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    Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013
    Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Miotaur I rocket carrying the Air Force's ORS-3 mission launches from Pad 0B of the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Eastern Shore News, Jay Diem) NO SALES
    Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Minotaur I rocket carrying the Air Force's ORS-3 mission launches from Pad 0B of the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Va., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Eastern Shore News, Jay Diem)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - A rocket streaked along the eastern U.S. early evening sky Tuesday in an unusual sight as NASA put a smartphone and 28 other tiny satellites into orbit.

    NASA and the Air Force launched the private Minotaur rocket from Wallops Island, Va., in a test flight. The NASA launch pad is getting more use, giving more Americans a view of soaring spacecraft that used to be limited to Florida and California.

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    Experts estimated that the launch would be seen from Savannah, Ga., to Montreal to central Ohio.

    One of the satellites is controlled by the guts of an off-the-shelf smartphone as NASA experiments with small, cheap, orbiting science projects.

    The rocket, built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, also carries a satellite built by Virginia high school students.

    Photos on SKYE: Breathtaking Images of East Coast Rocket Launch

     

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    Monday, Nov. 20, 2013
    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 13:  Commuters make their way through downtown as temperatures hovered in the single digits during the morning rush hour December 13, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. With wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour the wind chill temperatures in the city have been around -10 degrees.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
    (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    The coldest air of the season so far is poised to invade the Central states during the rest of this week and will reach the East over the weekend.

    Air originating from above the Arctic Circle will roll southeastward across the Plains during the middle of the week and will reach the Midwest Friday.

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    According to AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Andy Mussoline, "The air mass has been producing below-zero temperatures on the North Slope of Alaska, and while it will modify moving southward and eastward, it will mean business as it enters the United States."

    The same air mass due to enter the U.S. this week was producing temperatures ranging from 10 to 50 below zero over parts of Canada's Yukon and Northwest Territories Tuesday morning.



    The frigid air will be accompanied by strong, gusty winds that will drive RealFeel(R) temperatures to painful levels for those who have to be outdoors for any length of time, without warm clothing.

    Gusts past 40 mph will be frequent and could cause flight delays as the cold air spreads from the northern Plains to the Midwest and East.

    From parts of Montana to North Dakota and Minnesota, high temperatures will be in the teens for one or more days with RealFeel temperatures hovering in the single digits and dipping below zero at times.

    Farther south from parts of South Dakota and Nebraska, eastward to Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, highs will be in the 20s on one or more days with RealFeel temperatures in the teens and single digits.

    As the cold air pushes southward, it will produce a period of snow along the Front Range of the Rockies, including Denver. Snow will also mark the arrival of cold air over the Upper Midwest, with rain falling farther south.



    Portions of the central Appalachians and the Ohio Valley will have the first day with subfreezing temperatures throughout the daylight hours Sunday.

    For folks combing through debris in search of valuables and irreplaceable items in the wake of the devastating Midwest tornadoes, the cold wave with its biting winds will be an additional hardship.

    The Arctic outbreak will also unleash a round of flurries and locally heavy lake-effect snow from the Upper Midwest to the central Appalachians. There is the potential for a foot or more of snow, where the bands of snow persist.

    A significant amount of cold air will drive into Texas and the Deep South. Most areas that had a freeze earlier in the month will be hit again. However, some locations along the upper part of the Gulf Coast that escaped the worst of the chill will get a frost or freeze this time. Only South Texas and central and southern Florida will escape frost.

    High school and college football fans will be shivering this weekend, as will many cold-hardy NFL fans on Sunday.

    A small part of the Arctic air will break off and deliver the first freeze of the season to Seattle and Portland, Ore., Wednesday night.

    RELATED:
    First Look at Thanksgiving Week Travel
    Latest Advisories, Watches and Warnings
    Winter Weather Center

    Indications are the worst of the cold air will depart the Central and Eastern states by the middle of next week in time for holiday travelers. However, some rough cold air may linger from around the Upper Midwest to northern New England.

    A storm in the South will have to be watch for a possible northward turn along the Atlantic coast during the middle of Thanksgiving week.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    Monday, Nov. 20, 2013
    This combination of photos shows an area affected by the Dec. 25, 2004 tsunami which hit Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province, Indonesia. The top photo shows debris near the Great Mosque, background, on Dec. 29, 2004, four days after the tsunami. The bottom photo shows the same area on Nov. 19, 2013. Acehís reconstruction didnít always run smoothly, especially during the first year, but it is now almost universally regarded as successful. Around 130,000 houses were built in less than three years, along with scores of airports, roads and schools. It was the biggest construction project in the developing world. The man who steered Indonesia to recovery after the 2004 tsunami has some cautionary words for the Philippines as it begins planning reconstruction after Typhoon Haiyan. Hundreds of thousands of homeless survivors will get angry about living in tents well before houses will be ready for them, and inflation will soon make those houses much more expensive to build. (AP Photo)
    This combination of photos shows an area affected by the Dec. 25, 2004, tsunami which hit Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh province, Indonesia. The top photo shows debris near the Great Mosque, background, on Dec. 29, 2004, four days after the tsunami. The bottom photo shows the same area on Nov. 19, 2013. (AP Photo)

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The man who steered Indonesia to recovery after the 2004 tsunami has some cautionary words for the Philippines as it begins planning reconstruction after Typhoon Haiyan: Survivors will get angry about living in tents well before permanent houses are ready, and inflation will soon make those houses much more expensive to build.

    His advice? Start working now and get survivors involved in the process.

    "Please prepare warehouses now all over the region and fill them with construction materials," said Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, who headed a specially created, powerful government agency tasked with coordinating more than $7 billion in aid that flowed to the country after the disaster. "Fix the prices now."

    The Indian Ocean tsunami killed about 230,000 people in a dozen countries. Indonesia's Aceh province was the worst-hit area, accounting for about half the deaths. Much of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, was leveled.

    Photos: Typhoon Haiyan Slams into Philippines

    Aceh's reconstruction didn't always run smoothly, especially during the first year, but it is now almost universally regarded as successful. Around 130,000 houses were built in less than three years, along with scores of airports, roads and schools. It was the biggest construction project in the developing world.

    These days, the only sign that Banda Aceh was the epicenter of an appalling disaster are two ships carried miles inland by the giant waves. They are now popular and well-managed attractions on a "tsunami tourism" trail in the city.

    There are lessons to draw from the 2004 tsunami, and from more recent - and more criticized - reconstruction efforts after disasters in Japan and Haiti. The Philippines also has much experience of its own recovering from typhoons and other disasters.

    A full assessment of the damage caused by the typhoon has yet to be carried out. There were far more deaths in Aceh. The Philippines government said Wednesday that the typhoon killed more than 4,000 people and left 1,600 missing. But experts say the scale of the reconstruction needed in the Philippines looks broadly comparable with that in Aceh.

    Like Indonesia in 2004, the Philippines has functioning national and local governments with committed, educated employees. Foreign countries are more likely to help if they can see efforts being made to spend money well.

    Just under two weeks since the typhoon, saving lives and providing emergency aid are still the main focus. Corpses are still being collected from beneath the debris. But in a week or two, authorities will start transitioning into an "early recovery phase" and planning how best to rebuild the estimated 320,000 destroyed houses.

    "It's never too early to start talking about it," said Nancy Lindborg, the assistant administrator of the U.S. government's aid arm. "What's very important is to move as quickly as possible, so you enable people to start thinking about the future."

    Philippine Interior Minster Mar Roxas said authorities were already considering whether to put people in tents or bunkhouses. In Aceh, authorities built 24 wooden barrack-style complexes for survivors, but they were not popular, often located far from the original villages of the residents or their workplaces.

    Aceh managed to build just 16,000 permanent houses in the first year after the tsunami. Spiking construction costs were one problem: Inflation hit 41 percent at one point as massive amounts of money chased limited supplies. Another complicating factor likely to be seen in the Philippines was that land titles and government records were destroyed.

    "It was almost impossible," said Mangkusubroto via telephone from Jakarta. "People shouldn't have to live in tents for more than six months. It causes social tension."

    It will likely take months to even decide where to build, or what safety standards to use, because the government and affected communities will need to work together to come up with the right answers. In Aceh, authorities initially banned construction close to the sea, but this was shelved as impractical because the province relies on fishing.

    "We have to make sure that these buildings are not built in unsafe areas," said Nathaniel Von Einsiedel, the chairman of an urban development consultancy firm. "We don't want to commit the same mistake that may have contributed to the severity of the destruction in the first place."

    The Philippine government said about $320 million in foreign aid has been pledged to the relief effort.

    That's far less than the $7 billion Indonesia received after the tsunami - the most generous response ever to a natural disaster - but that massive amount of money created its own complications.

    Some of the more than 180 aid agencies that flocked to Aceh took on projects they were not qualified for or duplicated other schemes. Some families got a house they didn't need, or in a place where didn't want to move to. Others got more than one. Today, empty, rotting houses aren't hard to find.

    Another lesson from Aceh: Giving cash to disaster survivors, either in a grant or in exchange for projects such as cleaning debris, is effective and popular. Expect to see those schemes used widely in the Philippines. Old-school development thinking shied away from handing out money, partly out of fears it would be "squandered." Studies by aid agencies and academics have shown that is not the case.

    Success in Aceh contrasted with stuttered reconstruction efforts in Japan following the 2011 earthquake and disaster, where more than half of the 470,000 people who either lost their homes or were evacuated from close to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant have yet to be permanently resettled. Ample funds have gone unspent due to legal and bureaucratic obstacles to rebuilding and shortages of construction workers.

    The aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in 2010 has also been troubled. The capital is awash in new construction, but the International Organization for Migration says nearly 200,000 people are still living in makeshift settlements. The international community pledged $5.4 billion to help Haiti, but only about half has been delivered to date.

    The Philippines is poor, but its governance structures are stronger than those in Haiti. Aid groups will have less money to spend than after the 2004 tsunami, but coupled with Philippine government funds and loans from agencies like the World Bank, many experts and aid workers are optimistic that the region will recover.

    "I think it would be disappointing if we come back in four years' time and people are worse off than what they were coming into this," said Michael Delaney, who leads Oxfam America's humanitarian response to emergencies.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Indelible Photos from Typhoon Haiyan

     

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    Monday, Nov. 20, 2013

    Aqua/MODIS/NASA

    The Atlantic Basin has squeaked in one more tropical system before the official end of the hurricane season on Nov. 30.

    Subtropical Storm Melissa formed during the midday hours Monday, Nov. 18, 2013.

    The reason for the subtropical classification is the storm has both tropical and non-tropical characteristics.

    The system, located about halfway between Africa and the United States will slowly spin over the open waters of the Atlantic over the next several days and will cause rough seas for shipping interests.

    Melissa will not pose any direct threat to land in the western Atlantic as it drifts northward this week. However, it will produce rough surf around Bermuda and the northeastward facing beaches of the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and the Islands of the Caribbean this week.

    Melissa is located in an area of somewhat reduced disruptive winds, which will be favorable for additional strengthening in the short term.

    RELATED:
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    Allergic to Cold: Adapting to Life With a Mysterious Condition
    Photos of the Week: From Raging Wildfires to Deadly Haiyan


    Late-season tropical systems are not uncommon in the Atlantic Hurricane Basin. The most recent tropical storm to develop in the basin during the month of November was Tropical Storm Sean in 2011.

    The year before that, the Atlantic had Hurricane Tomas, the most recent hurricane in the basin during the month of November.

    Tropical systems have been known to develop in the Atlantic as late as December, such as Hurricane Alice, which first became a tropical storm on Dec. 30, 1954.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Incredible Photos of Forces of Nature
    Volcano Eruption

     

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    The International Space Station celebrates its 15th birthday today (Nov. 20), marking the day in 1998 when a Russian rocket lifted the first piece of what is now the largest manmade structure ever built in space.

    The launch of the module named Zarya ("Sunrise" in Russian) kicked off an unprecedented international undertaking to build the astronaut outpost one piece at a time. Five different space agencies representing 15 countries contributed to the project, and by 2000, rotating crews of spaceflyers were - and still are - living on the $100 billion International Space Station.

    Today, the space station is about the size of a football field with roughly the same amount of livable space as a six-bedroom house. It ranks second only to the moon among bright objects in the night sky. [Cosmic Quiz: Do You really Know the International Space Station?]

    The module that started it all, Zarya, also known as the Functional Cargo Block (FGB), is mostly used for storage now. But initially it was intended to serve as a central node of orientation control, communications and electrical power as other parts of the space station were added, according to NASA.

    In light of the launch anniversary, space industry leaders reminisced about Zarya's historic day.

    "We were in the control center in Houston that night to watch Zarya launch, along with a good number of people from the program," said Bill Bastedo, who was the launch package manager for the next piece of the space station, the U.S.-built module Unity, in a statement.

    "It was actually, for us, exciting to have Zarya on orbit so we could get our chance to execute our mission," Bastedo, now senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton, said in a statement.

    Two weeks after Zarya was carried into orbit, on Dec. 4, 1998, NASA's space shuttle Endeavour launched Unity, sometimes called Node 1, during the STS-88 mission, and the two modules were linked together.

    "I was very confident in our ability to dock the two," Bastedo added in a statement from NASA. "I was most worried about making sure we could verify that Unity, the mating adaptors and Zarya all worked as a system together and we could safely leave it on orbit, because it was going to be about a six-month gap until the next flight. It turns out it was a lot of worry about nothing, because it almost went flawlessly." [Related: International Space Station by the Numbers]

    Less than two years later, on Oct. 31, 2000, the first crew to live inside the International Space Station launched on a Russian Soyuz capsule. Expedition 1 consisted of NASA astronaut Bill Shepherd and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko. The three spaceflyers climbed on board the station on Nov. 2, 2000, kicking off humanity's continuous presence in space.

    The space station is currently occupied by the six crew members of the station's Expedition 38 mission. They are Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata; Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, Mikhail Tyurin and Sergey Ryazanskiy; and NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins.

    "It's hard to believe it's been 15 years since we joined Unity and Zarya in orbit and laid the cornerstone for the International Space Station,"said Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, who was the STS-88 mission's commander. He described the outpost as "an engineering marvel and a testament to what we can accomplish when we all work together."

    "I think one of the most enduring legacies will be the international cooperation we have achieved in building and operating it," Cabana said in a statement from NASA. "It has provided us the framework for how we will move forward as we explore beyond our home planet, not as explorers from any one country, but as explorers from planet Earth. We have seen great results in areas such as biotechnology, Earth and space sciences, human research, the physical sciences and technology being accomplished in this remarkable laboratory in space."

    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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    Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013
    Traffic and pedestrians on street during rainstorm
    Gettystock

    Early indications are that the weather will cooperate for most holiday travelers over the Plains and West during the week of Thanksgiving, but there could be some problems in the South and East.

    According to AAA, 43.4 million people are predicted to travel 50 miles or more from home for Thanksgiving. Ninety percent of the projected Thanksgiving travelers will drive, with most motorists paying the cheapest gas prices for the holiday since 2010.

    The painful blast of wind-driven Arctic air invading the Plains this week and East this weekend will fade in most areas while a storm sinking southward in the West will move away.

    Cold air, bands of lake-effect snow and flurries will linger over the Upper Midwest much of next week.

    However, the same storm affecting the West this week is forecast to slide slowly eastward during the week of Thanksgiving.

    For those hitting the roads or airways early next week, areas of rain and mountain snow will move slowly out from the Four Corners region toward the Gulf Coast. Drenching rain and thunderstorms will crawl eastward along the Gulf Coast Monday into Tuesday.

    In the wake of the Southwest storm, most areas in the Plains and West are likely to be free of rain and snow for the big travel day Wednesday. The only exception may be part of the immediate Pacific Coast, where a bit of rain may arrive later in the day or at night.

    The speed at which this storm moves along and how sharp of a left turn the storm takes later next week is uncertain.



    For most areas along the East Coast and South, it will be a question of rain or not on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day. Rain, poor visibility and low ceilings alone on Wednesday can lead to its share of major delays.

    However, just enough chilly air may be in place beginning around the central Appalachians northward to New England for snow and ice, depending on the track, strength and timing of that Gulf Coast storm, which is likely to become an Atlantic coast storm.

    According to AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno, "There are a lot of possibilities next week with the storm in the East, but whether or not there is snow north and west of the I-95 corridor is still uncertain at this time."

    The pattern remains progressive enough that a small difference in the storm's track could mean the difference between rain, now or a dry forecast for many communities.

    RELATED:
    Weather and Temperature Forecast Maps
    Latest Advisories, Watches and Warnings
    Winter Weather Center

    Early indications are the storm would swing northeastward across the Appalachians and I-95 corridors later Tuesday, Wednesday into Wednesday night. Details as to when and where the storm will have the most impact will unfold later this week into this weekend.

    At this early stage, the situation does not warrant changing travel plans.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013
    A man walks through what is left of a neighborhood in Washington, Ill., on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, a day after a tornado ripped through the central Illinois town. (AP Photo/Armando Sanchez)

    January-like cold is on the way for areas of the Midwest that were ravaged by tornadoes on Sunday, bringing dangerous and life-threatening low temperatures to those still without power.

    Thirteen counties in Illinois have been declared state disaster areas by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in response to Sunday's severe weather.

    It has been estimated by Mayor Gary Manier that more than 500 homes and businesses have been damaged or destroyed in Washington, Ill., according to WGN Radio.

    "We don't yet have a total handle on [the number of people displaced]," Patti Thompson, spokesperson for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency told AccuWeather.com.

    The arrival of frigid air may force more people through the doors of the state's six open disaster shelters in the coming days.

    RELATED:
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    Chicago Weekend Forecast
    PHOTOS: Residents Devastated by Tornadoes Begin Cleanup

    Additionally, hundreds are still without power in Washington and Peoria, Ill., making the overnight lows Saturday and Sunday extremely dangerous.

    "The highs during the day this weekend can easily feel like the dead of winter cold," AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno.

    Temperatures are forecast to drop 15 to 20 degrees below normal this weekend.

    Saturday will usher in temperatures in the 20s with biting wind from the north. The wind will drop RealFeel(R) temperatures into the single digits and below zero at times.

    In the early hours of Sunday morning, the mercury could fall into the teens.

    "[Those in the area] need to be prepared. If they don't have heat, they need to seek shelter somewhere that does," Rayno said. "This is a bona fide shot of cold air."

    Though the conditions could be deadly overnight, prolonged daytime exposure to the elements can also bring the risk of hypothermia.

    The gusty winds forecast Saturday will cause the body to lose heat faster than cold air alone. Those working to clear debris from roadways and search for salvageable belongings are urged to dress warmly.

    Hypothermia begins when the core temperature of the body drops below 95 F.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Deadly Tornadoes and Storms Hit the Midwest


    "Anybody caught outdoors and unprepared is at risk," Rayno said.

    Despite the Arctic air, the Midwest is in the clear for severe weather for the next several days. The warmth and moisture that brought Sunday's destruction is gone, Rayno said.

     

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    Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013
    FILE - In this May 26, 2013 file photo, pictures salvaged from tornado debris are displayed on a wall for their owners to claim at Abundant Life Church within the tornado affected area in Moore, Okla. Kristi Brummal and a team of about 50 volunteers are trying to clean, restore and reunite photos with their owners as part of the Oklahoma Photo Rescue project. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
    In this May 26, 2013 file photo, pictures salvaged from tornado debris are displayed on a wall for their owners to claim at Abundant Life Church within the tornado affected area in Moore, Okla. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - One photo shows a red-cheeked tot sitting in a high chair, smiling at the camera. Another one, a Polaroid, shows two people unwrapping gifts at Christmas, a tree decorated with lights behind them and wrapping paper covering the floor.

    They are among countless photos found after a series of tornadoes swept through central Oklahoma six months ago, including the EF5 twister that struck Moore on May 20, devastating parts of the town and killing 24 people. Some of the photos were recovered more than 100 miles away, picked up by the forceful winds and deposited on farms, streets and in front of strangers' homes.

    Now, Kristi Brummal and a team of about 50 volunteers are trying to clean, restore and reunite the photos with their owners as part of the Oklahoma Photo Rescue project. The photos show everyday moments as well as momentous occasions such as holidays and births. Some date back to the early 1900s.

    The project hasn't counted how many pictures have been recovered since the storms, Brummal said, but earlier this month, seven families reclaimed 104 photos at an event held in Moore. The group is still cleaning and documenting the photos. The next event will be in the spring.

    "This could be the only picture that somebody has. It's just vitally important that people understand your entire life was destroyed in a matter of moments, and to even be able to get one photo back of your dad or your daughter, it's immeasurably meaningful," said Brummal, school manager at the Oklahoma School of Photography.

    The group, made up of photography professionals and enthusiasts, initially started out as a way to offer photo restoration services to the tornado victims, but it quickly became a rescue and recovery group, too, Brummal said.

    "Having been through tornadoes before ... it's very frustrating because all of your belongings are scattered to the seven winds, and most of the time so is your documentation. And you're without transportation, without housing, and then you're asked to go seven places to get your driver license, your birth certificate," said Brummal. The Oklahoma School of Photography was hit by the May 1999 tornado in Moore, and Brummal lived just a block from where homes were devastated.

    Brummal said the group expects to continue to receive photos for up to two years after the storm. In one instance, a farmer in Catoosa, northeast of Tulsa, found a photo of a little boy while walking his fields in June and contacted the group, she said.

    "There were a lot of tears. We went through a lot of tissue," Brummal said of the event where the photos were reunited with their owners.

    A similar effort came together after the Joplin, Mo., tornado in 2011. During the past 2 ½ years, the National Disaster Photo Rescue collected more than 35,000 photos, with 700 families claiming 17,000 of them. The remaining photos will be donated to the City of Joplin later this week, said Thad Beeler, director of the organization.

    The National Disaster Photo Rescue also announced efforts this week to help recover photos from the tornado that devastated Washington, Ill., on Sunday and is looking for volunteers to help.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 10 Amazing Things Found in the Tornado Rubble

     

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    Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013
    @ ¬?}?´ ????Ì ¼?V???ß?­?É o?»?µ?½ V?µ?¢?¤?n?©?ç ã?ª?é?¬??  ?Q?P?ú?ß?O?P?O???Q?Q?ª A?¤?¯?Ê M?Ð?@?©?ç
    Smoke billows from a new island off the coast of Nishinoshima, seen left above, a small, uninhabited island in the Ogasawara chain, far south of Tokyo Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

    TOKYO (AP) - A volcanic eruption has raised an island in the seas to the far south of Tokyo, the Japanese coast guard and earthquake experts said.

    Advisories from the coast guard and the Japan Meteorological Agency said the islet is about 660 feet in diameter. It is just off the coast of Nishinoshima, a small, uninhabited island in the Ogasawara chain, which is also known as the Bonin Islands.

    The approximately 30 islands are 620 miles south of Tokyo, and along with the rest of Japan are part of the seismically active Pacific "Ring of Fire."

    The coast guard issued an advisory Wednesday warning of heavy black smoke from the eruption. Television footage seen Thursday showed heavy smoke, ash and rocks exploding from the crater, as steam billowed into the sky.

    A volcanologist with the coast guard, Hiroshi Ito, told the FNN news network that it was possible the new island might be eroded away.

    "But it also could remain permanently," he said.

    The last time the volcanos in the area are known to have erupted was in the mid-1970s. Much of the volcanic activity occurs under the sea, which extends thousands of meters deep along the Izu-Ogasawara-Marianas Trench.

    Japan's chief government spokesman welcomed the news of yet another bit, however tiny, of new territory.

    "This has happened before and in some cases the islands disappeared," Yoshihide Suga said when asked if the government was planning on naming the new island.

    "If it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory."

    The Japanese archipelago has thousands of islands. In some cases, they help anchor claims to wide expanses of ocean overlying potentially lucrative energy and mineral resources.

    Japan has plans to build port facilities and transplant fast-growing coral fragments onto Okinotorishima, two rocky outcroppings even further south of Tokyo, to boost its claim in a territorial dispute with China.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Incredible Photos of Volcanic Eruptions
    Lightning, Volcano

     

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    Friday, Nov. 22, 2013Traffic moves at a crawl on Interstate 35 through Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2007. A winter storm dumped snow and freezing drizzle across the state Wednesday, icing roadways and leading to dozens of accidents, including three separate fatality crashes. (AP Photo)
    (AP Photo)

    An arctic push of air will continue to sink southward Friday into the southern Plains, putting many at risk for an icy wintry mix.

    Slippery travel will develop as a result from southern Kansas to eastern New Mexico and across much of Texas and Oklahoma.

    Cities affected in this area include Oklahoma City, Okla., Lubbock, Texas, Amarillo, Texas, and Carlsbad, N.M.

    Roads can develop an icy accumulation, making road travel dangerous. Motorists are advised to reduce speed and use caution while driving.

    "Bridges and overpasses will be the first to become icy," AccuWeather Meteorologist Maggie Johnson said. "These structures tend to face the cold air on both sides, making the surface temperature drop faster."

    Folks planning on taking their travel to the air should expect flight delays. Passengers may spend a little more time on the tarmac before departure due to plane deicing.

    Icy and snowy conditions brought many flight delays Thursday and Thursday night.

    According to FlightStats.com, more than 500 arriving and departing flights had been delayed and more than 30 flights had been canceled at Denver International Airport Thursday.

    Road travel was affected as well. Many slick spots developed on I-70 and highway 83 in Kansas as freezing rain accumulated throughout the day. Major roadways at risk on Friday include I-20, I-27, and I-40.

    Temperatures are expected to plummet as the rush of arctic air continues to advance farther south. Large temperatures drops can be expected across central and southern Texas Friday.

    RELATED:
    First Look at Thanksgiving Week Travel
    Latest Advisories, Watches and Warnings
    Arctic Blasts of Cold Air Begin to Invade US

    As the arctic air overtook Lubbock Thursday, temperatures dropped 30 degrees in a span of 3 hours. Oklahoma City felt a similar chilly drop, going from 68 to 38 in a span of 5 hours.

    Aside from the wintry mix, snow is forecast to fall across Colorado and northern New Mexico. Rain is expected to dampen folks in southeastern Texas.

    As chilly air remains across the region Saturday, the threat for freezing rain will continue for much of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles.

    Story written by AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Jordan Root

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Friday, Nov. 22, 2013
    A plea for help painted on a sign hangs from a damaged statue of Jesus in a Typhoon Haiyan destroyed neighborhood in Tacloban, Philippines on Friday Nov. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
    A plea for help painted on a sign hangs from a damaged statue of Jesus in a Typhoon Haiyan destroyed neighborhood in Tacloban, Philippines on Friday Nov. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) - The death toll from one of the strongest typhoons on record has risen above 5,000 and is likely to climb further, although recovery efforts are beginning to take hold, Philippine officials said Friday.

    Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said 4,919 people were killed on Leyte, Samar and nearby islands in the Eastern Visayas region. Civil defense chief Eduardo del Rosario said 290 others died in other parts of the central and southern Philippines.

    The regions were battered two weeks ago by fierce winds and tsunami-like storm surges from Typhoon Haiyan, locally called Yolanda.

    Del Rosario said there were 1,611 people still missing.

    "That is the sad record of Yolanda's passage through our country," Roxas said. But he added that "The worst is over."

    He likened the region to a patient that has been moved out of the emergency room into an intensive care unit.

    "We have overcome the most difficult part," he said. "In the first week we can say we were in the emergency room ... this second week we are now in the ICU, still critical but stabilized."

    He said the hard-hit Leyte provincial capital of Tacloban reported 1,725 dead. "I believe this number in Tacloban city is not yet final," he said.

    Most of the bodies have been buried in mass graves, many of them unidentified, he said.

    "It is possible that some of the missing are among the unidentified," he said.

    Journalists in Tacloban say the stench of death from piles of debris, upturned vehicles and remnants of what once were homes indicates that bodies remain trapped underneath.

    Roxas said the situation was stabilizing, with major roads on Samar and Leyte cleared of debris and some banks, grocery stores and gas stations now open.

    More troops and police have been brought to the region from other parts of the country to beef up law and order.

    The airport in Tacloban, the regional hub, and its seaport are operating.

    "There is no more looting," he said. "We are now heading to recovery and reconstruction."

    Haiyan hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on Nov. 8 and quickly barreled across its central islands, packing winds of 147 miles per hour and gusts of up to 170 mph, with a storm surge of 20 feet.

    Even though authorities evacuated about 800,000 people ahead of the typhoon, the death toll was high because many evacuation centers - schools, churches and government buildings - could not withstand the winds and water. Officials said people who sought shelter in the buildings drowned or were swept away.

    The United States and about two dozen other governments quickly sent aid. Bottlenecks, including roads blocked by debris, damaged vehicles and a lack of personnel, held up the distribution of relief supplies in the first week.

    U.S. Marines helped clear the Tacloban airport runway, allowing the delivery by air of aid to the city which became the relief center for the region.

    Roxas said more than 1.1 million food packs have been delivered to the region.

    "Our mission is to deliver relief and food supplies to all the towns ... (with) 100,000 food packs every day," he said.

    Typically, a food pack consists of rice, noodles, canned goods and instant coffee sufficient for a family for two days.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Indelible Photos from Typhoon Haiyan

     

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    Friday, Nov. 22, 2013
    FILE - This Feb. 28, 2012 file photo shows a snow blower clearing a road after an overnight storm dropped several inches of snow near Echo Summit Calif. The weather forecast for this winter is mostly a shrug of the shoulders. For most of the nation, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts equal chances for unusual warmth, cold, snow, rain and even average weather. Thatís because certain global weather factors, like El Nino, arenít big and apparent. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
    This Feb. 28, 2012 file photo shows a snow blower clearing a road after an overnight storm dropped several inches of snow near Echo Summit Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The weather forecast for this winter is mostly a shrug of the shoulders.

    For most of the nation, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration predicts equal chances for unusual warmth, cold, snow, rain and even average weather. That's because of an absence of certain global weather factors, like El Nino - a warming of the central Pacific that affects temperatures and rainfall worldwide

    NOAA's Mike Halpert said Thursday that the winter isn't likely to be too memorable or unusual, except in the South where drought should deepen in the southwest and develop in the southeast.

    Forecasters expect unusual warmth from Arizona to Alabama and also in New England. The extreme U.S. north, around the Dakotas, is likely to be colder than normal.

    Just because forecasters are predicting equal chances for nearly everything, that doesn't mean it has to be a normal year, said Halpert, acting director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Md. It just means the large-scale climate factors that forecasters use, such as El Nino, aren't giving them strong signals or patterns, he said.

    But extremes tend to happen with El Ninos, so Halpert added, "we're probably more likely to see something more benign" for the winter.

    And the winter weather is likely to change more from week to week, rather than persisting heavy cold and snowy or mild for weeks on end, Halpert said.

    NOAA's forecast doesn't look for individual blizzards or events, just averages. So a winter that doesn't look extreme doesn't mean it will be free of snowstorms, Halpert said. He said residents in snow-prone areas shouldn't put away their snow shovels.

    And in places like the mid-Atlantic, where the national's capital has had less than 5 inches of snow for two years, the odds are against the snow-drought continuing for a third year, Halpert said.

    Private weather forecast companies also cited mixed and lack of signals in their forecasts, which ranged from warm to cold.

    The Weather Channel sees a winter that's warmer than normal for the coastal Northeast and mid-Atlantic, the South, the West and much of the lower Midwest. The country's northernmost states should be a bit cooler than normal, the company forecasts

    Accuweather sees a late start to winter in the East, near record warmth in the South, but plenty of snow and extreme cold in the North, upper Midwest, Northwest and the Rockies. Weather Bell Analytics sees a colder and snowier winter for much of the country, centered around the nation's heartland.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Timelapse of Comet ISON and Comet Lovejoy from Justin Ng Photo on Vimeo.

    Singapore-based sky photographer Justin Ng pieced together a stunning time-lapse video of two comets streaking across the pre-dawn sky.

    The video of two incoming comets, captured on Nov. 11, shows the incoming Comet ISON with its long wispy tail as well as the newfound Comet Lovejoy, which is gradually brightening. The icy wanderers seem to move quickly against a backdrop of stars because Ng used a relatively small field of view and the long exposures to snap the images, the photographer said in his description of the videos.

    "The video covers 50 minutes of imaging time for ISON and 90 minutes of imaging time for Lovejoy," Ng wrote. "From the video, you can see the reduced visibility of Comet ISON and Lovejoy as the sky was becoming brighter gradually." [Comet ISON's Stargazing Show: 8 Essential Facts]

    You can see a high-definition vide of Ng's video via his Vimeo website here.

    Comets ISON and Lovejoy are both headed for a dangerous dive toward the sun much to the delight of skywatchers and astronomers.

    Some astronomers have said Comet ISON could be the "comet of the century" if it doesn't get ripped apart when it zips within 730,000 miles (1,175,000 km) of the solar surface on Nov. 28. It has brightened rapidly in the past few days, and in dark places, ISON is now visible to the naked eye in the southeastern pre-dawn sky, though it can be more clearly seen through binoculars and telescopes. Ng captured his images of ISON as it moved in front of the constellation Virgo.

    Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok discovered Comet ISON in September 2012. The comet is officially called C/2012 S1 (ISON), with ISON standing for International Scientific Optical Network.

    ISON's new companion Comet Lovejoy was only discovered in September 2013 by Terry Lovejoy, an Australian amateur astronomer. Lovejoy discovered another sungrazing comet that put on a dazzling show in December 2011. His new discovery is officially designated C/2013 R1 and it will make its closest approach to the sun on Dec. 22 at a distance of 75.4 million miles (121.4 million kilometers). Ng's photographed Comet Lovejoy as it passed the constellation Leo.

    More of Justin Ng's photos can be found on his website: http://www.justinngphoto.com/

    Editor's note: If you snap an amazing picture of Comet ISON or any other night sky view that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

    You can follow the latest Comet ISON news, photos and video on SPACE.com.

    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.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 10 Breathtaking Photos of Comets

     

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    Friday, Nov. 22, 2013


    Editor's note: This video contains strong language.

    Dozens of tornadoes tore through the Midwest on Sunday, Nov. 17. One of the strongest, a powerful EF-4 packing winds up to 190 mph, slammed Washington, Ill., leaving a 46-mile-long path of destruction. The tornado killed one person, injured 120 others and damaged or destroyed 500 homes and businesses in the area.

    Resident Marc Wells posted this terrifying video to YouTube on Nov. 21 showing the moments the twister tore through his neighborhood.

    Before taking shelter with his daughter deep inside their home, Wells captured footage of the huge funnel cloud barreling toward them. The video goes dark momentarily as the two hide and the wind buzzes like a chainsaw around them. After the tornado passes, Wells emerges to find his home destroyed and nearby houses flattened.

    "I am so glad Kerry Gorman Wells and the other girls were out of town when this storm came through," he writes in the video's description. Neither he nor his daughter, Josie, were injured.

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    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Deadly Tornadoes and Storms Hit the Midwest

     

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    Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013


    A school bus drives past a fallen eucalyptus tree in Oakland, Calif., on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/The Tribune, Laura A. Oda)

    LAS VEGAS (AP) - The U.S. West faced more stormy weather Saturday after a powerful system buffeted several states, stranding drivers in Nevada, forcing the postponement of sports games in Arizona, causing water rescues in California, and leading to the deaths of four people.

    The system was expected to head east and reach the opposite coast by the middle of next week, but not before hitting the Southwest again with rain, snow and wind, forecasters said.

    Parts of northern New Mexico have already received a dusting of snow, but forecasters say the latest storm to bear down on the state is far from over. The National Weather Service in Albuquerque said the brunt of the storm is expected to cross into New Mexico on Saturday, bringing widespread snow through the rest of the weekend, frigid temps and gusty winds.

    The fierce weather was linked to three deaths in California. Officials and news reports said the death of a person Thursday near downed power lines and a tree was being investigated in Oakland, another person died in Oakland after the man crashed into a fallen tree while apparently trying to avoid debris, and a 52-year-old woman died in Yuba County when a tree fell on the parked car in which she was sitting.

    Firefighters in Tucson, Ariz., Friday recovered the body of a man who was swept away by high water in the Santa Cruz River.

    Forecasters said parts of both California and Arizona can also expect more severe weather, with winter storm warnings through midday Saturday in the mountains and the Antelope Valley foothills northeast of Los Angeles. However, there's only a small chance of rainstorms like those which prompted flooding in California on Thursday.

    A homeless man had to be rescued from a tree by helicopter and four others were plucked from an island after becoming trapped in the swollen Santa Ana River in California's San Bernardino County.

    In northern Utah, transportation officials warned truck drivers of potential trailer-toppling gusts. No accidents had been reported, but big rigs pulled off to the side of the freeways to wait out the winds Friday morning, Utah Highway Patrol officials told The Salt Lake Tribune.

    Snow in higher elevations in rural eastern Nevada's Lincoln County stranded 50 to 60 cars early Friday, dispatcher Shannon Miller said. No injuries were reported, but U.S. 93 was closed south of Ely. Sheriff's dispatch said early Saturday that the roadway had been reopened, but the office did not have any information on the stranded cars.

    Snow in New Mexico and Arizona prompted some schools to delay opening Friday. Interstate 25 and roads throughout northern New Mexico were icy and packed with snow.

    A flood watch was in effect until early Saturday in the Phoenix area, where several miles of the Loop 303 freeway in the western suburbs were closed due to flooding. The weather service said rain totals through Saturday morning could exceed 2 inches in the Phoenix area.

    The wet conditions prompted the Arizona Interscholastic Association to push back high school football semifinal games set for Friday and Saturday. Officials rescheduled the games to Monday "due to the weather conditions, field conditions and safety of the players and fans attending the games."

    Authorities, meanwhile, responded to hundreds of crashes as the storm dropped rain over desert dwellers.

    At least one business in thirsty southern Nevada was rejoicing over the storm system. Officials at the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort north of Sin City measured 11 1/2 inches of snow at midday Friday, with a week to spare until opening day.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013

    Artist's concept of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft in orbit above the moon as dust scatters light during the lunar sunset. (NASA Ames/Dana Berry)

    NASA's newest lunar probe has officially begun its mission to study the moon's tenuous atmosphere like never before, as well as track how dust moves across the lunar sky.

    The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, nicknamed LADEE for short, entered its science orbit on Wednesday (Nov. 20). The spacecraft now circles the moon once every two hours in an orbit, approaching within a mere 8 miles (12 kilometers) at its closest point and soaring 37 miles (60 km) overhead at its highest point, NASA officials said in a statement. A NASA video captured the moon mission milestone as LADEE bgean its science mission.

    The $280 million LADEE spacecraft launched from a Virginia spaceport Sept. 6 and is expected to spend about 100 days probing the structure and composition of the thin atmosphere of the moon. [Photos: NASA's LADEE Moon Dust Mission in Pictures]

    "A thorough understanding of the characteristics of our lunar neighbor will help researchers understand other small bodies in the solar system, such as asteroids, Mercury, and the moons of outer planets," said LADEE program scientist Sarah Noble, at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in a statement Thursday (Nov. 21).

    LADEE's orbit carries the car-size spacecraft around the moon's equator, allowing the probe repeatedly see the moon during lunar day and night. Scientists hope it will be able to see strange, glowing "rays and streamers" in the moon's atmosphere that were first seen in early unmanned lunar photographs and reports from Apollo lunar landing astronauts.

    The spacecraft also carries a novel laser communications system to test high-speed data transmission technology for future space missions.

    The LADEE spacecraft's low orbit around the moon requires meticulous attention to keep the probe from falling victim to the strange, lumpy lunar gravity.

    "Due to the lumpiness of the moon's gravitational field, LADEE's orbit requires significant maintenance activity with maneuvers taking place as often as every three to five days, or as infrequently as once every two weeks," said Butler Hine, LADEE project manager at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., said in a statement. "LADEE will perform regular orbital maintenance maneuvers to keep the spacecraft’s altitude within a safe range above the surface that maximizes the science return."

    Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. 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: 25 Amazing Photos of the International Space Station
    International Space Station, Shuttle

     

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