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Best of 2013: A dozen reader-favourite stories

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Sunday, December 29, 2013, 8:06 PM -

You've likely caught a glimpse of our top 10 weather stories airing on TV this season. 

From the massive ice storm in eastern Canada a week ago, to the catastrophic flooding in Calgary, to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, the world's weather was not idle in 2013.

But while the weather is, of course, our bread and butter here at The Weather Network, it's nowhere near the ONLY thing our readers are interested in.

We've put together this list of strange and off-beat stories that proved VERY popular with visitors to our website over the past year.  

Sinkhole swallows golfer

It took every ounce of self control in our possession not to lead this entry off with some kind of hole-in-one joke.

Stories about sinkholes tend to be one of our most popular news topics, and this one was no different. Mark Mihal, a 43-year-old mortgage broker, was enjoying a round of golf in Illinois when he temporarily vanished off the face of the Earth.

Aside from dislocating his shoulder, he was fine, though trapped at the bottom of a six-metre sinkhole for about 20 minutes before workers at the golf course got him out using a ladder and a rope.

It could have been much worse. Sinkholes can be destructive and deadly. This one opened up beneath a 36-year-old man’s bedroom in Florida, sending him tumbling to his death.

Boulder almost crushes car

Landslides are a common problem in areas regularly afflicted with tropical storms, and this driver in Taiwan almost encountered a deadly one.

That boulder that tumbled down the hill is easily larger than the car itself, and it’s only due to sheer timing that its final teeter didn’t end with it rolling one last time and crushing the vehicle.

It’s believed the rock was loosened from its perch by the pounding rains of Tropical Storm Kong Rey, which doused Taiwan with more than 500 mm of rain in August.

The storm forced thousands of evacuations, and by the time it moved on, three people in Taiwan had lost their lives.

Japan’s underwater crop circles

Now what the hey is this thing?

Image: Yoji Ookata

Image: Yoji Ookata

Since the first of these seven-foot underwater sand circles was sighted in 1995, scientists were baffled as to what they were.

Finally, in 2011, Japanese scientists discovered that, no, it wasn’t underwater aliens or astonishingly well organized and patient pranksters. The neat display is the work of a male pufferfish, presumably hoping to entice a female by playing at being the sensitive artist type.

Apparently it takes them up to nine days to craft one of these with their fins.

We’re not sure how often it works out for them, but when the first results of research into their labours were released this year, it certainly brought readers flocking to our news section.

Killer Whale steals prize catch

Here’s another popular story from the depths of the sea, but while those pufferfish are diligent and tireless in their task, this orca was just being lazy.

Seriously, why hunt for your own halibut when you can just raid the lines of the many sport fishermen that play the waters around Alaska?

Killer whales like the one in the video above have a very varied diet, but it seems they’re not above the occasional pilfering. 

Although, to be fair, we think those fishermen would be willing to forgo just one measly catch for the chance to tell their friends the ultimate “one that got away” story.

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