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    (Getty Images)

    PHOENIX (AP) - Arizona is in the grips of a dangerous heat wave that could send temperatures soaring to 118 degrees by the weekend in Phoenix, creating ripe conditions for wildfires and forcing the Border Patrol to ramp up efforts to rescue immigrants succumbing to the stifling heat while crossing the border.

    The temperature in Phoenix is expected to climb through Saturday, when forecasters say the heat could set a new record. The record high for the same date in June is 117 degrees set in 1994, said meteorologist Mark O'Malley of the National Weather Service in Phoenix. The forecast for this coming Saturday currently is for 118 degrees.

    "We'll certainly be challenging records this week," O'Malley said Tuesday.

    The heat wave comes with a strong high-pressure system expected to build over the entire western U.S. and which will be centered over northern Arizona at its peak on Friday, the weather service says.

    O'Malley said temperatures will soar through the week across Arizona, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Utah and into parts of Wyoming and Idaho, where forecasters are calling for triple-digit heat in the Boise area through the weekend.

    "It's going to cover a large portion of the western United States," he said.

    Officials say extra personnel have been added to the Border Patrol's Search, Trauma, and Rescue unit to assist with increasing numbers of rescues throughout the summer months as migrants crossing rugged terrain succumb to heat, exhaustion and dehydration. Several bodies of immigrants have been found in the last week in Arizona, and agents in the Tucson sector rescued more than 170 people from the desert during a 30-day stretch in May and June.

    "June is the deadliest month for migrants in Arizona. It is consistently the month where most migrants die here," said Border Patrol spokesman Andy Adame. "Absolutely, it's a crime to enter the United States illegally, but the penalty for that crime shouldn't be death."

    O'Malley said the weather system won't help with wildfires - either ones already burning or new ones that might pop up.

    "Given we're going to have low humidity and extremely hot temperatures, and everything is already dry out there, for any fire that is ongoing or new ones that start, this could be very problematic," he said.

    Temperatures in mountainous northern Arizona also are expected to approach all-time highs. The forecast in Sedona calls for the temperature to hit just one degree under the June 1990 and July 1995 records of 110 degrees.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave

     

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    (NOAA)

    Researchers are examining a possible meteotsunami that may have hit the coast of New Jersey June 13. The Tsunami Warning Center relayed an account of the events as seen by Brian Cohen, who was out spear fishing in the Barnegat Inlet in Ocean County when he saw waves that were approximately 6 feet peak-to-trough spanning across the inlet.

    "Earlier in the day around noon, thunderstorms had moved through the area. By 3:30 p.m. [EDT] the weather was overcast with a light east wind. At approximately 3:30 [p.m. EDT], the outgoing tide was amplified by strong currents which carried divers over the submerged breakwater (normally 3-4 feet deep). This strong outrush continued for 1-2 minutes and eventually the rocks in the submerged breakwater were exposed. Brian backed his boat out before being sucked over as well."

    The low-end derecho that pushed from Chicago to Washington, D.C., on June 13 may have sparked the possible meteotsunami on the New Jersey coast, said Paul Whitmore, Director of the Tsunami Warning Center.

    "The first impulse was to see this as meteorologically driven, but once a system gets over the [continental] shelf, we lose data," he said. "It makes it hard to confirm."

    It could take months before the event is officially confirmed one way or the other, but it seems likely at this time that the derecho may have caused the tsunami-like waves.

    A meteotsunami differs from a tsunami because it is caused by a weather event rather than by seismic activity. Most tsunamis are created by volcanic eruptions or earthquakes, which gives researchers a fixed point to work from. When the waves are created by a weather event like a derecho, it requires more, exact elements to come together for its creation. These elements are harder to track because they are occurring above the Earth's surface.

    Related: What Are Shelf Clouds?
    AccuWeather's Severe Weather Center


    Tsunamis and meteotsunamis are more than just large waves; wave frequency and speed are more emphasized factors in labeling a tsunami. So far, the waves that hit New Jersey seem to be in line with the qualifications for a meteotsunami.

    At over 30 gauges the indications were recorded for a tsunami in its strength and wave frequencies. According to Whitmore, shelf clouds off the New Jersey coast are conducive to such events occurring.

    On occasion, large complexes of thunderstorms have caused tsunami-like waves on the Great Lakes.

    According to expert senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "A strong downward rush of air can get the lakes rocking back and forth, or simply push water away for a brief time, before it sloshes back."

    The wind-driven phenomenon on the Great Lakes is known as a seiche. For more weather news, visit AccuWeather.com.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    Female Asian tiger mosquito biting on human skin and bloodfeeding to generate a new egg batch. (Getty Images)

    There's a new pest invading many American towns, and it's about as menacing as it sounds: the Asian tiger mosquito.

    Named for the black-and-white stripes on its body, the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) was first brought to Texas in a shipment of tires (which are notorious for holding the standing water that mosquitoes require for breeding), the Wall Street Journal reports.

    The bug is worrisome for several reasons: Unlike other mosquitoes, the aggressive Asian tiger bites all day long, from morning until night. It has a real bloodlust for humans, but also attacks dogs, cats, birds and other animals. [Sting, Bite, Destroy: Nature's 10 Biggest Pests]

    "Part of the reason it is called 'tiger' is also because it is very aggressive," Dina Fonseca, associate professor of entomology at Rutgers University, told the Journal. "You can try and swat it all you want, but once it's on you, it doesn't let go."

    The Asian tiger mosquito joins other insects now threatening U.S. residents. Gallinippers (Psorophora ciliata), for example, are a type of shaggy-haired mosquito whose bite reportedly feels like being stabbed; they're currently found throughout much of Florida.

    But few insects are as effective at spreading illness as the Asian tiger mosquito. The pest transmits more than 20 diseases, according to the Cornell Chronicle, including West Nile fever, dengue fever, yellow fever and two types of encephalitis.

    Additionally, the mosquitoes transmit the chikungunya virus, the Chronicle reports. Though the disease is rarely fatal, chikungunya causes debilitating symptoms, including severe joint pain, fever, achiness, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash and fatigue.

    There's no vaccine to prevent chikungunya and no treatment; people usually recover in a few weeks. But while they're infected with the virus, they can be bitten again by another mosquito, which could then spread the disease to someone else, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Since its introduction to the United States in the 1980s, the Asian tiger mosquito has spread to 26 states, primarily in the eastern United States, the CDC reports. The bug is also established in South and Central America, southern Europe and several Pacific islands.

    Part of its success at spreading throughout the world is due to a warming climate, but the Asian tiger mosquito has one other pesky adaptation: Its eggs are tough enough to survive a cold winter, according to Science News.

    If there's a silver lining to this story, it might be this: The Asian tiger mosquito is displacing another disease-carrying mosquito species, Aedes aegypti. Every time a male Asian tiger mosquito mates with a female A. aegypti, chemicals in his semen make her sterile, Science News reports.

    But this also means Asian tiger mosquitoes are expanding their territory. Experts recommend removing all sources of standing water, wearing insect repellent and covering up with long sleeves and pants to avoid the bloodthirsty mosquitoes - and the diseases they spread.

    Follow Marc Lallanilla on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

    Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    RELATED ON SKYE: World's Freakiest Bugs

     

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    A dilapidated trailer sits parked in a trash-strewn lot in the Queens borough of New York, Tuesday, June 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Jake Pearson)

    NEW YORK (AP) - In the chaotic days after Superstorm Sandy, an army of aid workers streamed onto the flood-ravaged Rockaway Peninsula looking for anyone who needed help. Health workers and National Guard troops went door to door. City inspectors checked thousands of dwellings for damage. Seaside neighborhoods teemed with utility crews, Red Cross trucks and crews clearing debris.

    Yet, even as the months dragged by, nobody thought to look inside the tiny construction trailer rusting away in a junk-filled lot at the corner of Beach 40th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

    If they had, they would have found the body of Keith Lancaster, a quiet handyman who appeared to have been using the trailer as a home the night Sandy sent 5 feet of water churning through the neighborhood.

    It took until April 5 before an acquaintance finally went to check on the 62-year-old man's whereabouts and found his partially skeletonized remains. His body lay near a calendar that hadn't been turned since October and prescription pill bottles last refilled in the fall.

    New York City's medical examiner announced this week that Lancaster had drowned, making him the 44th person ruled to have died in New York City because of the storm.

    Neighborhood residents described Lancaster as a loner and something of a drifter, and police said he had never been reported missing. No one stepped forward to claim his body from the city morgue, either, after he was finally discovered this spring. He was buried in a potter's field on an island in Long Island Sound, the medical examiner's office said. A police missing-person squad is still trying to identify any relatives.

    But in life, he was well liked by some of the people who saw him sweeping sidewalks around the vacant lot where he sometimes slept.

    "When we first moved here, he weeded our entire backyard," said Gerald Sylvester, 55, a retired transit worker who lives in a small bungalow just feet from the trailer where Lancaster died.

    Sylvester and his wife, Carrie Vaughan, 60, said Lancaster also mended their fence and once fixed an outdoor light at their house - but he always refused any money for his help. He wouldn't take any food, either, when they offered, and politely declined their invitations to come inside, explaining he didn't like to go into people's houses.

    "He didn't talk a lot, but if he knew you, you could have a decent conversation," said Vaughan. "He was very nice. A gentleman at all times."

    She said it wasn't entirely clear where he was living. Lancaster, who the family said looked slightly frail, told her he didn't want to settle in one place.

    As the storm approached and the neighborhood evacuated, Sylvester said he went looking for Lancaster to see if he wanted to leave with the family, but never found him.

    After the Oct. 29 storm, many neighborhood residents were unable to return to their homes. Even today, some buildings remain empty or under repair. Vaughan and Sylvester were away for two months, living in a FEMA-funded apartment, before they came back.

    The lot where Lancaster's trailer sat has been vacant for many years and, at just 15 feet wide, is easy to miss. Someone passing by would probably assume, wrongly, that it is the side yard of one of the bungalows that sit next door.

    The company that owns the plot, the Master Sheet Co., hasn't paid any property taxes on the parcel for years, according to city records, and it wasn't clear whether anyone associated with the business was aware someone was living on the property. A lawyer for the owners, Robert Rosenblatt, said Wednesday that he wasn't immediately able to reach his clients.

    New York City's Office of Emergency Management didn't respond Wednesday to inquiries about the efforts the city had made to locate and identify storm victims, and why they failed to reveal Lancaster's death for so long. The mayor's office also didn't respond to an inquiry.

    The lot where Lancaster died remained filled with junk this week, including an old office chair, plastic crates and bottles and stuffed animals. The trailer - barely big enough to stand in - is itself filled with trash.

    Vaughan said that when her family returned home, she wondered what had become of Lancaster, but never suspected that he had been killed or that his body was in the trailer, which sits on cinder blocks just a few feet from her home.

    "He was like a fixture of the community. We were wondering what happened to him," said Vaughan. "We would've taken him with us."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Indelible Images from Superstorm Sandy

     

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    Bay of Islands, New Zealand (Getty Images)

    WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - A New Zealand meteorologist took the last known calls from the seven people aboard an American schooner: "The weather's turned nasty - how do we get away from it?"

    The phone calls and texts ended June 4. More than three weeks later, searchers said Thursday they have grave concerns for the crew on the classic 85-year-old wooden vessel that went missing while sailing from New Zealand to Australia. Attempts to contact the crew by radio and an aerial search this week have proved fruitless.

    Authorities say the skipper of the 70-foot (21-meter) vessel Nina is American David Dyche. They say there are two other American men and three American women aboard, aged between 17 and 73. Also aboard is a British man, aged 35.

    Messages posted online by friends indicate the boat originally left from Panama City, Florida.

    Meteorologist Bob McDavitt said he took a satellite phone call from the boat June 3. A woman named Evi asked how to get away from the weather. He said to call back in 30 minutes after he'd studied a forecast. She did.

    "She was quite controlled in her voice; it sounded like everything was under control," McDavitt said, adding that the call itself indicated she was concerned about the conditions.

    McDavitt said he spoke only briefly to Evi, advising her to head south and to brace for a storm with strong winds and high seas. The next day he got a text, the last known communication from the boat: "ANY UPDATE 4 NINA? ... EVI"

    McDavitt said he advised the crew to stay put and ride out the storm another day. He continued sending messages the next few days but didn't hear back. Friends of the crew got in touch with McDavitt soon after that, and then alerted authorities June 14.

    Kevin Banaghan, who is spearheading search efforts by Maritime New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre, said rescuers weren't worried at first because there had been no distress call from the boat and its emergency locator beacon had not been activated. He said rescuers on June 14 initiated a communications search, in which they tried contacting the boat over various radio frequencies as well as contacting other vessels in the area to see if they'd spotted the Nina.

    This week, he said, rescuers escalated their efforts. An Air Force plane on Tuesday searched the area where the boat went missing. A second search by the plane on Wednesday went as far as the Australian coast but again turned up nothing. Banaghan said searchers are considering their next options.

    The boat left the Bay of Islands in northern New Zealand on May 29 bound for the port of Newcastle, near Sydney. The last communication was from 370 nautical miles west of New Zealand.

    Banaghan said the crew hoped to arrive in Australia mid-June but that, given the conditions, he considered a realistic arrival date to be about June 25. He said Dyche is a qualified captain and the crew has varying degrees of experience.

    "We're very concerned for their safety and well-being," he said.

    Authorities say the storm three weeks ago saw winds gusting up to 68 miles per hour and waves of up to 26 feet.

    Banaghan said the Nina is a "lovely old craft" which won races when it was new and had been maintained in excellent condition. He added that it had a new engine installed in recent months which had apparently created some initial leaking problems.

    He said there are several possible scenarios, including the boat losing communications, drifting off course, or the crew taking to lifeboats. He said there's also a possibility the boat suffered a catastrophic failure and sank before anybody had time to react.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    Larry Eichler, a researcher scientist for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Darrin Fresh Water Institute, lowers a Secchi disk into Lake George to test light penetration on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, in Bolton Landing, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    BOLTON LANDING, N.Y. (AP) - An unprecedented project to turn New York's Lake George into the "smartest lake in the world" is being launched and will monitor the lake from its sun-dappled shores to its dark depths in hopes of keeping the Adirondack attraction pristine.

    Sensors analyzing the likes of stream runoff, rainfall, wind, currents, salinity, chlorophyll and nitrogen will be placed around Lake George this year, and an IBM supercomputer will crunch the data to provide three-dimensional pictures of the lake. It's a model that scientists think could be used elsewhere, using a uniquely sophisticated monitoring system to help scientists predict the peril posed by threats like road salt and invasive species.

    "We can turn the lake back from the edge of the abyss," said Fund for Lake George executive director Eric Siy. "We do not have a complete picture of Lake George scientifically, and we need it."

    The advocacy group is joining IBM and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Thursday to announce the comprehensive three-year project. Lake conditions will be monitored by a series of devices - some visible from land - including stream gauges, self-propelled underwater robots, weather stations, Doppler units and sensors running along lines anchored from buoys. The information will be fed into an IBM Blue Gene supercomputer along with data collected over the past 30 years about the chemical composition of the lake.

    The same sort of research is being done around the Great Lakes, but not in such a concentrated fashion. Research on the massive lakes is moving in that direction, said Guy Meadows, director of Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center.

    "The size that they're attacking is what is barely affordable at this time. And to make the next step to doing that in one of the five large Great Lakes would be a wonderful new addition," Meadows said.

    Cradled by forested mountains in the southeast corner of the Adirondack Park, Lake George is famous for its clear waters. But it faces threats related to development, road salt runoff and invasive species like zebra mussels and Eurasian milfoil. Since the lake is not too large and relatively isolated by the surrounding mountains, it lends itself to intensive study, scientists said.

    "Because in some ways Lake George is small - it's 32 miles long - we have the ability to do a very complete and thorough instrumentation," said Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, director of RPI's Darrin Fresh Water Institute.

    The types of high-tech sensors that will be installed here this year are being used at other water bodies, but researchers at IBM and RPI say they're not being used together in such a comprehensive way. IBM engineer Harry Kolar called it an "additional level of heavy computational modeling." The supercomputer will provide three-dimensional models of the past, present and future of the lake. Computers also will provide real-time three-dimensional images to researchers and the public.

    Nierzwicki-Bauer said getting a clear picture of the lake's circulation will provide a foundation for studying other issues from dead zones in the lake to rising chlorophyll levels. The data also will help in studying invasive species. For instance, the concentration of calcium in Lake George is on the border for what zebra mussels need to thrive. With this data, researchers would be able to more accurately predict when there would be a significantly greater risk for infestation, she said.

    The water is still clean enough to drink, but Siy fears the lake is closing in on a tipping point if trends leading to deteriorating water quality aren't reversed.

    Those involved say it's too early to determine a price tag. Kolar said work could continue on Lake George beyond the three years, and he expects the work in the Adirondacks to be a model for future projects.

    "We certainly see this as being world-class technology and approaches that can be used in other ways," he said.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Breathtaking Images of Islands, Rivers and Seas from Space

     

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    Breathtaking Video Shows Mexico's Popocatepetl Volcano Fuming
    Mexico's Navy released breathtaking aerial video footage of Popocatépetl volcano on Tuesday fuming after shooting a column of smoke and ash 4,921 feet high into the sky. The stunning shots were taken of the volcano's crater on a clear day. Over the course of a few hours, 68 individual low eruptions were reported, accompanied by small amounts of ash, Mexico's National Center for Disaster Prevention reported.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Breathtaking Volcanic Eruptions Seen from Space

     

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    (Getty Images)

    Several rounds of thunderstorms will develop around the nation Thursday into Thursday night, bringing the risk of hail, damaging winds, flooding and perhaps a tornado.

    Although a stray thunderstorm can form almost anywhere east of the Mississippi River, there will be several pockets of more widespread, sustained activity from the Plains into the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast.

    Gusty Storms and Drenching Downpours in the Northeast

    The first pocket of widespread strong to severe thunderstorms will be found across the Northeast northern mid-Atlantic.

    Some of the bigger cities and towns at risk include New York City, Philadelphia, Richmond, Scranton, Allentown, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

    Wind gusts to 60 mph, hail as large as quarters and even perhaps an isolated weak tornado are all possible.



    Very heavy rainfall is also a possibility across the region. Some areas have already had excessive rainfall this spring and summer and with 1-2 inches possible in some spots, flash flooding of urban locations and areas of very poor drainage is likely.

    Related:
    East US Poised for Flooding Into July
    Derecho May Have Caused Tsunami in New Jersey
    Severe Storm Center


    Gusty Storms Invade the Southeast

    Another pocket of more organized and widespread severe storms will be found across the Southeast from the Carolinas into Georgia and Alabama.

    Locations most at risk include Raleigh, Charlottesville, Atlanta, Macon and Montgomery.

    Gusty winds of 50-60 mph and hail as large as quarters are the biggest threats across the area, though drenching downpours could cause some localized flash flooding as well.

    Another Round of Storms From Chicago to Indianapolis

    A few showers and storms around in the morning will diminish by noon, but another round of widespread showers and thunderstorms will roll through the region later Thursday afternoon and into the evening.

    Cities most at risk include Wausau, Green Bay, Madison, Chicago and Indianapolis.

    Hail as large as quarters and damaging wind gusts as high as 60 mph are the biggest threats.

    Given the amount of rain that has fallen across the region this spring and summer, any additional heavy rainfall will likely result in flooding across the region.

    Storms Fire on the Plains at Night

    After a day of blazing heat and humidity, a dangerous cluster of thunderstorms will blossom across southern Nebraska into Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

    Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Wichita, Tulsa, Springfield and Little Rock are all potentially at risk late Thursday afternoon and into the overnight hours.

    The biggest threats from these storms will be damaging wind gusts as high as 70 mph, large hail and perhaps a tornado.

    If you have any plans to be out and about on Thursday or Thursday night across the Plains, Northeast, Midwest or Southeast, keep an eye out for rapidly changing weather conditions.

    Dark skies ahead can signal blinding downpours, powerful winds and possible hail. If you get caught driving through this weather, pull over to a safe location, away from any trees or power poles, and wait for it to pass.

    Keep in mind that lightning is one of Mother Nature's leading source of injuries and fatalities. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning, even if the sun is still shining.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    (Getty Images)

    Temperatures will be at full throttle later this week over the interior West, reaching dangerous levels, challenging records and elevating the wildfire threat.

    While many folks over the interior West are accustomed to and expect hot weather during the summer the developing pattern will take the heat to the extreme. In some cities record highs for any date throughout the year could be equaled or breached.

    The weather this week will favor an expanding area of sunshine and building heat over the West. As temperatures soar to record-challenging levels, dry fuel and the potential for spotty dry thunderstorms will push the wildfire threat to new areas and raise the risk in other locations.

    Building heat, drought and the risk of wildfires could result in a fireworks ban in some communities as Independence Day activities increase.



    The pattern bringing clouds, showers and cool air to the Northwest will gradually erode, dissolve and disappear.

    Once the pattern sets up, the heat wave will last through next week in many areas. Grassy and wooded areas that are green now may become dry fuel for fires as the atmosphere heats up.

    Cities that will experience record-challenging heat on a daily basis during the pattern into next week include Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Denver, Boise, Idaho, Rawlins, Wyo., Medford, Ore., and Fresno, Calif.

    Cities that could set new annual extreme temperature marks include Flagstaff, Ariz., Las Vegas and Reno, Nev. In Flagstaff, Ariz., the all-time record high is 97 set on July 5, 1973. In Las Vegas, the all-time record high is 117 degrees set on July 19, 2005 and July 24, 1942. At Reno, the all-time high is 108 degrees set most recently on July 5, 2007. Death Valley, Calif. could reach their hottest June temperature on record of 128 degrees set June 30, 1994.

    According to Western Weather Expert Ken Clark, "People driving through desert areas during the pattern should make sure their vehicle can make the journey and that they carry extra water in case their vehicle breaks down."

    RELATED:
    Severe Weather Center: Current Watches, Warnings
    Las Vegas Forecast
    Broiling Heat, then Perhaps the Monsoon Arrives


    With time, the heat can expand to part of the California coast by way of a slight offshore flow. However, the worst of the heat will hold up just inland. The pattern will make the beaches a hot spot to avoid the heat.

    The system producing the heat and sunshine will allow widely separated, pop-up thunderstorms with time. Most of the storms will form and die over the mountains, but there will be a few exceptions.

    A few locations can receive a downpour. However, many of the storms will bring little or no rainfall. This phenomena, commonly called "dry lightning," can spark new wildfires.

    While the natural spark for wildfires cannot be avoided, people are urged to be very careful when using outdoor power equipment and open flames. Never park a vehicle that has been running for any length of time over dry grass and brush as the hot exhaust can start a fire.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave

     

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    Death Valley, California
    (iStockphoto)

    Temperatures will be at full throttle later this week over the interior West, reaching dangerous levels, challenging records and elevating the wildfire threat.

    While many folks over the interior West are accustomed to and expect hot weather during the summer the developing pattern will take the heat to the extreme. In some cities record highs for any date throughout the year could be equaled or breached.

    Death Valley Heat Wave

    The weather this week will favor an expanding area of sunshine and building heat over the West. As temperatures soar to record-challenging levels, dry fuel and the potential for spotty dry thunderstorms will push the wildfire threat to new areas and raise the risk in other locations.

    Building heat, drought and the risk of wildfires could result in a fireworks ban in some communities as Independence Day activities increase.

    The pattern bringing clouds, showers and cool air to the Northwest will gradually erode, dissolve and disappear.

    Once the pattern sets up, the heat wave will last through next week in many areas. Grassy and wooded areas that are green now may become dry fuel for fires as the atmosphere heats up.

    RELATED:
    Severe Weather Center: Current Watches, Warnings
    Las Vegas Forecast
    Broiling Heat, then Perhaps the Monsoon Arrives


    Cities that will experience record-challenging heat on a daily basis during the pattern into next week include Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Denver, Boise, Idaho, Rawlins, Wyo., Medford, Ore., and Fresno, Calif.

    Cities that could set new annual extreme temperature marks include Flagstaff, Ariz., Las Vegas and Reno, Nev. In Flagstaff, Ariz., the all-time record high is 97 set on July 5, 1973. In Las Vegas, the all-time record high is 117 degrees set on July 19, 2005 and July 24, 1942. At Reno, the all-time high is 108 degrees set most recently on July 5, 2007. Death Valley, Calif. could reach their hottest June temperature on record of 128 degrees set June 30, 1994. According to Western Weather Expert Ken Clark, "People driving through desert areas during the pattern should make sure their vehicle can make the journey and that they carry extra water in case their vehicle breaks down."


    This informative graphic is from the National Weather Service office in Las Vegas, Nev.

    With time, the heat can expand to part of the Pacific coast by way of a slight offshore flow. However, the worst of the heat will hold up just inland. The pattern will make the beaches a hot spot to avoid the heat.

    The system producing the heat and sunshine will allow widely separated, pop-up thunderstorms with time. Most of the storms will form and die over the mountains, but there will be a few exceptions.

    A few locations can receive a downpour. However, many of the storms will bring little or no rainfall. This phenomena, commonly called "dry lightning," can spark new wildfires.

    While the natural spark for wildfires cannot be avoided, people are urged to be very careful when using outdoor power equipment and open flames. Never park a vehicle that has been running for any length of time over dry grass and brush as the hot exhaust can start a fire.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Off-the-Charts Hottest and Coldest Places on Earth
    Hottet Places on Earth

     

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    Thursday, June 27, 2013

    Construction workers gather at a new home site at sunrise to beat daytime high temperatures, Thursday, June 27, 2013 in Queen Creek, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    LAS VEGAS (AP) - A high pressure system hanging over the West this weekend is expected to bring temperatures extreme even in a region used to baking during the summer.

    Notoriously hot Death Valley's forecast could touch 129 degrees, not far off the world-record high of 134 logged there July 10, 1913. The National Weather Service called for 118 in Phoenix, and 117 in Las Vegas on Sunday - a mark reached only twice in Sin City.

    "It's brutal out there," said Leslie Carmine, spokeswoman for Catholic Charities, which runs a daytime shelter in Las Vegas to draw homeless people out of the dangerous heat and equip them with sunscreen and bottled water.

    While the Southwest boasts the most shocking temperatures, the heat wave is driving up the mercury all over the West. Western Washington - better known for rainy coffee shop weather - should break the 90s early next week, according to the weather service.

    Dry southern Utah is forecast to reach higher than 110 degrees, and northern Utah - which markets "the greatest snow on Earth" - is also expected to see triple digits.

    The heat wave is "a huge one," National Weather Service specialist Stuart Seto said. "We haven't seen one like this for several years, probably the mid- to late 2000s."

    The system's high pressure causes air to sink and warm, drawing down humidity.

    "As the air warms, it can hold more moisture, and so what that does is take out the clouds," Seto said.

    The hottest cities in the West are taking precautions to protect vulnerable residents. Police are pleading with drivers not to leave babies or pets in their car, and temporary cooling stations are welcoming homeless people and seniors hesitant to use the air conditioning.

    Officials said extra personnel have been added to the U.S. Border Patrol's Search, Trauma, and Rescue unit as people illegally crossing the border from Mexico into Arizona could succumb to exhaustion and dehydration.

    Several bodies of immigrants have been found in the last week in Arizona. Agents in the Tucson sector rescued more than 170 people from the desert during a 30-day stretch in May and June when temperatures were even lower than expected in the coming days.

    At low-lying Lake Mead, which straddles the Arizona-Nevada border and is anticipating 120 degrees this weekend, rangers are positioned at trailheads to discourage visitors from hiking.

    Earlier in June, a group of Boy Scouts hiking in the Colorado River canyon fell prey to soaring heat. Four teenagers and an adult had to be rescued, while a 69-year-old Scout leader died.

    "We don't want a repeat of the tragedy we had a few weeks ago," Lake Mead spokesman Kevin Turner said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Off-the-Charts Hottest and Coldest Places on Earth
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    Friday, June 28, 2013

    (Getty Images)

    Severe thunderstorms will threaten part of the East Coast as well as the Tennessee Valley Friday.

    In addition to the threat of severe weather, storms producing heavy rainfall can cause flash flooding due to the surplus of rainfall that the East has seen during the month of June.

    Widespread flash flooding was observed Thursday as storms rolled through the East, dropping several inches of rain in just a few hours. The worst of the flooding was seen along the I-80 corridor across Pennsylvania, forcing the closure of roadways as well as evacuations and water rescues.

    Damaging wind gusts accompanied some of these storms with several reports of funnel clouds, although no tornadoes were confirmed.

    The area most at risk of severe storms today stretches along the I-95 corridor from Massachusetts to North Carolina. This area encompasses the cities of Boston, New York, Baltimore, Washington, Richmond, Va., and Raleigh, N.C.

    Additionally, part of the Tennessee Valley may also see severe storms. This area, although not as extensive, spans from northeast Arkansas to northwest Georgia.

    The main threats from these storms are damaging wind and flash flooding, although a few isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out. These tornadoes can be especially dangerous, since they will be wrapped with rain and difficult to see.

    Keep in mind while driving that a few inches of flowing water over roadways can move your car. If you come upon a flooded roadway, it is recommended that you avoid trying to drive through it.

    Trees blown over by strong winds can only make flooding worse, diverting water and making travel more difficult.

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    Severe thunderstorms will diminish across the East by the weekend, although the continued chance for showers and thunderstorms may lead to more flooding concerns.

    Even though the chance for severe weather will decrease heading into the weekend, showers and thunderstorms will persist across the region over the next few days. This will result in the heightened risk of flooding heading into July.

    Story by AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Lada.



    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - Rescue crews searching for a classic American schooner carrying seven people believe the boat sank between New Zealand and Australia, although they haven't given up hope of finding survivors.

    A third day of aerial searches Friday turned up no sign of the 85-year-old wooden sailboat or its crew. Named Nina, the boat left New Zealand on May 29 bound for Australia. The last known contact with the crew was on June 4. Rescuers were alerted the boat was missing on June 14, but weren't unduly worried at first because the emergency locator beacon had not been activated.

    The six Americans on board include captain David Dyche, 58, his wife, Rosemary, 60, and their son David, 17. Also aboard was their friend Evi Nemeth, 73, a man aged 28, a woman aged 18, and a British man aged 35.

    The leader of Friday's search efforts, Neville Blakemore of New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre, said it's now logical to assume the 70-foot (21-meter) boat sank in a storm but added that it's possible some crew members survived either in the life raft that was aboard or by making land.

    On the day the boat went missing, a storm hit the area with winds gusting up to 110 kilometers (68 miles) per hour and waves of up to 8 meters (26 feet).

    Blakemore said the Southern Hemisphere winter months tend to produce the year's worst storms, although he added that he wouldn't normally expect a sturdy and well-maintained craft like the Nina to sink in a storm like the one in early June.

    Friday's search focused on the coastline around northern New Zealand, including the small Three Kings Islands. Rescuers were looking for wreckage or the life raft.

    Blakemore said plane searches earlier this week covered a wide band of ocean between New Zealand and Australia. He said searchers were considering their options for the weekend.

    He said the logical conclusion is that the boat sank rapidly, preventing the crew from activating the locator beacon or using other devices aboard, including a satellite phone and a spot beacon. He said that unlike many locator beacons, the one aboard the Nina is not activated by water pressure and wouldn't start automatically if the boat sank.

    Dyche is a qualified captain, and he and his family are experienced sailors. Blakemore said the family had been sailing around the world for several years and was often joined on different legs by friends and sailors they met along the way.

    Susan Payne, harbor master of the St. Andrews Marina near Panama City, Florida, said the couple left Panama City in the Nina a couple of years ago and sailed to Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, where they prepared for the trip.

    New Zealand meteorologist Bob McDavitt was the last person known to have been in contact with the schooner, when the boat was about 370 nautical miles west of New Zealand.

    He said Nemeth called him by satellite phone on June 3 and said, "The weather's turned nasty, how do we get away from it?"

    He advised them to head south and brace for the storm.

    The next day he got a text message, the last known communication: "ANY UPDATE 4 NINA? ... EVI"

    McDavitt said he advised the crew to stay put and ride out the storm another day. He continued sending messages the next few days, but didn't hear back. Friends of the crew got in touch with McDavitt soon after that, and then alerted authorities.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    Construction workers gather at a new home site at sunrise to beat daytime high temperatures, Thursday, June 27, 2013 in Queen Creek, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    PHOENIX (AP) - Tigers at the Phoenix Zoo are getting frozen fish snacks. Temporary cooling stations are popping up to welcome the homeless and elderly. And airlines are monitoring the soaring temperatures to make sure it's safe to fly as the western U.S. falls into the grips of a dangerous heat wave.

    A strong high-pressure system settling over the region Friday and through the weekend will bring extreme temperatures even to the typically blazing Southwest. Notoriously hot Death Valley in California is forecast to reach 129 degrees, not far off the world-record high of 134 logged there exactly one century ago.

    The National Weather Service is calling for 118 in Phoenix, and 117 in Las Vegas on Sunday - a mark reached only twice in Sin City.

    Temperatures are expected to soar even as far north as Reno, Nev., across Utah and into parts of Wyoming and Idaho, where forecasters are calling for triple-digit heat in the Boise area through the weekend.

    Cities in Washington state better known for cool, rainy weather should break the 90s early next week, while northern Utah - marketed as having "the greatest snow on Earth" - is expected to hit triple digits. In Albuquerque, N.M., the mercury hit 105 on Thursday afternoon, the hottest it has been in the state's most populous city in 19 years.

    "This is the hottest time of the year but the temperatures that we'll be looking at for Friday through Sunday, they'll be toward the top. We'll be at or above record levels in the Phoenix area and throughout a lot of the southwestern United States," said NationalWeather Service meteorologist Mark O'Malley. "It's going to be baking hot across much of the entire West."

    Jennifer Smith, a spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center based in Idaho, said crews are especially worried about wildfires igniting in the Four Corners region where the borders of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona intersect.

    Some of the strongest parts of the high pressure system are expected to be parked over the area through the weekend, where forecasters are calling for lightning but little to no precipitation, Smith said.

    The hottest cities are taking precautions to protect vulnerable residents. Police are pleading with drivers not to leave children or pets in vehicles, and temporary cooling stations are being put up to shelter homeless people and the elderly on fixed incomes who hesitate to use air conditioning.

    Officials said extra personnel have been added to the U.S. Border Patrol's Search, Trauma, and Rescue unit as people illegally crossing the border from Mexico into Arizona could succumb to exhaustion and dehydration. At least seven people have been found dead in the last week in Arizona after falling victim to the desert's brutal heat.

    Even airlines are watching the mercury for any signs that temperatures could deter operations.

    In June 1990, when Phoenix hit 122 degrees, several airlines, including America West, which later merged with US Airways, were forced to cease flights for several hours because the planes didn't have the data needed to know how they would fly in temperatures above 120 degrees.

    US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher said the airline's fleet of Boeings can now fly up to 126 degrees, and up to 127 degrees for the Airbus fleet.

    But the company's smaller express planes flying out of the Phoenix area may be delayed if the temperature tops 118 because as the air heats up, it becomes less dense and changes liftoff conditions.

    "The hotter is it, your performance is degraded," Lehmacher said. "We're monitoring this very closely to see what the temperatures do."

    Officials at Salt River Project, the Phoenix area's largest electricity provider, also are closely monitoring usage in order to redirect energy in case of a potential overload.

    Company spokeswoman Scott Harelson said he doesn't expect usage to get anywhere near SRP's record 6,663 megawatts consumed in August 2011.

    "While it's hot, people tend to leave town and some businesses aren't open, so that has a tendency to mitigate demand and is why we typically don't set records on weekends," Harelson said.

    Meanwhile, over at the Phoenix Zoo, animals from elephants to warthogs will be doused with hoses and sprayed with sprinklers and misters throughout the weekend.

    The tigers will get frozen fish snacks while the lions can lounge on concrete slabs cooled by internal water-filled pipes, said zoo spokeswoman Linda Hardwick.

    "And they'll all have plenty of shade," she said. "The keepers will all just be very active looking for any behavior changes, anything that would tip them off that an animal is just getting too hot."

    In Las Vegas, two Elvis impersonators and a performer costumed as the iconic "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign said they still planned to keep up their routine of working the tourist corridor in the broad daylight and turning in for the evenings, heat notwithstanding.

    "We'd much rather fight with the sun than fight with the drunk people," Elvis impersonator Cristian Morales said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave

     

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    This undated image provided by NASA shows technicians preparing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. for the launch of NASA's latest satellite, Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS), that will study the sun. (AP Photo/NASA,VAFB, Randy Beaudoin,File)

    VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) - From its perch in low-Earth orbit, NASA's newest satellite will soon get a close-up look at a little-explored region of the sun that's thought to drive space weather that can affect Earth.

    The Iris satellite was boosted into orbit about 400 miles above Earth by a Pegasus rocket Thursday evening after a sunset launch. Engineers will test the satellite first before turning on its telescope to stare at the sun.

    "We're thrilled," NASA launch director Tim Dunn said in a NASA TV interview after orbit was achieved.

    Unlike a typical launch, an airplane carrying the rocket and satellite flew from Vandenberg Air Force Base to a drop point over the Pacific some 100 miles off California's central coast. At an altitude of 39,000 feet, the plane released the rocket, which ignited its engine and streaked skyward.

    Mission controllers anxiously waited as the rocket made the 13-minute climb into space and cheered after learning that Iris had separated from the rocket as planned.

    There were some issues. At one point, communications signals were lost and ground controllers had to track Iris using other satellites orbiting Earth. When it came time for Iris to unfurl its solar panels after entering orbit, there was a lag before NASA confirmed the satellite was generating power.

    Previous sun-observing spacecraft have yielded a wealth of information about our nearest star and beamed back brilliant pictures of solar flares.

    The 7-foot-long Iris, weighing 400 pounds, carries an ultraviolet telescope that can take high-resolution images every few seconds.

    Unlike NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which observes the entire sun, Iris will focus on a little-explored region that lies between the surface and the corona, the glowing white ring that's visible during eclipses.

    The goal is to learn more about how this mysterious region drives solar wind - a stream of charged particles spewing from the sun - and to better predict spaceweather that can disrupt communications signals on Earth.

    "This is a very difficult region to understand and observe. We haven't had the technical capabilities before now to really zoom in" and peer at it up close, NASA program scientist Jeffrey Newmark said before the launch.

    The mission is cheap by NASA standards, costing $182 million, and is managed by the space agency's Goddard Space Flight Center.

    Iris will gaze at the sun for two years. Before observations can begin, engineers will spend two months conducting health checkups.

    Thursday's launch was delayed by a day so that technicians at the Air Force base could restore power to launch range equipment after a weekend outage cut electricity to a swath of the central coast.

    The Pegasus, from Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., is a winged rocket designed for launching small satellites. First flown in 1990, Pegasus rockets have also been used to accelerate vehicles in hypersonic flight programs.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space

     

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    (Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON - The age-old wisdom that being near the seaside is good for your health may be true, studies suggest.

    People often focus on the threats the ocean poses to human health, whether it's storms and floods, harmful algal blooms or pollution. But research shows that spending time by the ocean has many positive effects on health and well-being, epidemiologist Lora Fleming of the University of Exeter in England, said here on Wednesday (June 26) at a science policy conference of the American Geophysical Union.

    The notion that being near a beach makes one feel healthy is not new, of course. Doctors were prescribing trips to the shore or visits to "bathing hospitals" - special clinics that offered seawater bath treatments - as early as the 18th century. But only recently have scientists begun studying the ocean's health benefits experimentally, Fleming said.

    Fleming's colleagues at the University of Exeter's European Centre for the Environment and Human Health have begun a project called "Blue Gym" to study how natural water environments can be used to promote human health and well-being. [Stunning Sands Gallery: A Rainbow of Beaches]

    In one experiment, study participants were shown photographs of ocean views, green fields or cities, and asked how much they were willing to pay for a hotel room with each of those views. People were willing to pay more for the room with an ocean view, the results showed.

    When you put a person in a beach environment, "It's not going to be any great surprise to you that people relax," said study researcher Mathew White, an environmental psychologist at Exeter. The question, he said, is how many people experience such health effects, and how much they impact people's health.

    White and colleagues have also looked at census data in England to see how living near a coast affects people's health. They found that people who lived closer to the coast reported better health.

    It's possible that the people living closest to the coast are simply wealthier and have better access to health care. But the study found that the health benefits of ocean proximity were greatest for socioeconomically deprived communities.

    The researchers also looked at the effect of moving near a coast. Moving closer to the sea "significantly improves people's well-being," White said - by about a tenth as much as finding a new job. The seaside environment may reduce stress and encourage physical activity, he added.

    The researchers are now doing lab experiments to study the physiological benefits of coastal life. In the experiments, people in stressful situations, such as dental surgery, look at either a virtual beach, or the dental room. The trial is ongoing, but early studies suggest people report feeling less pain when immersed in a beach setting.

    These studies suggest ocean exposure could be a useful form of therapy, Fleming said. For instance, surfing might improve the well-being of troubled kids, she said.

    Still, many questions remain. Future studies will need to consider whether children and other populations show the same benefits from coastal living, what the optimal "dose" of time spent at the ocean might be, and how long the health effects last.

    It also remains unclear how growing human communities might affect the beach environment. It's not going to be so great if everyone starts moving to the beach, Fleming said.

    Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

    Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Could a Trip to Your Favorite Beach Make You Sick?

     

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    Gettysburg, Pa. (Getty Images)

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A statue of a Union soldier on the Gettysburg battlefield damaged by high winds is back on its post in time for the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the pivotal battle of the American Civil War.

    About 200,000 people are expected to visit this crossroads town in south-central Pennsylvania over a 10-day period starting Friday to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg, which took place July 1-3, 1863. The schedule is chock-full of re-enactments and battlefield tours, plus the National Park Service's official commemorative ceremony on Sunday night featuring historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

    "It's been three or four years of planning," Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said. "In a lot of ways, this is the Olympic moment for Gettysburg."

    It is one in which one of the battlefield's most memorable statues has been returned to its pedestal after being felled by high winds Tuesday.

    The monument to the 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry portrays a Union soldier swinging his rifle like a club. The musket barrel was bent after landing on the ground, while the shoulder area suffered a little damage, Litterst said.

    The monument restoration staff gave it a temporary fix to allow it to be displayed during the anniversary week events.

    Monuments typically mark - or come close to marking - the locations on the battlefield at which soldiers fought. The 72nd Pennsylvania Infantry defended a key spot on the third day of battle against the famed Confederate advance known as "Pickett's Charge."

    It will stay up through anniversary events before being taken down for more extensive repairs.

    "All things considered, the damage could have been much, much worse," Litterst said.

    The Blue-Gray Alliance, a re-enactment group, opens the schedule Friday with its first of three days of battle re-creations on a private farm. Organizers expected about 10,000 Civil War buffs to take part.

    The National Park Service programs include a Pickett's Charge "commemorative march" on the actual battlefield, during which nine park rangers will lead groups representing each of the nine Confederate brigades that took part in the failed assault on the entrenched Union positions on Cemetery Ridge.

    Another re-enactment held by the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee is scheduled on a farm north of town July 4-7. Re-enactments are held on private properties.

    Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, with about 51,000 casualties. It was the Confederate Army's northernmost advance in the war.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Inspiring Photos of America's National Parks

     

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