Earthquake

Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.2 Earthquake hits southern Iran.

5.1 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

5.0 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits Tajikistan.

5.0 Earthquake hits Vanuatu.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical Cyclone Victor is located approximately 112 nm southwest of Tonga, and is tracking southwestward at 10 knots.

Tropical cyclone 08s (Corentin), located approximately 866 nm south of Diego Garcia, is tracking southward at 08 knots.

NewsBytes:

USA – Snow started to fall in Washington early Friday afternoon. The city, along with Baltimore, may get more than 61 centimetres, according to the National Weather Service. New York and Long Island may see as much as 46 centimetres. A paralysing winter storm forced the cancellation of thousands of flights, knocked out power to homes and threatened Washington with one of its heaviest snowfalls on record as it moved up the US East Coast. Grocery store shelves were emptied in preparation for the storm, which was dubbed “Snowzilla” by The Washington Post’s weather team. Schools and government offices in Washington were all closed, with public transportation scheduled to shut down late Friday until early Monday.

Wildlife

PCB Pollution Still Killing European Marine Mammals

Lingering PCB pollution in the environment continues to kill whales and dolphins in European coastal waters even though the toxins have been banned since the 1970s because of their deadly effects.

A new study led by Paul Jepson from the Zoological Society of London found that levels of PCBs in Europe’s cetaceans are among the highest in the world.

Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, Jepson says the contamination is so high among some killer whale populations that the species is facing local extinction.

He says only eight killer whales are left off western Scotland and Ireland.

But some of the highest concentrations of PCBs are found in the western Mediterranean and southwestern Iberian Peninsula, according to the report.

Scientists have detected toxic levels of PCP pollution in the fat of dead killer whales and dolphins.

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Wildfires

Wildfires – Tasmania

A total fire ban has been declared across Tasmania for the next four days in an effort to help firefighters get on top dozens of uncontrolled blazes.

The ban is for the entire state and will run from midnight Friday until midnight on Tuesday, January 26. It is the first time the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) has had to impose such a long ban.

There are still 75 fires burning; 54 of those remain uncontained.

Drought

Drought and Famine in Ethiopia

The Save the Children charity says it has raised less than a third of what it needs to help Ethiopia cope with a drought which has left 10.2 million people critically short of food.

Experts say the drought is worse than the one seen in 1984, when years of conflict followed by a lack of rain led to a famine that killed up to one million people.

Almost 5.8 million of those facing critical food shortages were children, with 400,000 severely malnourished or close to it, making them highly susceptible to pneumonia or malaria.