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    Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014

    Photographer Brian Hawkins was in Dubai yesterday as a storm was hitting, and he captured the moment lightning struck the top of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on Earth. He posted this stunning time-lapse video to Instagram and wrote:

    After shooting all day and heading home late, a storm started rolling in. @shainblumphotography and I agreed we needed to capture this rare event so we spent hours waiting in the Business Bay for a chance to catch some lightning strikes. We both scored great photos and I also captured this timelapse.

    (H/T Slate)

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Lightning Strikes 10 Famous Landmarks
    Lightning Strikes Statue of Liberty

     

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    Saturday, Feb. 15, 2013

    This map from the US Geological Survey shows the intensity of the quake felt by South Carolina residents. (USGS)

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Residents of South Carolina and Georgia had finally begun to relax after weathering another winter storm when the earth shuddered.

    A small earthquake near the state line shook both states late Friday, rattling residents hundreds of miles away.

    The U.S. Geological Survey's website reported a quake of 4.1 magnitude at 10:23 p.m. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.

    On Saturday, engineers from the state Department of Transportation were out evaluating bridges. Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division said that's standard procedure after a quake.

    The quake, about 7 miles from Edgefield, S.C. , was felt as far west Atlanta and as far north as Hickory, N.C., both about 150 miles away.

    USGS geophysicist Dale Grant said it was a large quake for the area.

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

     

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    Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014

    Above, vehicles are piled up in an accident Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Bensalem, Pa. Traffic accidents involving multiple tractor trailers and dozens of cars have completely blocked one side of the Pennsylvania Turnpike outside Philadelphia and caused some injuries. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    he Pennsylvania Turnpike has reopened after about 100 vehicles were involved in multiple crashes around the Bensalem, Pa., area.One accident reportedly involves a jack-knifed tractor-trailer and 30 other vehicles. The other may involve as many as 75 vehicles. Both crashes were in the vicinity of the Route 1 exit.

    About 30 people were injured, officials said.

    Turnpike Commission spokeswoman Renee Colborn told AccuWeather.com that an official number of involved vehicles has not been tallied yet, but that about 10 vehicles were involved in the initial accident which sparked a chain reaction of pileups.

    Pennsylvania State Police are still investigating the cause.

    It took about five hours to clean the wreckage.

    "There are so many cars that will need to be towed out," Colborn said. "And the bigger trucks involved that will also need to be towed out."

    The sky was was mostly sunny and the temperature was 34 degrees in the area. AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said that wintery road conditions could still have been affecting roads.

    "Most likely, roads were at least partially snow covered from the burst of snow that fell overnight. Wet and slushy with icy spots," he said.

    The snow in the area stopped around 3 a.m. EST Friday. Temperatures were above freezing since the snow ended so the slushy conditions were likely with some icy spots. The dew point was in the middle 20s range, which could have caused some icy areas along with melting.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Winter Storm Takes Aim at East Coast

     

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  • 02/15/14--07:49: A Heart Glows in Space
  • On Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, NASA released this image - just a tad late for Valentine's Day - of a heart-shaped young star cluster, NGC 346. It was captured by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

    The pink-hued cloud is quite hot, fittingly, at 8 million degrees Celsius, and it's about 100 light years in width. It's left over, scientists speculate, from a supernova explosion that took place thousands of years ago. It was a dramatic event, much like affairs of the human heart.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space

     

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    Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014
    Workers clears snow from the sidewalk outside a business Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in the Boston suburb of Hudson, Mass. Another round of snow made its way into the Northeast on the heels of a storm that brought snow and ice to the East Coast, caused at least 25 deaths and left hundreds of thousands without power. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes)
    Workers clears snow from the sidewalk outside a business Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in the Boston suburb of Hudson, Mass. Another round of snow made its way into the Northeast on the heels of a storm that brought snow and ice to the East Coast, caused at least 25 deaths and left hundreds of thousands without power. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes)

    The storm that ended this past week caused travel delays across much of the East, and left its mark with more than 12 inches of snow in some places.

    Early Sunday morning, the storm was finally winding down across the majority of the United States, with lingering snow in eastern Maine.

    Snow began sliding in from the Ohio Valley on Friday night then spread from Pennsylvania and Maryland into New England late on Saturday morning.

    The FAA reported excessive delays at airports in the I-95 corridor.

    Some flights were delayed 3.5 hours at Newark Airport, with 1- to 2-hour delays at JFK and Philadelphia International.

    Approximately 1,000 flights were cancelled in total with more than 4,500 delays because of the storm.

    Road crews in New England midday on Saturday had trouble keeping up with the storm. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick even advised motorists to stay off the roads east of Worcester on Saturday evening through Sunday.

    Visibility was extremely restricting for the evening commute while many highways remained covered.

    The road camera above shows I-95 near New London, Conn., on Saturday evening.

    Snow totals across the Northeast ranged from 2-4 inches in central Pennsylvania to more than a foot in Massachusetts. Reports of a total of 15.5 inches of snow were coming in from Sandwich, Mass., as of early Sunday morning.

    When the snow is done falling in eastern Maine and southeastern Canada, snow totals could be just as high.

    Another wave from the Midwest is expected to push more snow into the Northeast for the early part of the week.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Winter Storm Takes Aim at East Coast

     

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    Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014

    In this Saturday, Feb. 15 photo released by the Iglesia Ni Cristo, thousands walk along a road beside Manila's Bay, Philippines as they join the largest charity walk to raise funds for survivors of last year's Typhoon Haiyan. A Guinness World Records official says the Philippine Christian sect has broken two records for staging the largest charity walk. (AP Photo/ Iglesia Ni Cristo, HO)

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) - A Philippine Christian sect has broken two records for organizing the largest charity walk in an effort to raise funds for survivors of last year's Typhoon Haiyan, a Guinness World Records official said Sunday.

    Guinness adjudicator Kirsty Bennett said 175,509 members of the Iglesia ni Cristo took part in Saturday's record-setting walk along a scenic Manila bayside boulevard. The previous record was set in Singapore in 2000 when 77,500 people walked to promote healthy living.

    Bennett told a news conference in Manila on Sunday that Iglesia ni Cristo members in 28 other countries also held similar walks over the weekend, with the number of participants reaching 519,221 worldwide - a record for the largest charity walk in multiple venues. The previous record was set in Canada, where 231,635 people took part in a charity walk at various sites in 2007.

    "It is a huge achievement," Bennett said before presenting a Guinness certificate to the Christian sect's leaders as the group's members applauded.

    An Iglesia spokesman, Edwil Zabala, said his group organized the walk to raise funds to be used in constructing homes and providing livelihoods to thousands of homeless Typhoon Haiyan survivors still living in tents and makeshift homes more than three months after the disaster.

    The typhoon, one of the strongest on record to hit land, tore across the central Philippines on Nov. 8, leaving more than 6,200 people dead and nearly 1,800 missing.

    The storm destroyed or damaged more than a million houses and displaced more than 4 million mostly poor villagers.

    The charity walk aimed to urge Filipinos and foreign governments to continue helping Haiyan survivors.

    "We're concerned that donor fatigue may set in," Zabala said. "If we abandon them now, many can't still stand back fully on their own."

    RELATED ON SKYE: Typhoon Haiyan Slams Into Philippines

     

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    Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014


    There will be no rest for the snow weary from the Midwest to East Coast as yet another quick moving system threatens to lay down a swath of several inches of snow from Minnesota to the Northeast Sunday night through Tuesday.

    An onslaught of winter storms has buried much of the Northeast over the past few weeks. While this upcoming storm is not expected to be a historic event, it can snarl travel, resulting in more flight delays in a winter full of them already.

    A disturbance riding along the U.S./Canadian border is expected to first bring snow to Minnesota and Wisconsin Sunday night, with an icy mix across Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

    By Monday, winter weather should extend through the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. A surge of milder air should allow precipitation to remain mainly rain south of the Ohio River.

    The heaviest snow from this storm is expected to fall in Wisconsin, northern Illinois and Michigan where some locations may receive a half foot. Chicago, Ill. should be hit hard by snow on during Monday.



    Travel across the region Monday will be slowed by snow including I-39, I-75, I-80, I-90, and I-96.

    RELATED:
    Northeast Interactive Radar
    AccuWeather Winter Weather Center
    Risk of Falls, Accidents to Continue Well After Snowstorms Depart


    The Northeast will feel the impacts of the storm Monday night and Tuesday. Shovels and plows will be needed again in many areas.

    Flight delays are anticipated for many major hubs including Chicago, Ill., Detroit, Mich., and the three major airports around New York City.



    The snow could once again force officials to delay or cancel school, adding to the growing list of school cancellations this winter.

    While the danger of more roofs collapsing is already high following the rounds of snow across the Northeast, the impending snow will only further heighten the risk.

    Slippery sidewalks will once again be a concern as the snow falls and with cold nights and milder days in the wake of the snow, icy patches will develop.

    For those in search of warmth, a brief break from the snow and cold is in store for the middle and end of the week.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Winter Storm Takes Aim at East Coast

     

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    Sunday, February 16, 2014

    In this Aug. 8, 2009 file photo, cattle stand near the Pakini Nui Wind Farm on the Big Island's south point in Hawaii. Weeks of slow, soaking rains are helping the grass grow again on the western slopes of Maui and Hawaii islands, giving cattle ranchers hope they may at last escape a punishing drought brought on by years of below-normal rainfall. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, file)

    HONOLULU (AP) - Weeks of slow, soaking rains are helping the grass grow again on the western slopes of Maui and Hawaii islands, giving cattle ranchers hope they may at last escape a punishing drought brought on by years of below-normal rainfall.

    But ranchers warn the soil will dry out if rain doesn't continue to fall for the rest of Hawaii's wet season, which lasts through April.

    "We're pretty happy with what's happened the last couple months," said Pono von Holt, president of Ponoholo Ranch. "If it can sustain itself over here for the next few more months, I think we'll start working out of a situation that we've been in for a long time."

    Hawaii, despite its image as a lush, tropical state, has areas facing the same problem of a multiyear drought as California's agricultural heartland and other large swaths of the West.

    For decades, Hawaii's ranches - many of which are on the drier, western sides of the islands - have benefited from rains brought by cold fronts that visit the islands from the west and northwest each winter. But in recent years, many of these cold fronts only got as far as Kauai or maybe Oahu. They bypassed Maui and the Big Island, which are both further south.

    Last month, though, a series of cold fronts dropped rain across the entire island chain. Rain gauges on the lower slopes of the Big Island's west side recorded their highest January totals since 2005, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

    The rain has been so good that ranchers are holding on to calves they were planning to ship to the U.S. mainland for feeding if January and February turned out to be dry, said Alex Franco, president of Maui Cattle Co. and of the Hawaii Cattlemen's Council industry group.

    The U.S. Drought Monitor upgraded the drought status of many areas, including Kihei, a tourist resort town on Maui, which is now considered to be under "severe drought" instead of "extreme drought." Many other areas affected by drought have been upgraded to "moderate drought" or "abnormally dry."

    Hawaii cattle ranches use about one quarter of the state's 4 million acres, mostly on the upland slopes of Maui and Big Island volcanoes. The $40 million industry produces more than 60,000 calves each year.

    Years of weak precipitation have been tough on ranchers.

    Ponoholo Ranch, which is on the slopes of Kohala Volcano on the Big Island, has had to reduce its herd of mother cows by about one-quarter to 3,200 as it endured nine years of below-normal rainfall, von Holt said. Before the drought, the ranch had about 4,700 to 5,000 mother cows.

    Von Holt said he won't begin adding more cows to the herd until it rains for several more months. He also won't consider the drought over until rainfall at the 11,000-acre ranch returns to at least 80 percent of normal precipitation averaged across a 12-month period.

    Von Holt's ranch is part of a rich Hawaii ranching tradition dating to the 1830s, when King Kamehameha III asked Mexican vaqueros, or cowboys, to help round up feral cattle descended from cows and bulls given to the king's family by the British explorer George Vancouver. The vaqueros taught Hawaiians how to ride horses and lasso animals, giving rise to Hawaii cowboys called paniolo.

    Franco is similarly careful about the Hawaiian ranching business' prospects, noting the islands have experienced wet months in January and February in recent years only to have them followed by dry weather.

    Ranchers will need four or five years of average rainfall to resume operations on the same scale as before the drought, he said.

    "We're optimistic but at the same time very cautious as we move forward as we make our production plan and that sort of thing," Franco said.

    The paniolo have reason to be hopeful.Kevin Kodama, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service's office in Honolulu, said it's likely the islands will continue to above-average amounts of rain for the rest of the winter season.

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

     

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    Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014

    An artist's illustration of asteroids, or near-Earth objects, that highlight the need for a complete Space Situational Awareness system. (ESA - P. Carril)

    As the anniversary of last year's surprise Russian meteor explosion nears, a United Nations action team is taking steps to thwart dangerous space rocks, including setting up a warning network and a planning advisory group that would coordinate a counterpunch to cosmic threats.

    A global group of experts on near-Earth objects (NEOs) met in Vienna Feb. 10 to11 for the 51st session of the United Nations' Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Space.

    The meeting came just a few days before the one-year anniversary of the Russian meteor impact. On Feb. 15, 2013, a 65-foot-wide (19 meters) space rock detonated without warning over the city of Chelyabinsk, injuring more than 1,200 people and bringing home the reality of the asteroid threat to much of the world. [Photos: Russian Meteor Explosion of Feb. 15, 2013]

    The plans the experts discussed have taken shape over a decade of work by the UN Action Team on Near Earth Objects, known as Action Team 14. AT-14 was established in 2001 and has crafted a roster of recommendations for an international response to the asteroid impact threat.

    Worldwide response

    Establishing an International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) is considered to be a critical step in collecting and sharing information about potentially hazardous NEOs.

    In the event that an Earth-threatening space rock is detected, the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Space could help to facilitate a spacecraft mission intended to deflect that object from its collision course with Earth, experts say.

    The primary purpose of a Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) -- pronounced "same page" -- is to prepare for a worldwide response to a NEO threat through the exchange of information, development of options for collaborative research and mission opportunities, and to conduct NEO threat mitigation planning activities.

    Major step forward

    "My personal 'achievement of the year' is already done," said Detlef Koschny, head of the NEO segment within the ESA/ESTEC's Space Situational Awareness Program office in Noordwijk, The Netherlands.

    ESA hosted on Feb. 6-7 the first official meeting of the SMPAG at the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, Detlef told SPACE.com. "And we now do have a group established, with a first idea on the work plan for the future!"

    Still, there's more work to do.

    "All participants still have to go back home and get the terms of reference formally approved, but we have a final version of the document -- the 'draft' has disappeared," Detlef said. "This is a major step forward for this planet to be able to defend itself from a possible asteroid impact threat."

    Essential: Coordination and cooperation

    The creation of the SMPAG was reported to the Action Team-14 at the UN meeting in Vienna "and welcomed by all participants," said Gerhard Drolshagen, also of the NEO segment in Noordwijk.

    "The formation of this group is seen to come at the right time, and SMPAG membership will certainly grow quickly," Drolshagen told SPACE.com.

    "It was emphasized by several participants in the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Space that the NEO threat concerns everyone and international coordination and cooperation is essential in this field," Drolshagen said.

    The next SMPAG meeting will be held in Vienna this coming June. Participants will focus on the exchange of information on relevant activities in the field of NEO hazard mitigation and on the future work plan.

    Leonard David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. He is former director of research for the National Commission on Space and is co-author of Buzz Aldrin's new book "Mission to Mars -- My Vision for Space Exploration" published by National Geographic. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

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

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 10 Breathtaking Photos of Comets

     

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    Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014

    This file photo shows the high-elevation mining town of Leadville, Colorado. Colorado's Rocky Mountains are part of a range that extends 3,000 miles from New Mexico all the way into Canada. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

    LEADVILLE, Colorado (AP) - Search and rescue crews are looking for two skiers who are missing following a large avalanche southeast of Denver.

    The Lake County Office of Emergency Management says seven skiers on Star Mountain near Independence Pass triggered the slide at about 5 p.m. local time on Saturday. Three were hospitalized with injuries that included a broken leg, a broken ankle and a possible broken rib and collapsed lung.

    Authorities have not released the names of any of the skiers involved.

    The Colorado Avalanche Information Center had been warning of dangerous conditions across much of Colorado's mountains after two weeks of heavy snow in the high country.

    The avalanche happened near Leadville, which is about 80 miles southwest of Denver.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Inspiring Photos of America's National Parks

     

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    Monday, Feb. 17, 2014
    A truck using a snow-plow clears a street in Chapel Hill, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. A major winter slammed into North Carolina Wednesday, turning homebound commutes that typically take minutes into hours-long ordeals as traffic slowed to a slippery slog and threatening to leave many areas dark because of power outages. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
    A truck using a snow-plow clears a street in Chapel Hill, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

    There will be no rest for the snow weary from the Midwest to East Coast as yet another quick-moving system threatens to lay down a swath of several inches of snow from the Upper Midwest to the Northeast on Monday through Tuesday.

    An onslaught of winter storms has buried much of the Northeast over the past few weeks. While this upcoming storm is not expected to be an historic event, it can snarl travel, resulting in more flight delays in a winter full of them already.

    Residents in Minneapolis, Minn., will contend with snow-covered roads on Monday, while an icy mix in Des Moines, Iowa, will create slick and hazardous driving conditions.



    Winter weather will extend through the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley on Monday, and a surge of milder air should allow precipitation to remain mainly rain south of the Ohio River.

    The heaviest snow on Monday is expected to fall in Wisconsin, northern Illinois and Michigan, where some locations may receive a half of a foot. Lengthy travel delays are likely in Chicago, especially during the typically busy late-day commute.

    Travel across the region on Monday will be slowed by snow, including I-39, I-75, I-80, I-90, and I-96.

    RELATED:
    Northeast Interactive Radar
    AccuWeather Winter Weather Center
    Risk of Falls, Accidents to Continue Well After Snowstorms Depart


    The Northeast will feel the impacts of the storm on Monday night and Tuesday. Shovels and plows will be needed again in many areas.

    Flight delays are anticipated for many major hubs including Chicago, Detroit, Mich., Boston and the three major airports around New York City.

    Interstates 76, 80, 81, 90, 95 and 99 will turn slick for a time on Tuesday.



    The snow could once again force administrators to delay or cancel school, adding to the growing list of school cancellations this winter.

    While the danger of more roofs collapsing is already high following the rounds of snow across the Northeast, the impending snow will only further heighten the risk.

    Slippery sidewalks will once again be a concern as the snow falls and with cold nights and milder days in the wake of the snow, icy patches will develop.

    For those in search of warmth, a brief break from the snow and cold is in store for the middle and end of the week.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The 10 Snowiest Places on Earth

     

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    Monday, Feb. 17, 2014
    APTOPIX Winter Weather NY
    The morning sun is framed by ice crusted on a barrier on the Observation Deck of New York's Empire State Building, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

    After the early week snowstorm, the eastern half of the United States will welcome a break from frigid temperatures this week. However, some flooding and severe weather are concerns.

    The disruptive snow set to cross the Midwest and Northeast through Tuesday will not be followed by a blast of arctic air, which has been all to common this winter.

    Instead, a stretch of above-normal temperatures will follow for the middle and latter part of this week across the eastern half of the U.S.

    While those in the South will be able to do so, residents farther north should not get ready to break out the shorts.

    The deep snowpack that has built up following the recent onslaught of storms will limit how much warming can take place in the Northeast and Midwest.

    "The sun's energy will first focus on melting the snow before warming up the lower atmosphere," stated AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.



    Regardless, several days of highs in the 30s will be common across the Great Lakes this week.

    Later in the week, temperatures will climb to around 60 F in the Ohio Valley and the nation's capital. New York City and Philadelphia will experience one or two days in the 50s as Boston flirts with that mark.

    The milder temperatures will lead to rain, not snow, for most of the eastern U.S. Thursday through Friday. The Upper Midwest may be the exception.

    The storm delivering the rain may also ignite severe weather across parts of the middle and lower Mississippi Valley on Thursday.

    Flood Threat to Accompany Warmup?

    With the impending warmup and such a deep snowpack covering the Midwest and Northeast, the threat of flooding is likely on the minds of many.

    Widespread severe flooding is not expected to ensue since the warmup should not be dramatic enough to erase the snowpack.

    RELATED:
    Forecast Temperature Maps
    Risk of Falls, Accidents to Continue Well After Snowstorms Depart
    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center


    Even after the milder end to the week, AccuWeather.com meteorologist Jim Andrews anticipates that snow will still be covering the ground north of I-70 from Indiana eastward.

    That does not mean any flooding problems will be avoided.

    The snow will still partially melt and could cause rises on some smaller streams and rivers.

    The cycle of above-freezing temperatures during the day and subfreezing nighttime lows across the Great Lakes and most of the Northeast will help regulate the amount of runoff that enter streams and rivers.

    As overnight lows drop below freezing, people are urged to walk and drive defensively

    Additional rises on waterways may occur with the rain Thursday and Friday. However, a torrential amount of rain is not expected to pour down and significantly bring rivers out of their banks.

    Ice jams are possible on any currently frozen waterway.

    Minor urban flooding could occur where snow piles are clogging storm drains. Such issues may arise in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York City and Philadelphia.

    Andrews warns that more roofs that are not cleared of the heavy snow could collapse during the upcoming mild spell. The snow will soak up the rain that falls later this week like a sponge, leading to added weight and stress on structures.

    Warmup Not a Sign of Things to Come

    The rise in temperatures this week is not a sign of things to come for the remainder of the winter.

    "A blast of arctic air will erase the mild temperatures early next week [the week starting on Feb. 23]," stated AccuWeather.com meteorologist Mark Paquette.

    "The trend will then be for a cold March to follow across the East, while the jet stream bulges north and brings more unseasonable warmth to the West."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 22 People More Sick of Winter Than You Are

     

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    Monday, Feb. 17, 2014
    Sochi Olympics Snowboard Men
    Spectators ride in a chairlift after the men's snowboard cross competition was canceled due to fog at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

    KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - Thick fog lingering over the mountains Monday caused the biggest weather disruptions of the Sochi Olympics so far, with a biathlon race and a snowboard event both postponed until Tuesday.

    The fog rolled in over the mountains in Krasnaya Polyana on Sunday night and was still shrouding some of the Olympic skiing venues in a cloud-like mist by late Monday afternoon. That prompted organizers to call off the men's biathlon mass-start race and men's snowboardcross almost simultaneously.

    The rescheduling didn't seem to be a major concern for the athletes, though.

    "This is standard for snowboarding and ski events. Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate," American snowboardcross rider Nate Holland said.

    The biathlon race had already been pushed back from Sunday evening to Monday morning, and was then postponed to mid-afternoon before being called off for another day. It will now be held Tuesday at 2:30 p.m., organizers said.

    "Well, I am going to sleep again," double Olympic champion Martin Fourcade tweeted in French after the race was postponed. "We'll see each other tomorrow!"

    Organizers still hoped to go ahead with the women's mass-start race at its original 7 p.m. start.

    At the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, the snowboardcross was also first delayed then postponed. Organizers first canceled the seeding runs for the event, then pushed back the elimination races before calling it a day. The elimination races will now start at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, with the seeding runs scrapped.

    The Alpine schedule wasn't affected Monday, but the women's giant slalom on Tuesday was pushed forward by 90 minutes to avoid problems. Rain and snow is forecast to begin falling on Tuesday morning and continue through the afternoon. The first run will now begin at 9.30 a.m. and the second at 1 p.m.

    Jessica Lindell-Vikarby of Sweden, one of the favorites in the GS, said it would have been impossible to have the event on Monday.

    "When it's this thick you cannot race," Lindell-Vikarby said. "It has to be more open, for sure."

    The ski jumping venue is at a lower altitude and was not shrouded in the thick fog. A training round for Nordic combined athletes was held without disruptions, and the ski jump team event was also expected to go ahead as scheduled on Monday.

    The fog is causing a new challenge for the athletes following days of sunshine and unseasonably warm weather. At the Laura Cross Country Ski and Biathlon Center, the high temperatures toward the end of last week had softened the snow and led to some cross-country skiers cutting off the sleeves on their suits.

    In biathlon, fog is an even bigger problem because it limits the visibility on the shooting range.

    "You have to be able to hit the targets," said Jerry Kokesh, the editor of the International Biathlon Union's official website, adding that the course becomes more dangerous as well. "Uphills are not a problem, but downhills are. ... That can be a serious safety concern."

    The first week of the games went by without any major disruptions to the schedule before Sunday's biathlon race was postponed, despite concerns going into the Olympics about the warm climate in Sochi. IOC spokesman Mark Adams said every Winter Olympics normally faces some rescheduling because of the weather, and that Sochi has been relatively unaffected.

    "In terms of what's going on there, I think it's actually quite ironic that the biggest issue we've had so far is due to winter fog," Adams said. "Winter sports is very unpredictable. It's a very dynamic field of play. At present, the conditions are good and we are continuing. We haven't had any major complaints up there."

    Certainly not from Holland, the snowboarder, who said it was better to wait another day than to compete in poor conditions.

    "It's the Olympics, we want to have the best rider win and not have anything screwy," Holland said. "So we'll be back tomorrow and let her roll from there. It's time to drop the hammer and the sickle on this course."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Olympic Athletes Defy Russian Airspace

     

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    Monday, Feb. 17, 2014
    Nepal Plane Missing
    A Nepalese man consoles a relative, center, of a passenger of a missing DeHavilland Canada-manufactured Twin Otter plane outside Tribhuwan Domestic Airport in Katmandu, Nepal, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

    KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) - Rescuers on Monday found the wreckage of a plane that slammed into a snow-covered mountain in Nepal and burst into flames, killing 18 people, including a child, authorities said.

    Moving slowly through thick snow, rescuers walked for 8 miles to the crash site. Air traffic control had lost contact with the plane on Sunday afternoon in poor visibility due to snow, rain and fog.

    "Our plane was technically airworthy and we believe it was the weather that caused the crash," said Ram Hari Sharma of Nepal Airlines. He said there will be a full investigation.

    The state-run airline is often criticized over allegations of corruption and flying old planes. Last year, the European Union banned all Nepalese airlines from flying to Europe because of poor safety records.

    The plane had 15 passengers and three crew members. One passenger was Danish, according to the Danish Foreign Ministry, while the rest were Nepalese. The age of the passenger with the infant ticket was not given.

    The plane's charred wreckage was flung across a wide area, said police official Bam Bahadur Bhandari. Some victims were identified using documents found in the wreckage, he said.

    A helicopter was able to spot the wreckage earlier Monday near Machinelek, about 250 kilometers (160 miles) west of the capital, Katmandu, but they only way to access the remote location was on foot.

    The bodies were first picked up using ropes and nets by a smaller helicopter and then taken to a cleared area. They were then moved to a bigger army helicopter and flown to the capital, Katmandu.

    Doctors at the Tribhuwan University Teaching Hospital were performing autopsies before releasing the remains.

    Police and soldiers were trying to dig a temporary helipad for rescue helicopters. The cockpit voice recorder was also recovered from the crash site, the air rescue office in Katmandu said.

    The plane was flying from Katmandu to Jumla, about 400 kilometers (250 miles) to the west, when it made an unscheduled fuel stop in the city of Pokhara, about a third of the way into the journey. The de Havilland Canada-manufactured Twin Otter was 43 years old.

    In May, another plane of the same make and model operated by Nepal Airlines crashed while attempting to land at a mountain airstrip in northern Nepal, injuring all 21 people on board.

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    Icy Comet NEAT
    (Photo by NASA/SSPL/Getty Images)

    An asteroid the size of three football fields is set to make a close brush of Earth on Monday (Feb. 17), and you can watch the flyby in a live webcast.

    Near-Earth asteroid 2000 EM26 poses no threat of actually hitting the planet, but the online Slooh Space Camera will track the asteroid as it passes by Earth on Monday. The live Slooh webcast will start at 9 p.m. EST (0200 Feb. 18 GMT), and you can also watch the webcast directly through the Slooh website.

    You can also watch the asteroid broadcast live on Space.com. Scientists estimate that 2000 EM26 is about 885 feet (270 meters) in diameter, and it is whizzing through the solar system at a break-neck 27,000 mph (12.37km/s), according to Slooh. During its closest approach, the asteroid will fly about 8.8 lunar distances from Earth. [See photos of potentially dangerous asteroids]

    "We continue to discover these potentially hazardous asteroids - sometimes only days before they make their close approaches to Earth," Slooh's technical and research director, Paul Cox said in a statement. "Slooh's asteroid research campaign is gathering momentum with Slooh members using the Slooh robotic telescopes to monitor this huge population of potentially hazardous space rocks. We need to find them before they find us!"

    2000 EM26's flyby comes almost exactly a year after two major near-Earth object (NEO) events on Feb. 15, 2013. That day, as scientists were tracking the extremely close pass of the 98-foot (30 m) asteroid 2012 DA14, another, unrelated space rock unexpectedly exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia, causing substantial damage to buildings that injured more than 1,000 people with falling glass.

    The shockwave caused by the explosion damaged thousands of buildings and left thousands of people injured, but no one was killed. The approximately 65-foot-meteor (20 m) exploded 18 miles (29 km) above the ground, and it released the energy equivalent of about 20 atomic bombs, Slooh officials said.

    "On a practical level, a previously-unknown, undiscovered asteroid seems to hit our planet and cause damage or injury once a century or so, as we witnessed on June 20, 1908 and February 15, 2013," Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said in a statement. "Every few centuries, an even more massive asteroid strikes us - fortunately usually impacting in an ocean or wasteland such an Antarctica. But the ongoing threat, and the fact that biosphere-altering events remain a real if small annual possibility, suggests that discovering and tracking all NEOs, as well as setting up contingency plans for deflecting them on short notice should the need arise, would be a wise use of resources."

    Pieces of the Russian meteorite will be awarded to seven gold medal winners on Saturday at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

    The Slooh webcast will include commentary from Mark Boslough, an expert on planetary impacts. You can participate in the broadcast by using the hashtag #asteroid to ask questions during the 2000 EM26 show.

    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.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 10 Breathtaking Photos of Comets

     

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    Updated Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 5:30 p.m. ET
    Country road, heavy rain, dusk, vehicles, lights
    Getty Images

    Forty million people in the Central states and 20 million along the Atlantic coast will be at risk for severe weather later this week.

    The air will become warm enough ahead of a late-week storm over the Missouri and Mississippi valleys, as well as portions of the East to bring not only thunderstorms, but also the potential for severe weather.

    The main threats of the storms will be locally damaging wind gusts and flash flooding. A number of locations may also experience hail with the storms. A small number of the storms could also produce a tornado.

    According to severe weather expert Henry Margusity, "The greatest risk for a few tornadoes will be where the air is the warmest and most humid, which is most likely from western Tennessee to northwestern Mississippi on Thursday."

    Storm

    The potential for damaging thunderstorms by Thursday will reach from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, as well as the southern port of Lower Michigan.

    Cities on Thursday that could be impacted by gusty strong to severe thunderstorms include St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo.; Indianapolis; Cincinnati; Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.; Little Rock, Ark.; Louisville, Ky.; Jackson, Miss.; and Monroe, La.

    While snow on the ground will limit the intensity of some of the storms, it will not eliminate the risk of severe weather everywhere.

    Even in the absence of thunderstorms locally strong wind gusts can affect areas from the Midwest to upstate New York on Thursday.

    Storm Midwest

    On Friday, the potential for strong to severe storms will reach from Georgia to New Jersey.

    RELATED:
    Forecast Temperature Maps
    Winter to Loosen Its Grip Briefly
    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center

    The storms could hit some Northern states, where there is still snow on the ground.

    The combination of a surge of warm air and rainfall will raise the risk of ice jam flooding on some streams and rivers from the lower Midwest to the mid-Atlantic.

    The weight of recent snowfall and the added rain coming with the storm could be enough to stress some roofs to the point of failure.

    Melting snow ahead of and during the passage of a cold front associated with the storm can lead to street and poor drainage area flooding, where storm drains have become blocked with snow.

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    Volcano Eruption

     

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    Updated Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 1:36 p.m. ET
    Winter Weather Illinois
    Azim Fazili clears snow from sidewalk during a heavy snowy day in Chicago, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    After blasting the Midwest and Great Lakes on Monday and Monday night, a complex, fast-moving storm will bring heavy snow to parts of the Northeast into Tuesday evening.

    Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed across the Northeast.

    Many schools have been delayed or canceled Tuesday.

    According to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "In most cases, the storm will last six hours or less, but a few locations can receive just as many inches of snow during that time."

    During the afternoon hours on Monday, Chicago, was slammed with blinding snow and snowfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour. Chicago received 5 inches of snow from the storm, raising their seasonal total to 67.9 inches. For the city, this season now ranks as the fifth snowiest on record.



    An onslaught of winter storms has buried much of the Northeast over the past few weeks. While this upcoming storm is not expected to be an historic event, it can snarl travel, resulting in more flight delays in a winter already full of them.

    "The storm has had a history of thunder and lightning with the snow, sleet and freezing rain in Illinois and part of Indiana, which is the sign of a vigorous system and the potential for brief bursts of snow farther to the east into Tuesday," Sosnowski said, "Some areas in the Northeast may also experience a thunderstorm on Tuesday."



    The Northeast will feel the impacts of the storm on Tuesday as the storm from the Midwest continues to affect part of upstate New York and a secondary storm on the coast impacts New England and Long Island.

    Shovels and plows will be needed again in many areas. Some locations from Pennsylvania to New England could experience snowfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour for a brief time.

    RELATED:
    Northeast Interactive Radar
    AccuWeather Winter Weather Center
    Risk of Falls, Accidents to Continue Well After Snowstorms Depart


    Interstates 81, 90, and 95 will be slick for a time on Tuesday.

    The risk of roofs collapsing will increase with each snowfall event, where not enough prior melting has reduced the amount of snow. For example, as of Monday morning, Feb. 17, 2014, much of Pennsylvania has between 1 and 2 feet of snow on the ground and on roofs.

    "In some cases, upcoming melting can add to the risk of roof failure in the short term," Sosnowski said, "Lingering snow can block the drainage system on flat roofs, leading to uneven weight distribution when melting occurs or when rain falls into the snow."

    Most gable roofs can sustain a significant amount of snow and allow the water to settle toward the edges. However, a buildup of ice in the gutters can force water beneath the shingles along the edges.

    Slippery sidewalks will remain a concern as the snow falls, and with cold nights and milder days in the wake of the snow, icy patches will develop. The new snow can hide patches of ice beneath.

    For those in search of warmth, a brief break from the snow and cold is in store for the middle and end of the week.

    A storm developing over the Central states late in the week may bring severe weather and flooding problems to some communities.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The 10 Snowiest Places on Earth

     

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    Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014
    United Airlines Reports Quarterly Profit Of 140 Million
    (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Severe turbulence during a United Airlines flight from Denver to Billings, Mont., sent five people to hospitals in Montana on Monday, an airline official said.

    Three crew members and two passengers were injured, United Airlines spokesman Luke Punzenberger told The Denver Post. The captain declared a medical emergency as the Boeing 737 approached Billings, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor told the Billings Gazette.

    Flight 1676 left Denver International Airport around noon and landed without incident just before 1:30 p.m. at Billings Logan International Airport, Gregor and the airline said.

    One flight attendant remained in the hospital late Monday, Punzenberger said. He says 114 passengers and five crew members were aboard.

    Passenger Joe Frank, 20, told the Denver Post in an email that the plane dropped violently and he heard a loud bang. He said a baby was propelled out of a parent's arms and landed in a seat nearby, but the infant didn't appear to be hurt.

    "I didn't have my seat belt on, so I hit my head pretty hard but what hurts is my lower back and hips," he told the newspaper. He said he was heading from a visit to Texas back home to Billings.

    Emergency crews and the Billings airport fire department responded.

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    Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014
    Greenland:  A Laboratory For The Symptoms Of Global Warming
    (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Arctic isn't nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that's turning out to be a global problem, a new study says.

    With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun's heat is reflected back into space. So the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    That extra absorbed energy is so big that it measures about one-quarter of the entire heat-trapping effect of carbon dioxide, said the study's lead author, Ian Eisenman, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

    The Arctic grew 8 percent darker between 1979 and 2011, Eisenman found, measuring how much sunlight is reflected back into space.

    "Basically, it means more warming," Eisenman said in an interview.

    The North Pole region is an ocean that mostly is crusted at the top with ice that shrinks in the summer and grows back in the fall. At its peak melt in September, the ice has shrunk on average by nearly 35,000 square miles - about the size of Maine - per year since 1979.

    Snow-covered ice reflects several times more heat than dark, open ocean, which replaces the ice when it melts, Eisenman said.

    As more summer sunlight dumps into the ocean, the water gets warmer, and it takes longer for ice to form again in the fall, Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland said in an email. He was not part of the study.

    While earlier studies used computer models, Eisenman said his is the first to use satellite measurements to gauge sunlight reflection and to take into account cloud cover. The results show the darkening is as much as two to three times bigger than previous estimates, he said.

    Box and University of Colorado ice scientist Waleed Abdalati, who was not part of the research, called the work important in understanding how much heat is getting trapped on Earth.

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