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SKYE on AOL

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    Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014

    A woman carries an umbrella as she crosses the street with lanterns from Chinatown hanging behind her in San Francisco, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. Dry California got a much needed taste of rain, but drought-watchers hope it was just a teaser for a much wetter weekend. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Rain and snow, which began to fall in drought-stricken California on Friday, is expected to continue through the weekend in the biggest storm that the area has seen in more than a year. Still, the big weekend storm is far from enough to break the drought.

    The San Francisco Bay Area has received only about 25 percent of the rain it has normally had by this time of year, said National Weather Service forecaster Diana Henderson.

    "It's not a drought buster, but it's definitely more than a drop in the bucket," said Steve Anderson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Monterey.

    San Francisco normally would have received 14.5 inches of rain this season by now. That figure is currently at a little more than 3 inches, with up to 3 more inches expected over the weekend.

    Before the storm rolls out Monday morning, the northern San Francisco Bay Area could see as much as 9 inches of rain, the weather service said. In the Sierra, up to 4 feet of snow is expected at elevations above 7,000 feet.

    The weekend storm is expected to be the first to bring more than an inch of rain to Sacramento in a 24-hour period since December 2012, said Johnnie Powell, another National Weather Service forecaster.

    Forecasters are hopeful the storm portends an end to the persistent dry weather that has plagued the state for months and contributed to its drought emergency. Light precipitation is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday and another storm is possible next weekend, although it's not yet clear how strong that would be, Anderson said.

    The rain and snow expected over the weekend are part of warm, subtropical storm system known as a Pineapple Express that is strung across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii, Anderson said.

    Forecasters are warning of the possibility of road and stream flooding, as trash and debris that have not been washed away because of a lack of rainfall clog storm drains. Minor mud and rock slides also are possible.

    Southern California was expected to be mostly dry. Forecasters said measureable rain over the weekend likely would not fall farther south than San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties as a ridge of high pressure pushes up from the south.

    Meanwhile, snowpack levels in nearby Oregon on Friday were less than half of normal, and the drought index was still severe to moderate. Dozens of sites in Southern Oregon showed the lowest snowpack since the 1940s, when records were first kept.

    The storm was expected to drop a foot or more of snow in mountainous parts of southern Oregon and 2 to 8 inches in western Oregon valleys that got slammed Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

    The snow was expected to turn to freezing rain Friday night and Saturday in many areas. That will turn roadways icy and increase the possibility of downed power lines, forecasters warned.

    The first storm dropped more than a foot of snow on parts of the Pacific Northwest and left one person dead in an Interstate 5 pileup in southwest Washington. It also closed schools and offices.

    Mount Ashland Ski Area remained closed with just 6 inches of snow, but is high enough at 6,000 feet to expect to get snow even as the coming storms bring warmer temperatures.

    The storm track wasn't carrying as much rain and snow into Washington, where the snowpack was better but not great. Snowpack levels ranged from 32 percent of normal on the Olympic Peninsula, to 50 percent on the Lower Columbia, 65 percent in southern Puget Sound, to 63 percent on the northern Puget Sound. The Yakima Basin ranged from 57 percent to 62 percent. Spokane was at 78 percent. And the Lower Snake was the highest at 86 percent.

    The drought index was at moderate across most of Washington.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Dramatic Photos Reveal California's Epic Drought

     

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    Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014

    An Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket launches toward space carrying the ABS-2 telecommunications satellite for Asia Broadcast Satellite and the defense satellite Athena-Fidus for France and Italy. Liftoff occurred on Feb. 6, 2014.

    Dual payloads to broadcast television and broadband signals for Asia Broadcast Satellite and French and Italian security forces rocketed into orbit on an Ariane 5 rocket Thursday on Arianespace's landmark 250th launch.

    The fiery evening liftoff from the frontier of the Amazon jungle began a half-hour ascent, with the Ariane 5's twin solid rocket boosters expending more than a million pounds of pre-packed powder propellant, and the launcher's hydrogen-fueled first and second stages thrusting toward an orbit reaching as high as 22,330 miles above Earth.

    The launch occurred at 2130 GMT (4:30 p.m. EST), one hour later than planned as ground teams waited for stormy weather to pass over the space base in Kourou, French Guiana. [Amazing Rocket Launches of 2014 (Photos)]

    The delay broke a nearly three-year streak without any countdown holds after the launch team had fueled an Ariane 5 rocket.

    Stéphane Israël, Arianespace's chairman and CEO, hailed the launch as a success in remarks to VIPs inside the Guiana Space Center's Jupiter control center.

    The flight marked the 58th consecutive success for the Ariane 5 rocket dating back to 2003.

    The 166-foot-tall launcher raced through clouds hanging over the French Guiana space center, quickly disappearing from the views of spectators on the ground.

    But one observer with a uniquely high vantage point, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, saw the rocket streak into orbit from the International Space Station. Mastracchio posted a photo of the launch on his Twitter account.

    "My satisfaction is all the greater that tonight's mission is the very symbol of Arianespace's dual raison d'etre," Israël said. "Arianespace provides Europe with a guaranteed and independent access to space, while at the same time it delivers high-quality launch services to commercial satellite operators worldwide."

    At the top of the tandem payload stack for Thursday's launch was the 13,955-pound ABS 2 spacecraft for Hong Kong-based Asia Broadcast Satellite. Built by Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., the powerful telecom platform will beam direct-to-home television, multimedia and data transmission services across the Eastern Hemisphere, reaching a geographic swath from Europe and Africa, across the Middle East, Russia and India, to Southeast Asia and China. [Spaceflight Now Photos: Ariane 5 Rocket Rolls Out to Launch Pad]

    The commercial ABS 2 satellite is starting a 15-year operational lifetime, but the first leg of the mission will be to boost itself into a circular geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles high. The craft will appear parked over a fixed location along the equator at 75 degrees east longitude.

    ABS 2 is equipped with 89 transponders in Ku-band, C-band and Ka-band.

    According to Asia Broadcast Satellite, the spacecraft has 10 beams, with six dedicated to Ku-band television transmissions throughout the Eastern Hemisphere. C-band beams will focus on Africa and Southeast Asia to boost connectivity there, and a single Ka-band beam will serve commercial and military users over the Middle East and North Africa.

    The lower passenger for the Ariane 5 rocket was Athena-Fidus, a communications satellite financed by the French and Italian governments to serve military and security forces. Athena-Fidus will complement the Syracuse and Sicral national military communications satellites operated by France and Italy. The countries have embarked on a cost-sharing strategy to jointly develop communications satellites for defense authorities.

    While other indigenous and NATO military satellites offer the French and Italian governments ultra-secure, jam-resistant communications links, the purpose of Athena-Fidus is to provide broadband services beyond the telephone, fax and Intranet capabilities of the Syracuse and Sicral networks. Focusing on non-strategic communications for users like fire brigades, national police and homeland security officials, Athena-Fidus will support more modern services such as high-speed Internet and video conferencing.

    "The launch of Athena-Fidus, followed at the end of the year by Sicral 2, is the culmination of the first concrete collaboration in Europe, between Italy and France, for a military and dual space telecom program," said Bertrand Maureau, vice president for telecommunications at Thales Alenia Space, contractor for the Athena-Fidus project along with Telespazio. "This new and highly innovative satellite will naturally pave the way for government broadband contracts. We hope that Thales Alenia Space will be able to offer its experience and expertise to other government customers, whether for its proven dual technology solutions, or to support the development of new partnerships."

    Featuring EHF and Ka-band transponders, Athena-Fidus will be joined by Sicral 2, another Franco-Italian military communications satellite, scheduled for launch aboard another Ariane 5 rocket in late 2014.

    The next Ariane 5 launch is scheduled for March 7 with another flight with a pair of communications satellite. Next time the Ariane launcher will haul up the ASTRA 5B and Amazonas 4A telecom birds.

    You can get Ariane 5 rocket launch mission updates at Spaceflight Now's Mission Status Center here.

    Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter @StephenClark1. You can follow Spaceflight Now on Twitter @SpaceflightNow and on Facebook. Copyright 2013 SpaceflightNow.com, all rights reserved.

    Copyright 2014 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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    Updated, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, 5:50 p.m. ET

    Linesmen work to restore electrical power, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Downingtown, Pa. A small army of electricity restoration crews labored Friday to reconnect about 330,000 customers in Pennsylvania and Maryland. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Thousands of Pennsylvanians are returning home as power is restored after an ice storm that downed trees and electrical lines.

    About 125,000 customers in Pennsylvania and Maryland remain without power late Saturday afternoon.

    The majority of them are in the Philadelphia area. The utility PECO is reporting 111,000 outages, down about 40,000 from Saturday morning.

    The latest outages include nearly 47,000 customers in hard-hit Chester County, or more than one in five customers.

    Montgomery County has nearly 30,000 customers without electricity, while Bucks County has 24,000.

    PECO spokesman Greg Smore says weakened trees and limbs continue to fall, creating new obstacles. The company expects to restore power to everyone by Monday.

    In Maryland, officials report more than 3,600 outages.

    More than 1 million customers lost power at the storm's peak.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Dangerous Deep Freeze Pummels Much of US

     

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    Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014

    The above file photo shows a jackknifed 18-wheeler like the one involved in the Arkansas accident. (AP Photo/Timothy Jacobsen)

    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Two people jumped from an interstate bridge in southwestern Arkansas into an icy river as a jackknifed 18-wheeler careened toward them early Saturday, and authorities said one person remained missing.

    Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said troopers and emergency workers were searching for the missing person along the Little Red River downstream from the Interstate 30 bridge near Fulton.

    Three people were outside their vehicles after an earlier accident on the icy bridge when a commercial truck jackknifed and slid toward them. Two people leapt over the guardrail and into the water during 29-degreeweather.

    One person was recovered almost immediately, but the other remained missing late Saturday morning, Sadler said. Employees of the state Game and Fish Commission and water-rescue units from Hempstead and Miller counties were called to the scene.

    The bridge eventually was cleared and traffic flowed again, though roads were treacherous.

    Snow swept into Arkansas from Texas and Oklahoma on Friday, generally leaving 2-4 inches in a swath from the Ouachita Mountains to near Memphis, Tenn. Schools dismissed early, but in the Little Rock metro area the snow came late in the evening rush hour and tied up traffic for hours.

    "They need to pay attention to these hills," said Mark Townsend of Little Rock, who bought chains Saturday morning. In the bank parking lot where he abandoned his Cadillac overnight, he worked to connect the chains to his rear tires and said he had gotten within a mile of home Friday night before traffic snarls ended his commute.

    "The city should have been salting this last night," Townsend said. "Out here there's nothing but hills. The city could have responded better."

    Cindy Keane left an SUV in the same parking lot and walked an hour to the Embassy Suites hotel less than a half-mile away. She too recovered her car Saturday morning.

    "This caught us off guard. They told us we were going to get a dusting," she said, waiting for the last bit of snow to melt off her windshield.

    "I got to right there," she said, pointing to an interstate exit ramp 200 yards away. "It took me 10 minutes to get here. I promised the Lord, 'If you let me get through this without hitting anybody, I'll just park the thing.'"

    Little Rock officials said the city closed five roads because they were either blocked by abandoned cars or were unsafe.

    "At this time, I encourage citizens to exercise extreme caution if they must get out on the roads," City Manager Bruce T. Moore said in a statement Saturday morning. He said 40 workers were out Friday night to address the storm and that 70 were on duty Saturday morning. Workers were scraping and salting the roads and putting down sand.

    He also said that police would tow cars left in roadways if they were restricting traffic or parked in an unsafe place.

    PHOTOS: Winter Storm Socks Northeast

     

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    Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014


    Following a little snow on Saturday, steadier snow arriving from the Midwest threatens to create more of a nuisance for travelers across the Northeast for the second half of the weekend.

    A major winter storm will not close out the weekend, but there will still be enough snow to create slick travel across the Northeast Sunday through Sunday night.

    In general, 1 to 3 inches of snow will spread from just south of Chicago to the central Appalachians on Sunday. Fort Wayne, Ind., Cleveland, Ohio, Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa., and Binghamton, N.Y., lie in this zone.

    Similar amounts are expected as the snow streaks eastward to the I-95 corridor between Boston and Philadelphia Sunday afternoon and night, centering on New York City and Providence.

    While far from the greatest snowstorm to strike the Northeast this year, snow totals of 1 to 3 inches are enough to cause slick travel. Such slippery conditions could unfold on interstates 70, 76, 77, 80, 81, 84, 86, 90 and 99.

    Motorists should prepare for a period of reduced visibility, while airline passengers may encounter flight delays.

    Outside of the heaviest snow zone, the storm will also bring a fluffy coating to an inch across upstate New York and northern New England. To the south, a little rain and snow will clip Washington, D.C., late Sunday.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    Northeast Interactive Radar
    Next Week's Winter Storm Could Signal a Pattern Change

    Before reaching the Northeast, the snow will streak across the central Plains to Illinois Saturday night. Omaha, Neb., Des Moines, Iowa, and Peoria, Ill., are in line to pick up a coating to an inch or two.

    This snow band will graze Chicago, mainly late Saturday night, and Detroit through the first part of Sunday.




    The storm system set to end the weekend on a snowy note in the Northeast will be a bit stronger than the system spreading a bit of snow across the mid-Atlantic this Saturday.

    A few places will see a quick coating and slick spots; but in most cases, the snow will continue to leave little, if any, accumulation.



    Fresh frigid air will plunge into the Northeast in the wake of Sunday's snow. That cold will hold firm through at least Tuesday as AccuWeather.com meteorologists monitor the potential for a Southern storm to have possible impacts in the Northeast due to snow, ice and rain before Valentine's Day.

    PHOTOS: Winter Storm Socks Northeast

     

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    Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014

    Savannah firefighters use a ladder truck to battle a blaze in a warehouse at the Georgia Ports Authority Ocean Terminal n Savannah, Ga. on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. A Georgia Ports Authority spokesman said all port workers were safe and accounted for after the fire broke out. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

    SAVANNAH, Georgia (AP) - Firefighters battled a giant blaze fueled by 5,600 tons of rubber Saturday at the Port of Savannah, where a towering column of black smoke could be seen from miles away.

    By late Saturday, the fire department said its crews had contained the fire, but it could take a while for the flames to burn out inside a warehouse covering 226,000 square feet at the port's Ocean Terminal just west of downtown Savannah.

    "It is contained," Savannah Fire and Emergency Services spokesman Mark Keller said late Saturday afternoon, after the fire had burned for at least five hours. "Will it burn all night? There's no telling. It's solid blocks of rubber that are burning."

    The cause of the fire wasn't immediately known, but all port workers were accounted for and unharmed.

    Savannah-Chatham County police closed some streets near the port terminal and smoke slowed traffic on the Talmadge Bridge that spans the Savannah River to South Carolina. Police also asked a few hotels near the port terminal and the Savannah College of Art and Design, which has buildings in the area, to either evacuate or keep people inside.

    Robert Morris, spokesman for the Georgia Ports Authority, said the burning area contained about 5,600 tons of imported raw rubber used in manufacturing.

    The Port of Savannah is America's fourth-busiest seaport for containerized cargo.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Southern California Wildfire
    Southern California Wildfire

     

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    Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014

    A linesman works to restore electrical power, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Downingtown, Pa. A small army of electricity restoration crews labored Friday to reconnect customers in Pennsylvania and Maryland. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The number of customers without power in Pennsylvania has fallen to about 65,000 after peaking at 849,000 following a midweek snow and ice storm

    Utility crews have been gradually restoring power since the Wednesday storm knocked down trees and snapped power lines primarily in the Philadelphia area.

    The latest outages Sunday morning include more than 31,000 customers in hard-hit Chester County, or about 15 percent of customers who get their electricity from PECO, the dominant power utility in the state.

    Montgomery County had nearly 13,000 customers without electricity, while Bucks County had about 12,000.

    Maryland officials reported 300 customers still without power.

    More than 1 million customers lost power at the storm's peak.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Winter Storm Socks Northeast

     

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    Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014

    A gust of wind gets the better of an umbrella carried by a visitor to Battery Spencer, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, in Sausalito, Calif. on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Marin Independent Journal, Alan Dep)

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Californians accustomed to complaining about the slightest change in the weather welcomed a robust weekend storm that soaked the northern half of the drought-stricken state Saturday even as rain and snow brought the threat of avalanches, flooding and rock slides.

    In Willits, one of 17 rural communities that California's Department of Public Health recently described as dangerously low on water, City Councilman Bruce Burton said he was cheered seeing the water levels in a local reservoir and his backyard pond creeping up and small streams flowing again. The city in the heart of redwood country usually sees about 50 inches of rain a year and was expected to get about 4 inches by Sunday.

    "It's guarded optimism. We are a long ways from where we need to be, but we have to start with some sort of a raindrop," Burton said.

    The storm that moved in Thursday, powered by a warm, moisture-packed system from the Pacific Ocean known as a Pineapple Express, dropped more than 11 inches of rain on Marin County's Mt. Tamalpais and on the Sonoma County town of Guerneville by late Saturday afternoon, National Weather Service forecaster Bob Benjamin said. Meanwhile, San Francisco, San Jose and other urban areas recorded 1 to 3 inches of rain.

    With areas north of San Francisco forecast to see another few inches by Sunday, the downpour, while ample enough to flood roadways and prompt warnings that parched streams could be deluged to the point of overflowing, by itself will not solve the state's drought worries, Strudley said.

    "The yearly rainfall around here, depending on where you were, was less than 10 percent of normal," he said. "The additions from this last series of storms and the totals are taking a dent out of it, but it is not a significant dent."

    The storm deposited a foot of snow for Lake Tahoe ski resorts that have relied on man-made snow for much of the season, and elevations above 7,500 feet were expected to get another foot or two by Sunday, said Holly Osborne, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sacramento.

    The additions, which followed some brief periods of snow in the last week, already have improved the outlook for the Sierra Nevada snowpack, which provides about a third of California's water supply. When state surveyors last checked on Jan. 30, the snowpack was at 12 percent of normal for this time of winter. By Saturday, it was at 17 percent of normal.

    "At least we are getting something versus nothing," Osborne said.

    While the fresh snow delighted skiers and resort operators, the Sierra Avalanche Center warned Saturday that the danger of avalanches, both natural and human-triggered, was high in a wide swath of the central Sierra Nevada because wind had blown new snow onto weak layers of existing ice and rock.

    Tiffany Morrissey, a Silicon Valley family doctor who was working on ski patrol at the Alpine Meadows resort Saturday, said several lifts and runs were closed as a safety precaution but that cars carrying people wanting a taste of fresh powder filled up the parking lots.

    "It's a heavy, wet snow, and because of the avalanche danger the lines are pretty long. But you could hear people having a great time out on the mountain," Morrissey said.

    Forecasters hope the storm portends an end to the persistent dry weather that has plagued the state for months and contributed to its drought emergency. Light precipitation is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, and another storm is possible next weekend.

    Southern California was expected to be mostly dry. Forecasters said measureable rain over the weekend likely would not fall farther south than San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties as a ridge of high pressure pushes up from the south.

    The same subtropical weather system marinating Northern California also brought a third straight day of unsettled weather to Oregon, where the powerful storm dropped snow to fall in and around Portland, caused scattered power outages and produced ice-storm warnings.

    The National Weather Service said Portland received 2 inches of snow before it changed to sleet around sunset, and it forecast a half-inch of ice accumulation by Sunday morning. Elsewhere Saturday, freezing rain fell from the wine country southwest of Portland to the lower Willamette Valley south of Eugene, triggering an ice-storm warning that stretched for more than 100 miles.

    "Snow is bad. But ice is worse," said Miles Higa, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

    More than 3,000 people in the Portland region were without power Saturday morning, but most had the lights back before noon. The number edged back up to more than 400 by 6 p.m. and was expected to rise as it becomes icier late Saturday.

    Despite its northern location on the U.S. map, Portland sometimes goes an entire winter without snow, and residents and businesses are not prepared to shovel their sidewalks. The Portland Art Museum, Multnomah County Library and many shops were closed.

    For bicyclists, the weather even doomed the annual "Worst Day of the Year Ride." Organizers had hoped to stage a 15-mile ride through downtown Portland after announcing Thursday that its more challenging 46-mile event through the hills of west Portland was canceled for safety reasons.

    "Alas, Mother Nature wins this round," organizers announced on the event's website Saturday.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Dramatic Photos Reveal California's Epic Drought

     

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    Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014


    Following a little snow on Saturday, steadier snow arriving from the Midwest threatens to create more of a nuisance for travelers across the Northeast for the second half of the weekend.

    A major winter storm will not close out the weekend, but there will still be enough snow to create slick travel across the Northeast Sunday through Sunday night.

    In general, 1 to 3 inches of snow will continue to spread from Ohio to the central Appalachians on Sunday. Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa., and Binghamton, N.Y., lie in this zone.

    Similar amounts are expected as the snow streaks eastward to the I-95 corridor from near Philadelphia to New York City to Boston to Portland Sunday afternoon and night.

    While far from the greatest snowstorm to strike the Northeast this year, snow totals of 1 to 3 inches are enough to cause slick travel. Such slippery conditions could unfold on interstates 70, 76, 77, 80, 81, 84, 86, 90 and 99.

    Motorists should prepare for a period of reduced visibility, while airline passengers may encounter flight delays.



    Outside of the heaviest snow zone, the storm will also bring a fluffy coating to an inch across upstate New York and northern New England. To the south, a little rain and snow will clip Washington, D.C., late Sunday.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    Northeast Interactive Radar
    Upcoming Winter Storm Could Signal a Pattern Change


    The storm system set to end the weekend on a snowy note in the Northeast is a bit stronger than the system that delivered a few snow showers to the mid-Atlantic on Saturday.



    Fresh frigid air will plunge into the Northeast in the wake of Sunday's snow. That cold will hold firm through at least Wednesday as AccuWeather.com meteorologists monitor the potential for a Southern storm to have possible impacts in the Northeast due to snow, ice and rain before Valentine's Day.

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

     

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    Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014

    Jessika Jenson of the United States takes a jump during the women's snowboard slopestyle semifinal at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

    Temperatures will continue to reach above average for the first full week of competition with some minor effects to the outdoor events.

    A wave of energy will push out from the Black Sea Monday night (local time) and will bring a few showers to the Olympic stage through Tuesday.

    Above 3,000 feet, the storm will bring a fresh coating of snow to the slopes.



    With the precipitation will also come the coldest air of the week.

    Highs in the lower to mid-50s for the city of Sochi on Tuesday will rise following the weak storm.

    Sunshine is expected from Wednesday and through the end of the week with temperatures climbing near 60 degrees each day.

    Normal temperatures for this time of year are around 50 F.

    RELATED:
    Detailed AccuWeather.com Forecast for Sochi, Russia
    Skiing and Snowboarding: How Weather Affects Safety on the Slopes
    Daily Forecast Maps for Russia


    The higher-than-average temperatures could have some minor effects to the snow courses outdoors. It will be more difficult for the facility to keep the snow from melting. Some man-made snow may need to be added at night.

    The bobsled course are another type of event that could have issues with the weather. Maintenance crews will have to work harder to keep the track in top shape for each wave of races.

    The warmer air, even for the indoor rinks, will make it more challenging to keep the ice in good shape. Either way, the rise in temperatures could cause some delay for events.

    The good news is that temperatures will return closer to normal by the end of the coming weekend, leaving the final weekend of the Winter Olympics with more winterlike conditions.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Winter Olympics Kicks off in Sochi, Russia

     

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    Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014

    The above file photo shows a jackknifed 18-wheeler like the one involved in the Arkansas accident. (AP Photo/Timothy Jacobsen)

    FULTON, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas authorities have resumed searching for a person who jumped from an Interstate 30 bridge into the Little Red River.

    Arkansas Game and Fish Commission spokesman Keith Stephens says searchers in boats with sonar resumed the search in southwest Arkansas on Sunday morning. The missing person's name has not been released.

    Arkansas State Police say three people were outside their vehicles after an accident early Saturday morning on the icy bridge near Fulton when a commercial truck jackknifed and slid toward them. Two people leapt over the guardrail and into the water. The temperature outside at the time was 29 degrees.

    One person was rescued almost immediately.

    Temperatures were in the upper 30s Sunday with the National Weather Service reporting fog and mist.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Winter Storm Socks Northeast

     

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    Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014

    People enjoy the snow on Soap Box Derby hill at Bush's Pasture Park, in Salem, Oregon, on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Statesman Journal, Timothy J. Gonzalez)

    SEATTLE (AP) - A significant weekend storm disrupted plans across the Northwest U.S., blanketing parts of Washington state with snow while socking Oregon and California with rain.

    Seattle area residents woke up to a rare treat of lowland snow Sunday. Meanwhile, Portland city officials sent out a cellphone alert Sunday morning urging residents to stay indoors and avoid travel after freezing rain turned streets and sidewalks into thick sheets of ice.

    The National Weather Service says the first significant storm to hit Northern California in 14 months has produced impressive amounts of rain and snow, but forecasters cautioned Sunday that it would take weeks of similar drenching to end the state's immediate drought worries.

    "This event, while it certainly isn't going to take us out of the drought, we couldn't have asked for a better storm," McGuire said. "We are seeing very, very impressive rainfall and snowfall amounts."

    After subsisting on man-made snow for much of the season, Tahoe's ski resorts gratefully embraced the more than 3 feet of new snow they got over two days, although the gift heightened the risk of avalanches.

    In the Seattle area, several inches of new snow overnight brought a flurry of snowman-building, sledding and other winter fun before Monday when the forecast calls for rain and milder temperatures into the rest of the week.

    Nearly 3 inches fell at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the heaviest snowfall in a single day at that location in about two years. Parts of southwest Washington got hammered with as much as 5 inches or more in south Thurston County and some parts of Lewis County.

    "We don't get this too often. People are excited," said Josh Smith, a meteorologist with the National WeatherService in Seattle.

    Smith said temperatures are expected to rise above freezing by late Sunday.

    High avalanche danger prompted officials at Mount Rainier National Park to close the gate to Paradise at Longmire on Sunday.

    In Portland, about 40 flights, or less than 10 percent of the typical 500 daily flights, were canceled Sunday morning. Most flights were generally getting in and out of the airport though with some delays, Port of Portland spokesman Steve Johnson said.

    Freezing rain Saturday brought treacherous conditions to the metro area, forcing transportation officials to temporarily suspend light-rail and street car services before resuming service Sunday morning.

    Julian Sabel-Dodge, 26, got a message on his cellphone Sunday morning urging him to stay indoors - the first time the city used the federal wireless alert system.

    "It is a complete ice rink out there," said Sabel-Dodge, who ventured out Sunday to take his two dogs for a walk. "It's a good inch of ice. It's very icy still and it doesn't look like it's going to melt soon."

    Sabel-Dodge, who studies at Portland Community College, said he'll likely stay home Monday to avoid a messy commute.

    "The roads are slick. Stay put, stay safe," city transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera said. "It'll take a couple of days to really clear the snow."

    In central Oregon, the Deschutes County sheriff's office is investigating whether the deaths of an elderly Sisters couple and a 61-year-old Bend man who were found in separate locations Saturday are weatherrelated.

    Parts of the northern San Francisco Bay Area saw sizable amounts of rain along with flash flood warnings. The community of Woodacre, which has the highest base elevation in Marin County, received more than 10 inches of rain since the storm moved in Friday, while downtown San Francisco got more than 2 inches, said Austin Cross, a National Weather Service forecaster meteorologist in Monterey.

    The storm, powered by a warm, moisture-packed system from the Pacific Ocean known as a Pineapple Express, was expected to bring more rain Sunday before moving east.

    In other parts of the West, forecasters are warning of avalanche conditions across much of Colorado's high country as snow continues to fall in the region. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued the warning for most of the central and northern mountains through midday Monday.

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    Twin Waterspouts

     

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    Updated Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, 8:05 p.m. ET
    Winter Weather Kansas
    A plow removes snow from US-24 near Reno, Kan., Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

    Rounds of snow and ice will severely impact travel and daily routines across the interior South through this week before a major winter storm attempts to take a run at the Northeast.

    The same storm that brought record snow to Seattle on Saturday will cause some snow and an icy mix to drop southward to northern Texas and the Tennessee Valley Monday and Monday night.

    Initially through Monday night, the ice and snow will not be substantial. However, that does not mean residents and travelers should let their guard down.

    According to Senior Meteorologist Mark Mancuso, "There is the potential for a major ice storm from northern Georgia to central and upstate South Carolina to central North Carolina Tuesday night and Wednesday."

    Monday afternoon, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced a State of Emergency for 45 counties in the state ahead of the winter storm.

    Snowfall South

    While the threat for the ice to weigh down power lines will be low through Monday night, untreated roads and sidewalks will turn slick for motorists and those traveling by foot.

    Those in Dallas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Shreveport, La.; Little Rock, Ark.; Tupelo, Miss.; Huntsville, Ala.; and Nashville, Tenn., should prepare for the possibility of such slippery conditions Monday night.

    Ice Threat

    RELATED:
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    As moisture from the Gulf of Mexico is tapped into, more substantial snow and ice will develop and spread from northern Louisiana and Arkansas to the Carolinas Monday night through Tuesday.

    Significant snow and ice is likely to continue through Wednesday across the Piedmont and mountains of the Carolinas and northern Georgia, potentially bringing travel to a halt.

    "A number of communities over the interior South may have more significant, longer-lasting ice and snow when compared to the storm from late January," AccuWeather.com Southern Weather Expert Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.

    The communities at greatest risk for the above statement lie along the I-20 and I-85 corridors from northern Louisiana to the Carolinas. This includes Vicksburg, Miss.; Birmingham, Ala.; Augusta and Atlanta, Ga.; Columbia and Greenville, S.C.; and Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro, N.C.

    Ice Storm

    It is not snow that threatens to bring Atlanta to a halt at midweek, but sleet and freezing rain. Charlotte, N.C., could be hit with a heavy amount of both snow and ice.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologists will continue to give more precise details on the impending wintry weather in the upcoming days.

    Confidence is high that the press of cold air giving way to the snow and ice across the interior South will not reach the immediate Gulf Coast, as was the case in late January.

    Plain rain will instead spread along the I-10 corridor from Houston to New Orleans to JacksonvilleMonday through Wednesday, while thunderstorms rattle the Florida Peninsula on Wednesday.

    There is the possibility the far interior Northeast will be spared the worst of the snow if the storm tracks offshore or just grazes the coast. However, major travel disruptions from heavy snow and/or a wintry mix are likely in the I-81 and I-95 corridors.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 30 Ice Sculptures That Will Take Your Breath Away

     

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    Monday, Feb. 10, 2014

    Visitors walk in the snow at Enoshima Shrine in Fujisawa, near Tokyo, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

    A strong storm moving up the eastern coastline of Japan brought a rare, heavy snowfall Saturday into early Sunday for areas that typically don't see much in the way of snow.

    Tokyo is a difficult place for snow due to the high peak of Mount Fuji, just to the west of the city. It blocks a lot of the storms moving in from the west, and most storms coming in from the south and east are too warm.

    Tokyo received 10.6 inches (27 cm) of snow from this storm, and some of the heaviest snowfall seen was in Matsumoto, where 19.2 inches (49 cm) of snow fell. The Japan Meteorological Agency has said this is the heaviest snowfall from one storm in decades.

    Local media stated that at least 11 people have been killed in snow-related accidents, according to AFP. Most of the accidents involved cars skidding on icy roads.

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    Winds were also quite gusty as Tokyo airport saw winds gust to 50 mph (80 kph) during the heaviest snowfall. The wind and snow caused over 40,000 households to lose power and over 700 flights to be cancelled at Tokyo's Haneda airport, according to NHK World.

    The bullet train was slowed due to the snow, and roads in Tokyo were impassable in places.

    Over the next few days, a few snow showers will linger across western Honshu. Towards Tokyo, there can be an isolated rain or snow shower through Tuesday evening, but no significant accumulation is expected.

    Later this week, there is another storm which could take a similar track to the one which just produced record-setting snowfall. Milder air may spread into the region just ahead of the storm, so precipitation could be rain or snow for Tokyo.


    RELATED ON SKYE: The 10 Snowiest Places on Earth

     

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    Monday, Feb. 10, 2014
    Britain Floods
    People load their boats with sandbags on a flooded street, in Datchet, England, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

    LONDON (AP) - The River Thames has burst its banks after reaching its highest level in years, flooding riverside towns upstream of London.

    Residents and British troops piled up sandbags to protect properties from the latest bout of flooding, but the river overwhelmed their defenses in several places Monday, leaving areas including the center of the village of Datchet underwater.

    The Environment Agency has issued 14 severe flood warnings - meaning there's a danger to life - along theThames east of Windsor, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from London.

    Its chief executive, Paul Leinster, said "extreme weather will continue to threaten communities this week" with more Thames flooding expected Tuesday.

    There were no flood alerts for the part of the river that flows through London. That stretch is protected by theThames Barrier, a series of giant metal gates downstream of central London that can be closed against tidal surges. By holding back the tide, the barrier also creates more space in the river for excess water from upstream to flow down to the sea.

    England has had its wettest January since 1766. Its southwest coast has been battered repeatedly by storms and a large area of the low-lying Somerset Levels in the southwest has been under water for more than a month.

    The disaster has sparked a political storm, with the Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative-led government facing criticism from many residents for allegedly failing to dredge rivers and take other flood-prevention measures.

    Both Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited flood-hit areas Monday as the government struggled to take charge of the flooding crisis.

    Cameron denied the government had been slow to respond.

    "We have been dealing with it from the very moment it started," he said. "Where money was needed, we provided more money. Where military was needed, I made sure the military was deployed."

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    Monday, Jan. 10, 2014
    Winter Weather Snow Days
    Workmen clear a downed tree blocking a school bus in the aftermath of a winter storm, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, in Downingtown, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)​

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The first snow day of this brutal winter left teacher Christopher Crabtree almost as tickled as it did his three children, but delight is giving way to dread as school cancellations pile up - a whopping 15 days off so far in his southern Ohio district, with more snow in the forecast.

    Now, even his 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old twins are missing friends and tired of being stuck at home, he said.

    "We really need to get to back to school and some normalcy," said Crabtree, who teaches American studies at Waverly High School, which lost much of January's class time to cancellations and two-hour delays.

    He wonders how he'll get students ready for state standardized tests next month.

    "I'm feeling the heat because there are things we have to cover," he said.

    Schools in at least 10 states and the District of Columbia have run out of wiggle room in their academic calendars, forcing them to cut short planned breaks, hold class on holidays, add extra days to the end of the year or otherwise compensate for the lost time.

    Students will make up at least three days in Philadelphia and New Haven, Conn., and two in Washington, D.C. Delaware schools have missed a week's worth of class, and more than half of Maryland's school districts reached or exceeded their allotted snow days. Boston is extending its school year by nearly a week.

    The add-on approach doesn't sit well with Jonathan Selig, a stay-at-home dad from Halifax, Mass.

    "It's crazy. The kids are going to school at the end of June," Selig said. "Most of the schools aren't air-conditioned, so it's not really a conducive learning environment."

    The schedule shuffle is a pain for parents and educators trying to plan for schoolwork, and child care now and vacation time later.

    Dana Bethune, a mother of two girls in North Huntingdon, Pa., said her district always seems to be among the last to call off, leaving her scrambling to arrange for a caregiver or work from home. Bethune said her older daughter, a seventh-grader, no longer shares the younger one's bliss because she understands the trade-off: free time to dance and play video games now will cost them part of spring break, plus a holiday or two.

    Some older high school students worry snow days could delay graduation, while others lament being cooped up by temperatures so low they rule out even sledding and snowmen.

    "I'd rather be having summer time than have snow days," said 11-year-old Emma Fishbein of suburban Philadelphia. She said an ice storm that knocked out power last week made her extra time off even less enjoyable.

    "We don't want to go outside because when we get back in, we don't have any power to warm ourselves up," she said.

    Her mother, Rachel Ezekiel Fishbein, said the possibility of an extended school year also is making it tricky to register the sixth-grader for a camp that starts in June - even if she has enjoyed the extra time at home with her teenage son, who heads to college in the fall.

    In Ohio, so many schools have exceeded their five allowable calamity days that state lawmakers are considering a measure backed by the governor to add more just for this year because of the unusually severe winter weather. Meanwhile, some schools are using "blizzard bag" take-home or online assignments to make up missed classes.

    For school administrators, it's a question of balancing students' well-being with educational requirements often tied to funding.

    "The safety issue would trump anything else," said Rita Wolff, spokeswoman for Williamsville Central School District in suburban Buffalo, N.Y., which hasn't used all seven snow days built into its calendar.

    In Indiana and Ohio, cancellations and delays have raised concerns about whether teachers have enough time to prepare students for statewide assessments this spring, which factor into school rankings and other performance measures. Ohio education officials have discussed the possibility of expanding the testing window to give schools a few extra preparation days, state Department of Education spokesman John Charlton said.

    The Providence, R.I., district absorbed two of its three snow days by canceling planned teacher development days and will add a makeup day at year's end. In southeast Virginia, Suffolk will have classes on Presidents Day and Memorial Day, drawing some complaints from parents.

    "Some people say these holidays shouldn't be messed with, some say don't take any of my spring break," Suffolk schools spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said, noting that it's impossible to please everyone.

    Darcie Fisher, a mother of two girls from West Bridgewater, Mass., said schools do the best they can to accommodate snow days.

    "Some years you get a ton of snow with a lot of snow days, some years you don't," Fisher said. "It's like playing roulette. Some years it works out, other years, it doesn't."

    RELATED ON SKYE: The 10 Snowiest Places on Earth

     

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    Monday, Feb. 10, 2014
    People enjoy the snow on Soap Box Derby hill at Bush's Pasture Park, in Salem, Ore. on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Statesman Journal, Timothy J. Gonzalez)
    People enjoy the snow on Soap Box Derby hill at Bush's Pasture Park, in Salem, Ore., on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Statesman Journal, Timothy J. Gonzalez)

    SEATTLE (AP) - A significant weekend storm disrupted plans across the Northwest U.S., blanketing parts of Washington state with snow, socking Oregon and California with rain and contributing to the deaths of three people.

    On Sunday, Seattle-area residents woke up to rare lowland snow. In Portland, city officials sent out a cellphone alert Sunday morning urging residents to stay indoors and avoid travel after freezing rain turned streets and sidewalks into thick sheets of ice. As a result, parts of Oregon and Washington were bracing for a treacherous Monday morning commute.

    The National Weather Service says the first significant storm to hit Northern California in 14 months has produced impressive amounts of rain and snow, but forecasters cautioned Sunday that it would take weeks of similar drenching to end the state's immediate drought worries.

    "This event, while it certainly isn't going to take us out of the drought, we couldn't have asked for a better storm," said meteorologist Scott McGuire in Reno. "We are seeing very, very impressive rainfall and snowfall amounts."

    After subsisting on man-made snow for much of the season, Lake Tahoe's ski resorts gratefully embraced the more than 3 feet of new snow they got over two days, although the gift heightened the risk of avalanches.

    In central Oregon, the Deschutes County sheriff's office was investigating three storm-related deaths, including that of a 61-year-old Bend man who collapsed while shoveling snow outside his home. An elderly couple was also found Saturday buried in snow, and authorities believe they were walking through heavy snow on an unplowed driveway to their home.

    Officials in the Portland, Ore., and southwest Washington areas warned of an icy Monday morning commute as the National Weather Service on Sunday afternoon issued a freezing rain advisory for the region from 4 a.m. to noon.

    Several school districts in both states announced another day of closures for Monday after many schools shuttered Friday, and some government offices are opening two hours later than usual.

    "We expect it will be a slushy morning commute," Portland transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera said Sunday.

    In the Seattle area, several inches of new snow overnight brought a flurry of snowman-building, sledding and other winter fun before Monday when the forecast called for rain and milder temperatures into the rest of the week.

    By Sunday, nearly 3 inches fell at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the heaviest snowfall in a single day at that location in about two years. Parts of southwest Washington got hammered with as much as 5 inches or more in south Thurston County and some parts of Lewis County.

    "We don't get this too often. People are excited," said Josh Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

    Smith said temperatures are expected to rise above freezing by late Sunday.

    High avalanche danger prompted officials at Mount Rainier National Park to close the gate to Paradise at Longmire on Sunday.

    In Portland, about 40 flights, or less than 10 percent of the typical 500 daily flights, were canceled Sunday morning. Most flights were generally getting in and out of the airport though with some delays, Port of Portland spokesman Steve Johnson said.

    Freezing rain Saturday brought treacherous conditions to the metro area, forcing transportation officials to temporarily suspend light-rail and street car services before resuming service Sunday morning.

    Julian Sabel-Dodge, 26, got a message on his cellphone Sunday morning urging him to stay indoors - the first time the city used the federal wireless alert system.

    "It is a complete ice rink out there," said Sabel-Dodge, who ventured out Sunday to take his two dogs for a walk. "It's a good inch of ice. It's very icy still, and it doesn't look like it's going to melt soon."

    Sabel-Dodge, who studies at Portland Community College, said he'll likely stay home Monday to avoid a messy commute.

    Parts of the northern San Francisco Bay Area saw sizable amounts of rain, along with flooding, downed trees and power outages. By late Sunday, the Sonoma County town of Guerneville received more than 15 inches of rain since the storm moved in Thursday, while downtown San Francisco got more than 3 inches, said Bob Benjamin, a NationalWeather Service forecaster in Monterey.

    The storm, powered by a warm, moisture-packed system from the Pacific Ocean known as a Pineapple Express, was expected to bring more rain Sunday before moving east.

    In other parts of the West, forecasters on Sunday warned of avalanche conditions across much of Colorado's high country as snow continues to fall in the region. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center issued the warning for most of the central and northern mountains through midday Monday.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 30 Ice Sculptures That Will Take Your Breath Away

     

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    Monday, Feb. 10, 2014
    Winter Weather
    In this view looking south toward downtown Atlanta, the ice-covered interstate system is empty after a winter snow storm slammed the city with over 2 inches of snow that turned highways into parking lots when motorists abandoned their vehicles creating massive traffic jams lasting through Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

    ATLANTA (AP) - With memories of gridlock on icy Atlanta highways still fresh, Georgia officials got a second chance Monday to prove the state could prepare for winter weather. The governor declared a state of emergency hours ahead of the storm, something he didn't do two weeks ago.

    Gov. Nathan Deal was widely criticized for the response to the Jan. 28 storm that paralyzed the metro area after two inches of snow fell. Drivers spent the night in frigid cars, students slept in school buses and thousands of cars were abandoned along highways. Officials reported one accident-related death.

    Georgia became the brunt of late-night jokes, and some residents were skeptical the state would be better prepared this time.

    "I'm not counting on it. I've been in Georgia on and off for 20 years. It's usually the same scenario, not enough preparations and not enough equipment," said Terri Herod, who bought a large bag of sand and a shovel at a Home Depot. She said her sister told her to also buy kitty litter in case her car gets stuck on an ice patch.

    Atlanta has a long and painful history of being ill-equipped to deal with snowy weather and people were not taking any chances, even though officials promised the response would be different this time.

    Several inches of snow and ice were forecast for the northern part of the state. Some schools were already closed Tuesday and snow plows and other equipment were getting ready.

    "We're not looking back, we're looking forward," Deal said at a news conference. "The next three days are going to be challenging."

    Even before the first snowflakes, people around Atlanta planned to work from home and stay off the roads. Jay Ali, 33, a college student, said he had little confidence that government officials would handle this storm any better.

    "New levels of incompetence," Ali said, describing the state and regional response to the last storm. "Unforeseen levels of incompetence."

    Ali said part of the problem is that Southern cities do not have as many snow plows, sanders and spreaders as Northern cities.

    "I don't think they have the infrastructure to protect themselves if a storm gets really bad," he said.

    A one-two punch of winter weather was expected. Rain and snow were forecast Tuesday followed by sleet and freezing rain Wednesday. Ice on tree limbs and roads was a major worry for drivers and utility companies.

    The National Weather Service issued a winter weather watch until Tuesday evening for northern parts of Georgia and the same watch from Tuesday evening through Thursday for the metro Atlanta area.

    Other parts of the South were expected to get hit as well. Alabama, which saw stranded vehicles and had problems similar to Atlanta in the January storm, was likely to get a wintry mix of precipitation. Parts of Mississippi could see three inches of snow late Monday through noon Tuesday. And a blast of s now over a wide section of Kentucky slickened roads and closed several school districts.

    During the last storm, Deal didn't hold his first news conference until hours after highways were jammed.

    The governor, a Republican who is up for re-election, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, took heat from residents, forecasters and even comedians.

    Saturday Night Live spoofed an Atlanta storm "survivor," complete with a thick Southern accent and references to the "Yankee's slush." ''The sun will rise again," the character said. After showing television news images of the gridlock, Jon Stewart quipped: "The ice age zombie doomsday apocalypse has come to Atlanta."

    The governor apologized and announced the formation of a task force to develop recommendations on how the state can be better prepared. He also called for various internal and external reviews and wants a new public alert system for severe weather, similar to what's used for missing and endangered children.

    "We are making every effort to be prepared for these events," Deal said.

    Some commuters already planned to stay home Tuesday.

    "Basically, everyone from the office is going to be working from home," said Dakota Herrera as he left a downtown car park on his way to the office.

    Some people predicted that Deal and other officials might overreact at the first hint of snow.

    "I can only think it will be better because there was a brouhaha," said Gary Flack, who avoided getting stuck in the last storm by leaving work before the snow started to fall.

     

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