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    Tuesday, May 6, 2014
    (Getty Images)

    Severe weather, including the risk of a small number of tornadoes, will return to the Plains this week with the bulk of the activity on Thursday.

    Spotty, strong thunderstorms will erupt Tuesday over parts of the northern Plains just north of record heat.

    The coverage and volatility of severe weather is forecast to increase late Wednesday to Thursday.

    The potential for thunderstorms packing large hail, downpours and locally damaging wind later Wednesday into Wednesday night will reach from Nebraska to much of Wisconsin, Iowa and southern Minnesota, as well as extending southward to west-central Texas.

    Thursday's severe weather outbreak will yield numerous thunderstorms capable of producing dangerous weather ranging from frequent lightning strikes and damaging winds to large hail and flooding downpours. A small number of the storms can also produce tornadoes.

    Unlike last week, the atmospheric setup this week is not favorable for a major tornado outbreak but a number of communities could be faced with dangerous and damaging weather conditions.

    According to AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions Storm Warning Meteorologist Justin Pullin, "The setup this time favors more storms with straight-line wind gusts as opposed to tornadoes."

    The strongest storms and hence the greatest risk to lives and property on Thursday will reach from central Minnesota, southward to north-central Texas.

    Cities in this zone include Dallas and Tyler, Texas; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma; Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Arkansas; Topeka and Wichita, Kansas; Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri; Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; and Minneapolis.

    According to AccuWeather long-range expert Paul Pastelok, "The greatest atmospheric dynamics will be from the central Plains to the Upper Midwest, while the most humid air will be much farther south, hence the extensive severe weather threat zone on Thursday."

    People are urged to keep up to date with forecasts, watches and warnings as they are issued and to seek shelter as storms approach. All it takes is one brief tornado to put people's lives in danger.

    Motorists planning to travel on stretches of Interstates 29, 35, 40, 44, 49, 70 and 80 are at risk. Remember, a vehicle is a dangerous place to be when a tornado is approaching.

    RELATED: Severe Weather Center
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    Dry air may keep a lid on storms until the last minute over the central and southern Plains.

    The storms over the central and southern Plains will fire along what is known as a dry line, which separates desert air from the West and humid Gulf of Mexico air from the east.

    The dry line may activate as early as late Wednesday afternoon and evening before the worst of the severe weather outbreak commences Thursday afternoon and continues into Thursday evening. meteorologists will be monitoring the potential for gusty thunderstorms to rattle the Great Lakes on Friday, as well as drenching and stronger thunderstorms across the lower Mississippi Valley and Texas.

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


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    Tuesday, May 6, 2014
    Climate Report
    (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)​

    WASHINGTON (AP) - Global warming is rapidly turning America into a stormy and dangerous place, with rising seas and disasters costing citizens from flood-stricken Florida to the wildfire-ravaged West, according to a new U.S. federal scientific report.

    Climate change's assorted harms "are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond," the National Climate Assessment concluded Tuesday.

    The report emphasizes how warming and its all-too-wild weather are changing daily lives, even using the phrase "climate disruption" as another way of saying global warming.

    Still, it's not too late to prevent the worst of climate change, says the 840-page report, which the White House is highlighting as it tries to jump-start often stalled efforts to curb heat-trapping gases.

    However, if the U.S. and the world don't change the way they use energy, "we're still on the pathway to more damage and danger of the type that are described in great detail in the rest of this report," said study co-author Henry Jacoby, co-director of the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jacoby, other scientists and White House officials said this is the most detailed and U.S.-focused scientific report on global warming.

    "Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present," the report says. "Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington state and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience."

    The report looks at regional and state-level effects of global warming, compared with recent reports from the United Nations that lumped all of North America together. A draft of the report was released in January 2013, but this version has been reviewed by more scientists, the National Academy of Science and 13 government agencies and had public comment. It is written in a bit more simple language so people could realize "that there's a new source of risk in their lives," said study lead author Gary Yohe of Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

    Even though the nation's average temperature has risen by as much as 1.9 degrees since record keeping began in 1895, it's in the big, wild weather where the average person feels climate change the most, said co-author Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech University climate scientist. Extreme weather like droughts, storms and heat waves hit us in the pocketbooks and can be seen by our own eyes, she said.

    And it's happening a lot more often lately.

    The report says the intensity, frequency and duration of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes have increased since the early 1980s, but it is still uncertain how much of that is from man-made warming. Winter storms have increased in frequency and intensity and shifted northward since the 1950s, it says. Also, heavy downpours are increasing - by 71 percent in the Northeast. Heat waves, such as those in Texas in 2011 and the Midwest in 2012, are projected to intensify nationwide. Droughts in the Southwest are expected to get stronger. Sea level has risen 8 inches (20 centimeters) since 1880 and is projected to rise between 1 foot (0.3 meters) and 4 feet (1.2 meters) by 2100.

    Since January 2010, 43 of the lower 48 states have set at least one monthly record for heat, such as California having its warmest January on record this year. In the past 51 months, states have set 80 monthly records for heat, 33 records for being too wet, 12 for lack of rain and just three for cold, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal weather records.

    "We're being hit hard," Hayhoe said, comparing America to a boxer. "We're holding steady, and we're getting hit in the jaw. We're starting to recover from one punch, and another punch comes."

    The report also says "climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways." Those include smoke-filled air from more wildfires, smoggy air from pollution, more diseases from tainted food, water, mosquitoes and ticks. And then there's more pollen because of warming weather and the effects of carbon dioxide on plants. Ragweed pollen season has lengthened by 24 days in the Minnesota-North Dakota region between 1995 and 2011, the report says. In other parts of the Midwest, the pollen season has gotten longer by anywhere from 11 days to 20 days.

    And all this will come with a hefty cost, the report says.

    Flooding alone may cost $325 billion by the year 2100 in one of the worst-case scenarios, with $130 billion of that in Florida, the report says. Already the droughts and heat waves of 2011 and 2012 added about $10 billion to farm costs, the report says. Billion-dollar weather disasters have hit everywhere across the nation, but have hit Texas, Oklahoma and the Southeast most often, the report says.

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


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    A brilliant fireball surprised some skywatchers Sunday (May 4) when it streaked across the daytime sky over Toronto in a celestial fireworks display caught on camera by lucky motorists.

    A well-placed dashboard video camera captured the light of the bright meteor, which could be seen from parts of Canada and New York on May 4. The daytime fireball video shows a clear view from a parked car with people chatting in the background. The meteor comes streaking down from the top of the sky at about the 22-second mark, with a clear outburst of light occurring at about 24 seconds.

    "There was a fireball that came down and burned up," one of the people recorded by David Narciso's dashcam said after the fireball streaked through the daylight sky. "See that line of puff? There was, like, something on fire and then it just stopped." [See five amazing fireballs caught on video]

    The fireball is concurrent with, but may not be related to, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower set to peak tonight (May 5) and into the wee hours of tomorrow (May 6) morning. The annual shower happens when Earth passes through debris left behind by Halley's Comet. This year, the meteors will probably appear low on the horizon, but even if you don't have ideal viewing conditions, you can still watch the shower live on via webcasts from NASA and the Slooh community telescope.

    So far, the American Meteor Society has received about 84 fireball sightings, with some claiming to have heard a sound concurrent with or after the fireball streaked through the sky. This daytime fireball also marks the third event of its kind in the last few days, according to the AMS.

    "Oddly, this event, marks the third significant fireball in the last three days, following a relative slow season for fireballs so far this year," Mike Hankey wrote on the AMS website. "A large fireball with numerous sonic booms fell over Arkansas on Friday night. Another bright fireball was seen over North Carolina Saturday night and this daytime fireball over Ontario marks the third significant event for this weekend."

    Meteor showers are created when particles or dust from cosmic objects (like asteroids or comets) enter Earth's atmosphere, burning up and producing a streak that some people call a "shooting star." Some meteors are known as fireballs because their larger size causes them to splatter, making a more noticeable flash.

    When a piece of asteroid or comet is in space, it's known as a meteoroid. If that bit of cosmic dust burns up in Earth's atmosphere, it's known as a meteor, and any bits of meteor that impact the planet's surface are called meteorites.

    Editor's Note: If you have an amazing picture of the fireball, an Eta Aquarid meteor, or any other night sky view, that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, send photos, comments and your name and location to managing editor Tariq Malik at

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

    Copyright 2014, 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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    Tuesday, May 6, 2014

    The gold bars recovered in April 2014 during Odyssey Marine Exploration's first reconnaissance dive to the SS Central America shipwreck were stamped with various assayer's marks. (Credit: Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc.)

    In 1857, during the dwindling years of the California Gold Rush, a steamship loaded with some 30,000 pounds (13,600 kilograms) of gold was ensnared in a hurricane and sunk off the coast of South Carolina, banishing gold bars and freshly minted coins to the bottom of the sea. Last month, during a reconnaissance expedition to the wreckage of the so-called "Ship of Gold," more than 60 pounds (27 kg) of the lost treasure was recovered.

    Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc., a company that specializes in deep-ocean exploration, retrieved five gold bars and two gold coins - one from 1850 that was minted in Philadelphia, and the other from 1857 that was minted in San Francisco - from the sunken ship known as the SS Central America.

    The precious artifacts were recovered during a reconnaissance dive to the shipwreck site on April 15. Odyssey Marine Exploration researchers are in the process of documenting the underwater site, and they eventually plan to conduct a full archaeological excavation of the shipwreck, according to company officials. [See photos of the expedition to the Gold Rush shipwreck]

    The remains of the SS Central America were first located in 1988 by the Columbus-America Discovery Group. The ship was found at a depth of 7,200 feet (2,200 meters), about 160 miles (257 kilometers) off the coast of South Carolina.

    From 1988 to 1991, recovery operations managed to retrieve gold from approximately 5 percent of the total shipwreck site, historians have said. Odyssey Marine Exploration now has an exclusive contract to excavate and recover the rest of the SS Central America's treasure.

    Experts say the shipwreck could still contain a commercial shipment of gold that was valued in 1857 at $93,000, company officials said. A "substantial amount of passenger gold," valued in 1857 at between $250,000 and $1.28 million, could also be locked within the ship's sunken remains, according to Odyssey Marine Exploration.

    Still, the treasure's true worth remains to be seen. "The ultimate value of the recovery can only be determined once the total quantity, quality and form of the recovered gold is known," company officials said in a statement.

    Last month, the Odyssey Marine Exploration's remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV), named Zeus, became the first to visit the famous shipwreck in decades.

    "This dive confirms for me that the site has not been disturbed since 1991, when I was last there," Bob Evans, chief scientist and historian for the Recovery Limited Partnership, which legally owns the shipwreck, said in a statement.

    Besides the gold bars and coins, the two-hour expedition also uncovered a bottle, a piece of pottery, a sample of the shipwreck's wooden structure and part of a scientific experiment that had been left at the site 20 years ago, company officials said.

    "The skill exhibited and results achieved during the initial reconnaissance dive reinforces our belief that the Odyssey team was the absolute best choice for this project," Craig Mullen, director of operations for the Recovery Limited Partnership, said in a statement.

    The Odyssey team also plans to collect biological samples from the shipwreck site, which could offer researchers a glimpse into deep-ocean biological processes, company officials said.

    The SS Central America was 280 feet (85 meters) long, and was christened the SS George Law when it first launched in 1853. The steamship operated during the California Gold Rush on the Atlantic leg of voyages between San Francisco and New York. As such, the ship made 43 round trips between Panama and New York before it sank.

    Follow Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

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


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    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    Chelsea Owens navigates a kayak down a flooded street near her home in the Whisper Oaks subdivision, Thursday, May 1, 2014, in Gulf Breeze, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

    United States officials are keeping watch for a new mosquito-borne virus that has been found in the Caribbean Islands and in Central and South America, especially after flooding rain inundated Florida last week.

    Infection with chikungunya virus is rarely fatal but the joint pain seen with chikungunya can often be severe and debilitating, Sue Partridge of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The term chikungunya comes from a word in the Makonde language (spoken in southeast Tanzania and northern Mozambique in Africa) and means "that which bends up," because patients often are contorted in pain while suffering from the disease, she said.

    "The symptoms resemble those of dengue, another serious mosquito-borne infection that is common throughout the Caribbean Islands," she said.

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    The CDC is concerned because the U.S. mainland does have Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, both of which are able to spread the chikungunya virus.

    A total of 109 laboratory-confirmed cases of chikungunya, all from travelers, were identified in the U.S. from 1995 through 2009, the CDC said.

    The Aedes aegypti (left) and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are known to spread the chikungunya virus. (Photo/U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

    "Many U.S. travelers go to countries where chikungunya virus is found. Local transmission of the virus in the Caribbean islands and other countries in the Americas may increase the number of infected travelers who visit or return to the United States," she said.

    "It is important for public health experts and healthcare providers to think about, test for and report chikungunya virus infections in people with fever and joint pains who recently traveled to places where chikungunya virus is found."

    The CDC is working with states to increase surveillance and laboratory capacity for the new virus, which was first detected in Africa in 1952, Partridge said.

    In this graphic from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the chikungunya virus has been discovered in 60 countries and territories.

    Florida officials have issued reminders to residents to avoid mosquito bites after the severe flooding that hit the panhandle and other areas last week. More than 2 feet of rain fell in parts of the region.

    Officials with the Florida Department of Health said that increased mosquito surveillance will be conducted in the flooded areas to see if the mosquitoes will impact recovery from the storms.

    "If we determinate that the levels (of mosquitoes) really increased a lot and that people can't necessarily do their repairs and so forth that are needed after the big rainstorm that we had, it's likely we will do some spraying," Florida Department of Health Spokeswoman Carina Blackmore said.

    There have been no reports of Dengue fever or West Nile virus this year in the panhandle region, Blackmore said, adding it is still early in the season for West Nile.

    "It's too early to tell, but it's definitely an area where we've had West Nile in the past," she said.

    Due to the flat terrain, it takes a while for standing floodwaters to drain, threatening to create a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

    "Standing water may increase mosquito swarms throughout the panhandle," Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam said.

    "We tell people to drain and cover," Blackmore said. "We do advise to drain standing water because that's where the mosquitoes breed. And we tell people to cover their skin with clothing, or to use mosquito repellent to not get bit by mosquitoes and to cover doors and windows with screens to not let mosquitoes into their home."

    Over-the-counter anti-mosquito treatments to kill larva in standing water that can't be drained can be purchased, she said.


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    Wednesday, May 7, 2014
    rainy day

    After a storm brings severe weather to the Plains and part of the Upper Midwest, the system will transform to a heavy rain producer this weekend with the risk of flooding from the Gulf Coast states to the Tennessee and Ohio valleys.

    Locally heavy rain will develop Friday from northeastern Texas to southern Missouri, from the remnants of severe thunderstorms over the Plains on Thursday night.

    Long-range weather expert Paul Pastelok had expressed concern for flooding back in March for this spring over the lower Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio valleys.

    "Due to the slow-moving nature of the storm system, it will be able to tap into tremendous amounts of Gulf of Mexico moisture spreading eastward to the Florida Panhandle and inland over the Mississippi delta region Saturday," Pastelok said about the upcoming event this weekend.

    Runoff from the persistent rainfall can lead to street, stream and low-lying area flooding in portions of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, part of West Virginia, the Florida Panhandle and the southern portions of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

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    According to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Andy Mussoline, "Showers and thunderstorms may repeat in an action known as a training effect and can unload 3 to 6 inches of rain on areas where the ground is already thoroughly moist."

    Repetitive thunderstorm activity along a narrow swath is known as a training effect.

    Some areas in the Deep South have received two to four times their normal rainfall during April 2014. Areas farther west are running a rainfall deficit.

    April Rainfall Compared to Normal

    Actual V. Normal Rainfall (Inches)
    Pensacola, Fla.
    29.53 v. 4.32
    Mobile, Ala.
    18.09 v. 4.79
    Birmingham, Ala.
    8.89 v. 4.38
    Jackson, Miss.
    12.52 v. 4.96
    Nashville, Tenn.
    7.29 v. 4.00
    6.66 v. 3.89
    Lexington, Ky.
    5.99 v. 3.60
    Lake Charles, La.
    0.85 v. 3.33
    1.31 v.3.25
    Springfield, Mo.
    2.08 v. 4.32
    Oklahoma City
    1.00 v. 3.07
    1.74 v. 3.07
    Wichita, Kan.
    0.53 v. 2.59

    Showers and drenching thunderstorms will reach the Atlantic Seaboard Saturday and Sunday with the potential for localized flooding problems.

    Like parts of the Deep South, portions of the East were hit with flooding rainfall late in April. At the very least, there is the potential for travel delays and disruptions to outdoor activities such as graduations, weddings and ballgames.

    Another slow-moving storm system is forecast drop in over the Plains and may have more time to grab Gulf of Mexico moisture early next week. While this system may bring another round of severe thunderstorms, it could be loaded with drenching downpours as well.

    If rain from the storm system this weekend avoids needy areas on the central and southern Plains, another opportunity for rainfall is possible farther west from Nebraska to Texas with the new storm.

    As this second batch of rain moves to the east, it will raise concerns for another round of flooding problems from the Ohio Valley to the Gulf Coast and perhaps parts of the East during the middle of next week.

    Related on SKYE: The World's Wettest Places
    rainy day


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    Wednesday, May 7, 2014
    Storm clouds and lightning strike over farmland
    (Getty Images)

    Portions of the Plains will be at risk of severe weather on Wednesday, the first of a two-day severe weather event across the region.

    Following a dry start to the day, thunderstorms are forecast to develop late on Wednesday afternoon and become more widespread heading into the night.

    Those from central Texas to Wisconsin and back into northern Nebraska should be prepared for storms that could produce damaging wind gusts in excess of 65 mph, hail as large as baseballs and blinding downpours.

    These storms will be strong enough to put property at risk with winds that could blow over power lines as well as hail large enough to dent vehicles.

    A few isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out with the strongest storms. The greatest chance for a tornado to spin up will come on Wednesday evening over Texas and Oklahoma.

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    Cities in the path of these severe storms include Lubbock, Texas, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Wichita, Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri, Omaha, Nebraska, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    If you live in or around any of these cities, you should prepare for travel delays, especially on the roadways.

    Driving at night during a heavy downpour can be treacherous as rain could make it difficult to see not only the lines on the roads, but also vehicles around you. Driving at a reduced speed can lower the chance that you get in a weather-related accident in such a situation.

    The threat for severe thunderstorms will continue across portions of the Plains headed into Thursday and Thursday night. These storms will once again be capable of producing large hail and damaging winds.

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


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    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    Giuseppe Petricca sent this image of the moon over a citadel near the Arno River, in Pisa, Italy, on March 3, 2014. (Credit: Giuseppe Petricca)

    The moon rises with the brilliant glow of earthshine over a citadel along the Arno River in Pisa, Italy in these beautiful images recently sent to

    Amateur astronomer and photographer Giuseppe Petricca of Pisa, Italy, took these images on March 3 as the 2.5 percent lit moon hanged low in the sky roughly one hour after sunset. Petricca used a Nikon Coolpix P90 Bridge on tripod (ISO 100, f5.0). Exposition times varied as the photographer adapted the shots to the incoming darkness.

    "Yesterday evening was surely an amazing one," Petricca wrote in an email at the time.

    "With the passing of time, the earthshine appeared as one would forecast with this phase and this perfectly clear sky-making definitely an awesome sight and wonderful combination with the earth and the sky, the nature and the buildings of mankind." [Spectacular Night Sky Photos for April 2014 (Gallery)]

    The phenomenon called "earthshine" happens when sunlight reflects off the Earth and shines onto the moon. A crescent moon is between a new moon and a half moon.

    Giuseppe Petricca sent this image of the moon over a citadel near the Arno River, in Pisa, Italy, on March 3, 2014. (Credit: Giuseppe Petricca)

    To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by 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

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

    Copyright 2014, 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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    Wednesday, May 7, 2014
    Climate Report
    In this May 1, 2014, file photo, Marine unit police officer Robert Jonah walks through flood waters from the Schuylkill River on Main Street, Thursday, May 1, 2014, in the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - When it came time to deliver a new federal report detailing what global warming is doing to America and the dire forecast for the future, President Barack Obama turned to the pros who regularly deliver the bad news about wild weather: TV meteorologists.

    "We want to emphasize to the public, this is not some distant problem of the future. This is a problem that is affecting Americans right now," Obama told "Today" show weather forecaster Al Roker. "Whether it means increased flooding, greater vulnerability to drought, more severe wildfires - all these things are having an impact on Americans as we speak."

    Climate change's assorted harms "are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond," the National Climate Assessment concluded, emphasizing the impact of too-wild weather as well as simple warming.

    Still, it's not too late to prevent the worst of climate change, says the 840-page report, which the Obama administration is highlighting as it tries to jump-start often-stalled efforts to curb heat-trapping gases. Said White House science adviser John Holdren, "It's a good-news story about the many opportunities to take cost-effective actions to reduce the damage."

    APRelease of the report, the third edition of a congressionally mandated study, gives Obama an opportunity to ground his campaign against climate change in science and numbers, endeavoring to blunt the arguments of those who question the idea and human contributions to such changes. Later this summer, the administration plans to propose new regulations restricting gases that come from existing coal-fired power plants.

    Not everyone is convinced.

    Some fossil energy groups, conservative think tanks and Republican senators immediately assailed the report as "alarmist." Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Obama was likely to "use the platform to renew his call for a national energy tax. And I'm sure he'll get loud cheers from liberal elites - from the kind of people who leave a giant carbon footprint and then lecture everybody else about low-flow toilets."

    Since taking office, Obama has not proposed a specific tax on fossil fuel emissions. He has proposed a system that caps emissions and allows companies to trade carbon pollution credits, but it has failed in Congress.

    Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana said the report was supposed to be scientific but "it's more of a political one used to justify government overreach." And leaders in the fossil fuel industry, which is responsible for a large amount of the heat-trapping carbon dioxide, said their energy is needed and America can't afford to cut back.

    "Whether you agree or disagree with the report, the question is: What are you going to do about it? To us that is a major question," said Charlie Drevna, president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. He called the report "overblown."

    The report - it's full of figures, charts and other research-generated graphics - includes 3,096 footnotes referring to other mostly peer-reviewed research. It was written by more than 250 scientists and government officials, starting in 2012. A draft was released in January 2013, but this version has been reviewed by more scientists, including twice by the National Academy of Sciences, which called it "reasonable" and "a valuable resource."

    Environmental groups praised the report. "If we don't slam the brakes on the carbon pollution driving climate change, we're dooming ourselves and our children to more intense heat waves, destructive floods and storms and surging sea levels," said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    Scientists and the White House called it the most detailed and U.S.-focused scientific report on global warming.

    The report looks at regional and state-level effects of global warming, compared with recent reports from the United Nations that lumped all of North America together.

    "All Americans will find things that matter to them in this report," said scientist Jerry Melillo of the Marine Biological Laboratory, who chaired the science committee that wrote it. "For decades we've been collecting the dots about climate change; now we're connecting those dots."

    In a White House conference call with reporters, National Climatic Data Center Director Tom Karl said his two biggest concerns were flooding from sea level rise on the U.S. coastlines - especially for the low-lying cities of Miami; Norfolk, Virginia; and Portsmouth, New Hampshire - and drought, heat waves and prolonged fire seasons in the Southwest.

    Even though the nation's average temperature has risen by between 1.3 and 1.9 degrees since record-keeping began in 1895, it's in the big, wild weather where the average person feels climate change the most, said co-author Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech University climate scientist. Extreme weather hits us in the pocketbook and can be seen with our own eyes, she said.

    The report says the intensity, frequency and duration of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes have increased since the early 1980s, but it is still uncertain how much of that is from man-made warming. Winter storms have increased in frequency and intensity and have shifted northward since the 1950s, it says. Also, heavy downpours are increasing by 71 percent in the Northeast. Heat waves, such as those in Texas in 2011 and the Midwest in 2012, are projected to intensify nationwide. Droughts in the Southwest are expected to get stronger. Sea level has risen 8 inches since 1880 and is projected to rise between 1 foot and 4 feet by 2100.

    Climate data center chief Karl highlighted the increase in downpours. He said last week's drenching, when Pensacola, Florida, got up to 2 feet of rain in one storm and parts of the East had 3 inches in one day, is what he's talking about.

    The report says "climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways." Those include smoke-filled air from wildfires, smoggy air from pollution, and more diseases from tainted food, water, mosquitoes and ticks. And the ragweed pollen season has lengthened.

    Flooding alone may cost $325 billion by the year 2100 in one of the worst-case scenarios, with $130 billion of that in Florida, the report says. Already the droughts and heat waves of 2011 and 2012 have added about $10 billion to farm costs, the report says.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos
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    Wednesday, May 7, 2014

    A firenado is spawned on a field in Chillicothe, Mo., the week of April 7, 2014. (Photo/Janae Copelin)

    Stunned by the "coolest, scariest thing" she had ever seen, photographer Janae Copelin caught a snapshot early this week of a rare weather marvel known as a firenado.

    The whirling "fire-devil" was spawned as a farmer burned off his field in Chillicothe, Missouri.

    A swirling rotation of smoke, gas and debris, a firenado is generated when an active fire is swept upwards by strong winds, creating a vortex.

    WATCH: Controlled Burn Spawns Whirling Firenado
    AccuWeather Severe Weather Center
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    "The heat of the fire rising through the air allows the vortex to strengthen and create the firenado," AccuWeather Meteorologist Eric Leister said. "The firenado can then suck more brush and debris into itself and fuel the fire further."

    Firenadoes can be extremely dangerous, as they have the ability to throw burning embers miles away.

    They are usually between five and 10 stories high and can measure up to 10 feet wide.

    While this rarity lasts usually only minutes, the largest firenadoes have been known to create winds topping 100 mph.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos
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    Thursday, May 8, 2014
    An incredible supercell thunderstorm and mammatus clouds roll over the great plains in mid summer creating 100 mph winds and tor

    (Getty Images)

    Violent thunderstorms will rumble across a wide, highly populated corridor of the Midwest and Plains from Minnesota to Texas on Thursday and Thursday night. Nearly 50 million people live within the severe storm risk area.

    According to senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "This system has had a history of producing many incidents of large hail and that threat will continue Thursday."

    On Wednesday there were nearly 200 preliminary reports of large hail which accounted for more than double the number of incidents of damaging wind gusts. There were five initial reports of tornadoes on Wednesday.

    Storms will be ongoing from Kansas to Texas early Thursday, before expanding in coverage and intensity into the afternoon, from the Upper Midwest to the southern Plains.

    "The greatest concern for severe weather will be from the mid-afternoon into the evening," AccuWeather expert senior meteorologist Scott Breit said.

    The upcoming severe weather is on the heels of a recent devastating five-day severe storm outbreak. Similar to that outbreak, tornadoes will be among the threats, but they are expected to be more isolated.

    "The severe weather event Thursday will include damaging wind gusts to 70 mph, large hail, flash flooding and even isolated tornadoes," Breit said.

    The severe weather will evolve from a wide-reaching, slow-moving storm system that will combine with powerful winds aloft and humid air from the Gulf of Mexico.

    "Minneapolis and Lacrosse, Wisconsin, will be included in the northern extent of the threat zone, but Chicago and Milwaukee will not," Breit said. "In the southern extent of the threat, areas from Oklahoma City to Dallas could be hit with severe storms, especially from late afternoon into the evening."

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    Those living or traveling in the threat zone should pay close attention to severe weather warnings throughout the day.

    If you hear thunder, seek shelter. If you plan to travel along I-35, between Minneapolis to Oklahoma City, be prepared for blinding downpours and ponding of water.

    Highways, including I-80, from Davenport, Iowa, to Omaha, Nebraska, and I-70, from just west of St. Louis, Missouri, to Kansas City, Missouri, will also be impacted by the adverse weather.

    Multiple severe storms can repeatedly hit some communities on Thursday and Thursday night, so residents are urged to stay alert after the first round of violent storms.

    As the storm system moves farther east on Friday, the severe threat will fade. Flooding rain will become the primary threat from the Tennessee Valley to the central Gulf Coast.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 18 Incredible Photos of Tornadoes


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    Thursday, May 8, 2014

    In this March 17, 2014, photo, a cow walks with her newborn calf on Chuck O'Connor's Ranch near Philip, S.D. The highest beef prices in decades have some consumers spending extra time in meat market aisles as they search for cuts that won't break their budgets. (AP Photo/Toby Brusseau)

    Those looking to enjoy a sizzling sirloin steak and hamburgers cooked over an open flame this spring or summer may have to burn up a few more greenbacks at the register to do so.

    Texas, the largest cattle-producing state in the United States, is facing its fourth year of drought, pushing beef prices to record highs. Beef and veal prices spiked by 1.9 percent in March and now sit at 7.4 percent over the same time last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service reported.

    "The drought of 2011 was epic," Texas Farm Bureau spokesman Gene Hall said. "It was a horrible time when there was virtually nothing left to feed the animals."

    Wholesale beef prices have climbed by more than half since May 2009 from $1.49 per pound to $2.28, according to Texas Department of Agriculture spokesman Bryan Black.

    "Over that same period, the average retail value of Choice beef has increased 34 percent, from $4.25 to $5.72 per pound," Black said.

    Uncharted Territory in California Drought: Difficult Decisions Weigh on Ranchers
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    Texas farmers and ranchers produced 6.3 billion pounds of beef in 2012 which contributed 15 percent of total beef production nationally, he said. In addition, Texas facilities processed 8.1 billion pounds of beef in 2012, 19 percent of the U.S. total.

    Hall said the drought is the major contributing factor in the price increase.

    "The drought has reduced the supply of cattle in Texas and across the nation," Black said. "On a positive note, we have seen an increase in demand for replacement cattle in areas that have recovered somewhat from drought, primarily in East Texas."

    "It's a classic supply-and-demand situation," Hall said, adding that the demand for beef remains high and the supply of beef is dependent on the amount of rain that douses the state this year.

    (Photo/High Plains Regional Climate Center) senior meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said that many areas in the region have also been experiencing ongoing drought conditions for years, contributing to the reduction in the amount of feed available for the animals, including corn, which is used to feed some cattle.

    "Many of the larger beef growing states have experienced drought," he said. "Statistically, the area including the western half of Texas to portions of central Texas have been in a drought for some time."

    In Lubbock, Texas, for 2014, the area has received 22 percent of their normal rainfall for the year. In 2011, the area received 31 percent of the normal yearly rainfall, he said.

    "Since January 2011, the total number of cattle and calves in Texas has declined by 2.4 million head to 10.9 million head," Black said. "Beef cow numbers have dropped 1.1 million head over the same period to 4.35 million head."

    With the price of beef to remain at record highs for the foreseeable future due to the drought, the demand for beef has waned little, Hall said, but added higher prices may deter some consumers.

    Tyson Foods reported double profit due to price increases of beef, according to Reuters.

    "Chicken sales rose about 4 percent to $2.84 billion, even though the company reduced prices due to lower feed costs," the article reported.

    In addition, national restaurant chain, Chipotle, is increasing the price for their beef entrées by 4 to 6 percent, the Huffington Post reported.

    Hall said Texas cattlemen are a devoted group of individuals who understand prices need to come down in the future, but that will be dependent on rainfall. Black agreed with this notion.

    "Texas ranchers are no strangers to drought, but the intensity of the last few years of drought has been devastating," Black said. "However, we are Texans and we don't give up, our ranchers are determined in their commitment and fierce in their resolve."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 7 Surprising Health Effects of Drought


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    Thursday, May 8, 2014
    USA, California, Los Angeles, downtown at night (long exposure)
    (Getty Images)

    An earthquake was felt across a wide swath of the Los Angeles area late Wednesday night.

    No significant damage was reported, the Los Angeles Fire Department said on its website.

    The magnitude-3.3 quake's epicenter was reported just outside Cudahy, California, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

    Forecast High Temperatures for US
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    The fire department said it went into Emergency Earthquake Mode (EEM) after the temblor.

    "When operating in the EEM, firefighters from all 106 neighborhood fire stations promptly move to a designated safe area and then initiate a "windshield survey" as they drive through their first-in district," the department said. "In this manner, over 470 square miles in the greater Los Angeles area can be assessed in a matter of minutes. The department's six helicopters and five fire boats assist the appraisal."

    The quake was felt across the Los Angeles area by more than 2,100 people who reported to the USGS website that they felt the quake, which was felt from Thousand Oaks, Calif., to Huntington Beach and in cities surrounding Los Angeles.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space


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    Thursday, May 8, 2014

    Scientists have cooked up a new time-lapse simulation of the universe's evolution, a computerized view that shows how the cosmos may have looked over the course of billions of years.

    The cosmic simulation models the large-scale changes in the structure of the universe, tracing 13 billion years of evolution starting 12 million years after the Big Bang. The computer model, called Illustris, is special because it covers a wide area - a cosmic cube that is about 350 million light-years on each side - and also focuses on some details that are difficult to calculate while looking at such a wide swath of the universe.

    You can watch a video of the simulation on The new simulation shows a time-lapse view of the universe moving into its current form in brilliant colors. Galaxies move apart, and explosions take place in the cosmic web of galaxies simulated by the researchers. [See images from the Illustris universe evolution simulation]

    Illustris shows small-scale galactic evolution, and tracks the formation of elliptical and spiral galaxies, said Mark Vogelsberger, a researcher at MIT and the lead author of a new study detailing the simulation.

    "One of the main reasons why we did the simulation is because we learned a lot about the physics over the last years, and we think we have a very good understanding of the composition of the universe," Vogelsberger told "We think there is dark matter. We think there is dark energy and we think that there are ordinary atoms. We also think we have a pretty good understanding of the initial conditions of the universe because we can measure those with satellites."

    While the new simulation doesn't cover the entire universe, Illustris does model a wide-enough part of the universe to be representative of the entire cosmos, Vogelsberger said.

    For the simulation, Vogelsberger and his team were able to model the behavior of dark matter and dark energy, the mysterious substances that make up about 95 percent of the universe. They also modeled the way that baryonic matter - matter composed of protons, electrons and neutrons - behaves. The model actually looks very similar to what scientists observe in the actual universe.

    The research team used 8,192 computer cores (which have about the same computing power as a desktop) running simultaneously to create the new simulation, which shows the way the distribution of galaxies has changed over time. It would have taken 2,000 years using one ordinary desktop computer to create the new simulation, Vogelsberger said, but it took about six months to create the Illustris simulation on the stable of computer cores.

    "If all of these ingredients and all of these things that we think about the universe are correct, then with one big model, it should reproduce our universe," Vogelsberger said. "No one has tried that on this scale before and with that level of detail. [It's] a test of all our theories of how the universe should evolve and how the galaxies grow, in one go, essentially because we tested with one big model.

    "If the model would have gone very wrong and we did not produce what we see in the universe, then probably something about the composition of the universe would be wrong, or our understanding of how galaxies grow would be wrong, or something with the initial conditions would be wrong," he added. [How Computers Simulate the Universe (Infographic )]

    As it stands, each particle of gas in the Illustris simulation actually represents 1 million solar masses. While this may sound like poor resolution, it actually represents an incredibly detailed view of the evolution of the cosmos, said astrophysicist Michael Boylan-Kolchin.

    "Frequently, in simulations like this, each simulation particle represents something like 10 or 100 times that amount of gas," Boylan-Kolchin, who was unaffiliated with the research but wrote a commentary piece about it, told "The goal is always to push this down to smaller numbers so that you're always getting closer and closer to something that represents reality in that sense.

    "The same thing is true for the physics that you include in the simulation," he added. "You'd like to represent as many physical processes as you possibly can, so they have tried to include a wide variety of them."

    The new simulation isn't perfect, however. Stars seem to form too early in low-mass galaxies, and the simulation cannot model rare, extremely massive galaxy clusters. Vogelsberger does not currently have the computing power to conduct that kind of simulation right now.

    But the simulation's issues aren't necessarily failures. The problems could help scientists focus in on what new simulations should look for in the future. By focusing on those issues, researchers might be able to create new models that more closely resemble cosmic evolution.

    "I think, in general, each of these simulations is really setting in place the goals for the next generation of these kinds of simulations," Boylan-Kolchin said.

    The new study appears in the journal Nature:

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

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


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    ​​​A new satellite image reveals the damage wrought by an EF4 tornado as it tore through Arkansas on April 27.

    The tornado track runs from the upper right to the lower left of the image, traveling through the towns of Mayflower and Vilonia, Arkansas. This image, released yesterday (May 6), was taken on May 2 by NASA's Advanced Land Imager on the Earth-Observing-1 satellite, according to NASA's Earth Observatory.

    The storm that spawned this tornado came from a system that moved in from the Rocky Mountains, pushing a cold front with it, according to the National Weather Service office in Little Rock, Arkansas. The interaction of cold air with moist, warm air created the perfect breeding ground for thunderstorms, and the NWS warned that tornadoes and hail were possible. [Video: Deadly Tornado Outbreak Seen from Space]

    A tornado is born

    One storm northwest of Little Rock turned into a supercell storm. In a supercell, a cold front forces warm, moist air to rise. But as this moist air cools and condenses, it creates a downdraft of cold air. When warm updrafts are balanced by cool downdrafts, the storm can churn along for hours - and form tornadoes.

    At around 7 p.m. local time on April 27, the supercell northwest of Little Rock did just that. The resulting twister had winds of between 166 and 200 miles per hour (267 to 322 km/h). The estimated wind speeds and high levels of damage gave the tornado a rating of EF4 on the Enhanced Fujita (EF) tornado scale.

    The tornado traveled northeast more than 41 miles (66 km) and remained on the ground for an hour. Hundreds of homes were destroyed, some swept entirely from their foundations. Sixteen people died in the tornado, including an Iraq war veteran who died shielding his 5-year-old daughter from a falling beam when their home was destroyed and 7- and 8-year-old brothers whose parents were seriously injured.

    The tornado was the deadliest in Arkansas since 1968, according to the NWS.

    Weather damage

    The Mayflower-Vilonia tornado was not the only twister spawned by the April 27 storm. Another tornado hit Quapaw, Oklahoma, that evening, killing one person before crossing the state line into Baxter Springs, Kansas. Another tornado hit in Tennessee not far from the Alabama state line.

    Floods also affected many areas in Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama and Florida as a result of the storm. As the system moved east, it brought moisture to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, causing localized flooding in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

    Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

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

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


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    Thursday, May 8, 2014
    APTOPIX Mideast Lebanon Weather
    A Lebanese woman takes shelter under her umbrella as she walks on the Corniche, or waterfront promenade, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday May 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

    JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli rescue services evacuated dozens of American tourists who were stranded overnight in a parking lot in the Negev desert due to rare heavy rains, police said Thursday.

    Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that about 70 tourists from the U.S. were stranded there since Wednesday night when the rain began. Rescuers evacuated the tourists with helicopters and jeeps Thursday morning. Nobody was injured in the incident, Rosenfeld said.

    He said the tourists were on a field trip near Hulit when heavy rains prevented them from continuing the journey.

    Heavy rains and thunderstorms are unusual but not unheard of in Israel this time of year. The downpour came after a week of sunshine and high temperatures. By midday Thursday, the rains largely had subsided.

    Related on SKYE: The World's Wettest Places


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    Friday, May 9, 2014

    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock.

    The upcoming El Niño threatens to drive coffee prices up further, which are already high due to drought in Brazil and as a fungus plagues coffee crops in Central America. meteorologists expect the onset of El Niño during midsummer, leading to drought in many of the top coffee-producing countries.

    "During an El Niño, there is a strong correlation between dry weather in Central America," stated agricultural weather expert Dale Mohler.

    "The drought that is likely to result threatens to reduce this year's coffee crop even further in the region."

    The coffee crop across Central America is already suffering due to the plant-choking fungus called coffee rust, or "la roya," according to an article by the New York Times.

    The article states that the latest epidemic of coffee rust started in Central America three years ago and has advanced to the highest elevations. Coffee rust outbreaks in the 1970s and 1980s were contained at lower elevations.

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    Rising temperatures and extreme weather, such as flooding, have encouraged the coffee rust to spread, Ana R. Ríos, a climate change specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank told the New York Times.

    Central America is home to four of the top 15 producing countries of green coffee (what milled coffee beans are called), according to Index Mundi.

    At the top of that list sits Brazil, which endured a drought at the end of the growing season this past February and March, continued Mohler.

    "As a result, we saw the price of coffee almost double from early February to mid-March," Mohler said.

    Vietnam and Colombia are the world's second and third largest producers of green coffee and may not escape the effects of El Niño.

    "These countries could be on the edge of El Niño impacts and may turn drier than normal," Mohler said. senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls also anticipates El Niño to impact India, the sixth greatest producer of green coffee, but not where coffee is grown.

    "El Niño will hinder monsoonal rain across northern India this summer. However along the southwestern coast of India, I expect normal to above-normal rainfall from June through September," Nicholls said.

    "The coffee-producing countries of Indonesia and Malaysia are currently in the midst of a drought and will stay in a drought due to El Niño," Mohler added.

    Indonesia and Malaysia rank fourth and 14th, respectively, in terms of green coffee production.

    An explanation of El Niño is given in the above video.


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    Friday, May 9, 2014
    California Storms
    (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

    A risk of flash flooding will reach from the Gulf Coast to the Tennessee Valley on Friday, while enough downpours farther to the north and east can foil outdoor plans into Saturday.

    A slow-moving storm that produced severe weather over the Plains Wednesday and Thursday will shift farther east to close out the week. While the storm will transition away from severe weather, it can still cause some problems.

    A general 0.50 to 1.00 inch of rain will fall from a mosaic of showers and thunderstorms that drifts slowly to the east on Friday over the Central states. In a few locations where downpours repeat, there can be several inches of rain and flash flooding.

    Friday will be the wetter of the two days from coastal Texas and Arkansas to Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and upstate New York.

    Folks traveling along the I-40, I-55, I-64 and I-65 corridors should be prepared for sudden low visibility and excess water on the roadway. Flight delays are possible from locally strong thunderstorms in Detroit, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Memphis and Houston.

    Saturday will be the more unsettled of the two days from Alabama to New Jersey, southeastern New York state and southeastern New England.

    Motorists should be prepared for slow travel along the I-59 and I-81 corridors, as well as a portion of I-80 and I-95. Downpours can cause some minor flight delays in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Atlanta and New Orleans.

    From southeastern Louisiana to much of Pennsylvania, both days have the potential for disruptive downpours.

    Outdoor activities ranging from graduation and weddings to baseball games and travel could be impact by the drenching downpours.

    Five Essential Safety Steps to Take Before Severe Weather Hits
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    There is some good news for moms out there at least from the central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic to New England. Enough dry air should mix in to keep rain away from these areas on Sunday, Mother's Day. Only very spotty downpours are likely from the Southeastern states to the Midwest.

    However, a new storm will already be moving across the Northwest on Saturday. That storm is likely to bring everything from severe thunderstorms and heavy rain to cold winds and snow from parts of the Rockies to the Great Plains starting on Sunday.

    Related on SKYE: The World's Wettest Places


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    Friday, May 9, 2014
    Spring Storm
    (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    Soon after a storm leaves the Central states, a new and potent storm will swing from the northern Rockies to the Plains starting on Mother's Day.

    The storm will bring temperature extremes over the Plains and Rockies. The temperature contrast will contribute not only a zone of heavy precipitation, but also all forms of precipitation ranging from rain and thunderstorms to snow.

    There is the potential for thunderstorms to erupt and become severe from portions of northwest Texas to central Oklahoma, and central and eastern Kansas on Sunday. This area is likely to be the intersection of dry air from the southwest, building heat and moisture to the southeast and chilly air to the northwest.

    A zone of drenching rain is likely to develop just north and west of the thunderstorm area in the cooler air.

    Meanwhile, gusty winds will kick up dust and raise the wildfire danger south of the storm track over the deserts and passes from Southern California to New Mexico.

    Farther northwest, snow has the potential to be heavier and more far-reaching when compared to the storm that delivered snow to part of the Rockies and High Plains Wednesday night and Thursday.

    Interactive Radar
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    Snow can fall from portions of Montana to Colorado and Utah as well as on portions of western Nebraska. The snow will not be limited to the high country.

    After temperatures surge to near 70 Friday and Saturday around Denver, a shift in winds will cause temperatures to plummet on Sunday with the potential for accumulating snow by Sunday night.

    Enough snow can fall to create slushy and slow travel over the passes along I-70 in Colorado and I-80 in Wyoming Sunday night into Monday.

    Downtown Denver narrowly missed out on snow on Wednesday night and Thursday with the most recent storm with chilly rain falling for a time. Snow fell on the foothills and mountains in central Colorado to the Nebraska Panhandle and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Blowing and drifting snow occurred in parts of western Nebraska and southwestern South Dakota.

    As the storm rolls out to the northeast Monday and Tuesday, wet snow could mix in over part of the upper Great Lakes region at the tail end.

    On a positive note, the storm can bring rainfall to some drought areas of the southern and central Plains Sunday to Monday. However, the rainfall will be spotty in the neediest areas of the region from the Texas Panhandle, western Oklahoma, southwestern Kansas and southeastern Colorado.

    Related on SKYE: The World's Wettest Places
    Spring Storm


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    Friday, May 9, 2014
    Warm Weather California
    (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

    Temperatures will be on the rise across the West early next week, challenging records from California to Washington.

    The heat is forecast to peak around midweek with California and the deserts of Arizona set to sizzle under the blazing afternoon sunshine as the hottest areas of the West.

    Those participating in outdoor activities should take the proper precautions to stay protected from the heat, such as wearing sunblock and drinking plenty of water.

    Several cities in California, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, Fresno, Redding and Ontario, could have their first 100-degree day of the year.

    Although other portions of the West are not expected to approach the 100-degree mark, temperatures in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada may still run 10 to 20 degrees above normal from Monday through Thursday.

    This will still be enough to approach record levels on multiple occasions throughout the week.

    Ken Clark's Western Weather Blog
    Forecast Temperature Maps
    El Niño-Induced Droughts May Hike Coffee Prices Further

    The same weather system responsible for this heat will also yield dry conditions across the West Coast throughout the week.

    Areas currently affected by extreme drought are more prone to seeing higher temperatures due to the lack of moisture available for evaporation.

    With less evaporation, more of the sun's energy goes directly towards heating the air and the ground, resulting in hotter and less humid conditions.

    Consequently, these dry conditions in conjunction with low humidity will result in a heightened risk of wildfires.

    Following Wednesday, temperatures are forecast to drop by a few degrees each day through the rest of the week.

    However, temperatures will likely remain above normal through Friday and possibly into the first half of the weekend.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave
    Smart ways to beat the summer heat


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