Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global
6.9 Earthquake hits southern Xinjiang, China.
The powerful earthquake struck a sparsely populated area of China’s far western region of Xinjiang on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if it caused casualties or significant damage.
5.5 Earthquake hits Antofagasta, Chile.
5.2 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.
In the South Indian Ocean:
Tropical cyclone Fobane is located approximately 596 nm southeast of Port Louis, Mauritius.
UK floods – Parts of the UK face further flooding with stormy weather – and winds that could exceed 100 mph forecast.
USA – A state of emergency has been declared for all of Alabama, Northern Georgia, Northern Mississippi, and Northern Louisiana as the South’s second serious winter storm of 2014 spreads snow, sleet, and freezing rain across the region on Tuesday and Wednesday. Freezing rain at a temperature of 29° was falling at 9 am EST Tuesday morning in northern Mississippi in Columbus, and in Birmingham, Alabama, where it was 32°. The storm, called Winter Storm Pax, begins its most dangerous phase Tuesday night into Wednesday, when rain changes to freezing rain from Eastern Georgia through Central South Carolina. As much as 1″ of freezing rain is expected in Augusta, Georgia and Columbia, South Carolina, and widespread power outages would result if these ice amounts materialize.
Burundi – Burundi is counting the cost of a flood that has devastated many parts of the capital, Bujumbura. At least 50 people are believed to have been killed as water and mud flooding down from the hills washed away hundreds of homes.
Philippines – A tornado in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines has injured one person and destroyed a warehouse late Monday afternoon.
Colorado – An avalanche near Mount Crested Butte in Colorado has claimed life of a snowmobiler and partially buried one other. The avalanche about 500 feet wide occurred close to Kebler Pass on Monday.
Oldest Known Bird Hatches a New Chick
The world’s oldest known wild bird just became a mother again.
The 63-year-old Laysan albatross named Wisdom was spotted taking care of her newborn earlier this month on the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Biologists banded Wisdom in 1956 as she incubated an egg and have been following her ever since. The tough old bird has hatched a new chick for the past seven years in a row and has likely raised more than 30 chicks in her lifetime. She also survived a 2011 tsunami, which claimed 2,000 of her fellow adult albatrosses and about 110,000 chicks in the Midway wildlife refuge, an island habitat in the middle of the North Pacific.
Baby River Turtles Hatch by the Thousands in Brazil
More than 200,000 baby turtles recently crawled out of their shells and swarmed sandy riverbanks in the interior of Brazil.
The mass hatching is an annual event for Great South American river turtles. Every time the dry season rolls around in the the Purus River basin in western Brazil, thousands of newborns emerge in one of the largest known mass hatchings for the species (Podocnemis expansa), according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Scientists with WCS and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation were on hand for the recent mass hatching in November 2013 in Brazil’s Abufari Biological Reserve. The team counted about 210,000 baby river turtles in total and rounded up 15,000 of those young creatures for a “mark and recapture” program.
By keeping tabs on marked turtles, scientists can estimate their population, monitor their travel and track their survival rates in the years to come.
Two H5N1 bird flu outbreaks reported in Vietnam
Central Vietnam’s province of Thanh Hoa and central highlands province of Kon Tum have reported bird flu outbreaks in poultry, local media reported Tuesday.
A chief veterinary officer was reported to be hospitalized with symptoms of fever, fatigue and loss of appetite after coming into contact with outbreaks of H5N1 bird flu in Kon Tum and Thanh Hoa provinces.
The patient was now quarantined for follow-up treatment with the suspected H5N1 bird flu on human, said VNA.
Wildfires – Australia
Around eighteen bushfires continue to burn across southeast Australia. The worst affected states are Victoria and New South Wales.
Parched farms and weary firefighters across Australia can expect at least temporary relief in coming days, with the remnants of a deep monsoonal low bringing cooler weather and some moisture.
Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity:
Mammoth Mountain (California, USA): An small earthquake swarm at shallow depths (around 5 km) occurred east of Mammoth Mountain during the past week. The largest quake was a magnitude 3.0 event on 5 Feb. This latest (of many in the past years) seismic swarm is weak in terms of number and energy of earthquakes compared to long-term averages of seismic activity at the Long Valley caldera, an active volcanic system that is capable to erupt (probably not in a near future, though) and is being closely monitored by very experienced staff from USGS. It could be related to a small intrusion of magma, but is unlikely to be a precursor of a new eruption in any near future. USGS has not changed the status code of the volcanic system (at green=normal).