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    This photo, provided by the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, shows oxidized copper hull sheathing and possible draft marks visible on the bow of a wrecked ship in the Gulf of Mexico about 170 miles from Galveston, Texas. (AP Photo/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program)

    GALVESTON, Texas (AP) - Marine archaeologists made a thrilling discovery this week, while examining a well-preserved shipwreck deep in the Gulf of Mexico - two other sunken vessels that likely went down with it during an early 19th century storm.

    Much isn't known about the ships, including the flag or flags they sailed under and the year they sank about 170 miles southeast of Galveston. They came to rest 4,363 feet, or nearly three-quarters of a mile, below the surface, making them the deepest Gulf or North American shipwrecks to have been systematically investigated by archaeologists, the researchers said.

    "What you're going to see and hear I hope will blow your mind. Because it has ours," lead investigator Fritz Hanselmann told reporters at a Thursday news conference in which the team revealed its initial findings.

    "We went out with a lot of questions and we returned with even more. The big question we're all asking is: What is the shipwreck? And the answer is we still don't know," said Hanselmann, a researcher from Texas State University in San Marcos' Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.

    During eight days of exploration that ended Wednesday, the scientists used remote-controlled machines to recover more than 60 artifacts from the initial shipwreck site, including musket parts, ceramic cups and dishes, liquor bottles, clothing and even a toothbrush. The artifacts, including china from Britain, ceramics from Mexico and at least one musket from Canada, will help researchers determine the ships' histories, Hanselmann said.

    "Nationalities, cultures, all collide in these shipwrecks. We hope to return in the future next year with more work," he said.

    Although they weren't allowed to retrieve artifacts from the two new sites under the terms of their agreement to examine the initial one, the researchers took thousands of photos and closely examined the wreckage of all three ships, which came to rest within five miles of one another.

    Two of the ships were carrying similar items, and researchers believe they may have been privateers, or armed ships that governments would hire, Hanselmann said. The third vessel was loaded with hides and large bricks of tallow, suggesting that it may have been a prize seized by the privateers.

    The artifacts are headed for preservation work at a Texas A&M University research facility.

    "For now, there's lot of conjecture, lots of hypotheses," said Jim Delgado, the director of the Maritime Heritage Program for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "We may have answered some questions, but we have a large number of new questions. But that's archaeology."

    Delgado said the ships likely went down during the first two decades of the 1800s, which was a time of great upheaval in the Gulf region and in the New World, in general.

    "Empires were falling, Spain was losing its grip, France was selling what it has, Mexico becomes independent, Texas independent, Latin America becomes independent and the U.S. is beginning to make a foothold in the Gulf," he said. "So these wrecks are all tied to that, we are sure."

    It's likely each ship was carrying 50 to 60 men and that none of them survived. Among the wreckage were telescopes and other navigational tools that survivors likely wouldn't have left behind if they could have helped it, the researchers said.

    Delgado said the ship the team set out to examine was armed with six cannons and may have had two masts. Undersea images show the outline of a copper-clad, 84-foot-long by 26-foot-wide wooden hull.

    A Shell Oil Co. survey crew notified federal Interior Department officials in 2011 that its sonar had detected something resembling a shipwreck. It also detected some other material.

    "Like a medical ultrasound, interpreting can be difficult," said Jack Irion, of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. "This case is the same way. You can't tell if it's an historic shipwreck or just a pile of stuff."

    A year later, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration vessel examining seafloor habitat and naturally occurring gas seepage used a remote-controlled vehicle to briefly examine the wreck. Besides determining the ship's dimensions, the examination showed it to be undisturbed and likely from the early 19th century.

    That ship has been dubbed the "Monterrey Shipwreck," adopting the name Shell had proposed for its development site.

    Researchers have examined several other historically significant Gulf shipwrecks in recent years.

    In 1995, after a more than decade-long hunt, Texas Historical Commission archaeologists found one of famed French explorer La Salle's vessels in a coastal bay between Galveston and Corpus Christi. The remains of the LaBelle, which went down in a storm in 1686, have been recovered and are undergoing an unusual freeze-drying treatment at Texas A&M. The ship is to be reconstructed next year and become a centerpiece of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin.

    Earlier this year, researchers used special 3-D imagery to map the remains of the USS Hatteras, which was the only U.S. Navy ship sunk in the Gulf of Mexico in combat during the Civil War. The 210-foot iron-hulled ship went down in 1863 about 20 miles off the Galveston coast during a run-in with a Confederate raiding vessel. Researchers believe that heavy storms in recent years shifted the sea floor sand and exposed the wreckage, which rests 57 feet below the surface.

     

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    (Photo by Yoon S. Byun/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

    An area of rain will continue along the East coast from Long Island to southeastern New England through the day Friday.

    Some communities could be thoroughly drenched. A few spots could be hit with flash and urban flooding.

    While cooler, less humid air continues to expand over the Northeast, it will not be enough to prevent a swath of rain.

    The cool pattern, with and without rain, in the Northeast will represent a big change from the heat and high humidity from last week. AccuWeather.com RealFeel(R) temperatures in some areas with the rain may be more than 30 degrees lower, when compared to the heat, sunshine and high humidity recently.



    Around Norfolk, Va., an inch of rain fell in about an hour early Thursday morning. Rain caused flash flooding in Norwichtown, Conn., during the afternoon. Similar rainfall and flooding could occur around Boston and coastal Maine into Friday.

    Dry air is forecast to chase the rain away over much of eastern Virginia, the Delmarva Peninsula, New Jersey and southeastern New York during Friday. However, rain may continue farther to the northeast along the coast.

    The rain is likely to stay away from much of the area from central Virginia and West Virginia to Pennsylvania, upstate New York and northwest New England Friday, before returning later in the weekend.

    RELATED:
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    According to Mark Mancuso, "There is a slight chance a very weak tropical system forms in the pattern along the Atlantic coast before the end of the week."

    A system originating from the central Plains took a left turn along the East coast Thursday.

    "The system will tap into tropical moisture as it reaches Atlantic waters and can bring very heavy rainfall in a narrow zone right along the coast," Mancuso added.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    The Hubble Space Telescope in orbit. (STS-82 Crew/STScI/NASA)

    With the Hubble Space Telescope's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, on schedule to reach outer space in 2018, taking Hubble's place as NASA's premier eye in the sky, it seems appropriate to look back on what may become Hubble's most enduring legacy: its stunning images. Besides the huge amount of data Hubble has collected since its launch in 1990, the telescope will likely be remembered most for its gorgeous color shots of nebulas, galaxies and the early universe, iconic images that seemed tailor made for magazine covers and bedroom walls.

    But throughout the storied history of the Hubble Space Telescope, the beauty of those color images has sometimes overshadowed one important question: Where does that color come from? After all, some of Hubble's amazing photos‚ and images from other space telescopes, for that matter‚ depict astronomical objects in ultraviolet or infrared light. But the human eye can't perceive those colors. When people look at a Hubble image showing these hues, what exactly are they seeing?

    One person with answers is Ray Villard, the news chief at Maryland's Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which operates Hubble. According to Villard, the public often has the wrong idea about Hubble images. "People assume you're painting by numbers, but you're not," Villard said. [Amazing Hubble Space Telescope Photos: Latest Views]

    The raw Hubble images, as beamed down from the telescope itself, are black and white. But each image is captured using three different filters: red, green and blue. The Hubble imaging team combines those three images into one, in a Technicolor process pioneered in the 1930s. (The same process occurs in digital SLRs, except that in your camera, it's automatic.)

    Why are the original images in black and white? Because if Hubble's eye saw in color, the light detector would have to have red, green and blue elements crammed into the same area, taking away crucial resolving capability. Without those different elements, Hubble can capture images with much more detail.

    The tricky part is when Hubble uses infrared or ultraviolet filters. These wavelengths of light, respectively above and below the visible spectrum, are full of what Villard calls "invisible colors." Human eyes simply don't see them. Therefore, if astronomers want to make these images reflect the light's full spectrum‚ including ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths‚ visible colors have to be added in.

    Those added colors aren't random, though. "A common misconception," noted Villard, "is that when people hear that color is added, they think that the scientists are like kids with crayons." On the contrary, astronomers are very careful to stay as true to nature as they can. Thus, in full-spectrum images, the details that correspond to infrared light will have the reddest color and the details corresponding to ultraviolet will have the bluest. Or, as Zolt Levay, the imaging-resource lead at STScI, put it, "What is redder in a Hubble image really is redder."

    In short, the coloring process for Hubble images is not done willy-nilly. "The colors of the images have meaning," said Levay. "They depend on the data." When people at STScI work with a full-spectrum Hubble image, they are in essence translating one kind of light into another so human beings can perceive it.

    All of this manipulation begs one enormous question: Why add color at all? If the coloring process necessarily involves human manipulation, wouldn't it be better, and safer, to stay with the original black-and-white versions?

    Villard claims the contrary. Color images are "full of information," he said. "In fact, color is an analytical tool. It helps the understanding."

    The Hubble team uses color in three ways.

    First, for objects that would otherwise be too faint for the human eye to see,the team adds color to make the objects visible. Second, the team uses color to depict details that the human eye can't see, like astronomical features only visible in infrared or ultraviolet light. Third, color can highlight delicate features that would be otherwise lost.

    For example, Hubble took one 1995 image of the Cat's Eye Nebula using three filters: one that captured light produced by oxygen atoms, one for light produced by hydrogen atoms and one for light coming from nitrogen ions. All three colors, though, fall in the red part of the visible spectrum. To make all of the parts of the nebula as visible as possible, and to avoid just producing a red mess, the imaging team made some adjustments. [Photos: Hubble's Ring Nebula Portraits]

    They assigned red to the hydrogen light, green to the nitrogen light and blue to the oxygen light. Human beings then assigned the colors, but not without a reason behind every decision. As Levay noted, the coloring process is "a dance between the subjective (the color that's applied) and the objective (the data)."

    A centuries-old debate among philosophers bears directly on this issue of astronomical images, color and reality. The question is whether colors exist in objects and human beings merely see what is out there in the world, or whether colors are, in a sense, properties of the mind that arise when human beings perceive something, and are experienced differently from one individual to another. Leave it to the Hubble Space Telescope to connect an ancient intellectual tradition with cutting-edge technology and the wonders of nebulas, galaxies and burning suns.

    Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.

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

    RELATED ON SKYE: 10 Spectacular Images of Glowing Nebulae
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    By Renny Vandewege

    Sunset in Venice Beach, Calif. (Getty Images)

    Few things beat a great sunset. After a long and stressful day, a brilliant orange or pink horizon has a way of putting things into perspective and reminding us of the beauty in the world.

    Colorful sunsets start with sunlight. The sunlight that enters the atmosphere begins as a white ray of light, encompassing the entire visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. As sunlight moves through the atmosphere, each ray of light is scattered through a process known as Rayleigh scattering. The main wavelength that's scattered is blue, which is why the sky is blue during the day.

    However, as the sun begins to set, sunlight has to travel farther before reaching our eye. At this time of day, almost all of the violet and blue colors are scattered completely, leaving the remaining sunlight to be dominated by red and orange wavelengths.

    The process of Rayleigh scattering alone gives the atmosphere a faint red and orange appearance on the horizon at sunset.

    Fortunately, on many evenings, the atmosphere is filled with other particles that make for memorable sunsets. This form of light scattering is known as Mie scattering. Clouds are the most common reason for Mie scattering, as the water droplets and ice crystals scatter the light into more dramatic red and orange hues.

    Pollution, dust, volcanoes and forest fires are not typically thought of in association with breathtaking sunsets, but they're actually four fairly common causes for Mie scattering and a colorful end of the day.

    When a dust storm is kicked up as far as 500 miles away between a location and the sun, the little particles of dust improve light scattering to the point of producing incredible red and orange sunsets.

    And, if you're ever to the east of a volcanic eruption or forest fire that's kicking ash into the atmosphere, you have a good chance of seeing a brilliant sunset, thanks to Mie scattering.

    So when you see a beautiful, colorful sunset at the end of the day, be thankful for light scattering across the the gorgeous natural canvas that is the sky.

     

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    A few days ago we posted an amazing photo of the wild-looking mammatus clouds that appeared over Michigan on Monday, July 22. Now comes a video of the same clouds, posted to YouTube by Jason Asselin.

    "Some of the craziest sky I've ever seen in my life," he says in the video, and you can see why. The clouds look like pouches hanging from the sky.

    As we noted earlier, mammatus clouds form following sharp gradients in temperature, moisture and wind shear and can extend for hundreds of miles. They sometimes indicate that severe thunderstorms are imminent.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 10 Incredible Photos of Strange Mammatus Clouds
    Mammatus Clouds

     

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    A soggy weekend is in store for the Northeast with numerous showers and thunderstorms expected to sweep across the region.

    There could be a few strong storms both on Saturday and Sunday with localized gusty winds, but a widespread outbreak of severe weather is not expected.

    On Saturday, showers and thunderstorms, some heavy, will form in the eastern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley and move east and northeast, reaching eastern New York, eastern Pennsylvania, the Washington, D.C., area and central Virginia late afternoon.



    Showers and thunderstorms will move into New York City, Philadelphia and Richmond, Va., on Saturday night and perhaps into Boston by early Sunday morning.

    During the day on Sunday, showers and thunderstorms will be scattered across the entire Northeast.

    RELATED:
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    Thunderstorms can contain downpours anywhere in the Northeast and bring minor flooding to low lying and poor drainage areas.

    The heaviest rainfall amounts, and subsequently the highest threat for flooding, will be across the Appalachians into upstate New York and southern Quebec Province.

    Rainfall of 1-2 inches is possible in those areas with locally higher amounts. Street flooding and rising water levels on creeks and rivers is possible.

    Travel on roads throughout the Northeast will be hazardous at times due to reduced visibility during heavy downpours. Where more frequent downpours occur, travel will become treacherous from ponding of water.

    It is extremely dangerous to drive through a flooded roadway. If you encounter high water the best course of action is to safely turn around and find an alternate route. In addition to delays on the roads there will be some delays at the airports.

    Showers and a few thunderstorms are expected for portions of the Northeast early next week and temperatures over most areas will be below normal.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Oppressive Heat Wave Affects Millions

     

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    In the age-old battle between man and man-eating sharks, humans have tried several ways to repel the predators -- surfboard leashes that emit electronic pulses, and chemical shark repellent among them -- with varying degrees of success.

    An Australian company now claims it has developed a line of anti-shark wetsuits that will repel sharks or camouflage a swimmer, based on scientific studies of sharks' sense of sight.

    Sharks are believed to be color-blind, and the new wetsuits are designed with that in mind, Shaun Collin, a researcher with the University of Western Australia's Oceans Institute, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). [Images: Sharks & Whales from Above]

    One wetsuit, dubbed the Diverter, has bold, black-and-white stripes that mimic the striped pattern often seen on poisonous fish and other creatures.

    "Many animals in biology are repelled by noxious animals -- prey that provide a signal that somehow says, 'Don't eat me' -- and that has been manifest in a striped pattern," Collin told AFP.

    The Diverter is also available with striped stickers for the underside of surfboards. Another design, the Elude, takes advantage of sharks' limited vision to camouflage a swimmer in the water.

    The Elude features a pattern of blue-on-blue waves designed to "hide you in the water column," Craig Anderson, who developed the wetsuits with partner Hamish Jolly, told AFP.

    "It's based on new breakthrough science which is all about visionary systems for predatory sharks," Anderson said. "We've been able to interpret that science and convert that into, basically, materials that create some confusion for sharks' visual systems."

    Though sharks use a number of senses to find prey, some researchers believe the animals rely on vision in the final stages of an attack. Anderson and Jolly tested their wetsuits in the shark-infested waters off Western Australia.

    In a video of a test, sharks were seen swimming past dummies wearing the striped Diverter pattern, the BBC reports, but when presented with dummies wearing a typical black wetsuit, sharks attacked with gusto.

    Worldwide, sharks face a number of threats: Overfishing is pushing some shark species toward extinction, and a study from March estimates that annual shark deaths total 100 million or more each year.

    One advantage of the new wetsuit design, marketed as Shark Attack Mitigation Systems (SAMS), is its nonlethal nature: "It's safe, it's natural and gives the animals no harm at all," Anderson told AFP.

    Despite the success of early testing, Jolly told AFP that SAMS "cannot say that our suits are a fail-safe protection against shark attacks." The company plans on doing additional testing off the coasts of Australia and South Africa beginning this December, when summer arrives in the Southern Hemisphere.

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

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

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

     

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    Shannan Sigmon posted this image ofdramatic flooding in North Carolina to Twitter, identifying it as "Lyles Creek at Bunker Hill School Road in Claremont."

    Persistent heavy rain has triggered a major flash flood event northwest of Charlotte, N.C., Saturday.

    At 10 a.m. EDT, emergency management reported a major flash flood event was underway across much of Catawba County, N.C.

    "All small creeks and streams in [central Catawba County and western Lincoln County] are overflowing their banks, and some are well out of their banks," stated the National Weather Service's Greenville-Spartanburg Office. "Numerous roads are impassable due to flood water."

    "As much as 10 inches of rain has fallen across [central Catawba County and western Lincoln County] since about 4 a.m. EDT."

    Hickory, N.C., located in Catawba County, recorded nearly 5 inches of rain from 4 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday. Runoff from the rain has flooded several streets.

    Emergency management reported several roads washed out or flooded in northwestern Lincoln County with some areas in 2 to 3 feet of standing water.

    Lyle Creek is out of its banks near Claremont, N.C., flooding roads.

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    Additional heavy rain through at least early Saturday afternoon threatens to worsen the flooding situation in and around these two counties, severely putting lives at risk.

    Residents and those traveling through the area, including on Interstate 40, are reminded to stay away from flooded areas and roads. Despite the calm appearance of the water's surface, the current underneath could be strong enough to quickly knock anyone off their feet or carry away a vehicle.

    Other flash flooding incidents may develop elsewhere across the foothills of the Carolinas and into southwestern Virginia as the drenching rain pours down. The same can be said for Charlotte and Winston-Salem Saturday afternoon as the slow-moving rain and thunderstorms press eastward.

    The heaviest rain in Catawba and Lincoln counties should slide eastward later this afternoon, but showers and thunderstorms that could trigger or prolong the flooding will follow through the rest of the weekend.


    50 Must-See Weather Photos

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    Updated July 27, 2013, 6:30 ET

    This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 01:45 PM EDT shows Dorian in the central Atlantic Basin moving westward. (AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Tropical Storm Dorian lost force Saturday and became a tropical wave as it pushed westward across the Atlantic before nearing Caribbean islands.

    National Weather Service meteorologist David Sanchez told The Associated Press that some rain and rough ocean conditions are expected on Monday in Puerto Rico.

    The tropical wave had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph Saturday afternoon and it was centered about 550 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands, moving west at 24 mph.

    In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Flossie was moving quickly west-northwest, heading toward Hawaii, though it was projected to weaken before reaching the islands. It had maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and was centered about 920 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii. It was moving west-northwest at 18 mph.

    There were no watches or warnings in effect for either storm.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    Catawba County deputies survey the damage on Grace Church Rd. near Newton, N.C. following flooding Saturday, July 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Charlotte Observer, Todd Sumlin)

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A system of thunderstorms across western North Carolina stalled on Saturday and dumped about a foot of rain on the area, causing power outages and flash floods that swamped homes and washed out roads and bridges.

    More than a dozen people were rescued from flooded vehicles in the region. No injuries were reported.

    Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright urged residents to stay indoors and away from flooded roads, The Charlotte Observer reported.

    "This is a time for all of us to be very careful and patient," he said. "The cleanup is going to take a while."

    Parts of Catawba and surrounding counties were under water Saturday. Catawba County officials said some of the worst flash flooding in decades followed a nearly stationary weather system that dumped 10 inches of rain in about six hours.

    High Shoals Lake in Catawba County rose nearly five feet over a 10-hour span. Officials said high water will move down the Catawba River later Saturday, possibly causing more flooding. The rain had stopped in the area by Saturday afternoon. The National Weather Service said the heavy rain will move east across the western piedmont of North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina.

    Several miles of Interstate 85 in Cabarrus County was closed for a short time due to high water. Traffic moved at a crawl along both I-85 and Interstate 77 north of Charlotte as drivers navigated water several inches deep in spots. In Lincoln County, there were reports of up to three feet of water covering roads.

    Duke Energy reported about 5,000 power outages.

    It is at least the fourth major flash flooding event in the Charlotte region in the past month. Highway officials already are working to repair more than a dozen Charlotte-area roads damaged by previous flooding.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    Sunday, July 28, 2013


    Dangerous surf, flooding rain and potentially damaging winds are in store for Hawaii with the arrival of Tropical Storm Flossie.

    Tropical Storm Flossie is expected to pass over or in between the northern tip of the Big Island and southern Maui Island on Monday.

    After undergoing some weakening, Flossie will either be a minimal tropical storm or a depression at that time.

    Not since Hurricane Iniki from 1992 has a hurricane or tropical storm reached Hawaii.

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    The impacts of Flossie, however, will begin before the weekend comes to a close.

    Surf will build along the shores of all the islands late Sunday afternoon and Sunday night. Extremely rough conditions will then make it dangerous for residents and visitors to enter the water on Monday.



    The surf will also create hazards for small craft, as well as cause some incidents of coastal flooding.

    Gusty wind and squally rain from Flossie will spread in an east-to-west fashion across the islands Monday through Monday night.

    The strongest winds associated with Flossie are howling along and north of its center, meaning gusts between 40 and 50 mph are in store for places from the northern tip of the Big Island to Oahu. Gusts will be closer to the lower end of that range in Honolulu.

    Sustained winds of those speeds are possible along the northern coasts of these islands.

    Winds of 40 to 50 mph, sustained or in gusts, have the potential to cause tree damage and power outages. Loose items on structures and lawn items can easily get thrown around and become damaged.

    The rain from Flossie will taper off on Tuesday, but not before threatening to cause flash flooding. The rain will amount to a general 2 to 4 inches. The best opportunity for totals of 4 inches, and even up to 6 inches, is across windward areas.

    Upwards of a foot of rain is possible in the mauka, or mountainous areas, and along their slopes. Such totals cannot only easily trigger flash flooding but also mudslides.

    Flossie is also expected to spark rare flashes of lightning and may spawn an isolated waterspout or tornado.

    It is rare for a tropical storm or hurricane to strike Hawaii due to the cool waters that typically lie to the east.

    Only two hurricanes have made landfall in Hawaii since 1950 and both arrived from the warmer waters to the south.

    Hurricane Iniki from 1992 was not only the last of these two hurricanes, but also the last hurricane or tropical storm to slam Hawaii.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 30 Stunning Photos of Powerful Hurricanes
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    Christopher Hoke reported for duty only to find the National Guard Armory in Newton, N.C. surrounded by floodwaters Saturday, July 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Charlotte Observer, Todd Sumlin)

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - A system of thunderstorms across western North Carolina stalled on Saturday and dumped about a foot of rain on the area, causing power outages and flash floods that swamped homes and washed out roads and bridges.

    There were 18 reports of swift-water rescues, and one minor injury, said Jim Dickerson, spokesman for Catawba County Emergency Services. He did not have details.

    Hickory Mayor Rudy Wright urged residents to stay indoors and away from flooded roads, The Charlotte Observer reported.

    "This is a time for all of us to be very careful and patient," he said. "The cleanup is going to take a while."

    Parts of Catawba and surrounding counties were under water Saturday. Catawba County officials said some of the worst flash flooding in decades followed a nearly stationary weather system that dumped 10 inches of rain in about six hours.

    Officials closed 65 roads in Catawba County by Saturday afternoon. At least six will remain closed for up to three months to repair damage, Dickerson said.

    A full damage assessment will begin Sunday, he said.

    High Shoals Lake in Catawba County rose nearly five feet over a 10-hour span. Officials said high water will move down the Catawba River later Saturday, possibly causing more flooding. The rain had stopped in the area by late afternoon Saturday. The National Weather Service said the heavy rain will move east across the western piedmont of North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina.

    Several miles of Interstate 85 in Cabarrus County was closed for a short time due to high water. Traffic moved at a crawl along both I-85 and Interstate 77 north of Charlotte as drivers navigated water several inches deep in spots. In Lincoln County, there were reports of up to three feet of water covering roads.

    Duke Energy reported about 5,000 power outages.

    It is at least the fourth major flash flooding event in the Charlotte region in the past month. Highway officials already are working to repair more than a dozen Charlotte-area roads damaged by previous flooding.

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    Night sky watcher Vaibhav Tripathi took this photo of a Perseid meteor from the Santa Cruz Mountains near Palo Alto, Calif. on August 12, 2012. (Vaibhav Tripathi)

    Get ready to start looking up this summer.

    For Northern Hemisphere observers, the latter half of July on into August is usually regarded as "meteor viewing season," with one of the best displays of the year reaching its peak in mid-August.

    The annual Perseid meteor shower is beloved by everyone from meteor enthusiasts to summer campers, and 2013 will be an excellent one for the Perseids. The moon will set before midnight on the peak nights of Aug. 11 and 12, meaning dark skies for prospective observers. [See Amazing Perseid Meteor Shower Photos of 2012]

    This week, however, let's concentrate on some of the lesser-known summer meteor displays.

    In general, Earth encounters richer meteoric activity during the second half of the year, and stargazers are more likely to see twice as many meteors per hour in the predawn hours as compared with the evening hours. During the premidnight hours, the United States is on the "trailing" side of the Earth due to our orbital motion through space. Any meteoric particle generally must have an orbital velocity greater than that of the Earth to "catch" the planet.

    After midnight, when the United States is turned onto the Earth's "leading" side, any particle that lies along the Earth's orbital path will enter the planet's atmosphere as a meteor. As such, objects collide with the atmosphere at speeds of 7 to 45 miles per second, their energy of motion rapidly dissipates in the form of heat, light, and ionization, creating short-lived streaks of light popularly referred to as "shooting stars."

    Summertime meteors, occasionally flitting across your line of sight, are especially noticeable between mid-July and the third week of August. Between Aug. 3 and 15, there are no fewer than six different active minor displays. These six meteor showers are listed in the table below.

    The actual number of meteors a single observer can see in an hour depends strongly on sky conditions, but the only equipment you'll need to see them are your eyes and a modest amount of patience.

    The rates given in the table are based on a limited star magnitude of +6.5 (considered to be the faintest star visible to the naked eye without the use of binoculars or a telescope), an experienced observer, and an assumption that the radiant is directly overhead.

    The radiant is the place in the sky where the paths of meteors, if extended backward, would intersect when plotted on a star chart. Your clenched fist held at arm's length is equal to roughly 10 degrees on the sky. So if the radiant is 30 degrees ("three-fists") above the horizon, the hourly rate is halved; at 15 degrees, it is one-third.

    While the hourly rates from these other meteor streams provide but a fraction of the numbers produced by the Perseids, combined, overall they provide a wide variety of meteors of differing colors, speeds and trajectories.

    Among these are the southern Delta Aquarids, which can produce faint, medium-speed meteors; the Alpha Capricornids, described as bright yellowish meteors and the Kappa Cygnids, which sometimes produce fireballs. As such, if you stay out and watch long enough, you may be nicely rewarded for your time spent.

    Note that five of the six showers listed come from the region around the constellations of Aquarius and Capricornus. These constellations are highest in the southern sky between roughly 1 a. m. and 3 a.m. Eastern time. The Kappa Cygnids appear to emanate from the constellation Cygnus, which will appear more or less overhead within an hour of local midnight.

    Currently, the one drawback in watching for meteors is a bright gibbous moon, which this weekend will wane to last quarter on Sunday.

    As Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society points out, "the waning gibbous moon will rise later during the evening hours, but will still be in the sky during the more active morning hours, causing considerable interference with meteor viewing."

    After Sunday, the moon will diminish to a crescent phase, continuing to wane in both phase and brightness and will become significantly less of a hindrance to viewers as well as rising progressively later in the night.  It will be new on Aug. 5.

    Editor's Note: If you have an amazing night sky photo of any celestial sight that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact SPACE.com Managing Editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

    Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmer's Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, N.Y. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.

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

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    Unseasonably cool temperatures will grip the Great Lakes once again on Sunday with forecast highs more representative of autumn than late July. AccuWeather.com meteorologists are forecasting high temperatures to only reach the 60s once again Sunday with some locations in northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan not getting out of the 50s.

    On Saturday, several cities busted their records for the coolest high temperature on that date.

    In fact, it was warmer across interior Alaska on Saturday than it was in the Great Lakes. Fairbanks rose to 81 degrees, which for them is 10 degrees above normal.

    The reason for this bout of unseasonably cool weather is an area of low pressure spinning over the region.

    In fact, it was warmer across interior Alaska on Saturday than it was in the Great Lakes. Fairbanks rose to 81 degrees, which for them is 10 degrees above normal.

    The reason for this bout of unseasonably cool weather is an area of low pressure spinning over the region.

    It is helping to draw down cooler air from Canada and is also aiding the production of clouds and showers.

    In addition, it will be rough going for those looking to get out on the water on Sunday. Dangerous currents will make swimming quite hazardous on the Great Lakes.

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    The risk is small for waterspouts, but one or two are possible. Boaters may find waters a bit choppy.

    Saturday afternoon, broadcast media reported that a 15-year-old young male got caught in a public beach at New Buffalo, Mich., along the shores of Lake Michigan. He was pulled from the water and eventually airlifted to Chicago.

    The New Buffalo Police Chief told WSBT-TV that the boy was pronounced dead that evening.

    Low pressure will exit the region on Monday and allow for sunshine and warmer temperatures. It will be quite comfortable on Monday and Tuesday with highs in the 70s to low 80s.

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    Dorian is no longer a tropical storm but will still impact those along its path Sunday through Tuesday.

    Despite entering warmer waters, Dorian lost its battle with disruptive west to southwest winds in the middle layers of the atmosphere.

    At 3 p.m. EDT Saturday, AccuWeather.com meteorologists determined that Dorian was no longer a tropical storm.

    The National Hurricane Center made it official at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Dorian is now a tropical rainstorm.

    Dorian will remain on a west to northwest track through the next several days. Dorian will pass north of the Leeward Islands Sunday and nearby to the north of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic Monday.

    Remaining weak, it would pass near the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southernmost Bahamas on Tuesday before reaching Cuba.

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    Dorian still threatens to graze the northern Caribbean Islands with some drenching and gusty showers and thunderstorms Sunday and Monday, but the majority of the activity will remain to the north.

    Such enhanced shower activity will reach the Turks and Caicos and southernmost Bahamas Monday night and Tuesday, then Cuba later Tuesday and Tuesday night.

    Localized flash flooding is possible.

    Dorian will also kick up the surf along the northern shores of the Caribbean Islands Sunday and Monday, creating hazards for beachgoers.

    Later next week, there are several scenarios with Dorian.

    It could be scooped up by the back side of high pressure near Bermuda over the Atlantic Ocean, allowing Dorian to travel along or off the Southeast coast of the United States.

    Another scenario allows Dorian to miss the "right turn lane" and continue westward into the southern Gulf of Mexico.

    In the middle of this wide window, but not necessarily the most likely third scenario is for the system to reach the southeastern U.S. with a pocket of drenching rainfall, around the first weekend of August.

    It is possible that Dorian could follow in the footsteps of Chantal and maintains its tropical rainstorm status.

    However, AccuWeather.com meteorologists will continue to monitor the possibility of Dorian re-strengthening as the system reaches the southeastern Atlantic Ocean or the southern Gulf of Mexico.

    It appears highly unlikely Dorian will gather enough conditions to become a hurricane even if intensification occurs later next week.

     

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    Updated Mon., July 29, 11:56 a.m. ET

    (NOAA)

    Dangerous surf, flooding rain and potentially damaging winds are in store for Hawaii with the arrival of Tropical Storm Flossie.

    The center of Flossie will pass over or in between the northern Big Island or Maui midday Monday, but the storm will weaken through Monday night.

    By Tuesday morning, Flossie will either be a depression or rainstorm as it moves away from the islands.

    Not since Hurricane Iniki from 1992 has a hurricane or tropical storm reached Hawaii.

    Surf will continue to build along the shores of all the islands Monday. Extremely rough conditions will then make it dangerous for residents and visitors to enter the water.

    The surf will also create hazards for small craft, as well as cause some incidents of coastal flooding.

    Gusty wind and squally rain from Flossie will spread in an east-to-west fashion across the islands through Monday night.

    Conditions will make touring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park treacherous. According to the park website, the park itself will remain open, but some individual parts of the park will remain closed until conditions improve and it is safe to open.



    The strongest winds associated with Flossie are howling along and north of its center, meaning gusts between 40 and 60 mph are in store for places from the northern part of the Big Island to Oahu. Gusts will be closer to the lower end of that range in Honolulu.

    There exists the potential for tree damage and power outages. Loose items on structures and lawn items can easily get thrown around and become damaged.

    The rain from Flossie will taper off on Tuesday, but not before threatening to cause flash flooding. A general 4 to 8 inches of rain will soak the Big Island and Maui with the highest amounts on the windward side of these islands.

    Upwards of a foot of rain is possible in the mauka, or mountainous areas, and along their slopes. Such totals cannot only easily trigger flash flooding but also mudslides.

    The rain will amount to around 2 inches in Honolulu. There can be up to 4 inches on the windward side of Oahu.

    Flossie is also expected to spark rare flashes of lightning and may spawn an isolated waterspout or tornado.

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    It is rare for a tropical storm or hurricane to strike Hawaii due to the cool waters that typically lie to the east.

    Only two hurricanes have made landfall in Hawaii since 1950 and both arrived from the warmer waters to the south.

    Hurricane Iniki from 1992 was not only the last of these two hurricanes, but also the last hurricane or tropical storm to slam Hawaii.

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    While being monitored for possible restrengthening, Dorian will still impact those along its path this week.

    After losing its tropical storm status on Saturday, Dorian is now a disorganized tropical rainstorm racing westward through the southern Atlantic.

    However, AccuWeather.com meteorologists will continue to monitor Dorian since the atmosphere is showing signs of becoming more conducive for Dorian to regain tropical storm strength during the next couple of days.

    Dorian returning to tropical storm status would raise the alarm for widespread flooding, damaging winds and dangerous surf to Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas and South Florida.



    Even if such restrengthening fails to occur, Dorian will not pass unnoticed to those living along and near its path.

    A handful of heavy showers and thunderstorms will continue to graze the northernmost Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico through Monday as Dorian and the majority of its storminess pass by to the north.

    More numerous drenching and gusty showers and thunderstorms from Dorian may graze Hispaniola and will spread in a southeast-to-northwest fashion across the Turks and Caicos Islands, southern and central Bahamas and eastern Cuba Monday through Wednesday.

    Localized flash flooding is a concern, as well as minor tree damage and power outages.

    The danger of rough surf will also shift from east to west from the Leeward Islands to the Bahamas through Wednesday.

    Dorian may press far enough to the northwest Wednesday night and Thursday to enhance showers and thunderstorms across South Florida, including in Miami, Key West and Fort Lauderdale.

    The accompanying downpours could trigger flash flooding in low-lying and poor drainage areas, in addition to reducing visibility for motorists and heightening the risk for vehicles to hydroplane.

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    Again, more adverse impacts than those given above would likely be in store for the Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas and South Florida this week if Dorian regains tropical storm status.

    Beyond Thursday, Dorian may make a right hand turn and travel along or just off the Southeast coast or may continue westward into the southern Gulf of Mexico.

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    A tour bus lays on its side, up against a bank of a wash, Sunday, July 28, 2013, near Dolan Springs, Ariz. T(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

    DOLAN SPRINGS, Ariz. (AP) - Flash flood waters swept a tour bus with 33 people aboard hundreds of yards down a wash in northwestern Arizona and the vehicle flipped on its side, but no one was injured, officials said.

    The Las Vegas-bound bus was returning Sunday afternoon from a day-trip to the Grand Canyon's west rim when the driver attempted to cross the wash on a rural road.

    The high waters pushed the vehicle down the wash for an estimated 300 yards around 1:50 p.m. near Kingman, said Patrick Moore, chief of the Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District, which had firefighters at the scene. The crash happened as northern Arizona was hit with a second day of heavy rain.

    The area where the bus accident occurred received 0.75 inches of rain in about an hour on Sunday afternoon, said Chris Stumpf, a National Weather Service forecaster in Las Vegas. A flash flood warning was in effect when the accident occurred, he said.

    "It was a really strong storm dumping quite a bit of rain ... and it caused flash flooding," Stumpf said. "They were driving on a portion of the road where they shouldn't have tried to drive across. They should not have been driving through there."

    Rhonda Ho, operations manager for Canyon Coach Lines, said the bus owned by the Las Vegas-based company was being driven by Joseph Razon, who saw a car right in front of him go through a section of the highway covered by some water.

    "He thought, if a car can go through it, I can go through it," Ho said.

    "Then he got slammed by a rushing current of water that came out of nowhere," she said. "He was driving in almost neck-deep water and trying to control the bus while it was floating."

    She said the driver managed to bring the bus against an embankment so it would stop and passengers could escape. People inside the bus were able to climb out of the driver's side windows and walked to dry land.

    "I'm glad the driver kept his cool and everybody got out safely. No one screamed on the bus and everyone kept their cool and that's amazing," Ho said.

    She described Razon as a "very professional driver" with a spotless record. He has worked for the company since 2005.

    Kingman is near the Arizona-Nevada stateline and about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The bus passengers and driver returned on another bus to Las Vegas, where Ho was able to speak to the driver.

    On Sunday evening, as a tow truck was preparing to take away the bus, it was lying on its side and had grass and other debris hanging from it. Two escape hatches on its roof were opened. Writing on the side of the bus said: "C.H. Destination" and "DBA: Canyon Coach Lines"

    The passengers were no longer at the scene. The company had sent another bus to pick them up.

    There were some swift-water rescues of stranded motorists Saturday night after a storm dropped nearly 2 inches of rain in about 90 minutes around Kingman, Stumpf said.

    The flash flood warning around the accident scene has expired, he said, but there's a chance for more heavy rain and another similar warning on Monday.

    The crash happened as Northern Arizona was hit with a second day of heavy rain.

    The Arizona Department of Transportation closed an 18-mile stretch of Interstate-40 Saturday night between Flagstaff and Kingman because of the flash flooding.

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    Catawba County deputies survey the washed out section of Grace Church Rd. near Newton, N.C., following flooding Saturday, July 27, 2013. (AP Photo/The Charlotte Observer, TODD SUMLIN)

    COLLETTSVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Heavy rains that caused power outages and flash floods in western North Carolina were blamed for the deaths of a 10-year-old girl and 48-year-old man who were swept away while swimming in a rural creek.

    The victims were from two Charlotte-area families who were swimming in a usually calm pool section of Wilson Creek that's nearly 100 miles north of Charlotte, Caldwell County spokeswoman LouAnn Kincaid said Sunday.

    They were identified as Juan Alberdi of Huntersville and Delilah Lovett of Charlotte. Alberdi and his two children and a friend and her two children visited the creek to swim Saturday evening, Caldwell County officials said in a prepared statement Sunday. Alberdi and Lovett "were immediately swept away in the swift currents," officials said.

    The girl's body was recovered Saturday evening after being spotted by kayakers about three-quarters of a mile from where she had been swimming, Kincaid said. Alberdi's body was recovered Sunday.

    The creek "is about two feet above normal with all the rain" across the Appalachian foothills, Kincaid said Sunday.

    Parts of Catawba, Lincoln and Cleveland received up to a foot of rain Saturday as a result of a slow-moving rain system.

    Catawba County spokesman Jim Dickerson said crews there were checking out reports of damage to 130 homes and other buildings. Damage assessment teams found that seven homes and three businesses suffered major damage, and more than two-dozen roads are closed or impassible due to standing water or flood damage, county officials said.

    The county and the cities of Hickory and Newton - where dozens of streets were underwater Saturday afternoon - were among the communities declaring local emergencies as a precursor to seeking state and federal aid, assistant county emergency services director Mark Petit said.

    There were no reported injuries from the flash flooding, Dickerson said. Sections of at least six roads will remain closed for up to three months to repair damage, he said.

    Interstate 85 was closed for a short time Saturday afternoon in Cabarrus County because of high water, the State Highway Patrol said.

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