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    Monday, March 24, 2014
    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 02:  A kid goes down a hill on a sled in Humboldt Park on January 2, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago area has been getting snowed on for the past three days with some suburban areas getting hit with more than 16 inches. The snowfall is expected to end sometime this evening or early Friday morning in the city. The same system is moving east and is expected to dump more than a foot of snow in areas of New England.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
    (Getty Images)

    The start to spring does not mean an end to fierce blizzards unfolding as is evident with a blizzard threatening eastern New England and Atlantic Canada at midweek.

    The blizzard is expected to swipe eastern New England and slam Atlantic Canada Tuesday night through Wednesday night.

    The rest of the East Coast will escape the worst of the storm, but there is still nuisance-to-disruptive snowfall in store for the spine of the Appalachians, Virginia and the rest of the Northeast.

    The blizzard could easily halt travel and cause school cancellations and other significant disruptions to daily routines.

    While there is no question that a large swath of Atlantic Canada will be targeted by the fierce blizzard, the coverage area across eastern New England will be determined by how close the storm tracks to the coast.

    The current projected path of the storm puts southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, and Down East Maine at greatest risk for fierce blizzard conditions.

    A track closer to the coast would expand the blizzard threat to more of eastern New England -including the I-95 corridor - and eastern Long Island, while a track farther offshore would cause the blizzard to only graze Cape Cod and Down East Maine.

    Those in Norwich, Conn.; Providence, R.I.; Boston, Mass.; Portsmouth and Manchester, N.H.; and Portland, Maine, are among the residents in eastern New England who should keep a close eye on this storm in the event the blizzard area is expanded westward.

    However, there can be near-blizzard conditions in these cities for a time during the height of the storm. This threat does not include New York City, where up to a few inches of snow will fall.

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    Snowfall totals across far eastern Long Island, Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts and Down East Maine will be on the order of 6 to 12 inches with a potential for some communities to top a foot.

    Strong winds in the heart of the blizzard will severely blow and drift the snow around, making driving extremely dangerous, if not impossible, and possibly overwhelming road crews. Motorists driving during the height of the storm run the risk of becoming stranded on interstates and highways.

    The strong winds alone, which could gust between 40 and 60 mph, are possible of causing tree damage and power outages. The highest wind gusts will be along the coast.

    The winds will also kick up extremely rough seas across the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Coastal flooding may ensue along the coasts of New England and Atlantic Canada.

    The blizzard will not take shape in time to severely impact the rest of the East Coast; however, that does not mean nuisance-to-disruptive snowfall will be avoided.

    The storm is currently in its infant stages and will continue to spread nuisance snow from the northern Rockies to the central Plains through Monday. That snow will spread across the Midwest to the spine of the Appalachians Monday night.

    "Where the snow falls at night and first thing in the morning, the odds are greater for an accumulation on roads. However, the warming effect of the March sun during the midday and afternoon could only be negated by a very heavy snowfall rate," stated AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

    Such heavy snowfall is expected to occur on an isolated basis until the evening and overnight hours of Tuesday when the storm begins to rapidly strengthen.

    Paving the way for the return of snow to the East Coast will be yet another blast of arctic cold.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos from 2013
    Lightning Hits the Grand Canyon

     

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    Monday, March 24, 2014
    US-WEATHER-COLD
    (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

    Despite the official arrival of spring, temperatures over the next several days will feel more like January across the Midwest and East and will set the stage for snow in some communities.

    The passage of a cold front has paved the way for fresh arctic air to erase the mild start to spring in the Midwest and East.

    Gone is the warmth that sent temperatures into the 50s in Boston, 60s in New York City and 70s in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.

    This cold spell will produce high and low temperatures on par with typical January readings (in terms of averages, not what was recorded during this past frigid January).



    As another way to put the cold in perspective to late March, highs will be roughly 15 to 20 degrees below normal in the Midwest and Northeast and up to 25 degrees below normal in the Upper Midwest.

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    By Wednesday, Duluth and International Falls, Minn., will experience at least two days of highs in the teens and subzero overnight lows this week.

    Highs in the 20s will return to Minneapolis, Detroit and Chicago. Temperatures will be held to the 30s southward to St. Louis and Cincinnati on Tuesday.



    Monday will be a cold day across the Northeast with highs in the teens and lower 20s across most of the St. Lawrence Valley, 20s southward to I-84 and 30s in Pittsburgh, New York City, Philadelphia and Atlantic City.

    This latest arctic blast may set the stage for generally nuisance snow to spread across the Midwest Monday through Tuesday, while a eastern New England is facing the threat of a blizzard at midweek.

    In the wake of the blizzard, Wednesday will feel even colder than Monday across the Northeast as blustery winds howl on the storm's backside.

    Outdoor spring sports and activities are ramping up at the collegiate and high school levels, and the cold threatens to cause problems for participants and spectators.

    "The cold could force the cancellation or postponement of some scheduled events," stated AccuWeather.com meteorologist Mike Doll.

    Athletes will be able to put the winter jackets, extra layers of clothing, hats and gloves they will need to keep themselves warm over the next several days back into the closet later this week with another brief surge of warmth expected.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Off-the-Charts Hottest and Coldest Places on Earth

     

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    Monday, March 24, 2014
    Brian Anderson, left,  and Coby Young search through the wreckage of a home belonging to the Kuntz family Sunday, March 23, 2014, near Oso, Wash. The entire Kuntz family was at a baseball game Saturday morning when a fatal mudslide swept through the area. The family returned Sunday to search through what remained. (AP Photo /The Herald, Genna Martin)
    Brian Anderson, left, and Coby Young search through the wreckage of a home belonging to the Kuntz family Sunday, March 23, 2014, near Oso, Wash. (AP Photo /The Herald, Genna Martin)

    ARLINGTON, Wash. (AP) - Hopes of finding any more survivors from a massive mudslide that killed at least eight people waned as searchers pulled more bodies from the tangled debris field in rural Washington state and crews worked through the night into Monday.

    Search and rescue teams took to the air in helicopters and the ground on foot on Sunday looking for anyone who might still be alive. Their spirits had been raised late Saturday night when they heard voices calling for help from the flotsam of trees, dirt and wreckage. Dangerous conditions forced them to turn back in the darkness, but they resumed their work at first light Sunday.

    "We didn't see or hear any signs of life out there today," Snohomish County Fire District 21 Chief Travis Hots said. "It's very disappointing to all emergency responders on scene."

    Snohomish County sheriff's Lt. Rob Palmer said four more bodies were discovered late Sunday. Earlier in the day, authorities said one body had been found on the debris field. Three people were already confirmed dead on Saturday.

    More people remained missing, and authorities said the number was "fluid." Earlier Sunday, they said it was at least 18, but that count came before additional bodies were discovered.

    The 1-square-mile slide also critically injured several people - including an infant - and destroyed about 30 homes.

    Crews were able to get to the soupy, tree-strewn area that was 15-feet deep in places Sunday after geologists flew over in a helicopter and determined it was safe enough for emergency responders and technical rescue personnel to search for possible survivors, Hots said.

    He added that they did not search the entire debris field, only drier areas safe to traverse. Hots said crews were still in a "search and rescue mode. It has not gone to a recovery mode at this time."

    Before crews could get onto the debris field late Sunday morning, they looked for people by helicopter. They had late Saturday heard people yelling for help, but they were unable to reach anyone. The soupy mud was so thick and deep that searchers had to turn back.

    "We have this huge square-mile mudflow that's basically like quicksand," Hots said Sunday.

    The slide wiped through what neighbors described as a former fishing village of small homes - some nearly 100 years old.

    As the search for the missing continued, authorities said some may have been able to get out on their own. The number unaccounted for could change because some people may have been in cars and on roads when the slide hit just before 11 a.m. Saturday.

    Officials described the mudslide as "a big wall of mud and debris." It blocked about a mile of State Route 530 near the town of Oso, about 55 miles north of Seattle.

    Authorities believe the slide was caused by ground made unstable by recent heavy rainfall.

    Washington Gov. Jay Inslee described the scene as "a square mile of total devastation" after flying over the disaster area midday Sunday. He assured families that everything was being done to find their missing loved ones.

    The slide blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River. With the water pooling behind the debris, authorities worried about downstream flooding and issued an evacuation notice Saturday. The water had begun to seep through the blockage Sunday afternoon, alleviating some concerns.

    Snohomish County officials said Sunday that residents could return home during daylight hours. Even though the evacuation had been lifted, Inslee urged residents to remain alert.

    The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for Snohomish County through Monday afternoon.

    Shari Ireton, a spokeswoman for the Snohomish County sheriff's office, said Sunday that a total of eight people were injured in the slide.

    A 6-month-old boy and an 81-year-old man remained in critical condition Sunday morning at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said two men, ages 37 and 58, were in serious condition, while a 25-year-old woman was upgraded to satisfactory condition.

    Bruce Blacker, who lives just west of the slide, doesn't know the whereabouts of six neighbors.

    "It's a very close-knit community," Blacker said as he waited at an Arlington roadblock before troopers let him through.

    Search-and-rescue help came from around the region, including the Washington State Patrol and the Army Corps of Engineers. More than 100 were at the scene.

    Dane Williams, 30, who lives a few miles from the mudslide, spent Saturday night at a Red Cross shelter at the Arlington school.

    He said he saw a few "pretty distraught" people at the shelter who didn't know the fate of loved ones who live in the stricken area.

    "It makes me want to cry," Williams said.

    Hots said searchers would continue their efforts through the difficult debris field.

    "There may be people in their cars, there may be people in houses," he said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    Monday, March 24, 2014
    FILE - In this March 19, 2013, file photo, a trickle of water left in the Rio Grande is pushed downstream by the wind near the chile growing community of Hatch, N.M. In southern New Mexico, the mighty Rio Grande has gone dry, and farmers are worried about dwindling water supplies as the state enters its third straight year of drought. Top climate scientists are gathering in Japan this week to finish up a report on the impact of global warming. And they say if you think climate change is only faced by some far-off polar bear decades from now, well, youíre mistaken. They say the dangers of a warming Earth are immediate and human. While it doesnít say these events were caused by climate change, the report mentions droughts in northern Mexico and south-central United States, as showing how vulnerable people are to these weather extremes.(AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)
    In this March 19, 2013, file photo, a trickle of water left in the Rio Grande is pushed downstream by the wind near the chile-growing community of Hatch, N.M. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan, File)

    GENEVA (AP) - The head of the U.N. weather agency blamed extreme weather on human-induced climate change Monday, citing key events that wreaked havoc in Asia, Europe, the U.S. and Pacific region last year.

    Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said his agency's annual assessment of the global climate shows how dramatically people and lands everywhere felt the impacts of extreme weather such as droughts, heat waves, floods and tropical cyclones.

    "Many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change," he said.

    The U.N. agency called 2013 the sixth-warmest year on record. Thirteen of the 14 warmest years have occurred in the 21st century.

    A rise in sea levels is leading to increasing damage from storm surges and coastal flooding, as demonstrated by Typhoon Haiyan, Jarraud said. The typhoon in November killed at least 6,100 people and caused $13 billion in damage to the Philippines and Vietnam.

    Australia, meanwhile, had its hottest year on record and parts of central Asia and central Africa also notched record highs.

    Jarraud drew special attention to studies and climate modeling examining Australia's recent heat waves, saying the high temperatures there would have been virtually impossible without the emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

    He cited other costly weather disasters such as $22 billion damage from central European flooding in June, $10 billion in damage from Typhoon Fitow in China and Japan, and a $10 billion drought in much of China.

    Only a few places were cooler than normal. Among them was the central U.S.

    Jarraud also cited frigid polar air in parts of Europe and the southeast U.S., and the widest tornado ever observed over rural areas of central Oklahoma, as being among extreme weather events.

    There were 41 bill ion-dollar weather disasters in the world last year, the second highest number behind only 2010, according to insurance firm Aon Benfield, which tracks global disasters.

    Jarraud spoke as top climate scientists and representatives from about 100 governments with the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change met in Japan to complete their latest report on global warming's impact.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 10 U.S. Cities Most at Risk from Rising Sea Levels

     

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    Monday, March 24, 2014
    US-WEATHER-SNOWSTORM
    A man skis past the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 17, 2014, the morning after yet another snow storm. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

    After bitter cold shocked the Northeast, ice encrusted the South, snow blanketed the Midwest and drought persisted in the West, many of the nation's largest cities experienced weather this winter that was more typical of other locations.

    The cold weather this winter had a significant impact on heating costs with the greatest effect on propane prices. In the Midwest, propane prices spiked up more than two dollars per gallon between December and January, according to the United States Energy Information Administration. In addition to the rise of heating costs, schools across the nation searched for alternate solutions for snow days, as school delays and cancellations mounted.

    Coming off the winter season, so far in March, the Northeast, Midwest, South Central states and portions of the Southeast have all experienced temperature departures of at least 2 degrees Fahrenheit below normal for this time of the year.

    As the official winter season is now over, accumulated snowfall in many of the nation's largest cities are well above seasonal averages. For example, Chicago has received 79 inches of snow so far, which is 42 inches more than the seasonal average.

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    With spring here and cold lingering, many people are wondering why this winter was so harsh.

    The answer starts with a large pool of warmer-than-normal water over the Gulf of Alaska, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls.

    "This water allowed a strong high to build and persist over the West Coast and just offshore," Nicholls said. "This high forced the jet to buckle and push south into the eastern United States and provided almost a direct southward path for arctic air to drain into the central and eastern U.S."

    In addition to the jet stream pushing south, a buildup of snow in western Canada early in the winter allowed the bitterly cold air masses to move easily into the U.S.

    To find out where your city should have been located in the U.S. based on the average temperature this winter, view the graphic below.

     

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    Monday, March 24, 2014

    Firefighters managing a controlled burn at at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Denver, Colo., earlier this month witnessed an incredible sight. A huge dust devil took shape, developing into a swirling funnel cloud.

    The tornado-like formation drew in fire as it hurled tumbleweeds and other debris. The flames burned an additional acre before the dust devil eventually died out.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Real Photos That Look Like Scenes from the Apocalypse
    Apocalypse

     

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    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

    Skiers make their way up the slopes near uncovered terrain at Park City Mountain Resort in Park City, Utah, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

    Despite the abundant snow in the Midwest and Northeast this year, recent seasons have been milder. As a result, snow sport interest groups have been looking at ways their industry can adapt their businesses in uncooperative seasons.

    One such group is Protect Our Winters, an organization that defines itself as "the environmental center point of the global winter sports community, united towards a common goal of reducing climate change's effects on our sports and local economies."

    The group was founded by a professional snowboarder, Jeremy Jones, in 2007.

    "I spend time in Europe every year, and just seeing, in Chamonix for example, you have this famous glacier that's a very well-traveled ski run," Jones said. "As I started coming back a year later realizing that I used to be able to snowboard [where I stood] and to see this receding glacier."

    Jones also visited a former resort in British Columbia that was unable to continue its operation because of repeated winters without enough snow. Experiences such as these inspired him to use his clout to bring attention to the struggles that milder winters present to athletes and businesses.

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    In conjunction with The Mountain Collective, a collaboration of six major Western ski resorts that provide shared passes to skiers and snowboarders, Protect Our Winters stated, "fewer ski days would not only reduce enjoyment for skiers, boarders and other winter sports enthusiasts, but also cause significant economic impact to an industry that supports 965,000 people and contributes $66 billion to the U.S. economy alone."

    In recent years, many resorts have been feeling those economic impacts. This year's snowfall has been a welcome relief to North American resorts that have been struggling the past few seasons, but many in the winter sport community are wary that more mild winters may be in the future. Low snow amounts for some resorts in Europe provide a wider image of ski conditions on a global scale.

    "Southeast Europe had less snow than normal [this year]," said AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls. "There was also a lack of snow from England to France and western Germany. These areas were stormy but lacked the cold for snow."

    Porter Fox, features editor of Powder Magazine and author of "DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow," said that he's encountered residents in the West who say that for many years they have just not been seeing the snow they were once used to. With extreme to exceptional drought holding tight to much of the area, manmade snows have been relied on to help keep many trails open.

    Ski resorts are also adapting to winters that receive below-normal levels of snow by increasing the type of activities available at these locations.

    "I think the industry is engaged in adaption in a serious way, both in terms of snowmaking, but also in terms of offering experiences to guests on a year-round basis," said Mike Kaplan, president & CEO of Aspen/Snowmass.

    Offering mountain biking trails, hiking opportunities, horseback riding or other summertime activities is giving resorts an opportunity to make up revenue lost in mild winters.

    "We did have a couple tough years," Kaplan said. "We were really waiting for it to start snowing again. It was a relief to get into the summer season where we're going to spin those lifts either way because we're going to have our mountain bikes trails open."

    Others are being more conscious of their energy spending, both for economic and environmental reasons.

    Jerry Blann, president of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, said that his community in the northwestern part of Wyoming is very aware of the challenge ahead of them. With Wyoming's largest industry being energy production and tourism, Blann said that state congress is lobbied from what he sees as conflicting sides of economic and environmental focuses.

    For his resort, Blann said that they are aiming to have a 10 percent reduction in their energy uses from 1995 to 2015.

    "At the end of the day, I'd say that's what mountain people are all about; we're used to having to adapt to whatever Mother Nature is going to give," Kaplan said.


    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Most Pathetic Snowmen

     

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    Tuesday, March 25, 2014
    Northeast Snow
    (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

    Even though spring began last week, the risk for blizzards will continue. Such a storm is forecast to threaten part of the Atlantic Seaboard at midweek.

    The blizzard is expected to swipe eastern New England and slam Atlantic Canada Tuesday night through Wednesday night.

    The rest of the East Coast will escape the worst of the storm, but there is still nuisance to disruptive snowfall in store for the spine of the Appalachians, Virginia and the rest of the Northeast.

    The blizzard could slow travel, close schools and cause significant disruptions to daily routines.



    The projected path of the storm puts Cape Cod, Mass., and Down East Maine at greatest risk for fierce blizzard conditions in the United States.

    Those in Providence, R.I., Boston, Mass., Portsmouth, N.H., and Portland, Maine, are among the residents in eastern New England who can expect wind-swept snow with a chance of blizzard conditions developing if the storm track shifts a bit farther to the west than currently forecast.

    A much less-intense storm is forecast in New York City and Hartford, Conn., where 1-3 inches of snow will fall with a cold wind.

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    Several inches of snow are forecast for eastern Long Island. Snowfall totals across far eastern Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts and Down East Maine will be on the order of 6 to 12 inches with a potential for some communities to top a foot.

    Strong winds in the heart of the blizzard will severely blow and drift the snow around, making driving extremely dangerous, if not impossible, and possibly overwhelming road crews. Motorists driving during the height of the storm run the risk of becoming stranded.



    Gusty winds along the coast will result in AccuWeather RealFeel(R) temperatures 10 to 20 F lower than the actual temperature.

    Winds could be strong enough on Cape Cod, Down East Maine, the Maritimes, and Newfoundland and Labrador to down trees and cause power outages. Gusts could reach hurricane strength in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, as well as in portions of New Brunswick and Newfoundland.

    The winds will cause very rough conditions across the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Seas in open waters from Massachusetts to Newfoundland may reach 40 feet.

    Coastal flooding is possible in Massachusetts, where coastal areas have an exposure to northerly winds. Water levels in this area may rise to a couple of feet above published tide levels.

    The blizzard will not develop fast enough to severely impact the rest of the East Coast. However, light snow is forecast to fall along the I-95 corridor in New England and the northern mid-Atlantic. Enough snow can fall to lower the visibility and cover road surfaces for a time.



    On Monday, the storm was crossing the Central states with spotty snow. Snow will spread across the central and southern Appalachians during Monday night.

    Snow amounts through Monday night will generally be on the order of a coating to an inch or two.

    As the storm reorganizes along the East Coast on Tuesday, the snow will develop across the mid-Atlantic, southern New York and Connecticut. Outside of the mountains, there will likely not be enough cold air in place for more than wet snowflakes across the Carolinas.

    Most of the snow that falls during the midday and afternoon hours on Tuesday will have a hard time sticking to roads.

    "Where the snow falls at night and first thing in the morning, the odds are greater for an accumulation on roads. However, the warming effect of the March sun during the midday and afternoon could only be negated by a very heavy snowfall rate," stated AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

    Such heavy snowfall is expected to occur on an isolated basis until the evening and overnight hours of Tuesday when the storm begins to rapidly strengthen.

    Paving the way for the return of snow to the East Coast will be yet another blast of arctic cold.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Tuesday, March 25, 2014
    Sub-Zero Temperatures Put Chicago Into Deep Freeze
    (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    January-like cold will persist across the Midwest and East through the middle of this week. The cold will set the stage for more snow.

    A cold front has erased the warmth from last Friday and Saturday.

    Temperatures into Wednesday will be more appropriate for January across the Midwest and East and will allow snowfall in some communities.



    Temperatures will average 15-30 F below normal in many locations from Fargo, N.D., Minneapolis and Chicago to Charlotte, N.C., New York City and Boston.

    Duluth and International Falls, Minn., will experience multiple days with highs in the 20s and lows near zero or below this week.

    Minneapolis, Detroit and Chicago will have multiple days with highs in the 30s or lower through midweek.

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    As cold air lingers, a storm threatens to bring some snow and wind to portions of the North Central states Wednesday night into Thursday.



    Cold air will hold its ground in the Northeast until after a blizzard affects part of the region at midweek.

    Highs are forecast to be in the 30s around New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh on multiple days through Wednesday.

    Wednesday will feel even colder than Monday across the Northeast as blustery winds howl on the storm's back side.

    The cold threatens to cause problems for outdoor high school and collegiate sporting events.

    "The cold could force the cancellation or postponement of some scheduled events," stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Mike Doll.

    Temperatures are forecast to rebound to seasonable levels later this week over much of the Midwest and Northeast.

    However, the cold this winter has taken a toll on consumers, businesses, schools and government from the standpoint of heating home and work areas.

    According to a report issued by the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), the increased demand for and tightening supplies of heating fuels have pushed prices significantly higher this winter.

    The Northeast was 13 percent colder, the Midwest and South were both 19 percent colder and the West was 5 percent warmer than last winter as of mid-March.

    Units used to measure heating demand, known as heating degree days (HDD), were 13 percent higher than last winter and 10 percent above the October through February 10-year average on a national basis the EIA stated.

    The number of HDD for a particular date and location can be found by taking 65 F minus the day's average temperature. For example on a particular day, if the high temperature was 40 F and the low was 20 F, the average temperature was 30 F; 65 minus 30 equals 35 HDD.

    At Chicago, the 30-year average of the number of HDD from Oct. 1 to March 23 is 5,268. From Oct. 1, 2013 to March 23, 2014, Chicago has had 6,149 HDD or 881 HDD above average.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Most Pathetic Snowmen

     

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    Tuesday, March 25, 2014
    Pollution Deaths
    (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan, File)

    LONDON (AP) - Air pollution kills about 7 million people worldwide every year, with more than half of the fatalities due to fumes from indoor stoves, according to a new report from the World Health Organization published Tuesday.

    The agency said air pollution is the cause of about one in eight deaths and has now become the single biggest environmental health risk.

    "We all have to breathe, which makes pollution very hard to avoid," said Frank Kelly, director of the environmental research group at King's College London, who was not part of the WHO report.

    One of the main risks of pollution is that tiny particles can get deep into the lungs, causing irritation. Scientists also suspect air pollution may be to blame for inflammation in the heart, leading to chronic problems or a heart attack.

    WHO estimated that there were about 4.3 million deaths in 2012 caused by indoor air pollution, mostly people cooking inside using wood and coal stoves in Asia. WHO said there were about 3.7 million deaths from outdoor air pollution in 2012, of which nearly 90 percent were in developing countries.

    But WHO noted that many people are exposed to both indoor and outdoor air pollution. Due to this overlap, mortality attributed to the two sources cannot simply added together, hence WHO said it lowered the total estimate from around 8 million to 7 million deaths in 2012.

    The new estimates are more than double previous figures and based mostly on modeling. The increase is partly due to better information about the health effects of pollution and improved detection methods. Last year, WHO's cancer agency classified air pollution as a carcinogen, linking dirty air to lung and bladder cancer.

    WHO's report noted women had higher levels of exposure than men in developing countries.

    "Poor women and children pay a heavy price from indoor air pollution since they spend more time at home breathing in smoke and soot from leaky coal and wood cook stoves," Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General for family, women and children's health, said in a statement.

    Other experts said more research was needed to identify the deadliest components of pollution in order to target control measures more effectively.

    "We don't know if dust from the Sahara is as bad as diesel fuel or burning coal," said Majid Ezzati, chair in global environmental health at Imperial College London.

    Kelly said it was mostly up to governments to curb pollution levels, through measures like legislation, moving power stations away from big cities and providing cheap alternatives to indoor wood and coal stoves.

    He said people could also reduce their individual exposure to choking fumes by avoiding traveling at rush hour or by taking smaller roads. Despite the increasing use of face masks in heavily polluted cities such as Beijing and Tokyo, Kelly said there was little evidence that they work.

    "The real problem is that wearing masks sends out the message we can live with polluted air," he said. "We need to change our way of life entirely to reduce pollution."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Choking Smog Engulfs China Skylines

     

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    Tuesday, March 25, 2014
    This March 23, 2014 photo, made available by the Washington State Dept of Transportation shows a view of the damage from Saturday's mudslide near Oso, Wash. At least eight people were killed in the 1-square-mile slide that hit in a rural area about 55 miles northeast of Seattle on Saturday. Several people also were critically injured, and about 30 homes were destroyed. (AP Photo/Washington State Dept of Transportation)
    This March 23, 2014, photo, made available by the Washington State Dept of Transportation shows a view of the damage from Saturday's mudslide near Oso, Wash. (AP Photo/Washington State Dept of Transportation)

    OSO, Washington (AP) - The scale of a massive mudslide's devastation in a rural village north of Seattle is becoming apparent days after a wall of heavy mud heaved houses off their foundations, toppled trees and left a gaping cavity on what had been a tree-covered hillside.

    At least 14 people are confirmed dead, dozens more are thought to be unaccounted for or missing, and about 30 homes are destroyed.

    It had been stormy for weeks, but warm sunshine offered a false sense of peace Saturday morning as weekend visitors settled into their vacation homes and locals slept in. Then came "a giant slump," said David Montgomery, an earth and space sciences professor at the University of Washington, describing the deep-seated slide resulting from long-term, heavy rainfall.

    A scientist who documented the landslide conditions on the hillside that buckled had warned in a 1999 report filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of "the potential for a large catastrophic failure," The Seattle Times reported late Monday.

    That report was written by geomorphologist Daniel J. Miller and his wife, Lynne Rodgers Miller, The Times said. "We've known it would happen at some point," Daniel Miller told the newspaper.

    Snohomish County Executive John Lovick and Public Works Director Steve Thomsen said Monday night they were not aware of the 1999 report. "A slide of this magnitude is very difficult to predict," Thomsen told The Times. "There was no indication, no indication at all."

    Within hours of the mudslide, emergency crews were searching for life in a post-apocalyptic scene, dodging chunks of splintered birch trunks, half-buried pickup trucks and growing pools of water from the now-blocked Stillaguamish River.

    Ed Hrivnak, who was co-piloting an aircraft that was first to arrive at the scene, said a lot of the houses weren't buried. When they got hit, "the houses exploded." He said cars were crushed into little pieces, their tires the only signs that they had been vehicles.

    He said he saw people so thoroughly covered in mud that searchers could only spot them by the whites of their waving palms. His helicopter rescued eight people, including a 4-year-old boy, who was up to his knees in concrete-like compressed mud.

    The mud was so sticky, the rescuers were worried about getting stuck so the helicopter hovered about a foot away and the crew chief tried to pull him out. "He was suctioned in that mud so much that his pants came off," Hrivnak said.

    The boy was taken to a hospital and was reunited with his mom. Hrivnak said the boy's father and three siblings are missing.

    Rescuers racing in fire trucks and ambulances screeched to a stop at the edge of the wasteland. Somewhere, someone was crying for help. When a team of firefighters waded chest-deep into the mud, they had to be rescued themselves, and the ground search was suspended overnight Saturday, with the death toll at three.

    On Sunday, after geologists deemed the area stable enough to re-enter, another five bodies were found. By Monday, when another six corpses were located, exhaustion and despair were overtaking the early adrenaline and alarm.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    Tuesday, March 25, 2014
    spring snowdrop flowers with...
    (Shutterstock)

    March continues to be much colder than average for Americans living in the path of the wiggly polar vortex. Record low temperatures were set overnight across the northern Great Plains and the North Atlantic regions, and the spring sun won't bring much warmth today, forecasters predict.

    Expect high temperatures for March 24 to hit well below seasonal averages, with near-record cold expected in Maine and Massachusetts, the National Weather Service (NWS) said. Today's record low maximum of 26 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 3 degrees Celsius) for Boston was set in 1888. [Photos: The 8 Coldest Places on Earth]

    Here are some of the overnight record lows from around the country:

    • Lewisburg, Maine: 14 degrees F (minus 10 degrees C)
    • Portland, Maine: 11 degrees F (minus 11 degrees C)
    • Bridgeport, Conn.: 20 degrees F (minus 6 degrees C)
    • Islip, N.Y.: 20 degrees F (minus 6 degrees C)
    • Binghamton, N.Y.: 10 degrees F (minus 12 degrees C)
    • Lewisburg, W.Va.: 14 degrees F (minus 10 degrees C)
    • International Falls, Minn.: minus 26 degrees F (minus 32 degrees C)

    The frigid air is the latest Arctic blast to move across the region from Canada, and it owes its southerly extent to fast-moving fingers of wind within the jet stream. Two of these "jet streaks" are positioned above the East Coast, creating a low-pressure zone between them that draws in cold air from the north. As this low-pressure system moves offshore tomorrow, a powerful storm is expected to develop Tuesday night offshore the Mid-Atlantic coast, which will bring snow to much of the region, the NWS forecasts.


    High temperature forecast for the United States on March 24, 2014. (Credit: NWS)

    Yet even as temperatures plunged across the East, the South and the West were breaking heat records. On Sunday (March 23), Fort Lauderdale, Fla., tied a record high temperature set in 1839, hitting 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). The mercury also busted 80 degrees F in Miami on Sunday, tying the old record set in 2005. More than 4,000 miles (6,400 km) to the north, Cold Bay, Alaska, continued the northern state's unusual warm streak, with a new overnight high of 38 degrees F (3 degrees C). And San Diego, Calif., set a new record minimum temperature of 61 degrees F (16 degrees C) Sunday.

    The big span in temperatures between East and West reflects that the East Coast's big chill is mostly a regional event. For example, the months from December 2013 to February 2014 were the eighth warmest on record for the planet, the U.S. National Climatic Data Center said in a report released March 19. The last time the Earth had a record cold month was in December 1916.

    Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

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

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

     

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    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

    This stunning image of a lightning strike over Kuwait was captured last December by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and released on March 24 by NASA's Earth Observatory. The ISS recently installed a new instrument to help study the physics and composition of such bolts in detail on a daily basis.

    Lightning bolts flash across Earth's atmosphere as often as 50 times per second, which adds up to about 4.3 million times a day and 1.5 billion times a year, NASA officials wrote in an image description. Some of those strikes emit gamma radiation -- a type of radiation more commonly associated with exploding stars and nuclear fusion -- in bursts known as terrestrial gamma-ray flashes (TGFs). The scientists will use the new lightning imagery and data from the ISS to try to understand what triggers lightning during storms in general, and what causes these rarer bursts of TGFs. [Electric Earth: Stunning Images of Lightning]

    "The fact that TGFs exist at all is amazing," Doug Rowland, a space physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center involved in this new lighting research, said in a statement. "The electron and gamma-ray energies in TGFs are usually the domain of nuclear explosions, solar flares, and supernovas. What a surprise to find them shooting out of the cold upper atmosphere of our own planet."

    Researchers think these TGFs may be related to enigmatic red bursts of lightning called red sprites, which travel upward from thunderstorms and can take on ornate shapes that look like jellyfish. Red sprites are just one of several types of lightning that researchers are still working to understand the origin of. In fact, lightning, in general, is a mysterious phenomenon, with scientists still not sure exactly how lightning forms, though the working hypothesis suggests it forms when an updraft of warm air reaches a height where the temperature is just above freezing; at this point, ice crystals and frozen particles interact with each other to produce an electric charge separation; when that separation becomes great enough an electrical breakdown occurs -- a lightning flash.

    Follow Laura Poppick on Twitter. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

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

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Real Photos That Look Like Scenes from the Apocalypse
    Apocalypse

     

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    In this photo provided by Christopher Laski, a large apartment complex under construction is consumed by fire, sending black smoke billowing into the sky and drawing hundreds of emergency personnel, Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/ Christopher Laski)

    Windy conditions helped spread a fire Tuesday that destroyed an apartment complex under construction in Houston, fire officials said.

    The fire was reported about 12:30 p.m. CST, northwest of downtown Houston, and quickly escalated to a five-alarm response by the Houston Fire Department.

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    One person was rescued from the scene but was not injured, the fire department said in a news release. All the construction workers were accounted for.

    At the time of the fire, winds were out of the northeast between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts up to 23 mph, AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.

    The cause of the fire was under investigation, officials said.

    Weather shouldn't play a factor in the investigation and cleanup, Kottlowski said.

    "It will be clear tonight and the winds will drop," he said. "Humidity will increase tonight and tomorrow."

    More than 80 units have been dispatched to the scene with more than 200 personnel. At least 14 ladder companies, 26 engine companies and 5 EMS transport units were responded.

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    Wednesday, March 26, 2014
    Polar Vortex Weather System Brings Artic Temperatures Across Wide Swath Of U.S.
    (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

    As a storm develops into a powerful blizzard along the New England coast, frigid air will pour in across the Midwest, South and mid-Atlantic into Wednesday.

    The cold air will make for yet another painful morning in many communities.

    The unusually cold air for late March will challenge record low temperatures Wednesday morning from Detroit to Cleveland; Cincinnati; Pittsburgh; London, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; Charlotte and Columbia, S.C.; Charlottesville; Va.; Beckley, W.Va.; and Harrisburg, Pa.

    Freezing temperatures will dip into the Deep South Wednesday morning to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and northern Florida. The cold could damage some tender plants and blossoms.

    As a major blizzard focuses over Atlantic Canada on Wednesday, the circulation around the storm will create gusty winds and low AccuWeather RealFeel(R) temperatures along the coast from North Carolina to Maine.

    Motorists and pedestrians are urged to use caution in areas that received rain, wet snow or a wintry mix from Tuesday. Plunging temperatures can cause some surfaces to turn icy Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

    Winds can top 40 mph from the mid-Atlantic to New England coast for a time.

    In some cases the combination of wind, temperatures and other atmospheric conditions will make if feel 20 degrees lower than the actual temperature. In some cases, this will translate to RealFeel Temperatures in the single digits, teens and 20s.

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    Spring Blizzard to Graze Eastern New England, Slam Canada

    Little wind is in store on Wednesday for most areas from the central Appalachians to the Midwest.

    While the March sunshine will allow temperatures to recover a bit during the midday and afternoon hours on Wednesday in the Midwest, Northeast and South, actual temperatures will still average 10-20 degrees below normal.

    Temperatures will take another dip Wednesday night.

    A more substantial temperature rebound is forecast for Thursday into Friday, when temperatures are predicted to reach or exceed normal levels for late March. However, some showers are in the offing.

    Record Lows to be Challenged Wednesday Morning

    Location
    Record Low F/Year Set
    Detroit
    11/2001
    Cleveland
    14/2001
    Cincinnati
    13/1955
    Pittsburgh
    13/2001
    Beckley, W.Va.
    10/1955
    London, Ky.
    15/1955
    Macon, Ga.
    28/2006
    Nashville, Tenn.
    17/1955
    Birmingham, Ala.
    22/1955
    Charlotte, N.C.
    22/1972
    Raleigh, N.C.
    24/1955
    Harrisburg, Pa.
    22/1955
    Columbia, S.C.
    25/1983


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

     

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    Wednesday, March 26, 2014
    As Brutally Cold Winter Drags On, 80 Percent Of Lake Michigan Frozen
    Snow and ice covers Lake Michigan on February 18, 2014 near Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    As waves of cold air continue to push southward from the Canadian Prairies, episodes of snow will persist around the Great Lakes region into the weekend.

    A storm forecast to bring a warmup with showers and thunderstorms to the Mississippi and Ohio valleys on Thursday into Friday will spread a swath of snow from parts of the Dakotas to northern Minnesota and Wisconsin and part of the Upper Michigan Peninsula.

    While a broad area of heavy snow is not expected, a few inches of snow can fall on a narrow zone in this area. Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., is one of a few locations that can receive enough snow to shovel and plow.

    Most areas within this swath will have little to no accumulation from wet snow or a rain/snow mix.

    However, just enough can fall on a cold ground to create slippery travel in Minneapolis, Green Bay, Wis., and Fargo, N.D.

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    Looking forward a few days to Saturday, it appears as though another storm system can bring snow, this time to areas in the Ohio Valley.

    Flakes could fly in places like Toledo, Ohio, where one of the coldest winters in 20 years has already set the record as the snowiest winter ever, with records that date back to the 1800s.

    With no more than a couple of inches of snow possible across the region, this is not likely to be a big storm either, but in a winter that many just want to be over with, signs of spring remain few and far between.


    RELATED ON SKYE: The Arctic Fox and More Amazing Cold Weather Creatures

     

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    Wednesday, March 26, 2014
    Polar Vortex Weather System Brings Artic Temperatures Across Wide Swath Of U.S.
    Ice floes fill the Hudson River as the New Jersey waterfront is seen during sunset on January 9, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Afton Almaraz/Getty Images)

    Despite the arrival of spring, the icy grip of winter still retains a stranglehold on much of the Midwest and Northeast. The 2013-14 winter season is one of the coldest winters in 20 years, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek.

    "It's probably the coldest the Northeast has seen since 1993-94," he said in early March.

    With snowfalls approaching annual all-time record highs in many of the major metropolitan areas across the country, the winter season has shattered expense records in the North.

    According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston, the reason behind the record-breaking winter is due to a blocking high pressure ridge over Alaska, the Yukon and the Northeastern Pacific Ocean.

    "That system deflected the jet stream across the North Pole, down through Canada and into the United States," he said, citing unseasonably low temperatures as a result of this burst of arctic air.

    The cool air from the North meets with the jet stream and moisture in the South to create storm systems, and this is the main reason behind this year's heavy snowfall totals, Boston said.

    Toledo, Ohio, experienced their snowiest winter ever, with a record breaking snowfall of 84.8 inches. Weather data for the city has been collected since the late 1800s, according to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Edwards.

    Toledo's average annual snowfall is usually 37.8 inches. The previous record snowfall was recorded in the winter of 1978-79 at 73.1 inches.

    "The high snowfall totals were more due to actual storm systems rather than lake-effect snow," he said, adding that Erie, Pa., received 130.7 inches of snow compared to the annual 95 inches and that a total of 122 inches fell in Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It's impressive," he said. "Everybody is way above normal."

    This year, Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, were both hit with more than a 220 percent of their average annual snowfall. Cincinnati has received 47.1 inches, making it the fourth-snowiest winter on record for the city.

    With about a 230 percent of the average annual snowfall, Detroit was slammed with 90.7 inches of snow, and Chicago got 80 inches this season, making it the third-snowiest winter on record for both cities.

    "Below-average February temperatures were observed across much of the northern and central contiguous U.S., with the largest departures from normal across the Midwest," according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    In addition to the snowstorms walloping the Midwest, cities in the Northeast have also approached all-time highs in snowfall totals as well as experienced record-breaking cold spells.

    According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, February 2014 ranks 37th for coldest February on record nationwide.

    Philadelphia experienced a 314 percent of their average annual snowfall, with a total of 67.6 inches of snow, making it the third-snowiest winter on record, while Norfolk, Va., and Washington, D.C., were hit with more than double their annual average in snow this year.

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    "Looking at preliminary data, the Northeast was cooler than normal during February," according to NOAA's website. "Western areas of New York and Pennsylvania were the coldest, with departures as low as minus 10 degrees."

    The lingering cold has also set the stage for late-winter storms carrying into early spring.

    On March 20, Washington, D.C., was hit with the largest March snowstorm since 1999.

    The storm dropped 7.2 inches of snow, making it the third-largest snowfall on record for late-March. The only competitors include the March 28 to 29 snowstorm in 1942 which dropped 11.2 inches on the city and on March 27 to 28 in 1891 where snowfall totaled one foot.

    "This weather pattern is very stubborn about breaking," Boston said. "That is why many parts of the northern and eastern U.S. are having this slow ending to winter."


    RELATED ON SKYE: The 10 Snowiest Places on Earth

     

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    Wednesday, March 26, 2014
    Wintry Weather
    Early morning commuters walk through snow flurries in Washington, Tuesday, March 25, 2014. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

    CHATHAM, Mass. (AP) - An early spring storm with heavy snow and bruising winds is expected to wallop portions of Massachusetts and eastern Maine as it moved up the Atlantic coast.

    Just days after the official end of one of the snowiest winters on record, the storm began heading up the Interstate 95 corridor on Tuesday, dropping snowflakes onto Washington, D.C.'s budding cherry trees and dusting government buildings in northern Virginia. It blanketed parts of southern New Jersey, dropping 6½ inches of snow in Cape May, 5½ inches in Middle Township and 4 inches at Atlantic City International Airport.

    The biggest impact was expected Wednesday when 5 to 10 inches of snow was forecast for Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. On Maine's eastern tip, Hancock and Washington counties could get 8 to 16 inches of snow. Gov. Paul LePage ordered state offices in both counties closed Wednesday as flurries started falling early in the morning.

    Blizzard warnings were in effect in both states. The National Weather Service also warned of coastal flooding and significant beach erosion along the Massachusetts coast and wind gusts causing scattered power outages in eastern Maine.

    Taunton, Mass-based meteorologist Matt Doody was unfazed by the prospect of more snow during a seemingly relentless season. "Here in New England, we're generally used to dealing with weather like this," he said early Wednesday.

    Although spring began a week ago, it's not unusual to have storms so late in the year, said weather service spokesman Bill Simpson. The Boston area got more than 2 inches of snow in an April storm last year and was blanketed with almost 2 feet the same month in 1997.

    "I can't wait for it to warm up," said 20-year-old Dajuan Davis, of Boston, a massage school student bundled up in a heavy jacket. "I'm from North Carolina. I'm not used to this cold weather."

    Where the snow falls and how much will depend on the storm's track. But wind and temperatures of 20 to 25 degrees below normal were expected to cover the Mid-Atlantic states and New England as the storm traveled from southern Virginia to Maine.

    Coastal Rhode Island, Connecticut and eastern Long Island in New York are expected to get 2 to 5 inches, while New York City is expected to get less than an inch. Portions of New Jersey and Pennsylvania could get 2 to 4 inches of snow.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The 10 Snowiest Places on Earth

     

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    Wednesday, March 26, 2014

    Frozen oranges are shown with misters running to avoid as much damage as possible during a cold snap Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 in Traver, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)

    Despite the official start of spring, lingering effects of the winter season will cause planting delays this year.

    While the South will be right on schedule weather-wise for prime planting with looming frost concerns, delays will become more and more likely with every mile heading north.

    Frozen Ground, Soil to Create Delays

    Coming off a frigid, snow-filled winter for areas from the Great Lakes to the Ohio Valley and Northeast, spring will shape up to be mostly cool and wet.

    "Damp soil leftover from winter, melting snow and lagging temperatures mean a lot of places are going to have a slow planting period across the Midwest, northern Plains and the Great Lakes," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dale Mohler said.

    With corn and soybeans being the largest crops in the Midwest and Plains, which are planted typically in April and May, one of the most influential factors in when to plant is soil temperature.

    "Soil temperatures must be warm enough to support whatever crop you are planting," Mohler said. "For corn that's 50 F or above and for soybeans it's 54 F or above."

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    After this year's harsh winter with record-breaking cold and snow, meteorologists are concerned that because the ground is still frozen in the Ohio Valley and Upper Midwest, it will take longer for the frost to thaw out of the ground and as a result, keep soil temperatures lower longer.

    In these areas, the ground is not expected to heat up quickly, as wetness in the early spring and summer is expected across the regions.

    Melting Snow, Severe Weather May Generate Floods

    With 92.19 percent of the Great Lakes covered in ice as of March 6, 2014, the water temperatures in the Great Lakes will need time to recover from the historic ice coverage.

    "The influence will be in the areas on the east and south sides of the Lakes," AccuWeather.com Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said. "Temperatures may not be quite as warm in the next couple of months going forward."

    Along with the ice melt, snow melt along the Great Lakes and in the Upper Midwest can keep soil too moist and cool for planting even if normal temperatures are recorded in the region.

    "The soil can't be too moist," Mohler said. "If it is the seeds might rot and it's difficult for machinery to be in the field; it can get stuck."

    As a cool and wet start is in the forecast for the Northeast, any above-normal precipitation combined with frost and snow melt may produce some flash flooding events.

    Unlike 2013, this year's biggest threats of heavy rain and flooding have shifted into the Midwest and the Mississippi Valley with wet periods in the forecast for both regions.

    Frozen oranges are shown with misters running to avoid as much damage as possible during a cold snap that is affecting the San Joaquin Valley citrus crop Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 in Traver, Calif. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)

    While the impacts of this year's winter will linger, severe weather season is now upon us which could potentially give farmers another hurdle to jump over.

    With high pressure expected off the coast of New England in May, southeastern and eastern Florida could experience an increase in rainfall.

    Any type of early tropical wave development could lead to some flooding, according to Pastelok.

    Mounting Drought Concerns

    With the wet season ending, this spring will be the second in a row with a severe drought for the areas from western Texas through central California, the extreme dryness will take a toll on the planting season.

    "In late April to May, temperatures between 90F and 100F will be seen in the Sacramento Valley," Pastelok said.

    Due to the severity of the drought, especially in California, water restrictions may be placed on farmers. To date there are no mandatory water restrictions on farmers.

    As April is an essential month for wine growers with their grape vines awakening from their dormant stage, growers have immense water needs during this time period. With water restrictions in place, many could experience a significantly reduced crop this season due to the lack of available water resources alongside of the parched ground.

    "The soil moisture will not be very deep so it will get used up fast," Mohler said. "They (growers) are going to have problems into the summer because there is too little moisture to last through the hot summer months."

    Aside from the impacts on the wine industry, other crops such as vegetables and oranges will likely feel the effects of the drought as well in regards to their taste and relative size.

    As the leading state for the production of almonds, artichokes, grapes, kiwi, olives, peaches, pomegranates, rice and walnuts, the result of the drought in California may also impact every stateacross the U.S., as prices for produce rise.

    Weather Pattern May Favor Late Frost

    While nothing out of the ordinary is predicted for the Northeast with typical cold shots and freezes in store for the region, the recent weather pattern does have meteorologists worried about late frosts in the lower Ohio and northern Tennessee valleys.

    "It seems like the weather pattern has been one that favors some cold air masses coming into the central U.S.," Mohler said.

    Two weeks beyond the normal freeze time, late April is the time period for the biggest frost concerns. As a result, timing the planting of corn and soybeans will be essential for the survival of the crops and the success of the harvest.

     

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    Wednesday, March 26, 2014
    I-81 Pileup, Whitout
    People mill about after two multi-vehicle accidents along Interstate 81 Wednesday morning, March 26, 2014, near Falling Waters, W.Va. (AP Photo/The Journal, Edward Marshall)

    FALLING WATERS, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia State Police say whiteout conditions along Interstate 81 led to two pileups that killed two, injured at least seven and involved 44 cars.

    First Sgt. C.K. Zerkle says the crashes, one northbound and one southbound, occurred around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday in heavy snow and winds.

    The seven injured in the southbound wreck were flown by helicopters to area hospitals.

    He didn't know how many vehicles were involved in each crash.

    The northbound lanes remain closed Wednesday, but the south lanes were again open.

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