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    Wednesday, March 25, 2014
    Massive Spring Snowstorm Off Coast Of Northeast Brings Snow To Cape

    With icy temperatures and blizzards continuing to bear down on parts of the country after a record-breaking winter of ice, snow and cold, exasperated residents across the Plains, Midwest and East are becoming desperate for signs of spring weather.

    While different types of weather may appeal to different types of people, varying efforts to curb the effects of winter have been attempted or implemented over the years by the snow-weary.

    Here are five extreme ways people have attempted to control or adapt to winter weather over the years.


    A New Hampshire resident shovels snow on the first day of spring in 2014. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    Petitions

    Annoyed by things such as shoveling sidewalks, bundling up against the cold and "forgetting what grass looks like," people across snowy states have created facetious petitions on whitehouse.gov and change.org demanding that winter cease and desist until next year.

    One man, Adam Whitaker, created a website called StopTheSnow.org featuring a petition to end winter with more than 3,000 signatures.

    Though multiple petitions have gathered hundreds of signatures, none have reached a volume that would force any sort of "official" response. However, most are vaguely worded simply to tell winter to get out, rather than requesting any sort of serious action be taken. Unless you believe, as a StopTheSnow commenter named Darrell stated, "Some of you are laughing about this. But if we make enough hot air about this then maybe it will be too warm to snow!"

    RELATED
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    US Interactive Radar

    Building a Dome

    By some accounts, this plan may have started as a joke, but in the 1970s, the town of Winooski, Vt., was in talks to build a dome over part of the city to conserve energy.

    The area receives an average of 81.4 inches of snow each year, and the typical highs for a winter season range from 33F in December to 40F in March. With average February lows plunging to 12F and January typically seeing 10F or lower, the town was looking for solutions in a decade marked by energy crisis.

    The idea was that a square-mile dome could potential save up to 90 percent of energy usage. Plans for the dome garnered a good deal of attention in the media and political offices around the world. Critics opposed the precedent it would set, or the practicality of having a large dome covering a section of a town. Plans for the dome were eventually submitted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development for funding support, but the request was ultimately turned down.

    Reflecting the Sun with Mirrors

    In far-northern locations such as Alaska and Scandinavia, the decreased daylight hours of winter are exceptionally limited. The town of Rjukan, Norway, seeking a solution to their nearly six months of winter shadow, placed mirrors atop the nearby mountains to reflect sunshine down into their village.


    Mirrors atop the mountains around Rjukan. (Flickr/Bilfinger)

    Because of Rjukan's location in the valley, the sun was unable to reach the residents in the winter. When they craved sunlight, they would go to the mountain tops to stand in the light. With the 17-square foot mirrors in place, people are able to stand in areas of light without making the mountaintop trek.

    On April 5, Rjukan will celebrate the return of sunshine falling naturally into the town with their annual SolFest.

    Geoengineering

    In 2009, government officials in Russia attempted to use the controversial process of cloud seeding to prevent significant snowfalls from occurring in Moscow. The plan, which would cost about $6 million, was to spray chemicals in the air from November to March to prevent clouds from dumping large amounts of snow over the city, pushing it to surrounding neighborhoods instead.

    It's a process that has been used in Russia to create favorable weather conditions for state holidays. The season-long attempt to prevent major snowfalls in the country's capitol did not come to fruition, but cloud seeding to stave off precipitation for specific events has taken place since.

    Dual Residency

    Though the practice of living in a snow-prone climate for summer months and a warmer climate for winter months is common across multiple continents, the process of dual residency can be expensive and complicated.

    "Snow birds," as they are often called, may rent one or both of their residences, but many will own property in different locations to get their favored type of weather year round. The steps it takes, however, to enjoy the cooler summers of Maine and the warmer winters of Florida, can complicate a person's taxes, delivery of mail or running of utilities.

    MarketWatch warns that hidden costs, such as different costs of living, home maintenance and travel, can add up. Some winter vacationers aim to rent out their homes in their off months, but for many that source of extra income is not always a guarantee each year. With double the property taxes, double the homeowner's insurance and double the furnishings, the cost of avoiding icy winters may add to more than expected.


    Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Samantha-Rae Tuthill at SamanthaRae.Tuthill@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Sam or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

     

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    Wednesday, March 26, 2014
    Firefighters fight a multi-alarm fire at a four-story brownstone in the Back Bay neighborhood near the Charles River, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)

    High winds ranging between 35 and 45 mph pushed through the city of Boston late this afternoon as a structure fire raged along Beacon Street in the Back Bay.

    Two firefighters have died after a fire broke out in a four-story building located at 298 Beacon St., according to the Boston Globe.

    More than a dozen others have been reported to have sustained injuries during the blaze and were taken to the hospital, the Boston Globe article reported.

    "At least three firefighters have been injured, one seriously," according to the Associated Press."Fire department spokesman Steve MacDonald says a roll call is being done to make sure all firefighters are accounted for."

    AccuWeather Senior Meteorlogist Alex Sosnowski said that there were high winds ranging from 35 to 45 mph at the time of the nine-alarm blaze in the brownstone structure and that strong winds would remain into Wednesday night.

    "Temperatures are above freezing right now, but they will sink below freezing later tonight," he said, adding that freezing water and low temperatures could impact the fire department's efforts.

    According to the Boston Globe, smoke is thick through the area, with heavy plumes of smoke filling the Back Bay.

    Firefighters and emergency medical personnel rush a firefighter from the scene of a multi-alarm fire at a four-story brownstone in the Back Bay neighborhood near the Charles River, Wednesday, March 26, 2014, in Boston. (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)


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    Wednesday, March 25, 2014
    Massive Spring Snowstorm Off Coast Of Northeast Brings Snow To Cape
    A snow plow piles snow along Main Street during a snowstorm March 26, 2014, in Hyannis, Massachusetts. (Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

    CHATHAM, Mass. (AP) - An Atlantic storm whipped the Northeast corridor with powerful wind gusts Wednesday while creating blizzard conditions in parts of Massachusetts and Maine. In West Virginia, two people were killed in a traffic pileup blamed on poor visibility caused by snow.

    The storm dumped up to 10 inches on Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard before pummeling eastern Maine with wind-whipped snow and gusts reaching 60 mph.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Spring Snowstorm Lashes the Northeast

    "We're having a good ol' blizzard. There's a lot of snow. It's hard to tell how much because it's blowing sideways outside," said Suzannah Gale, owner of the Homeport Inn in Lubec, Maine, which is known for its candy-striped lighthouse at the nation's eastern tip.

    Up and down the coast, the wind caused havoc.

    Nantucket, off the coast of Massachusetts, saw winds gusting to 80 mph. Off the Maine coast, a weather buoy recorded a 107 mph gust, but weather forecasters questioned the accuracy of the reading. There were scattered power outages across the region.

    The combination of wind and snow created whiteout conditions that were blamed on a pair of pileups involving 40 vehicles Wednesday on Interstate 81 around Falling Waters, W.Va. Two people were killed and seven were injured, state police said.

    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.

    As the storm moved north, it dropped about 6 inches of snow in southern Delaware's Sussex County and blanketed parts of southern New Jersey, where 6 1/2 inches of snow was reported in Cape May. Eastern Maine was expected to get 6 to 10 inches of snow.

    In Boston, the powerful wind sent smoke billowing through the Back Bay neighborhood Wednesday as firefighters battled a large brownstone fire that killed two of them, injured several others and snarled traffic.

    Offshore, hurricane-force winds were reported, but the region's fishing fleet and commercial vessels already had scattered to safe harbors.

    The bitter chill served as a bitter pill for people gearing up for warmer weather.

    "It's ridiculous - utterly ridiculous," said Mark Krause, manager of Sagamore Beach Ace Hardware, where snow shovels recently were put away to make room for lawn fertilizer. "It's supposed to be 50. Everyone's supposed to be out working in their yards. I don't get it."

    March is supposed to go out like a lamb, "but this is not a lamb," said George Hermanspan, who was fueling school buses in the neighboring village of Cedarville. "It shouldn't be happening. But Mother Nature does what she wants, and there's nothing much we can do or say about it."

    Although spring began a week ago, it's not unusual to have storms so late in the year, weather service meteorologist Bill Simpson said. 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.

    In Maine, snowfall in late March is even more common: "You don't put the shovel away until at least May. You never know," Gale said in Lubec.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Spring Snowstorm Lashes the Northeast

     

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    Thursday, March 27, 2014
    eastern plains of the rocky...
    (Shutterstock)

    Strong to locally severe thunderstorms will stretch from portions of Illinois, Missouri and Kansas to parts of Louisiana and Texas on Thursday.

    The greatest risk from the storms will be heavy rain and wind gusts to 60 mph. The most likely time for violent weather in the region is during the afternoon and evening hours on Thursday.

    Wind from the storms can be strong enough at the local level to down trees and power lines, while downpours can blind motorists and cause flash flooding. A few of the storms can also bring large hail. While a major outbreak of severe weather is not expected, a small number of the storms with this event could produce a tornado.

    At the very least, downpours from the storms will slow travel for a time along the I-20, I-30, I-40 and I-70 corridors.

    Cities that have the potential for disruptions and severe weather on Thursday include Quincy, Ill.; St. Louis and Joplin, Mo.; Little Rock and Fort Smith, Ark.; Pittsburg, Kan.; Shreveport, La.; and Longview, Texas.

    RELATED:
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    There is a chance the storms ignite a bit farther west and impact the Dallas, Kansas City, Mo., and Tulsa, Okla., metro areas. A few strong storms may also fire farther south near Lake Charles, La., and Houston.

    Rain showers may precede and occur in lieu of the thunderstorm threat on Thursday. Ahead of the showers and thunderstorms, gusty winds will raise the brush fire potential over parts of the central and southern Plains into Wednesday night.

    Strong to locally severe thunderstorms may extend farther east on Friday, perhaps reaching portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

    The severe weather season has gotten off to a sluggish start this year, due to the prevalence of cold air in the Central and Eastern states. The number of tornadoes so far this year is well below the 2005-13 average. Preliminary tornado reports for the year were less than 50 as of March 25, 2014, compared to a 10-year average-to-date of approximately 150 tornadoes. However, even in a year with a low count of tornado incidents there is the potential for widespread damage in some communities and a few major outbreaks.

    A storm system is forecast to track to the east over the central Plains. Warm, moist air is forecast to surge over this region on southerly winds ahead of a push of dry, cooler air.

    Thunderstorms often fire up where the air changes characteristics from dry and cool to warm and moist and vice versa. Extra fuel for the storms can be added when there is a strong flow of warm, moist air near the surface as well as a strong flow of dry, cool air overhead.


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    Thursday, March 27, 2014


    There are indications that an El Niño is on the way for the middle and latter parts of 2014. The phenomenon may impact the weather in portions of the United States, starting this summer.

    Fluctuations in the sea surface temperature over the tropical Pacific Ocean have been observed and recorded for approximately the past 60 years. These fluctuations are known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation or ENSO. When the waters are cooler than average for a several-month period, the event is called La Niña. Opposingly, when the waters are warmer than average over several months, the event is called El Niño.

    According to AccuWeather long-range forecaster Mark Paquette, "We are confident that an El Niño is in the early stages of developing and may reach moderate strength moving forward into mid- to late summer of 2014."

    While El Niño will not have an impact on this spring and summer's severe weather, it may come on early enough and strong enough to have impact on the upcoming hurricane season in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific.

    Disruptive winds, known as wind shear, often develop off the Atlantic coast of the United States and sweep over a large part of the basin during El Niño.

    "It is possible that a budding El Niño and developing wind shear may truncate the number of hurricanes originating from near the west coast of Africa during the middle and latter part of the season," Paquette said.

    RELATED:
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    El Niño is generally not a major player in determining the number and strength of storms that originate over the Gulf of Mexico and much of the Caribbean.

    While the number of storms tends to be lower in the Atlantic during an El Niño, it is not uncommon for the Eastern Pacific to have a very active hurricane season.

    An El Niño may also enhance the summer monsoon over the Four Corners region of the Southwest as tropical moisture funnels in from the Eastern Pacific. Whether monsoon moisture is enhanced over drought-stricken California is less certain at this time, Paquette said.

    However, there is some hope for rain later in the year that could impact the California drought, which has been weighing heavily on ranchers.

    The greatest effects on the weather pattern in the Lower 48 states, including California, occur during the cold season.



    "As far as impact on next winter, it is too early in the game to make a call one way or another, but some El Niño patterns in the past [1997-98] have produced significant storms in California," Paquette said.

    El Niño winters are noted for wet and stormy conditions in the South and less-frequent, less-severe cold episodes in the Northern states.

    The pattern has been known to bring outbreaks of severe weather in the South during the winter.

    There is a tendency toward dry conditions in the Northwest and North Central states during an El Niño winter.



    The strength of an El Niño can also have significant outcome of the weather pattern.

    A strong El Niño can shift the winter storm track off the coast of the Northeast. A weak to moderate El Niño can allow the storm track to be near the coast.

    Long-range weather forecasts are challenging, as many variables have to come together. Forecasts for the long range are typically described in overall departures from normal over a seasonal period rather than in daily extremes: wetter or drier than average and colder or warmer than average for a several-week to a several-month period.

    AccuWeather will be releasing its summer 2014 outlook in late April along with a preliminary peek at the upcoming hurricane season.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 30 Stunning Photos Revealing the Power of Hurricanes

     

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    Thursday, March 27, 2014

    U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder works in Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior, March 21, 2013. (Photo/NOAA)

    Unusually extensive ice cover on the Great Lakes has caused some delays in getting U.S./Canadian shipping lanes open for the spring, but the same cover has aided tourism in other areas of the five lakes.

    The United States Coast Guard will be working with the Canadian Coast Guard with ice-breaking operations on Lake Superior, the Canadian Coast Guard said in a news release.

    There has been an increased demand for ice-breaking assistance during the winter of 2013-14, the Canadian Coast Guard said. The conditions this winter haven't been seen in eastern Canada since 1994; that year, the St. Lawrence Seaway wasn't open for traffic until April 5.

    Due to unusually heavy ice conditions, the opening date for the 2014 navigation season for the

    Montreal/Lake Ontario Section has been pushed back to March 31, 2014, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. said.

    Overall, the ice cover on the five lakes was up to 92 percent ice coverage in early March, the greatest ice cover there since 1979.

    But at the same time, the increased ice cover could translate into slightly higher water levels on the lakes to not only aid shipping, but also help fishing, AccuWeather.com Canadian weather expert Brett Anderson said.

    Low Great Lakes water levels can limit navigability of shipping channels and reduce hydropower capacity such as at Niagara Falls, which is the largest electricity producer in New York state. It can also impede tourism and recreational activities, and increase operational risks for industries that rely on the lakes as a source of processing and cooling water, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

    "The greater ice coverage may slightly increase water levels by reducing the amount of evaporation. Also, the higher-than-normal snowpack across the region would likely increase runoff that eventually spills into the lakes," Anderson said.

    While the Great Lakes ice may increase water levels, it also boosted tourism on the Great Lakes by making previously inaccessible areas open to the public.

    The Apostle Islands ice caves at Bayfield, Wis., attracted huge crowds this past season due to the increased ice cover.

    More than 138,000 people visited during the ice season, according to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. It was 93 percent of last year's annual visitation for the whole park and 81 percent of the average annual visitation since 2000.


    More than 138,000 visitors made the two-mile round trip walk on Lake Superior to visit to Apostle Islands ice caves, in Bayfield, Wis., during the winter of 2013-14, according to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. (Photo/Neil Howk, National Park Service)

    The increased visitation brought with it an estimated $10 million to $12 million boast to the Bayfield area economy, Bayfield Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau Executive Director David Eades said.

    "This has been an amazing boon to the regional economy and although we would love this to continue for another month, the safety of the visitor always comes first," Eades stated. "Although the sea caves will not be accessible again until summer, the area still has plenty of snow for all the other winter activities in the area."

    Overall, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore brings a $24 million tourism benefit to communities surrounding the park, according to a newly released National Park Service report. The visitor spending supported 330 jobs in the local area.

    It's unclear how long ice cover will linger on the lakes, but it could affect the weather further into the spring.

    "Later ice cover would tend to have a cooling influence in spring near the surface with stronger lake breezes through the spring," Anderson said. "It would also have a stabilizing effect on the atmosphere and possibly reduce the threat for strong thunderstorms."

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    Thursday, March 27, 2014
    Rare Tornado Confirmed in California


    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Tornadoes touched down during storms in Northern California, including one twister near Sacramento that damaged a dozen homes and left a path of debris about 300 yards long.

    Between a dozen to 20 houses suffered roof and fence damage when a tornado hit near Roseville in Placer County shortly after 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, Rob Baquera, a fire department spokesman, said Thursday.

    No injuries were reported and no residents were displaced as two families whose houses had some significant damage were able to remain at home, Baquera said. The path of debris extended more than 100 yards, with a width of 10 to 20 yards as it rolled through the northwest part of town, he said.

    "We're in a bit of recovery mode right now as there were a few people a bit shaken up as they saw the cloud roll over them," Baquera said. "We're fortunate that everybody did the right thing by seeking shelter in place when the tornado struck."

    A tornado also touched down in Ordbend, in Glenn County, the weather service said. There were reports of at least four twisters, which are rare for California.

    "The tornadoes which do occur are created by systems coming off the Pacific and are generally much weaker than those experienced by the Plains, as was the case here," Michael Palmer, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel, told KNTV.

    Northern and Central California were drenched and wind-whipped by wild weather that brought thunderstorms and hail.

    Heavy rain hit morning commuters in San Francisco but by the end of Wednesday only about a half-inch of the much-needed rain had fallen.

    Other northern and central areas generally saw a quarter- to a half-inch, with an inch recorded in a few places.

    "Finally we're getting some rain," San Francisco resident Mike Vladimer told KGO-TV. "We need it. It's been really dry."

    San Francisco has received less than half of its average rainfall since last summer.

    "So, I know people hate the rain here and I'm very not used to it," Vladimer said. "But at the same time, I've seen how low the water levels are. So hopefully this is getting over the mountains and into the reservoirs."

    The north was in the midst of what forecasters were predicting would be the longest stretch of wet weather yet this year for the state suffering through a drought.

    Showers were likely to continue through the weekend, especially from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning when the Sacramento Valley could get another half-inch to more than an inch of rain. The southern Bay Area could see up to a half-inch of rain, and the northern Bay Area could get as much as 1 to 2 inches, said Holly Osborne, a meteorologist with the weather service in Sacramento.

    The Sierra Nevada could receive 1 to 2 feet of snow above 7,000 feet.

    But the showers might not end with the weekend, Osborne said.

    "We're expecting unsettled weather even into early next week, so be prepared to bring your umbrella and rain boots," she said.

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    A new 360-degree view of the Milky Way allows astronomy buffs to explore the galaxy in a comprehensive new way.

    Scientists with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have created a zoomable mosaic crafted from more than 2 million infrared photos taken during the past 10 years. The 20-gigapixel image represents about 3 percent of the sky, but it encompasses more than half of the galaxy's stars, according to NASA representatives. The new image is also the sharpest infrared panorama of the galaxy ever created, NASA officials said. You can also fly through the mosaic in a narrated video .

    "If we actually printed this out, we'd need a billboard as big as the Rose Bowl Stadium to display it," Robert Hurt, an imaging specialist at NASA's Spitzer Space Science Center in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. "Instead, we've created a digital viewer that anyone, even astronomers, can use." [See more photos of the infrared universe from Spitzer]

    Much of the Milky Way mosaic was created using data from the Galactic Legacy Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire project (called GLIMPSE), and the mosaic image is hosted by Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope visualization platform. You can explore the mosaic via Spitzer Space Telescope website. The platform also provides a second viewer that directs observers to special areas of interest in the large mosaic.

    By analyzing the GLIMPSE data, scientists have found that the Milky Way is actually larger than previously expected, Spitzer officials said. The images beamed down from the space telescope are also helping scientists understand more about star formation and the outer regions of the Milky Way. Spitzer can spot faint stars on the outskirts of the galaxy.

    "There are a whole lot more lower-mass stars seen now with Spitzer on a large scale, allowing for a grand study," Barbara Whitney, co-leader of the GLIMPSE team, said in a statement. "Spitzer is sensitive enough to pick these up and light up the entire 'countryside' with star formation."

    Spitzer, launched to space in 2003, has spent a total of 172 days taking pictures of the disk of the Milky Way, NASA officials said. Spitzer's infrared cameras allow it to cut through dust in the galaxy, bringing objects into sharper focus.

    "Spitzer is helping us determine where the edge of the galaxy lies," Ed Churchwell, co-leader of the GLIMPSE team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a statement. "We are mapping the placement of the spiral arms and tracing the shape of the galaxy."

    Scientists working with the space telescope previously made a 130-degree view of the galaxy, but the new 360-degree mosaic will help direct researchers using NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to find interesting sites of star-formation, Spitzer officials said. The JWST, scheduled for launch in 2018, will be able to make event more detailed infrared observations of the Milky Way.

    To explore the entire 360-degree mosaic of the Milky Way, visit: www.spitzer.caltech.edu/glimpse360

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

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

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    Friday, March 28, 2014
    NY METRO WEATHER
    (AP Photo/Adam Rountree)

    In the wake of record chill in the Eastern states this week, temperatures will recover to seasonable levels into the weekend, but unsettled weather will accompany the warmup.

    Temperatures challenged and set record low levels Wednesday morning in the Midwest and South. During Thursday morning, more than two dozen record low temperatures were tied or broken. Some of the record lows for the date have been on the books for decades. In a few cases, Thursday was the coldest March 27 morning in over 100 years.

    The temperature at Harrisburg, Pa., dropped to 19 degrees and tied the record low for the date set in 1894. Record lows were set around New York City, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and other locations Thursday morning.

    This temperature map was prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    There is some good news for people tired of waiting for the bus or walking to school with temperatures in the single digits, teens and 20s F. More seasonable temperatures are in the offing into the first part of the weekend.

    Typical high temperatures for late March range from near 40 in northern New England to the 50s over much of the mid-Atlantic and the 60s and lower 70s in the South.

    Thursday will be the nicest day of the week in terms of dry weather and sunshine for most of the Appalachians and the Atlantic Seaboard.

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    However, rain was already affecting the Midwest with a wintry mix and snow farther north over Michigan and Wisconsin on Thursday.

    During Friday, the storm system associated with the precipitation in the Midwest will move along to the east.

    Despite the wet weather moving in Friday, most areas in the Appalachians and Atlantic coast will have their highest temperatures of the week, which will be several degrees above normal.

    Rather than the storm system continuing its eastward path and sweeping offshore on Saturday, wet weather may stick around along the Atlantic Seaboard through much of the weekend.

    Cooler air is forecast to begin to slosh southward and eastward over New England and the central Appalachians Saturday. It may cool down enough to allow a wintry mix or a chance to all wet snow over portions of Indiana, Ohio, northern and western Pennsylvania, upstate New York and northern and western New England by Saturday night.

    Warmth will hold on the longest in the South. In portions of the Carolinas and Georgia, the air may be warm and humid enough to bring strong to locally severe thunderstorms on Saturday.

    Chilly weather will settle to the Atlantic coast by Sunday.

    According to AccuWeather.com long-range expert Paul Pastelok, "Temperatures are forecast to be colder than average into the middle of April for much of the Midwest and the East, but overall the air will not be as cold as what has occurred and many have already endured in recent weeks and much of this winter."

    The long-range team expects the cold pattern to break down in part of the Midwest and East later in April.


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    Friday, March 28, 2014
    Hawaii Vog
    Diamond Head crater and Waikiki high rises are barely visible due to high levels of volcanic fog shrouding Oahu, Saturday, April 26, 2008, in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

    Medical officials in Hawaii are seeing an influx of patients complaining of year-round allergies with no relief in sight. Many of the cases share a cause-and-effect relationship with Hawaii's tourism deterrent, volcanic smog, which is also known as "vog" for short.

    "It comes and goes in pulses and it's been this way for the past 10 years when new vents opened up at Kilauea. About eight years ago the summit began to erupt, and the emission of gasses started to increase," Kevin Johnson, Research Professor at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa said.

    Kilauea is located on The Big Island and is one of Hawaii's most active volcanoes in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

    The Governor of Hawaii, Neil Abercrombie, has listed a series of Q&A's under Hawaii's Emergency Information section of the state government website concerning vog. What has recently plagued Hawaii's skies also puts people at risk for certain health conditions. The website contains a list of symptoms that mirror that of seasonal allergies, such as runny nose and difficulty breathing.

    Map showing the Island of Hawai'i with the relative locations of the vents, along with Volcano village, and the towns of Hilo and Kailua-Kona. (Photo/Steven Businger, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa)

    Hawaiians are suffering and the high gas levels even led the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to close several days last month, forcing the evacuation of tourists. Sulfur dioxide (SO2), a pollutant that is emitted from volcanoes, is the main culprit that is causing these year-long allergies and frequent evacuations.

    "Sulfur, which reacts with atmospheric sunlight, oxygen, water and tiny dust particles to form a bunch of sulfate aerosols, sulfuric acid and other compounds that generate this 'volcanic smog' in certain areas of the islands which do not experience strong trade winds at certain times of the year in particular," Thomas Shea of the University of Hawai'i's PhD Research Faculty said.

    Tourists Kristen Haggerty, left, and her mother, Jenny Haggerty, cover their mouths against noxious fumes from the Kilauea volcano eruption, July 27, 2002. (AP Photo/David Briscoe, File)

    The University of Hawai'i has even gone as far as to spearheading a Vog Measurement and Prediction Project (VMAP). Locals can visit this website daily and check current conditions on daily volcanic emissions and check the air quality in their area.

    Vog is primarily a mixture of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas and sulfate (SO4) aerosol. SO2 is expected to be the main problem in areas near the vents and on the Big Island. Farther north and west, SO4 aerosol is carried by kona winds (south and southeast winds) to other parts of the island chain, Steven Businger, VMAP director said.

    Vog model layer-averaged (from 3,000 to 5,000 m) SO4 concentration. (Photo/Steven Businger, University of Hawaii at Mānoa)

    The combination of SO2 and water vapor in the air is one that Hawaiians are feeling in their sinuses.

    "The water vapor combined with sulfuric acid is what the locals are feeling in their throats, on their skin, and affecting their mucus membranes. I don't even have seasonal allergies, but I do respond to vog. When it's in the air, I experience frequent headaches and congestion," Johnson said.

    The gray-white haze has hovered over parts of the Big Island for weeks, particularly those areas downwind of the caldera of Kilauea. The wind has blown vog to Oahu, some 200 miles to the north, bathing Honolulu in a light haze, Johnson said.

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    Oahu local Gloria Wachter said the vog comes and goes in her area as well, but if you're a sufferer of seasonal allergies, then vog-related side effects will find you.

    "I already have upper respiratory issues and so when I see that it's going to be a 'gray day' I prepare myself to expect difficulty breathing," Wachter said.

    Wachter said when Oahu experiences the odorless, heavy, grey vog, typical seasonal allergies intensify.

    "The vog multiplies your symptoms times three, so if you have asthma your more prone to have an asthma attack. I'm prone to headaches but when there is vog, I often get migraines," Wachter said.

    On top of the year-round allergies, Johnson said, "On a clear day I can usually look out and see Waikiki [beach on Honolulu on the south shore of Oahu] but when vog sets in, I lose my view," Johnson said.

    The vog is affecting the health of the locals, and from Johnson's account, it is also disrupting the scenic Hawaiian landscape that the tropical paradise is renowned for among tourists.


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    Friday, March 28, 2014
    Tropical Storm
    (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

    Thunderstorms will continue to rumble across the Plains Friday, spreading the threat of severe weather from Texas to Tennessee.

    These storms will have the potential to produce not only drenching downpours and damaging winds, but also isolated tornadoes starting Friday afternoon and continuing into Friday night.

    Some cities in the line of these storms include Houston and Tyler, Texas; Little Rock, Ark.; Nashville and Memphis, Tenn.; Jackson and Southaven, Miss.; and Shreveport, La.

    A few showers or thunderstorms are expected across the lower Mississippi Valley Friday morning before stronger thunderstorms develop during the afternoon and evening.

    According to severe weather expert Dan Kottlowski, "The storms later on Friday and Friday night can reach portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky, while potentially bringing a second round of severe weather to portions of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas Friday afternoon."

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    The timing of these storms can highly impact those on the roads during the evening commute, including those traveling along the I-20, I-30 and I-49 corridors.

    Heavy downpours can reduce visibility and cause water to pool on the roadways. This raises the risk of hydroplaning, making it more difficult for drivers to maintain control of their vehicles.

    Storms can also cause flight delays with gusty winds and reduced visibility, making it difficult for airplanes to take off and land. Folks already on board their plane might find themselves spending some extra time on the tarmac until the storms blow over.

    Hail as large as golf balls cannot be ruled out with these storms either.

    The threat of severe weather is expected to continue into the first half of the weekend as the system responsible for these thunderstorms tracks over the East.

    "Locally severe thunderstorms are possible from the central and eastern portions of the Carolinas to southern Georgia on Saturday," Kottlowski said.

    The main threat from Saturday's storms will be damaging wind gusts before the thunderstorms move off the coast Saturday evening.


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    The Pleiades star cluster (M45) is a group of 800 stars formed about 100 million years ago. The cluster is located 410 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Taurus. (Credit: Chuck Manges | www.astrochuck.blogspot.com)

    The famous blue formation of the Pleiades star cluster radiates beautifully in this image recently sent to Space.com.

    The Pleiades star cluster, also known as M45 or the Seven Sisters, is a group of 800 stars that formed about 100 million years ago and is located 410 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Taurus. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).

    Astrophotographer Chuck Manges of Hooversville, Pa., used a QHY9M camera and an AT65EDQ telescope on Aug. 14 and Sept. 4, 2013 to capture the image (luminance 9x600 bin 1x1, red 6x300 bin 2x2, green 6x300 2x2, blue 9x300 bin 2x2).

    Bright stars Atlas and Pleione, along with their seven daughter stars, typically make up what we can see with the naked eye. The hot blue glow of the brightest stars, which were formed within the last 100 million years, means they are extremely luminous and burn out quickly. Scientists estimate these stars will survive for more than 200 million years before they die out.

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

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

    Follow Space.com on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook & Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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

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    Friday, March 28, 2014
    Spring Weather Arrives In The UK
    (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

    Despite roller-coaster temperatures and some fits of snow, the United States is breaking out of the harsh winter conditions of 2013-14 and moving forward with spring.

    Springtime brings not only a variety of flowers in bloom, but it also features a variety of foods to enjoy through the season.

    Heather Nicholds, a holistic nutritionist, said that these foods have many healthy benefits.

    1. Parsley

    Parsley features vitamins A, C and K, folate and iron.

    Folate is most notably important for pregnant women, and also for everyone else to have healthy blood and support your brain function; one cup of parsley contributes a whopping 23 percent of your daily intake, Nicholds said.

    Vitamin C is famous for boosting the immune system, it's also a key nutrient for the adrenal glands and helps the body absorb iron; parsley has 106 percent of the recommended daily intake in a cup.

    Parsley
    (Parsley, photo courtesy of Healthy Eating Starts Here.)

    2. Asparagus

    Asparagus is high in iron and B vitamins, which help energy levels, Nicholds said. It is also high in vitamins A, C, E and K and selenium, all of which help support healthy immune systems - good for spring as weather is changing and can challenge immune systems.

    It is loaded with antioxidants, particularly the powerful glutathione, that help prevent cancer, aging and other degenerative diseases, she said.

    Asparagus, Tarragon
    (Tarragon asparagus, photo courtesy of Healthy Eating Starts Here.)

    3. Lettuce

    Lettuce has a triple benefit, Nicholds said.

    It cleanses the colon with roughage and bulk. It is high in vitamin A for healthy eyes, and it is high in vitamin K for healthy bones and teeth.

    Red Leaf Lettuce
    (Red leaf lettuce, photo courtesy of Healthy Eating Starts Here.)

    4. Garlic scapes

    Garlic scapes are also loaded with antioxidants and have the same sulphur compounds as in the bulbs, which have been researched and show promise of having anti-cancer effects, Nicholds said.

    Garlic is antibacterial and antifungal, which can help kick any springtime bugs.

    Garlic Scapes
    (Garlic scapes, photo courtesy of Healthy Eating Starts Here.)

    5. Mizuna

    Mizuna, also known as Japanese mustard greens, are bitter and pungent, but they help cleanse the liver from any accumulated toxins or indulgences over the holidays, Nicholds said.

    The greens are also high in folate and iron, both of which boost energy levels, and vitamin C, which helps your body absorb iron.

    Central Square Farmers Market
    (Michele McDonald/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

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    Friday, March 28, 2014

    As spring arrives - albeit slowly - East Coasters are saying goodbye to an especially punishing winter.

    Those feeling sentimental can relive the endless series of snowstorms and fiendishly cold weather in a new time-lapse video from NASA.

    The animation stitches together imagery taken from space by NOAA's GOES-East satellite every day from Jan. 1 to March 24, 2014.

    The creator, Dennis Chesters, of the NASA/NOAA GOES Project at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement: "The once-per-day imagery creates a stroboscopic slide show of persistent brutal winter weather."

    And brutal it was. Cold air escaping the polar vortex repeatedly blasted Canada and the continental United States. Two inches of snow humbled Atlanta in late January, creating epic traffic jams stranding hundreds of people in their cars for hours. Ice storms that followed in February left thousands without power in Georgia and South Carolina. The Great Lakes' ice cover reached historic levels, growing to 91 percent in early March.

    Major cities reported astounding tallies of winter snow. Residents of Washington, D.C., saw 30.3 inches (76.9 centimeters) of snow during the 2013-2014 season - nearly double the city's average snowfall of 15.3 inches (38.8 cm), according to the National Weather Service. A whopping 80 inches (203 cm) of snow fell on Chicago, far exceeding the typical 34.4 inches (87.3 cm).

    The GOES-East satellite is perched in a geostationary orbit, meaning it hovers over the same part of the globe all the time, moving in tandem with Earth's rotation. The spacecraft captures images of the Northern Hemisphere every half hour and then takes a shot of the entire Western Hemisphere every three hours, according to NOAA.

    The images of clouds taken by the GOES satellite are used by the National Weather Service to monitor storms. The 2014 winter weather video also incorporates true-color imagery of the land and sea obtained with NASA's Earth-watching NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites.

    Follow Megan Gannon on Twitter and Google+. 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.

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    Saturday, March 29, 2014

    This file photo shows flooding in Mingo County, West Virginia; similar scenes may be seen in the northeast this weekend. (margaretkilljoy/Flickr)

    In addition to a stripe of snow, rain and melting snow will raise the risk of stream, river and ice jam flooding in parts of the Northeast this weekend.

    According to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "Parts of upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania and New England can receive a few inches of rain this weekend."

    A slow-moving storm, the second of two systems since Friday, will roll through the area Saturday into Sunday.



    "There is a substantial amount of snow on the ground in the northern reaches of the Northeast," Abrams said.

    While some of the snow will melt with few problems, where ice breaks loose and then jams up on area streams and rivers, there is greater risk for flooding.

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    "The combination of a couple of inches of rainfall and several inches of water locked up in snow and ice can unleash a half a foot of water onto areas along small streams that then feed into rivers," Abrams said.



    Flooding along some small streams is likely this weekend, along with significant rises possible in the following days along some of the major rivers including the Susquehanna, Delaware, Chenango, Connecticut, Mohawk, Walloomsac, Merrimack, Kennebec and Penobscot.

    Generally the larger the river, the longer it takes for high water to cycle through.Some snow or a wintry mix will fall over some of the northern tier areas and highest elevations of the central Appalachians with the storm. This precipitation will tend to slow the runoff.



    However, the thaw will continue, resume or expand into next week, keeping some streams and rivers running high.

    Temperatures are forecast to reach the 40s and 50s in the northern tier states of the Northeast next week.

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    Saturday, March 29, 2014

    In this Dec. 26, 2013, file photo, a man walks under a heavy haze in Shanghai, China. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

    YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) - If you have already read "12 Pieces of Practical Advice from Housecats," now you can move on to "8 Reasons to Worry about Global Warming."

    A United Nations panel of scientists is joining the list craze with what they call eight "key risks" that are part of broader "reasons for concern" about climate change.

    It's part of a massive report on how global warming is affecting humans and the planet and how the future will be worse unless something is done about it. The report is being finalized at a meeting this weekend by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    They assembled the list to "make it understandable and to illustrate the issues that have the greatest potential to cause real harm," the report's chief author, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution of Science in California, said in an interview.

    But a draft of the list - called by the acronym RFCs - includes science-heavy language, caveats and uses lowercase Roman numerals, for example using iv instead of 4.

    A boiled-down version of what the scientists say the warmed-up future holds for Earth if climate change continues:

    1. Coastal flooding will kill people and cause destruction.

    2. Some people will go hungry because of warming, drought and severe downpours.

    3. Big cites will be damaged by inland flooding.

    4. Water shortages will make the poor even poorer in rural areas.

    5. Crazy weather, like storms, can make life miserable, damaging some of the things we take for granted, like electricity, running water and emergency services.

    6. Some fish and other marine animals could be in trouble, which will probably hurt fishing communities.

    7. Some land animals won't do much better and that's not good for people who depend on them.

    8. Heat waves, especially in cities, will kill the elderly and very young.

    So far, the scientists haven't come up with the next step, common on Facebook pages: The interactive quiz to determine which global warming problem you most resemble.

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    Saturday, March 29, 2014

    This file photo shows the horse Black Jack Blues, the race favorite and his rider, Ross Geraghty, at the 80th Carolina Cup steeplechase race in Camden, South Carolina, Saturday, March 31, 2012. (Kim Foster-Tobin/The State/MCT via Getty Images)

    The risk of severe thunderstorms has shifted to the East Coast for this Saturday, stretching from the Carolinas to Florida.

    The impacts of these storms will not only be felt by travelers across the region, but also for those planning to spend time in the outdoors.

    This includes those attending the 82nd running of the Carolina Cup being held in Camden, S.C., on Saturday afternoon.

    Blinding downpours and damaging wind gusts will be the primary threats with these thunderstorms as they track over the I-95 corridor. Large hail and a tornado or two cannot be ruled out either.



    Some cities in the path of these strong storms include Raleigh and Fayetteville N.C.; Charleston, Columbia and Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Augusta and Savannah, Ga.; Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando, Fla.

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    Airports in the affected areas may be forced to temporarily suspend takeoffs until the gusty thunderstorms blow over the airport due to poor flight conditions.

    Those taking to the roads should also be aware of these thunderstorms as heavy downpours can slow traffic and reduce visibility. In some cases, hydroplaning may occur making it more difficult to maintain control of your vehicle.



    The system responsible for these storms already has a history of producing severe weather. On Saturday, hail as large as softballs was seen over eastern Texas as well as wind gusts up to 80 mph.

    Folks with outdoor plans in the Southeast on Saturday might want to hold off until the second half of the weekend when drier weather is set to return.



    Although rain and thunderstorms may lead to delays for Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Va., NASCAR fans can expect dry conditions for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race.

    This dry weather will prevail heading into the start of next week before the threat of severe weather returns to part of the Southeast on Wednesday.

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    Saturday, March 29, 2014

    This artist's impression shows the surroundings of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the active galaxy NGC 3783 in the southern constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur). (ESO/M. Kornmesser)

    The gigantic black holes that lurk at the hearts of galaxies were apparently born big.

    The central black holes in dwarf galaxies -- the "seeds" that grow into the monsters at the core of the Milky Way and other large galaxies -- are probably surprisingly weighty, containing 1,000 to 10,000 times the mass of our sun, a new study reports.

    The finding goes against one popular theory of supermassive black hole evolution, suggesting that galaxy mergers aren't necessary to create these behemoths, which can harbor billions of times more mass than the sun. [The Strangest Black Holes in the Universe]

    "We still don't know how the monstrous black holes that reside in galaxy centers formed," lead author Shobita Satyapal, of George Mason University in Virginia, said in a statement. "But finding big black holes in tiny galaxies shows us that big black holes must somehow have been created in the early universe, before galaxies collided with other galaxies."

    It's also possible that supermassive black holes grow primarily by gobbling up gas and dust, getting bigger relatively sedately along with their host galaxies, researchers said.

    Satyapal and her colleagues analyzed observations of dwarf galaxies made by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft, or WISE.

    Dwarf galaxies have changed relatively little over time, and they resemble the types of galaxies that existed when the universe was young. So they're a good place to look for nascent supermassive black holes, researchers said.

    WISE's all-sky survey picked out hundreds of dwarf galaxies, which appear to sport strikingly large black holes.

    "Our findings suggest the original seeds of supermassive black holes are quite massive themselves," Satyapal said.

    While the results are intriguing, follow-up study will be necessary to fully flesh them out, outside researchers said.

    "Though it will take more research to confirm whether the dwarf galaxies are indeed dominated by actively feeding black holes, this is exactly what WISE was designed to do: find interesting objects that stand out from the pack," astronomer Daniel Stern, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. Stern was not part of the study team.

    WISE launched to Earth orbit in December 2009 on a 10-month mission to scan the entire sky in infrared light. It was shut down in February 2011, then reactivated in September 2013 with a new mission and a new name. Now called NEOWISE, the spacecraft is hunting for potentially dangerous asteroids, some of which could be promising targets for human exploration.

    The new study was published in the March issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

    Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. 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.

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    Saturday, March 29, 2014

    A car sits rolled over in the wake of Friday nights March 28, 2014 earthquake on Carbon Canyon Road in Brea, Calif., near Olinda Village. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Rod Veal)

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - A magnitude-5.1 earthquake centered south of Los Angeles shook residents throughout Southern California and sent bottles and cans tumbling off shelves in stores, produced a rock slide that closed a road and forced a brief shutdown of rides at Disneyland. There were no reports of major damage or injuries.

    In the Orange County city of Fullerton, 20 apartment units and half a dozen homes were red-tagged, displacing 83 people, police Lt. Mike Chlebowski said.

    Southern California Edison reported power outages to about 2,000 customers following the quake.

    The temblor struck at 9:09 p.m. Friday and was centered near Brea in Orange County, about 20 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, at a depth of 5 miles. It was felt as far south as San Diego and as far north as Ventura County, according to citizen responses collected online by the U.S. Geological Survey.

    More than 100 aftershocks followed, including a magnitude-3.4 that hit Saturday morning. The main shock was preceded by two foreshocks registering magnitudes 3.6 and 2.1, scientists said.

    Broken glass, gas leaks, water main breaks and a rockslide were reported near the epicenter, according to Twitter updates from local authorities.

    Tom Connolly, a Boeing employee who lives in La Mirada, said the quake lasted about 30 seconds.

    "We felt a really good jolt. It was a long rumble and it just didn't feel like it would end," he told The Associated Press by phone. "Right in the beginning it shook really hard, so it was a little unnerving. People got quiet and started bracing themselves by holding on to each other. It was a little scary."

    A Red Cross shelter was set up in La Habra for residents forced out of their homes or who voluntarily chose to stay there. About 38 people including several families stayed overnight, Red Cross spokeswoman Meredith Mills said.

    Hall of Fame baseball announcer Vin Scully was on the air calling the Angels-Dodgers exhibition game in the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium.

    "A little tremor here in the ballpark. I'm not sure if the folks felt it, but we certainly felt it here in press box row," Scully said. "A tremor and only that, thank goodness."

    Public safety officials said crews were inspecting bridges, dams, rail tracks and other infrastructure systems for signs of damage. The Brea police department said the rock slide in the Carbon Canyon area caused a car to overturn, and the people inside sustained minor injuries.

    Callers to KNX-AM reported seeing a brick wall collapse, water sloshing in a swimming pool and wires and trees swaying back and forth. One caller said he was in a movie theater lobby in Brea when the quake struck and said people ran outside and hugged in the street.

    Rides were halted at Disneyland in Anaheim, but no damage was found and the theme park was expected to have normal operations Saturday.

    Friday's quake hit a week after a pre-dawn magnitude-4.4 quake centered in the San Fernando Valley rattled a swath of Southern California. That jolt shook buildings and rattled nerves but did not cause significant damage.

    Friday's "earthquake is the second in two weeks, and reminds us to be prepared," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

    Southern California has not experienced a devastating earthquake since the 1994 magnitude-6.7 Northridge quake killed several dozen people and caused $25 billion in damage.

    Preliminary data suggest Friday night's 5.1 magnitude earthquake occurred near the Puente Hills thrust fault, which stretches from the San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles and caused the 1987 Whittier Narrows earthquake, USGS seismologist Lucy Jones said.

    "It's a place where we've had a lot of earthquakes in the past," she said.

    The 5.9-magnitude Whittier Narrows quake killed eight people and caused $360 million in damage.

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