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    Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013

    Delegates attend the closing session of the 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland, on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. The talks intended to lay foundations for the new climate deal in 2015 were scheduled to end Friday, but it became apparent during the day that the fine tuning would go well into Saturday. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

    WARSAW, Poland (AP) - U.N. climate talks were deadlocked Saturday as the U.S. and China clashed over what role the Chinese and other fast-growing economies should play in a new pact to fight global warming.

    Disputes over climate aid for poor countries also overshadowed the Warsaw conference as it stretched a full day beyond its scheduled end time.

    The two-week talks were supposed to lay the foundation for a 2015 climate deal in Paris that countries have agreed should apply to them all. But after all-night talks, delegates struggled to agree on draft decisions outlining the way forward.

    "These talks are on the brink of collapse," said Alden Meyer, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an observer of the talks.

    In discussions over future commitments to rein in carbon emissions, China and India insisted on wording that would keep a firewall between rich and poor countries that the U.S. and other developed countries want to get rid of.

    "The whole exercise is not aimed at creating a new climate regime," Chinese negotiator Su Wei told a plenary session.

    U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern wondered whether that meant that China was no longer ready to put forth commitments for the new deal.

    "I hope I'm wrong about what I heard, but it would certainly be disappointing to move backward in time not forward toward Paris," Stern said.

    The plenary was suspended to give delegates a chance to work on new texts.

    The U.N. climate talks were launched in 1992 after scientists warned that humans were warming the planet by pumping CO2 and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere, primarily through the burning of fossil fuels.

    Countries made progress Friday on advancing a program to reduce deforestation in developing countries, an important source of emissions because trees absorb carbon dioxide.

    Climate financing proved harder to agree on. Rich countries have promised to help developing nations make their economies greener and to adapt to rising sea levels, desertification and other climate impacts.

    They have provided billions of dollars in climate financing in recent years, but have resisted calls to put down firm commitments on how they're going to fulfill a pledge to scale up annual contributions to $100 billion by 2020.

    "There is absolutely nothing to write home about at the moment," Fiji delegate Sai Navoti said, speaking on behalf of developing countries.

    Pointing to the devastating impact of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, island nations also demanded a new "loss and damage mechanism" to help them deal with weather disasters made worse by climate change. Rich countries were seeking a compromise that would not make them liable for damage caused by extreme weather events.

     

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    Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013

    Comet ISON shines brightly in this image taken on the morning of Nov. 19, 2013. This is a 10-second exposure taken with the Marshall Space Flight Center 20-inch telescope in New Mexico. (NASA/MSFC/MEO/Cameron McCarty)

    The potentially dazzling Comet ISON is currently visible to the unaided eye -- a milestone for the comet's much-anticipated pass through the inner solar system -- but its future all depends in how it reacts to a close Thanksgiving encounter with the sun, comet observers say.

    Comet ISON can be seen low in the southeastern sky an hour before dawn, weather permitting, but it is en route for an extremely close flyby of the sun on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28). Will it break apart due to the sun's gravity and heat, or will the comet emerge victorious from its solar rendezvous and shine bright in the night sky? No one knows for sure yet, said Alan MacRobert, senior editor for Sky & Telescope magazine, in a skywatching guide this week.

    "We might witness a nice, long-tailed comet visible to the naked eye that will leave millions of people with fond memories for a lifetime," MacRobert said. "Or maybe it will be a small comet for sky hunters using binoculars and a good map of its position. Or it might yet break up and vanish." [How to See Comet ISON: An Observer's Guide]

    Comet ISON's nucleus, or core, will have to survive its closest encounter with the sun on Nov. 28 around 2 p.m. EST. Surface temperatures are expected to peak at 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit. That's hot enough to melt iron, let alone the ices that make up the comet's core.

    There are also worries among skywatchers that the rapid rotation of Comet ISON's nucleus, a mere 10 hours, could put the comet in danger of disintegrating as it contends with the strong tidal forces from its brush with the sun's intense gravity.

    If the comet does break apart, however, Sky & Telescope experts said the view could still be "glorious." With more pieces exposed to the sun, the brightness of the fragments could still put on a good show.

    To catch a glimpse of ISON, the magazine recommends using binoculars as the comet is harder to spot with your bare eyes unless you know exactly where to look. Comet seekers should find a dark spot with an unobstructed view of the east-southeast horizon. Go out at least an hour before dawn and look for a fuzzy blob nearby the bright planets Saturn and Mercury, and naked-eye star Spica.

    Comet ISON was discovered in September 2012 by Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok using the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) of remotely operated telescopes. The comet's official designation is C/2012 S1 (ISON).

    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 Elizabeth Howell @howellspace and SPACE.com @Spacedotcom. We're also on 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: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space
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    Updated Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, 5:28 p.m. ET

    This image shows a traffic accident in the San Bernardino Mountains in California. The rain throughout the West led to flooding in San Bernardino County. (AP Photo/San Bernardino County Fire Department)

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A powerful storm system that has caused hundreds of accidents across the Western U.S. has marched eastward with predictions of widespread snow, freezing temperatures and gusty winds.

    The fierce weather has caused at least eight deaths and prompted advisories Saturday afternoon in New Mexico and Texas.

    As thick, gray clouds covered the Southwest, forecasters said the storm would sweep across the South and toward the Atlantic coast next week, causing problems for holiday travelers.

    Joe Harris, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the "Nordic outbreak" will "produce a mixed bag of wily weather that will end up impacting much of the nation."

    In New Mexico, authorities and residents braced for the second hit of a one-two punch that had already blanketed parts of the state with snow and freezing rain and caused a rollover accident that killed a 4-year-old girl in the eastern part of the state.

    Three other storm-related deaths were reported Saturday in a crash in the Texas Panhandle involving nearly a dozen vehicles.

    In California, where the storm system hit first, prompting flooding and water rescues in recent days, three deaths have been linked to the storms since Thursday, as authorities found one body near downed power lines, one man crashed his vehicle into a tree and a woman was killed when a tree fell on a parked car.

    In Arizona, firefighters recovered the body of a man who was swept away by high waters Friday in the Santa Cruz River in the southern part of the state.

    The storm already has affected much of the Western U.S., causing hundreds of rollover accidents and prompting officials to cancel events and close roads.

    In Nevada, snow in high elevations in the rural, eastern part of the state stranded dozens of cars. No fatalities were reported and authorities got the road open again by Saturday.

    In Arizona, rain came down Saturday as more than 8,000 cyclists competed in the annual El Tour de Tucson. Also, high school football games, soccer tournaments and parades were cancelled across the state.

    Forecasters said parts of both California and Arizona could expect severe weather with winter storm warnings through Saturday. Weather officials said the mountains and the Antelope Valley foothills northeast of Los Angeles were under the most risk. However, they said there was only a small chance of rainstorms like those that prompted flooding in California on Thursday.

    In New Mexico, it was unclear where the heaviest bands of snow would develop, meteorologist Jennifer Palucki said.

    In Texas, freezing rain and cold temperatures have already hampered travel and much of the "heavy stuff" will hit south of I-20, Harris said. Several traffic accidents were reported Saturday, including the fatal crash late Friday that also left several injured hurt in Vega, about 30 miles west Amarillo, and one that injured three members of singer Willie Nelson's band when their bus struck a pillar near Sulphur Springs, north of Dallas.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    This image, taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, shows the majority of North America blanketed in clouds.

    The active weather pattern over the southwestern U.S. -- which has, as of Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013, killed eight people -- is clearly visible. This arctic front is bringing the coldest weather of the year to much of the country, with temperatures are 10 to 30 degrees lower than normal.

    Heavy snow is predicted for central and southern Rockies into the weekend, with periods of heavy rain across the southwest. A huge surface high behind the front will bring widespread sub-freezing high temperatures from the Great Plains to the Ohio Valley, and lows in the single digits and teens. It will also turn much colder in Texas and the South over the weekend. The East Coast will get frigid temps next weekend.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Breathtaking Photos of Clouds from Space
    Hole Punch Cloud

     

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    Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013

    Darius Gomez, 9, center, and Amanda Lopez, 7, both from Palmdale, Calif, make snow angels together during their visit to Wrightwood, Calif, on Friday, Nov 22, 2013. (AP Photo/The Victor Valley Daily Press, David Pardo)

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Stormy weather across the West blamed in eight deaths moved steadily eastward, prompting alerts of wintry conditions in New Mexico and Texas.

    Forecasters said the storm system in the West would sweep across the South and toward the Atlantic coast the coming week, causing problems for holiday travelers.

    The "Nordic outbreak" will "produce a mixed bag of wily weather that will end up impacting much of the nation," National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Harris said.

    With a winter storm warning in effect for parts of New Mexico, snow was falling across much of the state earlySunday and forecasters predicted up to 5 inches for many areas.

    The state Department of Transportation said motorists on several major roadways, including parts of Interstate 40, faced difficult driving conditions because of packed snow and ice, while some roads in the south were closed. Low temps were predicted to be mainly in the 20s statewide.

    Station KOB reported strong winds and near white-out conditions late Saturday night along a stretch of I-40, about 80 miles west of Albuquerque.

    Parts of the state had already been hit with snow and freezing rain that caused a rollover accident that killed a 4-year-old girl in the eastern part of the state.

    Three other storm-related deaths were reported Saturday in a crash in the Texas Panhandle involving nearly a dozen vehicles.

    In California, where the storm system hit first, prompting flooding and water rescues in recent days, three deaths have been linked to the storms since Thursday, as authorities found one body near downed power lines, one man crashed his vehicle into a tree and a woman was killed when a tree fell on a parked car.

    In Arizona, firefighters recovered the body of a man who was swept away by high waters Friday in the Santa Cruz River in the southern part of the state.

    The storm already has affected much of the West, causing hundreds of rollover accidents and prompting officials to cancel events and close roads.

    In Nevada, snow in high elevations temporarily bogged down travel.

    In Arizona, more than 8,000 cyclists competed Saturday in rainy conditions in the annual El Tour de Tucson. One cyclist died in a collision with a vehicle, but there was no immediate indication that the accident was storm related. Also, high school football games, soccer tournaments and parades were cancelled across the state.

    Forecasters said parts of both California and Arizona could expect severe weather with winter storm warnings through Saturday.

    In Texas, freezing rain and cold temperatures have already hampered travel and much of the "heavy stuff" will hit south of I-20, Harris said. Several traffic accidents were reported, including the fatal crash late Fridaythat left several injured hurt in Vega, about 30 miles west Amarillo, and one that injured three members of singer Willie Nelson's band when their bus struck a pillar on Interstate 30 near Sulphur Springs, about 75 miles northeast of Dallas.

    The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for much of the Texas Panhandle until Monday morning, while the Dallas-Fort Worth area was under a winter storm warning until Monday.

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

     

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  • 11/24/13--02:31: Tropical Cyclone Eyes India
  • Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013

    The map above shows the projected track for Tropical Cyclone 05B.

    Tropical Cyclone 5B formed Saturday afternoon, local time, in the Indian Ocean to the west of Indonesia. This storm is a weak tropical cyclone now, but over the next several days, it is looking to intensify.

    Though this storm will be slow to intensify, the development is expected to take place as it pushes off to the northeast. It may become the equivalent of a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean in the next 24-36 hours.

    As the storm moves over the Bay of Bengal, it will be moving over some warm waters along with some favorable atmospheric conditions. The intensifying storm can possibly develop into a severe Tropical Cyclone before it moves into India, given the right conditions.

    RELATED:

    Indian Basin Discussion
    Visakhapatnam, India Forecast
    India Weather Center

    The current track shows 5B likely to make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday, local time, south of Visakhapatnam, India. The conditions will be quite bad if this does become a severe Tropical Cyclone. Wind gusts of over 160 kph (100 mph) along with heavy flooding rainfall and coastal flooding are all possible. With recent storms that tracked the same way, this could cause significant flooding yet again.

    Tropical Cyclones typically form here in the April and May time frame, and then again in a second spike in October and November.


    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Powerful Cyclone Phailin Hits India

     

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    Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013

    Washington High School quarterback Colton Marshall (10) gives teammate Kyle Stratton a hug after a 44-14 loss to Sacred Heart-Griffin in a football playoff game in Springfield, Ill., on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. Senior Colton Marshall's family lost their home in last Sunday's tornado that tore through Washington, Ill., destroying over a 1,000 homes. (AP Photo/Peoria Journal Star, Ron Johnson)

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Just after his team advanced to the Illinois state high school football championship Saturday, Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin's coach had his players take a knee at midfield for a prayer with their opponents - a team from a town brought to its own knees just six days earlier by a deadly tornado.

    As tears welled in the eyes of some of Washington High's players, Sacred Heart-Griffin coach Ken Leonard called for the on-field prayer.

    "Thank you for playing your tails off, boys, (considering) what you had to go through," Leonard told the Panthers, who came into the game hoping to put aside their town's troubles - at least for a bit - as they chased what would have been the school's first trip to the title game in 28 years. "Washington, we're here for you."

    The twister last Sunday left a scarring swath from one corner of Washington to another, killing one person. In the buildup to Saturday's game, Washington High coach Darrell Crouch and some of his key players talked of playing for the central Illinois city of 16,000 at a time it dearly needed some uplifting - a weighty burden for the teenagers.

    Amid frigid conditions - with the wind chill, the temperature was 12 by halftime - the Panthers fell into a 14-0 hole and trailed 23-7 at halftime before things unraveled in what became their 44-14 loss to Sacred Heart-Griffin, their mascot ironically the Cyclones.

    "Our community's always been behind us. Just because the tragedy happened, the tornado came through, it didn't change at all - it brought everybody closer," Panther senior linebacker Chris Friend said, his voice cracking with emotion. "It was just awesome to have them all come out today you know, when so much of our town is destroyed."

    This semifinal was on Sacred Heart-Griffin's home turf. But Panthers fans outnumbered the Cyclones own faithful - thanks in part to help Panthers got from the Cyclones. Sacred Heart supplied Panthers fans with seven buses they used to make the 90-minute trip to the game, swelling the stands with a black-and-orange sea of more than 2,000 Washington faithful.

    "Washington was louder than we were," Leonard said, smiling. "For what they went through and to come support their team like they did, I can't say enough about that."

    After the game, Sacred Heart ensured the Panther fans didn't go back hungry, hosting them for a dinner of pulled pork and other sandwiches in the school.

    Outside the football field's gates, a banner reading "We Care" was near collection jars accepting donations for Washington. Sacred Heart-Griffin's online fan page has displayed a picture of Washington's destruction overlayed by the bold-lettered banner: "Prayers for Washington from Cyclone Nation."

    For the Cyclones, Leonard insisted, "this is a great life lesson."

    "I want our players to be better men than football players," he added.

    For Crouch, the Panthers' post-tornado days of practice and Saturday's game proved "therapeutic."

    "Football, for our boys, maybe was the most normalcy they've had all week," he said.

    And those boys have no reason to apologize, Washington's Bill Hammer said after putting away the cowbell the 43-year-old surgical technology teacher at a community college had been clanging for much of the game.

    "We played hard and did our best," said Hammer, who wore an orange fedora. "We couldn't be more proud of these kids."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Deadly Tornadoes and Storms Hit the Midwest

     

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    Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013
    This new view of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) was taken with the TRAPPIST national telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory on the morning of Friday 15 November 2013. Comet ISON was first spotted in our skies in September 2012, and will make its closest approach to the Sun in late November 2013. TRAPPIST has been monitoring comet ISON since mid-October, using broad-band filters like those used in this image. It has also been using special narrow-band filters which isolate the emission of various gases, allowing astronomers to count how many molecules of each type are released by the comet. Comet ISON was fairly quiet until 1 November 2013, when a first outburst doubled the amount of gas emitted by the comet. On 13 November, just before this image was taken, a second giant outburst shook the comet, increasing its activity by a factor of ten. It is now bright enough to be seen with a good pair of binoculars from a dark site, in the morning skies towards the East. Over the past couple of nights, the comet has stabilised at its new level of activity. These outbursts were caused by the intense heat of the Sun reaching ice in the tiny nucleus of the comet as it zooms toward the Sun, causing the ice to sublimate and throwing large amounts of dust and gas into space. By the time ISON makes its closest approach to the Sun on 28 November (at only 1.2 million kilometres from its surface ? just a little less than the diameter of the Sun!), the heat will cause even more ice to sublimate. However, it could also break the whole nucleus down into small fragments, which would completely evaporate by the time the comet moves away from the Sun's intense heat. If ISON survives its passage near the Sun, it could then become spectacularly bright in the morning sky. The image is a composite of four different 30-second exposures through blue, green, red, and near-infrared filters. As the comet moved in front of the background stars, these appear as multiple coloured dots. TRAPPIST (TRAnsiting Planets and PlanetesImals Small Telescope) is devoted to the study of planetary systems through two approaches: the detection and characterisation of planets located outside the Solar System (exoplanets), and the study of comets orbiting around the Sun. The 60-cm national telescope is operated from a control room in Liège, Belgium, 12 000 km away. Links  TRAPPIST page at University of Liège
    This new view of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) was taken with the TRAPPIST national telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory on the morning of Nov. 15, 2013. The robotic telescope is operated from a control room in Liège, Belgium. (TRAPPIST/E. Jehin/ESO)

    The incoming Comet ISON is now in the home stretch of its long-awaited hairpin loop around the sun on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 28), making it a great target for amateur astronomers and stargazers. But there are some tips and info you'll want to keep in mind before you go comet hunting.

    Comet ISON is on track for an extremely close shave of the sun when it flies by Earth's closest star on Nov. 28. The comet will approach within a mere 730,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) of the sun during the encounter, leading many scientists and amateur astronomers to wonder if the comet will survive its Thanksgiving Day rendezvous with the sun.

    In December, Comet ISON is expected to reach its greatest brilliance. It is during that month that it will be most interesting to both amateurs and the public. [See more amazing photos of Comet ISON in the night sky]

    Although forecasting the brightness of a comet months before its arrival at perihelion has always been hazardous, in the case of ISON until recently its brightening trend has been very difficult to decipher. Up until Nov. 13, the comet's increase in brightness was progressing at a rather sluggish pace, but then suddenly a noticeable outburst began taking place.

    Comet ISON's Brilliant Flare-Up

    From Nov. 13 to 21, Comet ISON brightened by 3.5 magnitudes on the scale used to determine the brightness of objects in space. That's a 25-fold increase in brightness to the observer! Between Nov. 19 and 21 alone, ISON more than doubled in brightness. Along with this surge in activity, soaring rates of dust and gas were being released from its nucleus.

    Amateur and professional astronomers around the world have been tracking Comet ISON in telescopes, with NASA spacecraft and other observatories tracking the object from space.

    In the wake of this recent activity, experienced comet watchers are growing more confident that the comet has a chance to be ranked among one of the brightest in the last half century. "All this I regard as very promising for something quite significant to be seen from ISON come the early days of December," comet expert John Bortle said. [How to Photograph Comet ISON (Step-by-Step Gallery)]

    In fact, at its very brightest Comet ISON may even become briefly visible in broad daylight!

    But just how impressive the comet will look after it sweeps around the sun will be strongly dependent on where you are located. From rural areas, where the night skies are still reasonably dark, the comet could evolve into a celestial showpiece -- perhaps even a showstopper. Conversely, from major metropolitan areas under urban, light polluted skies, viewers will be largely disappointed.

    Skirting Above a Solar Furnace

    Comet ISON's closest approach to the sun will mark the perihelion of its orbit around the star. That will occur on Nov. 28 at 1:38 p.m. EST. During the encounter, the comet will rapidly approach the sun, and its brightness will likely increase sharply. [Comet ISON's Stargazing Show: 8 Essential Facts]

    It is very difficult to say precisely just how bright Comet ISON will ultimately become when it passes nearly 730,000 miles of the 11,000-degrees Fahrenheit surface of the sun, while being subjected to enormous tidal and gravitation forces that could cause the comet to fracture into pieces. If this happens, it could release a tremendous amount of dust causing the comet to become many times brighter and unfurl a tremendously bright tail.

    As the comet loops around the sun, and begins its return journey out of the inner solar system, it may be dimly visible in daylight by merely blocking out the sun with your hand. Soon after sunrise, ISON will be positioned within about 2 degrees to the right of the sun. During the rest of the day, the comet will appear to get closer to the sun, while rapidly moving in a clockwise fashion below and then to the sun's left. The comet will appear closest to the sun just before 2 p.m. EST when it will appear less than half the apparent width of the sun from the sun's limb, or edge. The comet's velocity as it whips in a hairpin turn around the sun will reach a maximum of 234.62 miles per second or 844,632 mph!

    Heed This Warning!

    We strongly warn all readers that only experienced observers should attempt observation of Comet ISON as it whips around the sun. Viewing the comet itself poses no danger, but potential danger lies in staring directly at the sun whose infrared rays can burn the retina of the eye without causing any pain. John Bortle agrees: "When it's within just a few hours of its perihelion ISON will be so close to the solar limb it will be an impossible task to spot for virtually all observers." [How to See Comet ISON in November Sky | Video]

    You can safely watch the comet whip around the sun on your computer here from the Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph Experiment (LASCO) on the SOHO spacecraft. ISON should be within LASCO's field of view from 7 a.m. EST on Nov. 27 to 7 p.m. EST on Nov. 29.

    Soon after perihelion, perhaps on the mornings of Nov. 29 and/or 30, the ghostly dust tail might be visible low in the eastern sky, but the comet's brilliant head will still be embedded deep in the morning twilight.

    Below is a look at Comet ISON's expected behavior in the coming weeks, given in 10-day intervals.

    December 1-10: The changes in the comet wrought by perihelion passage become evident. Possibly the comet is brighter than expected during the first few days of this period. On Dec. 1, the tail could be as much as 12 degrees long (your clenched fist held at arm's length measures roughly 10 degrees).

    Because of ISON's close passage to the sun, the tail could appear very bright, while the comet's head might appear zero magnitude (as bright as the stars Vega or Capella), and perhaps brighter. Each morning the tail shoots out from the head like a narrow searchlight beam and will increase conspicuously in length as ISON backs into darker morning skies. The comet's head begins to rise before the onset of morning twilight -- about 100 minutes before sunrise -- on Dec. 6 and the tail length reaches to perhaps 20 degrees by Dec. 10. The comet's brightness by Dec. 10 should subside to between magnitude +3 (a star of medium brightness) and +5 (a faint star); the comet will have receded to 51.4 million miles from the sun.

    December 11-20: Comet ISON's altitude at the break of dawn increases from 13 degrees on Dec. 11 to 22 degrees on Dec. 15. The latter date will be the last morning in December that ISON can be viewed in a completely dark sky; the bright Moon that morning sets at 5:25 a.m. local time and twilight begins at 5:33 a.m. local time. So you will have just an eight-minute window of complete darkness. The full moon of December will occur on the following day.

    But within a few days, attention will shift to evening visibility as the moon will be setting about an hour later each night while the comet begins to become increasingly evident low in the northwest sky after sunset. On Dec. 20, Comet ISON sets at 6:24 p.m. local time, 14 minutes after the end of evening twilight.

    Meanwhile, the distance between the Earth and comet is rapidly decreasing to 42.5 million miles (68.3 million km) by Dec. 20. The comet will be in the constellation of Corona Borealis, the brightness of the head should hover somewhere between magnitude +4 (the brightness of a moderately faint star) and +6 (a very faint star at the threshold of naked-eye visibility). By this time, the ghostly tail may appear to reach 20 degrees to 30 degrees.

    December 21-31: With the moon completely absent from the evening sky and Comet ISON climbing noticeably higher in the north-northwest sky with each passing evening, the full splendor of the comet is revealed. But again we stress, observers must get away from the bright lights of cities to view the comet in all its glory: seen against a dark backdrop it could be a sight not to be forgotten.

    On Christmas Day, Comet SON has moved far enough northward in declination to become a circumpolar object; that is, it does not rise nor set but remains above the horizon all night long. The comet's closest approach to the Earth comes the following day: At 5:42 p.m. EST, it will be 39,897,562 miles away. The total light of the coma should continue to hold somewhere between magnitude +4 and +6. As seen against a very dark sky with the unaided eye, the comet's coma may appear half the diameter of the full moon. The gas tail should span many degrees, while the much brighter dust tail will continue to stretch toward the north for at least 20 degrees -- even 40 degrees is possible.

    January 1-10: The rest of Comet ISON's night sky display will seem anticlimactic, for the comet shrinks and fades rapidly now as it pulls away from both the sun and the Earth, with the magnitude dropping from perhaps +6 to +8 -- below the threshold of naked-eye visibility even under a dark sky. The coma is expected to be quite large and diffuse, growing more so daily. Very straight and narrow, the tail initially should be traceable some 10 degrees to 15 degrees shortening to possibly down to 5 degrees by Dec. 10. The Great Comet is now only a ghost of its former self and is best seen with binoculars.

    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.

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

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

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 10 Breathtaking Photos of Comets

     

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    Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013
    'Monster' Gamma Ray Blast Biggest Cosmic Explosion Since Big Bang
    Check out a new eye-popping video that gives a multi-perspective view of the wild cosmic eruption that comes before the death of a star.

    "Gamma-ray bursts are the most luminous explosions in the cosmos," writes NASA of its just-released animated video of just such a cosmic event.

    Captured by orbiting telescopes last spring, the rare gamma-ray burst depicted in this video occurred in a galaxy 3.7 billion light-years away.

    "Astronomers think most occur when the core of a massive star runs out of nuclear fuel, collapses under its own weight, and forms a black hole," according to NASA. "The black hole then drives jets of particles that drill all the way through the collapsing star at nearly the speed of light."


    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space
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    Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013

    Caltrans set a up a chains required station just south of Mountain High Resort in Wrightwood, Calif, on Friday, Nov 22, 2013. (AP Photo/The Victor Valley Daily Press, David Pardo)

    A large storm already blamed for at least eight deaths in the West slogged through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and other parts of the southwest Sunday as it slowly churned east ahead of Thanksgiving.

    After the storm slogs through the southwest, meteorologists expect the Arctic mass to head south and east, threatening plans for Tuesday and Wednesday as people hit the roads and airports for some of the busiest travel days of the year. Already, flight delays were expected at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and a spokeswoman said deicing equipment was being prepared as officials planned for the worst in a flurry of conference calls and meetings.

    "It's certainly going to be a travel impact as we see the first few people making their way for Thanksgiving," National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Bradshaw said.

    The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for chunks of North Texas from noon Sunday until midday Monday. Parts of Oklahoma are also under a winter storm warning, while an advisory has been issued for other parts of the state. A mix of rain and sleet began falling north of Dallas on Interstate 35 by midday Sunday, and areas of southwestern Oklahoma woke up to several inches of snow.

    Several inches of snow fell overnight in Altus in far southwestern Oklahoma, said Damaris Machabo, a receptionist at a Holiday Inn motel.

    "It looks great. I love the snow," Machabo said. The snow and freezing temperatures made driving in the area treacherous, but Machabo said she had no problems getting to work early Sunday. Forecasts called for more snow in the area later in the day.

    Portions of New Mexico - especially in some of the higher elevations - also had several inches of snow, and near white out conditions were reported along stretches of Interstate 40 west of Albuquerque.

    Then along the New Mexico-Texas border, into the El Paso area, a mix of snow, sleet and ice forced some road closures and created messy driving conditions.

    By early Sunday, the weather was blamed for at least eight deaths in several fatal traffic accidents. The storm has caused hundreds of rollover accidents, including one that injured three members of singer Willie Nelson's band when their bus hit a pillar on Interstate 30 near Sulphur Springs, about 75 miles northeast of Dallas. In Arizona, when 8,000 cyclists participated in a rainy biking race, one cyclist died in a collision with a vehicle.

    Dallas prepared for the ice by declaring "Ice Force Level 1," code for sending 30 sanding trucks to trouble shoot hazardous road conditions.

    At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, spokeswoman Cynthia Vega said American Airlines and American Eagle were planning to delay or cancel flights as the day progressed. The possibility of ice on the runways led to a series of conference calls and meetings early Sunday, she added, noting the airport had liquid and solid deicers ready for use.

    The storm system, though, was particularly hard to predict because a couple of degrees here or there with the temperature will determine whether regions see rain, sleet or snow, Bradshaw said.

    "It's very difficult to pin those down," Bradshaw said. "It's slow moving and it's sort of bringing its energy out in pieces so it's kind of hard to time these as they come across with a great deal of accuracy."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Monday, Nov. 25, 2013

    (Getty Images)

    A major winter storm will unfold across the East Coast Tuesday and Wednesday, threatening to create a nightmare for the millions of Thanksgiving holiday travelers--even those elsewhere in the U.S.

    The same storm that unleashed snow and ice across New Mexico and the southern Plains over the weekend will now spread heavy rain across the South and I-95 corridor.

    Substantial snow will spread northward from the spine of the Appalachians to the St. Lawrence Valley and far northern New England.

    The timing of the impending winter storm could not come at a worst time with AAA projecting 43.4 million travelers during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

    "The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the busiest single day of travel with 37 percent of travelers departing for trips Nov. 27"

    Heavy Rain for I-95 Corridor Wednesday

    Heavy rain set to inundate the South on Tuesday will spread across the Carolinas and up the Northeast's I-95 corridor late Tuesday through Wednesday to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

    Even without snow in the forecast, AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski stated, "[The rain] would be enough to slow travel on the highways and delay a number of flights."

    Water gathering on roadways increases the risk of vehicles hydroplaning when traveling at highway speeds, while downpours threaten to dramatically reduce visibility for motorists.

    "Gusty winds would also factor in to delays along the coast," Sosnowski continued. The rain will become wind-driven, adding to visibility issues for motorists.

    The rain will be heavy enough to cause flash and urban flooding.

    Coastal flooding is another concern along the New England coast Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologists do not expect accumulating snow to reach the I-95 corridor. However, plunging temperatures late Wednesday into Wednesday night could lead to a few flurries, but more importantly icy spots.

    Snow from the Appalachians to St. Lawrence Valley

    Current indications put the corridor from the spine of the Appalachians to southwestern Quebec and far northern New England at risk for travel-disrupting snow from this midweek winter storm.

    The storm will be mostly a snow event across northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York to west of Montreal, Canada. The worst of the snowstorm may center on Bradford, Pa.; Rochester, N.Y.; Ottawa, Ont.; and stretches of Interstates 81, 86, 88, 87, 89 and 90. The snow will total 6 to 12 inches in this zone with more than a foot in some places.

    The rest of the area will see both rain and snow with rain occurring during the middle part of the storm. However, an wintry or icy mix is most likely during the first part of the storm.

    The timing of the final change back to snow will range from late Tuesday night in the southern Appalachians to Wednesday night in the St. Lawrence Valley and far northern New England.



    The final change back to snow could yield a few inches of accumulation and slick travel along the I-81 corridor from Virginia to Pennsylvania and northeastward to Albany, N.Y., and central Maine.

    Snow amounts will be substantial enough to clog roads and create treacherous and slippery travel. As the storm strengthens on Wednesday, gusty winds will follow, causing icy patches to form on some of the roads and whip the snow around--further reducing visibility for motorists.

    Southern Rain, Thunderstorms, Wind

    Rain and thunderstorms developing along the western Gulf Coast on Monday will spread eastward across the Deep South Monday night and to the Southeast and southern mid-Atlantic on Tuesday.

    A zone of ice will reach across northern and western North Carolina to western Virginia Monday night, including the cities of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Roanoke, Va. Motorists should be prepared for slippery travel along I-26, I-77 and I-81.

    Travel delays on the I-10 and I-20 corridors are in store from Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and northern Florida from rain-soaked highways and poor visibility from downpours.

    The soaking rain and low-hanging clouds could delay flights at New Orleans, Atlanta, Charlotte and other airports in the region for travelers heading to their Thanksgiving destinations early.

    Across southern Georgia and Florida, there is concern for the thunderstorms to turn severe Tuesday through Tuesday night.

    As the worst of the storm shifts to the Northeast, more travel problems may unfold in the South on Wednesday due to lingering rain, wind and gusty winds.



    Rest of the Nation

    Much of the rest of the nation will have good travel conditions.

    Beware, aircraft and flight crews originating from the South and Northeast could be delayed, perhaps causing ripple-effect problems with a few flights throughout the nation.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Travel Maps
    Thanksgiving Day Weather
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center


    There will be bands of lake-effect snow over the Upper Midwest, due to fresh cold air moving in Tuesday and Wednesday. The lake-effect snow will gradually wind down in many locations on Thanksgiving Day.

    While odds favor the snow streaming over areas south to southeast of the lakes, there is some concern lake-effect snow will sneak into Chicago and cause issues at O'Hare International Airport on Wednesday.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Monday, Nov. 25, 2013
    In this Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 photo, a typhoon survivor from Leyte province breaks into tears as they are greeted upon arrival at Villamor air base in Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines. Thousands of people from areas wrecked by Haiyan clambered aboard free C-130 mercy flights to Manila without any plan, in a desperate bid to escape the hunger, uncertainties and lingering stench of death back home. Others arrived here by bus, or fled to central Cebu province, which like the capital is regarded by rural poor Filipinos as a greener pasture in this impoverished Southeast Asian nation of more than 96 million people. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
    In this Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, photo, a typhoon survivor from Leyte province breaks into tears as they are greeted upon arrival at Villamor Air Base in Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Romnick Abadines' heart pounded as a Philippines air force C-130 carried him above typhoon-wrecked Tacloban city. He had never been on a plane before, never watched silvery-white clouds pass from a small round window. It was not the first time, or the last, that he felt helpless and out of his element.

    The frail, 31-year-old farmer lost his shanty to Typhoon Haiyan, which flattened much of Tacloban in Leyte province as it killed more than 5,200 people. Now he lays idle in a tent shelter in suburban Manila, where he has no known relatives and little chance of finding more than menial and temporary work.

    More than 12,000 people displaced by the massive Nov. 8 have made it to the capital. Most are with relatives; those with no family here are in shelters. Many have no idea how or where to rebuild their lives.

    "What will happen to us when this kindness ends?" asked Maribel Villajos, a 37-year-old mother of three children who sat listlessly with her husband on cots surrounded by bags of newly donated clothes, potato chips and instant coffee sachets at the same shelter where Abadines and his family were taken.

    Villajos' husband is a carpenter, but his tools were swept away along with their house in the tsunami-like storm surge that swept far into Tacloban and ruined much of the densely-populated coastal city.

    Thousands of people from areas wrecked by Haiyan clambered aboard free C-130 mercy flights to Manila without any plan, in a desperate bid to escape the hunger, uncertainties and lingering stench of death back home. Others arrived here by bus, or fled to central Cebu province, which like the capital is regarded by rural poor Filipinos as a greener pasture in this impoverished Southeast Asian nation of more than 96 million people.

    They keep coming. In Tacloban, hundreds of survivors lined up Monday outside the city's damaged airport, waiting for a flight out. Survivors will be ferried out "for as long as possible," said Eduardo del Rosario, who heads the government's disaster-response agency.

    Many typhoon survivors traveled to Manila to stay with relatives, but a few dozen families have no connections to the city and now live in one of about 10 emergency shelters run by the government and private groups.

    The shelter the Abadines and Villajos families live in was set up in a sprawling grade school compound. It has eight portable toilets and three televisions tuned to South Korean soap operas and the Cartoon Network.

    Jennifer Dawat, 13, passed the time by making crayon drawings of the family's happier days in Leyte's Ormoc city. One showed a girl flying a kite beside a box-like yellow house with a blue roof and a coconut tree, and a smiling yellow sun overhead.

    "That's our house," she said. "It's gone."

    Walk-in volunteers drop by to hand over used clothes, children's books and food. A cellphone company offers free calls. A local radio network parked a mobile van studio for anybody wanting to broadcast any message or recount typhoon ordeals to the public.

    Even celebrities were lending a hand. Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys chatted with typhoon survivors who arrived at Manila's Villamor Air Base on Monday, and she handed crayons and coloring books to children. The American R&B star was in Manila for a concert.

    Metropolitan Manila welfare official Delia Bawan said the government is taking steps to provide emergency employment to the most desperate survivors who flew to Manila, although that may take some time. Steps have also been taken to protect the displaced from trafficking syndicates, she said.

    Abadines was pleasantly surprised the moment he, his girlfriend and their two children arrived Friday at the air base. Government welfare staffers and volunteers welcomed them and other survivors with a long round of applause, then gave them packs of food and brought the injured to a first-aid tent.

    "My worst fear was that we'll be dumped in the streets and be at the mercy of drug addicts and criminals," Abadines said.

    But while his family's needs are now being met, he doesn't know what will happen next. Aside from farming, Abadines has worked only as a tricycle taxi driver and vegetable vendor at the public market in Leyte's Palo town, near Tacloban, where his family lived.

    His family was so poor that he completed only three years of grade school. He and his girlfriend have no relatives in Manila, and said their remaining kin and friends back in Palo are in as much distress as they are.

    Even some typhoon survivors with relatives in Manila are in the shelters. Some lost their cellphones and address books in the storm and have been unable to reach loved ones. Others found relatives, but they were unable to help.

    Didith Villanueva of Hospicio de San Jose, a Manila orphanage that has provided shelter to dozens of typhoon survivors, said one family from Leyte found a relative who turned out to be a poor vendor who slept in the streets of Manila's grimy downtown.

    "Many of these survivors left their province out of desperation without any plan. They were like shooting at the moon," Villanueva said.

    The exodus is an extra challenge to President Benigno Aquino III's government, which is feeding and sheltering tens of thousands of people in the disaster zones, collecting the dead in Tacloban city and outlying provinces, restoring power and water and laying out a blueprint to rebuild entire villages and towns. More than a million houses were destroyed or damaged by the typhoon. Although backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid, the government has been overwhelmed by the gargantuan task.

    Many survivors who fled to Manila also are overwhelmed. They must either return to the disaster areas and rebuild from nothing or try their luck in Manila or somewhere else, also with nothing.

    To Abadines, the choice is simple: "It's where we grew up and had children. We have to return."

    But his girlfriend, Lorna Ansabot, has reservations. She fears another big storm. In Manila, they could survive, she said, even if they have to scavenge for scraps in garbage dumps.

    She thinks of her parents, who lived near her. She and Abadines frantically urged them to flee as the typhoon's brutal wind started to blow and a wall of water surged in. They refused, saying they needed to watch over their piggery and some chickens.

    Her parents were swept away, along with everything they owned. They have not been found.

    "She became very depressed after that," Abadines said. "But I kept telling her, 'It's not our fault. It's not our fault.'"

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Indelible Photos from Typhoon Haiyan

     

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    Updated Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, 7:33 p.m. ET
    A Deptartment of Transportation plow and sanding truck heads up Paseo del Norte in Albuquerque, N.M., Sunday, Nov.24, 2013, in Albuquerque, N.M., after a winter storm hit New Mexico over the weekend making driving difficult. A large storm already blamed for at least eight deaths in the West slogged through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and other parts of the southwest Sunday as it slowly churned east ahead of Thanksgiving. (AP Photos/Albuquerque Journal, Jim Thompson) THE SANTA FE NEW MEXICAN OUT
    A Department of Transportation plow and sanding truck heads up Paseo del Norte in Albuquerque, N.M., Sunday, Nov.24, 2013, in Albuquerque, N.M., after a winter storm hit New Mexico over the weekend making driving difficult. (AP Photos/Albuquerque Journal, Jim Thompson)

    DALLAS (AP) - A winter storm blamed for at least 10 fatal accidents in the West and Texas threatens to dampen the Thanksgiving holiday for millions of Americans traveling this week.

    Nearly 300 American Airlines and American Eagle flights were canceled in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Monday due to the weather, spokeswoman Laura Masvidal said, mirroring disruptions at the air hub a day earlier. Some of the country's busiest airports - New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Charlotte, N.C. - could see big delays.

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    Icy roads led to hundreds of accidents and at least 10 deaths, half of them in Texas. On Monday, the stormbrought a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain to parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, southern Kansas and Texas. But as the storm continues east, there are fears of heavy rain along the busy Interstate 95 corridor and sleet, freezing rain and snow away from the coast and at higher elevations.

    Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, said it will be "primarily a rain event" for the East Coast, with up to three inches of rain dousing travelers.

    "The further inland you get - especially as you get into that higher terrain - you are going to deal with frozen precipitation," Kines said. Snow could fall in western Pennsylvania and the interior of New England. Up to 9 inches could blanket northern parts of West Virginia, where the National Weather Service issued a winterstorm warning from Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon.

    Jeff Smidt is traveling Wednesday from his home in Toronto to visit his family in Andover, Mass., just outside Boston.

    "My understanding is that I'm traveling at like the worst time ever," he said.

    Smidt tried to get on an earlier flight but JetBlue told him it isn't waiving any change fees yet.

    "I'm just hoping I also don't become a statistic during the holiday weekend," he said. "Worst comes to worst, it will be an eight-hour trek down Interstate 90."

    Ninety percent of travelers this week will drive, according to AAA, and an estimated 38.9 million people - 1.6 percent fewer than last year - are expected to drive 50 miles or more from their home.

    Gas is about 15 cents cheaper than last year, AAA said Monday, with a gallon of regular selling for $3.28.

    The car-lobbying group and travel agency says Wednesday will be the busiest travel day, a forecast based on a formula that factors in consumer confidence, stock market performance, unemployment and a survey of 418 people that has a 6 percent margin of error.

    Air travel will be busier and more expensive than usual this Thanksgiving.

    This holiday will likely see the most air travelers since 2007, according to Airlines for America, the industry's trade and lobbying group, with the busiest day being Sunday, an estimated 2.56 million passengers. Wednesday is expected to be the second-busiest with 2.42 million passengers.

    The average domestic airfare is up 9.5 percent from last Thanksgiving to $313, according to the Airlines Reporting Corp., which processes tickets sold online and by traditional travel agencies.

    Meanwhile, Amtrak prices in September - the most recent month for which data is available - were up more than 4 percent from last year.

    Adding to the usual stress of holiday travel, though, is the weather that's ahead for much of the country. Already, the storm system dropped several inches of snow last week in New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma and West Texas.

    Some of the worst weather was expected in the Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas but most of the region saw only sporadic ice and very cold temperatures.

    "You can see it on the power lines but the roads are fine," said Courtney O'Neal-Walden, who planned to close her Dairyette restaurant in Mount Ida four hours early because business was slow.

    In Texas, up to 44,000 people, mostly in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, were without power earlier in the day, but that number had dropped considerably by the afternoon.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Monday, Nov. 25, 2013
    TIGA PANCUR, NORTH SUMATRA, INDONESIA - NOVEMBER 25: Mount Sinabung spewing pyroclastic smoke is seen from Tigapancur village on November 25, 2013 in Karo district, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Mount Sinabung, which has been intermittently erupting since September, erupted eight times in just a few hours on Sunday. Officials have reported of rocks raining down over a large area, forcing thousands to flee their homes. The Indonesian government has called for people living within five kilometres (3.1 miles) of the volcano, on the northern tip of Sumatra Island, to evacuate their homes as the volcanology agency raised the alert level for the volcano to the highest point on a four-stage scale. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
    Mount Sinabung spewing pyroclastic smoke is seen from Tigapancur village on November 25, 2013, in Karo district, North Sumatra, Indonesia. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)

    KARO, Indonesia (AP) - Powerful bursts of hot ash and gravel erupted from a rumbling volcano in western Indonesia early Monday, sending panicked villagers streaming down the sides of the mountain.

    Six new eruptions in the morning sent lava and searing gas tumbling up to .9 miles down the slopes of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province. Volcanic material spewed as high as 6,500 feet into the air a day after authorities had raised the volcano's alert status to the highest level.

    About 15,000 people have been evacuated from 17 villages in the danger zone 3 miles around the crater, National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. The evacuation zone was expanded from 3 kilometers.

    Thick, gray ash covered villages, farms and trees as far as 43 miles north of Mount Sinabung's crater, hitting the towns of Binjai and Langkat.

    "Everything turned hot surrounding us," said Jatah Surbakti, a 45-year-old farmer who fled with his wife and four children to a shelter on trucks provided by the local disaster agency, along with hundreds other villagers.

    "We were running in panic under the rain of ash and gravel. ... I heard many women and children screaming and crying," he said, adding that his fruit and vegetable farms were destroyed by the ash and his children's schools were disrupted.

    The 8,530-foot Mount Sinabung has sporadically erupted since September. An eruption in 2010 killed two people and caught scientists off guard because the volcano had been quiet for four centuries.

    Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said airlines had been notified to avoid routes near the mountain.

    Mount Sinabung is among around 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

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

     

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    The eruption of Mt. Etna in Sicily on Nov. 23, 2013, has caused a flurry of ash and rocks to rain down upon parts of the island. In fact, the downpour was so bad that some residents used umbrellas to protect themselves from the stony shower. Europe's most active volcano erupted twice in less than a week.

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    Smoke, gas and ash traveled across the region after Etna's most recent eruption, blanketing parts of Sicily, like the town Giardini Naxos, shown in the above video. The eruption did not force any evacuations, though part of a highway was temporarily closed, as were two of four air corridors serving a nearby airport. Air traffic was not interrupted.

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

     

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    Colorado Anchor Goes On Rant About Snow Pictures


    A Colorado news anchor has gone on a hilarious rant against the "boring" photos of snow-covered patios that viewers inundate the station with during winter storms. Indeed, 9News's Kyle Clark seems to be fed up with and furious at viewers snapping pictures of patio furniture blanketed in snow.

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    "If you like it, then you should have put a thing on it," Clark laments, suggesting that folks instead take snowy photos of "a disgruntled dog" or "your husband drinking a beer." Clark goes on to remind viewers that they live in a state renowned for its stunning natural beauty and snow-covered mountains. "Come on, Colorado," Clark said. "We can do better than this. We love winter. We own winter. Let's take the pictures to prove it."

    Clark urges his viewers to try harder this year, calling to mind the determination of Colorado's residents. "We blasted a road through the Rockies ... Our welcome sign is a demon horse with crazy laser eyes," he reminds viewers. "We don't do 'easy' around here."

    See the full rant:


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    Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013

    According to AAA, 43.4 million people will travel this holiday, with 37 percent of those departing Nov. 27. Winter conditions could delay flights and slow roadway traffic. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

    As Thanksgiving eve nears, road crews and airliners in the Northeast are gearing up for a travel-impairing storm.

    The system has been moving eastward since the weekend, when it brought snow and ice to the Rockies and Plains. Even unfamiliar places, such as Lubbock, Texas, received several inches of snow.

    Beginning today (Tuesday), storminess will spread into the Northeast.

    "A wintry mix of ice and snow is expected across the Appalachians with plain snow on the northwest edge of the storm," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Erik Pindrock said.

    "Snowfall of 6 to 12 inches are expected with some spots as high as 18 inches in the heaviest areas of snow, which will fall over portions of northwest Pennsylvania and western New York."

    According to AAA, 43.4 million people will travel this holiday, with 37 percent of those departing Nov. 27.

    State transportation departments are already bracing themselves for the event.

    "In our six-county coverage area in central New York, we'll have plow 96 trucks available with trained staffing that can go around-the-clock," Gene Cilento, press officer of the NYDOT Syracuse office said.

    "We had lake-effect snow over the weekend so our crews have been out and tested."

    Though the agency says they strive to have roads clear of snow and ice within two hours after a storm, they warn that snow and slush can mount on roads during the event.

    "Motorists must take responsibility for driving prudently for the conditions, knowing that roads may be slippery and snow-covered during winter storms," Cilento said.

    RELATED:
    Flight Tracker and Current Airport Delays
    Be Prepared with Road Trip Planner
    See Current AccuWeather.com Snow Map

    While upstate New York has received substantial snowfall due to lake-effect bands already this season, Pittsburgh, Pa., is preparing for the first major accumulation this holiday.

    "All of our trucks will be in use if we get a storm of 3 to 6 inches," Pittsburgh PennDOT Press Officer Steve Cowan said.

    "Our crews are prepared. We have salt on hand, our equipment is ready. We will be here around the clock Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday."

    Though the snow is forecast to fall inland, heavy rain and gusty winds will span the I-95 corridor on Wednesday, taking aim at Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

    Conditions could result in significant delays for air travelers on Wednesday.

    Already, the storm has prompted about 300 pre-cancelled departures at Dallas-Fort Worth airport.

    The flights were canceled in anticipation of the storm, in order to 'reduce the number of stranded travelers,' the airport wrote on its official Twitter account.

    By Thursday, nasty winter conditions should clear for most of the Northeast as the storm moves off the coast.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Updated Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 11:53 a.m. ET

    Crews spray deicing solution onto an American Airlines 737 before departure at Dallas-Fort Worth International airport, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Snow and ice are forecast for the northeast of the country as a deadly storm that started on the West Coast last week gathers steam Tuesday and powers toward the East in time for Thanksgiving.

    The National Weather Service warned that the storm would almost certainly upset holiday travel plans for those hoping to visit loved ones in the mid-Atlantic and northeast.

    "The timing of the storm couldn't be worse," said Chris Vaccaro, spokesman for theweather service headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. "We are seeing numerous threats as the storm is beginning to develop and intensify."

    Vaccaro said heavy rain and high winds would impact travel by air and road in the northeast and mid-Atlantic, and that the weather in that part of the country could have a ripple effect on airports with departing and originating flights elsewhere.

    On Tuesday and Wednesday morning, heavy rain and breezy conditions will strike the East Coast from the Carolinas to the northeast, with ice and snow a possibility in the Appalachians, western Pennsylvania and western New York.

    The storm system, already blamed for at least 11 deaths, could also spawn an isolated tornado in the Florida Panhandle.

    The Southeast, meanwhile, is set to suffer soaking rain in the coming days, primarily in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

    The large system has already struck parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas, but with temperatures creeping above freezing the outcome was less dramatic there than forecasters had feared.

    The storm sprung out of the West and has been blamed for at least 11 deaths, half of them in Texas. It limped across Arkansas with a smattering of snow, sleet and freezing rain that didn't meet expectations.

    "It's just really cold. We had drizzle but no snow," said Courtney O'Neal-Walden, an owner of the Dairyette diner on U.S. 270 in Mount Ida, Ark. "You can see (ice) on the power lines but the roads are fine."

    She said ominous warnings of a wintery storm kept most people inside - although schools remained open - and few stopped by the diner for Monday's $5.99 special of popcorn shrimp, fries and a medium drink.

    But the system packed plenty of punch as it moved eastward.

    John Robinson, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in North Little Rock, said winter storm warnings were issued for parts of the eastern half of the United States through Wednesday afternoon.

    Some of the country's busiest airports - New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Charlotte, N.C. - could see big delays at one of the peak travel times of the year.

    This holiday will likely see the most air travelers since 2007, according to Airlines for America, the industry's trade and lobbying group, with the busiest day being Sunday, an estimated 2.56 million passengers. Wednesday is expected to be the second-busiest with 2.42 million passengers.

    Ninety percent of travelers this week will drive, according to AAA, and an estimated 38.9 million people - 1.6 percent fewer than last year - are expected to drive 50 miles or more from their home.

    In New Jersey, officials advised travelers to check with their airlines and reduce speed on highways as a winter weather advisory was set to take effect shortly before midday across the state's northwest areas.

    Meanwhile, forecasters were predicting 5 to 8 inches of snow in Buffalo, more in the northern Adirondacks, and a winter storm watch was posted for central New York state with heavy rain expected in parts of the Hudson Valley.

    In the nation's capital, federal agencies opened Tuesday though the National WeatherService issued a winter weather advisory for the northern and western suburbs of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, amid forecasts of a light mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain that could be topped off by heavy rain.

    The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which sets leave policies for 300,000 federal workers in Washington, said that while government was open Tuesday, employees could take unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework.

    Jeff Smidt hopes to travel from his home in Toronto on Wednesday to visit his family near Boston. He plans to drive if he cannot fly.

    "My understanding is that I'm traveling at like the worst time ever," Smidt said. He tried to change his JetBlue reservation to get on an earlier flight but was told the airline wasn't waiving any change fees yet.

    "Worst comes to worst, it will be an eight-hour trek down Interstate 90," he said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013
    In this Tuesday Nov. 19, 2013 photo, a worker makes his way out of the damaged Expert Global Solutions call center in Palo, Leyte, central Philippines. As Typhoon Haiyan tore across the eastern Philippines, coconut plantations older than the fathers of the men who tend them were smashed like matchsticks and call centers that field customer service gripes from around the world fell silent. The building wasnít hit by Haiyanís storm surge but monstrous winds peeled off iron-sheet roofing from the hangar-like structure as more than 500 people huddled within, leaving only the steel frame skeleton and soaking everything below. No one died on the premises of the company that had optimistically named itself Expert Global Solutions but some employees lost family. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
    In this Tuesday Nov. 19, 2013 photo, a worker makes his way out of the damaged Expert Global Solutions call center in Palo, Leyte, central Philippines. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

    TANAUAN, Philippines (AP) - As Typhoon Haiyan tore across the eastern Philippines, coconut plantations older than the fathers of the men who tend them were smashed like matchsticks and call centers that field customer service gripes from around the world fell silent. The storm that killed thousands also wrecked livelihoods in the worst hit region, a blow that will ripple long after the disaster fades from attention.

    The workload of call and data centers that are soaked in water and choked with debris has easily been diverted to other Philippine cities. Less simple is the choice faced by thousands of workers: uproot and separate from family or stay in Leyte province and wait perhaps a year for the jobs to return.

    Tenant coconut farmers know they must clear flattened trees and replant. It will be three years before the new trees are mature enough to bear fruit.

    In Tanauan, 20 kilometers from the coastal city of Tacloban inundated by a storm surge on Nov. 8, coconut farms are a tangle of snapped, uprooted and twisted trees. Farmers say that even trees still standing will die because of damage to their cores.

    "Those trees over there have been producing coconuts even before my father was born" said tenant farmer Mario Duma, gesturing at a 3-hectare plot where just a couple of dozen out of 500 coconut trees survived.

    "If we get seedlings, we can plant again next year," said Duma, shirtless under the harsh midday sun. "We will really go into hard times if the government will not support us."

    The coconut palm is known in the Philippines as the "tree of life" because every part of it has a use. Fronds are used as roofing, husks as floor cleaner or charcoal, white flesh can be eaten or processed into oil, the sap makes wine. Flowering four times a year for a harvest every three months throughout the decades-long life of the trees, coconuts have long allowed millions of people across the country to make a living.

    But it's a rugged hardscrabble way of life. A harvest of 2,000 coconuts sells for 7,000 pesos ($160) and tenant farmers must share that with landowners. Many have sought to leave farming behind. Call center and other jobs in the blossoming outsourcing industry offer air conditioned comfort and pay that is higher than average for white collar work in the Philippines. Those opportunities were multiplying in Leyte as more outsourcing companies moved in. Then Haiyan came, leveling towns and dreams.

    At a call and data center in Palo, 11 kilometers from Tacloban, chairs, desks and computers are soaked in water and caked with dirt.

    The building wasn't hit by Haiyan's storm surge but monstrous winds peeled off iron-sheet roofing from the hangar-like structure as more than 500 people huddled within, leaving only the steel frame skeleton and soaking everything below. No one died on the premises of the company that had optimistically named itself Expert Global Solutions but some employees lost family.

    Bosses visiting from Manila ordered harddrives of some 1,000 damaged computers destroyed to protect confidential data of clients mostly in the U.S.

    Power may be restored to the area in December, a crucial milestone for businesses that hope to rebuild.

    "It's impossible to resume operations now because all the computers are damaged, there's no equipment," said quality supervisor RJ Ripalda.

    Some employees have decided to take jobs with the company in Manila but that's not option for some, including Ripalda with two young children.

    "Others have the option to relocate, but others will have to find other means to earn to buy milk for their children, rice," she said.

    At billing services company Accudata, five employees were seated around a table waiting for their cellphones to finish charging on a power outlet run from a generator. They had just gotten some rice and other supplies from the provincial relief operations center.

    "It will take a year to repair our office," said Rosalie Alconaba, a supervisor. "I will just pray our office will be repaired soon."

    About 200 out of 1,000 employees of Accudata and affiliate data processing company CoreData have put their names down for relocation to Manila, the Philippine capital.

    Those with families are reluctant to leave even though they have no job options in Leyte.

    "Even the department stores of Tacloban were looted, malls were ransacked, so there is really nothing," said one employee.

    Edgardo Sablay also fears tough times. The 48-year-old has spent most of his life climbing tall coconut trees to collect sap from the palm's flowers for Tuba, or coconut sap wine, and can earn 700 pesos ($16) for collecting 8 gallons in a day.

    "I have not gone to school, I only know how to make Tuba," he said. "I am not losing hope that there will still be trees that can survive and which I can climb to feed my family."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Indelible Photos from Typhoon Haiyan

     

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