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SKYE on AOL

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    Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013

    A traveler walks through Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for north central Illinois, northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana Saturday morning. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    Those who got a jump on their holiday travels this year apparently got it right. Those who didn't may have to wait a bit.

    A large storm system moved into the Midwest on Friday for the start of one of the busiest travel periods of the year, but things didn't really get messy until Saturday, when it delivered a bit of everything - freezing rain, snow, ice, flooding and even tornadoes - to an area that stretched from the Louisiana Gulf Coast to eastern Canada.

    Those who took to the roads or skies before midday Saturday likely got where they wanted without a major hitch, but by midafternoon, roads had become slick in many places and flight cancellations and delays started to mount.

    The system's strange swirl of winter and spring-like conditions produced starkly different weather at times in areas separated by a couple hundred miles. While drivers in Oklahoma and eastern Missouri were navigating ice-slicked streets Saturday, residents in Memphis, Tenn., were strolling around in T-shirt temperatures that topped out above 70 degrees.

    By Saturday night, a line of thunderstorms stretching from southern Louisiana to Indiana began wreaking havoc, causing rivers and creeks to swell, flooding roads and spawning winds strong enough to force cars and trucks off of highways. At least two suspected tornadoes touched down in Arkansas, injuring a total of five people and damaging nearly two-dozen homes in or near the towns of Dermott and Hughes. And a man in Rena Lara, Miss., was killed Saturday when wind flipped his mobile home.

    "This is a particularly strong storm with very warm, near record-breaking temperatures in the East and very cold air in the Midwest, and that contrast is the sort of conditions that are favorable for not only winter weather but also tornadoes," said National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Danaher in College Park, Md.

    The worst of the storm wasn't supposed to hit Chicago until late Saturday or early Sunday, giving those traveling to, from or through the Windy City a window at the start of the holiday rush.

    By midnight EST, nearly 500 flights had been canceled Saturday and more than 7,000 had been delayed, according to aviation tracking website FlightAware.com. Many affected flights were in or out of major hubs, including Chicago's O'Hare Airport, Houston's Bush International, Dallas/Fort Worth and Denver International.

    Given the potential problems with flying and driving, some travelers went another route.

    Darren Hall, 45, of Raymore, Mo., normally drives to St. Louis for the holiday, but decided not to risk it because of the freezing rain hitting the area and the promise of worse to come. Instead, he was waiting for a train at Kansas City's Union Station.

    "You don't have to deal with all the roads. It's safer, less hassle," Hall said.

    Freezing rain coated parts of northern New England Saturday night, as officials warned people to stay off the roads and utilities prepared for the possibility of widespread power outages. Burlington, Vt., had received a quarter-inch of ice by late Saturday, and the city's airport was forced to rely briefly on generators after losing power briefly.

    "We've lined up hundreds of additional out-of-state line workers and tree trimmers in addition to all the GMP employees who will be working until all power is restored," Vermont Green Mountain Power spokeswoman Dorothy Schnure said.

    Many Midwest cities that spent Saturday dealing with rain and ice were expected to get significant snowfall overnight, with up to 6 inches forecast for the Kansas City area by Sunday and up to 8 inches for southern Wisconsin, eastern Iowa and northwest Illinois.

    Authorities in several states, including Indiana and Ohio, warned drivers to be especially vigilant about flooded roads. In Indiana, the weather service had posted flood warnings along southern and central Indiana streams and predicted the highest flood crests along the East Fork of the White River since April 2011.

    In addition to the Mississippi weather-related death, authorities in Oklahoma were blaming two traffic deaths on the rain and ice. A 16-year-old boy died early Saturday after his car crashed and overturned on U.S. 64 near Tulsa, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. And Oklahoma City police said a woman was killed Friday night in a collision on a slick roadway.

    If there is a silver lining for the estimated 94.5 million Americans who were planning to travel by road or air during this holiday season, which runs from Saturday through New Year's Day, it's that Christmas happens mid-week this year, AAA spokeswoman Heather Hunter said.

    "When a holiday falls on a Wednesday it gives travelers more flexibility of either leaving the weekend before, or traveling right before the holiday and extending the trip through the following weekend," Hunter said.

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

     

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    Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013

    In this image from a video provided by NASA, astronaut Rick Mastracchio performs a space walk outside the International Space Station on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins ventured out of the station to try to revive a crippled cooling line. (AP Photo/NASA)

    NASA has delayed the second of three planned holiday spacewalks by 24 hours, setting up a Christmas Eve (Dec. 24) excursion from the International Space Station for two astronauts.

    The agency made the decision after noticing an issue with the spacesuit of Rick Mastracchio, who ventured outside the orbiting lab with fellow NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins Saturday (Dec. 21) to address a problem with the station's cooling system.

    Water may have entered part of Mastracchio's spacesuit in the orbiting outpost's airlock after Saturday's extravehicular activity (EVA), NASA officials said. So the flight control team at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston have directed Mastracchio to use a spare suit for the next spacewalk, which was originally planned for Monday (Dec. 23); the extra day will allow the station's crew to resize the suit for him.

    The spacesuit issue is apparently a minor one, and it's unrelated to the frightening leak that caused water to flood into European astronaut Luca Parmitano's helmet during a July spacewalk, officials said. (Hopkins wore Parmitano's suit on Saturday and encountered no problems.)

    "Both Mastracchio and Hopkins reported dry conditions repeatedly throughout Saturday's activities and the two were never in danger," NASA officials wrote in a press release after the spacewalk.

    Mastracchio and Hopkins are tasked with replacing a faulty pump module that's part of the International Space Station's cooling system. A valve in the module malfunctioned on Dec. 11, requiring some systems aboard the orbiting lab to be shut down. The issue does not threaten the safety of the six crewmembers currently living and working on the station, officials say.

    Mastracchio and Hopkins made good progress during Saturday's spacewalk, meaning the third EVA may not be necessary. That last excursion was originally slated for Christmas Day (Dec. 25), but it will almost certainly be pushed back now, if it happens at all.

    The Christmas Eve EVA is scheduled to begin at 7:10 a.m. EST. You can watch it live here on SPACE.com beginning at 6:15 a.m. EST, courtesy of NASA TV.

    The spacewalks have delayed the first contracted cargo mission of aerospace firm Orbital Sciences' unmanned Cygnus spacecraft, which was scheduled to launch toward the orbiting lab on Thursday (Dec. 19). That liftoff will now likely occur no earlier than mid-January, NASA officials have said.

    Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on SPACE.com.

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

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Amazing Photos of the International Space Station
    International Space Station, Shuttle

     

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    Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013

    This file photo shows a tree branch encased in ice after a similar storm. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    A winter storm bringing ice and whipping winds to upstate New York and northern Vermont knocked out power to thousands of customers as officials urged motorists to avoid traveling in dangerously slick conditions.

    More than 95,000 utility customers woke up without power Sunday morning in New York, Vermont and Maine because of widespread ice accumulations.

    In New York's St. Lawrence County, almost 2 inches of ice had accumulated early Sunday, coating tree limbs and power lines, county dispatch operations supervisor Jim Chestnut said.

    Winds were expected to pick up, increasing the chances of outage issues, but a state of emergency was keeping roads clear of hapless motorists, Chestnut said.

    "It's a big party weekend, the Saturday before Christmas," Chestnut said. "This put a little bit of a damper onto that."

    "Fortunately, there were not many accidents but mainly because people are staying off the road," added County Administrator Karen St. Hilaire.

    Up to an inch of ice had accumulated across the northernmost part Vermont, said Conor Lahiff, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Burlington, Vt. In Maine, about 5 inches of snow had accumulated in the northernmost counties, with ice accumulations up to a half-inch along the coast, he said.

    "It's pretty messy out there. Lots of power outages, lots of trees down," Lahiff said.

    Significant accumulations of ice were expected to continue into Sunday afternoon.

    National Grid reported nearly 67,000 customers without power in New York on Sunday morning. Spokesman Steve Brady said that number likely will rise. The utility said earlier it could be Monday before service is restored to some customers.

    Brady said bulk of the outages were along Lake Ontario, stretching from Niagara and Erie counties in the west to Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties in the north.

    He said a light overnight staff restoring power had grown to full contingent by 5 a.m.

    About 16,000 outages were reported in Vermont - mostly in the north - though Burlington International Airport briefly lost power Saturday evening. A generator kicked on but service was quickly restored, airport Director of Operations Kelly Colling said.

    "We're doing well, surprisingly well," she said.

    Maine utilities reported about 12,000 customers without power Sunday morning, mostly along the coast.

    The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland released parishioners from obligation to attend Mass, urging "extreme caution and prudence" about travel decisions.

    Even after the storm moves out, a deep freeze is expected to set in.

    "If anything, we're going to be trending toward below-normal temperatures through the middle of the week," Evenson said. Highs in the region are expected to reach only the teens on Tuesday and Wednesday with temperatures falling into the single digits or below zero at night.

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

     

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    Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013

    As this animated satellite loop shows, storms are moving across a wide swath of the East Coast. (AccuWeather)

    As more than 94 million take to the roads and skies this weekend, a winter storm continues to create headaches for early Christmas travelers.

    After more than a foot of snow and significant icing occurred across the southern Plains on Saturday, the ice storm is impacting northern New England for the second half of this weekend.

    Disruptive snow will also continue to stretch from the Upper Midwest to central Ontario and northern Maine.

    On the warm side of the storm, heavy rain has heightened concerns for flash flooding from the central Gulf Coast to the central and southern Appalachians as records are being shattered across the East.

    RELATED:
    Christmas Travelers Face More Snow, Ice, Storms
    AccuWeather Winter Weather Center
    Map: Current Weather Watches and Warnings


    UPDATES: (All times are listed in CST)

    10:10 a.m. Sunday: A flash flood warning has been issued for parts of Essex and Clinton Counties in northern New York. Ice jams are causing extremely rapid rises in water levels and flash flooding on the east branch of the Ausable River.

    10:00 a.m. Sunday: Significant tree damage has been reported in Hastings, Mich. Many 8 to 10 inch diameter tree limbs are down and there is no power in the area. A National Weather Service observer estimates a half an inch of ice is covering objects and said this was one of the top five storms he has experienced living in the area since 1958.

    9:41 a.m. Sunday: Heavy rain is soaking Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport leading to gate holds and taxi delays, according to the FAA.

    9:25 a.m. Sunday: Heavy snow reported at Milwaukee's General Mitchell Airport with visibilities down to one-eighth of a mile. Multiple vehicle incidents being reported on I-43 and US 45, according to Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

    9:12 a.m. Sunday: Philadelphia International Airport is experiencing a ground delay affecting arriving flights. Flights are being delayed an average of 91 minutes, according to the FAA.

    9:02 a.m. Sunday: Concern growing for a few gusty thunderstorms across southern Maryland and eastern Virginia

    8:40 a.m. Sunday: Toronto Hydro tweeted a lengthy power outage is possible for the area. Freezing rain continues to glaze the city at this hour.

    8:25 a.m. Sunday: FlightStats.com reports that 160 flights have been canceled so far this Sunday at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

    8:20 a.m. Sunday: The following map from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation showed that numerous major roads across southern and central parts of the state were snow covered.

    8:10 a.m. Sunday: AccuWeather.com received a report of freezing rain amounting to 1.25 inches in Canton, N.Y., leading to numerous downed trees and power lines.

    8:00 a.m. Sunday: Snow has dropped visibility down to a quarter-mile in Racine, Wis.

    7:54 a.m. Sunday: North of Chicago, a Facebook user reported two inches of snow in Beach Park, Ill.

    7:30 a.m. Sunday: Freezing drizzle continues in Toronto; Toronto Hydro tweeted about an hour ago that more than 250,000 customers were without power.

    7:21 a.m. Sunday: A band of heavy rain is soaking northern and western parts of Atlanta.

    7:09 a.m. Sunday: After experiencing rain and freezing drizzle overnight, snow has reached Chicago. Up to an inch of accumulation is expected with higher amounts to the north and west.

    7:07 a.m. Sunday: Latest snowfall totals include 8.0 inches in Blaine, Kan., and Humeston, Iowa, according to National Weather Service spotters.

    5:50 a.m. Sunday: The official snowfall total at Des Moines, Iowa, came in at 5.9 inches.

    5:29 a.m. Sunday: More freezing rain and ice reports are pouring in from central and eastern Michigan. A 1/2" of ice in Flint, Mich., and 1/4" in White Lake, just northwest of Detroit.

    4:43 a.m. Sunday: Winds from the west at Jennings Randolph Field Airport reached 52 mph as the front moved through the area early in the morning.

    3:30 a.m. Sunday: The mid-Atlantic is having crazy warm temperatures ahead of the storm. Washington hit 70 degrees, only 2 degrees below the daily record. Wilks-Barre, Pa., reached 60 degrees.

    1:13 a.m. Sunday:The line of gusty rain is moving into Pennsylvania and West Virginia early this morning.

    12:20 a.m. Sunday: More than 1/4" of ice was reported across southern portions of the state, including Oakland, Kent and Calhoun counties.

    11:13 p.m. Saturday: Major flooding was reported in Drake County, Ohio, where water was rushing over roadways and into homes, making sand bags necessary.

    10:05 p.m. Saturday: NWS spotters in Wilson County, Tenn., just east of Nashville, reported seeing a funnel cloud with the line of gusty thunderstorms this evening.

    9:29 p.m. Saturday: Thunderstorms that pushed through the Louisville, Ky., area produced wind gusts as high as 60 mph, knocking down tree limbs and power lines.

    9:02 p.m. Saturday: Some of the highest snowfall totals from the storm are coming in from Pawnee and Barton counties in central Kansas, with snow accumulations between 12 and 14 inches.

    8:13 p.m. Saturday: An inch of freezing rain has accumulated in St. Lawrence County in northern New York today, bringing down multiple tree limbs, according to emergency managers.

    7:53 p.m. Saturday: Water flowing over roadways in McCracken County, Ky. Emergency manager reports that enough water is over roads to cause vehicles to lose control.

    7:47 p.m. Saturday: Fire department in Senatobia, Miss., reports a car blew off the roadway along I-55. Strong winds also blew the roof off of a nearby fitness center. Most of the city is without power.

    6:55 p.m. Saturday: Many roads flooded and several closed throughout Wayne County, Ind., a trained spotter reports. Rainfall from yesterday through today has totaled more than 3 inches.

    6:16 p.m. Saturday:NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared Clinton, Essex, Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties in New York under a state of emergency until further notice due to the winter weather.

    5:56 p.m. Saturday: Water rescue was in progress on State Road 64 east of Oakland City, near the Pike County line. Three people were standing on top of a vehicle that was submerged underwater, a trained spotter reported.

    5:45 p.m. Saturday: The worst conditions over the next two hours will be across western Tenn., western Mississippi and northeastern Louisiana. The main cities to be affected over the next few hours will be Memphis, Tenn., Jackson, Miss., Alexandria, La., Lake Charles, La., and Vicksburg, Miss.

    5:30 p.m. Saturday: 4.39 inches of rain reported by the emergency manager in Obion County, Tenn. Widespread street and rural flooding is occurring in Union City, where the water is rising quickly. Highway 183 is flooded.

    5:01 p.m. Saturday: Delayed report by the emergency manager of three injured in St. Francis, Ark., after a possible tornado. Two houses completely destroyed and three with significant roof damage. Numerous trees and power lines are downed throughout the area.

    4:50 p.m. Saturday: Snow is making for slippery travel on roadways in parts of north Texas:

    4:34 p.m. Saturday: Law enforcement reports between 4-5 inches of snow in Perryton, Texas. All roads in an out of Ochiltree County are extremely hazardous and snow packed. Multiple vehicles have skidded off the road.

    3:38 p.m. Saturday: Sheriff in Crittenden County, Ark., 9 miles west of Memphis, reported a tornado on the ground at 3:38 p.m. and overturned semis on Interstate 40 near mile marker 276.

    3:36 p.m. Saturday: Emergency manager reports a roof blew off a house on Highway 38 near Hughes, Ark.

    3:22 p.m. Saturday: Widespread flooding reported throughout Gallatin County, Ill. The county has received 4.6 inches of rainfall since late last evening, the local emergency manager reports.

    3:05 p.m. Saturday: Flooding reported in Vilonia, Ark.

    3:00 p.m. Saturday: Flash flooding reported in Jefferson County, Ark. Law enforcement reports three cars stalled in the high water.

    2:40 p.m. Saturday: 27,000 people reported without power in Sabine County, Texas, 911 call center reports. Numerous trees and power lines are downed throughout the area.

    2:10 p.m. Saturday:Trees and power lines downed across Jefferson County, N.Y., law enforcement reports.

    2:00 p.m. Saturday: Southwestern Electric Power company reports 5,791 customers without power in NW Louisiana, most in the Shreveport area.

    1:42 p.m. Saturday: Widespread street flooding reported in Evansville, Ind., with areas of standing and running water across the LLoyd Expressway, a trained spotter reports.

    1:28 p.m. Saturday: American Electric Power reports that nearly 10,000 customers are without electricity in Oklahoma, including more than 7,100 in Tulsa, Okla.

    1:22 p.m. Saturday: Butler County emergency services reported that a water rescue was ongoing near Poplar Bluff, Mo., with two people trapped.

    12:20 p.m. Saturday: Law enforcement reports that tree limbs and power lines are down in St. Lawrence County, N.Y. There is approximately 1/2 inch ice accumulation on elevated surfaces.

    11:10 a.m. Saturday: Storm total rainfall (inches) from official reporting sides include: Little Rock, Ark., 4.37; Poplar Bluff, Mo., 3.27; Cairo, Ill., 3.33; and Washington, Ind., 2.48.

    11:00 a.m. Saturday: Carmi and Ware, Ill., have both received 4.90 inches of rain since Friday evening.

    10:40 a.m. Saturday: Moderate to major river flooding is forecast for lesser rivers in the Ohio Valley, by the NWS River Forecast Center.

    10:10 a.m. Saturday: In the heart of the ice storm, American Electric Power reports that nearly 6,200 are without electricity in Oklahoma, including more than 4,200 in Tulsa, Okla.

    9:50 a.m. Saturday: Conditions are becoming more favorable for severe thunderstorms with damaging wind gusts and a few intense tornadoes from part of northeastern Texas to much of western and central Louisiana to southern Arkansas at this time until this evening.

    9:00 a.m. Saturday: MODOT is reporting that multiple secondary roads in southeastern Missouri are experiencing poor drainage area flooding. Some "letter" routes are closed.

    9:00 a.m. Saturday: At Chicago O'Hare Airport, according to FlightStats, delays are excessive due to aircrafts from other airports running behind schedule.

    8:40 a.m. Saturday: The temperature is 15 degrees with a visibility of 1/16 of a mile in freezing fog at Denver International Airport. Approximately 600 outgoing flights maybe delayed due to deicing activities according to FlightStats.

    8:40 a.m. Saturday: Travel on I-35 in central Oklahoma is being discouraged by ODOT.

    8:34 a.m. Saturday: Public reports up to 1/2 an inch of ice on trees along the Will Rogers Turnpike in northeastern Oklahoma.

    8:30 a.m. Saturday: In the heart of the ice storm, American Electric Power reports that nearly 4,700 are without electricity in Oklahoma, including more than 1,700 in Tulsa, Okla.

    7:50 a.m. Saturday: Street flooding on the southern side of Carbondale, Ill., with 3.32 inches of rain since midnight, according to NWS spotter.

    7:35 a.m. Saturday: Widespread flooding of streets is occurring in Little Rock, Ark. Pulaski County, Ark., has received between 1.5-3.5 inches of rain thus far from the storm.

    7:30 a.m. Saturday: Storm total for rainfall is close to 3 inches so far near Vincennes, Ind., according to NWS spotter.

    7:00 a.m. Saturday: Little Rock, Ark., has received 2.40 inches of rain thus far from the storm with 2.15 inches falling on Cairo, Ill. With many hours of rain to go, flash flood warnings have been issued from Arkansas to southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois.

    4:05 a.m. Saturday: A NWS employee reported 1/3 of an inch of ice on trees and elevated surfaces around Tulsa, Okla.

    3:23 a.m. Saturday: A thin glaze of ice contributed to multiple vehicle accidents in East Wichita, Kan., according to Sedgwick County emergency dispatch.

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

     

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    Monday, Dec. 23, 2013
    Washington Daily Life
    Allegra Michaels, 2, with her father Dave Michaels, of Washington, D.C., screams with delight as they feed bread to seagulls at the Capitol Reflecting Pool during unseasonably warm weather in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

    While the Midwest dug out from heavy snow, ice brought down trees and power lines from Michigan to Maine, much of the East Coast experienced temperatures representative of September or May this past weekend.

    Some locations tied or broke all-time high temperature records for the month of December, while some spots broke daily records that were more than a century old.

    Records were either broken or tied this past weekend in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Atlanta, Ga.

    New Record Highs Set This Past Weekend

    City
    New Record (Day)
    Old Record

    New York City
    71 degrees (Sun)
    63 in 1998

    Hartford, Conn.
    64 degrees (Sun)
    59 in 1998

    Philadelphia
    67 degrees (Sat)
    66 in 1895

    Washington, D.C.
    72 degrees (Sat)
    68 in 1923

    Baltimore
    71 degrees (Sun)
    70 in 1889

    Atlanta, Ga.
    71 degrees (Sun)
    70 in 1889

    Jacksonville, Fla.
    84 degrees (Sun)
    82 in 1967

    Norfolk, Va.
    81 degrees (Sun)
    76 in 1967

    Highs were in the 70s and 80s from southern Virginia to Florida and in the 60s and 70s from southern New England to the mid-Atlantic.

    On the other end of the spectrum, highs in the northern Plains on Sunday were below zero, creating a temperature difference of nearly 100 degrees across the Lower 48 states.

    A colder pattern will set up for the East through the middle of this week.

    Highs on Tuesday from the Carolinas to the Northeast will be at least 30 degrees colder than Sunday's highs.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Best Snow and Ice Festivals
    Washington Daily Life

     

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    Updated Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, 11:51 a.m.
    Utility workers are out in force trying to restore power to this North Lansing neighborhood Sunday morning.
    A utility truck is parked on a street to help restore power to a neighborhood in North Lansing, Mich., on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Robert Killips)

    AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - A steady diet of freezing rain and cold temperatures means parts of the country socked by a wild weekend storm will be covered with ice through Christmas and beyond.

    After the first full day of winter brought everything from balmy temperatures along the Mid-Atlantic to snow in the Midwest and ice, snow and flooding in the Great Lakes, utilities warned that some people who lost electricity could remain in the dark through Wednesday.

    "It's certainly not going away," Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the NationalWeather Service in Gray, Maine, said Monday morning of the precipitation and cold. "In fact, we don't have very many areas where we're expecting temperatures to rise above freezing."

    That means untreated roads and sidewalks from the upper Midwest to northern New England will remain a slippery, dangerous mess as people head out for last-minute shopping or holiday travel. Parts of interior Maine were expected to get another quarter to half-inch of ice Monday.

    Authorities reduced the speed limit along a 107-mile stretch of the Maine Turnpike from Kittery to Augusta as freezing rain continued to fall Monday morning and temperatures hovered around freezing. Dozens of flights out of Toronto were canceled while other airports in the storm-hit region were faring well despite the weather.

    In Maine, Judith Martin was heading from her home in South Grafton to Kingston, when she stopped at a rest area along Interstate 95 in West Gardiner. She said roads got worse the farther north she drove.

    "The trees are loaded with ice so it makes me think the road is loaded with ice," Martin said.

    By late Sunday, ice and snow had knocked out power to 440,000 homes and businesses in Michigan, upstate New York and northern New England - about half of which had their power back by Monday morning. The storm also left more than 400,000 customers without electricity in eastern Canada.

    At least nine deaths in the U.S. were blamed on the storm, including five people killed in flooding in Kentucky and a woman who died after a tornado with winds of 130 mph struck in Arkansas. Five people were killed in Canada in highway accidents related to the storm.

    Record high temperatures were reached in some Mid-Atlantic states this weekend, but temperatures were expected to drop back to the mid-30s by Monday night.

    While the cold will continue to harass people, there's no major precipitation on the horizon through the end of the week, Curtis said.

    "It will give people some time to recover from this," she said.

    On Sunday, the mercury reached 70 degrees in New York's Central Park, easily eclipsing the previous high of 63 from 1998. Records were also set in Wilmington, Del., (67); Atlantic City, N.J., (68); and Philadelphia (67). Washington tied its 1889 mark at 72.

    Heavy snow in Wisconsin forced dozens of churches to cancel Sunday services. Milwaukee got about 9 inches and Manitowoc, 7. Ice and snow in Oklahoma were blamed for three traffic deaths on slick roads.

    In hard-hit Michigan, more than 200,000 customers were without power Monday morning. The state's largest utilities said it will be days before most of those get their electricity back because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

    In New York's St. Lawrence County, almost 2 inches of ice fell, coating tree limbs and power lines, and a state of emergency was declared to keep the roads clear of motorists. As of Monday morning, some 35,000 customers were still without power.

    And in Canada, crews were working to restore electricity to about 200,000 people in Toronto following the weekend ice storm, Mayor Rob Ford said.

    "We believe that the worst weather is over," he said.

    Ford said 500 people used nine warming centers the city opened, but there was no reason to declare a state of emergency. "We're not even close to that situation," he said.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 2013 Winter Solstice Weekend Storm

     

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    Monday, Dec. 23, 2013
    SoCal Storm
    (AP Photo)

    While the worst of the snowstorm is winding down across the Upper Midwest, soaking rain and the resultant headaches for holiday travelers have shifted to the East Coast.

    Soaking rain that made for a soggy Sunday from Mobile, Ala., to Atlanta to the southern and central Appalachians will gradually expand to the north and east through Monday.

    The rain will then extend from the eastern Florida Panhandle to the entire I-95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Monday, soaking Tallahassee, Fla., Augusta, Ga., Raleigh, N.C., Richmond, Va., Trenton, N.J., New York City and Boston.



    Downpours will continue to accompany the rain, creating headaches and hazards for both residents and travelers.

    Enough rain could pour down to trigger flash flooding, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas.

    Any downpours would endanger motorists by dramatically reducing visibility and heightening the risk of vehicles hydroplaning. Airline passengers should also prepare for delays.

    More Snow, Ice Concerns for New England

    Not all of the East Coast will experience a soggy Monday. The air will remain cold enough for ice to keep roads and sidewalks extremely treacherous across the I-95 corridor north of Boston through Monday morning.

    This includes Portsmouth, N.H., and Portland and Bangor, Maine.

    The same can be said for the St. Lawrence Valley through Sunday evening with snow persisting across northern Maine.

    Other Travel Concerns Across the U.S. on Monday

    As cold air presses toward the East Coast in the wake of the soaking rain, snow showers will fly across the Great Lakes on Monday. The widespread swath of snow totals exceeding six inches, as was the case over the weekend, will not be repeated.

    However, places downwind of the Great Lakes and across parts of Wisconsin could see enough snow to turn roads slick for a time.



    The band of snow--producing pockets of an inch or so accumulation - over Wisconsin on Monday will drop southeastward to the central Appalachians Monday night, then the mid-Atlantic from New York City to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

    Also on Monday, non-accumulating flurries will start the day flying across Kansas and northern Oklahoma. The northern Plains will be dry, but subzero temperatures will cause anyone packing their vehicles across western Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas to shiver.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    Interactive Radar for the United States
    AccuWeather.com Travel Maps


    No travel problems are in store for the Southwest on Monday as dry weather prevails, while the same cannot be said for the Northwest.

    More rain and mountain snow will stream into Washington, northern Oregon and the northern Rockies. Those planning to travel on I-5 from Seattle to Portland should prepare for wet roads and reduced visibility as airline passengers may face flight delays.

    Snow levels will be high enough for only rain to fall along I-90's Snoqualmie Pass through the Washington Cascades.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Best Christmas Festivals

     

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    The subdued, gray-hued photos of the enormous asteroid Vesta captured by NASA's Dawn spacecraft last year have received an overhaul.

    By matching colors to the various wavelengths, scientists have revealed geologic structures invisible to the naked eye while also creating images of the asteroid Vesta that seem more like works of art.

    Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany re-analyzed images of the asteroid taken by Dawn's framing camera, selecting different colors for the varying wavelengths of light.


    The northwest region of Vesta's crater Sextilia (at the bottom right of this image) reveals material likely carried in by an impact (black), as well as material that was probably created by melting (red). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLAMPS/DLR/IDA)

    "The key to these images is the seven color filters of the camera," Andreas Nathues, framing camera lead at Max Planck, said in a statement.

    Because minerals affect wavelengths of light differently, the filters revealed differences in the composition of the asteroid that might otherwise have gone unseen.

    The new images reveal geologic structures such as buried craters, impact melts, and material carried in by falling space rocks, scientists said.


    This colorized composite image from NASA's Dawn mission shows the crater Antonia, which lies in the enormous Rheasilvia basin in the southern hemisphere of the giant asteroid Vesta. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLAMPS/DLR/IDA)

    Launched in 2007, the $466 million Dawn mission visited Vesta from July 2011 to September 2012. Upon departing Vesta, the probe began its journey to another denizen of the asteroid belt, the dwarf planet Ceres. When it arrives at Ceres around the end of March 2015, Dawn will become the first object to have orbited two solar-system bodies beyond Earth.

    Vesta and Dawn are ancient objects that have undergone very different evolutionary paths. Mission scientists hope that Dawn's observations of both bodies will reveal insights about the early days of the solar system.


    The original black-and-white image of Aelia crater, for comparison purposes. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLAMPS/DLR/IDA)

    Although Dawn left Vesta nearly a year ago, the recent images show that the wealth of data it gathered is continuing to bear fruit, researchers said.

    "No artist could paint something like that," Martin Hoffman, also of Max Plank and a member of the framing camera team, said in a statement. "Only nature can do this."

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

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

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    Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2103
    a brightly lit small town...
    (Shutterstock)

    Mother Nature will share a little Christmas joy from the Great Lakes to the coastal Northeast on Christmas Eve in the form of snow showers. Much colder air will also move in.

    The recent rain storm washed away the snowcover in many areas, putting a frown on many kids' faces aged from 1 to 92, who were hoping for a white Christmas.

    Lake-effect snow will fall from the West Virginia mountains to western Pennsylvania, northeastern Ohio and upstate New York into Tuesday evening, then diminish.

    Snow showers will not reach most areas east of the Appalachians until Tuesday afternoon and evening and will move away by Christmas morning.

    The snow showers generally will not accumulate east of the Appalachians and in the I-95 cities, but there can be a few exceptions.

    A few spots in the I-95 corridor may get a heavier snow shower that can lightly coat the ground from north of Philadelphia to New York City and perhaps to southwestern Connecticut.

    Close to the Great Lakes and over the Appalachians, snow showers and lake-effect snow will be a bit more persistent.

    In some areas, the snow showers will be heavy enough to cover the ground.

    The snow belts near the lakes could pick up several inches with a an inch or two possible over the mountains.

    There could be slippery spots along stretches of I-80, especially in the higher ground. Portions of I-90 along the Lake Erie shoreline and I-81 east of Lake Ontario may be snow covered.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    Interactive Radar for the United States
    AccuWeather.com Travel Maps

    With much colder air moving back in the snow that falls will likely stick around in some areas through Christmas Day. When compared to highs this weekend, temperatures will be 30 to 40 degrees lower in many Tuesday and Wednesday.

    For areas farther north, the recent storm put down a heavy amount of ice and wintry mix from southern Ontario and southern Quebec to northern New England and New Brunswick.

    For folks struggling without power and cleaning up in the wake of the ice storm, the colder air will make for hardship over the Christmas holiday. Highs will be in the teens and nighttime lows will be in the single digits for much of New England and upstate New York.

    Over much of the mid-Atlantic, high temperatures will be within a few degrees of 40 on Tuesday, then plunge to within a few degrees of 30 by Christmas Day.

    Tune in to AccuWeather Live Mornings every weekday at 7 a.m. EST. We will be talking about the weather leading up to Christmas.

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    Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013
    nice neighborhood decorated and ...
    (Shutterstock)

    Christmas is shaping up to be a quiet day across much of the nation in terms of weather, but some areas will receive the gift of snow.

    Jump to: Northern Plains and Upper Midwest | Northeast and Ohio Valley | Southeast and Central and Southern Plains | West

    Northern Plains and Upper Midwest

    Although there is no big storm in the works for Wednesday, a weak disturbance will spread snow showers across the Great Lakes and back into the Dakotas.

    This snow should have minimal impacts on folks planning to travel on Christmas Day, although these snow showers can leave a coating of snow on some roadways.

    You might want to allow for a few extra minutes just to be safe if you have plans to head over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house for Christmas dinner.

    Most locations will have accumulations of a coating to an inch, but some areas in Michigan could manage to pick up an inch or two of the white stuff.

    The snow showers are expected to stay closer to the Great Lakes, making for a dry Christmas in Santa Claus, Ind.

    Northeast and Ohio Valley

    The warm and wet weather that was around for the official start to winter in the Northeast has been replaced by colder weather just in time for Christmas.

    Snow showers will spread from western New York to central Ohio and to the New Jersey coast on Christmas Eve, coming to an end before Christmas morning.

    Despite a dry forecast for Christmas Day, Tuesday's snow showers will leave a coating to an inch of snow in many areas downwind of Lake Eire with some spots in northwestern Pennsylvania picking up a couple of inches of snow.

    The remainder of the Northeast and Ohio Valley is forecast to have a dry Christmas, including North Pole, N.Y.

    Southeast and Central and Southern Plains

    The gift of dry weather may be welcome by many in the Southeast and southern Plains after a storm dumped several inches of rain across the regions this past weekend and early this week.

    In addition to the dry weather on tap for Christmas Day, the Southeast and central and southern Plains will experience temperatures a couple of degrees below normal.

    RELATED:
    White Christmas Forecast: Do the Odds Favor Your City?
    Who Has the Best Chance for a White Christmas?
    PHOTOS: White Christmases to Remember in the US

    West

    It's shaping up to be a mild and sunny Christmas for folks across much of Arizona, California and Nevada, but the same cannot be said about the rest of the West.

    Although abundant sunshine and warm weather will not be seen across the entirety of the region, it will be a dry day from the Rockies all the way to the West Coast.

    This means that it will be a snow-free day for the residents of Snowflake, Ariz.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Best Christmas Festivals

     

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    Updated, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 2: 56 ET
    Andrew Powers, an arborist with Asplundh Tree Experts, clears power lines from iced branches along Mayflower Heights Drive in Waterville on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. (Photo by Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
    Andrew Powers, an arborist with Asplundh Tree Experts, clears power lines from iced branches along Mayflower Heights Drive in Waterville, Maine, on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel, Michael G. Seamans)

    More than 500,000 homes and businesses were still without power Tuesday afternoon in parts of central and northeastern U.S. after a weekend ice and snow storm rolled across the region.

    More than 7,000 flights were behind schedule Monday night, many of those in New York, Washington and Chicago as people struggled to travel before Christmas.

    At least 11 people in the U.S. have been killed in the storm.

    In Canada, police said two people in Ontario are dead from carbon monoxide poisoning after using a gas generator to heat their blacked-out home northeast of Toronto.

    The region was under a cold alert, with temperatures expected to be well below freezing Tuesday.

    Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said 115,000 customers were still awaiting power, and officials said some may not have it restored until after Christmas.

    Some U.S. states kept emergency shelters open for people who would be without power.

    RELATED ON SKYE: PHOTOS: 2013's Winter Solstice Weekend Storm

     

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    Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013
    In this image taken from video provided by NASA, astronauts Rick Mastracchio, top, and Michael Hopkins work to repair an external cooling line on the International Space Station on Monday, Dec. 24, 2013, 260 miles above Earth. The external cooling line ó one of two ó shut down Dec. 11. The six-man crew had to turn off all nonessential equipment, including experiments. (AP Photo/NASA)
    In this image taken from video provided by NASA, astronauts Rick Mastracchio, top, and Michael Hopkins work to repair an external cooling line on the International Space Station on Monday, Dec. 24, 2013, 260 miles above Earth. (AP Photo/NASA)

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Two space station astronauts ventured out on a rare Christmas Eve spacewalk Tuesday, hoping to wrap up urgent repairs to a cooling system.

    It was the second spacewalk in four days for U.S. astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins, and only the second Christmas Eve spacewalk in NASA history.

    NASA ordered up the spacewalks to revive a critical cooling loop at the International Space Station. All nonessential equipment had to be turned off when the line conked out Dec. 11, and many science experiments halted.

    Mastracchio and Hopkins removed a faulty ammonia pump during Saturday's outing. On Tuesday, they worked to install a new pump 260 miles above the planet.

    "It's like Christmas morning opening up a little present here," Mastracchio said as he checked his toolkit.

    Mission Control in Houston was in a festive mood during Tuesday's spacewalk. Tabletop Christmas trees, Santa dolls and red Santa caps decorated the desks.

    "It is Christmas Eve ... and in this holiday way of giving, we're giving you a spacewalk today," said commentator Rob Navias.

    NASA's only previous Christmas Eve spacewalk occurred in 1999 during a Hubble Space Telescope repair mission.

    But NASA's most memorable Christmas Eve was back on Dec. 24, 1968. Apollo 8 astronauts read from Genesis, the first book of the Bible, as they orbited the moon on mankind's first lunar flight.

    Space station managers considered waiting until January for the repair spacewalks, so an unmanned rocket could blast off with supplies from Virginia. But flight controllers were unable to patch the cooling line by remote control, and the orbiting outpost was considered in too vulnerable a state to put off the spacewalking repairs. The delivery mission was bumped, instead, to January.

    A bad valve in the ammonia pump caused the breakdown.

    Another team of spacewalking astronauts installed that pump just three years ago, and engineers are perplexed as to why it didn't last longer. NASA hopes to salvage it in the years ahead.

    The 2010 replacement required three spacewalks because of the difficulty in removing pressurized ammonia fluid lines. This time, NASA reduced the pressure and the task was simplified, allowing the astronauts to get ahead Saturday. Although three spacewalks were scheduled this time around, Mastracchio and Hopkins' advance work allowed NASA to squeeze everything into two, barring any problems Tuesday.

    The second spacewalk was supposed to take place Monday, but was delayed a day to give Mastracchio time to switch to another suit. He inadvertently hit a water switch in the air lock at the end of Saturday's excursion, and a bit of water entered his suit, making it unusable this week.

    During the rest of the spacewalk, however, the suits remained dry. Last July, an astronaut almost drowned when water from his suit's cooling system flooded his helmet. Makeshift snorkels and absorbent pads had been installed in the suits as a precaution.

    A Moscow-led spacewalk, meanwhile, is set for Friday. Two Russian crew members will install new cameras and fresh experiments outside.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Best Space Photos of 2013

     

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    Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013
    FILE - In this July 23, 2007 file photo, Tim Kjenstad, of Henderson, Nev., runs in Kiehl's Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley, Calif. The race start line was at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere at 280 feet below sea level. The race finished after 135 miles at the Mount Whitney Portals at 8,360 feet. Death Valley National Park is putting the brakes on ultramarathons and other extreme sports events that involve running and cycling until rangers can determine how safe it is to hold those competitions in a place that records the hottest temperatures on Earth. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)
    In this July 23, 2007, file photo, Tim Kjenstad, of Henderson, Nev., runs in Kiehl's Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - It's the hottest, hardest, most grueling foot race in the world, says Shannon Farar-Griefer, who has run the Badwater 135 ultramarathon through Death Valley five times.

    That's exactly why she keeps coming back, she says, and why every ultrarunner has it on their bucket list.

    The race takes the bravest of runners 135 miles through the hottest place on Earth in the middle of the summer.

    Next year, for the first time in 37 years, runners won't be able to tackle the Badwater 135. Death Valley National Park recently put a moratorium on foot and cycling races through the desert hot spot 200 miles east of Los Angeles while they study ways to make the events safer.

    "We're devastated," said Farar-Griefer, who is the first woman to conquer the race route back to back. That entails running 135 miles from Badwater Basin in Death Valley to near the top of Mount Whitney, then turning around and running back to the starting line.

    "It's like taking Wimbledon away from a tennis player," she said Monday night as word spread among the running community that the race would have to make a detour through a less challenging environment next year.

    The safety study should be done by the spring, and running and cycling events could resume as early as next October, Death Valley spokeswoman Cheryl Chipman said Monday. But sponsors could be faced with enforcing stricter safety rules when events resume.

    Chris Kostman, whose AdventureCorps sponsors the Badwater 135 and several other endurance competitions in the sprawling desert park, questioned the need for such a review. He said his organization has held 89 such events there since 1990 without a serious incident.

    "There have been no deaths, no car crashes, no citations issued, and only a few evacuations by ambulance after literally millions of miles covered on foot or by bike by event participants," he said in an email to supporters.

    Chipman said park officials aren't so concerned about runners and cyclers, who they know arrive prepared to survive the area's heat and rugged terrain.

    But as such events have grown in popularity, she said, participants, their support crews and spectators have begun to jam the park's narrow two-lane roads, creating a dangerous traffic hazard.

    "We don't want to have to wait for an accident to happen to do this safety review," she told The Associated Press on Monday. "We want to be proactive and create the conditions that we think are the safest allowable for these kinds of events."

    Death Valley, which attracts about a million visitors a year, is located some 200 miles east of Los Angeles in an area that's sometimes been described as a desert salt pan surrounded by mountains. Temperatures can top 130 degrees in the summer, when the Badwater 135 is held each July.

    The race takes its name from its starting point in Badwater Basin, which at 282 feet below sea level is the lowest point in North America. It continues across a barren, unforgiving desert before it takes runners over three mountain ranges, ending near the top of Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48 states.

    Runners take part by invitation only, and to be considered for admission, one must have completed three or more 100-mile races.

    "Although it is considered the world's toughest foot race, we have an 89 percent finishing rate," Kostman said.

    Not that finishing is easy.

    "I've had blisters on my feet, chafing, throwing up," Farar-Griefer recalled with a laugh.

    "But I kept going back every year for more and more punishment because I love it. It's known to be the world's toughest race, and that's a bit of a turn-on."

    With no Badwater 135 next year, AdventureCorps has scheduled two similar but slightly shorter versions through less grueling environments in California and North Carolina.

    "But nothing beats running the original route from the bottom of Death Valley to the end of the road on Mount Whitney," Kostman said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The world's most extreme sports

     

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    Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013
    road sign with santa claus on...
    (Shutterstock)

    PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AP) - For kids who can't wait for Santa to arrive, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has a Christmas treat. Visions of sugar plums can be augmented by a check on the fat man's progress around the globe on Christmas Eve. Here are five things to know about the holiday tradition called NORAD Tracks Santa:

    1. HOW DO YOU FOLLOW SANTA'S PATH?

    NORAD provides updates by phone, Facebook, Twitter and email. If you call 877-HI-NORAD, a live person will give you an update. Online: http://www.noradsanta.org. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noradsanta. Twitter: @NoradSanta. Email: noradtrackssanta@outlook.com. Smartphone apps are also available at app stores. NORAD's Santa operations center opens at 6 a.m. ET on Dec. 24. NORAD says Santa usually starts in the South Pacific and hits New Zealand and Australia before heading to Japan and Asia. Africa and Europe are next, followed by North America and South America. "Santa calls the shots," NORAD says on its website. "We just track him!"

    2. HOW MANY PEOPLE FOLLOW SANTA?

    Last year, volunteers answered 114,000 phone calls from around the world. The website had 22.3 million unique visitors. NORAD Tracks Santa had 1.2 million followers on Facebook and 129,000 on Twitter.

    3. WHY DOES NORAD DO IT?

    In 1955, a local newspaper advertisement invited children to call Santa but mistakenly listed the hotline or NORAD's predecessor. Rather than disappoint the kids, commanders told them they indeed knew where Santa was. NORAD, a U.S.-Canadian operation based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., continues the tradition every Christmas Eve.

    4. WHY WAS THERE CONTROVERSY THIS YEAR?

    A children's advocacy group complained that an animated video on the NORAD Tracks Santa website injected militarism into Christmas by showing fighter jets escorting Santa's sleigh on a 39-second video promoting the event. NORAD says the fighter escort is nothing new. NORAD began depicting jets accompanying Santa and his reindeer in the 1960s.

    5. WHAT DO KIDS ASK WHEN THEY CALL?

    Among the questions kids have had on their minds when they called in previous years:

    - "Am I on the nice list or the naughty list?"

    - "Can you put my brother on the naughty list?"

    - "Are you an elf?"

    - "How much to adopt one of Santa's reindeer?"

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Best Christmas Festivals

     

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    It is one of the most famous photos ever taken - the Earth rising over the moon's horizon as seen firsthand by the 1968 Apollo 8 crew. And yet, more than four decades later, details about how the photo was captured are still being uncovered.

    Four days shy of the photo's 45th anniversary, NASA on Friday (Dec. 20) released a new simulation of the events that led to the creation of the image known as "Earthrise." The new video was created using topographic data from the space agency's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been circling the moon since 2009.

    "This new simulation allows anyone to virtually ride with the astronauts and experience the awe they felt at the vista in front of them," NASA said in a release teasing the video. [The Top 10 Views of Earth from Space]

    Watch Now: NASA Recreates Apollo 8 "Earthrise" 45 Years Later

    It was Christmas Eve 1968, and the first lunar voyagers in all of history - Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders - were emerging from behind the moon for the fourth time. It was then that Anders first spotted it, the Earth, peeking over the horizon.

    "Oh my God! Look at that picture over there!" exclaimed Anders. "There's the Earth comin' up. Wow, is that pretty!"

    What followed was an impromptu photo opportunity, first in black and white (building on the first "Earthrise" captured by NASA's Lunar Orbiterprobe two years earlier) and then after quickly locating the proper film cartridge, in stunning full color.

    "In lunar orbit, it occurred to me that, here we are, all the way up there at the moon, and we're studying this thing, and it's really the Earth as seen from the moon that's the most interesting aspect of this flight," Anders told author Andrew Chaikin for the 2009 book "Voices from the Moon" (Viking Studio).

    Anders' color photo of the gibbous Earth hanging over the lunar surface was declared one of the "great images of the 20th century" and among "100 photographs that changed the world" as selected by the editors of TIME and LIFE magazines. Five months after the Apollo 8 crew returned to Earth, the U.S. Postal Service issued a postage stamp depicting Anders' "Earthrise."

    But as well known as the photograph became, the details regarding its creation were limited for four decades to the astronauts' anecdotes. Then Ernie Wright, the project lead with the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland began reassembling the Apollo 8 crew's experience using data returned by LRO.

    Friday's video release addressed those issues and more. For Earth Day in 2012, Wright debuted his first take on the "Earthrise" visualization. The flight time was compressed and the simulated Earth did not exactly duplicate what the Apollo 8 astronauts saw. [Watch the first version of the new 'Earthrise' visualization (Video)]

    "The Earthrise visualization that we released for Earth Day last year really only scratched the surface," Wright said in a NASA interview. "The new visualization tells us not only what time the photos were taken, but also exactly which way the [Apollo 8] spacecraft was pointing and therefore which window each photo was taken from."

    "This [is] also the first time we've released a video that's synchronized with the audio recording of the astronauts," he added.

    Wright credits both the precise modern data from LRO and archival photos from the 1968 mission for making the new simulation possible.

    "The key to the new work is a set of vertical stereo photos taken by Apollo 8," Wright said. "A camera was mounted in the rendezvous window that pointed straight down onto the lunar surface [and] it took a picture every 20 seconds. When the spacecraft rotated, so did the images."

    "By registering each photo to a model of the terrain from LRO data, we can nail down the timing of the spacecraft's rotation," he said.

    To make the new simulation as faithful as possible, Wright also used the Apollo 8 flight plan, the onboard recording of the astronauts voices, data on the optical properties and mounting of the Hasselblad cameras, and the dimensions and angles of the command module windows.

    A Dec. 24, 1968 map of the Earth from the Environmental Science Services Administration 7 satellite helped Wright recreate the planet's cloud patterns to match the images taken from the moon that day.

    For Chaikin, who narrates the simulation and who has studied and written extensively about the Apollo missions, the details revealed by the video are amazing.

    "It never occurred to me that the spacecraft was nose-down when the Earthrise happened, or that it was actually still rotating as part of Borman's roll maneuver," Chaikin told collectSPACE.com. "But that explains why Anders was the first one to see it - the timing was just perfect for the Earth to appear in his right-hand window just as it was first peeking above the moon's horizon."

    "It just proves what I have long realized," Chaikin added, "there's always more to discover about Apollo!"

    Click through to collectSPACE.com to watch NASA's video recreation of the iconic Apollo 8 "Earthrise."

    Follow collectSPACE.com on Facebookand on Twitter at @collectSPACE. Copyright 2013 collectSPACE.com. All rights reserved.

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

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Best Space Photos of 2013

     

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    Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013

    Volunteers take phone calls from children asking where Santa is and when he will deliver presents to their house, during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation, at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, at Peterson Air Force Base, in Colorado Springs, Colo., Monday Dec. 24, 2012.

    The world's greatest effort to follow Santa's flight around the world continues this Christmas Eve.

    In 1955, a Sears Roebuck & Co. in Colorado Springs, Colo., had advertised a Santa phone line but incorrectly published the number.

    Children who thought they were calling Santa Claus ended up calling the operations hotline of the former Continental Air Defense Command, the predecessor of NORAD or the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

    Col. Harry Shoup, the operations director, directed his staff to scan the radar for signs of Santa, reports that were passed onto to the children.

    NORAD continues the tradition almost 60 years later by answering children's emails and phone calls. It also follows Santa's flight with the NORAD Tracks Santa website.

    Over 1,000 volunteers at NORAD handle more than 100,000 thousand phone calls from children around the world every Christmas Eve.

    This holiday, Santa should face few problems reaching children across the United States. Some snow showers will fall across the Northeast, however.

    Meanwhile, Europe could be more challenging as a storm wallops Spain and Portugal through much of France, Belgium and the Netherlands with locally heavy rain and gusty winds.

    Over 1,000 volunteers at NORAD handle more than 100,000 thousand phone calls from children around the world every Christmas Eve, with NORAD continually projecting Santa's supposed progress delivering presents.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Best Christmas Festivals

     

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    Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013

    A car sits abandon on a flooded road in Croydon, south London, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. A severe winter storm has caused major travel problems in Britain. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

    LONDON (AP) - A severe winter storm caused major travel problems in parts of western Europe Tuesday, stranding passengers travelling for Christmas at Paris and London airports and leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without power.

    The storm caused four deaths in Britain, including a man who jumped into a fast-flowing river to try and rescue his dog. The severe weather also left a 12-year-old boy crushed to death beneath construction materials in Normandy, France.

    In Britain, thousands of people trying to get away for the holidays were affected by reduced or cancelled train services due to landslides and fallen trees and flooded roads. Power outages at London Gatwick Airport's North Terminal caused 26 cancellations and many more delays.

    The airport, the country's second-largest, said the problems were caused by flooding from a nearby river triggered by heavy rains.

    Across the English Channel, nearly all long-haul flights out of Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport were delayed because of the storm, according to the Paris airport authority website.

    Electricity provider ERDF said the winds left nearly 200,000 homes in western France without electricity.

    France's Interior Ministry says the 12-year-old boy was killed at a construction site in Saint Germain de Tallevande and another person was seriously injured.

    The Energy Networks Association, which represents power companies across the U.K., said 150,000 homes were without power, mainly in the south of England.

    Power supplier Southern Electric said some may not get electricity back in time for Christmas Day.

    The Environment Agency issued hundreds of flood warnings across all of England and Wales, with a severe flood warning - the highest level, warning of danger to life - in southwest England.

    Two people died in car accidents, and one woman's body was pulled from a river in north Wales.

    In Spain, extremely strong winds battered the northwestern Galicia region, and a tree that fell down on rail tracks prompted the derailment of a commuter train. None of the 10 passengers or the crew members were injured.

    Wind speeds hit 185 kilometers per hour (115 mph) in some coastal areas of Galicia, and the region's fishing fleet stayed in port. As many as 88,000 homes lost electrical power, and crews were trying to restore it.

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

     

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    Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013

    Heather Griffin, of Buffalo, N.Y., and her dog Sal walk beneath ice-covered trees on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Buffalo. As Americans and Canadians ushered in the first official day of winter, the weather provided many with a variety of surprises. Snow and ice hit Michigan, Canada, New England and upstate New York. Some other eastern regions were hit with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Flooding in the South was blamed for at least four deaths while apparent tornadoes caused destruction in Arkansas. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    A massive ice storm blacked out homes from the Plains to the far Northeast of the U.S., dealing a big "bah humbug" to thousands of families whose Christmas Eve was shaping up to be very cold and very dark.

    Utility crews worked around the clock Tuesday to restore service to the more than half a million homes and businesses still without power since the deadly arctic blast slammed much of the country over the weekend. Some hardy revelers prepared to hunker down for the holiday, despite the lack of electricity, while others packed up their wrapped gifts and headed off to stay with family or friends.

    The Potbury family was among nearly a quarter-million Michigan residents without power Tuesday. The family of four, of Mount Morris Township near Flint, lost electricity at 6 a.m. Sunday and has since stayed in a single bedroom warmed by generator-powered space heaters.

    Lights on the Christmas tree of course were dark - one of several festive frustrations.

    "Even though the house is freezing cold, the freezer items were starting to thaw out," John Potbury said.

    Jackson-based Consumers Energy, Michigan's largest utility, said the storm was the worst for their customers during Christmas week in its 126-year history. More than 300,000 homes and businesses - nearly 17 percent of its 1.8 million electric customers - lost power during the storm which hit the state late Saturday. About 174,000 still were out Tuesday morning and it could be days before power completely returns.

    In the state capital, about 13,600 Lansing Board of Water & Light customers still were waiting to have their electricity restored, while in the Detroit area about 55,000 DTE Energy customers still were without electricity.

    Ted and Angela Montgomery, whose home was one of about 25,000 in Lapeer County that went dark, weren't waiting around.

    "We haven't had any power in two days and DTE is saying it won't be on until Dec. 27," said Ted Montgomery, 61. "We planned a little family gathering we had to cancel."

    Montgomery said they had been using their fireplace to keep warm, but on Tuesday would pack up their Chihuahua and African grey parrot and book a hotel room near Detroit so they could spend the holiday with family in the area.

    And the prospects of better weather were not very good. The National Weather Service said more snow was expected to move into the Northern High Plains and Central Rockies on Tuesday before rolling into the Great Lakes and Midwest by Christmas morning.

    In Maine, the number of customers without power spiked to more than 100,000. Central Maine Power Co. said it had more than 1,000 people working on restoring power throughout the state.

    Utilities in Vermont reported that about 6,800 homes still were without power. The Red Cross opened shelters in four communities, while the town of Barton opened its own shelter.

    The nationwide death toll from the storm reached at least 12 on Tuesday, when a 50-year-old man was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes from a generator. It was the second reported death attributed to fumes from a generator during the storm.

    Ken Fuller, who runs a generator repair shop in Lansing, Mich., said he typically closes by noon on Christmas Eve. At 12:30 p.m. he was cleaning out a carburetor with five more waiting to be serviced.

    "The temperature outside is 15 to 20 degrees," said Fuller, owner of Fuller's Power Equipment Center. "Christmas is going to have to take second fiddle right now because houses are getting cold, freezing water pipes."

    For the first time in several days the sun shined and skies were blue outside Doug Jennings' home in Hallowell, Maine, one of several towns in the center of the state that were almost completely blacked out.

    Jennings lost power Monday night and a propane stove was all he had to keep his home warm. But with visitors in town for Christmas, he's worried about what they're going to do if their heat and lights remain off and the temperature dips into the single-digits Tuesday night as forecast.

    "It's going to be problematic, we're going to have to do something about it, go to a hotel or whatever," he said. "I don't know."

    His family took some of the food they've been planning to serve at Christmas and put it in a snow bank - a move they learned from their experience in the last big ice storm that left some Mainers without power for weeks nearly 20 years ago.

    "But we have Christmas food that's probably going to be all bad," he said. "My wife says 'I don't feel like doing the kids stockings or anything.'"

    Luckily, one important person was ready for the holiday, regardless of the weather.

    "Santa runs on reindeer power, not electricity, so he should be OK," Potbury of Mount Morris Township reassured his children, ages 8 and 5.

    RELATED ON SKYE: PHOTOS: 2013's Winter Solstice Weekend Storm

     

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    Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013
    NYC Cold Weather
    (AP Photo)

    The year will come to an end with a fresh blast of arctic air plunging into the Midwest and Northeast, setting up a frigid start to 2014.

    Tuesday morning's lows of 20 below zero F and lower across the Upper Midwest and the cold making a comeback across the Northeast for Christmas is just a sign of things to come as 2013 winds down.

    As quick as temperatures ease in a west-to-east fashion across the Midwest and Northeast Friday through the weekend, a new blast of frigid air will return.

    The next arctic blast will drop into the Midwest over the weekend before making those in the Northeast shiver early next week. The cold will remain in control for the start of 2014.

    The impending cold wave could lead to multiple subzero days for the Upper Midwest with a return of Tuesday morning's brutally cold air.

    Some places will even turn colder than Tuesday morning, especially where snow continues to cover the ground.

    Northern New England may also have to endure an entire day of subzero temperatures, while a stretch of highs mainly in the 20s is likely in store for the I-95 corridor from Philadelphia to New York City to Boston to Portland.

    The South will also turn colder next week, but the dramatic departures from normal that was experienced in November will not be repeated.

    Despite the cold being in place, AccuWeather.com Lead Long Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok does not expect a major winter storm to unfold next week.

    "The weather pattern from next Monday through Thursday will yield multiple lighter snow events that track from eastern Montana to the Midwest and Northeast," Pastelok stated.

    One or two snow events could even drop down to Denver.

    "Each snow event will not produce a lot of snow but still enough to cause slippery spots."

    Pastelok does anticipate a major East Coast winter storm to unfold around Jan. 6-8, but a noticeable change in the weather should follow.

    RELATED:
    Forecast Temperature Maps
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    Early Texas Cold Snap Threatens Sanctuary Bobcats

    After a quick blast of arctic air in the storm's wake, the weather pattern should transition to one with fewer cold shots and storms for the Midwest and Northeast.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Best Christmas Festivals
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    NYC Cold Weather

     

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