, with flames fanned by drought, are happening on large scales across the U.S. West. destroying many forest trees.

February 23, 2016 - UNITED STATES - Forests nationwide are feeling the heat from increasing drought and climate change, according to a new study by scientists from 14 research institutions.

"Over the last two decades, warming temperatures and variable precipitation have increased the severity of forest droughts across much of the continental United States," said James Clark, lead author of the study and an environmental scientist at Duke University.

Clark and colleagues published their paper today in the journal Global Change Biology.

"While the effects have been most pronounced in the West, our analysis shows virtually that all U.S. forests are now experiencing change and are vulnerable to future declines," Clark said.
It's a tall order to predict what these forests will look like in 20 years, the researchers say.

Drought across the U.S. West
Drought-induced forest diebacks (the deaths of entire communities of trees known as stands), bark beetle infestations, and wildfires are already occurring on large scales across the West. Many models predict droughts are likely to become more severe, frequent and prolonged across much of the U.S.

Evidence is also mounting that climate is changing faster than tree populations can respond.

As conditions become drier and warmer, many tree populations, especially those in Eastern forests, may not be able to expand into new, more favorable habitats, fast enough to keep up.

Drought has left little but skeleton trees in a forest of pinons in the U.S. Southwest.

"Most forest research is carried out at local study sites, where trees are individually catalogued and measured," said Henry Gholz, a program director in the Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which supported the research. "This approach risks 'missing the forest for the trees.'"

The new results show that changes in both western and eastern U.S. forests could happen quickly under drier conditions in the future, said Gholz.

"Prolonged drought affects wildfire risks, species distribution, forest biodiversity and productivity, and virtually all goods and services provided by forests," Clark said, "so there is a pressing need to know what is happening now, what might happen in the future, and how we can manage for these changes."

Forests and drought, from A to Z
The new paper addresses this need by providing a comprehensive overview of current and projected drought effects on forests nationwide, how they vary by region, and which management practices could help to partially mitigate adverse effects.

The paper also identifies critical gaps in our knowledge base that hinder scientists' ability to predict the pace and extent of future drought effects on forests.

"We currently have a pretty good handle on predicting the impacts of climate change and drought on individual trees," Clark said. "Ecologists have identified many of the important differences between species that explain how they respond differently to drought."

But, he said, uncertainty still exists about what might happen at the species-wide or stand-wide levels, particularly in Eastern forests. "These are the scales where we really need reliable predictions so forest managers can take steps now to help reduce large-scale adverse future effects."

Without a stronger basis for understanding how the complex interactions among trees, species and environmental conditions work at broader scales, even the most sophisticated current models can provide only limited guidance, Clark said. "That's where we need to focus our efforts now."

Major co-authors of the paper are Louis Iverson and Christopher W. Woodall of the U.S. Forest Service, as well as scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Vermont, the University of California (UC), Santa Barbara, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Michigan, the University of Arizona, Ohio State University, Harvard Forest, UC Davis, Northern Arizona University and the Swiss Federal Research Institute. - NSF.

MASS BIRD DIE-OFFS: Disaster Precursors - 13 Bald Eagles Die In Baltimore, Maryland; Federal Officials Investigating?!

  This eagle is one of 13 found dead on a farm in Maryland Saturday, raising big questions. Photograph by Maryland Natural Resources Police

February 23, 2016 - MARYLAND, UNITED STATES - It's a whodunit for the animal kingdom: State and federal wildlife officials are trying to find out what happened to 13 bald eagles that were discovered dead on Maryland's Eastern Shore on Saturday.

The birds of prey were found on a farm in rural Caroline County, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) east of Washington, D.C. and just west of the 3,800-acre Idylwild Natural Area. A man looking for shed deer antlers found some of the birds and phoned state officials, who then found several more.

"We don't know the cause of death yet and are asking the public for help with information," says Catherine Hibbard, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is investigating the case along with the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

Investigators are working the scene and are sending the bird carcasses to the federal forensic ornithology lab in Ashland, Oregon, to determine cause of death. Hibbard says it's too early to speculate on how the birds died but says its highly unusual for that many eagles to be found dead in such a small area.

"Our special agent has never seen this many dead eagles in eight years on the job," says Hibbard.

In recent years, officials have found a few eagles killed on the Eastern Shore from poisons that were put out by landowners to kill foxes or other animals, she adds. Eagles that scavenge on the poisoned carcasses can take up the poisons themselves, sometimes to lethal effect.

"Never have we seen this many eagles involved," Hibbard says, stressing that the investigation is ongoing.

The national symbol of the U.S., bald eagles were nearly wiped out by hunting, pesticides, and habitat loss in the 20th century. However, they have rebounded in recent decades thanks to strict protections and banning of DDT, which caused their eggshells to be too thin. Bald eagles were officially removed from endangered and threatened status in the U.S. in 2007, although they are still enjoy protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

If people are ultimately convicted of causing the death of the eagles, they could face a fine as high as $100,000 and prison time up to one year as a result of those acts.

Anyone with information about the eagles is being asked to call the USFWS at 410-228-2476 or Maryland's investigators at 800-628-9944. A reward of $10,000 is being offered for information that leads to a conviction. - National Geographic.

EXTREME WEATHER: Tornado Activity In Illinois WELL ABOVE AVERAGE For 2015 - Had 69 Twisters, Above The 25-Year Average Of 53!

Photo: William T. Reid

February 23, 2016 - ILLINOIS, UNITED STATES - Illinois was hit hard by tornadoes in 2015, well above its average and the fourth-most in the nation, according to the National Weather Service.

Based on preliminary data, Illinois had a total of 69 twisters, well above the state's 25-year average of 53.

By August, the Chicago area had set a record for the number of tornadoes in 2015.

Only Texas (239), Kansas (125) and Oklahoma (110) had more, and all three states were well above their state's average.

Illinois' neighbors to the west, Iowa (58) and Missouri (48), were slightly above their average.

Interestingly, another Plains state, Nebraska, was well below its average, with only 26 reported tornadoes.

Aerial view of tornado damage in Coal City, Illinois, the morning after a storm on June 22, 2015.© CBS

In total, the United States reported 1,152 tornadoes in 2015, with the overwhelming majority (1,069) reported as relatively weaker EF-0 or EF-1 storms. There were no EF-5 tornadoes reported, and three EF-4s.

One of those EF-4s hit in northwest Illinois on April 9, killing two people in the town of Fairdale. The weather service reported a total of 11 tornadoes in the state that day alone.

Prelim 2015 tornado count from @NWSSPC. IL had 69 tornadoes, 4th most of any state. IN had 18.
Twitter: NWS Chicago

The tornado that tore through the towns of Coal City and Braidwood on June 22 was the strongest such storm to hit the Chicago metro area in 25 years.

The National Weather Service classified the tornado as an EF-3, with winds up to 160 miles per hour.

That ranked as the strongest Chicago metro area tornado since the deadly EF-5 that devastated the town of Plainfield in 1990. - CBS.