A gigantic cloud of charged particles created by a solar burst shortly after the New Year enveloped Earth on Jan. 10, causing an immense geomagnetic storm. This disturbance was so strong that it knocked AT&T;'s Telstar 401 satellite out of service, a $200- million loss. Sky watchers in the Northern Hemisphere were able to observe green streaks in the sky while the 16-million- mile- diameter cloud interacted with the Earth’s magnetic field for more than 24 hours.
Veterinarians at the Warsaw zoo have prescribed three hours of television viewing a day for their chimpanzees in an effort to ward off winter ennui. “They have ropes, tires, a hammock and old clothes to tear up, but they get bored with all of it aftera while this time of year,” said Ewa Zbonikowska. The monkeys will sit still, eyes glued to the set, for up to 40 minutes at a time, and zoo officials believe the treatment is working. One day, however, the chimps suddenly appeared to regard the TV more as a jungle gym, jumping all over the set. “Maybe they just didn’t like the program,” Zbonikowska theorized.
Southwest China was rocked by another series of strong temblors, causing further damage in an already quake- weary country. A magnitude 5.1 seismic slip in Yunnan province damaged houses in Jinghong city and wrecked buildings in neighboring Menghai county. In the Xinjiang region, strong aftershocks of a destructive Jan. 21 temblor produced further structural damage and killed a number of farm animals.
Earth movements were also felt in Indonesia’s Ambon Island and Irian Jaya province, eastern Japan and western Mexico’s Michoacan coast.
Cloudbursts drenching southern Brazil for four days produced some of the worst flooding in 30 years. At least 15 people perished in the inundations across southern Sao Paulo and Parana states, and more than 10,000 people were forced from their homes by the rising waters.
Northern California was hit by another round of flooding and mudslides that inflicted further damage to highways and agriculture.
Tropical cyclone Gretelle, the worst to strike the east coast of Madagascar in living memory, killed at least 50 people and left 60,000 homeless. The storm hit the region with winds of 120 mph and torrential rains that caused heavy damage to communities and coffee crops along the densely populated southeast coast. Gretelle later brought heavy rains to eastern Mozambique.
Cyclone Freda formed briefly over the remote waters of the southern Pacific Ocean. Tropical cyclone Pancho was renamed Helinda as it passed westward into the monitoring jurisdiction of the Meteo France forecast office at Reunion. Cyclone Iletta lost force over the central Indian Ocean.
Additonal Sources: U.S. Military Joint Typhoon Warning Center at Guam, australian Bureau of Meteorology, U.S. Climate Analysis Center, U.S. Earthquake Information Center and the World Meteorological Organization.