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SKYE on AOL

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    Exactly 48 years ago today - December 15, 1965 - this NASA photo was taken. It depicts the Gemini 7 spacecraft as seen from the Gemini 6 craft. The two spacecraft were doing a delicate rendezvous, getting as close as 9 feet from each other at their nearest point.

     

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    Monday, Dec. 16, 2013
    Wintry Weather
    Several inches of snow covers along a lakeshore trail Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

    After a snowstorm dropped as much as 14 inches of snow in New England, another round is on the way for the start of the week.

    The weekend was filled with snow from Indianapolis to Philadelphia and Boston.

    Snow totals from this storm, however, are not expected to be near a foot.

    The system starts in the Midwest on Monday, but tracks into the Northeast on Tuesday when the heaviest of snow will fall.

    In general, most areas will receive 1 to 3 inches of snow. However, the storm will really ramp up in New England, making 3 to 6 inches common for Providence, R.I.; Boston, Mass.; and Portland, Maine.

    In these areas, snow could cause significant travel disruptions and delays from snow-covered roads and flight troubles.

    RELATED:
    Reports: Weekend Snowstorm Recap
    Detailed Forecast for Boston
    Interactive Weather Radar for the Northeast

    Through the middle of the week, cold air continues in New England, but milder temperatures move into the Midwest, helping to melt the snow from the last few days.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Snowstorm Strikes from Midwest to Manhattan

     

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    Monday, Dec. 16, 2013
    Wintry Weather
    Skiers get on a chairlift at Blue Hills Ski Area Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013 in Canton, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) - A weekend storm that dumped a foot or more of snow in parts of the U.S. Northeast made ski area operators happy, but travelers were still dealing with slippery roads and flight cancellations Sunday.

    Snowfall in the region ranged from 2 to 8 inches in Connecticut and Rhode Island to almost 11 inches in northern Massachusetts and nearly 17 inches on Maine's southern coast, according to the National Weather Service.

    Car accidents were reported across the region, including a crash in central Pennsylvania that killed two people late Saturday morning. Police tell The Altoona Mirror that an SUV was traveling too fast for weather conditions when it lost control and slid into the path of an oncoming pickup truck. The two people in the SUV died, and the truck driver was seriously injured.

    In Indiana, authorities say a man married less than seven hours was killed along with a stranded motorist he stopped to help in the snow when they were struck by several vehicles. The man, 49-year-old William Knight was with his wife, Nikki, late Saturday on the way back from his wedding reception to a hotel when the accident happened. Knight and 42-year-old Linda Darlington were standing on the side of the road when they were struck by one vehicle and then two more, authorities say. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

    Airports were also trying to get back to normal after hundreds of flight cancellations. Many morning flights at Logan International Airport in Boston and other airports in the region were canceled, but most afternoon flights were listed as on time.

    Flights in the New York City area, which received significant snowfall totals, were taking off on schedule Sunday.

    New York City's Central Park Zoo recorded 6 inches of snow Saturday, while Westchester County in suburban New York netted 7.5 inches. The snow turned to rain in the metropolitan area overnight and left behind a coating of ice, resulting in slick sidewalks and roadways.

    Some Christmas shoppers saw the storm as an opportunity to avoid crowds Sunday morning.

    "It is slippery and no one is out," said Bruce Long of Boston, who was shopping in Newton, Massachusetts, just west of Boston "They're warning people that if you have to get out, do it now because later it's going to get cold. This is all going to turn to ice and it will be a mess."

    Skiers and snowboarders throughout the northeastern New England states rejoiced in the cold, snowy weather and a chance to get out on the slopes.

    Mount Sunapee ski area in Newbury, New Hampshire, got a fresh 13 inches of snow and a big skier turnout Sunday morning, said marketing director Bruce McCloy.

    "Cars are pouring into the parking lot as I look out the window," he said. "People are excited."

    Utility companies reported only scattered power outages in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island and a few hundred total in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Snowstorm Strikes from Midwest to Manhattan

     

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    Monday, Dec. 16, 2013
    Bulldozers clear snow off a road in the West Bank city of Nablus, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. The Gaza Strip received its first shipment of industrial fuel in 45 days Sunday. A lack of fuel has hampered rescue efforts in Gaza, where thousands of residents fled flooded homes. The storm let up Saturday, but authorities in the region still struggled to clear roads and repair downed power lines. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
    Bulldozers clear snow off a road in the West Bank city of Nablus, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)

    JERUSALEM (AP) - Jerusalem was still partially paralyzed Monday following a rare snowstorm last week, with schools in the city shut down, thousands left without power and only some public transportation working.

    The storm started Wednesday and battered the region intermittently for four days, dumping up to two feet of snow on Jerusalem, which often goes entire winters without snow, and forcing some 40,000 Gazans to flee their flooded homes.

    On Monday, many of Jerusalem's roads had not been cleared of snow, ice and downed trees. Some 8,000 homes in Israel - more than half of them in Jerusalem itself - were still without electricity, said Israel's Electric Corp.

    In the Gaza Strip, which is located on the Mediterranean coast, where snow had fallen for the first time in some 20 years, most of the damage was caused by flooding.

    The Palestinian territory's schools and government offices were starting to open on Monday and Gaza's Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said his Hamas government would compensate Gazans for damages to their homes.

    The storm has come at a difficult time for Gaza. Recurring power outages have led to the suspension of many health care programs and services, including waste water treatment. Overwhelmed sewage facilities have been forced to dump untreated waste into the Mediterranean, and long lines are often formed outside bakeries while people wait to buy bread.

    Despite its blockade of the Palestinian territory, run by the militant Hamas group, Israel over the weekend sent diesel fuel for heating and four water pumps as a humanitarian gesture.

    Gaza received its first shipment of Israeli industrial fuel in 45 days on Sunday, bringing much-needed relief to the coastal territory after the storm. The shipment was paid for by Qatar, an oil rich Gulf country that has aided Hamas in the past. Officials said Gazans would now have roughly 12 hours of electricity a day, up from the recent level of six hours.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: Rare Snowstorm Hits Middle East

     

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    China's Moon Rover Footage Released
    Footage of China's Jade Rabbit rover landing on the moon was released on Sunday, Dec. 15, along with the first photographs of the rover and lander. China's state media reported that the rover touched the lunar surface and left deep traces on the moon's soil. The "Jade Rabbit," as the rover is called, separated from its landing vehicle approximately 7 hours after the probe landed on the moon's surface. It's the world's first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly 40 years.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Epic Photos of Astronauts on the Moon
    Man on Moon

     

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    Monday Dec. 16, 2013


    Strong winds in Norway last week made simply crossing the street an epic struggle. As this video shows, Christmas shoppers in downtown Aalesund could hardly stay standing. Storm Ivar - the name given to the tempest by Norwegian weathers officials - tore through Scandinavia on Thursday and Friday, leaving 20,000 in Norway without power Friday morning.

    The police were called in to aid pedestrians after one man was blown from the sidewalk into an intersection. According to city officials, only one person was injured.

    The weather system caused an estimated NOK 100 million ($17 million) worth of damage.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos from 2013
    Twin Waterspouts

     

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    Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013
    Wintry Weather
    A tree is encrusted in ice early Sunday, Dec.17, 2013, in Langhorne, Pa. , after an overnight storm. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    Several storms will produce areas of rain, ice and snow with areas of dense fog which can cause trouble for travelers over the Central, Eastern and Northwestern states beginning Friday and continuing into the week of Christmas.

    The atmosphere will change gears over the next week to a pattern that will briefly send warmer air into the eastern third of the nation.

    The warmth will mean no snow or ice problems for millions of people in the South, Ohio Valley, mid-Atlantic and southeastern New England. However, that warmth will also be accompanied by episodes of rain and fog that can still lead to travel delays.

    According to Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "Conditions will be favorable for extensive fog to form with the warmup, even in the absence of heavy rain."

    The fog could settle over long stretches of highways and delay flights for hours at some major airports.

    On Friday, one storm will spread some rain and drizzle from the Ohio Valley to the central Appalachians and southern New England. Because of a cold ground, fog may form with or without snow cover and affect the cities of the cities of Pittsburgh, New York and Boston.

    Farther north, from that same Friday storm, some snow and a wintry mix will reach eastward across from parts of Michigan to upstate New York and northern New England. While snowfall with this system will be considered to be minor, enough can fall to cause slippery roads.

    Showers and patchy fog will also reach from the central Gulf Coast to the southern Appalachians with that system Friday and Saturday.

    A storm will affect the Northwest Friday into Saturday. That storm will bring some coastal rain and fog in Washington and Oregon, including Seattle and Portland, Ore. Snow changing to rain and fog will affect the passes in the Cascades for a time. Enough snow can fall over the passes in the northern Rockies into the first part of the weekend to slow travel, including along I-90.

    Yet another storm is forecast to become the major weather maker prior to Christmas over the eastern half of the nation spanning Saturday to Monday.

    A large swath of precipitation will develop Saturday over the South Central states and is projected to expand northeastward to New England later in the weekend and then slice eastward across the South and mid-Atlantic into Monday.

    Within most of this area, rain will fall thanks to a surge of warmer air.

    The rain can become heavy enough to cause urban flooding. Cities that have a chance of heavy rain include Dallas, Memphis, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston. With the rain will come with the potential for episodes of dense fog.

    A zone of ice and snow is likely to develop on the northwestern fringe of the rain area. How close this gets to major airport hubs, such as Oklahoma City, Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis is uncertain at this time.

    There is also a risk of severe thunderstorms in part of the south from the second storm.

    According to AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity, "We could be looking at a severe weather outbreak including a few tornadoes beginning from central and eastern Texas to the lower Mississippi Valley with this second storm Saturday into Sunday."

    RELATED:
    Tune in to AccuWeather LIVE Weekday Mornings
    Monday to Tuesday Snow: Chicago to Boston
    Interactive National Radar

    In the wake of the second storm with its rain, fog, ice and snow will follow a push of chilly air. While this is not likely to be as cold as some prior Arctic outbreaks thus far, it may get cold enough to cause wet areas to freeze.

    Details on the exact location of rain, versus snow and ice, and accompanying fog on a day-to-day basis will be released on AccuWeather.com as they become available.

    A larger version of this map can be viewed father below within the story.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Best Christmas Festivals

     

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    Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013

    The Ravens and the Vikings had to battle the snow earlier this season at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

    With Accuweather.com long-range forecasters looking at a favorable pattern for a stormy start to February, the athletes who make it into Super Bowl XLVIII will need to take some extra precautions to prepare for the potential cold.

    The average high on Feb. 2 in East Rutherford, N.J., home of MetLife Stadium where this year's Big Game will play out, is 40 F. Around kick off time temperatures could drop into the mid- to low 30s. However, temperatures as low as 16 F have been recorded for that date and location.

    For the athletes, that will mean taking some extra precautions. Josh Gregoire, athletic trainer for the Jacksonville Sharks and a former member of the Atlanta Falcons athletic training team, told AccuWeather.com that there are three main concerns for football players facing the cold.

    "When the Falcons would go up north, we'd have to focus on muscle tightening," Gregoire said.

    To prevent the extra strain on cold, tight muscles, the athletes would stretch more rigorously when traveling to play in colder climates, Gregoire explained.

    "The goal was to keep them moving, keep the muscles loose," he said.

    This included working out more during halftime to keep them going, or using heat packs to warm the muscles when the players would need to sit down.


    ​Some teams, such as the Green Bay Packers, are more used to the cold than others. (AP Photo/Beth A. Keiser, File)

    Another big concern for players in colder weather was the result of shivering.

    "We worried, as a staff, about shivering, which makes you burn quite a bit of extra calories," Gregoire said. "In football, they're already running and jumping and burning a lot of calories to begin with, so we want to conserve that extra energy and limit burning extra calories by keeping them warm."

    Gregoire said that the calories lost from shivering would typically be rather nominal, but for athletes outside for three or more hours that extra energy expenditure is something to be avoided. Athletes will wear warmer jackets on the sidelines to help cut back on the cold, and are advised by their trainers to eat more calories the day of and the day before a cold game.

    Proper hydration, which is always a crucial step for any athletic activity, is also a key part of keeping players healthy and safe in the cold. Gregoire said that staying well hydrated in the cold will help to prevent muscle strains.

    RELATED
    Detailed Forecast for East Rutherford, N.J.
    Winter Weather Center
    Northeast Interactive Radar

    The body eventually acclimates to the cold, but it can be a gradual process. Gregoire said that if any warmer climate or dome teams make it to the Super Bowl this year they will likely try to give themselves plenty of time to get used to the cold New Jersey winter before the game starts, which could help players adapt to the cold better.

    "At this level of play, pretty much every athlete has played in the elements," Gregoire said. "Northern outdoor teams may be better acclimated, but I wouldn't say that it would put them at any exceptional advantage."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013
    as firefighters battle a wildland fire in the Pfeiffer Ridge area in Big Sur, Calif. on Monday December 16, 2013. (Photo David Royal/ Monterey County Herald)
    Firefighters defend a home as a wild land fire burns in the Pfeiffer Ridge area in Big Sur, Calif. on Monday De.c 16, 2013. (AP Photo/ Monterey County Herald, David Royal)

    BIG SUR, California (AP) - A wildfire burning Monday in the Big Sur area of California destroyed at least 15 homes and forced about 100 people to evacuate as it chewed through dry vegetation on its way toward the ocean. No injuries were reported.

    The fire has burned about 500 acres (200 hectares) in the Pfeiffer Ridge area of Los Padres National Forest near state Highway 1, Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen said.

    Madsen said the fire destroyed the home of Big Sur Fire Chief Martha Karstens.

    "She left thinking that she was going to go protect other people's homes," Madsen said, "and it turns out that her own home has been consumed."

    Officials were hopeful that they could contain the blaze this week.

    "This is a completely wind-driven fire," Madsen said. "We're cautiously optimistic that we're going to pin this thing down within the next couple of days."

    The Red Cross has set up an overnight shelter for people who have been displaced by the fire, Madsen said.

    Big Sur is a popular tourist destination along the Central California coast with high-end resorts and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

    Residences were scattered in the path of the fire that was being battled by 300 firefighters. Officials also brought in air tankers and helicopters.

    The cause of the fire was under investigation.

    A wildfire so late in the year is unusual but not surprising given that California is in the midst of the driest calendar year on record.

    A lightning-sparked wildfire in 2008 forced the evacuation of Big Sur and blackened 250 square miles before it was contained. That blaze burned more than a dozen homes.Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013

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

     

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    Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2013
    Wintry Weather
    Steve Roche, of Walpole, Mass., front, shovels snow as neighbors use snow blowers to clear the sidewalk Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013 in Walpole. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    After a snowstorm dropped as much as 14 inches of snow in New England this weekend, another round is on the way.

    A system that started in the Midwest on Monday will track into the Northeast on Tuesday and Wednesday.



    In general, most areas will receive 1 to 3 inches of snow. However, the storm will really ramp up in New England, making 3 to 6 inches likely for Hartford, Conn.; Providence, R.I.; Portland, Maine; and Boston.

    Parts of eastern Maine and into Atlantic Canada will have more than 6 inches of snow and possibly as much as a foot.

    Roads will be cold enough to allow the snow to stick, threatening significant travel delays. Air travel also faces the risk of delays due to slippery runways and ice accumulation.



    Already Tuesday morning, delays due to snow and ice were occurring at La Guardia International Airport in New York, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    The wintry weather also closed portions of I-80 in Pennsylvania in the early morning hours of Tuesday. On the Pennsylvania Turnpike, crews reported that treatment was underway for snow that had fallen throughout the state.

    RELATED:
    Reports: Weekend Snowstorm Recap
    Detailed Forecast for Boston
    Interactive Weather Radar for the Northeast


    Through the middle of the week, cold air will continue in New England, but milder air will move into the Midwest, helping to melt the snow from the last few days.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: The World's Best Snow and Ice Festivals

     

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    Supervolcano in Yellowstone Is 2.5 Times Larger Than Previous Estimates


    HELENA, Montana (AP) - The hot molten rock beneath Yellowstone National Park is 2 ½ times larger than previously estimated, meaning the park's supervolcano has the potential to erupt with a force about 2,000 times the size of Mount St. Helens, according to a new study.

    By measuring seismic waves from earthquakes, scientists were able to map the magma chamber underneath the Yellowstone caldera as 55 miles long, lead author Jamie Farrell of the University of Utah said Monday.

    The chamber is 18 miles wide and runs at depths from 3 to 9 miles below the earth, he added.

    That means there is enough volcanic material below the surface to match the largest of the supervolcano's three eruptions over the last 2.1 million years, Farrell said.

    The largest blast - the volcano's first - was 2,000 times the size of the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. A similar one would spew large amounts of volcanic material in the atmosphere, where it would circle the earth, he said.

    "It would be a global event," Farrell said. "There would be a lot of destruction and a lot of impacts around the globe."

    The last Yellowstone eruption happened 640,000 years ago, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. For years, observers tracking earthquake swarms under Yellowstonehave warned the caldera is overdue to erupt.

    FILE - This graphic provided by University of Utah geophysicists shows the first large-scale picture of the electrical conductivity of the gigantic underground plume of hot and partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. The plume of molten rock feeding the supervolcano under the surface of Yellowstone National Park is much larger than previously thought, according to University of Utah geophysicists whose findings will be published in Geophysical Research Letters. (AP Photo/University of Utah, File)
    This graphic provided by University of Utah geophysicists shows the first large-scale picture of the electrical conductivity of the gigantic underground plume of hot and partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. (AP Photo/University of Utah, File)

    Farrell dismissed that notion, saying there isn't enough data to estimate the timing of the next eruption.

    "We do believe there will be another eruption, we just don't know when," he said.

    There are enough instruments monitoring the seismic activity of Yellowstone that scientists would likely know well ahead of time if there was unusual activity happening and magma was moving to the surface, Farrell said.

    The USGS' Yellowstone Volcano Observatory listed the park's volcano alert level as "normal" for December.

    Yellowstone attracts millions of visitors with its geothermal features of geysers, hot springs and bubbling mud pots. The park just opened its gates on Sunday for its winter season.

    Park officials did not immediately return a call for comment.

    A large earthquake at Yellowstone is much more likely than a volcano eruption, Farrell said.

    The 7.5-magnitude Hebgen Lake earthquake killed 28 people there in 1959.

    Farrell presented his findings last week to the American Geophysical Union. He said he is submitting it to a scholarly journal for peer review and publication.

    Brigham Young University geology professor Eric Christiansen said the study by Farrell and University of Utah Professor Bob Smith is very important to understanding the evolution of large volcanos such as Yellowstone's.

    "It helps us understand the active system," Christiansen said. "It's not at the point where we need to worry about an imminent eruption, but every piece of information we have will prepare us for that eventuality."

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

     

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    Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2103
    Minor Flooding
    (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

    A brief, but major shift in the weather pattern will send warm air northward and will produce a zone of heavy rain in a large part of the eastern half of the nation this weekend.

    Temperatures will trend upward Thursday and Friday from the South to New England.

    By the weekend, temperatures may challenge record highs from the Gulf Coast to the Ohio Valley and the mid-Atlantic.

    Highs will be in the 70s over much of the South with a few spots flirting with 80 degrees Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures will reach near 60 degrees along the Ohio River and the Mason-Dixon Line bordering Pennsylvania and Maryland.

    The warmth pressing into much of the Midwest and Northeast will lead to snow melt and considerable runoff.

    The combination of warm, moist air flowing over cold ground and snow cover will lead to locally dense fog in some locations. Fog could hinder early holiday travel this weekend.

    Flooding Risk

    As a storm rolls from Texas over the weekend, a swath of heavy rain will reach northeastward across the Ohio Valley states and into the Northeast.

    Enough rain can fall by itself to cause flash, urban and small stream flooding in some areas. This includes areas from the Gulf Coast northward to around the Great Lakes and the Northeast.

    In the South to part of the Ohio Valley. the rain could be made more intense by strong to severe thunderstorms.

    Where there is still a significant amount of snow remaining on the ground in northern areas, heavy rain can cause that snow to melt rapidly and a substantial rise may result on some rivers. This risk is greatest in parts of Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, upstate New York and central and northern New England.

    RELATED:
    Tune in to AccuWeather LIVE Weekday Mornings
    Temperature Forecast Maps
    Interactive National Radar

    As long as the 3 to 5 inches of rain expected from the South does not make it in over the areas with snow cover, flooding problems will tend to be minor, rather than major.

    Rainfall over some snowcovered areas will average 1 to 2 inches with locally 3 inches possible.

    Most areas have less than a foot of snow on the ground, which roughly translates to an inch or less of water.

    Snow Load and Isolated Roof-Collapse Concern

    In most cases, enough melting will occur and rain will fall to wash away the snow from gable roofs.

    However, some flat roofs are at greater risk for trouble, including possible roof collapse.

    "The snow may act like a sponge, absorbing the rain and gaining weight in the process," AccuWeather.com Senior Vice President and Forensics Weather Expert Joseph Sobel said. "Prior drifting on flat roofs can be major problem, by causing uneven weight distribution."

    One cubic foot of snow weighs about 15 pounds, but less if it is fluffy, and more if it is more dense such as in a a drift.

    Record-Challenging Highs Forecast for Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013

    Location
    Expected High (Existing Record/Date)
    New York
    59 (63/1998)
    Philadelphia
    60 (64/1998)
    Washington, D.C.
    65 (72/1889)
    Pittsburgh
    63 (67/1949)
    Cincinnati
    60 (64/1941)
    Nashville, Tenn.
    72 (73/1967)
    Roanoke, Va.
    71 (71/1923)
    Charlotte, N.C.
    73 (72/1889)
    Birmingham, Ala.
    68 (71/1990)
    Columbia, S.C.
    77 (76/2001)
    Raleigh, N.C.
    77 (75/1967)

     

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    Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013
    State employees walk through the snow as they get ready to drive home as snow falls Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, in Concord, N.H. Up to 6-inches of snow is expected in New England. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
    State employees walk through the snow as they get ready to drive home as snow falls Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Crews worked through the night to clear roads in time for the morning commute Wednesday and school was canceled or starting late for some children across New England after several inches of snow fell.

    Slippery roads were blamed for accidents throughout the Northeast, including a head-on collision in Vermont that killed a 46-year-old Bridport man Tuesday night. In New Hampshire, there were multiple spinouts on the Everett Turnpike and Interstate 93. Highways were still slick Wednesday morning and speeds were lowered to 45 mph. Outside of Buffalo, N.Y., a three-mile stretch of eastbound Interstate 290 was closed for about an hour after a six-vehicle accident.

    The National Weather Service reported that Hartford received 3½ to 4 inches of snow; Boston got 6.4 inches (the previous record for the date was 3.8 inches); Manchester, N.H., 5½ to 6; and Portland, Maine, came in at 9 inches. Coastal communities in Maine, such as Saco, hit 10 inches.

    Behind the snow came biting cold. At 6 a.m. Wednesday, Portland was reporting a temperature of 18 degrees with a wind chill making it feel like 4 degrees.

    Public schools in Portland were closed because of the snowstorm. Schools across Connecticut, including in Waterbury, Danbury and New Britain, were opening one or two hours late.

    Temperatures on Wednesday generally should be around freezing, according to NationalWeather Service meteorologist Chris Kimble in Gray, Maine. "The skies will be clearing, so it will be a warmer day," he said. "With the sun out it should help melt the roads."

    Airports reported delays of an hour to more than 2½ hours Tuesday because of snow and ice, according to the website FlightAware. But by Wednesday morning, air traffic was back to normal.

    For some, the snow provided a welcome backdrop to the upcoming holidays.

    "My feeling is it's wonderful," Tony Hartigan said Tuesday as he walked quickly across Main Street in Concord, N.H. He wore no hat or gloves despite the bank thermometer over his shoulder that blinked 3 degrees. "It packs the ski resorts, it's pretty for Christmas and I spent last week in Florida so I didn't see it!"

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos from 2013
    Twin Waterspouts

     

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    Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013
    APTOPIX Big Sur Fire
    Lucas Handy of the Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade cuts trees and brush on Sycamore Canyon only a few miles from the Pfeiffer Ridge on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, in Big Sur, Calif. (AP Photo/Nic Coury)

    BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) - More than 800 firefighters are battling an unusual late fall wildfire that has destroyed more than a dozen homes and forced about 100 people to flee the forested mountains of the scenic Big Sur region overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

    The slow-moving fire in Los Padres National Forest near state Highway 1 had consumed 769 acres, or a little over a square mile, by Tuesday night and was 20 percent contained.

    It has destroyed 22 buildings, Los Padres National Forest spokesman Lynn Olson said. About 14 of those structures were homes, she said.

    No injuries have been reported.

    Mark Nunez, the incident commander of the team fighting the fire, said 829 firefighters had deployed to the area, and thus far, weather has been working in their favor. But Wednesday would be another matter, depending on which way the wind blows.

    Olson said a weather front was approaching. "It could possibly help us. It could possibly hurt us," she said.

    Big Sur - miles of rugged coast, cliffs and wilderness - is a popular tourist destination about 150 miles south of San Francisco with high-end resorts and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.

    The fire was burning a little more than a mile from Ventana Inn and Spa, a favorite spot among celebrities where former Facebook president and Napster co-founder Sean Parker got married in June.

    In the summer of 2008, a lightning-sparked wildfire forced the evacuation of Big Sur and blackened 250 square miles before it was contained. That blaze burned more than a dozen homes.

    California's fire season traditionally peaks by mid-fall, but the drought of the last several years has given the state essentially year-round danger.

    The Big Sur fire began Sunday, fueled by dry vegetation and fanned by winds.

    Among the homes destroyed was that of Big Sur Fire Chief Martha Karstens. She tearfully told reporters Monday night that the loss of her home of 23 years had not yet sunk in.

    "I'm just trying to function as a chief," she said.

    Other residents anxiously tried to get information about their homes.

    Jim Walters, who was up the coast in Carmel when the blaze started, told the Monterey Herald he had gone to entrance to his street, local restaurants and the fire command station but had no luck learning anything about his home.

    "I don't know where else to go," he said.

    The Red Cross set up an overnight shelter for displaced people, said Los Padres National Forest spokesman Andrew Madsen.

    The Monterey County Sheriff's Department issued an evacuation watch Tuesday afternoon for the area west of Highway 1 between Fernwood Resort and River Inn, but no more mandatory evacuations were ordered. Highway 1 remains open, Olson said.

    A wildfire so late in the year is unusual in Northern California, where the fire season is generally at its peak over the summer, said Larry Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Monterey.

    Smith said the Big Sur area has averaged nearly 45 inches of rain yearly between 1981 and 2010. But the area has received about 7 inches of rain this year, about 16 percent of its normal amount.

    "That's very, very dry," Smith said.

    Still, officials said they were hopeful they could contain the blaze this week as temperatures were expected to be in the 50s on Wednesday and Thursday.

    "We're cautiously optimistic that we're going to pin this thing down within the next couple of days," Madsen said.

    The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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

     

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    Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013
    China Shanghai Pollution
    The skyline of the Lujiazui Financial District with the high-rise buildings is covered with heavy smog in Pudong in Shanghai, China, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

    BEIJING (AP) - A hospital in southwest China has opened a clinic for patients who are suffering symptoms related to smog, a doctor said Wednesday, highlighting how big a concern pollution has become for Chinese.

    The dedicated clinic at the Chengdu No. 7 People's Hospital has already treated more than 100 patients since opening last week. One public health expert suggested hospitals may follow suit to cash in on China's notorious smog.

    Wang Qixun, a doctor at the clinic, said it was set up because the hospital had seen the number of smog-related patients surge in the last year.

    Since it opened Dec. 9, the clinic has treated on average a dozen patients a day, with the most common symptoms including coughs and sore or itching throats, as well as asthma and heart disease "triggered or worsened by smog," Wang said.

    A large red banner that hung across the doors of the clinic's outpatient department read: "We should not fear smog. It's preventable and curable," according to a Tuesday photo on the China National Radio website.

    The rising middle class in China has become increasingly fed up with air pollution that has accompanied the country's spectacular economic growth. The term PM2.5, which refers to tiny particles in the air that can penetrate deep into the lungs, has become a common part of the vocabulary.

    Pan Xiaochuan, a professor at Peking University's School of Public Health, said he wasn't aware of any other smog clinics in China and suggested it may be a publicity stunt aimed at increasing the hospital's coffers.

    "You can't really say a symptom such as a cough or sore throat is caused by PM2.5. Chances are the cold weather is the real cause," he said.

    "There might be more hospitals following suit, because I think it's a way to increase hospitals' revenues," Pan said.

    Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, which borders Tibet to the west, has relatively little industry and levels of air pollution that are considered low compared with Beijing and other northern Chinese cities, but high compared with European standards.

    On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu, which measures air quality, gave it an index reading of 160 - or "unhealthy" - based on a PM2.5 reading of 73 micrograms per cubic meter. A safe level under WHO guidelines is 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

    The Chinese reading, which also takes into account other pollutants and has a different classification system, came out as "lightly polluted."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Choking Smog Engulfs China Skylines

     

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    Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013
    Philippines US Kerry
    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks while touring the area to view the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan in Tacloban, Philippines, on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (AP Photo/Brian Snyder, Pool)

    TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) - Overwhelmed by the massive damage wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in a central Philippine city, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced nearly $25 million in additional aid Wednesday to help the country deal with the devastation.

    Kerry flew to Tacloban city, where he saw what was left of entire towns wrecked by the monster storm's winds and tsunami-like storm surges. He visited a food distribution center run by USAID and government welfare officers, talked with officials and consoled survivors.

    "This is a devastation unlike anything that I have ever seen at this scale," Kerry said at a temporary USAID headquarters in Tacloban.

    "It is really quite stunning," he said. "It looks like a war zone, and to many people it is."

    The new food aid, shelter materials, water and other supplies he announced for typhoon-lashed families bring the total U.S. assistance package to $86 million for one of its closest Asian allies.

    Washington will also back a microlending program and a Philippine government effort with Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble Co. to help more than 2,000 small convenience stores repair and restock their shops. Many malls, gasoline stations and stores in Tacloban, a lively city of more than 220,000 people, were ransacked shortly after the storm hit.

    Kerry praised survivors struggling to rebuild their lives amid the ruins.

    "Last month's typhoon broke the world's heart," he said, "but what is certain is it didn't break the spirit of the people here."

    One of the most ferocious typhoons to hit on record, Haiyan left more than 6,000 people dead and nearly 1,800 others missing. It damaged or swept away more than 1.1 million houses and injured more than 27,000 people.

    More than 4 million people were displaced, with about 101,000 remaining in 300 emergency shelters in typhoon-smashed central Philippine provinces.

    In Manila, President Benigno Aquino III appealed for help from diplomats and international aid agencies, saying Haiyan left massive damage and losses amounting to $12.9 billion.

    Accompanied by Cabinet members dealing with the typhoon's aftermath, Aquino presented a four-year reconstruction plan to build new shelters away from newly declared danger zones, repair infrastructure, revive the livelihoods of tens of thousands of farmers and fishermen, and restore government services.

    Aquino said his government would aim for resilience from future storms as it helps the typhoon-ravaged provinces rise from the calamity.

    "We cannot allow ourselves to be trapped in a vicious cycle of destruction and reconstruction," Aquino said. "We are going to build back better."

    Kerry met with Aquino in Manila on Tuesday and announced $40 million in new U.S. assistance to Philippine security forces to help the country better guard its territorial waters amid rising tensions with China over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

    The new aid is intended to complement a $32.5 million assistance package, which Kerry announced Monday in Vietnam, to help Southeast Asian nations protect their territorial waters. Up to $18 million of that money will go to provide Vietnam's coast guard with five new fast patrol boats.

    Both Vietnam and the Philippines have competing territorial claims with China, which further stoked tensions recently when it declared a new air defense identification zone above disputed territory with Japan.

    Kerry urged all nations involved in the disputes to "lower the intensity" and resolve their rifts on the basis of international law, specifically mentioning China's leaders.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Indelible Photos from Typhoon Haiyan

     

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