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    Water gushes down a river as Indian paramilitary soldiers stand near a temporary bridge after it was damaged as stranded pilgrims wait to be evacuated on the other side in Govindghat, India, Saturday, June 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

    LUCKNOW, India (AP) - A top Indian official says more than 5,700 people missing since last month's devastating floods that ravaged northern India are now presumed dead.

    Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna said Tuesday that the Uttarakhand state government would give financial compensation to the families of people who may have perished in the floods and landslides that hit the Himalayan region in June.

    The government had earlier put the death toll at 600 but repeatedly stressed that it would be significantly higher.

    Bahuguna said recovery operations to locate the missing would continue.

    Hundreds of thousands of Hindus visit Uttarakhand's temple towns during the summer. Usually the visitors return before July, when monsoon rains make the mountainous area much more treacherous.

    This year, unprecedented heavy rains fell around mid-June and caught many unaware.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    Gov. Peter Shumlin, center, surveys flood damage on Tuesday, July 9, 2013, in Williamstown, Vt. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

    BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - You know it's been a rainy summer in Vermont if the governor holds a news conference to announce the sun is out.

    Gov. Peter Shumlin joined state and private tourism officials under a broiling sun and high humidity, with temperatures climbing to the mid-90s on Monday, at the downhill end of Burlington's Church Street Marketplace to boost spirits dampened by record early-summer rains.

    "We've had a wet start to the summer season and that's been tough on weather-dependent businesses," the governor said. "But the sun is shining, and Vermonters and out-of-state visitors alike are ready to get out and enjoy the state."

    At the National Weather Service in Burlington, forecaster Brooke Taber said 2013 had seen the wettest May and June on record. Both approached three times the normal rainfall, with the first two weeks of July easing off to not quite twice the normal rain.

    Shumlin was joined for Monday's event by the heads of the Vermont and Lake Champlain Regional Chambers of Commerce, leaders in the mountain resort and bicycling industries, the Frog Hollow Vermont State Craft Center and others.

    Betsey Bishop of the state Chamber of Commerce talked up the long list of summer festivals in Vermont celebrating everything from music to local craft beers to barbecue.

    "From festivals to outdoor dining, every part of the Vermont experience engages travelers on a variety of levels and boosts our economy," she said.

    Shumlin said it was too early to tell what impact the wet weather has had on tourism-dependent state revenue streams like taxes on sales, rooms and meals; the new fiscal year just began July 1. But he said it was likely to be felt.

    Tourism-related tax and fee revenue totaled nearly $275 million in 2011, equal to about a fifth of the state's $1.3 billion general fund budget. Tourism spending also supports nearly 40,000 jobs, with more than 13 percent job growth in the hospitality and recreation sector since 2009, officials said.

    Craig Whipple, director of the Vermont State Parks, said combined visits by campers and day users hit a record 920,000 last year and appeared to be off 20 to 25 percent so far this year.

    Tom Stuessy, executive director of the Vermont Mountain Bike Association, said nearly 100 percent of trails overseen by the group's affiliates had been closed for some part of May and June due to wet conditions; nearly 100 percent are open now, he added.

    Although the Church Street Marketplace, with its brick-lined pedestrian walkway and outdoor restaurant and pub tables lining the thoroughfare, is a key tourist destination, Bishop said she hoped visitors to Burlington also would venture out to other parts of Vermont.

    A few yards up Church Street, Daniel and Melissa Nathan and their three young boys, visiting from Columbus, Ohio, said they were planning on doing just that, beating the heat in the Lake Champlain valley by heading up to camp in the Green Mountains.

    "We got into Burlington yesterday, but we're heading up to go camping at Smugglers Notch," Melissa Nathan said.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    A lionfish is shown in this underwater photograph taken while scuba diving off the Caribbean Island of Bonaire. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    BOARD THE SUBMERSIBLE ANTIPODES (AP) - The invasive lionfish that crowds coral reefs and preys on native fish in the Atlantic's shallower waters is such a problem that divers in Florida and the Caribbean are encouraged to capture and eat them whenever they can.

    Lionfish, which have venomous spines, are a well-documented problem in Atlantic coral reefs, where the foot-long, one-pound invaders from the tropical parts of the Pacific and Indian oceans live without predators and eat other fish voraciously. What's slowly coming into view is how deep into the ocean their invasion has spread.

    Researchers and wildlife officials worry that lionfish may undo conservation efforts aimed at rebuilding populations of native predators such as groupers and snappers. Lionfish gorge on the young of those species, as well as their prey.

    "They can eat pretty much anything that fits inside their mouths," Oregon State University lionfish expert Stephanie Green said.

    Divers are encouraged to capture and eat any lionfish they encounter to protect reefs and native marine life already burdened by pollution, over-fishing and the effects of climate change. And last month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission waived the recreational license requirement for divers harvesting lionfish and excluded them from bag limits, allowing people to catch as many as they can.

    But recreational divers max out around 130 feet deep. Researchers and wildlife officials rarely have the means to venture deeper than that, but they've realized the lionfish they can't see may be their biggest concern.

    As Green discovered on a recent expedition aboard a submersible, there's little to disturb a lionfish living on a wreck 250 feet deep into the Atlantic. There are no predators and no divers.

    "I did not expect it to be this loaded with lionfish," Green said. In less than half an hour, she tallied nearly three dozen lionfish in view across the stern of a steel freighter sunk in the 1980s as an artificial reef a few miles off South Florida. She could have continued counting, if the yellow submersible's draining battery had not required a trip back to the ocean's surface.

    Last month, Seattle-based OceanGate Inc. offered scientists and wildlife officials a close-up look at deep-water lionfish in dives aboard the yellow submersible named Antipodes. In strong currents that might have tangled a tether connecting a remotely operated robot to a vessel at the surface, the Antipodes sank and rose as smoothly as an elevator. Maneuvered by a joystick, it crawled over the sand at a walking pace.

    Green and other researchers who took the dives surfaced believing they had seen the frontier in their fight against lionfish. The next problem will be routinely making similar dives to study and perhaps capture lionfish.

    They would seem to have a lot of water to cover - the deepest confirmed sighting of a lionfish was at 1,000 feet in the Bahamas.

    "We are capable of doing a good job of controlling lionfish at diveable depths, in shallower areas. Divers and spearfishers can go in and remove the fish. But the lionfish are abundant in large numbers at these deeper habitats, and that's really where the next frontier of this battle is going to be, in those deep water areas," Green said.

    Lionfish in the Atlantic Ocean have similarities to the Burmese python, the large, ravenous snake that researchers say is decimating native mammal populations in Florida's Everglades. Both are fast-breeding invasive species likely introduced through the pet trade, with no natural predators to keep their numbers in check.

    Desperate for some kind of control over their populations, Florida this year enlisted volunteers and amateurs to go after both.

    But when it comes to lionfish, Dan Ellinor of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission noted that those efforts primarily target areas already frequented by scuba divers.

    "We're going to have to figure out how we're going to get below the diver depths," said Ellinor, a biological administrator with the commission's marine fisheries division.

    "The other problem is there's not a commercial market per se," he added. "It's very small, very minute, it's in the Keys, it's beyond the reef in about 200 feet of water and it's bycatch out of traps, lobster traps."

    More and bigger lionfish now live throughout the Gulf of Mexico and in the Atlantic between the Carolinas and Colombia than in the species' native range in the Indian and Pacific oceans, researchers say. Worse, it's not known what controls lionfish in their home waters - maybe a parasite, or something eating their eggs and larvae before they develop their poisonous spines.

    In Atlantic waters, lionfish apparently have nothing to fear except cold water and scuba divers equipped with specific gear.

    "They pretty much have been unprecedented in any marine invasion. It's the largest, the quickest, the most extensive marine invasion we've ever seen," said Nova Southeastern University's Matthew Johnston, whose work predicting the spread of other invasive species is based on the success of the lionfish.

    Officials have concluded that if you can't beat lionfish, you can at least eat them, even though commercial supplies and the market for the lionfish remain very small.

    For years in the Caribbean, dive shop operators, conservationists and some restaurant chefs have been trying to slow their spread by turning them into menu items. Derby-style lionfish tournaments are held from Bermuda as far south as Curacao, a Dutch Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela.

    In the Turks and Caicos Islands, the government once put up a cash prize for the first fisherman to catch 3,000. In Bonaire, where the economy is dependent on reef diving tourism, volunteers are being licensed as "lionfish hunters." Supermercado Nacional, the largest chain of supermarkets in the Dominican Republic, occasionally has lionfish for sale depending on availability.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched a campaign in 2010 urging the U.S. public to "eat sustainable, eat lionfish!"

     

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    In this June 30, 2013, file photo, a wildfire burns homes in Yarnell, Ariz. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Kadlubowski, File)

    PHOENIX (AP) - A new report shows an Arizona wildfire that began with a lightning strike and caused little immediate concern because of its remote location and small size quickly grew into an inferno, leading officials to rapidly order more resources in the hours before the flames killed 19 members of an elite Hotshot crew.

    The report from the Arizona State Forestry Division provides precise detail about the response to the fire that began June 28 outside the small town of Yarnell, including the unpredictable weather around the blaze and the exact times in which it escalated and key resources were deployed.

    The report doesn't address the question of why the fire crew was still on the mountain above the town more than an hour after the winds shifted about 180 degrees and brought the fire back toward them. It also wasn't immediately clear whether the Hotshots were warned of the erratically changing weather before they were forced to take shelter and were killed.

    The report describes how the fire worsened hour by hour - causing flames up to 20 feet high - as managers called in inmate and Hotshot firefighting crews and air support.

    After the blaze was ignited about 60 miles northwest of Phoenix, an aerial unit assessed it. The unit found the fire to be "less than one acre, in a large boulder field," with little smoke and no structures at immediate risk.

    Officials ordered two inmate crews, an engine and a helicopter to report to the scene early Saturday morning, June 29, to "work multiple lightning fires" in the area.

    By the next day, the Yarnell Hill Fire was the only one still burning and had grown only slightly, to about 4 acres. Small, single-engine aircraft were used throughout the day as crews worked the ground.

    By 5:30 p.m., the fire was only about 6 acres in size.

    Air support was ordered but couldn't respond due to thunderstorms and high winds, according to the report. Later, a DC-10 capable of dropping large amounts of fire retardant to prevent the spread of flames was available but not ordered due to concerns about its effectiveness in the steep, boulder-strewn terrain and because darkness was setting in.

    By 7:38 p.m., the blaze had grown to about 100 acres but was still "advancing slowly."

    On Sunday at about 8 a.m., the 20-member Granite Mountain Hotshots team arrived and headed in to fight the fire, as small aircraft and helicopters worked the blaze from above. Heavy air tankers were ordered just after noon, but only one was able to respond, making multiple retardant drops on the fire.

    According to the report, the fire had now increased in size to about 1,000 acres and was burning swiftly through an area that hadn't experienced a significant wildfire in nearly 50 years.

    Two large air tankers were sent back to the Yarnell Hill Fire to try to stall its advance.

    A few hours later, at 3:26 p.m., officials received word of heavy winds from a thunderstorm moving into the area as the fire grew.

    Soon thereafter, the blaze was so out of control that officials asked for half of the available western U.S. heavy air tanker fleet - six planes. It was about 4 p.m.

    Five of the planes weren't deployed because of the limited number of tankers in the nation's aerial firefighting fleet and the dangerous weather conditions at the time. Jim Paxon, a spokesman for the Arizona Division of Forestry, which was managing the fire, said one plane had been headed to the fire from California, but engine problems forced it to turn back.

    Paxon noted that even if the planes had been available, winds were so strong they couldn't have been used to save the firefighters' lives.

    "We could have had air tankers stacked up from here to the stratosphere and it wouldn't have made a difference," he said Monday. "The fire went through retardant lines like they were non-existent."

    Within 45 minutes, at 4:47 p.m., the Hotshot crew radioed that they were trapped and deploying their emergency shelters. Less than two hours later, 19 of them were found dead. Only one crew member who was assigned as the lookout survived.

    A national team of investigators is working to understand more about the firefighters' deaths and is expected to finish an initial report in about two months.

    Paxon said the behavior of the fire and the enormous "blowup" when the winds shifted was highly unusual.

    "It was just an extreme situation," he said.

    The fire destroyed more than 100 homes before it was fully contained July 10.

     

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    AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File

    Plain and simple, this week may feel the worst of any week for this summer in the Northeast. The I-95 region will be a virtual sauna bath.

    High daytime and nighttime temperatures, high humidity, intense sunshine and lack of wind will make the area seem like the middle of the tropics.

    The pattern will pose health risks ranging from poor air quality to a dangerous buildup of heat in urban areas to risk of heat stroke for those physically very active.

    Actual high temperatures in many of the major cities will reach well into the 90s through at least Friday.

    According to Paul Pastelok, head of the AccuWeather.com long range team, "The extreme part of the heat is not forecast to ease until over the coming weekend, when thunderstorms may return to many areas."

    Although actual temperatures will stop short of record levels during this week's heat wave, when combined with the humidity and other factors, AccuWeather.com RealFeel(R) temperatures will surge past 100 degrees during the afternoon hours.

    RealFeel temperatures can run 10 to 20 degrees higher during several hours each day. A heat wave in the Northeast is defined as three or more consecutive days with high temperatures of 90 degrees or greater.

    A lack of a breeze in humid conditions at night will make it very rough in urban areas without air conditioning or a fan.

    The light winds, high humidity and heat will lead to a build-up of pollutants. Folks with respiratory problems are advised to remain in an air-conditioned environment and avoid strenuous activity.

    This is the type of heat that can kill, especially the elderly and those physically overdoing it at any age.

    Be sure to look after your pets. Do not leave kids or pets unattended in the car for any length of time.

    With the return of thunderstorms toward the weekend on the coast, there will be a risk of severe weather and perhaps a return of the "atmosphere with an attitude" and tropical rainforest downpours.

    "It appears the pattern of frequent showers and thunderstorms will return to the East Coast and Appalachians late in July and much of August," Pastelok said.

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    With temperatures and humidity as high as they are, widely separated thunderstorms can drench a few communities over the Appalachians during the week. Most of these storms would occur between 3:00 and 9:00 p.m.

    Beat the heat by heading to the pool, beach or an air conditioning location for a few hours to give your body a break. (Surf temperatures range from the upper 60s to near 80 degrees.)

    Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.

    If you must work outdoors, take frequent breaks and try to do the most physical part of the job during the morning or evening, when the RealFeel temperatures are not as extreme.

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

     

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    As a heat wave ripples across the country, hitting the I-95 corridor this week, temperatures will continue to soar. Sailing with the intense heat is an impending danger, as 20 children have died of heat stroke from being left in cars so far this year in the United States.

    Last year, 33 children died, according to Jan Null, CCM at San Francisco University.

    "This is still 33 too many," Null said. Despite being four less than the yearly average of 37 children heatstroke deaths, according to Null's research, typically, 52 percent of these deaths are due to a caregiver forgetting a child in a car, and thus many could be prevented.

    The heating dynamics of cars are much different than those of other forms of transportation. The windows of a car act as a catalysts for rapid temperature increases inside the vehicle.

    "There are a lot of windows in cars. These windows let in a lot of sunlight and when that sunlight is absorbed, it becomes trapped inside the car," AccuWeather meteorologist Michael Pigott said. "The temperature inside the car can become twice that of the temperature outside."

    Most people believe that the color of the car is the biggest factor in determining which cars heat up most rapidly, but it is actually the color of the car's interior that is the determining factor. Cars with dark interior, such as black leather, heat up the quickest.

    Other parts of a car also aid in increasing the car's interior temperature, including the steering wheel and the dashboard. Due to their dark colors, steering wheels and dashboards can hit temperatures up to 200 degrees when sitting stationary in the sun. They then radiate their own heat and further heighten a car's temperature.

    "When a child is left in a car, there is a 50/50 percent chance that they will be left on the sunny side of the car," Null said. This is especially dangerous because children, unlike adults, have not yet developed the ability to cool themselves off.

    "Children heat up three to four times faster than adults," Null said.

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    Heat stroke, by clinical definition, occurs when the body reaches 104 degrees F. At 104, the body enters survival mode and stops perspiring. Only three degrees higher, at 107 degrees F, the body's cells start to die. This causes the internal organs to begin failing and death can occur soon after. These life-threatening temperatures can be reached quickly when one is stuck inside a car in the heat.

    According to a study done by Null, recording the average temperature rise in a vehicle over time, a car's temperature can increase by 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. In one to two hours, the temperature inside a car can increase between 45 and 50 degrees.

    "In the worst case scenario, if a child is small and on the sunny side of the car, death can occur in 15 minutes or under," Null said.

    Pets, like children, have a lesser ability to cool themselves off compared to adult humans. Each year thousands of animals perish as a result of heat stroke when left in a vehicle. However, pets are better protected than children by today's legal system.

    "There are more states with laws against leaving pets in the car than the 19 states with laws against leaving children in the car," Null said.

    States with laws against leaving unattended children in cars include California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

    Before exiting your vehicle, be sure to double check your backseat for some precious cargo you may be leaving behind. To help keep children safe, see the tips below from Null.

    How to help keep children safe:

    1. If you see a child unattended in a vehicle, immediately call 911.

    2. Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle.

    3. If you are missing a child, first check the pool and your vehicle.

    4. Give yourself a visual reminder that your child is the backseat. Put the child's teddy bear on the front seat, and put your cell phone, purse or briefcase in the backseat; that way, you are forced to remember.

    Photos.com

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

     

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    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano stands on the end of a robotic arm during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. (AP Photo/NASA)

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - In one of the most harrowing spacewalks in decades, an astronaut had to rush back into the International Space Station on Tuesday after a mysterious water leak inside his helmet robbed him of the ability to speak or hear and could have caused him to choke or even drown.

    Italian Luca Parmitano was reported to be fine after the dangerous episode, which might have been caused by a leak in the cooling system of his suit. His spacewalking partner, American Christopher Cassidy, had to help him inside after NASA quickly aborted the spacewalk.

    No one - neither the astronauts in orbit nor flight controllers in Houston - breathed easier until Parmitano was back inside and his helmet was yanked off.

    "He looks miserable. But OK," Cassidy assured everyone.

    It was the first time in years that a spacewalk came to such an abrupt halt and the first time since NASA's Gemini program in the mid-1960s that a spacewalker became so incapacitated. Spacewalking always carries high risk; a puncture by a micrometeorite or sharp edge, if big enough, could result in instant death.

    In a late afternoon news conference, NASA acknowledged the perilous situation that Parmitano had found himself in, and space station operations manager Kenneth Todd promised to "turn over every rock" to make sure it never happens again.

    Spacewalking is dangerous already, noted flight director David Korth. Then on top of that, "go stick your head in a fishbowl and try to walk around. That's not anything that you take lightly," he said. "He did a great job of just keeping calm and cool" as the amount of water ominously increased.

    "Grace under pressure," Korth said.

    The two astronauts were outside barely an hour, performing routine cable work on their second spacewalk in eight days, when Parmitano reported the leak. It progressively worsened as the minutes ticked by, drenching the back of his head, then his eyes, nose and, finally, mouth. He could have choked or drowned on the floating globs of water, NASA officials acknowledged.

    Between 1 and 1½ liters of water leaked into his helmet and suit, NASA estimated.

    The source of the leak wasn't immediately known, but the main culprit appeared to be water that is piped through the long underwear worn under a spacesuit, for cooling. The system holds nearly 4 liters, or 1 gallon. Less likely was the 32-ounce (about 1 liter) drink bag that astronauts sip from during lengthy spacewalks; Parmitano reported the leaking water tasted odd.

    His last words before becoming mum were: "It's a lot of water."

    At first, Parmitano, 36, a former test pilot and Italy's first spacewalker, thought it was sweat accumulating on the back of his bald head. But he was repeatedly assured it was not sweat. He agreed. "How much can I sweat?" he wondered aloud. It was only his second spacewalk.

    The water eventually got into Parmitano's eyes. That's when NASA ordered the two men back inside. Then the water drenched his nose and mouth, and he had trouble hearing on the radio lines.

    Cassidy quickly cleaned up the work site once Parmitano was back in the air lock, then followed him in.

    The three Russians and one American who anxiously monitored the drama from inside hustled to remove Parmitano's helmet. They clustered around him, eight hands pulling off his helmet and using towels to mop his head. Balls of water floated away.

    Parmitano blinked hard several times but otherwise looked fine as he gestured with his hands to show his crewmates where the water had crept around his head.

    Cassidy told Mission Control: "To him, the water clearly did not taste like our normal drinking water." A smiling Parmitano then chimed in: "Just so you know, I'm alive and I can answer those questions, too."

    He later tweeted: "Thanks for all the positive thoughts!"

    Mission Control praised the crew for its fast effort and hooked them up with flight surgeons on the ground. Engineers, meanwhile, scrambled to determine the source of the leak.

    Spare spacesuits and equipment are on board for future NASA spacewalks.

    The four remaining spacewalks planned for this year involve Russian astronauts wearing Russian suits, different than the U.S. models. They're preparing for the arrival later this year of a new Russian lab. The year's previous four spacewalks encountered no major snags. This was the 171st spacewalk in the 15-year history of the orbiting outpost.

    There was no immediate word on when Tuesday's undone tasks might be attempted again. None of the chores was urgent, simply things that had piled up over the past couple years.

    It was the fastest end to a spacewalk since 2004 when Russian and American spacewalkers were ordered back in by Mission Control outside Moscow because of spacesuit trouble. That spacewalk lasted a mere 14 minutes. Tuesday's spacewalk lasted one hour and 32 minutes.

    During NASA's old shuttle program, spacewalks occasionally were stymied by stuck hatches and ripped gloves. By coincidence, Cassidy had to end a 2009 station-building spacewalk early because of a potentially dangerous buildup of carbon dioxide in his suit.

    In 1966, two Gemini flights ended up with aborted spacewalks. Gemini 11 spacewalker Richard Gordon, was blinded by sweat. Gemini 9 spacewalker Gene Cernan breathed so heavily and sweated so much that fog collected inside his helmet visor and froze.

    On the Russian side, the world's first spacewalker, Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, could barely get back into his spacecraft in 1965. He had to vent precious oxygen from his suit in order to fit through the hatch. Decades passed before his peril came to light.

    This was the second spacewalk for Parmitano, a major with the Italian Air Force. He became the first Italian to conduct a spacewalk last Tuesday, six weeks after moving into the space station.

    Cassidy, 43, a former Navy SEAL, is a six-time spacewalker. He's midway through a half-year station stint.


    SEE ON SKYE: 21 Awe-Inspiring Spacewalk Photos

     

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    Washington Nationals Bryce Harper competes in the home run derby at the All-Star game on July 15, 2013 in New York, NY (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

    In fact, they are. Baseballs travel farther in hot, humid air because the atmosphere is less dense, offering less resistance to a soaring ball.

    From an Associated Press story today:

    Each increase in temperature by 10 degrees can increase the flight of a ball by 2 1/2 to 3 feet. A ball hit during the heat wave could fly 15 feet farther than a ball hit in 40-degree weather in, say, April in Chicago.

    What's more, there's an app for that: Home Run Weather. Users select a location and the app will check the weather and offer a "home run weather index" on a scale of 0 to 10.

    SEE ON SKYE: 10 All-Star Baseball Skies

     

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    A man sunbathes in Hudson River Park during a heat wave, Tuesday, July 16, 2013, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The first big heat wave of the summer is here, bearing down on all parts of the U.S., following temperatures that blistered the West Coast in June. Typically heat waves occur twice every summer. Meteorology director Jeff Masters of Weather Underground says expect the current bout of oppressive heat to last a bit longer than the usual three days. Look for relief by Saturday.

    1. Heat Wave Highlights

    Temperatures in the Northeast are 5 to 10 degrees above normal, with New York City experiencing the highest above-normal temperatures of any place in the country. The hottest summer in U.S. history - an average 73.83 degrees for the season - occurred during the Dust Bowl in 1936. The 2011 and 2012 summers tied for second hottest but were only one-tenth of a degree cooler than the record.

    2. Odd Behavior

    While the Northeast is burning up, Texas and Oklahoma recorded their all-time lowest temperatures for July 15. And in parts of Alaska, the readings were warmer Monday than parts of Texas. Alaska's eastern interior was in the low 80s, while Abeline, Texas, recorded a cool 68 degrees.

    3. Bad Hair Week

    Besides making everyone uncomfortable, humidity is hard on a hairdo. Curly hair tends to frizz and flat hair tends to get, well, flatter. Alyssa Johnson of Pulse Beauty Academy near Philadelphia says the solution is to use special hair products to "seal" hair against the dense, moist air.

    4. Baseball's Hot Air Stats
    It is not a myth but a matter of physics that baseballs fly farther in hot, humid air. Physics professor Alan Nathan of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explains. "The higher the temperature, the less air resistance, so the ball flies farther." Each increase in temperature by 10 degrees can increase the flight of a ball by 2 1/2 to 3 feet. A ball hit during the heat wave could fly 15 feet farther than a ball hit in 40-degree weather in, say, April in Chicago.

    5. Hot Phones Not So Smart

    Most smartphones are designed to withstand extreme temperatures - many of them shut themselves down when they sense too much heat. But the batteries that power phones are still fairly vulnerable. Engineering professor Yury Gogotsi at Drexel University says high temperatures can cause batteries to die faster than normal and can lower a battery's life expectancy.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Oppressive Heat Wave Affects Millions

     

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    A female inmate hand crew from Puerta La Cruz and firefighters in an engine company with them set fire to reinforce the line to stave off part of the Mountain Fire burning up a hill toward them on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, off Apple Canyon Road near Lake Hemet, Calif. (AP Photo/The Desert Sun, Crystal Chatham)

    IDYLLWILD, Calif. (AP) - A wildfire in mountains west of Palm Springs burned seven homes and led to the evacuation of dozens more, officials said.

    The blaze destroyed three houses, damaged another and destroyed three mobile homes, a cabin, a garage and about a half-dozen vehicles, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement Tuesday.

    The wildfire started Monday between Palm Springs and Hemet, near the rural Riverside County community of Mountain Center, and a day later had surged to about 14 square miles.

    More than 2,200 firefighters and 25 aircraft had the blaze 10 percent contained.

    It was mostly moving east toward the desert and away from small communities of homes, summer cabins and ranches in the San Jacinto mountains. But a shift in the wind could easily sweep it back toward homes, authorities said.

    "It's a rapidly changing animal," Forest Service spokesman Lee Beyer said.

    Most of the damage occurred late Monday and early Tuesday as the fire more than doubled in size, but it was not assessed until later in the day.

    "Honestly, we thought that the structure destruction was greater than it is," Forest Service spokesman John Miller said.

    Miller said officials were especially surprised that the Zen Mountain Center survived, and credited firefighters.

    "We really thought it was gone," Miller told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. "The crews hung on and saved it."

    About 50 homes were evacuated along with Camp Ronald McDonald, which hosts programs for children with cancer and their families.

    The fire also led authorities to close a pair of state highways and the Pacific Crest Trail.

    A public pool about 20 miles away in Indio was closed because of ash falling on the water.

    The fire raged in thick brush and trees at an elevation of 5,000 to 7,500 feet, sending flames 100 feet high. Some of the area had not burned in 35 years and the vegetation was dried out, Beyer said.

    "We only had 40 to 50 percent of normal precipitation" over the winter and no rain at all since early April, he said.

     

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    Matt Berry of Popple Construction takes a drink of water while working on sidewalk construction on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Tuesday July 16, 2013. (AP Photo/The Citizens' Voice, Mark Moran)

    Plain and simple, this week may feel the worst of any week for this summer in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. The region will be a virtual sauna bath.

    High daytime and nighttime temperatures, high humidity, intense sunshine and lack of wind will make the area seem like the middle of the tropics.

    The pattern will pose health risks ranging from poor air quality to a dangerous buildup of heat in urban areas to risk of heat stroke for those physically very active.

    Actual high temperatures in many of the major cities will reach well into the 90s through at least Friday.

    According to Paul Pastelok, head of the AccuWeather.com long range team, "The extreme part of the heat is not forecast to ease until over the coming weekend, when thunderstorms may return to many areas."

    Although actual temperatures will stop short of record levels during this week's heat wave, when combined with the humidity and other factors, AccuWeather.com RealFeel(R) temperatures will surge past 100 degrees during the afternoon hours.

    RealFeel temperatures can run 10 to 20 degrees higher than actual temperatures during several hours each day of this heat wave. On Tuesday afternoon, multiple locations in Virginia observed RealFeel temperatures above 110 degrees. The same afternoon, RealFeel temperatures reached between 100 and 110 degrees from southern Wisconsin, Illinois and Lower Michigan to much of Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, southwestern Pennsylvania and parts of New York state and New England.

    A lack of a breeze in the humid conditions at night will make it very rough in urban areas without air conditioning or a fan.

    The light winds, high humidity and heat will lead to a build-up of pollutants. Folks with respiratory problems are advised to remain in an air-conditioned environment and avoid strenuous activity.

    This is the type of heat that can kill, especially the elderly and those physically overdoing it at any age.

    Be sure to look after your pets. Do not leave kids or pets unattended in the car for any length of time.

    With the return of thunderstorms toward the weekend on the coast, there will be a risk of severe weather and perhaps a return of the "atmosphere with an attitude" and tropical rainforest downpours.

    RELATED:
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    Hot Cars Can Kill: 20 Children Already Dead in 2013
    Heat-Related Advisories, Watches and Warnings


    "It appears the pattern of frequent showers and thunderstorms will return to the East Coast and Appalachians late in July and much of August," Pastelok said.

    With temperatures and humidity as high as they are, widely separated thunderstorms can drench a few communities over the Appalachians during the week. Most of these storms would occur between 3:00 and 9:00 p.m.

    Beat the heat by heading to the pool, beach or an air conditioning location for a few hours to give your body a break. (Surf temperatures range from the upper 60s to near 80 degrees.)

    Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. Wear light-weight, light-colored clothing.

    If you must work outdoors, take frequent breaks and try to do the most physical part of the job during the morning or evening, when the RealFeel temperatures are not as extreme.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Oppressive Heat Wave Affects Millions

     

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    Seaside Heights, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    "The Shore is OPEN," the official tourism website of New Jersey touts, assuring tourists that the Sandy-battered coastline is back up and running after months of recovery.

    As parts of the East endure the fourth heat wave of 2013, tourists are flocking to New Jersey's coastline to cool off in the ocean and enjoy newly reconstructed parks, water rides and concessions.

    Images of the boardwalk in pieces, the famous Jet Star coaster submerged in the salty ocean water and Restore the Shore promotions airing across local radio stations had residents and businesses worried that tourists would go elsewhere in 2013.

    But it was a double-edged sword - the promotions brought in significant financial aid for reconstruction.

    2012 had set a record year for the state's tourism industry, generating $34.7 billion of the state GDP, amounting to 7 percent of the entire state economy.

    With 10 percent of all New Jersey jobs related to travel and tourism, Superstorm Sandy put shore communities in a precarious position.

    Despite concerns, the Garden State's summer tourism season is progressing positively, the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism says.

    "We are optimistic about the future," according to Executive Director of the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, Grace Hanlon.

    "While the Jersey Shore saw a slow start with the weather Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July weekend brought spectacular weather and crowds all along our 130 miles and the momentum is continuing."

    As the East enters its hottest days of summer, business owners are noticing the sweltering conditions driving crowds to the beaches and the insides of their businesses.

    "Weather is certainly one of the most critical factors. We are pleased that visitors are coming to visit the Jersey Shore to see for themselves the incredible recovery and rebuilding that has taken place over the past couple of months and to do their part in helping these shore town economies," Hanlon said.

    RELATED:
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    Though Mother Nature showed no mercy last October, her high heat, humidity and sunshine are yielding the type of summer New Jersey tourism thrives on.

    This week will continue to be stifling for much of the East as the heat wave peaks, before easing back slightly by Monday. Ocean temperatures have finally pushed into the 70s, after days of unseasonable lows in the 50s.

    "High daytime and nighttime temperatures, high humidity, intense sunshine and lack of wind will make the area seem like the middle of the tropics," according to AccuWeather.com expert senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

    RealFeel(R) temperatures are forecast to soar as high as 100 degrees F by the start of the weekend.

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

     

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    A rickshaw driver pushes his rickshaw carrying women through a waterlogged street in Gauhati, India, Tuesday, July 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

    LUCKNOW, India (AP) - A day after the government said it would treat more than 5,700 people missing in floods in northern India last month as presumed dead, relatives said Wednesday they still held out hope that their loved ones had survived.

    The provisional death toll - officials said some of the missing still could turn up alive - would make the Uttarakhand floods the worst natural disaster in India since more than 10,000 people were killed here in the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

    The toll was worsened by the presence of tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims visiting the state's temples and the many vacationers who head to its cool hills to escape the summer heat. The government said it was presuming those missing for a month were dead so it could start giving compensation to their families.

    Anuradha Raizada, left her home in the state of Uttar Pradesh and went to the temple town of Kedarnath with her husband and two sons - Ashwal, 18, and Atharav, 16. She returned home alone.

    On June 16, a wall of water struck the hotel where they were staying. Her husband and one of her sons were swept away.

    "There was a deafening noise of water and rain. I clung to my younger son, who had injured his leg and could not walk," she said. The next day, when he complained of thirst, she left to fetch him water, but she got lost when she tried to return to him. That was the last she saw of him.

    She later stumbled across her husband's dead body, recognizing him from the shirt he had been wearing. She still holds out hope for her children.

    She met Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, who assured her that every corner of Kedar valley would be searched for her two sons, she said.

    "I know my sons will return one day. They are safe somewhere in the hills," she said.

    Since the flood, Manoj Jaiswal, 40, has not heard from his brother, sister-in-law or their two children, who had been on a pilgrimage in the area. He said the morning just before the flood, his brother called him to say they were staying an extra day.

    "This proved fatal for them," he said.

    Jaiswal had gone to the area to search for his relatives. "The hotel where they were staying is badly damaged. Twenty-eight people died in that hotel, but my brother's name is not there in the casualty list," he said.

    The state government has been criticized for poor emergency preparedness in a disaster-prone Himalayan area, and chaotic development has been blamed for exacerbating the damage from mudslides and overflowing rivers.

    Bahuguna said the government would address those concerns.

    "We will devise a scientific system where a balance could be maintained between development and nature," he said.

    More than 1,100 roads were damaged because of the rains and landslides and many of them remained cut off, said R.P. Bhatt, the chief engineer at the Public Works Department. Entire villages were buried in silt and debris.

    Ramesh Pokhriyal, a former chief minister of the state and a top official with the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party said many villages could not get food supplies and he feared people would begin dying of hunger if immediate action was not taken.

    Bahuguna said the government was working on alleviating the suffering.

    "Work is under way at a great speed to redevelop and reconstruct the affected areas and to provide relief to those hit by the disaster," he said.

    A report sent to Parliament by India's top audit body in April, said the state was badly unprepared for disasters, even though it was vulnerable to earthquakes, landslides and torrential rain.

    One state body formed to deal with disasters has never met since it was formed in 2007. Another group, the State Disaster Management Authority, set no rules, regulations or policies since it was formed the same year.

    A disaster management plan was still being prepared, there was no early warning system in the state, communication infrastructure was inadequate, emergency service jobs were left unfilled and medical personnel were not trained to deal with disasters, the report said.

    "The state authorities were virtually nonfunctional," it said.

    Nevertheless, army troops, paramilitary soldiers and volunteers rescued more than 100,000 people who had been stranded by the disaster.

    The air force and private companies made thousands of helicopter sorties to pick up people stuck on rooftops or marooned on hilltops and to drop off food and drinking water.

    In a rare feat, a mule stranded in a small island in the middle of the Alaknanda River, was tranquillized and airlifted by a helicopter to safety a month after being swept away in the floods, Captain Bhupinder of Sumit Aviation said. The owners of hundreds of other mules and horses staged a sit-in, demanding the rescue of their injured and starving animals.

     

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    The 2009 eruption of Alaska's Redoubt volcano. (Credit: USGS)

    Earthquakes can often signal an impending volcanic eruption, and sometimes before a mountain blows its lid, seismologists detect a continuous, rhythmic series of quakes known as a harmonic tremor.

    One after the other, tiny temblors originate beneath a volcano, typically accompanied by a rumble that's at such a low frequency, humans would not be able to hear it. But the harmonic tremor that preceded the March 2009 eruption of Alaska's Mount Redoubt made the volcano "scream," the frequency got so high, researchers say.

    A swarm of earthquakes - up to 30 per second - produced an unusually high-pitched racket at Redoubtand then an eerie silence before the peak was rocked by a series of six explosions, according to a pair of new studies.

    "If you were on the volcano, you might hear a very soft, low bass rumble (just barely at the limit of human hearing) followed by about 30 seconds of silence and then the roar of the explosion," study researcher Alicia Hotovec-Ellis, a University of Washington doctoral student, explained in an email. [50 Amazing Volcano Facts]

    Volcano monitoring stations around the mountain - located southwest of Anchorage in the Aleutian Islands - recorded low frequencies starting out around 1-to-5 hertz that built up to 30 hertz before the initial blast in 2009, according to the study. Anything lower than 20 hertz is considered infrasound, beyond the limits of normal human hearing.

    This phenomenon has been documented at other volcanoes, but the building geological growl was always in the inaudible range. The Soufriere Hills volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, for example, had a similar "scream" in the 1990s, though it only got up to a frequency of 3 hertz, said Hotovec-Ellis. That's even lower than the lowest infrasonic moans of elephants and blue whales.

    Hotovec-Ellis and colleagues think that at Redoubt an unusually high number of little earthquakes caused the volcano's noisy hum. Their version of events looks like this: Magma was being pushed through a narrow, high-pressure channel into the heart of the mountain. The molten rock probably got stuck and then forced through this conduit in spurts. This friction between the channel walls and the magma resulted in small earthquakes (ranging in magnitude from about 0.5 to 1.5). As pressure built, the earthquakes occurred in a quickening sequence, up to a rate of 30 per second, and blended into a harmonic tremor. After a pause, the volcano finally blew its lid, with all that pressure is released in an eruption.

    This new model is dubbed "frictional-faulting" in a study detailed in the journal Nature Geoscience. Redoubt's strange harmonic tremor is also described in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research.

    While understanding this process doesn't offer much promise for forecasting volcanic eruptions, it could give scientists a valuable glimpse inside active volcanoes, Hotovec-Ellis said.

    "It might be able to give a few minutes to hours of warning before the next explosion," Hotovec-Ellis wrote in an email. "I think the main utility at this point is in better understanding what's going on inside volcanoes when they erupt."

    Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow OurAmazingPlanet @OAPlanet, Facebook and Google+. Original article at LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.

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

    RELATED ON SKYE: Breathtaking Volcanic Eruptions Seen from Space

     

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    OXON HILL, Md. (AP) - Officials in one Maryland county say at least 200,000 residents could temporarily be without water so that a pipe can be repaired, with temperatures expected to reach the mid-90s over the next few days.

    Mandatory water restrictions began late Tuesday in several communities in Prince George's County, just outside Washington. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission says water is expected to stay off for three to five days while it repairs a failing section of a 4-½-foot water main. Officials say the restrictions will help preserve firefighting capabilities and provide water for part of the first day.

    County spokesman Scott Peterson says officials are opening reception centers where people can shower, use the bathroom and get drinking water.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Oppressive Heat Wave Affects Millions

     

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    Updated Wednesday, July 17, 2013 at 6:06 p.m. ET

    Elizabeth Fontanez, a carpenter at the World Trade Center transportation hub, drinks water during a break, Wednesday, July 17, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    NEW YORK (AP) - From South Dakota to Massachusetts temperatures surged to potentially dangerous levels Wednesday as the largest heat wave of the summer stretched out and stagnated, with relief in many parts of the country still days away.

    Most states in the U.S. had at least one region where the temperature hit 90 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, though the worst heat was in the Midwest to Northeast. Humid air just made it all feel worse, with heat indexes in some places over 100.

    In New York City, where it was 96 degrees, sidewalk food vendor Ahmad Qayumi said that by 11 a.m., the cramped space inside his steel-walled cart got so hot, he had to turn off his grill and coffee machine.

    "It was just too hot. I couldn't breathe," he said, turning away a customer who asked for a hamburger. "Just cold drinks," he said.

    Amid the heat, officials in Washington D.C.'s Maryland suburbs worked to keep a failing water main from cutting off hundreds of thousands of people, just when they needed it most. People in Prince George's County were asked not to run their faucets, water their lawns or flush toilets to keep the water system from emptying during emergency repairs.

    Firefighters in southern California faced brutally hot - but dangerously dry - conditions as they battled a wildfire outside Palm Springs. Temperatures could go as high as 105 and humidity could go as low as 1 percent by the afternoon, said Tina Rose, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The fire has already consumed seven homes.

    It was hot enough to buckle highway pavement in several states. Firefighters in Indianapolis evacuated 300 people from a senior living community after a power outage knocked out the air conditioning. The state of Illinois opened cooling centers. The Environmental Protection Agency said the heat was contributing to air pollution in New England.

    At the World Trade Center reconstruction site in New York City, workers building a rail hub dripped under their hardhats, thick gloves and heavy-duty boots. Some wore towels around their necks to wipe away the sweat.

    "We're drinking a lot of water, down under by the tracks, in and out of the sun all day - very hot," said carpenter Elizabeth Fontanez, of the Bronx, who labored with 20 pounds of tools and safety equipment strapped to her waist. Since the heat wave began, she said she has been changing shirts several times during her shifts.

    Officials blamed hot weather for at least one death. A 78-year-old Alzheimer's patient died of heat exhaustion after wandering away from his northern Kentucky home Tuesday in temperatures that rose to 93 degrees.

    Limited relief, in the form of a cold front, was expected to begin dropping south from Canada starting Thursday, before sweeping through the Midwest and into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions by Saturday. That will bring lower temperatures, but also possibly severe thunderstorms, said weather service spokesman Christopher Vaccaro.

    New Mexico and parts of Texas turned out to be rare outposts of cool air Wednesday - but not without trouble of their own: heavy rains prompted flood watches and warnings in some areas. More than five inches of rain fell in 24 hours in Plainview, north of Lubbock, according to the National Weather Service.


    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Oppressive Heat Wave Affects Millions

     

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    Wednesday, July 17, 2013


    Amazing video shot by surfer Mark Matthews inside the tube at Teahupoo, the famed Tahitian break regarded by many to be the world's thickest, heaviest surfable wave.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Surfers Ride Massive Waves at Teahupoo in Tahiti

     

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  • 07/18/13--01:12: US Sizzles Under Heat Wave

  • Philip Jeschke, 4, stays cool under the waterfall tower in the splash pool at The Wilton Family Y on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, in WIlton, Conn. (AP Photo/The Hour, Alex von Kleydorff)

    NEW YORK (AP) - The largest heat wave of the summer has stagnated over large regions of the U.S. Thursday, bringing sizzling temperatures and little hope of relief without rain.

    Most states in the U.S. had at least one region where the temperature hit 90 degrees Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, though the worst heat was in the Midwest to Northeast. Humid air just made it all feel worse, with heat indexes in some places over 100.

    It was hot enough to buckle highway pavement in several states. Firefighters in Indianapolis evacuated 300 people from a senior living community after a power outage knocked out the air conditioning. The state of Illinois opened cooling centers. The Environmental Protection Agency said the heat was contributing to air pollution in New England.

    Officials are blaming hot weather for at least one death. A 78-year-old Alzheimer's patient died of heat exhaustion after wandering away from his northern Kentucky home Tuesday.

    In New York City, where it was 96 degrees (36 Celsius), sidewalk food vendor Ahmad Qayumi said that by 11 a.m., the cramped space inside his steel-walled cart got so hot that he had to turn off his grill and coffee machine.

    "It was just too hot. I couldn't breathe," he said, turning away a customer who asked for a hamburger. "Just cold drinks," he said.

    Amid the heat, officials in Washington D.C.'s Maryland suburbs worked to keep a failing water main from cutting off hundreds of thousands of people, just when they needed it most. People in Prince George's County were asked not to run their faucets, water their lawns or flush toilets to keep the water system from emptying during emergency repairs.

    Firefighters in southern California faced brutally hot - but dangerously dry - conditions as they battled a wildfire outside Palm Springs that had already consumed seven homes.

    New Mexico and parts of Texas turned out to be rare outposts of cool air Wednesday - but not without trouble of their own: heavy rains prompted flood watches and warnings in some areas. More than five inches of rain fell in 24 hours in Plainview, north of Lubbock, according to the National Weather Service.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Oppressive Heat Wave Affects Millions

     

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