Wednesday, January 27, 2016

MONUMENTAL DISASTER ALERT: "The Really Big One" Seems Imminent - Summit Set After Pacific Northwest Mega-Quake Story Shakes Up Obama's White House!

The next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will spell the worst natural disaster in the history of the continent.

January 27, 2016 - PACIFIC NORTHWEST - For decades, geologists, emergency managers and media in the Pacific Northwest have been warning that the region will someday be slammed by a megaquake and tsunami that could be the country's worst natural disaster.

But it took an East Coast magazine to finally elevate the issue onto the White House agenda.

Inspired in large part by an article in The New Yorker in the summer, the Obama administration is hosting an Earthquake Resilience Summit on Tuesday — and is expected to underscore its support for an earthquake early warning system on the West Coast.

It's not clear whether that support will come with additional federal money, but foundations and some Northwest businesses will announce contributions to a warning system.

The event will be streamed live beginning at 9:30 a.m. PST.

The article that kicked things off was published in the July 20 edition of the weekly magazine, which once ran a map on its cover showing the entire Western U.S. dwarfed by a few midtown intersections, reflecting a Manhattan-centric world view.

In "The Really Big One," author Kathryn Schulz — a former Oregonian — dramatically described the impact of a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami from the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a 700-mile-long fault off the Northwest Coast. One of the more hair-raising quotes was from a FEMA official who said "our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast."

The story shocked many Northwesterners and people in other parts of the country who had no idea California wasn't the only earthquake-prone state. Schulz was flooded with so many panicked messages and questions that she wrote a follow-up piece offering preparedness tips and more details on the meaning of "toast."

The article also shook things up in the West Wing, said John Schelling, earthquake and tsunami manager for the Washington Emergency Management Division, who participated in conference calls planning the summit.

"It really caught their attention, along with a lot of other information that had been circulating, and they were interested in having an event to talk about earthquake early warning and other key issues, like building codes," he said.

Early warning systems detect the initial seismic waves from an earthquake at a distance and transmit alerts that arrive seconds to minutes before strong shaking starts. In Japan, which has the world's most advanced system, the alerts shut down machinery, open elevators and bring bullet trains to a halt. Warnings are distributed to the public via cellphone, giving people time to take cover, climb off ladders and evacuate dangerous areas.

But, as The New Yorker article pointed out, the U.S. has no such system in operation.

A prototype developed by scientists in California and at the University of Washington is being tested.

With support from Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Derek Kilmer, whose district includes Tacoma, Bremerton and the Olympic Peninsula, funding for the system was bumped up to $8.2 million for 2016. But fully implementing it will cost up to $38 million for new instruments, and $16 million a year for operations.

Though that level of funding hasn't materialized, the White House event will give the program a boost, said John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the UW.

"Nothing is guaranteed, but the expectation now is that we will build it," he said. "That's a big step from where we were."

The half-day event will include several panel discussions and announcements.

A key organizer has been Jacqueline Meszaros, of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Meszaros is well-versed in Northwest seismic hazards. As a risk-management specialist and former professor at UW Bothell, she analyzed the 2001 Nisqually quake's impact on small businesses and co-authored a scenario for a Seattle Fault quake.

Local emergency managers remain bemused by the reach of The New Yorker article, but grateful that it shined a national spotlight on the threat.

"It's exciting that it's captivated attention in places like the White House," Schelling said. "Coming from a source on the East Coast, I think it helped put on the radar that there is more to seismic hazard in the Western U.S. than the San Andreas Fault — and we need to really pay attention to it." - Seattle Times.





SOLAR WATCH: Magnetic Eruption On The Sun - Non-Earth Directed Coronal Mass Ejectons!


January 27, 2016 - SPACE - A filament of magnetism snaking across the sun's southern hemisphere erupted on Jan. 26th (~1800 UT) and hurled a part of itself into space.

Debris flying away from the blast site ripped through the sun's atmosphere and created a coronal mass ejection (CME).

Newly-arriving coronagraph imagery suggests that the CME will not hit Earth.

However, this preliminary conclusion could be overturned by further analysis, so stay tuned.

Sunspots


Credit: SDO/HMI


Here is an updated look at the visible solar disk as we head into Thursday. Solar activity is currently at very low levels with no noteworthy solar flares to report. Region 2489 was showing signs up growth, however separation between the lead dark core and smaller trailing spots was observed during the past 12 hours. There will remain a chance for at least minor C-Class solar flares with a smaller threat for an isolated M-Flare. All other regions are currently stable. No Earth directed coronal mass ejections were detected during the past 24 hours.


Coronal Holes

Credit: SDO/AIA.


Earth is entering a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole.

 - Space Weather | Solar Ham.




GLOBAL COASTAL EVENT: El Nino Weather Pattern Wreaks Havoc On Pacific Regions - California Homes On The Brink, Chilean Coast Battered! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]


January 27, 2016 - PACIFIC OCEAN - The extreme weather patterns observed during El Nino show no sign of abating, with large tidal waves and unusual rainfall continuing to hit Pacific coastal regions.

The Californian city of Pacifica has declared a local emergency due to cliff erosion caused by El Nino.

Ocean currents are currently battering the city's shoreline - and putting hundreds of residential properties at risk of collapsing into the sea.

Astonishing video captured from a drone reveals the terrifying extent of erosion.




The footage shows heaps of soil crumbling from the cliffside, undercutting apartments which hang precariously above on Esplanade and Palmetto Avenue.


WATCH: Pacifica Coastal Erosion Caught On Drone Video.




The owners of the properties have been told their homes are not safe to inhabit.

"El Nino is hitting the city's coastline very hard and creating almost daily reports of impacts to both public and private property," said Pacifica City Manager Lorie Tinfow.

"We need State and Federal assistance to respond to the growing list of failing public infrastructure including the Beach Blvd sea wall failure."

Meanwhile, strange weather conditions have been reported elsewhere in California, from 300 inches of snowfall to parched lakes rising dramatically.


Here comes the next one. This will put snowfall at crest of Sierra Nevada over 300 inches in some spots
Twitter: Tom Stienstra

A spokesperson for the California Department of Water Resources, which has been managing drought conditions in the western state, told the San Francisco Gate how water levels in Lake Oroville increased by 20ft in less than a week. "We haven't seen the water level rise like this since we've had the drought over the past approximately four years," he said.

"Weakening" force?




Earlier this month, the US Climate Prediction Centre predicted the current strong El Nino - where unusually warm weather brings on powerful storms and floods - to "gradually weaken through 2016".


"Most models indicate that a strong El Nino will weaken with a transition during the late spring or early summer."


The calm during the storm here at Viewpoint Condos. #viewpointcondos #viewpoint #mammothlakes #mammothstories #mammoth #snow #californiasnow #vacation
Instagram: viewpoint_condos

"The forecasters are in agreement with the model consensus, though the exact timing of the transition is difficult to predict," an El Nino advisory status reads.

NASA analysis of its Jason-2 satellite and research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration details higher than average sea levels, while last month temperatures in the Pacific equaled 1997 records.


Lake Oroville up more than 20 ft. in the last week! It is at 34% of capacity!
Twitter: CA - DWR

The space agency indicate the tropical weather cycle could enter a period of cooling but give no guarantees.

But tell that to the inhabitants of the west coast of the United States and South America. Massive tidal waves, some reported to be 16 ft in height, have been seen smashing into the coast of Chile.

Footage filmed in the seaside city of Vina del Mar shows an emergency vehicle being swept onto its side by huge breakers coming in from the South Pacific Ocean.


WATCH: Giant El Nino waves total safety car in Chile.






As the car flips, passersby can be heard screaming and running for cover.

The occupants of the vehicle reportedly escaped uninjured.

The tropical thunderstorms come despite suggestions by experts that the meteorological anomaly's destructive power will lessen in 2016. - RT.






PLANETARY TREMORS: Continous Tremor Under Puget Sound - As Washington State Continues Rattling Since Magnitude 4.3 Earthquake Struck On December 30!

Recent tremors and earthquakes in Puget Sound, Washington.
© Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

January 27, 2016 - PACIFIC NORTHWEST - A continuous tremor has been shaking from Vancouver Island south toward Olympia. A lead seismologist at the University of Washington told KIRO 7 they are not alarmed, but that the tremor is likely tied to the biggest quake in the Puget Sound region.

Hundreds of tremors registered across the Pacific Northwest within a 25-hour span starting Monday.

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network plotted 427 tremors on a map.

"What's happening is there's an episode where the deep plate boundary is kind of rumbling," said Dr. John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.

The tremor can last three weeks and happens about once a year. It's been shaking 30 miles under Puget Sound since Dec. 22. Unlike an earthquake map, the dots on the tremor map show readings of the same tremor. You can see the map here.

Dr. Vidale believes the tremor is related to the 4.3 earthquake that shook under Victoria, British Columbia on Dec. 30. That quake was the largest in the Puget Sound region since the Nisqually quake of 2001. KIRO 7 Morning Anchor John Knicely asked Dr. Vidale if that indicates anything in particular.


Two weeks in, is still moving south. Tremor Map:
Twitter: PNSN


"No, as far as we can tell it's a regular tremor episode," said Dr. Vidale. "It's a little bigger than usual."

The tremor will keep moving south until it runs out of energy. It could end today or in two weeks. Dr. Vidale doesn't consider this alarming even though it was tied to the Victoria quake last week.

"We hope eventually we can see patterns here that tell us something about when earthquakes are coming," said Dr. Vidale. "But right now there's nothing in this that's diagnostic of what's coming in the future."

An online mapping tool lets Seattle residents search zoom in on the natural hazards that threaten their homes or workplaces.

Users can find out whether their office or apartment building sits on soil that will turn to goo in a major earthquake. Other overlays show areas vulnerable to flooding, landslides and quake-triggered tsunamis. - KIRO 7.





EXTREME WEATHER: Tornado Touches Down In Coconut County, Florida - Two People Injured As The Twister Tossed Vehicles About! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

Cars overturned on @BrowardCollege north campus. @cbsmiami
Twitter: Gaby Fleischman CBS4 

January 27, 2016 - FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - Two people were reported injured and many vehicles were tossed about as a twister touched down in Coconut Creek, Florida.

Heavy storms on Wednesday morning soaked the area, just a few miles inland from Florida's Atlantic coast, between Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale.

At Broward College, the twister picked up cars, tossing them around.

Several vehicles ended up stacked on top of others.


© Gene Blevins / Reuters

Twitter: Gaby Fleischman CBS4 

Truck overturned, trees down after possible tornado touches down in . @CBSMiami
Twitter: Gaby Fleischman CBS4 

Though no one captured the actual water spout, students took videos of the aftermath and shared them on social media.

The tornado knocked over a truck and uprooted several trees in the nearby residential area as well.


WATCH: Tornado tosses trucks, trees.




Local media reported two injuries from storm-related events, without giving further details.

Severe storm and flood warnings are in effect through Thursday. - RT.





ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Migratory Patterns And Disaster Precursors - Dead Humpback Whale Found On North Carolina Coast?! [VIDEOS]

Dead humpback whale.
© WECT

January 27, 2016 - NORTH CAROLINA, UNITED STATES - A beached whale was discovered on the shore at Kure Beach Wednesday.

According to Kure Beach Police, the whale was found about two blocks south of the Kure Beach Fish Pier around 6:00 a.m.


© WECT

© WECT

William McClellan of the University of North Carolina Wilmington says the whale was a baby humpback between 1 and 2 years old.

He says the whale was very thin and appeared to have been sick for some time.


WATCH: Humpback whale washes ashore.






Officials say about two dozen dead whales wash up on the North Carolina coast per year.

UNCW has been notified. - WNCN.




EXTREME WEATHER: Dozens Of Bushfires Burn In Tasmania, Australia - Fire Authorities Warn SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL Is Needed To Extinguish Blazes; World Heritage Area Suffers "CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE"; 68,000 HECTARES Burnt! [VIDEO]

Photo: Specialist firefighters are being dropped into remote areas like the Lake Mackenzie fires. (By Craig Perkins)

January 27, 2016 - TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA - Fire authorities have warned significant rainfall is needed to extinguish dozens of blazes burning out of control in remote areas of Tasmania's west and north.

Some of the biggest fires are burning in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA), where rare ecosystems are at risk from bushfires.

A total fire ban is still being enforced and recent rainfalls were enough to prevent flare ups but they were not heavy enough to stop the threat.

Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) chief officer Gavin Freeman said a Lauderdale man had been charged after allegedly lighting a campfire in the state's north-west then leaving the area.

"It's the first time we've had a total fire ban for four days in a row," he said.

"It's been a long weekend for a lot of people.

"But it is frustrating, we've been very clear about the implications of not abiding by the total fire ban.

"We've tried to ease the restrictions as much as we can."

TFS northern regional chief Ian Bounds said crews could not become complacent, despite cooler conditions this week. "Whilst it's cooler, a number of these fires are of such size, that they've still got momentum and will continue to burn and the fresh winds will make it quite challenging on the fire ground," he said. 


Photo: A water-bombing helicopter takes to the sky to tackle remote bushfires in Tasmania. (ABC News: Lauren Waldhuter)


"For a lot of these fires, because of their remoteness, we really are waiting for that large downpour, to actually extinguish these fires.

"Just because of the nature of these fires and the condition of our vegetation being so dry at the moment."

However, no significant rain is forecast until Autumn at the earliest. World Heritage Area suffers 'catastrophic damage'

Tasmanian Greens leader Cassy O'Connor said the massive fire front was threatening "environmental jewels" which were unlikely to recover if burned.

She was critical of the State Government for not requesting interstate assistance earlier.

"We need not only extra firefighters in the TWWHA but we desperately need aerial firefighting capacity from interstate," she said.

"We have a chance this week to save some of the most extraordinary landscapes on the planet, places that are of enormous ecological, social and economic value to Tasmania.

"If these treasures are lost, they are unlikely to ever recover."


Mr Bounds said firefighters were aware of what was at stake in the TWWHA

"All the crews are aware of the importance of the pristine wilderness," he said.

"That is one of the reasons we have brought these crews in.

"Putting in hand trails around the fire, putting the fire edge out, so yeah, minimal impact on the actual vegetation."

Specialist crews from interstate have arrived at the fire-ground in remote locations including the Lake Mackenzie area in the north of the TWWHA.


WATCH:  Wildfires Burning Across Australia's Tasmania State.




Chief officer Freeman said the full scale of the bushfire situation was slowly becoming apparent.

"68,000 hectares we know has been burnt and around 650 kilometres of fire perimeter," he said.

"That's quite significant but I also need to add we've got a number of fires we still haven't been able to map.

"But my estimate is we have about 1,000 kilometres of fire perimeter."

Two of the largest water-bombing helicopters in Australia are among 11 helicopters and two planes being used to attack the fires.

Ian Bounds from the TFS said crews could not become complacent, despite cooler conditions this week. - ABC Australia.







PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Worries Go Viral Over The Zika Virus - Public Health Officials Say United States MUST PREPARE For The Infection; FEAR SPREADS As Virginia Resident Tests Positive; Cases Appear In Denmark, Germany And Britain; U.S. Virgin Islands Record First Case; Airlines REFUNDING TICKETS To Latin America; And Scientists Say Vaccine Is "10 YEARS AWAY"! [VIDEOS]

A fumigation brigade sprays an area of Chacabuco Park in a Aedes mosquito control effort, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016.
(Photo: Natacha Pisarenko, AP)

January 27, 2016 - HEALTH - The U.S. public health officials must prepare now for the inevitable arrival of Zika virus, a mosquito-borne infection that has spread to 21 countries in the Americas and is linked to a surge in birth defects in Brazil, health experts said.

USA must prepare now for Zika virus

The U.S. public health officials must prepare now for the inevitable arrival of Zika virus, a mosquito-borne infection that has spread to 21 countries in the Americas and is linked to a surge in birth defects in Brazil, health experts said.

The virus is expected to spread to the United States and every country in the Western hemisphere where the Aedes mosquitoes are known to live, according to the Pan American Health Organization. Aedes mosquitoes, which spread the virus, live in every Western hemisphere country but Canada and Chile.


WATCH: World Health Organization explains the Zika virus.





International air travel will help the virus spread quickly, said Lawrence Gostin, director of the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University in Washington. Zika doesn't spread from person to person.

But people who are infected while traveling have the potential to spread the virus in the USA if they are bitten by local mosquitoes, which can then spread the infection to others in the area.







Zika "will certainly come to the United States, and I think it will come fairly rapidly," Gostin said. "We are likely to see potential fetal abnormalities. It's a really serious problem."

Although scientists have known about Zika virus since the 1940s, it was never considered a serious threat until a few months ago, when Brazil reported an enormous increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small heads and incomplete brain development. Brazil has reported more than 3,500 cases since this fall; the country usually has 100 to 200 microcephaly cases per year.

Scientists don't know why Zika is spreading so quickly or why the outbreak has been particularly bad in Brazil, said Christian Lindmeier, a spokesman for the World Health Organization.

Warming global temperatures, due to both climate change and the current El Nino season, could allow Zika to spread further north, as mosquitoes move into new terrain, said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The USA is vulnerable to Zika, not just because of of its mosquito populations, but because of entrenched pockets of poverty, particularly around the Gulf Coast, Hotez said. Mosquito-borne diseases spread more quickly in poor neighborhoods, which often have more trash, such as old tires by roadsides, that can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes. People who are poor may not even have window screens, let alone air conditioning, making them more likely to be bitten, Hotez said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel alert, warning pregnant women to avoid travel to the 21 countries where Zika is spreading. Most recently, the CDC added the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands to this list.

Although Brazil's first Zika cases weren't reported until last May, some researchers have speculated that Zika could have arrived in Brazil through the World Cup soccer games in 2014, which brought people from all over the world to Brazil. Because up to 80% most people with Zika have no symptoms, the virus has the potential to spread widely before it's noticed. When symptoms do occur, they are usually mild and include a low fever, headaches, joint pain and a rash, Lindmeier said.

The CDC has confirmed Zika virus in about a dozen Americans in a handful of states who traveled to Latin America, although the virus is not yet spreading among mosquitoes native to the continental USA. Zika does appear to be spreading locally in Puerto Rico, where a woman tested positive without traveling to known outbreak zones.

A few cases of Zika in travelers won't necessarily lead to an outbreak. The CDC diagnosed 14 returning travelers with Zika from 2007 to 2014.

But many health officials worry that the Olympics, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro this summer, could spread the virus around the world.





"The Olympics will be a perfect dissemination vehicle for Zika, as people from all over the world will converge in Brazil and then return to their home countries which might also harbor Aedes mosquitoes," said Amesh Adalja, a senior associate at the Center for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "This could lead to localized outbreaks spread across any parts of the globe where Aedes are present."

To prepare for the Zika, U.S. public health officials need to start looking for the virus, both in mosquitoes and in travelers returning from outbreak areas, Gostin said. Health officials also should test pregnant women, Gostin said.

Testing patients for the Zika virus today is difficult, because there are no commercially available diagnostic tests, such as those for the flu or strep throat. Instead, local health officials have to send blood samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Researchers at the National Institute of Health are working on a Zika vaccine.

"We need to really be on the lookout" for Zika, Gostin said. "That involves having really good information systems from the CDC. It means training doctors. The last thing we want is a repeat of Ebola, where we saw preventable deaths in the United States and globally. If we have a baby born, or many baby born, with malformations that could have been prevented, it will be unforgivable."


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





The government of El Salvador has urged women to postpone pregnancies for two years, a move that has been viewed as extreme by most people in the public health community. About half of pregnancies in the USA are unplanned.

Communities also need to ramp up their mosquito control efforts by spraying and getting rid of standing water, Gostin said.

The USA eradicated malaria in the middle of the 20th century through such efforts, which also included spraying the insecticide DDT. Use of DDT was halted, however, after it became clear that the chemical was harming wildlife, such as the bald eagle. The USA may have to consider the use of DDT or other chemicals, Gostin said. The USA also may need to consider genetically engineering mosquitoes so that they aren't able to reproduce.

Gostin said he's disappointed that the WHO hasn't done more to help countries deal with Zika.

"WHO is so late to the party," Gostin said. "They haven't weighed in on travel advisories. It's fairly shocking to see the WHO not be out front on this." - USA Today.


Virginia resident who traveled abroad tests positive for Zika virus



A Virginia resident who traveled outside the United States has tested positive for the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus, state health officials said on Tuesday.

The adult resident had recently traveled to a country where Zika virus transmission was ongoing and the infection was confirmed through testing by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health said in a statement.

"Zika virus is acquired through the bite of an infected mosquito. Because it is not mosquito season in Virginia, this individual with Zika virus infection poses no risk to other Virginians," Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine said in a statement.

The Arkansas Department of Health on Tuesday confirmed that a resident of that state who had also recently traveled out of the country tested positive for Zika.

Levine suggested travelers planning to leave the country this winter for warmer climates check health travel advisories and urged pregnant women in particular to avoid Zika-affected countries. - Reuters.



Danish Zika case not the first reported in Europe

A health worker stands in the Sambadrome as he sprays insecticide to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that transmits the Zika virus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Inspectors begin to spray insecticide around Sambadrome, the outdoor grounds where thousands of dancers and musicians will parade
during the city’s Feb. 5-10 Carnival celebrations. Brazil’s health minister says the country will mobilize some 220,000 troops to battle the mosquito
blamed for spreading a virus linked to birth defects. (Leo Correa/Associated Press)

Authorities say the Danish case is not the first reported in Europe.

Romit Jain from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm, says there have been confirmed cases of imported Zika virus infections in Germany and Britain.

Sara Rorbecker of the Swedish Public Health Agency adds that a Zika case was confirmed in Sweden last summer, said. She said the patient had contracted the virus when traveling, adding that there was nothing “dramatic” about the case.

Zika virus is not a notifiable disease in the European Union, meaning that EU countries are not required to report cases to the ECDC. Therefore, there is wide variation on reporting by member states.

Danish hospital officials say that a Danish tourist has been infected by the Zika virus after visiting southern and central America.

In a statement Tuesday, the Aarhus University Hospital said the patient ran a fever, had a headache and muscle aches and was discovered as having the virus on Tuesday.

The hospital released no further details about the patient but it says that there is little risk of it spreading in Denmark because the mosquito carrying the virus isn’t found in the country.

Danish broadcaster DR quoted Professor Lars Ostergaard from the university hospital as saying the case involved a young man. Ostergaard said the patient was allowed to go home after doctors made sure that he was feeling well. - Washington Post.



US Virgin Islands record first case of Zika virus

The Virgin Islands Department of Health has confirmed the territory’s first case Zika virus.

It said the virus was found in a 42-year-old woman in St. Croix with no history of previous travel during the incubation period of the virus.

- Caribbean 360.



Airlines are refunding tickets to Latin America

Airlines are starting to offer refunds to passengers who have booked flights to countries in central and south America caught up in the Zika virus outbreak.  The relatively new mosquito-borne virus is connected with a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika or medicine to treat the infection.

British Airways said pregnant customers with flights to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, or to Mexico City or Cancun (Mexico), could change their booking free of charge, delay their journey or choose an alternative destination. This applies through February.

American Airlines (AAL) is offering pregnant passengers a full refund if they provide a doctor's note showing they are unable to fly to the following cities: San Salvador (El Salvador), San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa in Honduras, Panama City and Guatemala City.

United Airlines (UAL) said its giving any customers "who are traveling to the affected regions the opportunity to rebook at a later date or receive a full refund."


The Aedes aegypti mosquito carries the Zika virus.

South American carriers LAN Airlines (LFL) and TAM Airlines are also offering to change tickets for pregnant passengers traveling to Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, French Guiana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Surinam and Venezuela.

The Zika virus has spread to at least 25 countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning pregnant women against travel to those areas.

Health officials in several of those countries have told female citizens to avoid becoming pregnant, in some cases for up to two years.

All the airlines said they are constantly reviewing their policies on refunds and changes to bookings. United has linked to the Center for Disease Control's Zika travel advice, which now includes Central America, South America and the Caribbean. - CNN Money.



US scientists say vaccine '10 years away'


American scientists studying the Zika virus have warned that it could be a decade before a vaccine is publicly available.

The virus is linked to shrunken brains in unborn children, leading to severe brain damage or death.

It has spread to more than 20 countries, and has caused panic in Brazil where thousands of people have been infected.

There is currently no vaccine or cure, and diagnostic testing is difficult.

The search for a vaccine is being led by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

They have visited Brazil to carry out research and collect samples, and are now analysing them in a suite of high-security laboratories in Galveston.

But they warn that although a vaccine could be ready for testing in two years, it may be another decade for it to be approved by regulators.

Access to the building is tightly controlled by police and the FBI.

Speaking to the BBC inside the facility, Professor Scott Weaver, director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, said people were right to be frightened by the virus.

"It's certainly a very significant risk," he said, "and if infection of the foetus does occur and microcephaly develops we have no ability to alter the outcome of that very bad disease which is sometimes fatal or leaves children mentally incapacitated for the remainder of their life". - BBC.






WEATHER ANOMALIES: California's Snowpack Is DEEPEST In Five Years After Recent Storms - 18.7 Inches On Tuesday, 115 PERCENT Of The Historical Average For That Date!


January 27, 2016 - CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES - California’s current snowpack is the deepest it has been in five years -- a modest, yet encouraging milestone in a period of prolonged drought.

Readings of the Sierra Nevada snowpack on Tuesday showed water content statewide was 18.7 inches, or 115% of the historical average for that date, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

Water officials say the good news is that California’s snowpack and reservoirs have benefited from El NiƱo rainstorms. But they warned that it was too soon to determine whether winter rains were enough to make any major dent on the California’s drought.

The snowpack’s water content must be significantly greater than the April 1 average of 28 inches to have any considerable effect on the drought, according to the department.

Water levels in the state’s reservoirs have increased since Dec. 1, but storage is still far below historical averages.

Water officials will take manual measurements at dozens of snow courses in a 10-day period next month to determine just how much water is in the state’s snowpack.

In an average year, melting snowpack provides roughly one third of the water used by California cities and farms.

2015 was a brutal snowpack year, officials said.

Above-average temperatures and below-normal precipitation resulted in a historically meager snowpack, according to the department. The snowpack measured at only 23% of average last February. Snow water content levels dipped further in March 2015, measuring at only 19% of average.

The snowpack reached an all-time low on April 1, when water content readings came in at 5% of average. That milestone prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to order mandatory reductions in urban water use.

“The scant snowpack and subsequent drop in snowmelt runoff were large contributors to confirming California’s fourth consecutive year of drought,” the department said in a statement.

The last time the snowpack was higher was in 2011 when it reached 129% of average. - L.A. Times.






RATTLE & HUM: Mysterious Sounds Heard Across The Planet - Strange Inexplicable Boom Heard In Many Parts Of The Ozarks, Arkansas?!

Ozark National Forest

January 27, 2016 - ARKANSAS, UNITED STATES - The source of a mysterious sound heard Sunday afternoon in many parts of the Ozarks is still primarily that — a mystery.

Harrison Police began getting calls about the sound just before 4:45 p.m. Sunday.

The first caller was on West Park Avenue. The woman reported she heard an explosion and felt vibrations, although the explosion sounded a long way off.

An officer on patrol checked in the immediate area, but didn't locate anything that might have been the source. A report said he spoke to people at the Soccer Complex who also heard it and thought it might have come from the Highway 7 South area.

A few minutes later, a caller on Highland reported hearing it and an officer checked that area, speaking to people on Windsor Drive who said it shook their house.

A caller in Batavia also reported hearing the explosion, but Boone County Sheriff's Office officials said they didn't locate a possible source either.

Some people thought it might have been an earthquake. However, the U.S. Geological Survey website shows the nearest earthquake in that time frame was about eight miles southwest of Cherokee, Oklahoma. It was measured at a magnitude of 3.1.

A USGS seismologist said it's not uncommon for people to hear what sounds like an explosion during an earthquake.

However, she said a 3.1 magnitude quake usually won't be heard or felt more than 200 kilometers away, or about 125 miles.

Cherokee, Oklahoma, is almost 500 kilometers from Harrison.


Other people thought it might have been a sonic boom, the sound generated when an aircraft breaks the critical speed of Mach 1, which is roughly 760 mph.

But aviation experts say aircraft are usually limited to where they can break the sound barrier and aren't allowed to over populated areas.

"It's possible there was a sonic boom from a military aircraft," Lunsford said in a statement. "If so, it would have made a loud sound like thunder. Depending on altitude, it's possible that people might have been able to feel it on the ground, or see signs such as dishes or windows rattling."

Still, he reiterated that the only aircraft capable of going supersonic these days belong to the military. - Harrison Daily News.








FIRE IN THE SKY: "Extremely Bright" - Fireball Meteor Burns Through South Georgia Skies; "Significant Material On The Ground"!

File photo.

January 27, 2016 - SOUTHERN UNITED STATES - Dozens of spotters sighted a fireball burning its way through the skies of South Georgia and North Florida Sunday, and a Valdosta State University astronomer said it may have been a meteorite making landfall in the region.

More than 50 reports of an "extremely bright daytime fireball" around 10:25 a.m. have been submitted to the American Meteor Society, according to the group's website. Most of the sightings were to the east and southeast of Valdosta, though some sightings were made in the Tallahassee, Fla., area to Valdosta's west, according to a map on the website.

Dr. Martha Leake of the physics, astronomy and geosciences department at Valdosta State said she was alerted to the fireball by Dr. William Cooke, a VSU graduate and head of the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.

"Apparently, Doppler weather radar tracked it down to an altitude of a mile," she said, indicating "significant material on the ground." Leake said the lack of sightings in and around Valdosta may have been due to the position of the sun at the time. The potential impact area would be south of Fargo in Clinch County and northeast of White Springs, Fla., Leake said.

"I suspect some of it wound up in the (Okefenokee) swamp or on farmland south of the swamp," she said.


AMS Event #266-2016 – Heat map of the witnesses and estimated ground trajectory

Maps at the American Meteor Society website suggest an impact east of US 441 north of Lake City, Fla.

The fireball was apparently a "meteorite fall," according to the website. A meteor is a stony or metallic chunk of debris falling through Earth's atmosphere; it takes on the name "meteorite" if it hits the ground.

Leake said meteorites fall into three general categories: Iron meteorites, more common stony meteorites, and meteorites composed of both stone and iron.


NASA provided maps tracking a fireball over South Georgia and North Florida via Doppler weather radar Sunday.© Jerry Richards /The Valdosta Daily Times

"Mostly likely (Sunday's fireball) was a stony meteorite, which would look like any other rock" except for being dark on the outside due to heat friction from falling through the atmosphere, she said.

Though falling space debris is reported daily, a daytime fireball is "pretty extraordinary," Leake said.

Mike Hankey, a spokesman for the meteor society, suggested people in the area check security cameras to see if they caught images of the fireball.

On April 29, 2011, several reports of a fireball in the sky over Lowndes County led to speculation that a meteor or other space debris may have been spotted. - The Valdosta Daily Times.







EXTREME WEATHER: Three-Day Storm Hits Jerusalem - Israeli Electric Corporation Declares State Of Emergency!

Snow falls in central Jerusalem on Monday.© Hadas Parush/Flash90

January 27, 2016 - ISRAEL - Electric corporation kicks it into high gear as snow starts moving in ahead of overnight buildup; electricity usage breaks record

Jerusalem was visited by bursts of snow showers on Monday as a three-day storm continues to set upon Israel, and the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) has declared a state of emergency in the capital in anticipation of the coming deluge.

On Monday the record for electricity usage in winter was broken, as the 12,200 megawatt previous high was shattered and consumption continues to rise. A 2.3% increase from the previous record has already been reached.

A full 47 millimeters (nearly two inches) of rain fell in Jerusalem on Monday, making it the highest amount of rainfall in the entire country.
While snow also fell down upon the capital, it did not stick or build up - but that's to change on Monday night, as Jerusalemites can anticipate to wake to a white morning on Tuesday.

IEC Director Maj. Gen. (res.) Yiftah Ron-Tal updated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) on Monday regarding the company's preparations for electricity disturbances in Jerusalem, after snow began falling earlier in the day.

A situation room has been opened in Jerusalem and an emergency situation has been declared by the IEC.

The corporation is to reinforce its crews on the ground, as well as its staff on the 103 telephone hotline which is in direct contact with the Jerusalem municipality and the police, passing out information to the interested public and fielding reports of power outages.

On Sunday, the IEC deployed a mobile power station to the Atarot neighborhood in the north of Jerusalem, so as to back-up the power supply in the capital. It has also dispatched generators to remote towns where access has been limited due to the weather conditions.

IEC is preparing for unusually high electricity consumption on Monday night due to the rapid drop in temperature over the last day.

While the storm weakened somewhat on Monday, the cold wave blowing in from Russia continues to move in, and heavy rains and winds blustered throughout the country, accompanied by thunderstorms and hail. Flood warnings remain in effect for certain locations.

The rain will continue intermittently overnight, with potential snowfall in the north. That snow is to gather on mountains over 700 meters (just under 2,300 feet) in height in the center of the country, including in Jerusalem, and build overnight.

In light of the approaching snow, police are preparing to close Highways 1 and 443 that connect the coastal region and Jerusalem on Monday night. - Arutz Sheva.






FIRE IN THE SKY: Eyewitness Descriptions Suggest Collision Of Two Helicopters Off Hawaii Were Taken Out By METEOR EXPLOSION - 12 Marines Were Killed?!


January 27, 2016 - HAWAII - All four life rafts from the two choppers that collided off Oahu's North Shore have been recovered, but rescuers have yet to find any sign of survivors. The search for the 12 Marines on board the two helicopters continued into its fifth day Tuesday, with Marines combing North Shore beaches for debris, while multiple county, state and federal agencies search for survivors by air and sea.

Navy divers have also been dispatched, and are using sonar technology around the last known position of the two choppers about two miles off Haleiwa. So far, they haven't seen any debris. The two Marine Corps choppers collided during a routine training mission about 10:40 p.m. Thursday, setting off a massive ocean search-and-rescue effort during one of the biggest swells of the winter season. Low visibility also hampered search efforts.

Ocean conditions are favorable for searching Tuesday, but surf is expected to start rising again Wednesday. The Coast Guard says there has been no indication that anyone was ever on the life rafts that were recovered. Still, the Coast Guard said Sunday that it remains hopeful survivors will be found, and in a statement Monday, Coast Guard officials said their goal is to ensure with "absolute certainty we've thoroughly canvassed every location we might find them."

On Saturday, the Coast Guard said it had found debris from the two helicopters in waters off Oahu.


US Marines and police discuss search and rescue options after two military choppers go down off Hawaii© HNN


High surf has scattered debris across a wide swath of waters off Oahu, from Kahuku to Waianae. "The debris that's been located is consistent with the aircraft of this type," said Coast Guard Lt. Scott Carr. "I know a lot of people are focused on the debris, but we're really focused on hopefully finding survivors." Both of the CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters had six Marines aboard when they crashed. Authorities said they did not get a distress call from either helicopter. Witnesses said the collision produced a fireball that lit up the night sky.

"It was like daytime,"
said Chase Tantog, 21, who was fishing at Chun's Reef when he saw what he thought was a meteor falling from the sky. "It was just a big fireball coming down," he said. "There was debris, too, on the side, like coming off. Once it hit the water, it just blacked out and then you hear the thunder roar after. It was really loud."

Witnesses recount collision

Residents up and down the North Shore saw -- or heard -- the collision Thursday night. Don Williams said the collision produced "two big booms. It shook the house," he said. "I couldn't figure out what it was."


WATCH: 12 missing after Marine choppers collide off Oahu.




Tantog, who was fishing at Chun's Reef, said the fireball in the night sky was so big "I thought the world was going to end." One woman said she was at Haleiwa Harbor on Thursday night when she saw what she thought was a flare. "I didn't see it shoot up, I saw when something was coming down." - Hawaii News Now.







ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Emirati Sailor Recounts Shark Attack On His Fishing Boat; Predator Leaps Aboard!

The two-ton shark has been mummified to be displayed for visitors at the Marine Heritage Museum. © Emarat Al Youm

January 27, 2016 - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - A two-tonne, 4-metre shark attacked an Emirati sailor and his crew of five on the deck of their fishing boat at Fujairah coastline.

The Emirati sailor recalled the horrific incident that took place in the early hours of Sunday when the shark suddenly jumped into the boat.

According to Hamza Al Sharaa, the Emirati sailor, the shark seemed hungry and was trying to find anything to eat.

"It was 2 am and we were 28 miles away from the shore," he told The National.

"One of our crew members was fixing the fishing rope on the boat when the shark jumped out of the water from his back trying to eat him and, in seconds, it was in the middle of the boat after it hit one of the boat barriers," he said adding that the shark leapt three metres out of the water to get onto the boat.


WATCH: Shark attacks sailor in the UAE.




"We were all in a state of shock. This is the first time we have witnessed such an incident."

No one was reported injured as barrier on the boat prevented from any untoward incident. However, the boat had to be sent for maintenance as it suffered material damage.

The two-ton shark has been mummified to be displayed for visitors at the Marine Heritage Museum, reported local Arabic daily Emarat Al Youm. - Gulf Digital News.



EXTREME WEATHER: Strong Storm System Hits Wales - Over 1,100 Homes Without Electricity; UNPRECEDENTED Flooding; Mass Evacuation! [PHOTOS]

Stuart Ladd

January 27, 2016 - WALES - According to the BBC, about 450 houses were affected on Tuesday morning, and another 700 later in south-west Wales.

The country's authorities have issued numerous warnings about possible floods, and the Meteorological Office of the country warned that rainfall on Tuesday and Wednesday could reach 4 inches.

Earlier in December, hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes due to an unprecedented flooding with the highest level ever recorded in some parts of northern Britain.

Tens of thousands of homes were left without electricity because of heavy rain and strong wind. - Sputnik.


Stuart Ladd

Stuart Ladd

Stuart Ladd

The Dyfi River has burst its banks in Machynlleth, Powys.  Stuart Ladd

Stuart Ladd

A driver stuck in flood water has been rescued by firefighters after Storm Jonas brought heavy rain to parts of Wales.

Crews freed the car on the A4069 between Llangadog and Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, after the River Bran burst its banks.

The Met Office had warned up to 10cm (4in) of rain could fall on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the worst of the weather is expected to clear by 15:00 GMT.

Flood alerts and warnings are in place.

In mid Wales, the Dyfi River has burst its banks near Machynlleth, Powys. - BBC.



PLANETARY TREMORS: "Never Felt A Tremor This Strong Before" - Undersea Earthquake Measuring 4.4 Magnitude Strikes Malta!


January 27, 2016 - MALTA - An undersea earthquake measuring 4.4 on the richter scale was felt in all parts of Malta at around 6pm.

According to the website of the University of Malta's Seismic Monitoring & Research Group the tremor took place to the north east of Malta, around 30 kilometres out. It lasted for around ten seconds.

The tremor seemed to be more violent than usual. Buildings shook for a few seconds and this newsroom received several reports from our readers.

A person in Gharghur wrote: short but very strong as things fell off the shelves!!


People wrote on Facebook and on news website comment boards that today's tremor reminded them of another strong quake felt in the 1960s.

Many said they had never felt a tremor this strong before.


A police spokesperson confirmed that this was an earthquake that had been felt in several localities.

On Twitter, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Chris Fearne confirmed that no casualties were reported to the health services.

A 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit Libya earlier today.

This evening's Parliamentary sitting was suspended for a few minutes as MPs were asked to exit the building when the tremor was felt. - Malta Independent.




ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Disaster Precursors - Dog Killed After It Attacks, Injures Person And Another Dog In Grand Forks, North Dakota?!


January 26, 2016 - NORTH DAKOTA, UNITED STATES - A dog was killed Saturday after it reportedly attacked another dog at a Grand Forks dog park.

At 4:43 p.m., police were dispatched to the Lincoln Dog Park on Euclid Drive for a report of a dog bite.

Witnesses told police a dog ran toward the dog park from the river area. The dog then bit another dog on the neck and wouldn’t let go, according to a news release.

The owner of the victim dog, who was not named in the release, was unable to separate the two animals.

After the owner also was injured during the attack, he or she fatally injured the attacking dog, according to the release.

The owner of the attacking dog, whose name also wasn’t released, collected the body of his dog and apologized for the incident but left before witnesses could get his information.

Police arrived at the dog park after the attacking dog’s owner, who was observed driving a 2016 red and white Razor XP, left the park.

Police said in the release they would like to contact the owner of the attacking dog to verify details of the attack.

Anyone with information on the incident should call the Grand Forks Police Department at (701) 787-8000. - Grand Forks Herald.