California tortoises died trying to reproduce during drought

Scientists examining the deaths of female desert tortoises in Southern California said it appears the animals died while exhausting their water and energy to lay eggs during California’s historic drought.

Researchers want to know why female tortoises are dying in greater numbers than males in the Joshua Tree National Park.

U.S. Geological Survey biologist Jeffrey Lovich said he believes the tortoises died during a desperate attempt to fight extinction. He called it an “evolutionary gamble” — choosing to try and reproduce despite harsh conditions.

“Females will go out of their way to produce a clutch of four or so eggs,” Lovich told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “They’ll do it during a drought, when they can’t find the water they need, to have a chance to win at the game of life.”

Over the past three decades, Joshua Tree’s tortoise population has plummeted from about 30,000 to an all-time low of roughly 3,000.

Desert tortoises are a threatened species that typically have 50-year lifespans in the wild, with some living 80 years.

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Chimp Extinction

Tanzanian experts fear that chimpanzees could join elephants and rhinos as the most threatened wildlife species in the country due to their dwindling populations.

“A hundred years ago, there were probably 2 million, but now only 150,000 to 200,000,” said Anthony Collins, a baboon researcher at Gombe Stream National Park.

He told Tanzania’s The Citizen daily that destruction of habitat, illegal hunting and capture for medical research are the greatest threats to the chimps’ survival.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

In the South Indian Ocean: Tropical Cyclone “Carlos” (04S) Carlos continues to weaken and is expected to dissipate as it moves southeast at 19 mph into the southern Indian Ocean.


Northern California, USA – Heavy floods continue to damage parts of Northern California Saturday. Despite seeing a break in the rain, residents continued to feel the effects of the latest storm. Evacuations have been issued in the low-lying areas of Wilton and Point Pleasant.

Western Australia – With much of the continent enduring intense heat, several small communities in Western Australia’s Wheatbelt region are dealing with floodwaters. Water levels within the Avon River catchment are expected rise over the weekend with up to 70mm of rain recorded in the 24 hours to Friday night, the Bureau of Meteorology says. Flooding hit the community of Toodyay, along Stirling Terrace, and Mortlock River East at O’Driscolls Farm on Saturday morning. Moderate flooding was also expected along the river in Beverley, with water under the town’s bridge at 1.75m and rising. Residents in Northam were also told to expect minor flooding with some already deciding to head to higher ground.

Indonesia – At least 13 people have been killed and thousands more made homeless after devastating floods swept across Indonesia. The idyllic tourist hotspot of Bali was partially submerged after five days of torrential rain triggered deadly landslides. Rivers on Sumbawa Island burst their banks following rainfall of 12 to 28 inches, flooding seven sub-districts. Some 8,000 were stranded in their villages in two sub-districts which are now only accessible by boat. The agency warned more heavy rains could be on the way, bringing with it further flooding and landslides adding to the misery of remaining residents, many of whom live in stilt houses. Millions of people live in mountainous areas or on flood plains, with heavy rainfall regularly causing landslides and floods on the archipelago.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.


USA – A spate of violent, fast-moving tornadoes continued to wreak havoc across the Deep South on Sunday, killing at least 14 people in south Georgia and raising the weekend’s severe-weather death toll to 18. Some of the most extensive damage came Sunday afternoon, when a large twister with winds of 60 mph tore across Albany, Ga., killing at least three people and mangling homes across suburban neighbourhoods. An elementary school, an airport and the sprawling Marine Corps Logistics Base were hit, Rowe said. So much debris blocked roads that fire crews had to navigate communities on foot. Earlier Sunday, just before 3 a.m., a single long-track tornado, or a couple of smaller tornadoes, struck the Georgia-Florida line, hurtling northeast for about 80 miles.

Australia – The weather bureau has issued an alert for severe thunderstorms with damaging winds of up to 125km/h for several regions — while Adelaide is also expecting a possible storm. Heavy rainfall may lead to flash flooding and wind gusts of 90-125km/h in the warning area — Lower Eyre Peninsula, Eastern Eyre Peninsula North West Pastoral, North East Pastoral and parts of the West Coast and Yorke Peninsula — over the next several hours, the Bureau of Meteorology says. Locations which may be affected include Cummins, Ernabella, Coober Pedy, Roxby Down and Marree. About 50mm of rain has already been recorded in Elliston and 49mm of rain at Cummins since 9am this morning.

California, USA – Fast-moving floodwaters swept through mountain communities south of the San Francisco Bay Area as thunderstorms and powerful winds wallop California. Rock slides, debris flows and flooding have closed roads and snarled traffic up and down the state as the third storm in four days dumped heavy rain and snow in the mountains. Flash flood watches and warnings are in effect for swaths of greater Los Angeles, where mountain locations could see up to 6 inches of rain. California residents have evacuated neighbourhoods below hillsides scarred by wildfires as the third — and largest — in the latest series of storms brings powerful rain and warnings about flash flooding and possible mudslides.

Tahiti – Heavy flooding in French Polynesia has forced many residents to evacuate, cut off power to thousands of homes, and closed Tahiti’s international airport. The French Polynesia High Commission said three people were injured, one seriously, while more than 100 homes were destroyed. Major roads were damaged by landslides. The floods were most severe on the islands of Tahiti and Moorea.

Singapore – A heavy downpour caused flash floods and traffic snarls in Singapore during the morning peak period on Monday.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.


California, USA – A powerhouse storm slammed into southern California on Friday, bringing flash floods and mudslides and leading to traffic chaos across much of the region. A flood on the southern Santa Barbara County coast swept several cabins and vehicles down El Capitan Canyon, the Associated Press said. Photos on social media showed cars and buildings buried in mud. The storm is forecast to bring heavy snow across portions of the Sierra later on Friday and into Saturday. It will also dump snow and rain across much of Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico over the weekend. The torrential downpours overwhelmed a levee in a farming area near Hollister Friday, sending flood waters rushing through a breach and swamping farms and homes in the region.

Thailand – Persistent rain throughout Friday caused flooding to several districts of the southern provinces of Songkhla, Narathiwat Pattani, Trang and Yala early Saturday. The ground floors of several buildings, including the parking lot of a Tesco Lotus store in the municipality, were inundated. It was the third outbreak of flooding in Songkhla municipality since the start of the year. In Saba Yoi district, Ban Lae Baeng village was flooded for the fourth time this year.

Philippines – At least four areas in Mindanao, including the cities of Valencia and Cagayan de Oro, have been placed under a state of calamity as widespread flooding brought about by heavy rains this week displaced thousands of residents. No storm passed through the island but a low pressure area and the tail end of a cold front dumped heavy rains that submerged communities, business centres and farmlands on the island.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.


California, USA – California has been hit by seven days of major rain storms, causing flooding all over the state and prompting evacuations. More heavy rain is forecasted for the Golden State in the coming days. After six years of drought, parts of California have received record amounts of rain, causing rivers to flood, roads to close, trees to fall, power to go out and businesses to shut down. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued several warnings across the state, and authorities have advised thousands of Californians to evacuate their homes after rivers overflowed. Just outside of the state capital, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department advised 2,000 residents of Wilton to leave their homes. In Sonoma County, 3,000 residents were placed under an evacuation advisory as the Russian River flooded by more than 35 feet on Monday. In Guerneville, the river gushed into residential areas, where residents used canoes to help their neighbours evacuate their homes, which were submerged under several feet of water. Along with the rain, northern California was hit with record snowfall at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in central California, which reported 15 new feet of snow in the past six days.


California Forests Failing to Regrow After Intense Wildfires

There are warning signs that some forests in the western U.S. may have a hard time recovering from the large and intense wildfires that have become more common as the climate warms.

After studying 14 burned areas across 10 national forests in California, scientists from UC Davis and the U.S. Forest Service said recent fires have killed so many mature, seed-producing trees across such large areas that the forests can’t re-seed themselves. And because of increasingly warm temperatures, burned areas are quickly overgrown by shrubs, which can prevent trees from taking root.

Historically, severe fires were uncommon in the forests covered by the study, largely made up of yellow pines and mixed conifers, but extended drought and heatwaves have exacerbated fire conditions across the West. The changing climate is also seen as a factor in recent wildfires in the Southeast, which is also mired in drought.

Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

No current tropical storms.


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Queensland, Australia – Torrential overnight rain has caused extensive flash flooding across Mount Isa and surrounding areas in the state’s north-west. Many local roads had gone under as well as all of the city’s small bridges. The highest fall was recorded at the Mt Isa mine, where 97.6 millimetres fell in the 24 hours to 9:00am.

California, USA – Flash flood warnings and advisories were issued for parts of the North Bay Thursday as a potent storm front slammed into the San Francisco Bay Area, bringing with it heavy rains and strong winds. The heavy precipitation from the storm system prompted numerous warnings over the course of the day.


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

8.0 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

Hundreds of people in remote parts of the Solomon Islands have had their homes damaged or destroyed by a powerful magnitude 8.0 earthquake that struck Friday. There have been no deaths reported from the quake, which also caused some small tsunami waves in the Solomon Islands and other Pacific islands.

There are some initial reports that 3,000 people have been affected. Many of the structures are traditional houses that are on stilts, and made with vegetation. The quake also caused some power failures throughout the country.

Tsunami warnings for several Pacific islands, including Hawaii, were canceled Friday after authorities determined the earthquake didn’t pose a broad tsunami threat.


6.8 Earthquake hits off the coast of northern California.

6.1 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

5.7 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

Two 5.5 Earthquakes hit the Solomon Islands.

5.4 Earthquake hits the Solomon Islands.

Three 5.3 Earthquakes hit the Solomon Islands.

5.2 Earthquake hits offshore Coquimbo, Chile.

Four 5.2 Earthquakes hit the Solomon Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits off the coast of El Salvador.

Seven 5.1 Earthquakes hit the Solomon Islands.

Four 5.0 Earthquakes hit the Solomon Islands.

5.0 Earthquake hits off the coast of northern California.


California’s Long Drought Has Killed 100 Million Trees

The lingering drought in California has killed more than 100 million trees, according to the U.S. Forest Service’s latest aerial survey.

The recent death count found that 62 million trees have died just this year in California, bringing the six-year total to more than 102 million. More than five years of drought are to blame for the tree deaths, scientists said, adding that tree “fatalities” increased by 100 percent in 2016.

The agency said that millions of additional trees are expected to die in the coming months and years. California’s drought has affected 7.7 million acres of forests, putting the region’s whole ecology at risk.

With more dead trees in forests, wildfires have a “fuel buildup” that could lead to large, unpredictable fires. California has experienced longer, hotter fire seasons in recent years, and USFS scientists said that they expect tree mortality to continue at elevated levels in 2017.



Wildfires – California, USA

Officials say a wildfire threatening hundreds of structures in a remote area of California’s Santa Cruz Mountains continues to grow.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jeremy Rahn said Thursday that the Loma Fire has scorched 3,849 acres of trees and dry brush in steep terrain south of San Jose. At least 325 structures are in the path of the fire, which is 22 percent contained.


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

6.5 Earthquake hits Fiji.

6.3 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.6 Earthquake hits Papua, Indonesia.

5.4 Earthquake hits south of the Kermedec Islands.

5.3 Earthquake hits Antofagasta, Chile.

5.3 Earthquake hits south of the Kermedec Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits south of the Kermedec Islands.

5.1 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Banda Sea.

5.0 Earthquake hits near the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.0 Earthquake hits Fiji.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Izu Islands off Japan.

5.0 Earthquake hits off the coast of northern California.


Wildfires – California, USA

Firefighters in California continue to battle the Soberanes Fire near Big Sur, which recently became the most expensive wildfire in United States history. The blaze, which has been burning for almost two months, has cost $208.4 million to fight as of September 20, according to the Associated Press.

The fire began on July 22, with an illegal, unattended campfire. As of Friday, the fire was 71 percent contained. More than 2,000 firefighters are battling the fire, which has burned 121,000 acres, making it the 20th largest fire in California’s history.


Wildfires – California

Cal Fire says over 4,000 firefighters are battling nine wildfires in California. The fires are stretched across the state from the southern part of the state to the northern areas.

Butte County’s Saddle Fire remains at 850 acres and is now 60 percent contained. Three structures were destroyed in this fire, another 300 were threatened, before crews gained containment. Now 100 structures remain threatened. Area evacuation orders were lifted Wednesday evening. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

The Soberanes Fire that was started in Monterey County caused by an illegal campfire, is burning at 102,499 acres and is 60 percent contained. The Soberanes fire has been burning for 49 days.

Nevada County’s Pheonix Fire and San Bernardino’s Spring Fire are the most recently started fires.


Magnitude 5+ Earthquakes – Global

5.6 Earthquake hits offshore northern California.

5.4 Earthquake hits off the east coast of North Island, New Zealand.

Two 5.3 Earthquakes hit off the east coast of North Island, New Zealand.

5.2 Earthquake hits Tonga.

5.2 Earthquake hits off the east coast of North Island, New Zealand.

5.2 Earthquake hits off the east coast of Honshu, Japan.

5.0 Earthquake hits Jan Mayan island.

5.0 Earthquake hits the Moro Gulf, Mindanao in the Philippines.

5.0 Earthquake hits the South Sandwich Islands.

Two 5.0 Earthquakes hit off the east coast of North Island, New Zealand.