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    Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013
    this snow covered christmas...
    (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 from the Dakotas to the Great Lakes.

    Most areas will have nothing more than a coating on the roads, but more persistent snow could leave behind 1 to 2 inches in the Great Lakes region. However, a few spots may pick up as much as 3 inches.

    Because there can be some slick spots and slower travel speeds, you might want to allow for extra travel time if you have plans to head over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house for Christmas dinner.

    With the snow showers staying closer to the Great Lakes, it will make 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    The warm and wet weather that was around for the official start to winter in the Northeast has been replaced by colder weather just in time for Christmas.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 reach the eastern Great Lakes, including the Buffalo, N.Y., area, later on Christmas Day.

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

    Highs from Boston to New York City will only climb into the 20s, while Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., will be held in the 30s.

    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.

    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

    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.

    West

    It's shaping up to be a dry Christmas across the western U.S. and many areas will have abundant sunshine.

    Temperatures in most locations will be rather close to average for this time of year. However, an offshore flow will help temperatures rise well into the 70s and perhaps lower 80s in a few spots across Southern California.

    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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    Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013
    Jake Baldino (L) and Mick Benbow of K & T Electric of DeWitt replace an elctrical box and pole to a home in DeWitt Township Monday morning.The ice storm caused a  large tree branch to fall onto the wires of the home and tore the connection off the house.  Photo taken 12/23/2013 by Greg DeRuiter/LSJ
    Jake Baldino, left, and Mick Benbow of K & T Electric of DeWitt replace an electrical box and pole to a home in DeWitt Township, Mich., Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Lansing State Journal, Greg DeRuiter)

    Ted and Angela Montgomery had planned to entertain family and friends this Christmas at their home in Lapeer, north of Detroit. But an ice storm knocked out their lights and heat on Sunday and it hadn't returned by Christmas Eve.

    "We've just been using our fireplace, using the one in the great room and that's been keeping it pretty decent," Ted Montgomery, 61, said. "We planned a little family gathering we had to cancel."

    Montgomery headed for shelter in a hotel Tuesday, something Doug Jennings in Central Maine was considering.

    They were among the half-million utility customers - from Maine to Michigan and into Canada - who lost power in an ice storm last weekend one utility called the worst during Christmas week in its history. Repair crews were working around the clock to restore service, but, like Jennings, thousands prepared for a holiday at home without electricity or packed up their wrapped gifts and stayed with family or friends.

    At his home near Augusta, Jennings had only a propane stove to heat his home - with visitors in town.

    "It's going to be problematic. We're going to have to do something about it, go to a hotel or whatever," Jennings said. "But we have Christmas food that's probably going to be all bad. My wife says 'I don't feel like doing the kids' stockings or anything.'"

    It appears the bad weather isn't ready to take a break. More snow is forecast to roll into the Great Lakes and Midwest by Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service said.

    The death toll from the weekend storm reached at least 14 on Tuesday, when a 50-year-old man in Knox, Maine, was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes from a generator. Police in Michigan also attributed two deaths in a traffic collision Monday to the storm.

    The number of customers in Maine without power spiked to more than 100,000 on Tuesday. Central Maine Power said its goal was to use more than 1,000 workers to restore power for all customers by Thursday night, while other utilities in Maine warned customers they could be without electricity until Friday.

    Across the border in Canada, Toronto officials said 90,000 customers were without power Tuesday - down from 300,000 at the height of the outages.

    In Michigan, Jackson-based Consumers Energy - the state's largest utility - said it hadn't had this many outages during any Christmas week in its 126-year history. Close to 17 percent of its 1.8 million electric customers lost power during the storm that hit late Saturday; roughly 152,000 remained without it Tuesday evening.

    Ken Fuller runs a generator repair shop in Lansing, Mich., where more than 13,000 people were without power Tuesday. He typically closes by noon on Christmas Eve, but at 12:30 p.m. he was cleaning out a broken generator's carburetor - and had five more waiting to be serviced.

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

    That was the concern that John Potbury and his family faced outside Flint. They lost electricity at 6 a.m. Sunday and have been living in a single bedroom warmed by generator-powered space heaters. The lights on their tree, of course were dark.

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

    But Potbury's kids, 8-year-old Jacob and 5-year-old Jackson, kept things in perspective, telling their dad Tuesday that "Santa runs on reindeer power, not electricity, so he should be OK."

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Best Christmas Festivals

     

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    Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013
    In this Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 photo provided by NASA and tweeted  Sunday, Dec. 22, by NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, Hopkins work to repair an external cooling line on the International Space Station on a spacewalk 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 Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013 photo provided by NASA and tweeted Sunday, Dec. 22, by NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, Hopkins work to repair an external cooling line on the International Space Station on a spacewalk 260 miles above Earth. (AP Photo/NASA)

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Space station astronauts repaired a crippled cooling system during a rare Christmas Eve spacewalk Tuesday, braving a "mini blizzard" of noxious ammonia as they popped in a new pump.

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

    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.

    With Tuesday's success, the cooling system should be restored and all equipment up and running by this weekend, according to NASA.

    "It's the best Christmas ever," Mission Control radioed as the 7½-hour spacewalk came to a close.

    "Merry Christmas to everybody," replied Hopkins. "It took a couple weeks to get her done, but we got it."

    Mastracchio and Hopkins removed the faulty ammonia pump during Saturday's spacewalk. On Tuesday, they installed the fresh pump.

    Standing on the end of the station's main robotic arm, Hopkins clutched the 780-pound, refrigerator-size pump with both hands as he headed toward its installation spot, and then slid it in. An astronaut working inside, Japan's Koichi Wakata, gingerly steered the arm and its precious load.

    "Mike Hopkins taking a special sleigh ride on this Christmas Eve," Mission Control commentator Rob Navias said as the space station soared over the Pacific.

    It was slow going because of a balky ammonia fluid line that sent frozen flakes of the extremely toxic substance straight at the men - "a mini blizzard," as Mission Control called it. The spacewalkers reported being surrounded by big chunks of the stuff that bounced off equipment and, in all probability, their suits.

    The ammonia needed to dissipate from their suits before the pair returned inside, to avoid further contamination.

    "Wow," Hopkins sighed after the fourth and final fluid line was hooked to the new pump. The electrical hookups went more smoothly, and six hours into the spacewalk, Hopkins finally called down, "Houston, you've got yourself a new pump module."

    Christmas references filled the radio waves as the action unfolded 260 miles above the planet.

    "It's like Christmas morning opening up a little present here," Mastracchio said as he checked his toolkit. Later, as he worked to remove the spare pump from its storage shelf, he commented: "Now it really feels like I'm unwrapping a present."

    Mission Control in Houston was in a festive mood, despite the gravity of the situation. Tabletop Christmas trees, Santa dolls and red Santa caps decorated the desks.

    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.

    A bad valve in the ammonia pump caused the latest 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. But this time, the astronauts managed to squeeze everything into two after NASA reduced the pressure and simplified the task.

    Mission Control successfully activated the pump Tuesday night. The two-line external cooling system uses ammonia to dispel heat generated by on-board equipment; only one loop was disabled by the breakdown.

    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 encroached on a cooling device in the backpack of his suit, making it unusable.

    Otherwise, the suits remained dry during both spacewalks. Last July, an astronaut almost drowned when water from his suit's cooling system flooded his helmet. Makeshift snorkels and absorbent pads were added to 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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    December 26, 2013

    This Dec. 22 file photo shows a woman walking through a light snowfall, the type that is heading to the northeast. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    Parts of northern New England and Atlantic Canada will get an accumulating snowfall at least one more time before 2013 comes to a close.

    Light snow will spread over New England Thursday with a general coating to an inch or two expected across much of the region.

    This snow will make for slick road conditions for those headed home after the holidays.

    The heaviest snow will develop across southern Maine late in the day as an area of low pressure takes shape just off the region's coast.

    Snow will continue through Thursday night, dropping a quick 3 to 6 inches before tracking across Atlantic Canada on Friday.

    Folks planning to travel on I-95 in Maine Thursday afternoon through Friday morning should allow some extra travel time, especially for those traveling between the cities of Augusta and Bangor.

    The heaviest snow from this system will hold off until Friday when the low spreads a swath of snow across Newfoundland, accumulating as much as 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm).

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    Harsh Cold to End 2013 From Midwest to Northeast
    PHOTOS: 'Sparkling' Snow Creates a White Christmas for Many

    New England looks to be dry through much of the weekend in the wake of this late-week snow before a new system tracks towards the region late Sunday.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 2013 Winter Solstice Weekend Storm

     

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    Updated Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 at 3:19 p.m. ET

    Trees frozen in ice cripple a section of power lines on Maplehurst Drive in Belgrade, Maine, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel, Michael G. Seamans)

    LITCHFIELD, Maine (AP) - Some homes and businesses from Maine to Michigan and into Canada that have been without electricity since last weekend's ice may not get their power back for another day - or longer.

    Utilities in Michigan reported 105,000 customers without power Thursday morning, while those in Maine reported more than 36,000 and Canada more than 101,000.

    Bangor Hydro Electric in Maine is advising people it will be the end of the day Friday before its more than 11,000 customers are back on line. The number has fluctuated as some people get power back while others lose it. The utility said downed trees are the biggest problem facing line crews.

    "We've had two beautiful, sunny days in Maine and the ice isn't going anyplace," said Lynette Miller, spokeswoman for the Maine Emergency Management Agency. "They're very concerned about more weight coming down on trees that are already compromised by ice."

    Central Maine Power, with more than 24,000 customers still in the dark early Thursday, hoped to get power back for most by the end of the day but acknowledged that some will still be without electricity on Friday. More than 100,000 were without power at the storm's peak.

    More snow was forecast Thursday for Maine and parts of Michigan, and frigid temperatures were expected to keep ice from melting off power lines and tree branches, posing new risks for outages.

    From 2 to 6 inches of snow could fall in parts of Maine.

    Ashley Walter, 27, was still hunkered down with her husband, Jacob, and their month-old daughter, Leah, at a shelter set up in a school in Litchfield, Maine. The family lost power Saturday, got it back temporarily, then lost it again Sunday and have been without since.

    Despite the challenge of being forced out of the house, especially at Christmas, the family was staying positive.

    "It's definitely kind of strange but we're hanging in there," Ashley Walter said Wednesday. "We did our Christmas together last night. I packed little stockings and gave them to my husband, sisters and my daughter."

    Trudy Lamoreau was supervising the emergency shelter where about 25 people stayed Tuesday night. Lamoreau, who's also the town manager, said they warmed the shelter with generators until the school got power back late Tuesday night.

    "People are doing quite well, considering the circumstances," she said.

    In Michigan, about 105,000 homes and businesses were still without power early Thursday, down from more than 500,000 at the storm's peak. CMS Energy Corp. said some of its nearly 90,000 customers still offline may have to wait until Saturday to get power back.

    With no electricity at their home, Jill Ghantous and her family from Swartz Creek, Mich., opened their Christmas presents at a hotel in Genesee County's Grand Blanc Township, southeast of Flint.

    The family members took the Christmas stockings from their home and hung them from a dresser in the hotel room.

    They also bought a small tree for the room, said Ghantous, whose children are 10 and 6.

    "I guess we can kind of pull Christmas out of nothing," Ghantous told MLive.com. "You just get resourceful and try to make it the best you can."

    So far, authorities blame the storm for 27 deaths; 17 in the U.S. and 10 in Canada, including five who apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

    In Canada, more than 101,000 customers in three provinces - Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick - were without power Thursday morning. There were almost 54,000 customers without power in Toronto, down from 300,000 at the height of the outages.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Best Christmas Festivals

     

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    December 26, 2013

    This satellite image shows a massive storm on the east end of the Caribbean islands, where St. Vincent is located. (NOAA)

    Flooding and landslides caused by heavy rains have killed at least eight people and injured five on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, officials said Wednesday.

    The government's National Emergency Management Organization said one of those who died was an 18-year-old college student. Five people were reported missing.

    Among the eight killed was a cousin of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, Cassian Gonsalves, who died Tuesday night when a landslide crashed through his house, Cassian cousin Mark Boyea told the Associated Press.

    The devastation prompted the prime minister to cut short a family vacation that had taken him to England and Rome, and he was due to return home Thursday. Photos posted by the Vatican showed that Gonsalves had met with Pope Francis.

    In the heavily hit area of North Leeward in northwestern St. Vincent, a family of five was killed when a house was swept into their home. Sixty-two people had taken refuge at a school converted to a shelter.

    The emergency office said nine houses had been destroyed and 15 others were damaged. Several communities remained isolated because of damaged bridges or blocked roads, it said.

    There was extensive flooding and damage elsewhere in the eastern part of the Caribbean. Police on the nearby island of St. Lucia said a man died there when a wall fell on him.

    Traditional Christmas Eve midnight religious services were cancelled and several churches in the capital of Castries opened their doors to stranded people.

    "It's the worst Christmas I will ever spend," said Jude Francis, his clothes soaked from the rain.

    St. Lucia Prime Minister Kenny Anthony described the damage as an emergency and a major setback for the country. "I don't think I can recall when we have had such heavy rainfall on the eve of Christmas," he said.

    On the nearby island of Dominica, dozens of homes and at least two hotels were evacuated because of the danger of landslides and several roads were blocked by mud.

    The cluster of thunderstorms came as the small islands were crowded with holiday tourists. Showers were expected to linger over the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic throughout Wednesday.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Dramatic Flooding in Colorado
    Colorado Floods

     

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    December 26, 2013

    Mike Taylor combined 65 frames from a static time lapse of our host galaxy, the Milky Way, to create this composite image. The photo was captured from Pemaquid, Maine, on June 16, 2013, at 11:32 p.m. to 12:10 a.m. local time.

    The Milky Way moves across the night sky in this stunning composite image recently sent to SPACE.com.

    Astrophotographer Mike Taylor combined 65 frames from a static time lapse of our host galaxy to create this beautiful image. He stacked the frames of the sequence to make a standard star trails image and then blended/masked in a single frame of the Milky Way.

    Taylor took the image from Pemaquid, Maine, on June 16 at 11:32 p.m. to 12:10 a.m. local time using a Nikon D7000 camera and Tokina 11-16. The photo was processed through Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS5. [Stunning Photos of Our Milky Way Galaxy (Gallery)]

    "Shooting straight into the light at a lighthouse tower is always difficult, but I like the final result here," Taylor wrote SPACE.com in an email. "This is also a selfie because I jumped into the last frame and pointed towards the sky. Very rarely do I photograph myself, but I thought this gave a great sense of scale to the final image."

    Appearing as a dazzling band of light in the night sky, the Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy comprising roughly 400 billion stars and stretching between 100,000 and 120,000 light-years in diameter. A massive black hole - billions of times the size of the sun - lies at the center of the galaxy.

    To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by SPACE.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.

    Editor's Note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

    Follow SPACE.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

    Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space

     

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    Friday, Dec. 27, 2013
    APTOPIX Irene
    (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

    Travel-disrupting rain and a significant snowstorm are taking aim at the East Coast for this weekend prior to a blast of arctic cold.

    Between the two days of the weekend, Saturday will definitely be the better day for travelers and residents with plans across the East Coast.

    Disruptive rain and snow is then on the horizon for Sunday after a storm first spreads soaking rain across the Deep South, including New Orleans and Mobile, on Saturday.

    Some rain will reach Atlanta Saturday afternoon before the drenching rain moves northward to the Carolinas, Virginia and central Appalachians at night.

    While the coasts of Maine and New Hampshire will see some rain Sunday evening, snow will win out and lead to substantial accumulations.

    Locally severe thunderstorms will target northern Florida, southern Georgia and far southern South Carolina.

    On Sunday, the rain will focus on the corridor from Charlotte, N.C., to Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and New York City. A soaking awaits Boston and Providence, R.I., late Sunday afternoon and evening.

    The rain itself threatens to slow ground travel and lead to flight delays and cancelations. Flash flooding issues may ensue, especially where the pre-Christmas storm left the ground saturated and streams and creeks running high.

    "Sunday afternoon through night, there will be widespread one-inch rain totals with amounts up to 1.50 inches along the I-95 corridor of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England," stated AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek.

    While a rebound in temperatures preceding the storm on Saturday will prevent the rain from starting as or ending as snow along the I-95 corridor northward to Providence, R.I., the same cannot be said for all of the Northeast.

    Enough cold air will be produced for the rain to either mix with, change to or totally fall as snow from the central Appalachians to central and northern New England.

    Any accumulating wet snow across northern West Virginia and Pennsylvania will mainly be confined to the higher elevations.

    "Unlike some recent storms where cold air is coming in, the air ahead of this storm will be stale with no fresh cold. That means that the weekend storm will instead have to manufacture cold air itself in order for snow to fall, and we are looking for that to happen on Sunday," continued Dombek.

    AccuWeather.com will release details of how much snow is expected to fall in the upcoming day or two, but there will be substantial amounts from the Catskill Mountains of New York to Maine, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

    Portland and Bangor, Maine, lie within this zone, as well as Lebanon, N.H., and the far northern and western suburbs of Boston. While snowflakes may eventually mix in, the storm will be a mainly rain event for Boston.

    Where the snowstorm unfolds across New England, a nightmare awaits travelers as roads will quickly become snow-packed and treacherous. Heavy-falling snow will dramatically reduce visibility for motorists.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    Latest Watches, Warnings, Advisories
    US Interactive Radar

    The weight of the snow could damage more trees and power lines that were left weakened by the pre-Christmas ice storm across northern New England.

    The weekend storm will depart the United States by Monday, opening the door for a fresh blast of arctic cold to arrive and end 2013 on a frigid note across the Northeast.

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

     

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    Friday, Dec. 27, 2013
    Karen Gibbs walks through a labyrinth of icy broken trees and downed power lines to her home on Maplehurst Drive in Belgrade, Maine on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013. Southeast Maine and parts of the state's interior that have been without electricity since Sunday anticipated 3 to 7 inches of snow by the time the latest system pushed off the coast Thursday night. Utilities worried that the additional weight on branches and transmission lines could cause setbacks in the around-the-clock efforts to restore power. (AP Photo/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel, Michael G. Seamans)
    Karen Gibbs walks through a labyrinth of icy broken trees and downed power lines to her home on Maplehurst Drive in Belgrade, Maine on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013. (AP Photo/The Central Maine Morning Sentinel, Michael G. Seamans)

    DETROIT (AP) - When an ice storm glazed over Michigan last weekend, Tony Carone feared he wouldn't be spending Christmas at home with his family.

    "Nobody had to call. I heard it on the top of my roof," Carone said.

    The 52-year-old lineman for Detroit-based DTE Energy is one of the thousands of electrical workers who have put in double shifts trying to restore power to more than a half-million homes and businesses. Outages stretched from the Great Plains to Maine and into eastern Canada.

    "My power went out the same time as everybody else's," Carone said of the power to his Lapeer home, north of Detroit. It was about 7:30 a.m. Sunday, while he was on the phone with his utility's area leader. He walked out the door a half-hour later and has been working 16 hours a day ever since.

    The storm has been blamed for 17 deaths in the U.S. and 10 in Canada. Five people apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning tied to using generators.

    Michigan bore the brunt of the storm as nearly 600,000 homes and businesses lost power, and as of Friday morning, about 64,000 customers remained in the dark. Maine reported almost 12,000 outages and in eastern Canada, more than 77,000 hadn't had their power restored, including tens of thousands in Toronto.

    It could have been worse, said Paul Graham, a lineman supervisor from Massachusetts whose crew was helping out in Gardiner, Maine.

    "If it was a little more ice, poles would have been broken," Graham said. "Things would be on the ground. ... If there was another quarter of an inch or a half-inch of ice, people would've been out for a long, long, long time. But I'm sure no one is thinking they're lucky, right?"

    Many families affected by the outages sought refuge with relatives or hunkered down with generator-powered space heaters and fireplaces to keep warm. Utility officials say it could be days before power is restored to everyone.

    The linemen face a dangerous and physical task, below-freezing temperatures aside. Ice can weigh down power lines so much that they break, or tree branches can fall and take the lines with them. So, the linemen must clear some debris, if needed, and then shimmy up slick utility poles to restring lines using belts and spiked boots.

    "You have to take your time. You have to watch what you're doing," said Carone, who was working in Columbiaville on Thursday. "It's not a good feeling, climbing up an icy pole."

    A lineman fell Tuesday from a ladder in Lansing, suffering broken ribs and a shoulder injury.

    "It underscores the inherent dangers that linemen face in restoration efforts in a storm like this," Lansing's Board of Water & Light spokesman Stephen Serkaian said.

    Consumers Energy lineman Jeff Morrall has traveled throughout west Michigan in the last week, braving the elements.

    "It was miserable. Friday night it was the freezing rain coming in," Morrall said. "You look up and you can barely see out of your safety glasses. When we were working Sunday in Muskegon, you could see the branches breaking. You hear a big old crash, thinking 'I hope these branches don't break over our heads.'"

    Morrall, 51, was able to spend time Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with his family in Muskegon. Other than that, it's mostly been hotel and motel rooms.

    "Our families pretty much understand that's our job to go out and get the lights on. ... It's almost like being a fireman. You're there for public service."

    Consumers Energy had about 2,500 employees, contractors and workers from outside Michigan in the field. DTE Energy has about 1,500 focused on restoration efforts.

    But in a twist of holiday spirit, Morrall said his crew's morale was lifted Wednesday by grateful homeowners who had been using generators for heat, light and cooking.

    "There were no restaurants open anywhere," he said. "We had just put the power on to this neighborhood and these people brought over plates of food with turkey, ham, green bean casserole. We did get a Christmas dinner."

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

     

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    Friday, Dec. 27, 2013
    In this image provided by Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice 1500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, Friday, Dec. 27, 2013. The research ship, with 74 scientists, tourists and crew on board, has been on a research expedition to Antarctica, when it got stuck Tuesday after a blizzard's whipping winds pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place. (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock) EDITORIAL USE ONLY
    In this image the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, Friday, Dec. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock)

    SYDNEY (AP) - A ship that has been trapped in thick Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve was nearing rescue on Friday, after a Chinese icebreaker named the Snow Dragon drew close to the icebound vessel.

    The Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been on a research expedition to Antarctica, got stuck Tuesday after a blizzard's whipping winds pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place. The ship wasn't in danger of sinking, and there were ample supplies for the 74 scientists, tourists and crew on board, but the vessel couldn't move.

    Maritime authorities received the ship's distress signal on Wednesday and sent three icebreakers to assist. By Friday afternoon, China's Snow Dragon had made it as far as the edge of the sea ice surrounding the ship, 20 kilometers (12 miles) away, but still faced the tough task of getting through the dense pack ice to the paralyzed vessel.

    The Snow Dragon was hoping to reach the ship by Friday evening, but changingweather conditions and the thickness of the ice could slow its progress, said Andrea Hayward-Maher, spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the rescue.

    Expedition leader Chris Turney said it may take the Snow Dragon until Saturday to break through.

    "We're all just on tenterhooks at the moment, waiting to find out" how long it will take, Turney said by satellite phone. "Morale is really good."

    The scientific team on board the vessel - which left New Zealand on Nov. 28 - had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's century-old voyage to Antarctica when it became trapped. They plan to continue their expedition after they are freed, Turney said.

    Passengers and crew have had to contend with blizzard conditions, including winds up to 70 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour), but the weather had calmed considerably by Friday, Turney said.

    "The blizzard we had yesterday was quite extraordinary - it's not nice when you can feel the ship shaking," he said.

    Despite the interruption to the expedition, the scientists have continued their research while stuck, counting birds in the area and drilling through the ice surrounding the ship to photograph sea life.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Breathtaking Photos of Antarctica

     

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    Friday, Dec. 27, 2013
    Carniverous Fish Attack Bathers in Argentina


    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - An attack by a school of carnivorous fish has injured 70 people bathing in an Argentine river, including seven children who lost parts of their fingers or toes.

    Director of lifeguards Federico Cornier said Thursday that thousands of bathers were cooling off from 100-degree temperatures in the Parana River in Rosario on Wednesday when bathers suddenly began complaining of bite marks on their hands and feet. He blamed the attack on palometas, "a type of piranha, big, voracious and with sharp teeth that can really bite."

    Paramedic Alberto Manino said some children he treated lost entire digits. He told the Todo Noticias channel that city beaches were closed, but it was so hot that within a half-hour, many people went back to the water.

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    This image shows the International Space Station transiting the Moon. Juan Gonzalez-Alicea captured the image on Dec. 6 from western Puerto Rico using a Canon 7D with a 300 mm lens. (Credit: Juan Gonzalez-Alicea / Sociedad de Astronomia del Caribe)

    The International Space Station can be seen cruising in front of a crescent moon in this stunning night sky photo recently sent to SPACE.com.

    Juan Gonzalez-Alicea of Sociedad de Astronomia del Caribe captured the image from western Puerto Rico on Dec. 6 using a Canon 7D with a 300 mm lens. "I was able to capture the ISS [International Space Station] passing in front of the moon," Gonzalez-Alicea wrote SPACE.com. "It was an amazing sight since Venus was at maximum brightness below the crescent moon."

    Venus was at its greatest brilliance on the evening of Friday, Dec. 6, but the planet will be at its maximum brightness all month. It remains highest in the sky the first half of December, descending back down toward the horizon the second half of the month. [Spectacular Night Sky Photos by Stargazers: December 2013 (Gallery)]

    The moon is 222,800 miles (358,700 km) away from Earth while Venus is currently approximately 38.5 million miles (61.9 million kilometers) away.

    To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by SPACE.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.

    Editor's Note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

    Follow SPACE.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook & Google+. Original story at 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: 15 Stunning Photos of the Moon

     

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    Friday, Dec. 27, 2013
    Aerial view of Santa Leopoldina municipality, flooded after heavy rains, in Espirito Santo state, Brazil, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. Civil defense officials say the death toll in the floods and mudslides caused by heavy downpours in two states in southeastern Brazil has risen. More than 50,000 have been forced to leave their homes. (AP Photo/Vitor Jubino-A Gazeta) **BRAZIL OUT**
    Aerial view of Santa Leopoldina municipality, flooded after heavy rains, in Espirito Santo state, Brazil, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Vitor Jubino-A Gazeta)

    SAO PAULO (AP) - Brazilian officials say floods and mudslides have killed 41 people and driven close to 70,000 from their homes in two southeastern states.

    The civil defense department in the state of Minas Gerais says the floods and mudslides caused by more than 10 days of heavy downpours left 18 people dead and forced 9,420 to flee their homes.

    In Espirito Santo state, officials place the death toll at 23 and say that more than 60,000 were forced to seek shelter in public buildings or the homes of friends and relatives.

    Troops are helping distribute food, water and medicine in Espirito Santo and Army engineers have been called in to help repair highways, roads and bridges damaged by the floods.

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    Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013

    Utility crews prepare to work on power lines at dusk, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, in Litchfield, Maine, where many have been without electricity since Monday's ice storm. Up to 7 inches of snow is forecast, worrying utilities that the additional weight on branches and transmission lines could cause setbacks in the around-the-clock efforts to restore power. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

    Yet another weekend storm is taking aim at the East and South. The storm will bring rain to most areas with above-freezing temperatures, but heavy snow is forecast for northern New England.

    Rain will drench the southern cities of New Orleans, Atlanta and Mobile, Ala., on Saturday.

    Flash flooding may ensue, especially where the pre-Christmas storm left the ground saturated and streams running high thanks to the 1 to 3 inches of rain that fell in many places.


    While interior portions of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire will pick up heavy snow, a mix with ice and rain will help cut down on snow accumulation near the coast.

    Between the two days of the weekend, Saturday will definitely be the better day for travelers and residents with plans across the East Coast and especially the I-95 corridor.

    Drenching rain will swing eastward toward the Carolinas and northward to Virginia on Saturday night.

    Locally severe thunderstorms are possible from parts of northern Florida to southeastern Georgia, the coastal areas of the Carolinas and southeastern Virginia.



    On Sunday, the rain will focus on the corridor from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and New York City. A soaking awaits Boston and Providence, R.I., on Sunday afternoon and evening.

    The heavy rain threatens to cause urban flooding, slow ground travel and lead to flight delays and cancellations. NFL fans attending games in the area should be prepared for wet conditions. The Redskins/Giants game at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey will likely be played during some of the heaviest rainfall on Sunday afternoon.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    Latest Watches, Warnings, Advisories
    US Interactive Radar


    While a rebound in temperatures preceding the storm on Saturday will prevent the rain from starting as or ending as snow along the I-95 corridor northward to Providence, R.I. and even Boston, the same cannot be said for all of the Northeast.

    Enough cold air will be produced for the rain to either mix with, change to, or totally fall as snow over the mountains in upstate New York and in central and northern New England.

    While precipitation will mostly be in the form of rain across Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia, some wet snow may mix in at times over some higher elevations, but should add up to no more than a slushy coating to an inch.



    "Unlike some recent storms where cold air is coming in, the air ahead of this storm will be stale with no fresh cold," stated AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek.

    "That means that the weekend storm will instead have to manufacture cold air itself in order for snow to fall, and we are looking for that to happen on Sunday," continued Dombek.

    There will be a substantial accumulation from the Green Mountains of Vermont to New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

    From the southern coast of New Brunswick down through southern New Hampshire, enough ice and rain will mix in to help limit snow accumulation. This includes places like Portsmouth, N.H., Portland, Maine and Saint John, New Brunswick.

    Far northern and western suburbs of Boston may pick up a slushy, light accumulation of snow on Sunday evening before the precipitation ends. The storm will be a mainly rain event for Boston, although some wet snowflakes may mix in.

    Bangor, Maine; Lebanon, N.H.; and Fredericton, New Brunswick; all stand to have significant snow, although any sleet or rain mixing in will help cut down on accumulation.

    Where the snowstorm unfolds across New England on Sunday night, a nightmare awaits travelers as roads will quickly become snow packed and treacherous. Heavy falling snow will dramatically reduce visibility for motorists. The storm will also put down a thick blanket of snow on the ski slopes.

    The storm will not bring a heavy accumulation of ice, but it will bring snow to some areas still without power in the wake of the recent devastating ice storm.

    The weight of the snow could damage more trees and power lines that were left weakened by the pre-Christmas storm along the United States/Canada border.

    Wind produced by the new storm as it strengthens along the upper New England coast and in Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence region can also cause further damage to weakened trees and power lines. Winds will pick up in the last part of the storm around the Great lakes and the St. Lawrence Valley, raising the same concerns.

    The weekend storm will depart the United States by Monday, opening the door for a fresh blast of Arctic cold to arrive and end 2013 on a frigid note across the Northeast.


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    Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013

    Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped in thick Antarctic ice 1,500 nautical miles south of Hobart, Australia, Friday, Dec. 27, 2013. The research ship, with 74 scientists, tourists and crew on board, has been on a research expedition to Antarctica, when it got stuck Tuesday after a blizzard's whipping winds pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place. (AP Photo/Australasian Antarctic Expedition/Footloose Fotography, Andrew Peacock)


    A Chinese icebreaker that was en route to rescue a ship trapped in Antarctic ice was forced to turn back on Saturday after being unable to push its way through the heavy sea ice.

    The Snow Dragon icebreaker came within 7 miles of the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been stuck since Christmas Eve, but had to retreat after the ice became too thick, said expedition spokesman Alvin Stone.

    The Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been on a research expedition to Antarctica, got stuck Tuesday after a blizzard's whipping winds pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place. The ship wasn't in danger of sinking, and there are weeks' worth of supplies for the 74 scientists, tourists and crew on board, but the vessel cannot move.

    Three icebreakers, including the Snow Dragon, have been trying to reach the ship since Wednesday. France's L'Astrolabe made it to the edge of the sea ice surrounding the ship on Saturday, but called off its mission after it, too, failed to break through, said Lisa Martin, spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which is coordinating the rescue.

    The third icebreaker, Australia's Aurora Australis, has the best chance of cutting through the ice, and is expected to arrive on Sunday, Martin said. The Snow Dragon will remain in the area in case its help is needed.

    "I think we're probably looking at another 24 hours of twiddling our fingers and waiting for something to happen," said Stone, the expedition spokesman.

    The scientific team on board the research ship -- which left New Zealand on Nov. 28 -- had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson's century-old voyage to Antarctica when it became trapped. They plan to continue their expedition after they are freed, expedition leader Chris Turney said.

    Passengers and crew initially had to contend with blizzard conditions, including winds up to 40 miles per hour, but the weather has calmed considerably since then, Turney said.

    Despite the interruption to the expedition, the scientists have continued their research while stuck, counting birds in the area and drilling through the ice surrounding the ship to photograph sea life. Those on board also managed to celebrate the holiday with a traditional Christmas feast and a "Secret Santa" gift exchange, which helped keep everyone's spirits high, Turney said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Breathtaking Photos of Antarctica

     

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    Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013

    A power line remains down, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, in East Lansing, Mich., following a weekend ice storm. Utilities reported it could be Saturday before all electricity is restored.

    Staring at a sixth day without power in a house as cold as a refrigerator, a frustrated John Johnson finally was able to borrow a generator from a neighbor Friday.

    He "never in a million years" thought his tree-lined city neighborhood near Michigan State University would be without electricity this long. But it could be Sunday or even the middle of next week before the power is back after a weekend ice storm that tore off tree limbs and snuffed out lights from Michigan to Maine and into Canada over the Christmas holiday.

    "Hopefully, I make it through without any frozen pipes until the (utility) gets in here," said Johnson, 63, as he tried setting up the generator to warm up the house above 40 degrees before giving it back to his neighbor.

    Michigan bore the brunt of the storm as nearly 600,000 homes and businesses lost power, and as of Friday afternoon, about 60,000 customers remained in the dark. Maine reported almost 12,000 outages and in eastern Canada, nearly 62,000 still hadn't had their power restored, including 33,000 in Toronto.

    Tens of thousands of Michigan residents like Johnson are the unlucky ones still waiting. Some have abandoned their homes to stay elsewhere. Others are riding it out, either by choice - not wanting to leave pets or unattended houses - or because they have nowhere else to go.

    Their Christmas plans were ruined or inconvenienced, and now their frustration is boiling over. They know the storm was bad and appreciate the around-the-clock efforts of line crews, but in East Lansing, for instance, residents are questioning the response by the local municipal utility.

    "Where's the money going? The money we pay in power bills, the money that they spend to cut these trees down to keep the power lines open doesn't seem to really be working, in my mind," said Jon Irvin, 35.

    Irvin drove an hour north to Mount Pleasant on Sunday to buy a $500 generator after he couldn't find any in the Lansing area. It powers his furnace and a few lights.

    "We couldn't really afford it but we did it anyway," he said. "Every day, it's been a better and better purchase."

    Anger also was building in Surry, Maine, where one Bangor Hydro customer approached a line crew and then made a threatening phone call Thursday after learning the crew wasn't working on the circuit necessary to restore his power. The utility temporarily had the crew leave the area until police investigated. No charges will be filed against the man, state police said.

    In Lansing, Mich., police were investigating at least two burglaries at homes where the occupants left after their power went out, according to news reports.

    But those incidents appear to be isolated. Police in other parts of Michigan and in Maine said Friday they had no reports of storm-related break-ins.

    Major Joel Maatman, with the Ingham County sheriff's office in Michigan, said residents in rural areas -- like many hit by the storm -- have past experience with bad weather and had generators that allowed them to stay in their homes.

    "I've been here since 1975 and I don't remember an ice storm like this," said Maatman, who used a portable generator and wood-burning stove for power and heat. "I live out in the sticks, and you got to have a generator."

    But "out-county where there is a lot of farming and open land, I think it's always on every police officer's mind that crime can occur," he added.

    The Ace Hardware store in Ortonville, Mich., was flooded with people looking for items that would help get them through the power outages, according to manager Tim Tyler.

    "Five gallon gas cans went out extremely fast," he said. "Little propane tanks went fasts. Plug-ins for generators, extension cords, batteries, lanterns."

    The one item Tyler didn't have in stock: portable, gas-powered generators.

    "If I had a boatload or truckload I would have sold all of them," he said Friday afternoon, nearly a week after the massive ice storm began sliding through. "People were calling and asking if we had any, and we didn't. This whole town was out of power for over 24 hours. Some are starting to come back now."

    Until the storm, generators "just weren't in demand," Tyler added.

    "If you bring in a whole bunch, they sit a lot," he said. "You have to think about, 'Should I bring a boatload of them in? No I should not.' But I'll bring a few in now."

    Besides the ice, falling branches and vicious cold, just keeping warm for some became dangers. Five people apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning tied to using gas-powered generators heat and light.

    Carbon monoxide is called an "invisible killer" because it's a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas. More than 150 people in the Unites States die every year from accidental nonfire-related carbon monoxide poisoning associated with consumer products, including generators, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    Other products include faulty, improperly used or incorrectly vented fuel-burning appliances such as furnaces, stoves, water heaters and fireplaces.

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    Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013

    A girl goes nose-to-nose with a Neanderthal statue in Germany. Ancient DNA research is increasingly revealing the genetic links between modern humans and our extinct ancestors, including Neanderthals and the mysterious Denisovans. (Neanderthal Museum)

    2013 was a year with major scientific breakthroughs: the Higgs boson was finally caught and scientists managed to coax human DNA from 400,000-year-old fossil bones in Spain.

    Along the way, however, scientists also found that the world is even stranger than we thought. From penis-snatching fears to the mystery daddies in humans' genetic past, here are 10 of the most bizarre science stories of 2013.

    1. Mystery ancestor

    Ancient humans not only got busy with Neanderthals and Denisovans, they apparently had sex with mystery relatives as well. A new DNA analysis found that humans interbred with multiple close relatives as recently as 30,000 years ago. One scientist even described our ancient past as a "'Lord of the Rings'-type world," with many different human species living together. Let's just hope we're not part Orc.

    2. Penis panic

    Talk about penis anxiety. In March, anthropologists reported that penis panic was spreading through parts of West Africa. The fear, called koro, is that the genitals of the victims (mostly men, but sometimes women) are somehow shrinking into the body, or have been stolen. In an effort to stop the process, many people clamp or tie their genitals until they can seek help from shamans. The idea is that an accidental brush with a stranger caused the theft of the penis (or breast or vagina), and accusations of theft have occasionally resulted in lynchings of those accused. Koro is just one example of a mass hysteria that can spread to otherwise healthy people.

    3. Quantum wormholes

    Quantum mechanics, the strange laws that govern the very small, is baffling enough, but now researchers have recently raised the possibility of an even stranger phenomenon: that wormholes -- shortcuts predicted by general relativity that could theoretically connect distant places in time and space -- could help explain quantum entanglement, where the behavior of particles is linked across any distance. The new theory suggests that wormholes are just entangled black holes.

    4. New boredom

    As if the existing boredom isn't enough, scientists have discovered a new type of boredom. Researchers previously knew there were different forms of boredom, from the slightly tired and lazy form that is slightly pleasant to the more negative feeling of being stuck in a boring lecture without the ability to escape. But it turns out that many youngsters now feel apathetic boredom, a kind of disengagement akin to depression that makes them flat and incapable of emotion. This type of boredom came with a host of negative emotions, but without the antsy-ness or irritability that comes with being trapped in a boring activity.

    5. Yeti uncovered?

    It's the stuff of ancient lore -- a mysterious shaggy beast known as the Yeti or the abominable snowman that walks upright throughout the snow-covered regions of the world. But in October, researchers claimed they had found genetic evidence to solve the mystery of the yeti. A DNA sample taken from a strange beast shot 40 years ago linked it to an ancient polar bear from Norway, raising the possibility that the Himalayas may have been home to an ancient form of polar bear that people mistook for a bipedal monster.

    6. Pee power

    If some scientists have their way, the future could be powered by pee. Researchers have developed a new fuel cell that pumps pee to generate electricity. The idea is to power robotic devices that could monitor everything from bridge safety to air pollution using the new devices. [Super-Intelligent Machines: 7 Robotic Futures]

    7. Foot orgasm

    Many things -- from a gym class to simple thoughts -- can trigger orgasms in women, but a recent case report may take things to a new level. The case described a woman who experienced orgasmic sensations in her foot. Unfortunately, the orgasms were sudden and not spurred by lusty thoughts, making them an unwanted annoyance. Doctors suspect the "footgasms" happened after nerve damage caused by a bacterial infection led to crossed wires, with sensations from her vagina being interpreted as coming from her foot. To stop them, doctors injected an anesthetic into the foot, which seemed to do the trick.

    8. New body part

    After centuries of dissecting humans, you would think scientists would know all there is to know about the human anatomy. Not so. A new type of tissue was found in the eye, and was dubbed Dua's layer after its discoverer, Harminder Singh Dua, a professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at the University of Nottingham. The structure sits at the back of the cornea, the structure in the eye that helps focus light.

    9. Weird bats

    2013 was the year when scientists made a stunning conclusion: Bats are just weird. Costa Rican bats use leaves as hearing aids, with the leaves amplifying sound like an ear horn. But bats also engage in lots of other weird behavior: Both male and female bats perform oral sex. In the male's case, the procedure is meant to make sex last longer. And when they're not busy using hearing aids or engaging in courtship rituals, bats use tongue erections to sop up nectar.

    10. Honeybee buzz

    Honeybees aren't the only workers who need a mid-afternoon boost. The insects are more likely to remember plants, such as coffee and citrus flowers, that contain caffeine. The researchers believe the bees are drawn to caffeine-laced flowers by stronger memories. That's a win-win for the plants and the bees, making the insects more effective at their jobs, while also making them more faithful pollinators for the plants.

    Follow Tia Ghose on Twitter and Google+. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

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

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos from 2013
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    Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013

    Tourists pose for photographs on the Brooklyn Bridge December 23, 2013 in New York -- more downpours are on their way to the Big Apple. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

    A storm will bring a dose of drenching rain, minor flooding and travel delays to the South during Saturday into Sunday, and much of the mid-Atlantic and southern New England on Sunday.

    Those taking to the roadways should expect poor visibility from the driving rain and be wary of water collecting on portions of the highway that drain poorly.

    The rain will be heavy enough to cause flash, urban and small stream flooding. However, fast movement of the storm system will prevent widespread and major flooding of larger streams and rivers. A general 1 to 2 inches, with locally 3 inches of rain is forecast and should be handled with few problems on the major rivers.

    Downpours, fog and low cloud ceilings can lead to flight delays.

    The storm was already spreading rain across the Gulf Coast on Saturday morning. It was a wet drive along the I-10 corridor from much of Louisiana to Mississippi and Alabama.

    Atlanta can expect rain on Saturday afternoon through Saturday night, but improving travel conditions on Sunday.

    Farther northeast along the I-85 corridor, rain will soak the Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C., areas on Saturday night into Sunday morning.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    Latest Watches, Warnings, Advisories
    US Interactive Radar

    The rain will reach Richmond and Roanoke, Va., late on Saturday night.

    In the I-95 swath from Jacksonville, Fla. to Savannah, Ga., along the coasts of South and North Carolina, to southeastern Virginia, thunderstorms will also affect some locations with strong, gusty winds and blinding downpours.

    On Sunday, rain and thunderstorms will push southeastward across the Florida Peninsula, while clearing sweeps from west to east across the interior South.

    Farther north along I-95 from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia and New York City on Sunday, rain will spread northward. A breeze will cause the rain to be windswept at times, further reducing the visibility and adding misery to those attending NFL games.

    The rain will reach across southern New England on Sunday afternoon and evening from Hartford, Conn., and Providence, R.I., to Boston.

    According to Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydnowski, the rain will change to wet snow in portions of the central Appalachians.

    "Along the I-81 corridor in northern Pennsylvania and upstate New York, and farther west in portions of West Virginia and western Pennsylvania, a slushy coating to an inch or two of snow is possible," Pydnowski stated.

    For northern New England, the storm will bring heavy snowfall and slippery winter driving conditions.


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    Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014

    Toronto Maple Leafs' Dan Daoust scores a goal on Detroit Red Wings goalie Kevin Hodson during the first period of the Winter Classic Alumni outdoor NHL hockey game at Comerica Park in Detroit, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    The forecast for Michigan Stadium calls for temperatures in the teens, wind chills in the single digits, and a sprinkling of snow - the perfect wintry mix for 100,000 fans to feel a big chill at the Big House.

    In short, hockey weather fit for the traditional Winter Classic.

    "Move fast," Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk said, "or you'll be frozen."

    For the NHL, the frigid elements are part of the DNA of the sport, old-school hockey for scores of players who grew up learning the game on frozen ponds. For broadcast partner NBC, the images of snow coating the rink, the players' breath, even fans bundled in their licensed hats and jackets - all in sparkling high-definition - are a viewership boon for a league counting on record ratings today, Jan. 1.

    "It's going to be even better with a few snowflakes floating through the air to create a perfect backdrop for the greatest game on earth," NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood said.

    The Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs have no complaints about wearing an extra layer or two for Wednesday's signature event. Fans have steeled themselves to brave the cold, with Michigan Stadium expected to set an NHL attendance record, though they'll surely welcome plopping down their commemorative seat cushions on jet-dried seats.

    The wind, snow, and slush are all part of the deal for the Winter Classic, the NHL's weeklong winter carnival, that's been on a yearly tour from classic ballparks to super-sized football stadiums. The league has been pulling off global, outdoor, winter events for quite a few years now.

    For the first time, the NFL will hold the Super Bowl in an outdoor, cold-weather venue, but the Winter Classic, which began in 2008, has been there, done that - and encountered many weather roadblocks along the way. There was a blizzard in Buffalo, rain in Pittsburgh, and even - get this - too much sun in Philadelphia. But the league, and its marquee day, has persevered to the point where there will be six outdoor games this season, including two in New York during Super Bowl week.

    All the ingredients for a classic Classic are exactly what have some fans, players, and media concerned regarding a Feb. 2 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. The NFL ditched warm-weather cities and climate-controlled stadiums to stage its championship game in the cold and one of the largest media markets in the nation. What works for the NHL may not be a perfect match for the NFL.

    "New York is a great city, it's one of the best cities you could play in as far as the Super Bowl," Packers tight end Andrew Quarless said. "But yeah, as a player, you'd like to be in a dome or somewhere warm where you don't have to worry about the weather."

    NHL players worry more about the drop pass then dropping temps in the cold.

    "I think you know you expected it to be a lot colder than it actually was," Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane said. "You're worried about staying warm underneath your gear and once you start playing, your body temperature is just going to take over and you're going to be warm. You don't have to worry about it too much. There were guys actually taking off layers of clothing as the game went on."

    Kane and the Blackhawks played in the 2009 game against Detroit at Chicago's Wrigley Field.

    Snow, a sold-out football stadium and Sidney Crosby scoring the shootout winner highlighted the inaugural event in 2008 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at the NFL's Ralph Wilson Stadium. In 2010, the Boston Bruins hosted the Flyers at Fenway Park. In 2011, the Penguins hosted the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field. The New York Rangers beat the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012 at Citizens Bank Park.

    Conditions were near perfect for the first three Winter Classics in Buffalo, Chicago and Boston, with seasonal temperatures and, in Buffalo, plenty of snow. The game at Pittsburgh was switched from an afternoon start to 8 p.m. to avoid predicted rain. The rain drops and slick ice still hit.

    "It was a great idea to get outside and play in front of a lot of people. You feel the energy. You feel the excitement," Sabres goalie Ryan Miller said. "It builds some hype and you get to have that kind of football moment where there's a lead up, people talk about it a lot before you play the game and people kind of make an event out of it rather just showing up in time for the drop of the puck. They are showing up tailgating, having some fun and it really picks up the energy and makes people feel good about hockey."

    It makes fans want to stay home and watch, too. NBC Sports has produced five of the six most-watched NHLregular-season games in the past 38 years, topped by the 4.5 million viewers for the 2011 game (there was no 2013 game because of the lockout).

    If NBC and the NHL hit the jackpot and the weather turns the game into a 3-hour scene straight out of a Christmas skate at Rockefeller Center, buzz on Twitter and other forms of social media could push even casual viewers toward their TV sets.

    "I think the word will get out in a different way than it could have even in 2008, which is remarkable to think how recent that was," Flood said. "So we're excited. We think (weather) is a big part of it. We just don't need a blizzard because we'd like them to be able to make crisp passes, but at the same time have a little bit of that snow globe effect."

    For the whining out of some critics, the chilly Super Bowl still won't measure to some of the NFL's classic nailbiters - or, is it frostbiters - that helped put the league on the map.

    The NFL last year listed its 10 coldest games, and, odds are, the first weekend at MetLife Stadium will seem like summer in Miami compared to the minus-6 degrees at Arrowhead Stadium for a Chiefs-Colts playoff game on Jan. 7, 1996. Or a wind chill of minus-59 degrees for the Jan. 10, 1982 AFC championship game between San Diego and Cincinnati.

    Of course, no bone chiller has yet to top to the Ice Bowl, the 1967 NFL Championship Game between Dallas and Green Bay played on December 31, 1967 that clocked in at minus-13 degrees with a wind chill of minus-48.

    The forecast that day had called for temperatures in the 20s.

    "The operator said, 'It's 7:30 a.m. and 19-below,'" former Cowboys linebacker Lee Roy Jordan told The AP in a 2003 interview. "I got up out of bed, looked out the window and saw 40 other guys starting out in disbelief."

    Some Packers had trouble starting their cars and had to hitch a ride to the game. The doors at the Cowboys' hotel were frozen shut and had to be kicked in.

    When the grounds crew rolled up the tarpaulin, a layer of condensation had formed underneath and, with 40 mph wind, the field promptly froze like an ice rink.

    Bart Starr, the Packers' quarterback during the Ice Bowl game, said it's a mental adjustment to a cold game

    "I don't want this to sound trite, because it's not - it's attitude," Starr said in 2008. "It's a mental thing and you, an individual, regardless of what's coached to you, you have to put it out of your mind and focus on what the purpose and what your objectives are.

    "You have to push it away."

    The Seattle Seahawks sure seemed cozy in chilly New York when they thumped the New York Giants 23-0 earlier Dec. 15 at MetLife. Should they return to New Jersey this season, it would be for the Super Bowl.

    "Playing in the snow is like one of my things that I've kind of always wanted to do a good amount," Seahawks QB Russell Wilson said. "I've played in some at Wisconsin, but it was more so practice. So we never really got to play in it.

    "So I'm looking forward to the snow."

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    Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014

    The probe Gaia will make the largest, most precise 3D map of our galaxy by surveying an unprecedented number of stars. (ESA)

    From a Chinese rover on the moon and new spacecraft orbiting Mars, to private spaceships and the most powerful digital camera ever built, space will be practically buzzing with human activities in 2014.

    Here are some of the things to look out for when you're looking up next year:

    New arrivals at Mars

    Mars is going to be a busy place in 2014. Two new probes are expected to make it into Martian orbit in September and NASA's Curiosity and Opportunity rovers are still sending science back to Earth from the surface of the Red Planet. [11 Must-See Skywatching Events in 2014]

    Both India's Mars orbiter Mangalyaan and NASA's MAVEN mission are expected to get into their orbits around Mars in September. MAVEN is going to investigate the Martian atmosphere and hopefully help piece together the history of how the Red Planet lost its atmosphere. Mangalyaan, India's first Mars probe, is designed to beam back images of Mars' surface and hunt for methane in the planet's atmosphere.

    Live from the Moon

    China became the third country to make a soft landing on the moon with their Chang'e 3 lander at the end of 2013, so its science operations should start gearing up in 2014. The Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover deployed by the lander will use a robotic arm to collect lunar dust samples for analysis, and it will beam back photos of the moon's surface to Earth.

    A NASA spacecraft set to continue its mission into 2014 was already orbiting the moon as Chang'e 3 touched down. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer mission (LADEE for short) is tasked with investigating the moon's extremely thin atmosphere and probing the dust environment of the natural satellite. It will continue its science operations into 2014.

    Other probes like the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the twin Artemis probes are still circling the moon and sending back data to Earth as well.

    Gaia maps the Milky Way

    The recently launched probe might change the way scientists look at the universe. The European Space Agency probe is tasked with creating the most precise 3D map of the Milky Way ever produced.

    The twin telescopes on the spacecraft are expected to map 1 billion stars in the galaxy and even map smaller objects like alien planets circling those stars. The $1 billion mission will enter into its five year science mission after a four month commissioning phase.

    Rosetta lands on a comet

    Launched in 2004, the Rosetta probe will catch up with its target comet at long last in August 2014. The European Space Agency's comet interceptor Rosetta is expected to catch up to comet 67-P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko just as it sails inside the orbit of Jupiter next year.

    Scientists are planning to awaken Rosetta from its deep hibernation on Jan. 20, 2014 to prepare it for the next phase of its $1.4 billion mission. When the probe is less than 1.2 million miles (2 million kilometers) away from the comet, it will start to snap more detailed photos of the comet, gathering more information for the spacecraft's eventual rendezvous.

    In November 2014, the probe is scheduled to deploy the Philae lander to the surface of the comet. The lander is expected to beam back unprecedented views from its position on the 2.4-mile in diameter comet.

    The year 2014 promises to be a great one for private spaceflight. In the first week of the year, two commercial companies hope to launch private rockets, and more missions will follow as the year goes on.

    Private spaceships will soar

    On Jan. 3, the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company SpaceX will launch its first mission of the year using its upgraded Falcon 9 rocket. The flight will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and carry the Thaicom 6 commercial satellite into orbit, but that is just for starters. SpaceX also has a $1.6 billion deal with NASA for 12 unmanned cargo delivery missions to the International Space Station using the Falcon 9 rocket and its unmanned Dragon capsules. The third mission in that series is also due to launch this year, possibly in February.

    One week into the year, on Jan. 7, the commercial company Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., is due to launch its first official cargo mission to the space station using its own Antares rocket and robotic Cygnus spacecraft. In 2013, Orbital Sciences launched an Antares test flight as well as a Cygnus demonstration mission, but the upcoming launch will be the first delivery flight of its $1.9 billion cargo contract for NASA.

    And then there are the space tourism companies. Virgin Galactic made huge strides in 2013 with supersonic rocket-powered test flights of its commercial SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, which promises to fly passengers on suborbital spaceflights for $250,000 a ticket. The company is expected to build on that success in 2014, potentially with its first flights into space.

    Several other companies, such as XCOR Aerospace, Sierra Nevada Corp., Blue Origin and Boeing, are developing commercial spacecraft for various uses, and should also make more progress in 2014.

    Orion Test Flight

    2014 might just be the year of Orion. NASA is planning on launching a test flight of their Orion spacecraft -- a new crew-carrying capsule expected to bring astronauts to Mars and other deep space destinations -- in September 2014.

    For the test flight, Orion will plunge through the atmosphere so that engineers can assess the capsule's heat shield. Orion is also expected to make a parachute-aided splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

    This unpiloted test flight will be launched atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Eventually, the capsule will be boosted into space by NASA's Space Launch System rocket, a heavy-lifting booster in development now.

    International Space Station

    The International Space Station will play host to five crews through the course of 2014. The Expedition 38 crew currently staffs the $100 billion orbiting outpost, with Expedition 39 launching in March. Expeditions 40 through 42 are also scheduled to live aboard the station before the year is finished.

    Two commercial spaceflight firms will also launch robotic resupply missions to the station under contracts with NASA. SpaceX is expected to launch their unmanned Dragon capsule to the station. Orbital Sciences Corporation is slated to launch its first official cargo mission with the Cygnus spacecraft after successfully completing a test run in 2013.

    Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramer and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.

    Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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