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    Updated Friday, June 28, 2013, 8:32 p.m. ET
    Five-year-old Ashawn Rabb runs through a fountain of water at the Red Ridge Park kids water park, Thursday, June 27, 2013, in Las Vegas. Children with their parents stayed past sundown to cool off in the park's fountains after temperatures in Las Vegas hit 112 degrees. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

    PHOENIX (AP) - A blazing heat wave expected to send the mercury soaring to nearly 120 degrees in Phoenix and Las Vegas over the weekend has settled across the West, threatening to ground airliners and forcing cities to set up cooling stations for the homeless and elderly.

    The heat was so punishing that rangers took up positions at trailheads at Lake Mead in Nevada to persuade people not to hike. Zookeepers in Phoenix hosed down the elephants and fed tigers frozen fish snacks. And tourists at California's Death Valley took photos of the harsh landscape and a thermometer that read 121.

    The mercury there was expected to reach nearly 130 through the weekend - just short of the 134-degree reading from a century ago that stands as the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth.

    "You have to take a picture of something like this. Otherwise no one will believe you," said Laura McAlpine, visiting Death Valley from Scotland on Friday.

    The heat is not expected to break until Monday or Tuesday.

    The scorching weather presented problems for airlines because high temperatures can make it more difficult for planes to take off. Hot air reduces lift and also can diminish engine performance. Planes taking off in the heat may need longer runways or may have to shed weight by carrying less fuel or cargo.

    Smaller jets and propeller planes are more likely to be affected than bigger airliners that are better equipped for extreme temperatures.

    The National Weather Service said Phoenix reached 116 on Friday, two degrees short of the expected high, in part because of a light layer of smoke from wildfires in neighboring New Mexico that shielded the blazing sun. Las Vegas still was expecting near record highs over the weekend approaching 116 degrees while Phoenix was forecast to hit nearly 120. The record in Phoenix is 122.

    Temperatures are also expected to soar across Utah and into Wyoming and Idaho, with triple-digit heat forecast for the Boise area. Cities in Washington state that are better known for cool, rainy weather should break the 90s next week.

    "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," said National Weather Service meteorologist Mark O'Malley. "It's going to be baking hot across much of the entire West."

    The heat is the result of a high-pressure system brought on by a shift in the jet stream, the high-altitude air current that dictates weather patterns. The jet stream has been more erratic in the past few years.

    Health officials warned people to be extremely careful when venturing outdoors. The risks include not only dehydration and heat stroke but burns from the concrete and asphalt.

    "You will see people who go out walking with their dog at noon or in the middle of the day and don't bring enough water and it gets tragic pretty quickly," said Bretta Nelson, spokeswoman for the Arizona Humane Society. "You just don't want to find out the hard way."

    Cooling stations were set up to shelter the homeless as well as elderly people who can't afford to run their air conditioners. In Phoenix, Joe Arpaio, the famously hard-nosed sheriff who runs a tent jail, planned to distribute ice cream and cold towels to inmates this weekend.

    Officials said personnel were added to the Border Patrol search-and-rescue unit because of the danger to people trying to slip across the Mexican border. At least seven people have been found dead in the last week in Arizona after falling victim to the brutal desert heat.

    In June 1990, when Phoenix hit 122 degrees, airlines were forced to cease flights for several hours because of a lack of data from the manufacturers on how the aircraft would operate in such extreme heat.

    US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher said the airline now knows that its Boeings can fly at up to 126 degrees, and its Airbus fleet can operate at up to 127.

    While the heat in Las Vegas is expected to peak on Sunday, it's unlikely to sideline the first round of the four-week Bikini Invitational tournament.

    "I feel sorry for those poor girls having to strut themselves in 115 degrees, but there's $100,000 up for grabs," said Hard Rock casino spokeswoman Abigail Miller. "I think the girls are willing to make the sacrifice."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave
    Tips for Keeping Cool During a Heat Wave


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    The space shuttle Atlantis with payload bay doors open and the Canada arm deployed is displayed inside the Atlantis exhibit building at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center in Florida on June 7, 2013. BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. Space shuttle Atlantis, the final orbiter among NASA's winged fleet to fly in space, launched on its new mission Saturday (June 29) as the centerpiece of a $100 million tourist attraction in Florida.

    Astronauts from each of Atlantis' 33 flights joined officials at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for a morning ceremony marking the opening of "Space Shuttle Atlantis," a 90,000-square foot (8360 square meters) exhibit dedicated to the retired spacecraft.

    "There are not a lot of places where you are going to be able to get as a close to an orbiter as you are going to be able to get when you get inside the Atlantis exhibit here," said Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator and commander of Atlantis' 11th mission, STS-45, in 1992. [See photos of the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit]

    Inside the five-story building, Atlantis has been mounted 30 feet (9 meters) above the ground and angled 43.21 degrees to one side. The shuttle's payload bay doors have been opened and a detailed replica of its robotic arm has been installed and extended such that it just reaches over the heads of visitors.

    Theatrical lighting and a 40-foot-long (12-meter) animated digital backdrop helps complete the illusion that Atlantis is back in space, orbiting the Earth.

    "There's nowhere else in the world that you will be able to see an orbiter that looks the way it looks when it's in flight in space," Bolden said. "That is a very, very, very unique opportunity to see it in a unique configuration.

    Awesome Atlantis

    "It is awesome," said Robert Cabana, the director of the Kennedy Space Center and a four-time shuttle astronaut. "We showcase Atlantis but [the exhibit] tells the 30-year history of the shuttle program and the amazing team that made it all happen."

    The attraction includes replica International Space Station modules, a full-size high-fidelity model of the Hubble Space Telescope, four multimedia, cinematic productions and more than 60 interactive activities that invite guests to "be the astronaut."

    "We have a lot more to offer our guests than just one attraction as they come nose-to-nose with Atlantis," said Bill Moore, chief operating officer of the visitor complex for Delaware North Companies Parks & Resort, which since 1995 has operated the property for NASA. "We have the chance here to give them the experience of what it might be like to be an astronaut — to land a space shuttle, to dock with a space station, to maneuver the shuttle robotic arm and maybe even take a walk in space."

    The guests' experiences begin even before they enter the building. Outside, a towering replica of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters and massive external fuel tank serve as a gateway for the exhibit. The facility, itself, was designed to evoke a shuttle returning from space, using iridescent hues of orange and gold to represent the glow of re-entry and a shimmering tile pattern similar in appearance to the orbiter's underbelly.

    Second mission

    After ending the space shuttle program two years ago to pursue sending U.S. astronauts beyond Earth orbit, NASA awarded its retired orbiters Discovery, Endeavour and the prototype Enterprise to museums and science centers in Virginia, California and New York so that they could serve as educational tools for generations to come.

    Although the space agency chose to retain ownership of Atlantis, the objective with its display is the same.

    "When Atlantis landed for the final time [on] July 21, 2011, it was said that its voyage had come to an end," Moore said. "We're going to challenge that a little bit."

    "Atlantis' voyage is not ending; in fact, it has just begun," he said, explaining that the orbiter's new mission was to inspire and educate those who come to see it on display.

    Cabana said that Atlantis would "capture the imagination of another generation."

    "It'll continue to inspire as it starts off its second mission," Cabana said. "It was a phenomenal spaceship — it helped us explore and discover — and now it is going to lead a mission of inspiration for future scientists, engineers and explorers."

    For more about "Space Shuttle Atlantis," the new exhibit, see collectSPACE's preview article and photo gallery. See shuttles.collectspace.com for coverage of the delivery and display of NASA's retired space shuttles.

    Follow collectSPACE.com on Facebook and on Twitter at @collectSPACE. Copyright 2013 collectSPACE.com. All rights reserved.

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


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    Eric Varone, right, takes a picture as Floriane Golay, of Switzerland watches, in Death Vally National Park Friday, June 28, 2013 in Badwater, Calif.

    The heat across the West is so intense that Death Valley will approach the world's hottest temperature record.

    Close to 100 years after setting the world's all-time record high, temperatures in Death Valley are expected to dangerously soar to 130 degrees Sunday and Monday.

    The record is currently 134 degrees from July 10, 1913.

    Even though the world's all-time record high should remain untouched, the June record high for the United States is in jeopardy. Volcano Springs, Calif., and its 129 degrees from June 23, 1902, currently holds this record.

    Major Heat Wave Expanding Across the West
    Death Valley Weather Page
    Forecast Temperature Maps

    Death Valley should also break its own June all-time record high of 128 degrees from June 29, 1994, on Sunday.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Extreme Heat Wave Hits Southwest
    A construction worker labors in the Arizona heat


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    Updated Sunday, June 30, 2013, 7:26 p.m. ET

    Dan Kail, 67, of Pittsburg Pa., walks through the sand dunes in Death Vally National Park Friday, June 28, 2013, near Stovepipe Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    LAS VEGAS (AP) - High temperatures brought discomfort to much of the Southwest on Sunday as many parts of the region were coming off several record-breaking heat days and bracing for more sizzling temperatures.

    Triple-digit heat struck again in the valleys and desert regions of Southern California, while metropolitan Phoenix saw just a slight drop in temperatures after experiencing record-breaking heat Saturday.

    Six half-marathon runners in Southern California were hospitalized Sunday for heat-related illnesses. A day earlier, paramedics responding to a Nevada home without air conditioning found an elderly man dead.

    Runners in the Southern California race who required medical attention were extremely dehydrated, and some experienced cramps, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said. Several other runners were evaluated along the route but weren't taken to the hospital, she said.

    Paramedics were deployed along the 13.1-mile race, and buses with air conditioning were provided for runners to cool off. The event was supposed to be a marathon, but it was downgraded due to low turnout last year.

    Hikers, bikers and dog walkers were scarce on typically busy trails in the Santa Monica Mountains above Los Angeles. At midday, two women and a panting German shepherd huddled in a rare sliver of shade along a fire road before striking out in the hot sun.

    Atop San Vicente Peak, cyclist Jeff Disbrow, 49, of Santa Monica was clad in black and lathered in sweat as he took a break and refilled his water bottle.

    "It's not the best day to be out here - unless you want to suffer," he said. "It's like Arizona."

    In Utah, a record 105-degree heat caused an interstate on-ramp to buckle in Salt Lake City, and hampered firefighters in their battle against three wildfires. The Interstate 215 on-ramp had to be closed for four hours Saturday night after a short section of it expanded, Utah Department of Transportation spokesman John Gleason said.

    The section looked like a pothole before it was repaved, he said. No problems were reported, and traffic was rerouted around the closed lane.

    Phoenix Fire Department spokesman Larry Nunez said the city hasn't seen any deaths that were classified as heat-related, but emergency workers have gotten 98 heat-related calls within the metro area since Friday morning.

    The 119-degree high in Phoenix on Saturday marked the fourth-hottest day in metro Phoenix since authorities started keeping temperature records more than 110 years ago. The high temperature for the metro area hit 115 on Sunday.

    Temperatures could drop slightly in Phoenix within the coming days as monsoon storms are expected to make their way through the state. Such storms could bring cloud cover but could produce more humidity and possibly contribute to dust storms.

    Several Southern California communities set same-day record highs Saturday including Palm Springs, where the mercury peaked at 122 degrees.

    Death Valley, the hottest place on the planet, reached 127 degrees Saturday. It was forecast to be 1 degree hotter Sunday. As sweltering as it will be, it's still shy of the record high of 134 degrees, set nearly a century ago on July 10, 1913.

    In Las Vegas, temperatures were on the rise again after the city reported a record overnight low of 89 degrees Sunday.

    With the temperature at 111 degrees early Sunday afternoon, National Weather Service forecaster Dan Berc said Las Vegas could also break its record high of 117 degrees set in 2005 and 1942. Forecasters are calling for the high to reach 116 degrees.

    On Saturday, a man died and another was hospitalized in serious condition in Las Vegas heat-aggravated incidents as the temperature soared to 115 degrees.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave
    Smart ways to beat the summer heat


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    Updated Sunday, June 30, 2013, 2:35 p.m. ET

    MIAMI (AP) - Tropical Storm Dalila is churning across the Pacific off southwest Mexico, and authorities have issued a tropical storm warning for a large swath of coastline.

    The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the fourth tropical storm of the season formed early Sunday and is centered about 235 miles south-southeast of Manzanillo, Mexico. Dalila is moving north-northwest at 9 mph, with top sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Mexico has issued a tropical storm warning for its Pacific coast from Punta San Telmo to La Fortuna. A tropical storm watch is issued from north of La Fortuna to Cabo Corrientes.

    Forecasters say Dalila is showing little change in strength. Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach the coast early Monday with 1 to 3 inches of rain in some areas.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos


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    Sure, people talk about frying an egg when temperatures soar, but how many actually try it?

    The temperature in Death Valley reached a scoarching 128 degrees Saturday, and that's when National Park officials posted this video of someone in Death Valley frying an egg in a frying pan -- on the ground. Watch as it sizzles in the sun.

    "We have a lot of visitors who try to try to fry an egg on a car or on the rocks," Chief Ranger Karen McKinlay told SKYE. "Apparently, 130 is the minimum temperature that you need for it to work."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Extreme Heat Wave Hits Southwest
    Southwest Heat Wave


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    June 30, 2013

    (Charlotte Dewey / National Weather Service)

    On Friday, the day before the city hit a record of 119 degrees, Phoenix-based National Weather Service forecasters decided to harness the 116-degree heat to bake up a batch of chocolate-chip cookies -- in one of their government-issued vans.

    "Another forecaster and I were joking around about the classic, so-hot-you-can-fry-an-egg-on-it trick and we thought it would be so much more fun to try to bake cookies," meteorologist Charlotte Dewey told SKYE. "I mean, who would really want to eat that egg?"

    So Dewey and her colleague bought some cookie dough, placed it on a foil-covered cookie sheet and then set it on the van's dashboard.

    "After one hour they had really solidified," she said. "After two hours they seemed done, but we left them in for four hours just to be sure."

    So were the van-baked treats really edible?

    "Yes!" Dewey said. "They were totally done and I did eat them. They were crispy and I could break them in my hand."

    How did the forecaster feeling afterward?

    "Absolutely fine," she said. "It was a fun experiment!"

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Extreme Heat Wave Hits Southwest
    Southwest Heat Wave


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    A wildfire burns homes in Yarnell, Ariz., on Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Kadlubowski)

    YARNELL, Arizona (AP) - An out-of-control blaze overtook an elite group of firefighters trained to battle the fiercest wildfires, killing 19 members as they tried to protect themselves from the flames under fire-resistant shields.

    It was the most firefighters killed battling a wildfire in the U.S. in decades.

    The lightning-sparked fire, which spread to at least 2,000 acres (800 hectares) amid scorching temperatures, also destroyed 200 homes and sent hundreds fleeing from Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles (140 kilometers) northwest of Phoenix. Residents huddled in shelters and local restaurants, watching their homes burn on TV as flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town.

    The disaster Sunday afternoon all but wiped out the 20-member Hotshot fire crew based in nearby Prescott, leaving the city's fire department reeling.

    "We grieve for the family. We grieve for the department. We grieve for the city," Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said at a news conference Sunday evening. "We're devastated. We just lost 19 of the finest people you'll ever meet."

    A total of 250 firefighters and support personnel were assigned to the fire as of Sunday. Fire managers said a top-level management team and another four Hotshot crews were on the way Monday. They typically have 20 members each.

    Spokesmen for fire managers did not immediately respond to requests for comment early Monday.

    The National Weather Service said there's a 30 percent of thunderstorms and showers Monday in the Yarnell area. Rain could help slow the fire, but the forecast also says the storms could produce gusty winds.

    Television aerial video footage showed law enforcement vehicles patrolling Yarnell, driving streets with burned buildings on both sides.

    The National Fire Protection Association website lists the last wildland fire to kill more firefighters as the 1933 Griffith Park fire of Los Angeles, which killed 29. The most firefighters - 340 - were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, according to the website.

    Most people had evacuated from the town, and no injuries or other deaths were reported.

    Hotshot crews go through specialized training and are often deployed soon after a fire breaks out. Sometimes they hike for miles into the wilderness with chain saws and backpacks filled with heavy gear to build lines of protection between people and fires. They remove brush, trees and anything that might burn in the direction of homes and cities. This crew had worked other wildfires in recent weeks in New Mexico and Arizona.

    As a last-ditch effort at survival, Hotshot crew members are trained to dig into the ground and cover themselves with the tent-like shelter made of fire-resistant material, Fraijo said. The hope in that desperate situation is that the fire will burn over them and they will survive.

    "It's an extreme measure that's taken under the absolute worst conditions," Fraijo said.

    Nineteen fire shelters were deployed, and some of the firefighters were found inside them, while others were outside the shelters, Mike Reichling, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman, told the Arizona Republic.

    Prescott, which is more than 30 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Yarnell, is home to one of 110 Hotshot crews in the United States, according to the U.S. Forest Service website. The unit was established in 2002, and the city also has 75 suppression team members.

    In 1994, the Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames.

    President Barack Obama called the 19 firefighters heroes and said in a statement that the federal government was assisting state and local officials.

    "This is as dark a day as I can remember," Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement. "It may be days or longer before an investigation reveals how this tragedy occurred, but the essence we already know in our hearts: fighting fires is dangerous work."

    Brewer said she would travel to the area on Monday.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Extreme Heat Wave Hits Southwest
    Southwest Heat Wave


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    MIAMI (AP) - Tropical Storm Dalila (dah-LY-lah) continues to swirl off Mexico's Pacific coast.

    The storm has maximum sustained winds early Monday near 45 mph with some possibility of strengthening later in the day and Tuesday.

    A tropical storm warning is in effect for Mexico's Pacific coast from Punta San Telmo to La Fortuna. A tropical storm watch is in effect from north of La Fortuna to Cabo Corrientes.

    Dalilia is expected to bring winds and rain to the country's coastline over the day and into the night.

    The storm is centered about 105 miles south of Manzanillo, Mexico, and is moving northwest near 9 mph.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Stunning Hurricane Photos from Space


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    Updated Monday, July 1, 2013, 1:33 p.m. ET

    Kevin Martin of Corona, California, poses for a snapshot by an unofficial thermometer reading at Furnace Creek Visitor Center reading 128 degrees on June 30, 2013, in Death Valley National Park, California.(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, California (AP) - The National Weather Service says California's Death Valley National Park tentatively recorded a high temperature of 129 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, which would tie the all-time June record high for the United States.

    The weather service's Las Vegas office on Monday posted to its website a photo of a Park Service thermometer showing the mercury on June 30.

    The reading preliminarily ties the U.S. June mark of 129 degrees Fahrenheit (53.8 degrees Celsius) recorded on June 23, 1902, at Volcano, a former town near the Salton Sea in southeastern California.

    The reading, however, is short of the all-time, world record 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.67 degrees Celsius) set in Death Valley on July 10, 1913.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Extreme Heat Wave Hits Southwest
    Heat Wave, Chewbaca


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    (Getty Images)

    With severe to exceptional drought sitting across most of the western half of the nation, many will have to forego fireworks displays this year as fire bans limit their use.

    Fire restrictions are categorized as either a Stage I or a Stage II restriction. Stage I restrictions prohibit burning, maintaining, using or even attending a campfire, bonfire or stove fire unless a permit has been issued or the fires are in camp or picnic areas created and maintained by the Forest Service. Stage II restrictions limit these fires even in Forest Service areas. Stage I bans will also typically disallow the use or sale of fireworks.

    Julie Heckman, Executive Director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, said it seemed the most widespread bans are located in Colorado, where shows have been canceled. Overall, she is optimistic that this year is better than 2012.

    "Last year was the worst in three decades," she said of canceled firework shows. "It hurt consumer backyard sales. This year should be better."

    Most of the bans enacted will only affect private use of fireworks. Many towns will still hold shows if they obtain the proper fire permits and take the necessary safety precautions.


    Fire bans in Colorado vary from county to county, but many will be restricting or eliminating fireworks use this year as a result of dry conditions and record-breaking wildfires. Started June 11, the now-contained Black Forest Fire destroyed 379 homes and over 14,000 acres, making it the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history. El Paso County, where Black Forest is located, is one of many in Colorado to have Stage I fire restrictions in place, which includes a ban of all sales and use of fireworks. The full list of county-by-county bans can be found here.


    Fire restrictions in Utah are mainly contained to the southeastern part of the state, where wildfires have occurred. FireRestrictions.us shows Stage II restrictions for these counties. As of June 30, there is no set end date to the bans. Utah residents should check with local agencies to determine what the restrictions are for their area and should watch for updates, as more bans may be instated before the holiday.


    Stage II fire restrictions are widespread across Arizona, where severe to extreme drought has increased fire concerns. Four wildfires are currently active in the state as of 3:00 p.m. EDT on June 30, including the nearly-7,000-acre Doce Fire. While bans for most counties in Arizona restrict the use of explosives and fireworks, residents should track the restrictions for their area for updates and for any public allowances that may have been granted through permit.

    New Mexico

    New Mexico hosts much of the "exceptional" drought levels impacting the West. As a result, Stage I and II restrictions have been implemented across the state. Seven fires are actively raging across the state, including the devastating 125,000 acre Silver Fire that is 45 percent contained. The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department issued a statement on May 3 stating:

    "Fireworks use is prohibited on lands covered wholly or in part in timber, brush, grass, grain, or other flammable vegetation. The State Forester is allowing exceptions to the ban on fireworks where they are a part of a public exhibit approved by the local fire department."

    Heckman urges safety considerations anytime anyone is using fireworks. She recommends that people, especially those in dry areas, wet their lawns to prevent fire risks whether an official restiction has been listed or not.

    Meanwhile, in the Eastern U.S., the problem for fireworks will not be from a risk of wildfires.

    According to Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "The pattern through Independence Day and the weekend beyond in some locations favors additional widely separated torrential downpours and conditions favoring fog in some locations."

    Radar: Track Heavy Storms Across East, Ohio Valley
    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center

    Philadelphia Sets June Rain Record, NYC May Follow

    The downpours can be not only disruptive for outdoor plans ranging from outdoor festivals to fireworks but could also be life-threatening in a few cases.

    "It is impossible to predict beyond a few hours exactly where the random flooding problems will be," Sosnowski added. "The downpours will be driven by the heating of the day in a moist atmosphere that will resemble the tropics."

    Light winds and the saturated air during the evening hours can lead to fog. The calm, moist conditions could cause the smoke from the fireworks to be slow to disperse. Shows synced to music could be delayed at times as a result.

    "The best viewing conditions overall may be in the Central states, where there will be less thunderstorm activity, a slight breeze, lower humidity and few concerns of drought," Sosnowski stated.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 7 Surprising Health Effects of Drought


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    (Getty Images)

    Showers and thunderstorms capable of triggering new flash flooding incidents and localized severe weather will continue to plague the East through the first part of the week and into the Fourth of July.

    The humid, moist flow that set up across the East last week will persist through this week, providing fuel for more drenching showers and thunderstorms from Maine through Florida.

    Showers and thunderstorms are also extending back into parts of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, but the number turning heavy and severe will be more localized than those to the east.

    The showers and thunderstorms will be most numerous across the Appalachians and East Coast through Tuesday.

    The axis of the heaviest showers and thunderstorms may shift away from the Southeast and southern mid-Atlantic coasts Wednesday through Thursday, focusing from the Florida Panhandle up the spine of the Appalachian Mountains and through the Northeast.

    Last week, storms across the East produced widespread flooding and wind damage.

    Due to the substantial rainfall in recent days and weeks, it will not take much rainfall from the showers and thunderstorms this week to cause flash flooding. With the ground saturated with water, just an inch of water in less than a three-hour period of time can lead to flash flooding.

    This pattern has already yielded the wettest June on record for Philadelphia, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., with other cities, such as New York City, coming within an inch of doing the same.

    Radar: Track Heavy Storms Across East, Ohio Valley
    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center

    Philadelphia Sets June Rain Record, NYC May Follow

    The above rain totals for this June are through Saturday and do not include what fell on Sunday.

    In addition to the flooding threat, a localized number of storms may produce gusty winds that can knock over trees and power lines. This can make flooding worse with trees and debris diverting flood waters; causing headaches for travelers and cleanup crews.

    A few of the strongest thunderstorms will also drop hail, while an extremely isolated tornado or waterspout touching down cannot be ruled out.

    Many residents are likely becoming weary of the seemingly endless rounds of showers and thunderstorms that are not only cause damage, but also interfering with outdoor activities and plans.

    Included among these plans will be Fourth of July festivities, as well as the 150th Anniversary Events of the Battle of Gettysburg, Pa.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere


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    Weather Radar Shows Giant 'Storm' of Dust, Bugs in Texas
    The radar image covering a good-size chunk of Texas on Friday featured deep shades of blue and green, indicating that rain was pelting the region. Only it wasn't raining outside. It was perfectly dry.

    "We thought something was wrong with the radar, but we checked our instruments and measurements," National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Dunn told Statesman.com in Austin, Texas. "Everything was working fine."

    It turns out it wasn't a storm at all but (probably) a combination of grasshoppers, moths, flies, pollen and dust swirling in the atmosphere - something forecasters usually see resulting from cold fronts in early fall, not in early summer.

    So what happened? A cold front hit the region Friday, causing a northeasterly breeze that sent dust and bugs flying into the air.

    It's not the first time people have been confused by radar in the region.

    Each evening in the summer, for example, millions of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from caves and take to the skies, causing radar to suggest major storms moving through the area. Forecasters in the National Weather Service's Austin-San Antonio office field calls several times a week from confused citizens wondering why local radar images look so stormy.

    "They look at the radar and it looks like something exploded, and then they look outside and see clear skies," National Weather Service Science and Operations Officer Jon Zeitler told SKYE.

    Fortunately, Zeitler is more than happy to offer an explanation.

    "People find it interesting," he said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Freakiest Bugs


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    PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, based in Prescott, Ariz., were killed Sunday when a windblown wildfire overcame them north of Phoenix. It was the deadliest single day for U.S. firefighters since Sept. 11. Fourteen of the victims were in their twenties. Here are the stories of those who died:



    Prescott High School physical education teacher and coach Lou Beneitone taught many of the Hotshots, and remembered Andrew Ashcraft, 29, as a fitness-oriented student.

    "He had some athletic ability in him and he was a go-getter, too. You could pretty much see, from young freshman all the way, he was going to be physically active."

    PHOTOS: Wildfire Claims Lives of 19 Firefighters
    Beneitone said athletic prowess was a must for the Hotshots. "That's what it takes. You gotta be very physically fit, and you gotta like it, gotta like the hard work."

    Ashcraft, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was honored to be a member of the Hotshot crew, and "he just had a really sweet spirit about him," Elise Smith, a Prescott resident, told the Deseret News of Salt Lake City.

    Ashcraft left behind a wife, Juliann, and four children, the newspaper reported.



    Friends characterized Robert Caldwell, 23, as the smart man in the bunch.

    "He was really smart, he had a good sense of humor," said Chase Madrid, worked as a Hotshot for two years, but sat this year out.

    "He was one of the smart guys in the crew who could get the weather, figure out the mathematics. It was just natural for him," Madrid said.

    It was Caldwell's intelligence and know-how that got him appointed as a squad boss.

    His cousin, Grant McKee, was also a Hotshots member and also was killed on Sunday.

    "Robert was a gentle giant - he was man of few words," said his aunt, Laurie McKee.

    He had just gotten married in November, and had a 5-year-old stepson.

    "Both of these boys were only interested in having a family life. Robert was newly married, and Grant was engaged. They just wanted the house and the dog," she said.

    Mary Hoffmann was grandmother to both boys.

    "To have two grandson's gone, it's devastation," she said.



    At Captain Crossfit, a gym near the firehouse where the Hotshots were stationed, Travis Carter was known as the strongest one out of the crew - but also the most humble.

    "No one could beat him," trainer Janine Pereira said. "But the thing about him, was he would never brag about it. He would just kill everyone and then go and start helping someone else finish."

    Carter, 31, was famous for once holding a plank for 45 minutes, and he was notorious for making up brutal workouts.

    The crew recently did a five-mile run during wilderness training, then he made them go to Captain Crossfit in the afternoon for another really hard workout.

    "The other guys who came in here always said that even though he was in charge, he was always the first one at the fire, the first one in action," Pereira said.

    Unidentified members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew from Prescott, Ariz., pose together in this undated photo provided by the City of Prescott. (AP Photo/City of Prescott)



    Dustin DeFord, 24, tried out for the Hotshot crew in January 2012, telling friends on Twitter that he had passed the physical fitness test and asking for prayers as he moved on to the interview stage of the process.

    He moved to Arizona from Montana after he was hired, and he worked to improve his skills on the climbing wall at a gym near the firehouse.

    "He listened very well. He was very respectful," said Tony Burris, a trainer at Captain Crossfit. "He kind of had a dry sense of humor."

    Another trainer, Janine Pereira, echoed that sentiment.

    "You would say something to him, and he would respond with a crack, which was funny because he was so shy," she said.

    Soon after he interviewed for the Hotshots, DeFord signed up for the Spartan Race, a rugged, eight-mile challenge through the mud and around various obstacles in Chandler, Ariz., a suburb of Phoenix.

    "I am being amazing," he wrote on Twitter, in reference to the race.

    Several months later, in June 2012, he tweeted: "First Fire of the season."



    An avid snowboarder, Chris MacKenzie, 30, grew up in California's San Jacinto Valley, where he was a 2001 graduate of Hemet High School and a former member of the town's fire department. He joined the U.S. Forest Service in 2004 then transferred two years ago to the Prescott Fire Department, longtime friend Dav Fulford-Brown told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

    MacKenzie, like at least one other member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, had followed his father into firefighting. Michael MacKenzie, a former Moreno Valley Fire Department captain, confirmed that he had been informed of his son's death.

    "I can't talk about it," he said.

    Fulford-Brown, also a former firefighter, feared for the worst as soon as he heard the news of the Arizona firefighters. "I said, 'Oh my God, that's Chris' crew.' I started calling him and calling him and got no answer," he told The Press-Enterprise. MacKenzie, he said, "lived life to the fullest ... and was fighting fire just like his dad."

    "He was finishing his credentials to get promoted and loved the people. It's an insane tragedy."



    Eric Marsh, 43, was an avid mountain biker who grew up in Ashe County, N.C., but became hooked on firefighting while studying biology at Arizona State University, said Leanna Racquer, the ex-wife of his cousin. Marsh lived with Racquer and her then-husband during the winters from 1992 through 1996 in North Carolina, but kept returning to Arizona during fire season.

    After college, he kept working as a firefighter, eventually landing a full-time job and settling in northern Arizona. He even moved his parents to the state, she said. Marsh was superintendent of the Hotshot crew and the oldest of the 19 who died.

    "He's was great - he was the best at what he did," Racquer said. "He is awesome and well-loved and they are hurting," she said of his family.

    Marsh was married but had no children, said his cousin, Scott Marsh, of Pisgah Forest, N.C. His father, John Marsh, told the Jefferson Post newspaper in Jefferson, N.C., that his only child "was a great son."

    "He was compassionate and caring about his crew."



    Grant McKee, 21, loved to give things away.

    "Even as a child, I'd ask him where things were, and he'd say, 'Oh such and such liked it.' And sometimes it really cost a lot! But he'd say, 'Oh he liked it so much,'" said his grandmother, Mary Hoffmann.

    "So on his birthday, I started to say, 'I hope you're going to keep this!'" she said.

    McKee's cousin, Robert Caldwell, also was a Hotshot and also was killed on Sunday.

    "I had four grandchildren, but Grant was the sweetest most giving nature of any of my grandkids," Hoffman said. "We used to think he was a little angel."

    McKee's mother said Grant was training to be an emergency medical technician and only intended to work with the Hotshots for the summer.

    During EMT training, he would ask for extra shifts at the emergency room. And because his superiors liked him, they would give them to him, Laurie McKee said.

    "Grant was one of the most likable people you could ever meet," she said. "Grant was friendly, he was outgoing. Everybody loved Grant."



    Sean Misner, 26, leaves behind a wife who is seven months pregnant, said Mark Swanitz, principal of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in Santa Barbara County, where Misner graduated in 2005.

    Misner played varsity football and also participated in the school's sports medicine program where he wrapped sprained ankles and took care of sidelined athletes.

    "He was a team player, a real helper," Swanitz told The Associated Press.

    In high school, Misner played several positions, including wide receiver and defensive back. He was slim for a high school football player, but that didn't stop him from tackling his opponents, recalled retired football coach Ken Gruendyke.

    "He played with tremendous heart and desire," Gruendyke said. "He wasn't the biggest or fastest guy on the team but he played with great emotion and intensity."



    Scott Norris, 28, was known around Prescott through his part-time job at Bucky O'Neill Guns.

    "Here in Arizona the gun shops are a lot like barbershops. Sometimes you don't go in there to buy anything at all, you just go to talk," said resident William O'Hara. "I never heard a dirty word out of the guy. He was the kind of guy who if he dated your daughter, you'd be OK with it.

    "He was just a model of a young, ideal American gentleman."

    O'Hara's son Ryan, 19, said Norris' life and tragic death had inspired him to live a more meaningful life.

    "He was a loving guy. He loved life. And I've been guilty of not looking as happy as I should, and letting things get to me, and Scott wasn't like that at all."



    At 22, Wade Parker had just joined the Hotshots team. His father works for the nearby Chino Valley Fire Department, said retired Prescott Fire Department Capt. Jeff Knotek, who had known Wade since he was "just a little guy."

    The younger Parker had been very excited about being part of the Hotshot crew, Knotek said.

    "He was another guy who wanted to be a second generation firefighter," Knotek said. "Big, athletic kid who loved it, aggressive, assertive and in great shape."

    "It's just a shame to see this happen," Knotek said.



    He loved baseball and had an unforgettable laugh. In his aunt's eyes, John Percin Jr. was, simply, "an amazing young man."

    "He was probably the strongest and bravest young man I have ever met in my life," Donna Percin Pederson said in an interview with The Associated Press from her home in Portland, Ore.

    John Percin Sr. declined to comment Monday. "It's not a good time right now."

    Percin, 24, was a multisport high school athlete who graduated in 2007 from West Linn High School, southeast of Portland.

    Geoff McEvers grew up playing baseball with Percin and remembered him as a fun-loving guy with an unforgettable laugh, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

    McEvers said he learned about the Percin's death through friends.

    "It's already tragic when you hear about those who died," McEvers told the newspaper, "but when you find out it's someone you know personally, it's tough."



    Anthony Rose, 23, was one of the youngest victims. He grew up in Wisconsin and previously worked as a firefighter in nearby Crown King before moving on to become a Hotshot.

    Retired Crown King firefighter Greg Flores said Rose "just blossomed in the fire department. He did so well and helped so much in Crown King. We were all so very proud of him."

    Flores said the town was planning a fundraiser for Rose and hoped to also have a memorial to honor him.

    "He was the kind of guy that his smile lit up the whole room and everyone would just rally around him," he said. "He loved what he was doing, and that brings me some peace of heart."



    Jesse Steed's former colleagues remember him as a joker.

    "He was a character. If you look at all the old photos of him, he was doing things to make people laugh," said Cooper Carr, who worked with Steed in the Hotshots from 2001 to 2003.

    "He was good at impressions, and he sang songs; he was just great for morale. He'd just talk in a funny voice and have us all in stiches," Carr said. "And he was strong as an ox."

    Carr remembers that Steed once spent the better part of an hour positioning a water bottle just right for a photo so that it would look like Yosemite Falls was cascading into it.

    Steed was also remembered for his dedication to fighting wildfires.

    "He did it for a long, long time. I think he started in 2001, when he got out of the Marines. A job like the Hotshots is hard, hard work, and you don't stay in it if you don't love it," Carr said.

    Steed, 36, was one of the older members of the crew. Renton, Wash., police officer Cassidy Steed said his brother "always put his life on the line for people who he knew he would never meet."



    Back home in Cedar City, Utah, Joe Thurston, 32, used to go to an area reservoir with friends and promptly show how fearless he could be.

    "He was definitely one of the daredevil types," longtime friend Scott Goodrich told the Salt Lake Tribune. "We went to Quail (Creek) Reservoir, and we'd be finding 40- to 50-foot cliffs that people would be scared to jump off. He would just show up and be front-flipping off of them."

    He brought this bold streak to the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

    "He had all the qualities that a firefighter would need to possess," E.J. Overson, another friend, told the Salt Lake City newspaper. "He was service-oriented, very caring and willing to do some things that many others would say, 'I don't want to get involved.'"

    Thurston was also determined, generous and hardworking, his friends said.

    He went to Cedar High School and Southern Utah University, played in a band and rode skateboards.

    "He was one of the best guys I ever met," Goodrich said.



    Known as "Turby" among crew members, Travis Turbyfill got a full-time position with the Hotshots when another member's girlfriend asked him to quit.

    Turbyfill, 27, often worked with other Hotshots at Captain Crossfit, a warehouse filled with mats, obstacle courses, climbing walls and acrobatic rings near the firehouse. He would train in the morning and then return in the afternoon with his wife and kids.

    Trainer Janine Pereira said she recently kidded Turbyfill for skipping workouts. His excuse was that he wanted to spend some quality time at Dairy Queen.

    "He was telling me that it's because it was Blizzard week, and he was just going to eat a Blizzard every night," she said.

    Tony Burris, another trainer, said he enjoyed watching Turby with his two daughters.

    "Because he's this big, huge Marine, Hotshot guy, and he has two little girls, reddish, blonde curly hair, and they just loved their dad," he said.



    Billy Warneke, 25, and his wife, Roxanne, were expecting their first child in December, his grandmother, Nancy Warneke, told The Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside, Calif. Warneke grew up in Hemet, Calif., along with his fellow Granite Mountain hotshot, Chris MacKenzie. He was a four-year Marine Corps veteran who served a tour in Iraq and had joined the hotshot crew in April, buying a property in Prescott, near where his sister lived, the newspaper reported.

    Nancy Warneke said she called her sister after seeing the fire on the news.

    "She said, 'He's gone. They're all gone,'" Nancy Warneke told the Press-Enterprise. "Even though it's a tragedy for the whole family, he was doing what he loved to do. He loved nature and was helping preserve nature."



    Full of heart and determination, Clayton Whitted, 28, might not have been the biggest guy around, but he was among the hardest-working. His former Prescott High School coach, Lou Beneitone, said Whitted was a "wonderful kid" who always had a big smile on his face. Whitted played for the football team as an offensive and defensive lineman.

    "He was a smart young man with a great personality, just a wonderful personality," said Beneitone. "When he walked into a room, he could really light it up."

    Beneitone said Whitted loved being a firefighter and was well-respected among his crew. He says he ran into Whitted about two months ago and they shook hands and hugged, and talked about the upcoming fire season.

    "I told him to be careful," Beneitone said.



    For Kevin Woyjeck, 21, the fire station was always a second home. His father, Capt. Joe Woyjeck, is a nearly 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Keith Mora, an inspector with that agency, said Kevin often accompanied his dad to the station and on ride-alongs and always intended to follow in his footsteps.

    "He wanted to become a firefighter like his dad and hopefully work hand in hand," Mora said Monday outside of the fire station in Seal Beach, Calif., where the Woyjeck family lives.

    Mora remembered the younger Woyjeck as a "joy to be around," a man who always had a smile on his face. He had been trained as an EMT and worked as an Explorer, which is a mentorship training program to become a professional firefighter.

    "He was a great kid. Unbelievable sense of humor, work ethic that was not parallel to many kids I've seen at that age. He wanted to work very hard."

    As he spoke, Mora stood before an American flag that had been lowered to half-staff. His own fire badge was covered with a black elastic band, a show of respect and mourning for those lost in the line of duty.



    Garret Zuppiger, 27, loved to be funny, said Tony Burris, a trainer at a gym where many of the Hotshots worked out.

    Burris said the two bonded over their hyper-manly ginger facial hair.

    "We both had a red beard and so we would always admire each other's beards," he said. "We also had a few conversations about beer."

    Zuppiger's humor was evident on his blog where he wrote about his grandmother's one-eyed Chihuahua, his "best hair day ever" and a hike with his mother on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. There's also photos of a tongue-in-cheek project to build a "ski-chair," in which a living room recliner was placed atop two skis.

    "Garret Zuppiger turns 25!" he wrote in a post several years ago. "Every day is like a gift!!"

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Yarnell Hill Wildfire Claims Lives of 19 Firefighters


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    Updated Tuesday July 2, 2013, 2:25 p.m. ET

    MIAMI (AP) - Dalila (dah-LY-lah) has strengthened into a hurricane as it moves away from Mexico's Pacific coast and is expected to weaken again.

    The storm Tuesday had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph). The storm is centered about 190 miles (306 kilometers) west-southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico, and is inching toward the west-northwest.

    The government of Mexico has issued no storm warnings or watches for the coast.

    Dalilia was expected to bring winds and rain accumulations of 1 to 3 inches to the country's coastline.

    The biggest danger is heavy surf and rip currents.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 30 Incredible Hurricane Photos


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    Heat Wave
    United States Postal Service letter carrier Brian Johnson, 55, takes a break from his 400-house mail route to hydrate with some water Monday, July 1, 2013, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - Excessive heat is the No. 1 weather killer in the United States and it's at its most dangerous when it doesn't cool down at night.

    The current heat wave over California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico has temperatures hitting triple digits, with little relief at night. Hot weather is also baking the rest of the far West, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and parts of Utah and Montana.

    Q: What's so disturbing about this current heat wave?

    A: It's unrelenting stubbornness. There is no relief at night. Phoenix set a record for highest nighttime temperature: 91. Las Vegas has gone three days without getting below 90, according to readings at the airport.

    "Nighttime heat is especially bad," said Eli Jacks, chief of fire and public weather services at the National Weather Service. "Not to get below 90 is crazy."

    Q: What's so dangerous about that?

    If you aren't in an air-conditioned place, "your body never has a chance to recover" at night, Jacks said. Normally, the "feels-like" index - which factors in temperature and humidity - has to get to 80 degrees or below for your body to recover from the daytime heat, Jacks said.

    The lack of nighttime cooling is more dangerous than the 117 degree all-time record in Las Vegas, experts said.

    Q: How do heat waves compare to other weather killers?

    A: In recent years, heat has been more deadly than other weather extremes in the United States.

    On average, heat waves are killing about 117 people a year, according to figures from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, those numbers are incomplete and only based on reports during periods of extreme heat. The much more comprehensive numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that on average 658 people die each year from too much heat.

    Q: Who is most at risk?

    A: The elderly and children. The elderly make up 36 percent of heat deaths in the past decade, according to the CDC. And of all the excessive heat deaths, 69 percent are men. Also on average, 37 children left in car seats die from heat each year, according to a study at San Francisco State University.

    Q: What can you do to stay safe?

    A: Drink lots of water; the dry heat in the Southwest evaporates sweat so quickly that people don't notice they are perspiring and get dehydrated more quickly, Jacks said. Stay in the shade and out of the heat between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Use sunblock of SPF 15 or higher. Wear light-colored clothing and light clothing. Reduce use of caffeine and alcohol, which tend to dehydrate, and slow down.

    Q: So what's causing all this?

    A: Part of it is normal summer heat spurts, said meteorologist Kenneth James of the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Md. But there's another factor and that's the jet stream.

    Normally the jet stream moves generally west-to-east, but when it slows and swings dramatically to the north or south, extreme weather can happen.

    What's happening now is "a really big kink in the jet stream, about as big as you can see anytime, covering the whole western U.S.," said heat wave expert Ken Kunkel, a professor of atmospheric sciences at North Carolina State University.

    To the west of the kink, in Arizona and Nevada, there's a high pressure system just parked there with stagnant heat, Kunkel said. And to its east are cool - even record cool - temperatures in Texas, he said.

    Q: When will it end?

    A: The extreme heat should continue for about a week, but it won't set records, James said.

    Q: Is this related to the deadly Arizona fire?

    A: "There's most assuredly a link" between the heat wave and the fire, Jacks said. It gets hot with extremely dry air, and then a no-rain lightning strike ignites bone-dry fuel into a fire.

    Q: Is this global warming?

    A: No single event can be blamed solely on man-made global warming, scientists and meteorologists say. But this is the type of heat wave than scientists have long said will be more common as the world warms.

    Some, but not all, scientists also theorize that the jet stream is having more of these crazy kinks lately because of a warming Arctic and melting sea ice.

    Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said there's an element of randomness in the current weather. Yet with all-time heat records in the past few years being broken at three times the expected rate, he said, "there can be little doubt that climate change and global warming are playing a role."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave
    Smart ways to beat the summer heat


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