Mayan Apocalypse: Do Cyclones and Solar Flares Herald Countdown to End of World
By Hannah Osborne | December 18, 2012 11:53 PM EST
The Mayan prophecy says that the world as we know it will end on 21 December.
But will the world end in fire or in ice? It could be either or both looking at recent weather reports.
Tungurahua volcano erupted recently and villagers were evacuated gas and ash emissions poured into the sky to a height of three miles (5km).
Sometimes referred to as the Throat of Fire, Tungurahua's last substantial eruption was in 2006 which killed six people in nearby Chimborazo village.
Tungurahua's latest eruption, combined with rain, has the potential to generate dangerous lahars or mudflows in the area around the 16,479ft volcano.
This could just be the tip of the iceberg of the apocalyptic weather, no pun intended.
A cyclone is passing through Fiji after claiming three lives and leaving thousands homeless in the Pacific island of Samoa on its way to New Zealand.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre said that the cyclone, named Evan, would hit maximum windspeeds of 132mph. Evan is a Category 4 cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
"Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed," warned the centre.
"Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months."
Evan looks set to continue on its path of destruction and is moving south. It is expected to hit New Zealand's North Island on 21 or 22 December.
Over the last 10 days, solar flares have been spotted from opposite sides of the world. According to the BBC, people in Scotland watched "incredibly bright" fireballs in the night sky while residents in Houston, Texas, were also treated to a cosmic display.
Edward Bloomer, an astronomer, told the BBC that the fireball was probably part of the Geminid meteor shower, saying that the tail of the comet burns when it comes into contact with the atmosphere of the Earth.
A fireball was also spotted over Houston on 8 December - although it was not associated with the Geminid shower.
According to Nasa, eyewitnesses saw a "very bright fireball streaking across the sky".
"It is a meteor, most likely a fragment from the asteroid belt and not associated with the Geminid meteor shower," said the agency.
"Preliminary results indicate that there are meteorites from this meteor on the ground north of Houston - analysis is under way to refine the impact area."
The Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope recently detected flares on the surface of the sun that have the potential to damage electrical power grids, GPS and communication satellites.
A three mile-wide asteroid is in the Earth's vicinity but scientists say the 4179 Toutatis asteroid poses no threat to the planet. Its closest point to Earth came on 12 December when it was just 4.3 million miles away.
"Toutatis poses no significant threat to Earth - at least for a few hundred years," said Dr Steven Ostro, who observed Toutatis in 1992.
Scientists think there are over 100,000 near-Earth asteroids larger than football stadiums.
Nasa researcher Lance Benner said: "It's the ones we haven't found yet that are of greater concern."
Nasa has reassured people that the world will not end on Friday. "Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012," it said.
However, apocalypse believers may want to stock up on a few items that could prove valuable if the world ends.
Fire extinguisher: Valuable in case the world is consumed in fire.
Water: Maintaining hydration is critical to good health and if the world comes to a fiery end, it will prove all the more valuable. A water purifier may come in handy if Earth floods.
Tinned goods: Canned food lasts much longer than fresh food. Ideally, cans should be stored in a cool, dry place and never exposed to high or low extreme temperatures.
Matches and kindling: Essential for fire-building for those who have not learned the art of rubbing two sticks together. Matches and kindling are good in the event of an icy apocalypse, as are blankets and other warming items.
A good book: People may end up dying of boredom if they have no form of entertainment.
Survival expert: Buddy up with Bear Grylls or another survival professional for maximum chances of living through the apocalypse.
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