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    The above image shows rainfall over the past seven days ending at 7 a.m. CDT, Friday, Aug. 2. Image courtesy of NOAA.

    Thunderstorms will percolate again later on Saturday across the central Plains, and some areas will again be impacted by severe weather.

    The threat area is in the wake of powerful storms that rolled through parts of Kansas and Missouri on Friday night with gusty winds and very heavy rain.

    Saturday, however, areas farther west, including Denver, are in a zone that will be favorable for intense thunderstorms.

    There will likely be multiple clusters of thunderstorms that initiate during the latter part of the afternoon. The most intense storms will be capable of bringing damaging winds that can bring down trees and power lines causing power outages.

    On Saturday night, an organized complex of thunderstorms will trek across Kansas and into extreme western Missouri. Damaging winds, downpours and flooding will become the main concerns into early Sunday.

    RELATED:
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    In addition to Denver and surrounding suburbs, the Wichita, Kan., area will also be at risk for adverse weather.

    The ground is fairly moist across central and eastern Kansas, where up to 4 to 8 inches of rain has fallen in the past week.

    Intense downpours with these storms will create the threat for flash flooding in low-lying and poor drainage areas and runoff will cause streams and rivers to rise.

    Travelers along Interstates 70 and 35 may come across reduced visibility in downpours and ponding of water with the risk for hydroplaning.


    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

    Never drive across flooded roadways, as only about a foot of water can cause your vehicle to lose traction and be swept downstream.

    The rain will certainly be welcome for some, as extreme drought conditions continue to grip eastern Colorado and western Kansas.

     

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    NASA has just released a video showing over a year's worth of Mars rover Curiosity images condensed into two minutes. (NASA)

    NASA's Mars rover Curiosity will celebrate its one-year anniversary on the Red Planet next week, and to celebrate the occasion, the space agency released a two-minute time-lapse video of the robot's first year of exploration.

    The new Curiosity rover video draws on 548 fish-eye images from the rover's front Hazard-Avoidance Camera taken between August 2012 and July 2013. NASA released the clip without a soundtrack, and we added music (including the "Day of the Dog" by Matt Haick and "Sin on Stage" by William Werwath).

    Since Curiosity touched down on Aug. 5, 2012 PDT (Aug. 6 EDT), it has returned tens of thousands of images and drilled samples of Martian rocks that helped researchers determine that the planet could have supported microbial life in its ancient past.

    Though the SUV-sized robot has made big discoveries, it has been moving at a creeping pace. Curiosity's top speed across flat ground is just 0.09 mph, and the rover's odometer only recently passed the 0.6-mile mark of total driving distance.

    But in the year ahead, the Curiosity rover is kicking into high gear. It recently set off for the longest road trip of its mission yet: a 5-mile drive to Mount Sharp, the central mountain of the robot's landing site. In exploring the foothills of Mount Sharp, scientists hope Curiosity will uncover more evidence of how the Red Planet's past environment changed and evolved.

    Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @SPACEdotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published 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: 25 Amazing Photos of the International Space Station
    International Space Station, Shuttle

     

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    On an isolated peninsula in Kazakhstan, a large pentagram was spotted from space. (Google Maps)

    Conspiracy theorists, start your engines: On the wind-blown steppes of central Asia, in an isolated corner of Kazakhstan, there's a large pentagram etched into the Earth's surface. And now an archaeologist has revealed the source of the mysterious structure.

    The five-pointed star surrounded by a circle, located on the southern shore of the Upper Tobol Reservoir, shows up vividly on Google Maps. There are almost no other signs of human habitation in the area; the closest settlement is the city of Lisakovsk, about 12 miles to the east.

    The region surrounding Lisakovsk is riddled with ancient archaeological ruins. Bronze Age settlements, cemeteries and burial grounds, many of which have yet to be explored, dot the windswept landscape.

    What is this bizarre symbol, measuring roughly 1,200 feet in diameter, doing on the side of a desolate lake in northern Kazakhstan? Naturally, many online comments have already linked the site with devil worship, nefarious religious sects or denizens of the underworld.

    It certainly doesn't help that, upon zooming into the center of the pentagram, viewers will see two places highlighted by previous visitors to Google Maps: One spot is called Adam, the other, Lucifer -- a name often linked to Satan.

    The pentagram is an ancient symbol used by many (non-Satanic) cultures and religious groups. It has been adopted by the Mesopotamians, Pythagoreans (followers of Pythagoras, the ancient Greek mathematician), Christians, Freemasons and Wiccans.

    The Kazakh pentagram certainly isn't the first odd discovery gleaned from Google Maps. Etched onto the desert floor of New Mexico are two large diamonds surrounded by a pair of overlapping circles. This is reportedly the site of a hidden bunker belonging to the Church of Scientology, according to the author of a book on the religious group.

    Deep in the Gobi Desert, viewers of Google Maps can find a Yagi antenna array, a device that looks like a giant piece of cracked glass but is used for atmospheric research. And in a remote corner of Nevada, there's an enormous KFC advertisement, featuring the smiling face of Colonel Sanders.

    Though it's difficult to discern from an aerial photograph exactly what the Kazakh pentagram is, Emma Usmanova, an archaeologist with years of experience working in the Lisakovsk area, has an answer.

    "It is the outline of a park made in the form of a star," Usmanova told LiveScience. The star was a popular symbol during the Soviet era (Kazakhstan was a part of the former Soviet Union until its dissolution in 1991). Stars were often used throughout the Soviet Union to decorate building facades, flags and monuments. (Several online comments had suggested the star shape was the abandoned site of a Soviet-era lakeside campground.)

    The star in the Soviet-era lakeside park is marked by roadways that are now lined with trees, Usmanova explained, which make the star shape even more distinct in aerial photos. Additional images of the site, now abandoned and overgrown with weeds, can be seen at englishrussia.com.

    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: Breathtaking Volcanic Eruptions Seen from Space

     

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    If you're ready for views like this -- a close-up of an oceanic whitetip shark -- you might just be prepared for Shark Week. (AP)

    Before you dive into Shark Week on the Discovery Channel (Aug. 4 - 11), check out six things you may not know about sharks.

    From anti-shark wetsuits to "Sharknado," you don't have to wait to find out what's new in the watery world of sharks.

    1. Researchers have begun tagging great white sharks to learn about the still-mysterious animals.

    On July 30, nonprofit shark research group OCEARCH and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) began the most ambitious great white shark-tagging mission undertaken in history.

    During the initial tagging, researchers will take blood and tissue samples to test their health and diet and also attach GPS tags to track their swimming patterns. These measures are being taken by these groups to understand the elusive great white sharks and to educate the public on their importance to the ocean.

    2. An Australian company created "anti-shark wetsuits" to help protect swimmers and surfers from attacks.

    Although it's presumed most shark attacks on humans usually only occur because sharks mistake swimmers for seals or other tasty marine life, a company is looking to decrease that risk by creating anti-shark wetsuits.

    The "Diverter" wetsuit is colored with black and white stripes, to mimic poisonous fish that also sport that pattern. The "Elude" model uses blue wavelike patterns to camouflage swimmers within the water. While they can't be proven to deter shark attacks with any certainty, the company is continuing to test them in shark-infested waters. Good luck to the test subjects!

    3. Stay apprised of lifeguard station flags to stay safe from wild marine life.

    Wyatt Werneth, Spokesman for the American Lifeguard Association, explained that when a blue flag is raised at the beach, it means that marine life was spotted in the water. When a red flag is raised, it means the marine life was likely a shark and the area should be avoided. When these flags are raised, Wyatt recommends that people exit the water calmly, "You don't want to splash and make a sudden rush to the shoreline and panic. If a shark is sighted, get out of the water."

    To make the most of your beach vacation, remember to stay alert of any marine life. "Realize that humans are land animals and anytime we go into the ocean we are challenging ourselves," Greg Skomal, a Shark Specialist at the Massachusetts Marine Fisheries, said. "It's a wild environment."

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    4. "Sharknado" creates a wave in social media; could it really happen?

    The SyFy channel aired a new movie, pragmatically named "Sharknado," about a shark-bearing and hurricane-spawned tornadoes hitting Southern California.

    Hopefully you weren't worried that a "Sharknado" could erupt this hurricane season. However, if you need some reassurance, AccuWeather.com meteorologists explain why the movie doesn't hold water.

    5. If you are afraid of sharks, don't go swimming in Fiji!

    Namena Reserve, off the southern coast of Fiji's second largest island, is a protected space for sharks with strict no-fishing laws. As a result, the shark population is thriving. You can find up to four times the amount of sharks in the Reserve as compared to non-protected zones.

    6. There has been a significant increase of shark sightings in the New England area.

    Seal populations have boomed in New England over the past few decades, which Tony LaCasse, biologist and spokesperson for the New England Aquarium in Boston, attributes to conservation efforts and the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act. Since then, reported sightings of great white shark have greatly increased as well.

    Though the number of shark sightings has increased, they are not necessarily presenting a bigger threat, as there has not been a shark-related death in New England since 1936. LaCrosse also attributes many of the shark sightings to basking sharks, which do not eat mammals and present no threat to humans. However, their dorsal fins resemble that of great whites which raises fears among beach-goers.

    Now that you've dipped your toes in the shark-infested waters, tune into Discovery Channel's Shark Week beginning Sunday, Aug. 4.

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

     

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    A shot from the GOES East satellite this morning -- Florida is in the center -- shows that Dorian is no longer an organized storm. (NOAA)

    MIAMI (AP) - Dorian is no longer a tropical storm as it moves northeast off the Carolina coast.

    The National Hurricane Center in Miami says Dorian has maximum sustained winds early Sunday of 30 mph. The depression's center is about 255 miles east-southeast of Charleston, S.C. Dorian is moving northeast at 16 mph and expected to dissipate early Sunday.

    In the Pacific, Tropical Storm Gil is slowly weakening about 1405 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii. It has maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and is moving west at 9 mph. Additional weakening is expected during the next 48 hours.

    No coastal watches or warnings are in effect for either system.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    The above image shows percent of normal rainfall for the past seven days ending at 7 a.m. CDT, Sat., Aug. 3. (NOAA)

    This time last year, the soil in the Plains was thirsty for rain with extreme drought conditions plaguing the region. Now, the ground is soaked, and according to the latest flash flood guidance from NOAA, it could take as little as 1.75 to 2.25 inches of rain in three hours to cause flash flooding in eastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri.

    More than twice that fell in Hutchinson, Kan., on Saturday night in 90 minutes. Numerous cars stalled in the high water on city streets and creeks overflowed their banks, forcing the closure of some roads in the area.

    As clusters of heavy thunderstorms move across the central Plains on Sunday, a similar scene could play out in some locations, including larger cities like Wichita, Kan., and Springfield, Mo.

    Additional rainfall amounts of over 3 inches are possible through Sunday afternoon. Torrential downpours could drop 1 to 2 inches of rain per hour.

    Excessive runoff will cause water levels on streams and rivers to rise, and some may flood quickly with little warning.

    RELATED:
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    Travelers on Interstates 35 and 44 and other highways in the threat area should exercise caution and slow down if driving during heavy downpours.

    If you come across a flooded road, you should turn around and seek an alternative route.

    As much as 4 to 6 inches of rain fell early on Saturday east of Springfield, Mo., and some areas in Kansas and Missouri have had over 600 percent of their normal rainfall in the last seven days.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Off-the-Charts Hottest and Coldest Places on Earth
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    These images taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveal a new type of stellar explosion produced by the merger of two compact objects: either two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole. (NASA, ESA, N. Tanvir [University of Leicester], and A. Fruchter, Z. Levay [Space Telescope Science Institute], A. Levan [University of Warwick])

    Cataclysmic crashes involving black holes and ultradense neutron stars may explain the briefest of the most powerful explosions in the universe, scientists say.

    NASA scientists are calling the new type of short, but intense, cosmic collision and conflagration a "kilonova," an explosion so powerful it is 1,000 times stronger than a typical star explosion, called a nova. Such events have long been predicted by astronomers, but never seen until now, researchers said. The discovery could shed light on the origin of heavy elements such as gold and platinum, they added.

    Gamma-ray bursts are the most intense outbursts ever detected, giving off as much energy in an instant as our sun will beam out during its entire 10-billion-year lifetime. A nearby burst directed at Earth could easily cause a mass extinction, researchers say. [See more photos of the "kilonova" gamma-ray-burst explosion.]

    There are two kinds of gamma-ray bursts -- ones that are longer-lived, lasting more than two seconds, and less common short-lived ones, lasting about two seconds or less.

    Scientists have suggested these brief gamma-ray bursts might be caused by cataclysmic mergers of incredibly dense cosmic bodies -- either two neutron stars (the tiny remnants of exploded stars) or a neutron star and a black hole. However, they lacked evidence until now.

    Astronomer Nial Tanvir at the University of Leicester in England and his colleagues analyzed the short gamma-ray burst GRB 130603B, which exploded about 4 billion light-years away on June 3. NASA's Swift satellite measured it as 0.18 seconds long, while NASA's Wind spacecraft determined that it lasted only 0.09 seconds.

    The mergers of dense cosmic bodies that are thought to cause short gamma-ray bursts can also blast out neutron-rich gas that rapidly generates heavy elements such as gold and platinum, scientists say. These "r-process" elements can undergo radioactive decay and release an enormous amount of energy -- 1,000 times or so that given off by stellar explosions such as novas. These powerful events are thus known as "kilonovas" ("kilo" means "thousand" in Greek).

    NASA's Hubble Space Telescope revealed that the near-infrared afterglow that accompanied GRB 130603B was the kind one would expect from a kilonova. This is smoking-gun evidence that an explosive merger caused the gamma-ray burst, Tanvir told SPACE.com.

    "This is just the first example, and we will have to search for and study others to be completely sure, but it certainly looks right," Tanvir said.

    It remains uncertain what kind of merger caused this kilonova and gamma-ray burst. The theoretical predictions for these mergers and the behavior of kilonovas "still have many uncertainties, so it is too early to try to distinguish these possibilities," Tanvir said.

    In the future, the researchers aim to find other examples of kilonovas accompanying short gamma-ray bursts. Tanvir added that future research into kilonovas could shed light on the origin of r-process elements.

    "The r-process elements are heavy elements whose origin we have long been uncertain about," Tanvir said. "They are not produced in normal stars, and astronomers have generally assumed they must be created in supernovae. However, the calculations suggest supernovae may not be good at creating those elements, so it is possible that kilonovae from merging compact objects may be the primary route in the universe to producing these elements."

    The scientists detailed their findings online Aug. 3 in the journal Nature.

    Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on SPACE.com.

    Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    SEE ON SKYE: 21 Awe-Inspiring Spacewalk Photos

     

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    Above is a satellite image of Tropical Storm Henriette, which formed on Sunday, August 4. (NOAA)

    Behind Tropical Depression Gil, a new system strengthened to become Tropical Storm Henriette on Sunday.

    For the time being, Henriette is far away from any land, just as Gil was when it formed last week.

    The new tropical storm developed from Tropical Depression Eight-E that formed in the eastern Pacific early Saturday morning.

    While Gil is expected to track to the south of Hawaii over the next several days, Tropical Storm Henriette likely will take a different path.

    Henriette currently looks to take a more northerly path early in the week. However, by moving into cooler waters, the storm will weaken by the middle of the week.

    Stay tuned with AccuWeather.com meteorologists for the latest details on the tropical development of both Gil and Henriette.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    In this undated photo provided by the Hood River County Sheriffs Office a hiker stands at the entrance to an ice tunnel that collapsed, trapping a snowboarder at Oregon's Mt. Hood Saturday Aug. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Hood River County Sheriffs Office)

    MOUNT HOOD, Ore. (AP) - A dozen rescuers armed with chain saws and other tools chipped away at a collapsed ice tunnel Sunday in hopes of finding a snowboarder buried on Oregon's Mount Hood.

    The snowboarder was traveling with five companions when the collapse hit Saturday afternoon.

    Hood River Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Tiffany Peterson said the search resumed early Sunday and would continue until about 1 p.m. - by which time warming temperatures were expected to increase the risk of avalanche.

    Authorities identified the missing man as Collin Backowski, 25, of Pines, Colo. His companions tried to dig him out, but were unable to break through the ice and snow, which Peterson described as being as thick as concrete.

    The other five, all in their 20s, were uninjured and called police.

    "They tried digging for an hour, but the problem is the stuff is so thick that they couldn't get through it," Hood River Sheriff's Office Sgt. Pete Hughes said.

    Rescuers quickly responded but halted efforts about 11 p.m. Saturday.

    Hughes said that according to rescuers, a large amount of snow and ice fell, making survival difficult.

    The ice tunnel was on the White River Glacier, which begins about 6,000 feet up the south side of the mountain.

    An airplane was dispatched to survey the area, along with crews from local sheriff's offices.

    Seven rescuers, including five members of an all-volunteer group called the CragRats, were on the mountain on Saturday night.

    Companions took pictures of the area just before the tunnel collapsed, Hughes said, giving searchers a better idea of where to search.

    Warm temperatures made snow on the mountain slushier and more easily sloughed off the surface, adding to the challenge of attempting to reach the snowboarder.

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    The above photo was posted on Twitter by ‏@Druzin_Stripes who wrote, "My story and photo gallery on yesterday's flood in Surobi district, #Afghanistan. More than 80 feared dead."

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Heavy rains swept across eastern Afghanistan, leveling homes and killing at least 58 people in five provinces, while an estimated 30 others remain missing, officials said Sunday.

    Provincial spokesmen in Nangarhar, Kabul, Khost, Laghman and Nuristan said that all the floods struck early Saturday. Flash floods are common in those provinces and all are fed by rivers that eventually intersect in Nangarhar.

    In Kabul's Surobi district, police chief Shaghasi Ahmadi said 34 people were killed in a remote and mountainous area. He said 22 of the bodies from Surobi were later found downstream in Laghman.

    Surobi has a number of rivers running through it. It is also rife with Taliban activity.

    Ahmadi said food, tents and other emergency supplies were being sent to the district from the capital.

    Downstream in the adjacent province of Nangarhar, a government statement said 17 people were killed by the floods.

    President Hamid Karzai's office said another seven died in Khost and Nuristan.

    Rains quickly can weaken the structures of the mud-walled homes that dot the countryside in Afghanistan, causing the buildings to collapse during heavy downpours. In neighboring Pakistan on Saturday, the same storm system brought heavy rains that caused more than 100 homes to collapse and caved in a factory wall, killing at least 14 people.
    50 Must-See Weather Photos

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    This picture taken on July 27, 2013 shows people trying to cool off at a water park in Suining, southwest China's Sichuan province, as a heatwave hit several provinces in China. (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

    BEIJING (AP) - Having the dead guy jump up for a drink probably wasn't part of the script.

    A staged incident aimed at claiming that city officials had beaten a sidewalk vendor to death in central China went awry when a man playing dead under a white sheet was overcome by the region's heat wave and sprang up to quaff a bottle of water, state media reported Monday.

    More than 10 men had gathered with a gurney carrying the sheet-covered man in the Hubei provincial capital Wuhan on Saturday demanding tens of thousands of yuan (dollars) in compensation for the supposed beating death of their fellow vendor, Xinhua said. The incident drew 300 onlookers and about 80 police officers.

    The urban management administration of Wuhan's Jianghan district confirmed the incident.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Massive Crowds Flock to Chinese Water Park

     

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    People wade through flooded road caused by heavy rains on the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

    ISLAMABAD (AP) - Heavy rains that caused flash floods and collapsed houses in different parts of Pakistan have killed 53 people over the past three days, an official said Monday.

    Civil and military authorities have launched rescue and relief efforts to deal with the crisis, said Brig. Kamran Zia, a senior member of the National Disaster Management Authority. He said the deaths from the flooding span the entire country.

    Twelve people were killed in the semiautonomous tribal region in the northwest, eight in neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and three in the Pakistan-held part of the disputed Kashmir region. Twelve people also died in central Punjab province, 10 in southwestern Baluchistan, and eight in southern Sindh.

    Flooding was especially bad in Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, because of the southern city's faulty drainage system, Zia said.

    The same storm system hit Afghanistan, killing at least 58 people.

    Pakistan regularly suffers from flooding during the monsoon season, which usually runs through July and August. The country suffered the worst floods in its 66-year history in 2010, when floodwaters inundated one-fifth of the country, killing over 1,700 people. More than 20 million people were affected at the time.

    Also Monday, a bomb exploded on a passenger train in central Punjab province, wounding 14 people, three of them seriously, said provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah. The bomb was hidden in a washroom on the train, which was headed to Karachi, said Sanaullah.

    Meanwhile, security forces were on high alert in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, because of intelligence indicating militants may stage attacks in the city, said Interior Ministry spokesman Omar Hamid Khan.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Stunning Photos of This Year's Monsoon Season in India

     

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    (NOAA)

    Behind Tropical Depression Gil, a new system strengthened to become Tropical Storm Henriette on Sunday.

    For the time being, Henriette is far away from any land, just as Gil was when it formed last week.

    The new tropical storm developed from Tropical Depression 8-E that formed in the eastern Pacific early Saturday morning.

    While the remnants of Gil are expected to track to the south of Hawaii over the next several days, Tropical Storm Henriette likely will take a different path.

    Henriette appears like it will take a more northerly path, likely strengthening into a hurricane by Tuesday. As it continues to track to the west-northwest through late week, Henriette will encounter cooler water and weaken.

    The storm is projected to reach near Hawaii by late in the weekend, perhaps enhancing showers and stirring higher surf.

    Related
    Severe Weather Watches, Warnings
    VIDEO: Widespread Flooding in Kansas


    Stay tuned with AccuWeather.com meteorologists for the latest details on the tropical development of both Gil and Henriette.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 30 Stunning Photos Revealing the Power of Hurricanes

     

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    (Getty Images)

    Jet stream energy rounding a strong ridge of high pressure over Texas will spark yet another severe weather episode from eastern Colorado into western Kansas on northward into Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.

    Some of the cities and towns most at risk include Goodland, Kan.; Sterling, Colo.; Imperial, Neb.; North Platte, Neb.; Scottsbluff, Neb.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Rapid City, S.D.; and Miles City, Mont., to name a few.

    This region has been a persistent target for severe weather since the start of August. Last Thursday, dangerous storms brought powerful winds and frightening clouds to Nebraska.

    On Saturday, intense thunderstorms packing tremendous hail and tornadoes spun their way across northeastern Colorado.

    On Sunday, incredible rain flooded countless roads and croplands across Kansas. The town of Hutchinson had over 6 inches of rain, and resulted in normally dry areas of town being transformed into lakes.

    Though not all areas will have severe thunderstorms tomorrow, those that do face similar risks as recent days.

    Hail as large as quarters, golf balls or even baseballs are possible in the most powerful storms. This kind of hail can cause injury to people and livestock. Crops can have significant damage. Windshields on vehicles and windows on homes can be shattered.

    Damaging wind gusts as high as 60 or 70 mph are also a possibility. These winds can uproot trees, blow down power poles and easily blow around any unsecured objects left outside.

    Flooding rain is also a possibility across these areas. Rainfall amounts will average 0.25-1.00 inch in most areas, but this rainfall will likely occur over a short duration, resulting in flash flooding.

    In parts of Kansas, virtually any rainfall can lead to flooding considering the tremendous rainfall on Saturday night into Sunday.

    If you will be out and about or have any plans on Wednesday afternoon through the night, you will need to pay special attention to the weather as this could be a particularly dangerous situation.

    Once thunderstorms develop, they will strengthen quickly, and dangerous conditions could follow soon after.

    RELATED:
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    Severe Weather Watches, Warnings
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    Current technology has advanced enough over recent years to provide ample alerts of the potential for severe weather and the approach of localized severe storms. Be sure to understand the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch means that an area is being monitored for dangerous weather. A warning means that dangerous weather is imminent. When a warning is issued, there may be too little time to travel across town or across a county to escape the storm. The time to have a plan of action and move to the general vicinity of a storm shelter or safe area is when a watch is issued.

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

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    Workers haul equipment to a house construction site in the Breezy Point community in New York's Queens borough on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

    Better data have allowed emergency managers to improve the hurricane evacuation zones for their communities during the 2013 hurricane season.

    Cities can order evacuations of a neighborhood in evacuation zones if the region is in danger of flooding from storm surge.

    New York City and Miami-Dade County are some of the areas that expanded the zones following the use of SLOSH, the Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes. It is a computer model developed by the National Weather Service to estimate storm surges.

    But officials warn residents not to focus on the hurricane's category but rather on its potential impacts.

    New zones in New York City, six in total, were announced as part of the city's Hurricane Sandy After-Action report. Miami-Dade's zones expanded from three to five; officials said the expanded zones are a significant change from the maps of the last 10 years.

    "We take into account the bearing of the storm. For example, Irene had a north-northeast bearing and Sandy was a west-northwest storm; Irene would produce less flooding," NYC Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Nancy Greco said. "We also take into account how wide the hurricane is and how large is the wind field - not just the category."

    The old zone system was based on the category of the storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, Greco said. The NYC zones are named 1 through 6, a way to avoid confusion with the flood zone maps created for insurance purposes by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Zone 1 would be the first to be evacuated, followed by the other zones, depending on the severity of the storm.

    "The National Hurricane Center ran a larger storm over the area," Miami-Dade County Emergency Management Director Curt Sommerhoff said. "The new restudy was more consistent with the larger storms we've seen in the last few years."

    But there were doubts raised when Miami-Dade first saw the bigger potential impacts.

    Officials dug into the methodology of the study and found it was correct, Sommerhoff said. Once it was determined that the methodology was right, Miami-Dade officials took the data of the maximum of the maximum storm surge from each of the five categories of storm and began to draw the new zones.

    There is a chance of over-evacuation, something that will never be totally eliminated, but Sommerhoff said he is hopeful that the new zones will minimize that.

    The Miami-Dade appraiser has a grid system broken into 1-square-mile blocks. The grid was applied to the storm surge information and will also be able to be used in other situations including hazardous materials incidents, flooding and nuclear power plant emergencies, Sommerhoff said.

    One of the tools Miami-Dade is using is a storm surge simulator created in cooperation with Florida International University. It will help people, especially those inland, have a better idea of what the impacts are, Sommerhoff said.

    RELATED:
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    Sommerhoff said he watched news coverage from Hurricane Sandy where a woman from New Jersey living 2 miles inland asked, "How did all that water get in my house?"

    "We have areas in the south [part of the county] where the water can get 8 to 10 miles inland," he said.

    New York City emergency management officials sent out almost 1.5 million hurricane preparedness guides in early July as part of its effort to educate residents and businesses on the new zones, Greco said.

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

     

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    A hiker stands at the entrance to an ice tunnel that collapsed, trapping a snowboarder at Oregon's Mt. Hood on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Hood River County Sheriffs Office)

    DENVER - John Backowski said he feared for his son's life when the young man went snowboarding, cringing every time he heard about an avalanche.

    Backowski said he would talk with his son after every report of a snow slide to make sure 25-year-old Collin Backowski of Pine Junction was safe.

    "He would say, 'I'm OK, Dad. It wasn't me,'" John Backowski said. "I think he quit telling me, 'Don't worry about me.' He knew his mother and I were never going to stop worrying."

    Collin Backowski, Snowboarder, ColoradoCollin Backowski and five of his companions were traveling on Mount Hood in Oregon when an ice tunnel collapsed Saturday, killing the young man. The friends were not hurt and tried to dig out the expert snowboarder, but the ice and snow were too thick.

    Backowski was working this summer as a coach at High Cascade, a youth snowboarding camp on Mount Hood. Several of Backowski's companions also worked at the camp, but they were off-duty when the ice collapsed, Hood River County Sheriff Matt English told the Associated Press on Monday.

    The ice tunnel was on the White River Glacier, which begins about 6,000 feet up the south side of the mountain.

    Sheriff's office spokeswoman Tiffany Peterson said that after removing tons of debris by hand, searchers found the body of Collin Backowski, who had been buried by 8 to 10 feet of snow and ice.

    "The area they were going into, it's extreme, extreme terrain," John Backowski of Denver told The Denver Post on Sunday (http://tinyurl.com/otzcdnh).

    John Backowski said authorities told him his son headed into the area to shoot photographs. Companions took photos of the area just before the collapse, giving searchers a better idea of where to look. Warm temperatures made snow on the mountain slushier and more easily sloughed off the surface, adding to the challenge of finding him.

    Collin Backowski last spoke to his father earlier Saturday. He didn't mention the trek.

    "He knew better than to tell me he was going to do something that extreme," John Backowski said. "He was fine. He was enjoying himself. He was loving his summer job out there and looking forward to where it led."

    High Cascade wrote on its Facebook page that the collapse happened at a location that is out-of-bounds and off-limits for campers. The camp said it is "deeply saddened by this loss" and will provide crisis counseling for staff and campers.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Most Extreme Sports
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    Extreme weather events caused $110 billion in damages in 2012 making it the second costliest year on record, according to NOAA. Superstorm Sandy caused the brunt of that cost, resulting in approximately $65 billion dollars in damage.

    This year, as Atlantic hurricane season ramps up, NOAA is implementing a few big changes. Below are the ones that could affect you as we enter the peak of the season:

    1. Enhanced Computer Power Will Allow for More Precise Forecasts

    The National Weather Service (NWS) underwent a major upgrade to their supercomputers this year that more than doubled their computing capacity. According to the agency, this has made them twice as fast in processing computer models, and will allow them to provide more accurate forecasts further out in time. With improved forecasts anticipated, the NWS has decreased the size of their forecast cone for tropical systems, resulting in a more specific track map for storms.

    2. A New Symbol Will Represent Tropical Depressions

    The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has done away with the old symbol that indicates a tropical depression and replaced it with a hollow circle.

    3. Hurricane and Tropical Storms Watch and Warnings Are Redefined

    After Superstorm Sandy, the NWS made the decision to modify the hurricane and tropical storm watch and warning definitions to allow them to be used after a system has become post-tropical. Additionally, they now have the option to continue issuing advisories after a system has become post-tropical, in the case that it continues to pose a significant threat to life and property. With this change, the public can anticipate seeing more advisories, continuing awareness of potential threats long after the term "hurricane" or "tropical storm" is discontinued.

    RELATED:
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    NYC, Miami Expand Hurricane Evacuation Zones for 2013 Season

    4. Tropical Weather Outlooks Will Now Look Forward Five Days

    As of Aug. 1, the NHC will now be providing tropical outlooks that look five days forward. A tropical outlook indicates where disturbed weather is located and where there is potential for tropical development. Previously, the outlook only extended 48 hours out. This is the first change in the outlook time period in several decades, according to the NHC.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 30 Stunning Photos Revealing the Power of Hurricanes

     

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    (Getty Images)

    The battle between tropical waves and dry air in the Atlantic may let up in late August, leading to an increase in stronger tropical systems.

    A tropical wave is moving along the Tropic of Cancer in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Through the middle of the week, this wave will migrate westward, reaching the Greater Antilles for the middle of the week.



    If the tropical wave can brave the hostile environment through the Caribbean, the Gulf could have a potential storm.

    It's still too early to determine whether or not this will become an organized storm. Either way, moisture along with showers and storms will move through the Caribbean. The wave could also bring some much-need rainfall to drought-stricken portions of Texas, even if the wave does not strengthen into a tropical depression or storm.

    The wave has a slight chance to develop into a tropical system, especially if it can set up in the Gulf of Mexico. However, the biggest challenge will be for it to remain intact as it journeys through the western Atlantic.

    This tropical wave will be face-to-face with the same limiting factors that have been hindering tropical development in the Atlantic for the past month.

    A massive Saharan Dust plume continues to push off the coast of Africa, covering much of the Atlantic. The dust is associated with dry, desert air, providing the opposite of the moisture-rich habit needed for storms to strengthen.



    Dry air feeding into a storm that combats strong wind shear will ultimately weaken any tropical system.

    Wind shear has also been fighting the tropical waves moving across the Atlantic. High winds continue to blow from west to east, opposite of the usual pattern across the Caribbean, shredding storms that enter the region.

    The most typical limiter for the early part of tropical season is water temperature. The water warms slower than the land, making late summer and early fall the time for the most favorable water temperature.

    RELATED:
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    However, recently, the water temperature has been a few degrees below average near the Antilles. Adding to the dust and shear, this has kept tropical season on lock-down.

    Defeating all of these factors is close to impossible, but beating one of these features is definitely possible, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mark Paquette said.

    "Dorian, when it formed in the open Atlantic, overcame an atmosphere laden with Saharan dust but was not dealing with the amount of shear systems would be right now," explained Paquette.

    The Atlantic Basin seems to have had a rather quiet start to tropical season this year, but not so much when compared to normal.

    The average number of named storms through the beginning of August is between two and three, a number we have already reached thus far this season.



    On average, the number of storms rapidly increases later in August and through early September.

    Looking ahead, storms will have the opportunity to ramp up during late August and early September. This is the average peak of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin when the biggest weakening factors will die down.

    "The atmosphere in the tropical Atlantic will moisten up as this cloud of Saharan dust dissipates/heads west and climatology says shear will relax as well as we go through time. As these factors go away, the amount of systems will go up as well and it could go from not busy to very busy quickly," Paquette said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 30 Stunning Photos Revealing the Power of Hurricanes

     

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    (NOAA)

    Behind Tropical Storm Gil, Tropical Storm Henriette strengthened into a hurricane early Tuesday morning.

    For the time being, Henriette is far away from any land and will not come close to approaching any land, Hawaii, until late in the weekend.

    Henriette appears like it will take a more northerly path than Gil. As it continues to track to the west-northwest through late week, Henriette will encounter cooler water and weaken.



    The storm is projected to reach near Hawaii by Sunday, perhaps enhancing showers and stirring higher surf. Even experienced surfers should be cautious as wave heights could increase quickly and swells could come from directions that are not typical.

    It should also be noted that Gil has intensified back into a Tropical Storm. Gill be move well to he south of Hawaii, but it could still generate high surf and a few showers on south-facing beaches.

    RELATED:
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    Stay tuned with AccuWeather.com meteorologists for the latest details on the tropical development of both Gil and Henriette.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Stunning Hurricane Photos from Space

     

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    The Saharan Air Layer, or known more commonly as Saharan Dust, is a layer of tiny aerosols like sand, dirt and dust that occasionally push from east to west across the tropical Atlantic Ocean during hurricane season. These aerosols originate over the very hot and dry deserts of Africa, like the Saharan Desert, and sometimes get picked up by African easterly waves which push westward from Africa into the Atlantic Ocean.

    The Saharan Air Layer is a well-mixed dry pocket of air that usually resides between 5,000 and 15,000 feet above sea level. Since one of the key ingredients for tropical cyclone development is a deep feed of moisture, Saharan Dust often acts to inhibit tropical development. Research suggests that there are three main reasons Saharan Dust has a negative impact on tropical development:

    1) A surge in the mid-level African easterly jet increases the vertical wind shear.

    2) The inclusion, or drawing in, of dry air into a tropical system.

    3) An enhanced trade wind inversion which acts to stabilizes the atmosphere. A stable atmosphere will make it more difficult for deep convection to develop.

    Once a pocket of Saharan Dust begins moving westward over the Atlantic Ocean, it is relatively easy to track by using certain infrared satellite products. The algorithm in some infrared products is sensitive to dry, dusty air and, therefore, can track when pockets of this kind of air move from place to place.

    RELATED:
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    Atlantic Expected to See Sudden Uptick in Storms
    AccuWeather LIVE: What's Impeding Hurricane Season?


    Many factors go into forecasting the track and strength of a tropical system. Knowing whether or not a tropical cyclone will have Saharan Dust in its vicinity is one factor that can determine the cyclone's intensity.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Photos of Dust Storms Around the World
    Sandstorm, Dust Storm, Arizona

     

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