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    Saturday, April 26, 2014
    Getty Images North America
    As in this file photo, people in the eastern part of the nation should brace for still more chilly weather. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

    Although people will be getting ready to turn their calendars over to May, a slow-moving low pressure system will delay any prolonged warmth over the Northeast and Midwest.

    The same system responsible for severe thunderstorms in the Plains this weekend will transition eastward early next week and stall out over the Midwest. This will result in several days of cloudy, cool and wet weather from Minnesota to New Jersey.

    Those from New York City to Washington, D.C. and westward to Chicago will make good use of their umbrellas with over 2 inches of rain possible through the end of the week.

    Despite several inches of rain on the way, no widespread flooding is expected due to the long duration of the rain as opposed to it falling in just a few short hours.



    This prolonged period of wet weather will impact a plethora of outdoor events, including multiple MLB games set to be held across the regions.

    Some baseball games may turn into washouts on days when the steadier rain is forecast to fall. This includes games set to be held in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York City and Chicago.

    A few rumbles of thunder may also lead to game delays on Tuesday and Wednesday.

    If you are partaking in any outdoor activity and hear thunder, you should seek shelter. Keep in mind that if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.



    While cool, cloudy and wet weather plagues the Northeast and Midwest, thunderstorms are forecast to rumble across the Southeast on the southern side of the system.

    Thunderstorms are expected to track across the Southeast on Monday and Tuesday with storms having the potential to produce severe weather both days.

    Monday appears to be the worst of the two days in terms of severe weather with large hail, damaging winds and even tornadoes possible.

    Be sure to check back with AccuWeather.com as more information becomes known concerning these storms on Monday and Tuesday.

    RELATED:
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    Is Climate Change Causing More Powerful Tornadoes?
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    Those looking for a break in this weather pattern will have to wait until the weekend as the slow-moving low pressure system will finally begin to depart the region.

    However, early indications show another system quickly tracking across the Midwest and Northeast in the wake of this slow-progressing low.

    Although this system does not appear like it will bring a steady, soaking rain, it may result in more showers for the first weekend of May.

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

     

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    Saturday, April 26, 2014

    Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean, seen here in 1969 stepping onto the moon, is selling his lunar mementos, including a life support backpack strap that he wore on his moonwalks. (NASA/Heritage Auctions)

    The fourth man to walk on the moon is selling a small treasure trove of artifacts he brought back from his lunar voyage.

    Apollo 12 lunar module pilot Alan Bean, who with the late Charles "Pete" Conrad achieved the United States' second manned lunar landing in November 1969, has consigned a collection of his moon memorabilia to Heritage Auctions of Dallas for their May 14 sale.

    "When it comes to collecting this [type of] material, pieces that have been on the lunar surface, with an astronaut, are by far the most highly sought after," Howard Weinberger, space memorabilia consultant for Heritage, said. "At every level of this material there is something spectacular and notable in terms of America's lunar program." [NASA's Apollo Moon Missions in Photos]

    Although Bean has previously sold other memorabilia from his collection, the items he has entrusted to Heritage have not appeared at public auction before. All of it has resided with the astronaut and his family since the mission nearly 45 years ago.

    That includes one of the sale's highlighted lots, a 17-inch cloth strap that Bean wore on the surface of the moon for almost eight hours during the course of his two moonwalks.

    The strap, which helped hold in place Bean's life support backpack (known as the Portable Life Support System, or PLSS) displays gray spots and streaks that are "actually embedded moon dust," according to Heritage. Bean wrote on the white cloth strap that it was his "left PLSS shoulder strap," though he has since come to the conclusion it was his waist strap instead and, as Heritage's description has noted, is "modifying his certification on the item to match that information."

    Both Alan Bean and Conrad returned to Earth with straps from their PLSS backpacks, among other items, as mementos. The backpacks themselves were jettisoned before the two astronauts left the lunar surface as the spent units added weight to the lander needed for the return of moon rocks.

    Heritage estimates Bean's backpack strap to sell between $60,000 and $75,000.

    Bean is also offering a pair of scissors and a pen that he carried in his spacesuit pocket as he walked on the moon. Both the stainless steel cutting tool and writing instrument traveled with Bean aboard the Apollo 12 command module "Yankee Clipper," and descended to the moon's "Ocean of Storms" onboard the lunar module "Intrepid."

    Heritage appraised the Apollo 12 flown scissors to sell for $35,000 to $50,000, and valued the space pen at $10,000 to $15,000.

    "Beyond the trio of lunar-surface [artifacts] that tops this auction, there are several other key artifacts being offered that were either in the lunar module on the moon's surface or that flew in the command module from the Earth to the moon," Weinberger said.

    Bean's other lots include the umbilical cable that was used connect the command module's power supply to the lunar module on the journey to the moon ($15,000 to $30,000); stainless steel interval timer used in Yankee Clipper when Bean "stirred the cryogenic tanks, performed urine dumps, and other procedures where accurate time intervals were needed ($20,000 to $30,000); and the stowage bag Bean used to hold his checklists, food items, and, to quote the astronaut, "other articles I used in our lunar module during landing, our stay on the lunar surface, and our ascent from the moon" ($20,000 to $30,000).

    Bean also consigned his custom-fitted and molded orange communications earpiece used in the command module, and a mirror with a swivel mount carried inside the lunar module. Other lots include items that were launched from Earth as mission mementos, including flown flags, a silver medallion, a tie-clasp and cufflinks.

    A law passed in 2012 confirmed Bean's and the Apollo-era astronauts' title to the spacecraft artifacts they retained as souvenirs.

    In total, Heritage's "Space Signature" auction features 344 lots, of which about 20 are from Bean's personal Apollo 12 collection.

    The sale also includes an example of what Bean has been doing since he returned from the moon and spent 59 days on the United States' first space station, Skylab, in 1973.

    "John F. Kennedy's Vision," an original painting created by the astronaut, captures in acrylic the scene of Apollo 11 moonwalkers Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planting the American flag. The 2004 piece, which prior to the auction was acquired from Bean by a private collector and loaned to Rice University in Texas, features the astronaut-turned-artist's trademark of using a pair of moon boots and other lunar tools to create impressions in the canvas.

    Bean also mixes bits of his Apollo spacesuit patches into the paint, adding moon dust to his creations. Heritage has estimated the painting to sell for $100,000 to $120,000.

    For more about the auction of Alan Bean's mementos or to bid, see Heritage Auctions' website at ha.com.

    Click through to collectSPACE.com for more photos of astronaut Alan Bean's Apollo 12 memorabilia up for auction.

    Follow collectSPACE.com on Facebook and on Twitter at @collectSPACE. Copyright 2014 collectSPACE.com. All rights reserved.

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

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Epic Photos of Astronauts on the Moon
    Man on Moon

     

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    Saturday, April 26, 2014

    As in this file photo of an approaching tornado, the country's midsection is bracing for powerful twisters. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

    A multiple-day outbreak of severe thunderstorms, including tornadoes, is set to begin this weekend. The outbreak is likely to be the worst of the season so far and may end up being one of the top severe weather events for the season.

    While the 2014 severe weather season has gotten off to a rather quiet start, a strong surge in severe weather is forecast to begin this weekend.

    People will need to keep a close eye on the weather, watch for rapidly changing weather conditions and pay careful attention to severe weather and tornado warnings as they are issued.

    Now is the time to review tornado safety measures with your family.

    According to AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Senior Vice President Mike Smith, "A reason for extra concern this weekend is that tornadoes have been nearly non-existent so far and people tend to forget what they have learned from year to year."

    A number of the storms, including ones capable of producing tornadoes, will occur after dark, adding to the danger.

    RELATED:
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    The Difference Between Tornado Watches, Warnings
    Which Outdoor Activities Top the Charts for Lightning Perils?


    According to AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Storm Warning Meteorologist Scott Breit, "Large hail and damaging straight-line wind gusts will be the primary threats with the storms Saturday evening, but a few isolated supercell thunderstorms can produce a tornado."



    A supercell thunderstorm is a long-lived intense storm that often develops rotation and has an elevated risk of producing tornadoes.

    The first storms in the outbreak will hold off until late in the day on Saturday or Saturday evening and will erupt along a phenomenon known as a dry line from parts of western Texas to central Nebraska.

    A dry line marks the boundary between desert air to the west and moist Gulf of Mexico air to the east.

    The storms late on Saturday are likely to fire between U.S. Route 83 and I-35/U.S. Route 81. Cities that may be hit first by the storms include Abilene, Texas; Clinton, Okla., and Dodge City, Kan.

    "South-central Kansas to west-central Oklahoma would be in an elevated risk area for severe weather Saturday evening," Breit said.

    The energy expected to ignite the storms will not arrive until late in the day on Saturday, but such a setup could allow powerful storms to occur well into the nighttime hours while the storms drift farther east into additional rural locations, and also more populated areas.

    The surviving storms from dusk on Saturday may drift toward the cities of Omaha, Neb.; Wichita, Kan.; Oklahoma City; and Dallas later at night.

    Thousands of people will be converging on Oklahoma City this weekend for the annual Memorial Marathon. While the worst of the storms may shift to the east of the city by race time on Sunday morning, officials are taking no chances with the severe weather and have a system of alert flags set up throughout the course.

    Sunday and Sunday night have the potential to be the worst 24-hour period of the outbreak.

    According to Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity, "Not only will the storms have moved into a warm and moist environment, but they will also develop in areas where there is a higher rural population and a greater concentration of towns and large cities."



    According to the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center, the setup on Sunday has the potential to bring storms with very large hail and strong tornadoes that could carry on into the nighttime hours.

    Major cities at risk for violent storms, downed trees and power disruptions on Sunday include Kansas City, Mo.; St. Louis; Little Rock, Ark.; Memphis; Tulsa, Okla.; and Dallas.

    The risk to lives and property, as well as travel disruptions, will continue well into next week as the parent storm system moves very slowly eastward.

    Severe thunderstorms are possible on Monday and Tuesday centered over the lower Mississippi, Tennessee and lower Ohio valleys.



    Later next week, there may be strong to locally severe thunderstorms with gusty winds, hail and frequent lightning strikes reaching into more of the Midwest, areas farther to the east in the South and even into the mid-Atlantic.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Stunning Photos from the 2013 Tornado Season
    Kansas Torndao

     

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    Saturday, April 26, 2014
    AP
    As in this file photo of research students measuring wind speed in New Orleans, the city will be hit with wicked weather that will stretch up to St. Louis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

    A wide-reaching severe weather threat, from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, will put millions of people in harm's way on Monday.

    Damaging winds will be the most prevalent threat on Monday. This threat will include cities from St. Louis, Mo. to Louisville, Ky. to Little Rock, Ark. and New Orleans.

    Some of the most violent thunderstorms in this zone will unleash large hail and even tornadoes.

    "Northern Mississippi will be at the greatest risk for tornadoes on Monday," AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Storm Warning Meteorologist Justin Pullin said. "The higher risk could extend a little farther north to include Memphis, Tenn. as well."

    Typically severe weather occurs during the afternoon and evening, but this will be an all-day threat on Monday. Storms will be ongoing during the morning as they emerge from Plains.

    The storms can result in long delays for both air and ground travelers. Air travelers in both St. Louis and Memphis could face the most interruptions in the region. Those traveling across Interstates 70, 64, 55 and 40 can be delayed by blinding downpours and water covered roadways.

    Repeated bouts of torrential downpours can spark flash flooding. If you ever encounter a water-covered roadway, turn around and seek another route.

    Damage to power lines could wipe out power to many. Be prepared by storing fresh water and non-perishable food. Make sure fresh batteries are in flashlights and severe weather radios.

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    Monday's threat will evolve from a powerful storm that will spawn violent thunderstorms across the Plains through the balance of the weekend.



    The storm will generate powerful winds aloft which will combine with warm and humid air at the surface to generate the violent thunderstorms.

    A swarm of dangerous thunderstorms will persist into Monday night from Illinois to Louisiana ahead of a renewed severe weather threat on Tuesday.

    "Severe storms will kick off again Tuesday afternoon across portions of the Southeast, especially across Mississippi and Alabama," Pullin said.

    Cities that can be impacted on Tuesday will include Mobile, Miss., Birmingham, Ala., Chattanooga, Tenn., and even Atlanta.

    A severe thunderstorm risk could linger into Wednesday and Thursday, potentially impacting areas from the mid-Atlantic to the Southeast.

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

     

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    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    As in this file photo of a funnel cloud touching down, twisters are likely in certain regions of the U.S. today. (AP Photo/Lori Mehmen)

    The worst severe weather outbreak so far this year will erupt on Sunday with the greatest tornado danger focusing in and around Missouri and Arkansas.

    People from eastern Texas to central Iowa should pay close attention to Sunday's weather as storms develop and strengthen with damaging winds, large hail, frequent lightning and destructive tornadoes.

    The thunderstorms erupting on Sunday morning are primarily producing damaging winds and hail.

    These thunderstorms forced officials to delay the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on Sunday morning.



    The threat for thunderstorms to spawn tornadoes will increase through the afternoon from southeastern Nebraska and southern Iowa to Missouri to Arkansas to northeastern Texas and northern Louisiana.

    Cities within this zone include Omaha, Neb.; Kansas City, Jefferson City, Joplin and Springfield, Mo.; Jonesboro and Little Rock, Ark.; Shreveport, La.; and Tyler, Texas.

    If you have plans to spend any time in the outdoors, you should pay close attention to the forecast and fast-changing weather conditions so you don't get stuck in the middle of a severe thunderstorm.

    Now would be a good time to review tornado safety measures and make a plan in case you are impacted by one of these severe storms.



    The worst of the storms will develop on Sunday afternoon and into the evening hours with the greatest risk of tornadoes centered around the state of Arkansas and Missouri.

    Some tornadoes that develop in this area could be long-lived, tracking on the ground for many miles before the storm weakens and the twister lifts off the ground.

    An added danger will accompany the storms as they continue into Sunday night with the cover of darkness making it difficult to see a storm as it approaches.

    RELATED:
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    The Difference Between Tornado Watches, Warnings


    It is important to know the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.

    A tornado watch means that conditions are conducive to the development of thunderstorms capable of producing a tornado. Meanwhile, a warning means that a tornado is imminent or may already be on the ground.

    If you find yourself in a tornado warning, you should take shelter until the storm has passed and the tornado warning has been lifted.



    The threat for severe weather will slowly shift eastward heading into the start of this week, stretching from Alabama to Ohio on both Monday and Tuesday.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Stunning Photos from the 2013 Tornado Season
    Kansas Torndao

     

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    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    This file photo shows runners in a past Oklahoma City Marathon. (Ann White)

    OKLAHOMA CITY - Marathon runners took shelter early Sunday as hail and high winds delayed a race dedicated to victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and forecasters warned people in the nation's mid-section to prepare for tornadoes and hurricane-force winds.

    Race organizers delayed the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon by 105 minutes to let a severe thunderstorm pass through. With skies still gloomy, marathon organizers tweeted a photo from downtown with the caption: "Lined up and ready to run!"

    And after 168 seconds of silence to remember bombing victims, the race started at 8:15 a.m.

    The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center said the risk of tornadoes will rise throughout the day, centered in an area stretching from Omaha, Neb., south to northern Louisiana. Some twisters could be particularly strong at late afternoon and evening.

    "The greatest risk for a few intense tornadoes will exist across much of Arkansas perhaps into western and central Missouri," an advisory from forecasters said. Storms could also reach the Delta region of northwestern Mississippi late in the day.

    Hail and high winds could hit the areas that don't see tornadoes, the forecasters said. They warned that hail could be the size of baseballs and wind gusts could reach hurricane-force: 75 mph or higher.

    Sunday's marathon had been set to start at 6:30 a.m., but strong storms formed overnight in western Oklahoma and approached the state capital just before sunrise.

    Race organizers already had arranged for three shelters to be used along the 26.2-mile route - just in case - but when the storm came early downtown businesses opened their doors to give runners in their shorts, commemorative T-shirts and bibs and place to wait.

    Oklahoma City's marathon is held each year near the anniversary of the bombing. On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh loaded a truck with fuel oil and fertilizer and exploded it outside the city's federal building, killing 168 people. A museum, memorial garden and reflecting pool now fill the site of the blast.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Stunning Photos from the 2013 Tornado Season
    Kansas Torndao

     

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    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    Atmospheric river events on July 5,1889, and July 9, 2012, swept warm, moist air up toward Greenland's west coast, contributing to extreme melt that year. (Don Murray, CIRES/NOAA)

    In a reversal of this year's extraordinary winter weather, Greenland suffered the wrath of North America's epic heat waves in 1889 and 2012, a new study reveals.

    "Last winter in the eastern United States, people associated the cold with the behavior of the polar vortex," said lead study author William Neff, a fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "In fact the polar vortex can show two faces: a cold one or a warm one depending where you are. Last winter it showed its cold face to folks in the East. In the summer of 2012, it showed its warm face." [Video: 2 Extreme Melt Events 123 Years Apart]

    Though more than a century apart, both massive surface melts were triggered by soaring temperatures east of the Rocky Mountains, according to findings published on April 24 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. It turns out that North America's furnacelike heat was funneled toward Greenland by an atmospheric river, a narrow, fast-flowing current of moist, warm air, Neff and his co-authors found. A warmer-than-average ocean off Greenland moistened the scorching air as it blasted north.

    "Air was taken from the heat wave in the Midwest, moved to the east and then traveled over the ocean picking up moisture on the way to Greenland, where the warm air and clouds helped melt the ice over highest levels of Greenland," Neff told Live Science by email.

    Both 1889 and 2012 saw record-shattering summer melts that liquefied nearly all of Greenland's icy surface. Ice core records suggest similar extreme melts hit about once a century between A.D. 750 and A.D. 1250, during a warmer North Atlantic climate known as the Medieval Warm Period.

    Earlier research had already identified the culprits in 2012's incredible thaw -- warm air and thin clouds insulating the island like a blanket -- but scientists were curious about what caused the remarkable weather pattern.

    "These rare melt events on the highest elevations of Greenland require an unusual coincidence of factors," Neff said. "Understanding how they come together may help us better forecast the future of Greenland's ice and snow."

    On the West Coast of the United States, atmospheric rivers deliver winter rain and snow, such as the Pineapple Express, which carries tropical moisture from Hawaii to California. But atmospheric rivers can form around the world, even in Antarctica.

    Heat, drought and dissolving ice

    The findings help explain why it's so rare for the entire Greenland ice sheet to melt in toasty summer weather.

    Atmospheric rivers reach Greenland only when atmospheric pressure patterns, such as ridges and lows, free a path for North America's heat and moisture to travel northward.

    "Distortions in the jet stream must happen in just the right place to direct atmospheric rivers toward Greenland," Neff said. "That may be one reason extreme melt events there have been relatively rare."

    A sophisticated computer model of historic weather patterns suggests the same factors underlie Greenland's 1889 surface melt. In the summer of that year, heat waves in the Rocky Mountains and eastward drove temperatures as much as 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit higher than average, and a severe drought gripped the northwestern and Upper Midwest states, according to weather records.

    In the summer of 2012, temperatures east of the Rocky Mountains were also about 15 F higher than normal.

    Neff did note one significant difference between the two heat waves -- Rocky Mountain forest fires. In 1889, forest fires burned freely, and soot from the extensive flames can be found in Greenland ice cores. Studies show snow and ice coated in soot will melt faster than clean snow and ice.

    Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @OAPlanet, Facebook and Google+. Original article at Live Science's Our Amazing Planet.

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

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

     

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    April 27, 2014

    This gorgeous image shows the Apollo 16 command module about to splash down into the central Pacific Ocean on April 27, 1972.

    Astronauts John W. Young, Thomas K. Mattingly II and Charles M. Duke Jr. were all on board the spacecraft, which had successfully weathered reentry into the Earth's atmosphere after a mission to the moon.

    The image was taken from a recovery aircraft seconds before the spacecraft hit the water about 215 miles southeast of Christmas Island.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Epic Photos of Astronauts on the Moon
    Man on Moon

     

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    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    A vehicle tops a hill along U.S. Route 56 as a severe thunderstorm moves through the area near Baldwin City, Kan., Sunday, April 27, 2014. Severe storms are expected in the area most of the day. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

    Violent thunderstorms and tornadoes will continue to increase across the nation's midsection Sunday afternoon as the worst severe weather outbreak so far this year unfolds.

    Thunderstorms with hail and damaging winds have been rattling parts of northeastern Texas, Oklahoma, eastern Kansas and Arkansas since daybreak Sunday.

    Similar such thunderstorms will continue to erupt from Nebraska and western Iowa to Missouri, Arkansas, far eastern Oklahoma, northeastern Texas and northern Louisiana through early Sunday evening.The strongest thunderstorms will also spawn tornadoes with the danger zone greatest in the vicinity of Arkansas and southern Missouri. Little Rock, Ark., lies within this zone



    RELATED:
    Tornado Outbreak Centers on Missouri, Arkansas
    AccuWeather Severe Weather Center
    Protect Yourself When a Tornado Strikes


    UPDATES: (All times in central time)

    1:20 p.m. CDT Sunday: All severe weather watches and warnings are listed on the AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center page.

    1:10 p.m. CDT Sunday: A thunderstorm that caused tree damage in Warrensburg, Missouri, it is tracking toward Sweet Springs, Missouri.

    12:53 p.m. CDT Sunday: A thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was located near Odessa, Missouri, and was tracking toward the communities of Dover and Carrollton. This thunderstorm produced a 60-mph wind gust in Odessa.

    12:40 p.m. CDT Sunday: A line of thunderstorms with a history of producing hail and damaging winds continues to track across northwestern Missouri.



    12:30 p.m. CDT Sunday: The environment is becoming more conducive for the development of tornadoes in the vicinity of western Arkansas. Thunderstorms capable of spawning tornadoes will begin to increase in coverage across this area during the mid-afternoon hours.

    12:25 p.m. CDT Sunday: National Weather Service observer reports penny-sized hail from a thunderstorm eight miles west of Callaway, Neb.

    12:04 p.m. CDT Sunday: While a line of severe thunderstorms is pressing into Missouri, AccuWeather.com meteorologists remain concerned for tornadic thunderstorms to erupt across far eastern Oklahoma, northeastern Texas and Arkansas as the afternoon progresses.

    11:56 a.m. CDT Sunday: AccuWeather.com meteorologists identified central Nebraska as another area at risk for strong thunderstorms Sunday afternoon.

    11:49 a.m. CDT Sunday: Winds gusted to 57 mph when a line of severe thunderstorms tracked across the Kansas City International Airport, Mo.

    11:40 a.m. CDT Sunday: Quarter-sized hail slammed Parkville, Mo.

    11:25 a.m. CDT Sunday: A thunderstorm dropped golf ball-sized hail on Overland Park, Kan., according to a National Weather Service spotter.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Stunning Photos from the 2013 Tornado Season
    Kansas Torndao

     

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    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    DARPA's Proposed Phoenix satellite tender nears a satellite in orbit. (DARPA)

    An ambitious Pentagon effort to repair and recycle satellites in Earth orbit has moved one step closer to reality.

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded prime contracts to eight companies earlier this month, advancing its Phoenix satellite-servicing program to Phase 2 of development.

    "Phase 1 not only showed the feasibility of our robotic tools and assembly techniques, but also validated the concept that we could build new satellites on orbit by physically aggregating satlets in space," DARPA program manager David Barnhart said in a statement. "These successes could eventually lead to the revolutionary ability to create new, truly scalable space systems on orbit at a fraction of current costs."

    DARPA hopes Phoenix develops tools and capabilities that will allow satellites to be inspected, serviced, upgraded and assembled on orbit, extending the lifespan of existing space assets and significantly reducing the cost of future satellites.

    These goals apply especially to hardware in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), which lies about 22,000 miles above the planet's surface. Satellites way up there are pretty much out of reach with current technology, officials said.

    Researchers will concentrate on three main areas during Phoenix's Phase 2. First, they'll continue to develop advanced space robotics technologies that would allow a future "Servicer/Tender" spacecraft to assemble, repair and refuel satellites in GEO.

    Engineers will also work on developing "satlet" architecture -- a system of many small, independent modules that can be joined up in various ways to accomplish a broad range of mission objectives. The 15-lb. modules could be produced on an assembly line and outfitted with different payloads easily and quickly, DARPA officials said.

    Phase 2 will also advance research into a cost-cutting Payload Orbital Delivery (POD) system, which would allow a variety of payloads, satlets and other gear to hitch rides to space aboard commercial communications satellites.

    "Individually or together, these technologies could help enable not just Phoenix's original concept of re-use, but a broad class of other robotically enabled missions at GEO as well," Barnhart said. "They could help satellites reach new or proper orbits, inspect satellites as part of routine maintenance or troubleshooting efforts, repair or replace worn-out components or add or upgrade capabilities."

    The eight companies receiving Phase 2 prime contracts are Busek; Energid Inc.; Honeybee Robotics; MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.-Canada; MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.-U.S.; NovaWurks; Oceaneering Inc.; and Space Systems/Loral.

    Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

    Photos:

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

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Amazing Photos of the International Space Station
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    Sunday, April 27, 2014

    A flag is tattered in the wind of a severe thunderstorm at a farm credit office near Baldwin City, Kan., Sunday, April 27, 2014. Severe storms are expected in the area most of the day. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

    OKLAHOMA CITY - A powerful storm system rumbled through the Plains, Midwest and South on Sunday, spawning tornadoes that touched down in several states, including one that killed two people and caused heavy damage to a small northeastern Oklahoma city.

    The deadly tornado struck Quapaw, which is near Oklahoma's borders with Kansas and Missouri, at around 5:30 p.m., Ottawa County sheriff's dispatcher Colleen Thompson said.

    Ottawa County Emergency Management director Joe Dan Morgan said Quapaw was heavily damaged by the tornado.

    "Looks like about half of town got extensive damage as well as the fire department," Morgan said.

    After hitting Quapaw, the twister continued northward into Kansas and struck Baxter Springs, about 5 miles away, said Morgan, whose staff was still assessing the extent of the damage in Quapaw.

    Cherokee County, Kan., sheriff's dispatcher Josh Harvey said the tornado that hit Baxter Springs injured several people and caused extensive damage, but that no deaths had been reported. He said first responders were going from house to house checking on the wellbeing of the community's roughly 4,200 residents.

    Tornado warnings, which indicate the greatest threat of a strike, were in effect for parts of northeastern Texas, central Arkansas and western Tennessee as of 7:30 p.m. CDT. In addition to the tornado that struck Oklahoma and Kansas, twisters also had reportedly touched down Sunday in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

    One of Sunday's twisters touched down northwest of Joplin, Mo., where a massive tornado in May 2011 killed 161 people, injured many others and leveled a large swath of the city. Sunday's twister didn't hit Joplin.

    In Little Rock and elsewhere in central Arkansas, residents took shelter in their basements shortly after 7 p.m. because of the tornado threat. The weather service reported shortly before 7:30 p.m. that storm spotters were tracking a large and extremely dangerous tornado east of Roland, which is 15 miles northwest of Little Rock.

    The whole area was at high risk of severe storms Sunday night, according to the weather service's Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Okla.

    Forecasters also asked people to be alert Sunday for possible tornadoes in a wide swath of the Midwest and south, stretching from Omaha, Neb., south to Texas and east to northern Louisiana and Mississippi.

    "The greatest risk for a few intense tornadoes will exist across much of Arkansas perhaps into western and central Missouri," a weather service advisory said.

    The first reported tornado from the storm system touched down Sunday afternoon in a rural area in central in Nebraska. The weather service said it remained on the ground for only a short time, and there were no immediate reports of damage.

    Tornado watches - which means twisters could develop but aren't an immediate threat - were in effect for states as far west as New Mexico and as far east as Tennessee, and the system produced storms that were moving through the region in waves. Watches were also issued for Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana.

    Areas that don't get tornadoes could still get buffeted by hail and powerful straight-line winds. Forecasters warned of hail stones as big as baseballs and wind gusts that could reach hurricane-force - 75 mph or higher.

    Gusts of up to 60 mph were registered during a story that hit southeastern Iowa on Sunday that damaged several buildings, including a barn that injured someone when it was blown over.

    Earlier Sunday afternoon, a strong line of storms moved through west-central Missouri, bringing winds that reached 70 mph hour near Chillicothe, Mo., that toppled some trees.

    The Missouri Highway Patrol also reported a tractor-trailer was blown onto its side on Interstate 70 about 30 miles east of Kansas City about 1 p.m. No one was injured. The weather service received a report from Plattsburg, Mo., where an anemometer measured 58 mph before it blew away. Golf ball-sized hail was reported at Overland Park, Kan., and Trimble, Mo.

    Severe thunderstorm watches covered portions of Iowa, Illinois and Missouri through Sunday night. The primary threats were damaging wind gusts and large hail.

    To the southeast, northern Louisiana and Mississippi were bracing for severe storms along with the possibility of flash flooding. The predictions prompted Barksdale Air Force Base near Bossier City, La., to cancel its air show on Sunday. The National Weather Service said northern Alabama could see rain and flash flooding, while central and northern Georgia could see storms and heavy rain.

    Sunday was the third anniversary of a 122-tornado day, which struck parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia and killed 316 people.

    Meanwhile, runners in Oklahoma City took shelter early Sunday as hail and high winds delayed the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon by 105 minutes to let a severe thunderstorm pass through.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Stunning Photos from the 2013 Tornado Season
    Kansas Torndao

     

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    Updated Monday, April 28, 2014, 1:35 p.m. ET
    Courtesy of James Bryant
    This photo provided by James Bryant shows tornado damage, Sunday, April 27, 2014, in Mayflower, Ark. (AP Photo/Courtesy of James Bryant)

    VILONIA, Arkansas (AP) - Emergency officials were searching for survivors Monday in the debris left by a powerful tornado that carved a huge path of destruction through several states before delivering a vicious blow to Arkansas, killing at least 14 people there and one elsewhere.

    The tornado that slammed into a town about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of the Arkansas state capital of Little Rock on Sunday evening grew to about half a mile (800 meters) wide and was among a rash of tornadoes and heavy storms that rumbled across the center and south of the U.S. overnight, ending a lull in violent weather across America with a fury. The National Weather Service warned that more tornadoes, damaging winds and very large hail would strike in parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana on Monday.

    "We've got a powerful storm system affecting the eastern two-thirds of the United States over the next few days," said Russell Schneider, director of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

    Brandon Morris, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, said crews were sifting through the rubble in the hope of uncovering survivors and to assess the full extent of the destruction.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Deadly Tornados Strike Central, Southern US
    Mayflower tornado"Right now, the main focus is life safety," Morris said. "We're trying to make sure everyone is accounted for."

    A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Arkansas said he was virtually certain the storm that hit the towns of Vilonia and nearby Mayflower would be rated as America's strongest twister to date this year.

    Meteorologist Jeff Hood said the storm could have been an EF3, with winds greater than 136 mph (218 kph). He said officials are studying the environmental impact.

    Storm ratings for Sunday's twisters were not immediately available. Before Sunday, the U.S. had not had a tornado rated EF3 or higher since Nov. 17, a streak of 160 days, the fourth-longest on record. This al so would be the latest date for a storm rated EF3 or higher. The previous latest big storm for a year was March 31, 2002.

    Another twister killed a person in Oklahoma before crossing into Kansas to the north. A suspected tornado also struck in northwest Louisiana.

    The death toll in Arkansas was revised downward to 14 from 16, after two victims were counted twice, according to officials in the governor's office. The overall death toll stood at 16 early Monday.

    The Arkansas twister shredded cars and trucks along Interstate 40, the main corridor north of Little Rock. After the storm passed, big trucks tried to navigate through the damage as gawkers captured photos of the destruction.

    Late Sunday, emergency workers and volunteers went door-to-door checking for victims and survivors.

    Becky Naylor, 57, of Mayflower, said up to 22 people "packed like sardines" into her storm cellar as the tornado approached.

    "People were pulling off the highways and were just running in," said Naylor.

    Men held the cellar doors tight to prevent the tornado from ripping them apart.

    "It sounded like a constant rolling, roaring sound," she said. "Trees were really bending and the light poles were actually shaking and moving. That's before we shut the door and we've only shut the door to the storm cellar two times."

    The other time was in 2011, during an EF-2 tornado that followed nearly the same path and killed at least four people.

    "This storm was much stronger," Vilonia Mayor James Firestone told ABC's "Good Morning America" early Monday. "The devastation was just tremendous."

    The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management raised the Arkansas death toll to 16 early Monday - eight adults and two children in Faulkner County, five people in Pulaski County and one in White County.

    At a news conference in the Philippines, President Barack Obama sent his condolences and promised the government would help i n the recovery.

    "Your country will be there to help you recover and rebuild as long as it takes," Obama said.

    Sunday was the third anniversary of a day when 122 tornados struck parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia and killed 316 people.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Deadly Tornados Strike Central, Southern US

     

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    Monday, April 28, 2014
    Gulf Oil Spill
    (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    A wide-reaching severe weather threat, from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast, will continue to put millions of people in harm's way on Monday.

    Damaging winds will be the most prevalent threat on Monday. This threat will include cities from Des Moines, Iowa, to Louisville, Ky., to Nashville, Tenn., and New Orleans.

    Some of the most violent thunderstorms are expected to unleash large hail and even tornadoes over western Tennessee and northern portions of both Mississippi and Alabama.

    "Northern Mississippi will be at the greatest risk for tornadoes on Monday," AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Storm Warning Meteorologist Justin Pullin said.

    Typically, severe weather occurs during the afternoon and evening, but this will be an all-day threat on Monday. Storms will be ongoing during the morning as they emerge from the Plains.

    The storms can result in long delays for both air and ground travelers. Air travelers in both St. Louis and Memphis could face the most interruptions in the region. Those traveling across Interstates 70, 64, 55 and 40 can be delayed by blinding downpours and water covered roadways.

    Repeated bouts of torrential downpours can spark flash flooding. If you ever encounter a water-covered roadway, turn around and seek another route.

    Damage to power lines could wipe out power to many. Be prepared by storing fresh water and non-perishable food. Make sure fresh batteries are in flashlights and severe weather radios.

    RELATED:
    Five Essential Safety Steps to Take Before Severe Weather Hits
    Severe Storms, Tornadoes: The Difference Between Watches and Warnings
    MAP: Track Severe Storm, Tornado Warnings

    Monday's threat will evolve from a powerful storm that will spawn violent thunderstorms across the Plains through the balance of the weekend.

    The storm will generate powerful winds aloft which will combine with warm and humid air at the surface to generate the violent thunderstorms.

    A swarm of dangerous thunderstorms will persist into Monday night from Illinois to Louisiana ahead of a renewed severe weather threat on Tuesday.

    "Severe storms will kick off again Tuesday afternoon across portions of the Southeast, especially across Mississippi and Alabama," Pullin said.

    Cities that can be impacted on Tuesday will include Mobile, Miss., Birmingham, Ala., Chattanooga, Tenn., and even Atlanta.

    A severe thunderstorm risk could linger into Wednesday and Thursday, potentially impacting areas from the mid-Atlantic to the Southeast.

    Related on SKYE: The World's Wettest Places
    Gulf Oil Spill

     

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    Monday, April 28, 2014

    The annular solar eclipse of April 28-29, 2014, will be visible as a partial solar eclipse from parts of Australia and southern Indonesia, weather permitting, as shown in this illustration. (Credit: Space Telescope Science Institute)

    The moon will blot out the sun in the first solar eclipse of the year on Tuesday (April 29). While partial views of the celestial shadow play will be visible across Australia, only penguins a bit farther south are in the right spot to see the most dramatic phase of the event: a "ring of fire" effect of the moon silhouetted by the sun.

    Tuesday's sun show is known as an annular solar eclipse, an event in which - at its best - the moon is outlined by a dazzling ring of sunlight when it blocks most, but not all, of the sun. But during Tuesday's eclipse, that so-called "ring of fire" is only visible from an uninhabited stretch of Antarctica. So partial views from other locales are the best eclipse chasers can see.

    Weather permitting, Australians will see the moon cover about 65 percent of the sun's disk in a partial solar eclipse, which will be visible shortly before sunset in Melbourne and Sydney and earlier in the afternoon in Western Australia. You can watch two webcasts of the solar eclipse here beginning at 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) on Tuesday, courtesy of the Slooh community telescope and Virtual Telescope Project. ['Ring of Fire' Solar Eclipse of April 29, 2014 (Visibility Maps)]

    A small part of Antarctica, however, will witness an annular eclipse, in which the moon blocks out most of the sun but leaves a spectacular "ring of fire" blazing in the sky. (Annular eclipses occur when the moon is relatively far from Earth in its elliptical orbit around our planet; if the moon were closer, it would be big enough in the sky to cause a total solar eclipse.)

    Annular and total solar eclipses both occur, on average, about once every 18 months. Tuesday's event comes nearly a year after a stunning ring of fire eclipse over Australia that enthralled skywatchers on May 10, 2013.

    WARNING: Solar eclipses are potentially dangerous skywatching events. Never look directly at the sun during an eclipse with a telescope, binoculars or your unaided eye; severe eye damage can result.

    To observe the eclipse safely, you can buy special solar filters to fit over your equipment, or wear No. 14 welder's glass over your eyes. You can also use your telescope, or one side of your binoculars, to project an image of the eclipse onto a shaded white piece of paper or cardboard. (But make sure nobody looks through the telescope or binoculars while you do this.)

    Tuesday's eclipse will begin at 1:15 p.m. local time in Perth, the capital of Western Australia, and end at 3:59 p.m. Maximum coverage there will come at 2:41 p.m., when the moon will obscure about 65 percent of the solar disk. Webcasts from Australia will begin at 2 a.m. EDT due to the time zone difference.

    The event will begin later in the day for observers in Melbourne (3:58 p.m. local time) and Sydney (4:13 p.m.). In both cities, the sun will set before the solar eclipse is over.

    "This eclipse is rare in that the cone of the moon's shadow doesn't quite reach the Earth, passing just over the South Pole, with a bit of the annular (ring) eclipse barely visible on a small region of the South Pole," said astronomer Jay Pasachoff of Williams College, who has observed 58 solar eclipses and is in Australia to see this one.

    "There is an 18-year, 11 1/3-day period called the saros over which similar eclipses repeat," Pasachoff told Space.com via email. "So this type of 'rare' isn't particularly good or important; it is just unusual to see the first eclipse in a saros series."

    Editor's Note: If you live in the populated visibility path and snap an amazing picture of the April 29 solar eclipse, you can send photos, comments, and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com.

    Space.com staff writer Miriam Kramer contributed to this story. 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.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Stunning Photos of the Moon

     

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    Monday, April 28, 2014

    In the wake of the worst severe weather outbreak so far this season, a drone captured aerial footage of the devastation following the deadly Mayflower tornado which struck Arkansas on Sunday night, April 27, 2014.

    On Sunday night, multiple tornadoes spawned from violent thunderstorms tracking from Texas up through Iowa, with the worst of the storms centered around Arkansas.

    "[It was] one supercell thunderstorm [that] traveled over 100 miles, dropping a tornado for at least 70 miles," AccuWeather Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell said.

    A drone captured an aerial view of the devastation following the deadly Mayflower tornado in Arkansas on Sunday, April 27, 2014. (Video/Brian Emfinger)

    Prior to the tornado striking Mayflower, one of the hardest hit areas in Arkansas, a "particularly dangerous situation" was issued.

    The same tornado-producing storm struck numerous counties in Arkansas Sunday night, resulting in at least 16 deaths throughout the state.

    With numerous buildings and houses leveled, search-and-rescue efforts will continue through Monday, but the death toll is expected to rise.

    RELATED:
    Weekend Tornadoes Claim Lives in Arkansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma
    AccuWeather Severe Weather Center
    Tornado Debris Balls and Aerial Drone Damage Videos

    As the use of drones becomes more popular, the airborne devices may actually aid emergency response teams in the wake of a disaster.

    "This kind of footage helps get out the word out about the tornado destruction in a compelling way that hopefully increases awareness of the disaster, ultimately leading to more donations to those in need," Ferrell said. "When coordinated and shared with emergency personnel, this type of video could even help in a search-and-rescue situation and could help the efficiency of National Weather Service storm surveys."

    While no storm ratings for the twister have been released yet, prior to the storm the United States had not had a tornado rated EF3 or higher since Nov. 17, 2013, according to the Associated Press.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Deadly Tornados Strike Central, Southern US

     

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    Updated Monday, April 28, 2014, 10 p.m. ET
    Mississippi Tornados
    A demolished car sits on North Gloster Street across from what remains of a shell gas station in Tupelo, Miss, after a tornado touched down on Monday, April 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)

    TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - At least three tornadoes flattened homes and businesses, flipped trucks over on highways and bent telephone poles into 45-degree angles as they barreled through the South on Monday, killing at least one woman in Mississippi and unleashing severe thunderstorms, damaging hail and flash floods.

    Local officials also reported six deaths in Alabama from a tornado. State emergency officials could not immediately confirm those deaths. Thousands of customers were without power in Alabama and Kentucky, where severe storms caused widespread damages.

    Monday's storm system was so huge it was visible from space, photographed by weather satellites that showed tumultuous clouds arcing across much of the South. The National Weather Service posted tornado watches and warnings around Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia that were in effect through Monday night.

    The system is the latest onslaught of severe weather a day after a half -mile-wide tornado carved an 80-mile path of destruction through the suburbs of Little Rock, Ark., killing at least 15. Tornadoes also killed one person each in Oklahoma and Iowa on Sunday.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tornadoes Kill At Least 17 in U.S.

    Mississippi Republican Sen. Giles Ward huddled in a bathroom with his wife, four other family members and their 19-year-old dog Monday as a tornado destroyed his two-story brick house and flipped his son-in-law's SUV upside down onto the patio in Louisville, seat of Winston County and home to about 6,600 .

    "For about 30 seconds, it was unbelievable," Ward said. "It's about as awful as anything we've gone through."

    He estimated that 30 houses in his neighborhood, Jordan Circle, were either destroyed or heavily damaged. After the storm had passed, Ward and his family went to a neighbor's home where 19 people had waited out the tornado in a basement. He said six people were reported trapped in a basement in another home in the subdivision.

    Altogether, 45 people had b een injured in Louisville but no deaths had been reported, said Jack Mazurak (MAZ-er-ak), a spokesman for the Jackson-based University of Mississippi Medical Center, designated communications command post for disasters.

    The tornado in Louisville caused water damage and left holes in the roof in the back of the Winston Medical Center, where the emergency room and outpatient clinic are located. There were about 15 patients in hospital rooms and eight or nine in the emergency room, where evacuations were underway, Mazurak said. No deaths were reported.

    "We thought we were going to be OK then a guy came in and said, 'It's here right now,'" said Dr. Michael Henry, head of the emergency room. "Then boom ... it blew through."

    Also in Mississippi, Lee County Coroner Carolyn Gillentine Green said a woman died in a traffic accident during the storm in Verona, south of Tupelo. Green said the vehicle may have hydroplaned or blown off the road.

    Deborah Pugh, spoke swoman for the Northeast Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, said the hospital received 24 patients. She was 20 had minor injuries and were expected to be treated and released. She four others were undergoing further evaluation.

    In northern Alabama, Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakeley confirmed two deaths in a mobile home park west of Athens, said city spokeswoman Holly Hollman. Hollman said Blakeley was in a meeting with county Emergency Management Agency officials and couldn't come to the phone Monday evening.

    Four people were killed in a district of Limestone County southeast of Athens, said Limestone County Commissioner Bill Latimer. Latimer said he was informed of the deaths by a county foreman, but that he had not made it to the scene himself yet. Neither the governor's office nor emergency management officials could immediately confirm the deaths.

    In Tupelo, a community of about 35,000 in northeastern Mississippi, every building in a two-block a rea south of U.S. Highway 78 had suffered damage, officials told a reporter on the scene. Some buildings had their roofs sheared off, while power lines had been knocked down completely or bent at 45-degree angles. Road crews were using heavy machinery to clear off other streets.

    Residents and business owners were not the only ones seriously rattled by the tornadoes.

    NBC affiliate WTVA-TV chief meteorologist Matt Laubhan in Tupelo, Miss., was reporting live on the severe weather about 3 p.m. when he realized the twister was coming close enough that maybe he and his staff should abandon the television studio.

    "This is a tornado ripping through the city of Tupelo as we speak. And this could be deadly," he said in a video widely tweeted and broadcast on YouTube.

    Moments later he adds, "A damaging tornado. On the ground. Right now."

    The video then showed Laubhan peeking in from the side to see if he was still live on the air before yelling to staff o ff-camera to get down in the basement.

    "Basement, now!" he yelled, before disappearing off camera himself.

    Later, the station tweeted, "We are safe here."

    Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency Monday in advance of the storms, which sent emergency officials rushing to put plans in place.

    In Memphis, Tenn., officials declared a state of emergency in a county southwest of Nashville because of flash flooding. Authorities urged people there to seek higher ground after several homes and some business were flooded in Maury County and school leaders worried that some school buses might not be able to get schoolchildren home over swamped roads.

    The threat of dangerous weather jangled nerves a day after the three-year anniversary of a historic outbreak of more than 60 tornadoes that killed more than 250 people across Alabama on April 27, 2011.

    George Grabryan, director of emergency management for Florence and Lauderdale County i n northwest Alabama, said 16 shelters opened before storms even moved in and people were calling nervously with questions about the weather.

    "There's a lot of sensitivity up here," Grabryan said. "I've got a stack of messages here from people, many of them new to the area, wanting to know where the closest shelters are."

    Elsewhere, forecasters warned Georgia residents of a threat of tornadoes in northern and central counties in coming hours.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Deadly Tornados Strike Central, Southern U.S.

     

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    Tuesday, April 29, 2014
    The Clarion-Ledger
    The Glass Masters building in Richland, Miss., is almost completely torn from its foundation after a tornado cut a swath through the area late Monday afternoon, April 28, 2014. (AP Photo/The Clarion-Ledger, Joe Ellis)

    As a storm responsible for violent thunderstorms and tornadoes in the Central states crawls along, the potential for severe weather will reach the mid-Atlantic and Southeast at midweek, threatening lives and property.

    While damaging storms will not hit every location from southeastern Michigan to the central Gulf coast, including the Carolinas and Virginia during Tuesday, severe weather will put more than 70 million people at risk this day.

    In addition to the potential for tornadoes in the strongest storms, many of the storms will bring damaging wind gusts, frequent lightning strikes, hail and flooding downpours.

    AccuWeather meteorologists expect severe thunderstorms and a few tornadoes to re-fire over some areas of Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia that were ravaged by tornadoes on Monday.

    Meanwhile, damaging and life-threatening storms will visit some areas farther to the east for the first time during this multiple day severe weather outbreak.

    During Wednesday, the severe weather risk will include more than 35 million people from Ohio to the Carolinas and northern Florida but will expand northeastward into Pennsylvania, northern Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

    Major cities in the path of the storms from Tuesday to late Wednesday include Detroit; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Charleston, W.Va.; Roanoke and Richmond, Va.; Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.; Atlanta and Columbus, Ga.; Columbia, S.C.; Nashville and and Knoxville, Tenn.; Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham, Ala.; New Orleans; Jackson and Biloxi, Miss.; Pensacola and Tallahassee, Fla.; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

    An additional round of storms may affect the Atlantic Seaboard on Thursday from Boston, Hartford, Conn., and New York City to Wilmington, N.C., Savannah, Ga., and Jacksonville, Fla.

    RELATED:
    Five Essential Safety Steps to Take Before Severe Weather Hits
    Severe Storms, Tornadoes: The Difference Between Watches and Warnings
    MAP: Track Severe Storm, Tornado Warnings

    Along with the possibility of storms with damaging wind gusts, frequent lightning strikes and hail is the chance of a few tornadoes. People will need to keep an eye on the weather and stay up-to-date with advisories, watches and warnings. If you believe that a tornado is approaching your location, seek shelter indoors in an interior room or basement.

    Motorists cruising along on area highways will want to keep an eye out for rapidly changing weather conditions. The storms will cross major highways such as interstates 20, 40, 64, 65, 70, 75, 77, 80, 81, 85 and 95.



    This is the type of situation, where much of the day may be cool and clammy, yet conditions can change rapidly to allow the formation of severe thunderstorms, including a tornado.

    In addition to the threat for violent storms, there will be a broad area of torrential rain that will fall over several hours and during a couple of days. Not only can this rainfall cause travel delays and cancellations of outdoor activities, but it can also cause flash, urban and small stream flooding.

    Some locations from the central and southern Appalachians to the Atlantic coast and Great Lakes may receive 3 to 6 inches of rain over a couple of days.

    Some of the rain will occur in the zone expected to be hit by severe thunderstorms. However, significant rain will fall north and east of the severe weather threat area over potions of upstate New York, the northern mid-Atlantic and New England.

    Generally cloudy and cool conditions will linger in the wake as the large storm system responsible continues to crawl eastward.

    By the time, the storm exits the United States, rounds of severe weather produced from it are expected to stretch seven days, from this past Saturday evening in parts of Texas and the southern Plains until Friday in parts of the East.

    According to severe weather expert Henry Margusity, "Not only will this outbreak be the worst of the season so far, due to a sluggish start in severe weather, but it may end up being one of the worst outbreaks of severe weather for the entire season."

    The storms from Sunday to Monday have claimed the lives at least 28 people.

    More than 230 incidents of severe weather have been reported since Saturday evening, and the number of incidents is likely to more than double until it move out to sea this weekend.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Deadly Tornados Strike Central, Southern US

     

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    Updated Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 3:32 p.m. ET
    The Clarion-Ledger
    A man and woman examine the twisted wreckage of Glass Masters on U.S. 49 Frontage Road in Richland, Miss., shortly after it was destroyed by a tornado late Monday afternoon, April 28, 2014. (AP Photo/The Clarion-Ledger, Joe Ellis)

    LOUISVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Ruth Bennett died clutching the last child left at her day care center as a tornado wiped the building off its foundation. A firefighter who came upon the body gently pulled the toddler from her arms.

    "It makes you just take a breath now," said next-door neighbor Kenneth Billingsley, who witnessed the scene at what was left of Ruth's Child Care Center in this logging town of 6,600. "It makes you pay attention to life."

    Bennett, 53, was among at least 34 people killed in a two-day outbreak of twisters and other violent weather that pulverized homes in half a dozen states from Iowa to Tennessee. The child's fate was not immediately known.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Deadly Tornados Strike Central, Southern US
    Mayflower tornado

    As crews in Mississippi and Alabama turned from search-and-rescue efforts to cleanup, the South braced for a third round of potentially deadly weather Tuesday. Tornadoes usually strike in the late afternoon and evening.

    One of the hardest-hit areas in Monday evening's barrage of twisters was Tupelo, Miss., where a gas station looked as if it had been stepped on by a giant.

    Francis Gonzalez, who also owns a convenience store and Mexican restaurant attached to the service station, took cover with her three children and two employees in the store's cooler as the roof over the gas pumps was reduced to aluminum shards.

    "My Lord, how can all this happen in just one second?" she said in Spanish.

    On Tuesday, the whine of chain saws cut through the otherwise still, hazy morning in Tupelo. Massive oak trees, knocked over like toys, blocked roads. Neighbors helped one another cut away limbs.

    "This does not even look like a place that I'm familiar with right now," said Pam Montgomery, walking her dog in her neighborhood. "You look down some of the streets, and it doesn't even look like there is a street."

    On Sunday evening, roughly 15 tornadoes - one killing at least 15 people in Arkansas - carved a path of destruction in the South and the country's midsection, according to estimates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Storm Prediction Center. On Monday, around 50 tornadoes ravaged the South, the agency said.

    Among those killed was 21-year-old University of Alabama swimmer and dean's list student John Servati, who was taking shelter in the basement of a Tuscaloosa home when a retaining wall collapsed on him.

    His death - and that of at least two others in Alabama - came the day after the third anniversary of an outbreak of more than 60 tornadoes that killed more than 250 people across the state.

    In Kimberly, Ala., north of Birmingham, the firehouse was among the buildings heavily damaged.

    Four firefighters suffered little more than cuts and scrapes, but the bays over the fire trucks were destroyed, and the vehicles were covered with red bricks, concrete blocks and pieces of the roof.

    The trucks were essentially trapped, so the town had to rely on nearby communities for emergency help.

    Louisville was also one of the hardest-hit areas, with officials reporting at least nine dead in and around town because of a powerful tornado with a preliminary rating of EF4, just shy of the top of the scale.

    Sennaphie Yates arrived at the small local hospital to check on her grandfather just ahead of the twister. As the funnel cloud closed in, staff members herded people into a hall.

    "They had all of us against the wall and gave us pillows. They said, 'Get down and ... don't get up,'" she said.

    The winds knocked down two walls and tore holes in the roof. Doctors moved some emergency room patients to a former operating room and sent some to other hospitals.

    Bennett's day care center was not far from the hospital. Her niece Tanisha Lockett had worked at Ruth's Child Care since it opened seven years ago.

    She said all but the one child - a 4-year-old girl who had been in the center's care since she was a baby - had been picked up before the storm. The child, whose name was not released, was taken to a Jackson hospital.

    On Tuesday, Bennett's family and those who worked for her stepped over schoolbooks, first aid supplies and a Hooked on Phonics cassette as they tried to salvage paperwork.

    "We're just trying to keep a smile on our faces," said Jackie Ivy, an employee. "I cried all last night."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Deadly Tornados Strike Central, Southern US

     

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    Tuesday, April 29, 2014
    AP
    Ambulances gather outside the Winston Medical Center in Louisville, Miss., Monday, April 28, 2014 after a tornado hit the small hospital as well as several homes in the community. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

    A powerful storm system was menacing a large swath of the South early Tuesday, killing more than two dozen people from Arkansas to Alabama over more than two days of destruction. Here are the some stories from people in Mississippi and Alabama that made it through the frightening chaos.

    ___

    After the tornado pounced on Tupelo, Miss., one gas station looked as if it had been stepped on by a giant. Francis Gonzalez owns a convenience store and Mexican restaurant attached to that station. Gonzalez, her three children and two employees ducked for cover in the store's cooler shortly after a cellphone blared a tornado warning.

    In the nick of time. Within seconds, the wind picked up and glass shattered. The roof over the gas pumps was reduced to aluminum shards. A nearby SUV had its windows blown out. The storefront window had a large hole in it. Debris lay everywhere.

    "It took us by surprise," Gonzalez said in Spanish. Stunned by the destruction all around, she added: "My Lord, how can all this happen in just one second?"

    ____

    NBC affiliate WTVA-TV chief meteorologist Matt Laubhan in Tupelo, Miss., was reporting live on severe weather about 3 p.m. when he realized the twister was coming close enough that maybe he and his staff should abandon the TV studio.

    "This is a tornado ripping through the city of Tupelo as we speak. And this could be deadly," he said in a video widely tweeted and broadcast on YouTube.

    Moments later he adds, "A damaging tornado. On the ground. Right now." The video then showed Laubhan peeking in from the side to see if he was still live on the air before yelling to staff off-camera to get down in the basement.

    "Basement, now!" he yelled, before disappearing off camera himself.

    Later, the station tweeted, "We are safe here."

    ____

    At the Winston County Medical Center in Louisville, Miss., Dr. Michael Henry, head of the emergency room, didn't expect a tornado at such close quarters.

    "We thought we were going to be OK. Then a guy came in and said, 'It's here right now.' Then boom ... it blew through," Henry recalled.

    The fierce winds knocked down two walls. The emergency room and an outpatient clinic, at the back of the hospital, bore the brunt of the wind damage. The 27-bed hospital also was pocked with holes in its roof and water damage, dimly lit when it kicked over to generator power.

    Fifteen patients were in hospital rooms at the time. Eight or nine were in the emergency room, but staff said no one died. Doctors relocated to a former operating room and sent some patients to other hospitals.

    ____

    Sennaphie Yates of Louisville, Miss., said her grandfather had been taken to the Winston County Medical Center after a fainting spell. She said she and family members arrived at the hospital to check on him just before the tornado hit.

    Yates said hospital workers herded people into a hallway. "They had all of us against the wall and gave us pillows. They said 'get down and ... don't get up,'" she said.

    Yates said the worst of it lasted three, maybe five minutes. Then the storm passed. Afterward, she and family members stayed with her grandfather for hours until hospital officials cleared him to go home.

    ____

    Republican state Sen. Giles Ward of Mississippi huddled in a bathroom with his wife, four other family members and their 19-year-old dog Monday as a tornado destroyed his two-story brick house. The winds also flipped his son-in-law's SUV upside down onto the patio in Louisville, Miss., home to about 6,600 people.

    "For about 30 seconds, it was unbelievable," Ward said. "It's about as awful as anything we've gone through."

    He estimated that 30 houses in his neighborhood, Jordan Circle, were either destroyed or heavily damaged. After the storm passed, Ward and his family went to a neighbor's home where 19 people had managed to find safety in a basement.

    ____

    Monica Foster was driving home on rural Alabama roads from a funeral when the skies became grim.

    She would have kept driving if she could have. But the weather was getting worse and she wasn't alone, mindful of her two daughters, ages 10 and 12, traveling with her.

    With the wind howling outside and rain blowing sideways they stopped at a gas station in Fayette to ride out a tornado warning. One of the girls cried as they huddled with a station employee in a storage area. "I wouldn't have pulled in if I didn't have the two girls," Foster said.

     

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