Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Tropical cyclone 11p (Winston), located approximately 348 nm west of Suva, Fiji, is tracking west-southwestward at 02 knots.


Cyclone winston damage aerial photo

Fiji – The death toll from tropical cyclone Winston has risen to 21. Many remote villages have been completely flattened by the slow moving storm with many communications lines still cut. The government has declared a 30-day state of natural disaster (state of emergency) and a curfew.

Nottinghamshire, England – A car was sucked into a sinkhole created by a burst water pipe in Nottinghamshire. The driver thought it was a puddle!

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Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.9 Earthquake hits offshore Coquimbo, Chile.

5.6 Earthquake hits the Volcano Islands off Japan.

5.5 Earthquake hits Nepal.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Strait of Gibraltar.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Xizang-Nepal border.


For Rare-Species Poachers, Scientific Journals Are Treasure Maps

Recently, commercial collectors have been using reports of such new species in scientific journals as tools to track down the newbies so they can sell them for a profit on the exotic pet trade market.

Since being scientifically described in the 1990s, the Indonesian turtle Chelodina mccordi and another cave gecko (Goniurosaurus luii) fetch pet trade prices ranging from $1,500 to $2,000 apiece, the researchers said. The demand is so high that C. mccordi is almost extinct in the wild, and G. luii has gone locally extinct.

Likewise, the salamander Paramesotriton laoensis in northern Laos costs between $170 and $250 each on the black market, the researchers said. Smugglers often offer villagers less than $1 to collect the black-and-yellow Laotian newt (Laotriton laoensis), and then turn around and sell each one for as much as $200.

Despite the risks of revealing a newfound animal’s location, many researchers still publish that information. This data can help researchers understand how a previously unknown species fits into the ecosystem and the size of its habitat range.

Researchers chose not to publish the location of the newly identified cave gecko species Goniurosaurus kadoorieorum for fear that exotic pet trade poachers would wipe them out.

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California Songbird Die-Off

Following the death of hundreds of pine siskins, a small songbird that inhabits California’s forested areas, state wildlife officials are asking that people empty their birdbaths and take down their bird feeders.

Since early December there have been reports of at least 300 pine siskins found dead in the Redding area, as well as in the Central and South Coast regions. Scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) believe that Salmonellosis — a fatal disease caused by Salmonella bacteria — is largely to blame, and that infected bird feeders and birdbaths are partly responsible for the epidemic.

Based on the number of reported deaths, officials estimate more than 1,000 pine siskins have died this winter from salmonella bacteria. The disease is easily spread when birds ingest contaminated food or water, or come in contact with objects, such as bird feeders, perches or soil that have faeces left behind from infected birds. A similar outbreak occurred last winter, officials say.

Pine siskins


Wildfires – Oklahoma, USA – Update

The Oklahoma wildfires have now burned at least 60,300 acres, according to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Fire officials say a large wildfire continues to burn Sunday morning, entering the fourth day of rough conditions for firefighters.

The Pharoah-Nuyuka fire is west of Okmulgee and has burned more than 20,000 acres. It was 30% contained as of Saturday night. Fortunately, no large new fires started Saturday, allowing crews to focus on the Pharoah-Nuyuka fire.


Roundup of Global Volcanic Activity

Alaid (Northern Kuriles): New thermal anomalies have been detected from the volcano during the past days via satellite data. It is not known whether or not a new eruption is underway at the volcano which is rarely visited, but one of the most active ones in the area. Its most recent eruption from Oct 2015 to January this year produced spectacular lava flows that flowed into the sea and enlarged the uninhabited island.

The Aviation Colour Code was raised again to yellow.

Colima (Western Mexico): As had been suspected last week, a new (still small) lava dome has appeared inside the volcano’s summit crater. During an overflight on 19 Feb, it was seen to be approx. 25 m in diameter and 10 m tall.

Momotombo (Nicaragua): Activity has been a bit quieter over the past days, but the volcano continues to produce a few (on average two per day) mild to moderate explosions.