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    This Thursday, May 2, 2013, file photo shows flooding on Duval Street in Key West, Fla., after roughly five inches of rainfall. (AP Photo/The Key West Citizen, Rob O'Neal)

    KEY WEST, Florida (AP) - Hurricane storm surge can inundate the narrow, low-lying Florida Keys, but that is far from the only water worry for officials.

    A tidal gauge operating since before the Civil War has documented a sea level rise of 9 inches in the last century, and officials expect that to double over the next 50 years. So when building a new Stock Island fire station, county authorities went ahead added a foot and a half over federal flood planning directives that the ground floor be built up 9 feet.

    Seasonal tidal flooding that was once a rare inconvenience is now so predictable that some businesses at the end of Key West's famed Duval Street stock sandbags just inside their front doors, ready anytime.

    "It's really easy to see during our spring high tides that the sea level is coming up - for whatever reason - and we have to accommodate for that," said Johnnie Yongue, the on-site technician at the fire station for Monroe County's project management department.

    While New York City's mayor was announcing a dramatic multibillion-dollar plan for flood walls and levees to hold back rising water levels there, sea walls like those that encase the Netherlands wouldn't help much in the Keys, as a lack of coastal barriers isn't the island chain's only problem.

    "Our base is old coral reef, so it's full of holes," says Alison Higgins, the sustainability coordinator for the city of Key West. "You've got both the erosion and the fact that (water) just comes up naturally through the holes."

    The Keys' plans for adapting to rising sea levels sound a lot like the way they prepare for hurricanes: track the incoming disturbance, adjust infrastructure accordingly and communicate potential risks to residents - all, hopefully, without scaring off the tourists who treasure the islands for their fishing, Technicolor sunsets, eccentric characters and a come-as-you-are social scene that has attracted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, U.S. presidents and flamboyant female impersonators.

    In many sea level projections for the coming century, the Keys, Miami and much of southern Florida partially sink beneath potential waves. However, officials are quick to note that the Keys' beloved resorts and marinas and airport - with a runway averaging just over 2 feet above sea level - aren't disappearing underwater overnight.

    The Keys and three South Florida counties agreed in 2010 to collaborate on a regional plan to adapt to climate change. The first action plan developed under that agreement was published in October and calls for revamped planning policies, more public transportation options, stopping seawater from flowing into freshwater supplies and managing the region's unique ecosystems so that they can adapt, too.

    Before writing the plan, the counties reviewed regional sea level data and projected a rise of up to 24 inches in the next 50 years.

    "The rate's doubled. It would be disingenuous and sloppy and irresponsible not to respond to it," Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi, who oversees the Keys.

    In addition to the regional plan, Monroe County aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and to incorporate future sea level rise projections into infrastructure planning.

    "We clearly have the most to lose. If sea-level rise is not curtailed by immediate reductions in greenhouse gases, the Florida Keys may eventually become unlivable," according to a March draft of the county's plans. "Planning decisions should take into consideration medium to extreme sea level rise predictions."

    The Keys are among the cities and coastal areas worldwide building or planning defenses to protect people and infrastructure from more powerful storm surges and other effects of global warming.

    New York City has proposed installing removable flood walls, restoring marshes, and flood-proofing homes.

    In Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean and one dependent on European and Canadian tourists, inspectors and demolition crews are planning to raze thousands of houses, restaurants, hotels and improvised docks to restore much of the coast to something approaching its natural state. A luxury tourist destination, the Maldives, has built a seawall around its capital, plans to relocate residents from vulnerable islands to better protected ones and is creating new land through land reclamation, expanding existing islands or building new ones.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 10 U.S. Cities Most at Risk from Rising Sea Levels

     

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    In this May 25, 2011, file photo, sailors stand on deck of the USS Iwo Jima as it passes Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty during Fleet Week in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Months after Superstorm Sandy swamped her little island, the Statue of Liberty will finally welcome visitors again on Independence Day.

    Sandy made landfall one day after the statue's 126th birthday, flooding most of the 12 acres she stands upon with water that surged as high as 8 feet. Lady Liberty herself was spared, but the surrounding grounds on Liberty Island took a beating.

    Railings broke, docks and paving stones were torn up and buildings were flooded. The storm destroyed boilers, sewage pumps and electrical systems.

    Hundreds of National Park Service workers from as far away as California and Alaska spent weeks cleaning mud and debris. In recent months, all mechanical equipment was moved to higher ground as workers put the island back in order.

    The damage to Liberty Island and neighboring Ellis Island cost an estimated $59 million. Some repairs to brick walkways and docks are still underway, but on July 4 visitors will arrive via ferry boats once again to tour the national landmark.

    "People will have, more or less, the same access to Liberty Island that they had before," said John Warren, a spokesman for the Statue of Liberty National Monument.

    The ceremony Thursday will include remarks by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others. It will close with a ribbon-cutting and performance by singer and actor Dominic Chianese, best known as Corrado "Junior" Soprano on the HBO series "The Sopranos."

    A gift from France, the statue was conceived to symbolize the friendship between the two countries and their shared love of liberty. It was dedicated in 1886 and welcomes about 3.5 million visitors every year.

    People who purchased tickets in advance can also look out over New York Harbor from the statue's crown, which reopened after a long hiatus one day before Sandy hit and was forced to close again due to the storm. The crown had been off-limits for a year during a $30 million upgrade to fire alarms, sprinkler systems and exit routes.

    Security screening for visitors will be held in lower Manhattan after city officials criticized an earlier plan to screen them at neighboring Ellis Island, which endured far worse damage to its infrastructure and won't be open to the public anytime soon.

    Home to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, the island still doesn't have working electricity, sewage systems or telephone lines, Warren said.

    The museum showcases the stories of the millions of immigrants who disembarked there to start their lives as Americans. Its historical documents and artifacts survived the storm unscathed, but more than 1 million items were transported to storage facilities because it was impossible to maintain the climate-controlled environment needed for their preservation.

    Park officials would not provide a projected reopening date for Ellis Island.

    For tourists like Davide Fantinelli, an 18-year-old from Italy, the reopening comes a bit too late. Fantinelli will already be back home by July 4th, but he and his parents managed to catch a glimpse of the statue from the deck of a water taxi.

    The sight of it was one he'll never forget.

    "Because it's liberty," Fantinelli said. "It means freedom - of this great nation."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Indelible Images from Superstorm Sandy
    Superstorm Sandy

     

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    (Getty Images)

    An atmospheric fire hose with relentless downpours will continue to cause incidents of flash and urban flooding over the eastern third of the nation during the Independence Day week. There is also the risk of locally severe thunderstorms.

    A stream of tropical moisture all the way from the Caribbean Sea to the Gulf of Mexico to the East Coast, Appalachians and neighboring areas to the west will continue the pattern of daily, if not hourly, torrential downpours in some cases.

    Many locations have received two to three times their normal rainfall since June 1. The ongoing pattern this week has the potential to bring another 3 to 6 inches of rain. Some places may end up with 12 to 20 inches of rain for the 40-day period through July 10.

    While widespread, major river flooding is not expected, low-lying unprotected areas are at risk to take on water in this pattern. During the midday hours Monday, incidents of flash and urban flooding spread from portions of New Jersey to central Massachusetts and returned to parts of central and western Pennsylvania.



    Downpours late last week caused major flash flooding in some communities of Pennsylvania and upstate New York. These sorts of flooding issues are likely to expand eastward reaching some neighborhoods of major cities in the I-95 corridor into Tuesday.

    The latest indications are the firehose effect of repeating showers and thunderstorms will migrate slowly to the west later this week.

    This means the most frequent downpours could move west of much of I-95 by Independence Day. It also would mean a greater chance of repeating downpours and flooding risk for areas from Mississippi and Louisiana to Ohio and Kentucky. At the same time the risk of flooding would continue over much of the Appalachians.

    Meanwhile, folks on vacation and heading to the beaches from the Carolinas to Long Island and southern New England may get a little good news. Most of the rain would shift inland by midweek.

    However, much of Florida and Georgia to upstate New York and northern New England would likely continue to get bombarded by frequent downpours. People camping in the Appalachians are likely to be in for a wet time.

    RELATED:
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    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center
    Rain Could Spoil Fireworks in Eastern States


    Typical of early July, any thunderstorm that develops in such a humid weather pattern can be briefly severe, causing lightning strikes to cluster in a localized area.

    A small number of places can be hit with winds strong enough to down trees and power lines. In a handful of cases, there can also be highly localized large hail.

    While the frequency of the downpours may decrease later in July, the saturated state of the ground will represent an ongoing risk of flooding. The overall moist flow from the tropics is likely to continue.

    Below is a list of June rainfall records set with old records in parenthesis:

    Augusta, Ga. - 10.83 inches (10.59 inches in 2004
    Messena, N.Y. - 7.72 inches (6.27 inches from 1993)
    Montpelier, Vt. - 8.35 inches (8.25 inches from 2006)
    Wilmington, Del. - 13.66 inches (9.90 inches from 2003)
    Philadelphia, Pa. - 10.55 inches (10.06 inches from 1938)

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    An aerial tanker drops fire retardant on a wildfires threatening homes near Yarnell, Ariz., Monday, July 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - Higher humidity overnight helped make conditions at a deadly Arizona fire a bit less volatile.

    But fire spokeswoman Karen Takai says the Yarnell Hill Fire is still zero percent contained, and thunderstorms that bring little rain and a lot of lightning are a major threat because of the dry vegetation.

    She says winds are calm Tuesday morning but thunderstorm cells were already visible.

    At last count, about 500 firefighters are on the scene, with more on the way.

    The Yarnell fire has burned about 8,400 acres, or about 13 square miles.

    It killed 19 firefighters Sunday when they were overtaken by the flames.

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

     

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    Tuesday, July 2, 2013


    The launch of a Russian rocket booster went horribly wrong in Kazakhstan this morning when the booster's engines shut down 17 seconds into the flight, resulting in a nose dive and fiery crash.

    No injuries were reported, but residents of the city of Baikonour 50 miles away were told to shut their windows and stay indoors for hours out of concern over toxic jet fuel in the atmosphere.

    The booster was carrying three satellites for a Russian GPS system.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Amazing Photos of the International Space Station
    International Space Station, Shuttle

     

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    People stand during a vigil for the 19 firefighters killed battling the Yarnell Hill Fire, on the football field at Prescott High School in Prescott, Ariz., on Tuesday, July 2, 2013. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Wallace)

    PRESCOTT, Arizona (AP) - Questions over what exactly went wrong loomed largest, three days after 19 firefighters perished in a wildfire.

    Investigators from across the U.S. will be working this week to try to answer that, examining radio logs, the site of the tragedy and weather reports. They'll also surely be talking to the sole survivor of the blaze, who warned his fellow firefighters and friends when he saw the wildfire switch directions and head straight for them.

    In the nation's biggest loss of firefighters since 9/11, violent wind gusts on Sunday turned what was believed to be a relatively manageable lightning-ignited forest fire in the town of Yarnell into a death trap that left no escape for the team of Hotshots, most of them in the prime of their lives.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Watch: Time Lapse of Tragic Ariz. Wildfire

    Only one member of the crew, identified Tuesday as 21-year-old Brendan McDonough, survived; he was on a hilltop serving as a lookout and warned his crew that the weatherwas changing rapidly, and that the fire had changed directions because of strong, erratic winds. McDonough made it to safety, while the rest were overtaken by the blaze.

    "He did exactly what he was supposed to," said Wade Ward, who implored the media to respect McDonough's privacy as he and the families mourn. "He's trying to deal with the same things that we're all trying to deal with, but you can understand how that's compounded being there on the scene."

    McDonough grieved with families of the fallen firefighters Tuesday evening at a public memorial service in Prescott. More than 3,000 people gathered at a high school football stadium to remember the 19 men during a service punctuated by repeated moments of silence amid emotional remarks from pastors and officials.

    The nine-member team of investigators, comprised of forest managers and safety experts who arrived in Arizona on Tuesday, is expected to release an update later this week.

    The ultimate goal: Prevent a similar from happening again.

    "We have a responsibility to those lost and their loved ones, as well as to current and future wildland firefighters, to understand what happened as completely as possible," Arizona State Forester Scott Hunt said in a statement.

    Safety standards for wildland firefighters were toughened nearly 20 years ago when 14 firefighters died on Colorado's Storm King Mountain, and investigators found a number of errors in the way the blaze was fought.

    In what fire authorities said was an eerily similar situation to the Arizona blaze, a rapid change in weather sent winds raging on Storm King Mountain in Colorado, creating 100-foot (30-meter) flames. Firefighters were unable to escape, as a wall of fire raced up a hillside.

    Essentially, it was "mass entrapment of an entire Hotshot crew," said Lloyd Burton, professor of environmental law and policy at the University of Colorado.

    "There are so many striking parallels between this tragedy and what happened on Storm King in 1994, it's almost haunting," he said.

    Those changes included policies that say no firefighters should be deployed unless they have a safe place to retreat. They must also be continuously informed of changingweather and post lookouts.

    Sunday's tragedy raised questions of whether the Hotshot crew should have been pulled out much earlier and whether all the usual precautions would have made any difference at all in the face of triple-digit temperatures, erratic winds and tinderbox conditions that caused the fire to explode.

    Nearly 600 firefighters are battling the mountain blaze, which had burned about 13 square miles (35 sq. kilometers) and destroyed an estimated 50 homes in Yarnell, a town of about 700 people. Hundreds were evacuated.

    By evening, crews had contained 8 percent of the fire. While small, the containment figure marked the first sign of progress against a blaze that raged out of control for days. Until Tuesday, containment stood at zero percent.

    Authorities expected Wednesday would bring similar weather that would help firefighters continue to advance on the fire. Officials at a news briefing said containment lines primarily along the northeast corner and southeast flank of the fire and encircling the structures in Yarnell.

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

     

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    (Getty Images)

    GENEVA (AP) - United Nations climate experts say the first decade of the new millennium was an unprecedented era of climate extremes, with more countries than ever before seeing their temperature records broken.

    The World Meteorological Organization's analysis Wednesday says average land and ocean surface temperatures during 2001-2010 rose from the previous decade and were up almost a half-degree Celsius from the 1961-1990 global average.

    The U.N. agency cites heatwaves in Europe and Russia, droughts in the Amazon Basin, Australia and East Africa, and huge storms like Tropical Cyclone Nargis and Hurricane Katrina.

    Its survey of data from 139 nations shows that floods like those in Pakistan, Australia, Africa, India and Eastern Europe were the most frequent extreme weather events.

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

     

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    Fire-blackened debris from last year's Waldo Canyon Fire lies in front of a home in Manitou Springs, Colo., after a flood swept it down through a section of the historic Colorado town just west of Colorado Springs on Monday, July 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Bryan Oller)

    MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - What was warned about for months since last year's deadly Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs finally happened: flash flooding near the burn scar that shoved debris into homes and moved vehicles.

    More than a half inch of rain fell in less than 20 minutes Monday, causing mud to flow into 20 houses in Manitou Springs and western Colorado Springs.

    Manitou Springs Police Chief Joe Ribeiro said at least three homes were total losses, and at least 11 vehicles were damaged, The Gazette reported.

    The downpour over the burn scar forced more than 160 people to briefly evacuate a low-lying trailer park, and it also closed U.S. 24 for several hours.

    National Weather Service meteorologist John Kalina said the damage could have been much worse if the storm had settled over the area. He said 0.59 inch of rain fell in less than 20 minutes.

    "That's pretty intense rain rate, and that helped to cause the issues that we're seeing today," Kalina said.

    "It was raining buckets and all of a sudden I heard this freight train," Tina Webber, who lives in Manitou Springs, told The Gazette. "I came running around my house and I see this wall of water with this perfect white mattress on the front of it coming down the canyon."

    "It was an 8-foot wall of black debris and boulders and trees. There was no stopping it," Webber said.

    The potential for flooding has worried officials since the June 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire burned 347 homes and killed two people. Authorities have said the fire was human-caused but have released no other findings.

    El Paso County, Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs have held briefings for residents on the threat of flash flooding in the burn scar area.

    In June, the U.S. Agriculture Department said it was sending nearly $20 million to repair watersheds and mitigate flood potential in both the Waldo Canyon and High Park Fire burn areas. Work includes mulching, re-seeding and shoring up water channels.

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

     

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    (Getty Images)

    An atmospheric fire hose of relentless downpours will continue to cause incidents of flash and urban flooding over the eastern third of the nation during the remainder of the Independence Day week. There is also the risk of a couple of damaging thunderstorms as well.

    A stream of tropical moisture all the way from the Caribbean Sea to the Gulf of Mexico to the East Coast, Appalachians and neighboring areas to the west will continue the pattern of daily, if not hourly, torrential downpours in some cases.

    Many locations have received two to three times their normal rainfall since June 1. The ongoing pattern this week has the potential to bring another 3 to 6 inches of rain through Friday. Some places may end up with 15 to 20 inches of rain for the 40-day period through July 10.




    While widespread, major river flooding is not expected, low-lying unprotected areas are at risk to take on water in this pattern.

    Downpours on Monday caused incidents of flash and urban flooding from northern Pennsylvania and New Jersey through parts of New England. Flash flooding Tuesday and Tuesday night across New Hampshire and Vermont led to several water rescues. There were also a few roads washed out across the region.

    For residents living right along the East coast, some slight relief from the wet weather is on the way. AccuWeather.com meteorologists are monitoring a pattern shift that would send this firehose effect of repeating showers and thunderstorm westward beginning on Wednesday.

    This means the most frequent downpours could move west of much of I-95 by Independence Day. It also would mean a greater chance of repeating downpours and flooding risk for areas from Mississippi and Louisiana to Ohio and Kentucky. At the same time, the risk of flooding would continue over much of the Appalachians.

    Meanwhile, folks on vacation and heading to the beaches from the Carolinas to Long Island and southern New England would only have to deal with more isolated, mainly afternoon showers and thunderstorms.

    However, much of Florida and Georgia to upstate New York and northern New England would likely continue to get bombarded by frequent downpours. People camping in the Appalachians are likely to be in for a wet time.

    Typical of early July, any thunderstorm that develops in such a humid weather pattern can be briefly severe, causing lightning strikes to cluster in a localized area.

    A small number of places can be hit with winds strong enough to down trees and power lines. In a handful of cases, there can also be highly localized large hail.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center
    Rain Could Spoil Fireworks in Eastern States
    Flood Threat Expands into Georgia, Carolinas


    While the frequency of the downpours will decrease in part of the East later in July, the saturated state of the ground will represent an ongoing risk of flooding. The overall moist flow from the tropics is likely to continue, and that will translate to very humid conditions at the very least.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    (AP Images)

    The record heat wave going on across the West will ease across many locations by the holiday weekend. However, the relief is only temporary as another round of extreme heat is expected by early next week.

    The large bubble of hot air in place across the West will be shunted to the south as a dip in the jet stream moves into the Pacific Northwest Thursday and Friday.

    Temperatures will first ease by Thursday, July 4 across the Pacific Northwest as the dip in the jet stream moves onshore. Temperatures Thursday afternoon in Pendleton, Ore., and Boise, Idaho, will rise into the lower 90s, a far cry from the 100s of recent days.

    Temperatures will be much more comfortable for fireworks displays Thursday night at Riverfront Park in Spokane, Wash., and Pendleton Community Park in Pendleton, Ore.

    It will take until Friday and more so Saturday for the slight relief to move into California, Arizona and Nevada. High temperatures will remain in the 100s on Thursday for Reno, Nev., and Sacramento, Calif., before falling into the middle 90s by Saturday, which will be more reminiscent of this time of year.

    Thursday afternoon and evening will feature triple-digit heat for outdoor Fourth of July events in Sparks, Nev., outside of Reno and at the Cal Expo Center in Sacramento, Calif.



    It will remain quite hot across Phoenix, Las Vegas and Death Valley right through the weekend, but temperatures will at least revert to more typical values instead of these extreme, near-record highs.

    Instead of highs closer to 115 degrees for Phoenix and Las Vegas, afternoon highs on Saturday and Sunday will be around a more normal 105 degrees.

    Temperatures Thursday evening for fireworks displays at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix, Ariz., will remain in the lower 100s. Residents attending the event will want to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. Coolers are permitted throughout the park.

    RELATED:
    Wind-Whipped Arizona Wildfire Kills 19 Firefighters
    Historic Heat Wave Turns Deadly in Las Vegas
    Death Valley Heat Ties All-Time US June Record


    Across the Intermountain West, moisture will begin to increase in coverage late this week and this holiday weekend as the heat wave breaks down. This will lead to elevated chances for afternoon and evening thunderstorms from Phoenix and Albuquerque through Grand Junction and Salt Lake City.

    This increase in moisture could lead to locally heavy downpours, and with a very dry soil in place across the West, any downpours could lead to flash flooding across the interior West.

    Arroyos and dry streams could easily turn into raging rivers from any of the afternoon thunderstorms later this week and this weekend.

    For more information and to check out the latest flooding or heat-related watches or warnings, click over to the AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center.

    The relief from the extreme heat won't last all that long as AccuWeather.com meteorologists track another round of above-normal heat which is expected to expand across the West by early next week.

    While temperatures aren't expected to be quite as extreme as the last few days, highs will rise toward 110 degrees Monday and Tuesday for Phoenix and Las Vegas while Reno and Sacramento approach the 100-degree mark.

    Unlike the last heat wave, which was confined to the western half of the country, this next round of heat early next week could stretch all the way through the East and Gulf Coast regions.

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

     

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    On June 30, Matt Oss captured this time-lapse video of the tragic wildfire near Yarnell, Ariz., that claimed the lives of 19 firefighters. The dramatic footage shows smoke quickly engulfing the area, as flames lick the top of the mountain. The video, which depicts 20 minutes of real-time footage compressed into 18 seconds, was shot at 4:30 p.m. and views the fire from the south, off of Highway 89.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Yarnell Hill Wildfire Claims Lives of 19 Firefighters

     

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    Rescuers search for victims after an earthquake in Ketol, Central Aceh, Indonesia, on Wednesday, July 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Syahrol Rizal)

    BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (AP) - Soldiers, police and volunteers fanned out across an earthquake-damaged region of western Indonesia on Wednesday, scouring the debris of fallen homes and landslides for possible victims of a temblor that killed at least 29 people and injured hundreds.

    The magnitude-6.1 quake struck Tuesday afternoon at a depth of just 10 kilometers (6 miles) and was centered on the far western tip of Sumatra island in Aceh province.

    Twelve people were killed and 70 others were injured by a landslide or collapsing buildings in Bener Meriah district, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

    Fauzi, head of the local mitigation agency, said about 600 houses and building were damaged in the district, where many residents were still staying in tents outside their homes.

    "What we need right now are tents, since many people prefer to stay outside," said Fauzi, who like many Indonesians uses a single name. "They all are afraid of aftershocks."

    In neighboring Central Aceh district, 17 people were killed and about 350 were injured, said Subhan Sahara, head of the local mitigation agency.

    Nugroho said about 1,500 houses and buildings were damaged by the quake, which also triggered landslides and caused hundreds of people to be evacuated to 10 temporary shelters.

    Rescuers and other assistance teams arrived in Bener Meriah, while the air force dispatched aircraft to the region, Nugroho said.

    "We are now concentrating on searching for people who may be trapped under the rubble," said Rusli M. Saleh, the deputy district chief of Bener Meriah.

    He said at least 25 of the injured in his district were hospitalized in intensive care.

    Indonesia is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Ocean.

    In 2004, a magnitude-9.1 earthquake off Aceh triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in 14 countries.

     

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    A young boy holds his hat as he and others stand for the national anthem before the start of the Prescott Frontier Days Rodeo, Wednesday, July 3, 2013 in Prescott, Ariz. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

    PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - Prescott officials are working to retool the over-the-top celebration that has made this Old West town the place to be on Independence Day in the wake of the deaths over the weekend of 19 hometown firefighters.

    One thing is for certain: There will be fireworks.

    The booming red and white bursts may remind some of the wildfire, still burning, that claimed all but one of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew on Sunday, but the hilltop community of 40,000 is determined to mourn its dead without compromising its traditions or shying away from overt celebration. The mantra for days has been, "celebration, not grief."

    Though much of the southwest remains a tinderbox, fire officials say they will be able to deploy the pyrotechnics safely, pouring water on the detonation area if necessary.

    Festivities are expected to last at least 10 hours and include an all-day carnival, live music and a nighttime dance at the town's outdoor rodeo.

    Hotels have long since run out of room for out-of-towners hoping to attend the celebration at Pioneer Park, a 10-minute drive from the makeshift memorial residents have built outside the Hotshot headquarters.

    Violent wind gusts Sunday turned what was believed to be a manageable lightning-strike forest fire in the town of Yarnell into a death trap that left no escape for the highly qualified Hotshots, most of whom were in the prime of their lives.

    Charred pine trees resembling burnt toothpicks now poke from the hillsides in the fire's wake. The higher mountains behind the hills are speckled by pink retardant.

    Sunday's tragedy raised questions of whether the Hotshot crew should have been pulled out much earlier and whether all the usual precautions would have made any difference in the face of triple-digit temperatures, erratic winds and dry conditions that caused the fire to explode.

    A team of forest managers and safety experts is charged with finding out what went wrong. In addition to examining radio logs, the fire site and weather reports, they'll also talk to the crew's sole survivor, a 21-year-old lookout who warned his fellow firefighters and friends that the wildfire was switching directions and heading straight for them.

    Nearly 600 firefighters continue to fight the blaze, which has burned about 13 square miles. Hundreds remain evacuated and at least 129 homes have been destroyed, according to a tally released Wednesday by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

    Many of the evacuees are staying with friends and relatives in Prescott, where they have been frequenting public meetings and memorial services in town.

    The fire was 45 percent contained Wednesday night, up from 8 percent earlier in the day, and authorities said the figure could change on the Fourth of July as they compile a more complete picture with sophisticated mapping techniques.

    Evacuees, families of the fallen men, and firefighters from across the state are expected to attend the town's holiday celebrations.

    As night fell Wednesday, mayor Marlin Kuykendall was still working with staff to determine who would speak in memory of the fallen firefighters before the fireworks display.

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

     

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    This photo provided by the Toledo, Ohio Fire and Rescue Department shows a car at the bottom of a sinkhole caused by a broken water line in Toledo, Ohio on Wednesday, July 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Toledo, Ohio Fire and Rescue Department, Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld)

    TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - A northwest Ohio sinkhole has swallowed a car traveling down a street and briefly trapped the driver, who climbed out after authorities gave her a ladder.

    Toledo police Sgt. Joe Heffernan says a water main break beneath the road may have caused the sinkhole Wednesday. The hole is estimated to be at least 10 feet deep.

    Police say driver Pamela Knox didn't appear hurt but was shaken up and was taken to a hospital as a precaution.

    Heffernan says Knox saw the vehicle in front of her start to slip into the hole but drive beyond it. He says Knox couldn't avoid it.

    Officials used a crane to pull the car from the hole. Repairs to the road are expected to take days.

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    (Getty Images)

    After days of rain up and down the East, the mid-Atlantic coast will catch a break for July Fourth weekend, creating a prime opportunity for beach-goers, boaters and sun bathers.

    Meanwhile, the rain-soaked South and Midwest and will feel little reprieve.

    Sunshine will build westward along part of the Atlantic Coast into the weekend, so that the risk of flooding downpours and gusty thunderstorms diminishes from eastern North Carolina to southeastern New England. There will be some issues with low clouds to start each day, especially on the beaches.

    Cities from Raleigh, N.C., to Richmond, Va., Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, Hartford, Conn., and Boston will experience hazy, hot and humid conditions, courtesy of a Bermuda high building in from the Atlantic.Aside from high humidity, the new pattern on much of the East Coast will be more favorable for beach, swimming, boating and most outdoor activities. Travel conditions will improve with fewer delays likely at the airports.



    Arguably the best areas this weekend will be over portions of the Plains, where temperatures will be within the comfort zone for most people and many areas will be rain-free.

    The worst weather in terms of outdoor activities will stretch from much of Florida to western Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, southeastern Louisiana, middle and eastern Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, southeastern Indiana, western Pennsylvania, southeastern Michigan, part of upstate New York and northern New England.

    Camping, fishing trips, barbeques and a day at the amusement park could be spoiled by the rain.

    Cities that can experience torrential downpours and urban flooding issues include Atlanta, Birmingham, New Orleans, Jackson, Miss., Nashville, Louisville, Ky., Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Charleston, W.Va., Detroit, Buffalo and Burlington, Vt.

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    Interests in these areas can experience multiple rounds of downpours with locally gusty thunderstorms. There is a risk of flash, urban and small stream flooding. Expect travel delays on the highways and at airports in the region.

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    (Getty Images)

    After days of soaking rainfall, with some places receiving more than 300 percent of monthly averages, outdoor celebrations in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., will fair well for July Fourth.

    Heat and humidity will be the biggest concerns for major cities on the East Coast. Boston will have highs in the low 90s, but with 65 to 75 percent humidity, sun intensity and other contributing factors, the AccuWeather RealFeel(R) temperature will push to 101. These conditions will make hydration and heat protection especially important while spending time in the sun for barbecues and parades. The weather will stay warm and humid for the start of the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular at 9:30 p.m. A heat advisory has been issued for the hours of 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the city.



    Likewise, New York City can expect to have an afternoon high temperature of 87, with overnight lows dropping into the 70s. The chance for a passing thunderstorm may temporarily dampen some outdoor activities for the evening, but it will not reach the drenching level of storms that have started the week. Conditions for the 10:30 a.m. reopening of the Statue of Liberty should be clear. The Macy's Fourth of July fireworks display, the largest in the country, will begin along the Hudson River around 9:25 p.m. when temperatures will have lowered to about 80, but it will still feel closer to 85.

    Spotty thunderstorms may also threaten some afternoon or evening events in the nation's capitol, but any rain should be fleeting. The day will be hot and sunny with temperatures hitting 90. Humidity will be a factor, reaching 71 percent in the evening for the fireworks show over the National Mall. According to AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the Fourth of July celebration at the National Archives will coincide with the hottest part of the day. Temperatures will have dropped to the 80s for the start of the fireworks at 9:15 p.m.

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    Philadelphia, where the June 1 to July 2 rainfall total was 295 percent above average, risks only occasional rain or thunderstorms for Independence Day. The high for the day will be 89 degrees, but it will feel more like 95. The concert at Benjamin Franklin Parkway will begin at 7 p.m., with the fireworks estimated to start at 10:30 p.m. Temperatures will have dropped only a few degrees into the lower 80s while humidity levels will remain in the high 70s to low 80s.

    AccuWeather Expert Meteorologist Paul Walker says that while some areas will have a chance of rain at times in the afternoon, most of the day will be rain-free.

    The most important safety considerations for the day will be for heat and lightning. When attending daytime events while cloud cover is minimal, sunscreen will be crucial for avoiding painful sunburns. Drinking plenty of water and temporarily retreating to the shade or indoors will help combat the risks for heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If a thunderstorm does move into an area, the only way to stay safe from lightning risks will be to head indoors to an enclosed, walled building.

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    In this June 26, 2013 photo provided by the National Park Service, workers on Liberty Island install sod around the national monument which is set to re-open on the 4th of July, in New York. (AP Photo/National Park Service)

    NEW YORK (AP) - The Statue of Liberty, closed since the destruction wrought by Superstorm Sandy, will reopen to the public this Fourth of July as Americans across the country mark the holiday with fireworks and barbecues.

    The National Park Service was expecting a large crowd for the holiday and ribbon-cutting ceremony at Liberty Island with federal officials and New York's mayor. Some repairs to brick walkways and docks are still underway, but much of the work has been completed since Sandy swamped most of the national landmark's 12-acre site.

    The statue was spared in the fall storm, but Lady Liberty's little island took a serious beating. Railings broke, docks and paving stones were torn up and buildings were flooded. The storm destroyed electrical systems, sewage pumps and boilers. Hundreds of National Park Service workers from as far away as California and Alaska spent weeks cleaning mud and debris.

    Visitors to Lady Liberty will go through security on lower Manhattan, after city officials criticized an earlier plan to screen them at neighboring Ellis Island, which endured far worse damage to its infrastructure and won't be open to the public anytime soon. The damage to both islands was put at $59 million.

    New Yorkers will also be treated to the annual fireworks display over the Hudson River with performances by Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift, and the Nathan's Original hot dog eating contest on Brooklyn's Coney Island. Joey "Jaws" Chestnut is seeking his seventh straight title - a world record. Last year he downed 68 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes. But the Cyclone roller coaster and other attractions at the famed amusement park were closed going into the holiday after a 275-foot-tall observation tower swayed in the wind.

    Personal fireworks remained banned in New York and were banned in New Mexico on state lands because of wildfires.

    In Arizona, a carnival, parade, fireworks display and dance that draw thousands here each year will go on in Prescott but with sober tributes for 19 firefighters who died this week battling a blaze near Yarnell.

    Boston prepared to host its first large gathering since the marathon bombing that killed three and injured hundreds, and Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans planned large holiday concerts.

    In Washington, thousands of Americans plan to gather on the National Mall to watch a 17-minute fireworks display and listen to performances by Barry Manilow, Neil Diamond and John Williams conducting music from the movie "Lincoln." New Orleans was hosting the Essence Music Festival stringing stages along the French Quarter. And Philadelphia was hosting what was billed as the "largest free concert in America," with John Mayer, Neo and Hunter Hayes, who was filling in last-minute for a sick Demi Lovato.

    Not everyone was welcoming the masses - Hermosa Beach, Calif., was ramping up police patrols and making room in jails for revelers who in recent years have made the city an annual destination for celebrating independence with drunkenness and raucous behavior.

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