Earthquakes

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.1 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands

5.3 Earthquake hits the southern East Pacific Rise.

5.0 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Kamchatka.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Andreanof Islands in the Aleutian Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms

In the Western Pacific Ocean:

Tropical depression Kajiki is located approximately 535 nm southeast of Manila, Philippines.

The storm is packing maximum winds of 55 kph near the centre and is expected to move west at 30 kph. “Kajiki” is expected to make landfall over Surigao provinces between 11 p.m. Friday and 2 a.m. Saturday. It is expected to move towards the West Philippine Sea by Sunday evening.

Cyclone Dylan Drenches Queensland Coast

Tropical storm-force Cyclone Dylan roared onto Australia’s Queensland coast before dawn on Friday with wind gusts of nearly 90 mph.

Storm-surge flooding arrived at nearly the same time that astronomical high tides also lifted ocean levels.

The storm also dumped as much as 18.5 inches of rainfall, triggering local flash flooding inland as well.

Dylan made landfall near Hideaway Bay, between Bowen and Airline Beach, about 3.30 a.m. local time.

Residents of the coastal hamlet of Hideaway Bay awakened to find only limited damage from what Australian meteorologists referred to as a Category-2 cyclone but was internationally catagorized as only a tropical storm.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman expressed relief that the damage appeared to be so light.

A day before Dylan arrived, huge waves of up to 30 feet in height offshore tossed two boats in Bowen’s fishing fleet into each other before smashing the vessels onto the coast.

Drought-stricken Queensland farmers and and ranchers inland were welcoming the remnants of the cyclone, expected to deliver desperately needed rain and ease the parched conditions gripping two thirds of of the state.

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NewsBytes:

UK – More rain, high winds and high tides are set to hit the south and west of the UK, causing further flooding. The Met Office is warning of heavy rain in southern England – including the already flooded Somerset Levels – south Wales and parts of Northern Ireland. The Environment Agency, which has issued numerous flood warnings, said many coastal areas would be affected by high tides in the coming days.

Alaska – This January was Juneau’s wettest month on record. The capital city received 10.15 inches of rain.

New Zealand – Bulging king tides disrupted traffic this morning and flooded a cycleway in Auckland.

Wildlife

Monarch Butterfly Migration May Be Vanishing

The lowest number of monarch butterflies ever recorded in their Mexican winter home has experts worrying about the future of the epic monarch migration.

A new report by the World Wildlife Fund and two Mexican agencies says this year’s precipitous plunge in monarch numbers is due to the loss of the insect’s main food: milkweed.

Loss of the plant’s habitat to urban sprawl and expanding agriculture is said to be literally starving the insects to death. Recent bad weather hasn’t helped.

The black-and-orange iconic butterflies now cover only 1.65 acres in the pine and fir forests of Michoacan state, west of Mexico City.

That’s compared to almost 3 acres last year and more than 44.5 acres at the recorded peak in 1995.

Experts say the long-term decline in the butterfly’s population can no longer be due to brief and unusual weather conditions.

“The main culprit is now [genetically modified] herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops and herbicides in the USA,” which “leads to the wholesale killing of the monarch’s principal food plant, common milkweed,” said Sweet Briar College entomologist Lincoln Brower.

The extreme drought in the U.S. corn belt during the summer of 2012 also wiped out huge numbers of milkweeds. Elizabeth Howard of Journey North says that was a fatal blow to many of the iconic fliers.

Monarchs typically live only four to five weeks, except for the generation that emerges in late summer. That’s the one that migrates the entire way southward to the species’ wintering grounds in Michoacan.

 

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Hundreds of dead animals found at South Africa airport

More than 1,600 animals were discovered crammed into two crates at the OR Tambo International Airport. The survivors are being treated at a local zoo.

The animals, from Madagascar, had been without water and food for at least five days, reports say.

They are believed to have been destined for the exotic pet market in the US.

The animals, which included at least 30 different species of frogs, chameleons, lizards and toads and geckos, had been placed in two crates about half a metre in size – one on top of the other.

The chameleons were tied in small muslin bags, while the other reptiles and amphibians were crammed into small plastic tubs. Some of the animals were so tightly packed together that they were unable to move or turn around.

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Volcanos

Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:

Kavachi (Solomon Islands): A submarine eruption is likely occurring at the submerged volcano. A NASA satellite image from 29 Jan shows a plume of discolored sea water swirling and drifting from the location of the volcano. The discoloration is likely from suspended volcanic sediments (the fragmented lava) and gasses. Kavachi is an undersea volcano on the southern edge of the Solomon Islands in the western Pacific Ocean. It erupted dozens of times in the 20th century, often breaking the water surface, only to be eroded back below the water line within a few months. Whether the new eruption will break the surface and create another new island remains to be seen. Directly above the undersea peak, a bright patch is visible that suggests vigorously churning water—but there is no sign that the eruption has broken the surface. (NASA)

Sinabung (Sumatra, Indonesia): The eruption shows little variations as the volcano continues to effuse viscous magma at the summit vent. A part of that simply contributes to the growth of the lava dome and the viscous lava tongue that descends on the SE flank. Another part of the new magma collapses and produces rock-falls that turn into pyroclastic flows such as this morning.

Now that the gulley on the SE side of the volcano has mostly been filled by the lava flow, pyroclastic flows are no longer well channeled and might take other paths more to the south or east. This makes the situation for some areas more dangerous than before.

Dukono (Halmahera): More ash emissions occurred this morning. Satellite images show an ash plume extending 40 nautical miles (approx 70 km) to the east, at altitudes of around 7,000 ft (2 km).

Shishaldin (United States, Aleutian Islands): The Alaska Volcano Observatory raised the Aviation Color Code of the volcano to YELLOW and the Alert Level to ADVISORY yesterday morning. Increased steaming was seen and satellite data showed a new thermal anomaly in the summit crater indicating a new hot surface, possibly from a new lava dome. The last activity at the volcano dates back to 2004.