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SKYE on AOL

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    Saturday, March 29, 2014

    In this file photo, Fargo Police attend to an accident on University Drive at Interstate 94 on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 in South Fargo, N.D. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)

    March will end with a blizzard threatening to halt travel and severely disrupt daily routines across the northern Plains on Monday.

    The blizzard will target South Dakota, southern North Dakota and northern and central Minnesota late Sunday night through Monday night.

    Rapid City, Pierre and Aberdeen, S.D., Fargo, N.D., and St. Cloud and Duluth, Minn., lie within this zone.

    For Rapid City, the blizzard is in the forecast despite the weekend starting with temperatures soaring to around 70 F.

    Minneapolis should narrowly escape the worst of the blizzard unless the storm tracks slightly to the south. Even given the current track of the storm, the city will still be subject to a period of windswept snow and slick travel Monday night.

    The combination of a storm spreading welcome rain and mountain snow into California this weekend and arctic air plunging southward will cause the blizzard to unfold across the northern Plains.

    This blizzard will be short-lived since the storm will weaken as it heads into central Ontario for the first day of April.

    Before that weakening trend commences, the blizzard will lay down a large swath of snow with amounts in excess of 6 inches. Some rain will precede the snow in many communities but will not be a sign that the blizzard is failing to materialize.

    RELATED:
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    Researchers Find Five Previously Undetected Greenhouse Gases

    Howling winds will make measuring the snow very difficult. Winds during the height of the storm will gust to around 45 mph, leading to severe blowing and drifting snow and blinding conditions.

    Travel will become extremely dangerous and nearly impossible for a time. Officials may be forced to close lengthy stretches of highways and interstates. Interstates 29, 35, 90 and 94 could be among such roads.




    Motorists attempting to travel during the blizzard run the risk of becoming stranded for a time. Residents should prepare for school and other activities to be canceled.

    In the wake of the blizzard, the northern Plains will continue to be monitored for more snow events despite the calendar being flipped to April.

    The chance for a bit of snow will return Wednesday. If a storm tracks far enough to the north, steadier snow may follow for later in the week.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    As in this file photo, the region will face icy conditions, mixed with a healthy dose of snow. (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

    While snow and ice threaten to cause treacherous travel across the interior, flooding will threaten other parts of the Northeast through the rest of 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 continue to roll through the area through 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.

    The heaviest rain will be centered along the northern New England coast and southern Nova Scotia on Sunday. However, periods of rain and drizzle will keep the rest of the Northeast dreary on Sunday.

    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.



    Motorists should prepare for hazardous travel, especially where the snow and ice occurs at night and falls heavily during the day.

    After the winter storm departs, the thaw will continue, resume or expand across northern New England during the upcoming 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.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Incredible Photos of Forces of Nature
    Volcano Eruption

     

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    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    Boston Red Sox players leave the dugout after rain cancelled the spring exhibition baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning in Sarasota, Fla., Monday, March 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    The first games of the 2014 MLB regular season look to be dry and mild in the East, while those in the West may have to deal with rain and storms.

    Drier, more springlike weather is set to return to much of the Northeast on Monday following a stormy weekend across the region.

    This includes cities such as New York, Baltimore and Pittsburgh with baseball games set to be held in each city on Monday afternoon.

    The opposite can be said about games in the West; particularly on Monday evening when the Oakland Athletics host the Cleveland Indians in Oakland, Calif.

    A cold front moving into West will deliver rain to northern and central California with a few rumbles of thunder possible during the afternoon and evening.

    This could lead to delays, especially if a thunderstorm rolls through during the game.

    If one of these thunderstorms does move through during the game, fans should take shelter to protect themselves from lightning.

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    A similar story is expected to unfold for games on Tuesday with showers and thunderstorms across California, affecting games being held in Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego.

    Meanwhile, dry weather will prevail across much of the Plains and the East yet again for the second day of the 2014 MLB Season.

    Matchup
    Temperature for First Pitch
    Forecast
    Cubs @ Pirates 47 Degrees F Mostly Sunny, Mild
    Nationals @ Mets 48 Degrees F Partly Sunny, Breezy
    Red Sox @ Orioles 56 Degrees F Mostly Sunny, Breezy
    Twins @ White Sox 65 Degrees F Cloudy with a Shower Late
    Phillies @ Rangers 75 Degrees F Partly Sunny, Shower or T-Storm Around
    Indians @ Athletics 55 Degrees F Cloudy with Rain
    Mariners @ Angels 59 Degrees F Partly Cloudy

    This table shows the forecast for several MLB games scheduled to be played on Monday, March 31, 2014.

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

     

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    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    Merchandise is strewn across the floor in a La Habra Walgreens following a 5.1 earthquake centered near La Habra Friday night March 28, 2014. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Blaine, Ohigashi)

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - A moderate earthquake that rattled a swath of Southern California forced several dozen people in one community out of their homes after firefighters discovered foundation problems that made the buildings unsafe to enter, authorities said Saturday.

    Fire crews red-tagged 20 apartment units in a building in the Orange County city of Fullerton after finding a major foundation crack. Structural woes, including broken chimneys and leaning, were uncovered in half a dozen single-family houses, which were also deemed unsafe to occupy until building inspectors clear the structures. The damage displaced 83 residents.

    Despite the evacuations and scattered damage, Friday night's magnitude-5.1 earthquake centered about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles mostly frayed nerves.

    The quake was preceded by two smaller foreshocks. More than 100 aftershocks followed, including a magnitude-4.1 that hit Saturday afternoon, the largest in the sequence so far that was felt over a wide region. No injuries were reported.

    Residents were inconvenienced and some lost valuables, but "thankfully the damage wasn't greater," said Chi-Chung Keung, a spokesman for the city of Fullerton.

    Business owners in Orange County spent the aftermath sweeping up shattered glass and restocking shelves. Utility crews worked to restore power and shut off gas leaks and water-main breaks. A rock slide in the Carbon Canyon area of nearby Brea also caused a car to overturn. The occupants had minor injuries, and the road remained closed to traffic.

    The Red Cross opened a shelter in neighboring La Habra but closed it once the 38 people who stayed overnight returned home.

    "Everything is starting to get settled down here," La Habra police Sgt. Mel Ruiz said.

    In Fullerton, some residents will have to stay elsewhere until building inspectors can check out the red-tagged apartments and houses and give an all-clear, Fire Battalion Chief John Stokes said.

    Another 14 residential structures around the city suffered lesser damage, including collapsed fireplaces. Shortly after the main earthquake, the city dealt with a dozen water-main breaks and multiple natural-gas leaks, Stokes said.

    A water-main break flooded several floors of Brea City Hall, and the shaking knocked down computers and ceiling tiles, Stokes said.

    It was not immediately clear if City Hall would reopen Monday. An email to the mayor was not immediately returned.

    Friday's jolt was the strongest to strike the greater Los Angeles region since 2008. Southern California has been in a seismic lull since the deadly 1994 Northridge earthquake killed several dozen people and caused $25 billion in damage.

    The latest quake hit a week after a magnitude-4.4 temblor centered in the San Fernando Valley shook buildings and rattled nerves.

    It appeared to break a 1-mile segment of the Puente Hills thrust fault, which stretches from the San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles and caused the 1987 Whittier Narrows quake that killed eight people. The rupture lasted half a second, scientists said.

    U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones said it's unclear whether Southern California is entering a more active seismic period. "We have been in a really quiet time. It can't stay that way," Jones said.

    A day after the magnitude-5.1 quake, Peter Novahof went shopping with his family at a hardware store in Long Beach. Though nothing was knocked out of his place at his home, he figured it was a good time to think about securing his television and cupboards with glassware.

    "We've had an earthquake drought for a while," he said. So people are decorating their houses without taking into consideration that "we're in earthquake zone."

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    NASA's photo of the day for March 30, 2014, is a stunner. It's a true-color image of Io, one of Jupiter's moons. It is unique in our solar system because of its bright-yellow color, due to its high levels of sulfur and molten silicate rock. This image was taken by the Galileo spacecraft, which orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003. Io is a hotbed of volcanic activity, constantly refreshing the satellite's surface. Some of its lava has such hot temperatures that it causes Io to glow in the dark.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space

     

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    Sunday, March 30, 2014

    In this file photo, the after-effects of stream flooding are shown in upstate New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

    A slow-moving storm system will continue to raise concerns for flooding across the Northeast with more snow and ice across the interior to close out March.

    Soaking rain -- combined with melting snow around the Appalachians -- Saturday through Saturday night led to rapid rises on some creeks and smaller rivers across parts of the Northeast.

    The level on the Millstone River at Griggstown, N.J., soared from 4 feet during the mid-afternoon of Saturday to around 13 feet by Sunday morning, leading to moderate flooding.

    The soaking rain from Saturday night will continue to press from eastern New England to Nova Scotia through the rest of Sunday, but dry and sunny weather is not following the rain.

    Instead, the slow-moving storm will cause more rain and drizzle to crawl eastward across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast through Sunday night. Sunshine will finally return to the mid-Atlantic on Monday, while some rain lingers over New England.

    Pockets of heavier rain could lead to flash flooding in low-lying and poor drainage areas, as well as along smaller streams.

    RELATED:
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    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    Latest Flood, Winter Weather Warnings, Advisories

    Even where flash flooding does not ensue, the rain will cause slower travel for motorists and possible flight delays.

    The concern for flooding will not end when the storm and its rain finally depart. Levels on larger rivers will continue to rise during the next few days as runoff from the weekend rain flows downstream.

    "Generally the larger the river, the longer it takes for high water to cycle through," stated AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

    Near to minor flooding is anticipated on the Susquehanna, Hudson, Connecticut, Delaware and Merrimack rivers, according to the National Weather Service's Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.

    Some snow and/or an icy mix will tend to slow the runoff across the interior from the central Appalachians to northern New England.

    Wet snow started Sunday, which whitened grassy surfaces along Virginia's I-81 corridor and even made an appearance southward to Greensboro, N.C.

    The snow will accumulate a few inches (locally more than 6 inches) in the higher elevations, including in the Alleghenies, Blue Ridge, Poconos, Catskills, Berkshires, Green and White mountains.

    A bit of snow and ice will also briefly return to Harrisburg and Scranton, Pa., Binghamton and Albany, N.Y., Burlington, Vt., Lebanon and Concord, N.H., and Bangor and Portland, Maine, through Monday morning.

    There is concern for slick spots to develop across these areas Sunday night through early Monday morning not only due to the snow and ice, but also as temperatures dip below freezing and cause wet and slushy untreated surfaces to turn icy.

    The snow and ice will have a difficult time accumulating on roads during the day unless it falls heavily and can overcome the effects of the stronger late-March sun.

    Such heavy snow is currently underway across northern Maine.

    Strong winds on the back side of the storm will also continue to howl from western North Carolina to central Pennsylvania, including in Roanoke, Va., Washington, D.C., Hagerstown, Md., and Harrisburg, Pa., through Sunday evening.

    Gusts past 40 mph threaten to cause some tree damage and power outages and could overturn high-profile vehicles.

    Drier weather will finally return to all of the Northeast Monday night as the storm departs and opens the door for April to start on a milder note.

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

     

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    Updated Sunday, March 30, 2014, 12:58 p.m. ET

    Workers comb through debris at the site of a deadly mudslide, Friday, March 28, 2014, in Oso, Wash. Besides the 26 bodies already found, dozens more people could be buried in the debris pile left from the mudslide nearly one week ago. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

    People living in the path of a deadly Washington state landslide had virtually no warning before a wall of mud, trees and other debris thundered down the mountain. Some of the homeowners didn't even know the hillside could give way at any time.

    Unlike the warning systems and elaborate maps that help residents and officials prepare for natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes, there's no national system to monitor slide activity and no effort underway to produce detailed nationwide landslide hazard maps.

    The U.S. Geological Survey doesn't track or inventory slide areas on a national scale, despite an ambitious plan to do so more than a decade ago when Congress directed it to come up with a national strategy to reduce landslide losses.

    That's left states and communities to put together a patchwork of maps showing landslide hazards. In some cases, they are discovering that more buildings than previously thought are sitting on unstable ground. Even then, that information may not make its way to property owners.

    Building a nationwide system is now possible with new technology, experts say, but would require spending tens of millions of dollars annually and could take more than a decade to complete with the help of states and cities. So far, however, there has been little public outcry for faster, concerted action.

    "No one has pushed it, and it hasn't been a priority," said Scott Burns, a geology professor at Portland State University. "It's costly to monitor it, and we don't want to pay for it."

    He added, "Now they're seeing these large disasters and saying this is important."

    The challenge, experts say, is that many landslides are inactive or cause consistent low-level damage, while big, destructive landslides happen only sporadically and don't cause the type of spectacular devastation hurricanes, earthquakes or tornadoes do - so they often don't get the same attention or resources.

    Despite this, landslides have exacted a toll in all 50 states, causing 25 to 50 deaths a year and up to $2 billion in losses annually. The last national map, which shows high landslide risk areas in the Appalachians, the Rockies and along the West Coast, was published in 1982, but it is outdated and lacks detail.

    The lack of attention on landslides comes as experts say increasing numbers of people are moving farther out from cities and suburbs - or onto previously uninhabited slopes within them - and are more likely to come face to face not just with the views they sought but also with nature's destructive forces. Development on vulnerable land can disturb soil, put too much weight on slopes, or increase soil moisture, whether it is from runoff or a prolific sprinkler system.

    Lynn Highland, a geographer with the USGS's National Landslide Information Center, said she and others have advocated for a national landslide inventory, but the agency's Landslide Hazards Program only has an annual budget of $3.5 million and a staff of about 20.

    "It's expensive and everybody seems to be satisfied with dealing with landslides when they come, except when we get a big one like this," she said, referring to the March 22 slide that killed at least 18 people in Oso, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) northeast of Seattle, in what could be the worst natural disaster in the state's history.

    Weary of landslides constantly threatening homes, power lines and underground pipes, some states aren't waiting for disasters to hit. Oregon, North Carolina, Kentucky and others have used high-tech lasers mounted on aircraft to begin to assess landslide risk and build maps that could be used by planners and homeowners.

    The air-borne laser, known as LIDAR, fires rapid laser pulses at a surface and a sensor on the instrument measures the amount of time it takes for each pulse to bounce back - building a detailed elevation map, point by point.

    These mapping efforts are turning up previously overlooked dangers: More homes and businesses than previously thought are sitting on hillsides, coastal bluffs and mountain areas that could give way at any time.

    "We discovered that in most places we had only found a tenth to a quarter of existing landslides in previous mapping efforts," said Ian Madin, chief scientist for the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

    While a national LIDAR mapping effort is planned to start in 2015, USGS scientists have worked in regions such as Washington state's Puget Sound to pinpoint landslide hazards. In Seattle, they developed a forecasting tool that acts as an early warning system to let city officials know when intense rainfall could likely cause rain-soaked hillsides to buckle.

    Jim Lee, a senior engineer with Seattle Public Utilities, said when that rain threshold is reached, landslide response crews are put on standby so they are ready to clear downed power lines, mud-covered streets or check on water lines. The National Weather Service in Seattle also will issue statements about potential landslides once the threshold is reached.

    Tracking landslides is difficult because all the action happens underground and slides vary from hillside to hillside depending on soil, hydrology and geologic conditions, experts say, so much so that damage is typically excluded from typical private property insurance.

    The lack of private insurance for landslide damage results, in part, from the difficulty in estimating the likelihood that a landslide will occur at any particular location, a USGS study found. "We might be able to get a handle on insurance for landslide if we have an inventory," Highland said.

    The USGS started a landslide inventory pilot project for states but ran out of money. A dozen states participated, including Oregon, Washington, California, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. But even if scientists can map all the existing landslides and are able to monitor those that are active, they still don't know how to narrow down to the most vulnerable locations where landslides can turn into a disaster, said Jonathan Stock, director of the USGS Innovation Center for Earth Sciences in California.

    "Of the tens of thousands of similar landslides that are slowly moving around the nation, we still don't know which have the potential to be pathological," Stock said.

    For now, the USGS runs a half dozen monitoring research projects to understand conditions in soil that precede landslides driven by big storms. In the San Francisco Bay area, where storms have caused hundreds to thousands of slides at a time in recent years, instruments measure such soil characteristics as moisture level and water pressure.

    Some communities are working to develop regulations that would guide development on landslide-prone areas. In Oregon City, Oregon, where landslides have caused significant property damage in recent years, city code requires applicants to provide a report on the site's geology and prohibits construction of new subdivisions on steeper slopes.

    "We're trying to do everything to reduce the risk or altogether avoid these areas," said Tony Konkol, the city's community development director.

    And even when landslide risks have been mapped using the new technology - as was the case with the slide area in Washington state - homeowners often don't have access to the maps or don't know how to interpret them. And some may choose not to heed the maps' warnings.

    Robin Youngblood, whose house in the foothills of the scenic North Cascades was crushed in the landslide, said Snohomish County officials did not inform her about the dangers of the hillside.

    "They knew that this mountain was unstable and they let people build there," she said. "This shouldn't have happened."

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    Sunday, March 30, 2014
    m 42
    Robert Fields sent Space.com this image of Messier 42, or the Orion Nebula on March 18, 2014. The image is a compilation of narrowband data in SII, HA and OIII taken from Irvington Observatory of Howell Township, Mississippi. (Robert Fields)

    The Orion nebula glows in vivid clouds of blue and yellow in this beautiful image recently sent to Space.com.

    Astrophotographer Robert Fields captured this photo of Messier 42, or the Orion nebula, from the Irvington Observatory of Howell Twp, Miss. on March 18. He used a FSQ 106 telescope and SBIG STL 11k Astrodon Narrowband at 3nm wavelength "to really give the detail in the nebulosity," Fields wrote Space.com in an email. [See more amazing Orion nebula photos by stargazers]

    Fields's image is a compilation of narrowband data in SII, HA and OIII. It is the result of more than 14 hours of data and synthesized using Photoshop.

    The Orion nebula is located roughly 1,500 light-years from Earth and stretches 40 light-years across. It can be seen with the unaided eye near the belt of the three stars in the constellation Orion. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles. The nebula's colors seen in the region of star formation are created by oxygen and hydrogen gas emission.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.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 10 Breathtaking Photos of Comets

     

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    Monday, March 31, 2014
    North Dakota Blizzard
    (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)

    March will end with a blizzard threatening to halt travel and severely disrupt daily routines across the northern Plains on Monday.

    The blizzard will target South Dakota, southern North Dakota and western Minnesota through Monday.

    Rapid City, Pierre and Aberdeen, S.D., Fargo and Bismarck, N.D., and Ortonville, Minn., lie within this zone.

    Minneapolis should narrowly escape the worst of the blizzard, the city will still be subject to some snow and slick travel Monday night.



    This blizzard will be short-lived - in terms of accompanying strong winds, not heavy snow - since the storm will weaken as it heads into central Ontario for the first day of April.

    Even though true blizzard conditions will not be met across northern Minnesota and central Ontario, heavy snow and reduced visibility are still expected.



    Some rain and ice will precede the snow in many communities but will not be a sign that the blizzard is failing to materialize. The onslaught of the blizzard and plunging temperatures will soon follow.

    RELATED:
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    Howling winds will make measuring the snow very difficult. Winds during the height of the storm will gust to around 45 mph, leading to severe blowing and drifting snow and blinding conditions.

    Travel will become extremely dangerous and nearly impossible for a time. Officials may be forced to close lengthy stretches of highways and interstates. Interstates 29, 90 and 94 could be among such roads.



    Motorists attempting to travel during the blizzard run the risk of becoming stranded for a time. Residents should prepare for school and other activities to be canceled.

    In the wake of the blizzard, the northern Plains will continue to be monitored for more snow events despite the calendar being flipped to April.

    The chance for a bit of snow will return Wednesday. If a storm tracks far enough to the north, steadier snow may follow for later in the week.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Monday, March 31, 2014
    A supercell produces a brief tornado over a green hay field.
    (Getty Images)

    Residents of the southern Plains are being put on alert for an outbreak of severe weather later this week that will be complete with tornadoes.

    "We are looking at Thursday to be the first decent setup for tornadoes this spring," stated AccuWeather enterprise solutions storm warning meteorologist Rebecca Elliott.

    The danger also exists for numerous thunderstorms capable of producing damaging winds, large hail and blinding downpours.

    Thursday will likely be the most active day of the week, in terms of severe weather, across the southern Plains as a potent storm from the West clashes with warm and humid air streaming in from the Gulf of Mexico.

    Cities likely in the path of Thursday's severe weather outbreak include Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Fayetteville, Ark.; and Dallas, Waco and Tyler, Texas.

    The violent thunderstorms may press to the lower Mississippi Valley Thursday night.

    However, severe weather will return to the southern Plains as soon as Tuesday, just in a more isolated fashion.

    RELATED:
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    The Difference Between Tornado Watches and Warnings
    Spring Severe Storm Season in 2014 May Be Similar to 2013

    Locally severe thunderstorms may erupt Tuesday afternoon across central Texas, which includes Abilene and Wichita Falls.

    Severe weather may also erupt from central Texas to eastern Kansas and Missouri on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's outbreak.

    Residents throughout the South Central region of the United States should continue to check back with AccuWeather.com as more details on the severe weather threat unfold.

    The running total of tornadoes so far this year is lagging behind normal, as seen in the below chart, which is consistent with the AccuWeather.com long-range forecast team's original thinking that this year's severe weather and tornado threat will spike later than usual.


    RELATED ON SKYE: 18 Incredible Photos of Tornadoes

     

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    Monday, March 31, 2014
    California Storms
    (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

    Much-needed rain looks to make a return to California during the first half of this week, but this rain will not return alone.

    Strong thunderstorms will accompany the rain over central California on Tuesday, affected cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Fresno, Redding, Santa Rosa and San Jose.

    Those in the path of these storms could experience travel delays, especially those at the airport as poor weather conditions could lead to flight delays.

    Folks headed out to the ballpark in Oakland to watch the Athletics host the Indians on Tuesday evening might want to wear the proper attire with rain in the forecast. The same can be said for those headed to the Angels game in Los Angeles.



    Thunderstorms that develop over this area on Tuesday will be capable of producing hail and damaging wind gusts past 60 mph. A few short-lived tornadoes cannot be ruled out either.

    Another danger that these storms brings is the risk of flash flooding.

    The current drought has left the ground across the state starved of moisture, making it easier for heavy rain to quickly flow over the land and into nearby streams and rivers rather than being absorbed into the soil.

    Although the brunt of the storm will focus on central parts of the state, some rain showers will still manage to make their way into Southern California.

    While rainfall might not be as heavy as it is with storms to the north, the lighter precipitation over Southern California will make it easier for the ground to absorb the rainwater.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center
    The Difference Between Tornado Watches and Warnings
    Spring Severe Storm Season in 2014 May Be Similar to 2013


    Snow is also forecast to fall over the higher elevations, such as the Sierras.

    This will add to the well below-normal snowpack that is crucial during the summer months.

    As the snow melts heading into the warmer summer months, it feeds fresh water into streams and rivers, which in turn helps to fill water reservoirs father downstream.

    Showers and thunderstorms will shift over Southern California for Wednesday while the rest of the state dries out; although none of these thunderstorms are expected to produce severe weather.

    Beyond this, the only chance for rain through the rest of the week will come to the northern coast of California as another system affects the West Coast.

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

     

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    Monday, March 31, 2014
    Washington Mudslide
    Search and rescue teams walk through a field of mud on a path of plywood at the west side of the mudslide on Highway 530 near mile marker 37 in Arlington, Wash., on Sunday, March 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Rick Wilking, Pool)

    DARRINGTON, Wash. (AP) - The rains that have bedeviled rescuers working to find more victims in the debris field from the deadly Washington state mudslide are expected to ease this week, but searchers faced other challenges at the site like household chemicals and sewage.

    The number of confirmed dead has increased from 18 to 21, Jason Biermann, program manager at the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, said Sunday evening.

    Fifteen of the victims have been identified by the Snohomish County medical examiner, and six have yet to be identified, Biermann said. Another four bodies were found Sunday, but they won't be added to the official count until the medical examiner receives the bodies. Biermann said 30 people remain missing.

    The March 22 landslide, one of the deadliest in U.S. history, struck a rural community about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

    Crews have completed a makeshift road that will link one side of the debris field to the other, significantly aiding the recovery operation. They have also been working to clear mud and debris from the highway, leaving piles of gooey muck, splintered wood and housing insulation on the sides of the road.

    Searchers have had to contend with treacherous conditions, including septic tanks, gasoline and propane containers. When rescuers and dogs leave the site, they are hosed off by hazardous materials crews.

    "We're worried about dysentery, we're worried about tetanus, we're worried about contamination," said Lt. Richard Burke of the Bellevue Fire Department, an on-site spokesman. "The last thing we want to do is take any of these contaminants out of here and take them into town."

    The slide dammed up the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, causing water to pool up on the east side. The river cut a new channel through the mud, but the rain has raised the water level nearly a foot, said Kris Rietmann, a spokeswoman for the team working on the eastern portion of the slide.

    In at least one place, the water level got so high that it covered areas that have already been searched, said Tim Pierce, leader of Washington Task Force 1, a search-and-rescue team.

    Searchers should get some relief soon. Conditions improved Sunday, and mainly dry weather is forecast Monday through Wednesday in western Washington.

    "That's good news for our crews in the field, who have been working in extremely wet conditions," Biermann said.

    The size of the debris field is also smaller than initially thought, officials said Sunday. After review and analysis, geologists have determined it is about 300 acres - just under half the size of an earlier projection of 1 square mile.

    Away from the whirring chain saws and roaring bulldozers, many residents of nearby Darrington sought comfort in Sunday church services.

    "I can only compare it to a hot, hearty meal after a very cold day," said Slava Botamanenko, who works at the hospital in Arlington. He said he spent two nights there to be sure he was available for work after the mudslide blocked the road.

    All week, a steady stream of people has stopped in to pray at the Glad Tidings Assembly of God on the edge of town, said Lee Hagen, the senior pastor.

    "At a time like this, everybody knows they've got to have God's help," he said.

    At the St. John Mary Vianney Catholic church a few blocks away, the Rev. Tim Sauer said: "Bless our communities, bless our people, bless our valley."

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    Monday, March 31, 2014
    Climate Report Food
    In this July 16, 2012, file photo, corn stalks struggle from lack of rain and a heat wave covering most of the country lie flat on the ground in Farmingdale, Ill., as the nation's widest drought in decades is spreading. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

    YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) - Global warming makes feeding the world harder and more expensive, a United Nations scientific panel said.

    A warmer world will push food prices higher, trigger "hotspots of hunger" among the world's poorest people, and put the crunch on Western delights like fine wine and robust coffee, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in a 32-volume report issued Monday.

    "We're facing the specter of reduced yields in some of the key crops that feed humanity," panel chairman Rajendra Pachauri said in press conference releasing the report.

    Even though heat and carbon dioxide are often considered good for plants, the overall effect of various aspects of man-made warming is that it will reduce food production compared to a world without global warming, the report said.

    The last time the panel reported on the effects of warming in 2007, it said it was too early to tell whether climate change would increase or decrease food production, and many skeptics talked of a greening world. But in the past several years the scientific literature has been overwhelming in showing that climate change hurts food production, said Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution of Science and lead author of the climate report.

    But this doesn't mean in 50 years there will be less food grown. Thanks to the "green revolution" of improved agricultural techniques, crop production is growing about 10 percent per decade and climate change is likely to reduce yields by 1 percent a decade, so crop production will still go up, but not as fast, said David Lobell of Stanford University, one of the authors of the report's chapter on food problems.

    Still, it is as if an anchor is weighing down the improvements to agriculture, Pachauri and Field said. Some places have seen crop yield increases drop from 2 percent a year to 1 percent or even plateau. And places like India, where 800 million people rely on rainfall not irrigation, the green revolution never improved crops much, Pachauri said.

    Although changes in rainfall hurt, mostly the problem will be too much heat, Lobell said. "No place is immune," he said.

    Food prices are likely to go up somewhere in a wide range of 3 percent to 84 percent by 2050 just because of climate change, the report said.

    "In a world where a billion people are already going hungry, this makes it harder for more people to feed their families," said Tim Gore of Oxfam International, who wasn't part of this study.

    While some crops may do slightly better, staples like wheat and corn will be hurt, the Nobel Prize-winning panel of scientists said. The report specifically mentions warming squeezing out crops in some of the richer coffee-growing areas in Central and South America, apple orchards in eastern Washington and cherry orchards in California.

    And where you get your wine may be changing. Both quantity and quality of wine can be hurt in much of Europe, the United States and Australia, but Portugal and British Columbia in Canada may become better places for wine, the report said.

    It's not just crops on land. A warmer and more acidic ocean is changing where fish live, making them harder to catch, and making it harder to feed people who rely on fish, Pachauri said.

     

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    Monday, March 31, 2014
    Solar Flare
    NASA's powerful Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this stunning full-disk view of the huge X1 solar flare of March 29, 2014. (NASA/SDO)

    The sun unleashed a major solar flare on Saturday (March 29), causing a radio blackout for several minutes on Earth, space weather experts say.

    The brief X1-class flare erupted from the now decaying sunspot AR2017 at 1:48 p.m. EDT (1748 GMT) on Saturday, according to a report from the NOAA-led Space Weather Prediction Center. Although AR2017 is dissipating, it may still produce more solar flares in the coming days, the report stated. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught sight of the solar blast, capturing video of the huge solar flare.

    "Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation," Karen Fox of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center wrote in a statement. "Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel." [Biggest Solar Flares of 2014: Sun Storm Photos]

    According to NOAA's update, the weekend solar flare and several recent eruptions of super-hot solar plasma (called a coronal mass ejections) could trigger a minor geomagnetic storm on April 2. The storm may amplify Earth's northern lights displays, astronomer Tony Phillips wrote on Spaceweather.com. The northern and southern lights are created when charged particles from the sun come into contact with particles in Earth's atmosphere. The particles from the sun are drawn to the Earth's poles by the planet's magnetic field, creating the dancing lights in northern and southern latitudes.

    While the flare did black out terrestrial radio signals, it also produced radio signals, Phillips said.

    "The explosion above sunspot AR2017 sent shock waves racing through the sun's atmosphere at speeds as high as 4800 km/s (11 million mph)," Phillips wrote. "Radio emissions stimulated by those shocks crossed the 93 million mile divide to Earth, causing shortwave radio receivers to roar with static."

    The flare also produced what Phillips calls a "magnetic crochet," a rippling in Earth's magnetic field that occurs during the flare. The effects of a CME are usually only felt a few days after the flare, when the plasma has time to reach Earth and disrupt its magnetic field. A magnetic crochet, on the other hand, appears during the flare.

    When pointed directly at Earth, powerful solar flares can pose a threat to astronauts, satellites and other spacecraft in orbit.

    The sun is in an active phase of its 11-year solar cycle. The star shot off an X-class flare at the beginning of January and another powerful X-class solar flare in February.

    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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  • 03/31/14--10:05: The World's Wettest Places
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    Tuesday, April 1, 2014
    Sunny Day in New York
    (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

    As tens of millions of people bid good riddance to March, spring will be busting out all over during the first week of April in the South, Northeast and part of the Midwest.

    Some people have described this March as being a penguin, lion, polar bear and even a stubborn mule.

    "Who cares what March came in like or is going out like," AccuWeather chief meteorologist Elliot Abrams said. "The simple fact that it is departing is wonderful in itself."

    The surging warmth will help lawns green up, buds to push out and blossoms to burst forth. People will be able to shed winter coats and break out short sleeves. The weather will be much more favorable for outdoor sporting activities ranging from jogging and bicycling to baseball and soccer.

    As a storm stalls over the Central states with rounds of severe weather much of this week, a circulation around the storm will push warmer air into most places east of the Mississippi River.

    RELATED:
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    AccuWeather Temperature Forecast Maps

    The pattern will send temperatures to near 80 degrees Fahrenheit in Birmingham, Ala., Atlanta, Raleigh, N.C., and Richmond, Va., during the middle and latter parts of the week. Temperatures will climb well into the 80s F in Columbia, S.C., and Savannah, Ga.

    Highs will be in the 70s F most days around Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky.

    Farther north, most days will feature highs in the 60s to near 70 F around Washington, D.C., to Cincinnati. Highs will be in the 60s F for at least a couple of days from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and New York City.

    Multiple days with highs in the 50s F are forecast from Chicago to Detroit and Boston. In this swath, a push of cooler air will sweep eastward and is likely to keep the warmup at bay, but temperatures will still be significantly and consistently higher than they have been during much of March.

    Temperatures averaged 4 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit below normal over a large part of the Midwest and Northeast during March. Many areas in the South averaged 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit below normal this past month.

    Some showers and thunderstorms are projected to push eastward from mid- to late-week from the Ohio Valley to part of the Northeast.

    At the end of the week, there may be a round of strong to locally severe thunderstorms from the mid-Atlantic to the Southeast as the slow-moving storm from the Central states picks up forward speed.

    Chilly weather is forecast to return later in the weekend into next week from the Upper Midwest to the Northeast and interior South.

    "If there is a zone that stays chilly more often than not through much of April, it will be the area from the northern Plains to the Upper Midwest and interior Northeast," AccuWeather long-range expert Paul Pastelok said. "The Southwest will have more days with above-average temperatures than below-average temperatures during April, and warmth will build quickly over the Southwest."

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    Tuesday, April 1, 2014
    cherry blossoms in full bloom
    (Getty Images)

    After the long, harsh winter of 2013-14, people are ready for spring.

    Winter meant extreme cold, heavy snow and ice for many Americans, especially in the Midwest and the Northeast. The signs of spring are in the air, even though this March has felt like winter for many, AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Bernie Rayno said.

    Spring is a hopeful time for people, Edward F. Mackey, the director of the Mind-Body Institute of Applied Psychophysiology at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, said.

    "Spring can signify new beginnings," Mackey said.

    Changes actually start after the winter equinox on Dec. 20 as the days get longer and longer, but the one-hour change to daylight saving time helps with the transition to spring.

    "One hour to spring ahead, at some subconscious level, may signify moving forward, not stagnant, out front and pulling away,'" Mackey said.

    Even more of a psychological boost is the change of temperatures in March and April, two months of the greatest change as far as weather goes.

    "Normal temperatures go up the fastest, as much as 12 to 13 degrees in March and April, but it's more noticeable in March," Rayno said.

    Detroit's normal high temperature starts at 40 degrees Fahrenheit on March 1 and climbs to 53 F by the end of the month.

    New York City's normal high jumps 10 degrees Fahrenheit from March 1 to 31, with an end of the month temperature of 55 F.

    This March, however, has been unusually cold, with below-normal temperatures reaching across two-thirds of the U.S. and extending far south into Houston, Rayno said.

    The transition to spring may bring on the onset of "spring fever."

    "Folks cannot wait to get out of the house after a long winter," Mackey said.

    Spring is also a time where sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be lifted up after a long winter.

    "SAD is most often associated with decreased sunlight levels as the sun is not high in the sky," Mackey said. As spring arrives, the Earth's tilt is changing and the sun is higher and daylight time gets longer, thus thwarting the SAD effects from too little sunlight."

    It will be a slower move from winterlike to springlike weather, Rayno said.

    "There are signs of spring for the Upper Midwest and the Northeast, but more days are going to be colder than warmer," he said.

    It will be warmer in the Plains and Southeast, but that will mean an increase in severe weather chances at a time when severe weather has been at historic lows.

    "The cold weather has kept a lid on severe weather," he said.

    Eventually "winter will start to get deflated," Rayno said.


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    Tuesday, April 1, 2014
    Cleveland Indians v Oakland Athletics
    (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    Rain and thunderstorms will impact multiple baseball games throughout the first week of the MLB regular season from coast to coast.

    Baseball fans headed to the ballpark on Tuesday evening in Oakland and Los Angeles should prepare for wet weather as a rain spreads across California.

    Those in Oakland for when the Athletics host the Indians should pay close attention to changing weather as some gusty thunderstorms could blow over early in the game, possibly leading to game delays.

    Drier weather is in store for most other games set to be held across the nation on Tuesday.

    A new pattern is set to take shape by midweek; however, with rain and thunderstorms shifting over the Plains and eventually the Northeast.

    Strong thunderstorms will erupt across the southern Plains on Wednesday afternoon and continue throughout the evening, possibly impacting the Texas Rangers as they host the Philadelphia Phillies in Dallas.

    Fans and players alike should be aware of the dangers that thunderstorms bring, not only for this game, but throughout the entire season.

    Lightning is one of nature's most deadly weather phenomenon, so those in the outdoors should seek shelter when a storm approaches.

    If you are outdoors and see lightning or hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning. It is advised that you seek shelter until the storm passes.

    The same system responsible for these severe storms will also spread rain from the central Plains to the mid-Atlantic on Thursday and Friday, dampening numerous games.

    Rain is in the forecast on Friday for the cities of Washington, D.C., Chicago, Cleveland and Toronto; all of which are home to baseball teams set to host their first game of the season.

    Fortunately, those planning to attend the Toronto Blue Jays open against the New York Yankees shouldn't have to worry about the rain as the stadium is fitted with a retractable roof, protecting the teams and fans from the elements.

    A drier forecast is in store for fans attending the first home game of the year for the Boston Red Sox, the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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    Tuesday, April 1, 2014
    Deadly Storm Chaser Roger Hill
    (Photo by Roger Hill / Barcroft USA / Getty Images)

    People of the Plains will need to keep an eye on the weather this week for a multiple-day severe thunderstorm outbreak that will be complete with tornadoes.

    A couple of slow-moving storm systems will be responsible for multiple rounds of severe weather over the Central states through Friday.

    During Tuesday and Wednesday, thunderstorms can become briefly severe farther south from Texas to Kansas and Missouri. The storms on Wednesday could be known for large hail, ahead of a push of warm, humid air.



    "We are looking at Thursday to be the first decent setup for tornadoes this spring," stated AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions storm warning meteorologist Rebecca Elliott.

    Thursday will likely be the most active day of the week, in terms of severe weather, across the southern Plains as a potent storm from the West clashes with warm, humid air streaming in from the Gulf of Mexico.

    Warm, humid conditions will be established by Thursday centered on Arkansas, but including most of the neighboring states.



    In addition to the tornado threat, there exists the potential for numerous thunderstorms capable of producing damaging winds, large hail and blinding downpours on Thursday.

    RELATED:
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    The Difference Between Tornado Watches and Warnings
    Spring Severe Storm Season in 2014 May Be Similar to 2013


    Cities likely in the path of Thursday's severe weather outbreak include Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Little Rock, Ark.; and Dallas, Waco and Tyler, Texas; Joplin, Springfield and Cape Girardeau, Mo.; and Shreveport, La.

    The violent thunderstorms may press to the lower Mississippi and Ohio valleys Thursday night and on Friday.

    Residents throughout the South Central states should continue to check back with AccuWeather.com as details on the severe weather threat unfold, especially concerning the storms during the second half of the week.

    The running total of tornadoes so far this year is lagging behind average.

    The behavior of this season's severe weather season is consistent with the AccuWeather.com long-range forecast team's synopsis that this year's severe weather and tornado threat will spike later than usual.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Stunning Photos from the 2013 Tornado Season
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    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

    The moon turned a blood red over the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge on NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia in this stunning photo taken by skywatcher George Tucker on June 15, 2011. (Credit: George Tucker)

    From eclipses and planets to meteor showers galore, the northern spring season of 2014 will bring a number of eye-catching celestial sights for stargazers on Earth.

    Weather permitting, some of the best spring night sky events could be readily visible without the aid of binoculars or a telescope, even from brightly-lit cities. But you'll need to know when and where to look to make the most of the season.

    I've always felt that many astronomers started their careers as perceptive children who responded to the thrill of witnessing a noteworthy astronomical event. So whether you want to impress a youngster, or you're simply hoping to witness a head-turning astronomical event for yourself, it always helps to be ready in advance by marking your calendar and highlighting a number of these special dates:

    During the overnight hours of April 14 and 15, it will be a night for viewing first Mars and later the full moon. [Mars at Its best in April Night Sky (Video)]

    First, Mars will come to within 57.4 million miles (92.4 million kilometers) of our planet, making its closest approach to us since Jan. 3, 2008. All through the night, Mars will resemble a dazzling star shining with a steady fiery-colored tint making it a formidable sight; its brightness will match Sirius, the brightest of all the stars.

    As a bonus, later that very same night (actually during the early hours of April 15) North America will have a ringside seat to see a total lunar eclipse when the Full Moon becomes transformed into a mottled reddish ball for 78 minutes as it becomes completely immersed in the shadow of the Earth.

    This total lunar eclipse will be the first one widely visible from North America in nearly 3.5 years. The Americas will have the best view of this eclipse, although over the Canadian Maritimes, moonset will intervene near the end of totality. Of special interest is the fact that the moon will appear quite near to the bright star Spica, in the constellation Virgo, during the eclipse. They actually will be in conjunction a couple of hours prior to the onset of totality, but they're still relatively near to each other when the eclipse gets underway.

    April 22: The Lyrid meteor shower

    Rather favorable circumstances are expected for this year's Lyrid meteor shower, predicted to be at maximum this morning. The radiant, located near the brilliant bluish-white star Vega, rises in the northeast about the time evening twilight ends, and viewing will improve until light from the last-quarter moon begins to interfere just after 2 a.m. your local time.

    Under the best conditions, 10 to 15 members of this shower can be seen in an hour by a single observer. The Lyrids remain about a quarter of their peak number for about two days. These bright meteors are associated with Thatcher's Comet of 1861.

    April 28 and 29: A Ring Eclipse that nobody will see?

    It is quite possible that only penguins will witness the annular solar eclipse, also known as a "ring of fire" solar eclipse. That's because it will occur within the uninhabited region of Wilkes Land in Antarctica.

    Those living in southernmost parts of Indonesia as well as Australia (where it will be autumn) will at least get a view of a partial eclipse of the sun. Because the axis of the moon's antumbral shadow misses the Earth and only its edge grazes Antarctica, it makes an accurate prediction of the duration of annularity all but impossible.

    May 6: The Eta Aquarid meteor shower

    The annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower - "shooting stars" spawned by the famed Halley's Comet - is scheduled to reach maximum early this morning. It's usually the year's richest meteor display for Southern Hemisphere observers, but north of the equator the Eta Aquarid shower is one of the more difficult annual displays to observe.

    From mid-northern latitudes, the radiant (from where the meteors appear to emanate) rises about 1:30 a.m. local daylight time, scarcely two hours before morning twilight begins to interfere. At peak activity, about a dozen shower members can be seen per hour by a single observer with good sky conditions from latitude 26 degrees North, but practically zero north of latitude 40 degrees. The shower remains active at roughly one-half peak strength for a couple of days before and after the maximum. Conditions this year are excellent; the moon is absent from the predawn sky for more than a week around maximum. [Facts About the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower]

    May 10: Saturn at opposition

    The ringed planet Saturn reaches opposition; it rises in the east-southeast at dusk, is due south in the middle of the night and sets in the west-southwest at dawn. Once it gains enough altitude, it appears similarly as bright as the zero-magnitude stars Arcturus and Vega.

    Saturn's famous rings appear much more impressive than in recent years, since they are now tipped by 21.5 degrees from edge on.

    May 24: Possible outburst of bright meteors

    Perhaps the most dramatic sky event in 2014 could come at the start of the Memorial Day weekend. In the predawn hours of Saturday, May 24, our planet is expected to sweep through a great number of dusty trails left behind in space by the small comet P/209 LINEAR.

    This unusual cosmic interaction might possibly result in an amazing, albeit brief display of meteors - popularly known as "shooting stars" - perhaps numbering in the many dozens or even hundreds per hour. Nobody knows exactly how many meteors will be seen, but several meteor scientists believe that because the particles will be unusually large, the meteors will be outstandingly bright.

    May 25: Mercury attains its greatest elongation

    The planet Mercury will reach its greatest elongation, or greatest angular distance, east of the sun on this night. This is Mercury's best evening apparition of the year; it sets about 100 minutes after sunset. An hour after sunset, look low above the west-northwest horizon; the speedy planet should be easily visible as a yellowish "star."

    Mercury will appear somewhat brighter up to two weeks before this date, and noticeably dimmer for about a week afterwards.

    Editor's Note: If you snap an amazing night-sky photo and would like to share it with Space.com for a possible story or gallery, please send images and comments (including your name and the photo's location) to managing editor Tariq Malik at: spacephotos@space.com.

    Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmer's Almanac and other publications, and he is also an on-camera meteorologist for News 12 Westchester, N.Y. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Original story 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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