Science File / An exploration of issues and trends affecting science, medicine and the environment

Blizzard of '96

The worst snowstorm in decades was blamed for at least 100 deaths in the eastern United States. States from New England to the mid-Atlantic declared states of emergency. New York City got nearly two feet of snow, while similar amounts fell in Boston and Washington. Another big storm was forecast for this weekend.

British Freeze

An arctic freeze caused thousands of water pipes to crack in Scotland, Wales and Northern England, and left 750,000 people without water. The Water Services Assn. said a hard freeze during Christmas, followed by a rapid thaw, fractured underground pipes.

Monarch Deaths

Millions of monarch butterflies died at their winter sanctuary in western Mexico as temperatures plunged to 10 degrees Fahrenheit in an arctic cold wave. New photographs showed thousands of dead butterflies littering the snow in the state of Michoacan. As many as to 30% of the 50 million to 60 million butterflies tat migrate form the United States and Canada may have been killed.

Killer Earthquake

A tidal wave followed a massive magnitude 7.7 earthquake, killing eight people on Indonesia's Sulawesi island. The trembler, centered in the Celebes Sea north of Palu, was followed by two major aftershocks on New Year's Day. Most of the deaths occurred in the village of Damsol, 1,500 miles from Sumatra. Other earth movements were recorded in California, Venezuela, the Tonga Islands, Japan, Vancouver Island and the Philippines.

Massive Floods

More than a dozen people were killed and 120,000 evacuated because of massive floods on eh Indonesian island of Sumatra. The Antara news agency said as many as 200 villages were inundated. Romania's Transylvania region was struck by flash floods that cut off roads, rail lines and power supplies. Six people died during the floods, which also damaged crops. In Malawi, Africa, heavy rains washed away homes in three villages.

New Year's Volcano

A column of ash and smoke rose almost four miles, and a column of steam and boiling water shot more than a mile into the air as a new volcano erupted on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula. The new crater was formed just south of Karymdky volcano, the most active in the unpopulated area. Vladimir Shirokov of the Institute of Geology at Kamchatsk said the eruption was followed by several powerful earthquakes.

Additional Sources: U.S. Climate Analysis Center, U.S. Earthquake Information Center and the World Meteorological Organization.

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