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    Friday, May 16, 2014

    Firefighters plan their attack as the brush fire flares up heading toward homes Thursday, May 15, 2014, in San Marcos, Calif. Gusty winds failed to return Thursday morning in San Diego County wildfire areas and authorities said it was a window of opportunity to make further gains against flames that burned homes and drove tens of thousands from their homes. (AP Photo)

    Scorching flames and thick smoke continues to threaten homes across northern San Diego County, California, fueled by high winds, heat and very low humidity. At least nine fires have scorched thousands of acres, forced the evacuation of thousands and claimed more than $22.5 million in property damage this week.

    The causes of the fires are being investigated, according to the Associated Press. California Governor Edmund Brown declared a state of emergency for San Diego County Wednesday evening.

    On Wednesday, a wildfire near Carlsbad claimed several homes and destroyed two commercial buildings, with early structural damage assessments estimated at $22.5 million, according to the report.

    Another fire Wednesday ignited near Camp Pendleton and has since grown to 6,000 acres, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported.


    Scorching flames and thick smoke continues to threaten homes across northern San Diego County, California, fueled by high winds, heat and very low humidity.

    At least nine fires have scorched thousands of acres, forced the evacuation of thousands and claimed more than $22.5 million in property damage this week.

    By late Wednesday, a fire ignited near San Marcos and had consumed more than 800 acres by Thursday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

    A wildfire approaches homes on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, in San Marcos, California. (AP Photo)

    As of Thursday morning, multiple fires near San Marcos was reported to have damaged and claimed homes, according to the city's official report.

    California State University San Marcos has been evacuated and is closed for the rest of the week. Commencement ceremonies scheduled for Friday and Saturday have been canceled.

    President Dr. Karen Haynes said on the school's website: "Canceling commencement was not a decision we took lightly and we are saddened by the circumstances. Safety continues to be our first concern."



    A firenado is born out of a fire in Bonsall, California, on Thursday, May 14, 2014. (Photo/Rick Halsey, californiachaparral.org)

    The fires have been able to spread quickly due to heat and persistent, dry winds.

    "The heat is going to continue right through into the end of the week," AccuWeather.com meteorologist Brian Edwards said, adding the threat of high winds should wane slightly by week's end.

    No major injuries have been reported as of Thursday afternoon.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Southern California Wildfire Spreads
    Southern California Wildfire

     

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    Friday, May 16, 2014

    Members of the Bosnian army rescue a woman stranded in her home due to flooding, in the Bosnian town of Maglaj, 93 kms north of Sarajevo, Friday May 16, 2014. Two people drowned in Serbia and the country declared a national emergency Thursday as rain-swollen rivers across the Balkans flooded roads and bridges, shut down schools and cut off power. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated. In Serbia and neighboring Bosnia, meteorologists said the rainfall was the most since measuring started 120 years ago. Belgrade authorities say the average rainfall of a two-month period hit the city in just 40 hours. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

    SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Samira Mahmic thought she was getting her life back when she was winched into a helicopter with her 10-year-old son clinging to her amid the worst flooding in more than a century in the Balkans.

    But she froze when she realized the helicopter was now fully loaded and she looked down to see her 17-year-old daughter Amina, watching in disbelief as the aircraft left her behind on a roof sticking out of a sea of water.

    "I thought they would go back but it got too late last night," Mahmic said Friday.

    Luckily her daughter's mobile phone still had some battery Friday morning and Mahmic was able to reassure herself that her daughter and husband were both still alive.

    "It's Judgment Day in Maglaj," Mahmic said of her northern Bosnian hometown that was hit by the heaviest rainfall since measuring started 120 years ago.

    Rain-swollen rivers across the Balkans have flooded roads, cut off power and caused more than 200 landslides.

    Two people are confirmed dead in Serbia, and on Friday the waters took their first victim in Bosnia when the wall of a house collapsed and killed an elderly man, said Banja Luka police spokeswoman Mirna Soja from

    Rescuers are trying to save his wife who is stuck on a part of the roof that is still standing.

    A landslide in the eastern town of Cerska has buried two women in their homes but they are still alive. The mud has pushed the local mosque some 300 feet down the slope. Only the minaret is still visible, the local imam Nurdin Grahic told media.

    Both Bosnia and Serbia have requested international help. The EU said its Civil Protection Mechanism has been activated and Germany, Bulgaria and Austria have offered assistance.

    In Serbia 6,000 people have been forced out of their homes and a Russian emergency team has flown in to join the rescue efforts.

    In Bosnia, the EU force has three helicopters and 130 troops waiting for the weather to allow them to join rescuers, while the Bosnian Army has already resumed helicopter evacuations. Two helicopters have arrived from Croatia and two are on their way from Slovenia.

    "In three days, as much rain fell as normally falls in three months," said Goran Mihajlovic, of Serbia's Meteorological Institute.

    "Statistically, such rainfall happens once in 100 years," he added.

    Mahmic sobbed as she described seeing from the helicopter on Thursday people on roofs and balconies waving baby clothes, signaling they are trapped with small infants. Water had reached second floors.

    After having dug through landslides for three days, rescuers on Friday reached Maglaj by road and are delivering boats, blankets and food to the desperate population. A doctor is trying to paddle to a house where a woman is in labor, rescuers said.

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    Friday, May 16, 2014

    (Adastra via Getty Images)

    May 15 marks the beginning of the 2014 hurricane season in the eastern Pacific. The season will run until Nov. 30, which coincides with the end of hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin.

    The 2014 Atlantic Basin hurricane season does not get underway until June 1. The earlier start time in the eastern Pacific reflects how this basin typically turns active faster than the Atlantic. On average, June 10 is when the first tropical storm is named in the eastern Pacific. In the Atlantic, that date is July 9.

    The first tropical storm to develop in the eastern Pacific this year will acquire the name Amanda. The basin, however, is currently quiet.

    Hurricanes typically develop much quicker in the eastern Pacific than the Atlantic. The average first date for a hurricane to form in the eastern Pacific is June 26, but not until Aug. 10 in the Atlantic.

    The eastern Pacific is historically the more active of the two basins. On average, 15 tropical storms are named each season. Out of those, nine become hurricanes with four reaching major hurricane status.

    Despite the eastern Pacific being rather active, the majority of tropical storms and hurricanes never threaten land. A typical eastern Pacific tropical system will head westward into the open and progressively cooler waters of the Pacific, dissipating in the process.


    Workers reinforce a road with sandbags in Acapulco, Mexico, as Hurricane Raymond threatens the area on Oct. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez)

    Occasionally, tropical storms and hurricanes will target Mexico and parts of Central America. Though less frequently, some tropical systems have passed through Hawaii but almost all of them are in a much weakened state.

    Since records began, the cool water that lies offshore of California has protected the state from direct hits from tropical storms and hurricanes every season but one. In September 1939, an unnamed tropical storm pressed onshore at Long Beach, Calif., with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph.

    Two other storms have moved into Arizona at tropical storm strength. The first was once-Hurricane Joanne in October 1972, followed by once-Hurricane Kathleen in September 1976.

    According to official records, no systems have reached the Southwest at hurricane strength; however, before official records began, there were stories of the RELATED ON SKYE: Stunning Hurricane Photos from Space

     

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    Friday, May 16, 2014

    (NOAA Photo Library)

    Prolonged exposure to stale heat and damp, choking humidity claims hundreds of lives each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The CDC reported a total of 7,233 heat-related deaths in the U.S. between the years of 1999-2009. In that time, an average of 658 people died of heat-related causes each year.

    "A heat stroke is when a patient's temperature rises to 105F, which can result in nausea, fever, confusion and loss of consciousness," Director of Integrative Pain Management at The Mount Sinai Hospital Dr. Houman Danesh said.

    The human body's response to heat is dependent on three factors including activity level, humidity and temperature, Danesh said.

    "The body under normal temperature variations will adjust to maintain the body's core temperature," he said. "A long day in the sun can lead to heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), fatigue and heat stroke."

    Victims of heat stroke may experience headache, dizziness, lack of sweating, muscle cramps, rapid heart rate and fainting.

    Danesh said it is vital when experiencing any of the symptoms of heat stroke to seek medical attention immediately.

    "If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 immediately," he said. "Delays in seeking medical care can be fatal. While waiting for an ambulance, place the patient in a cool, air-conditioned room, or shady area and remove unnecessary clothing."

    If access to ice or water is available, Danesh said there are methods to cool a patient down.

    "You can also fan the patient after wetting him or her or place (them) in an ice bath," he said. "If ice packs are available, apply to the groin, neck, armpits and back, as these (areas) are blood vessel rich."

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    Prolonged exposure to heat during a humid day as opposed to a dry one prevents the body from naturally cooling through sweat.

    "The body cools down primarily by the evaporation of sweat on the skin," he said. "When the air is dry, sweat evaporates and cools the skin. When the air is humid, sweat doesn't evaporate as well and the body is unable to cool down."

    To offset the stress caused by heat, staying hydrated is a key factor, along with wearing loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and protecting the skin with sunblock when outdoors.

    Acclimating the body to warmer weather takes time, he added.

    "Heat acclimatization is the process of increasing your body's core temperature so that the body sweat earlier and in greater qualities," Danesh said. "This allows the body to cool at lower temperatures and more effectively."

    Older people living in hot apartments without air-conditioning are at the highest risk for heat stroke, he said.

    In addition to older adults, young children and people with chronic medical conditions are also at high risk for heat-related deaths, the CDC reported.

    "It takes about two weeks to acclimate with sun exposure of two hours each day," he said, adding that it is best to work out or be active in the heat a little longer each day, while keeping the body hydrated with an electrolyte rich drink every 15 minutes coupled with light meals.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Tips for Surviving a Heat Wave

     

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    Friday, May 16, 2014
    Update: Boy Injured After Bounce House Incident In Coma


    This May 13, 2014, photo (provided by the South Glens Fall Police Department) shows a deflated bounce house that three children were playing in on Monday when it broke loose from plastic anchoring stakes and was swept skyward by gusty winds, in South Glens Fall, N.Y. (AP Photo/South Glens Fall Police Department)

    SOUTH GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (AP) - Two young boys who fell from an inflatable bounce house as it was swept skyward by gusty winds remained hospitalized in stable condition Wednesday, one in a medically induced coma with a head injury, according to police.

    A girl, age 10, and the boys, ages 5 and 6, were playing in the 10-by-10-foot roofless nylon playhouse at a South Glens Falls townhouse community Monday afternoon when the 38-pound Little Tikes toy product broke loose from plastic anchoring stakes, local police said.

    Commercial bounce houses rented for parties and other events are made of heavy vinyl, weigh 200 to 250 pounds and are secured by 18-inch steel stakes.

    The girl fell out immediately and suffered minor scrapes, but the boys didn't tumble out until the toy was 15 feet in the air. Police Chief Kevin Judd told the Glens Falls Post Star that one boy hit a parked car as he fell and suffered a serious head injury. The other has broken arms and several broken facial bones. They were airlifted to Albany Medical Center.

    The chief said an investigation was continuing but no charges were likely to be filed. He called what happened a "tragic accident."

    There have been other accidents involving windblown bounce houses. In Scottsdale, Arizona, a bounce house outside a McDonald's restaurant was pushed into traffic by a gust of wind in March 2012. No injuries were reported.

    In June 2011, strong winds tumbled three bounce houses with children inside them at a youth soccer tournament in Oceanside. Minor injuries were reported.

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    Saturday, May 17, 2014

    This image taken from video provided by Lao National TV, shows the wreckage of a Lao air force plane which crashed in a forested area of Xiangkhoung province, Laos Saturday, May 17, 2014. The Lao air force plane carrying senior government officials crashed Saturday, killing at least five people on board, including the country's Defense Minister Douangchay Phichit, Thai officials said. (AP Photo/Lao National TV via AP Video)

    A military plane crashed early Saturday, local time, in northern Laos, killing five top Laotian military and government leaders.

    Laos Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Gen. Douangchay Phichit died in the crash along with Pany Yathortou, the president of the National Assembly of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the Bangkok Post and the Phuket Wan website reported.

    Other Laotian leaders reported killed were Public Security Minister Thongbanh Sengaphone, Vientiane governor Soukanh Mahalath and Cheuang Sombounkhanh, secretariat of the Party Central Committee and chairman of the Propaganda Training Committee, the Bangkok newspaper said.

    Vientiane is Laos' capital city.

    There were conflicting reports as to how many were on the plane; as many as 20 people were on board. Three survivors were reported.

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    The crash occurred about 10 a.m. local time, as the Laos Air Force plane headed to Xiangkhouang Province for an official ceremony.

    It doesn't appear that weather was a factor, although there had been rain in the area Friday night, local time, AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Matt Rinde said.

    "Visibility was good at 10 miles. There were clouds in the area," Rinde said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Photos: 49 Killed in Deadly Laos Plane Crash

     

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    Saturday, May 17, 2014

    (MDGovpics/Flickr)


    Following a soaking rain on Friday, drier weather has made a return to Baltimore just in time for the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes.

    The rain-free weather and a breeze from the West will help to dry the track surface after nearly 2 inches of rain soaked the area on Friday.

    Post time for Saturday's Preakness is 6:18 p.m. EDT, with temperatures at race time in the upper 60s.

    Those headed to the track can expect temperatures to climb through the 60s as the day progresses, making a run towards 70F in the late afternoon.

    The sun will also make an appearance for the race, but will mix with clouds as they swing in from the west.

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    The entire region will not be dry across the board on Saturday, however.

    Spotty showers are forecast to develop west of Baltimore, and with a wind from the west, they may try and nose their way towards the track.

    In the event that one of these showers does pass over the track, it will likely be brief and not have a significant affect on the track's surface.

    Anyone sticking around the Baltimore area for the second half of the weekend can expect more of the same weather for Sunday.

    Highs are forecast to climb into the lower 70s with partial sunshine and a breeze from the northwest.

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    Saturday, May 17, 2014

    A Riverside firefighter covers the face of another firefighter as they work a wildfire Thursday, May 15, 2014, in Escondido, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)


    SAN DIEGO (AP) - A man was charged with setting one of nearly a dozen fires that have destroyed homes and raced through nearly 20,000 acres of brush land in northern and eastern San Diego County, but most of the blazes seemed to be dying down.

    Thousands of firefighters and fleets of water-dropping military and civilian helicopters planned fresh battles against fires Saturday, including three fires at the Camp Pendleton Marine base.

    Investigators continued to seek the causes of the conflagrations that burned at least eight homes and an 18-unit condominium complex, emptied neighborhoods and spread fields of flame, smoke and ash that dirtied the air in neighboring Orange County and as far north as Los Angeles County.

    Alberto Serrato, 57, pleaded not guilty Friday to an arson charge in connection with one of the smaller fires, a 105-acre fire in suburban Oceanside that started Wednesday and is fully contained.

    Tanya Sierra, a spokeswoman for the San Diego County district attorney's office, said witnesses saw Serrato adding dead brush onto smoldering bushes, which flamed up. He has not been connected to any other fire, Sierra said.

    Oceanside police Lt. Sean Marshand said Serrato is believed to have added fuel to the fire but not to have started it. "Unfortunately we don't have the guy that we really want," he said.

    Serrato remained jailed Friday, and Sierra said she didn't know whether he had an attorney.

    All together, the wildfires about 30 miles north of San Diego have caused more than $20 million in damage.

    Three fires continued to burn at Pendleton: A 15,000-acre blaze that began Thursday was 40 percent contained, and a new fire Friday that quickly grew to 800 acres was 25 percent surrounded that night. A 6,500-acre fire that started Wednesday at a neighboring Navy weapons station and rolled onto the base and the city of Fallbrook was 65 percent contained.

    At their peak, the fires prompted about 8,400 military personnel and their families to be sent home from various parts of the sprawling coastal base between Los Angeles and San Diego, but some housing-area evacuations were lifted, base spokesman Jeff Nyhart said.

    The most destructive fires started in Carlsbad -- a densely populated coastal suburb of 110,000 people where a badly burned body was found Thursday in a transient camp -- and San Marcos, a neighboring suburb of 85,000 people where strip malls and large housing tracts mix with older homes whose residents cherish their large lots and country living.

    The Cocos Fire, which hopscotched through San Marcos and neighboring Escondido, was 50 percent contained Friday night after burning 2,520 acres. The fire wasn't growing, and crews planned to keep mopping up hotspots, state fire Capt. Kendal Bortisser said.

    An evacuation of the area was partially lifted, but some of those returning found disaster.

    Dave Roberts' home in Escondido was gutted and its roof collapsed, although about 20 goats and some poultry he kept survived.

    "My whole life is here and I lost everything," Roberts told KGTV-TV.

    He built the home 20 years ago by hand. But he and his wife, Sherri, weren't giving in to disaster.

    "Between my family and friends and relatives and everybody," he said in a choked voice. "I'll make it somehow."

    The region had become a tinder box in recent days because of conditions not normally seen until late summer -- extremely dry weather, 50-mph Santa Ana winds and temperatures in the 90s Fahrenheit. On Friday, though, slightly cooler weather and calming winds aided the 2,600 firefighters, and thousands of people began returning home.

    Six fires were entirely surrounded and several others were reduced to smoldering hotspots.

    Eight of the San Diego County blazes popped up between late morning and sundown on Wednesday, raising suspicions that some had been set.

    Police in Escondido arrested two people, ages 17 and 19, for investigation of arson in connection with two small fires that were extinguished within minutes. But they found no evidence linking the suspects to the 10 biggest wildfires.

    The Bernardo fire, the first of the North County blazes to break out, burned 1,548 acres and was 95 percent contained Friday night.

    A backhoe operator at a development site accidentally started the fire while digging trenches, San Diego fire officials said Friday.

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    Saturday, May 17, 2014

    A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket launched a new GPS satellite for the U.S. Air Force Friday, May 16, 2014. (United Launch Alliance)

    CAPE CANAVERAL -- A replacement Global Positioning System spacecraft for the world's best-known satellite constellation ascended into orbit Friday (May 16) night aboard a Delta 4 rocket in a spectacular sendoff at sunset.

    Igniting its main engine and twin solid rockets at 8:03 p.m. EDT, the 205-foot-tall vehicle lifted off on 1.2 million pounds of chest-thumping thrust. The launch has been delayed a day by inclement weather.

    Arcing to the northeast, the Delta 4 accelerated through Mach 1 in less than a minute, jettisoned its strap-on boosters a minute later and cruised out to staging in four minutes. [See amazing photos from the launch]

    The cryogenic upper stage then lit to propel the vehicle into a transfer orbit, reaching the point of engine cutoff over the North Atlantic 15 minutes into flight.

    A three-hour coast then began as the rocket flew over Europe, the Middle East and Indian Ocean before restarting the RL10B-2 engine to circularize the orbit at 11,000 nautical miles and tilted 55 degrees to the equator.

    "Our team has launched every modern GPS satellite from here at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. We take great pride in our ability to deliver these capabilities to our citizens and warfighters," said Lt. Col. Paul Konyha, 45th Launch Support Squadron commander. "I am always impressed by the amount of dedication and rigor that everyone puts into each launch."

    It was a direct insertion ascent, putting the $245 million Global Positioning System 2F-6 payload into the navigation network three hours and 15 minutes after blastoff.

    "Today's successful launch demonstrates our combined government and industry team's dedication to mission success, ensuring GPS continues to be the Gold Standard for space based positioning, navigation, and timing," said Col. Bill Cooley, director of the Space and Missile Systems Centers Global Positioning Systems Directorate.

    "I want to recognize the tireless efforts of the 45th and 50th Space wings, United Launch Alliance, Boeing, and the GPS 2F and Delta 4 program teams at SMC. I am extremely proud of the team, everyone pulled together to make this day a true success. Users can depend on GPS with confidence today, tomorrow and in the future."

    GPS 2F-6 will replace the aging spacecraft known as GPS 2A-23 in Plane D, Slot 4 of the constellation. The GPS 2A-23 satellite was launched aboard Delta 223 in October 1993. It will go into a reserve role in the network for the remainder of its useful life.

    "The replacement of our legacy satellites ensures both the sustainment and the modernization of the GPS constellation by providing the increase in signal power, improved accuracy and anti-jamming capabilities for GPS users worldwide," said Col. Steve Steiner, GPS Space Systems Division chief.

    This was the sixth of 12 Boeing-built Block 2F spacecraft being manufactured to form the backbone of the GPS fleet for the next 15 years. The full dozen satellites are due to be launched by mid-2016.

    "Boeing's dedicated GPS team is proud and excited to reach this half-way point in delivering this new-generation of spacecraft into service," said Munzir Badawi, Boeing's GPS 2F program manager.

    It was the second GPS launch since February, with two more planned for the end of July and late October aboard Atlas 5 rockets from the Cape to further bolster the constellation.

    "Boeing has continued to maintain a robust tempo of deliveries to meet U.S. Air Force requirements, with the next GPS 2F already on deck in Florida for a third-quarter liftoff," said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Space and Intelligence Systems. "As a prime contractor on the GPS program since the first launch in 1978, our experience with these complex and critically important spacecraft spans nearly 40 years and now covers 44 satellites delivered into orbit with continuing mission support."

    The current constellation is comprised of seven GPS 2A satellites, a dozen GPS 2Rs, seven 2R-Ms and four GPS 2Fs. The one launched in February is nearing completion of a navigation characterizing testing and will become the 31st member of the constellation by month's end.

    GPS 2F-6 will replace its target within a month of launch.

    "The GPS constellation is reliably serving global users with the most accurate and robust signals ever, and the navigation, timing accuracy and availability will improve as the GPS modernization efforts continue," said Col. Bill Cooley, director of the Space and Missile Systems Center's Global Positioning Systems Directorate.

    The next Delta 4 launch is scheduled for July 23 carrying two satellites for the Air Force's Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program.

    The next launch from Cape Canaveral is less than a week away. An Atlas 5 will launch a classified National Reconnaissance Office payload next Thursday morning between 8:45 and 10:15 a.m. EDT.

    Copyright 2014 SpaceflightNow.com, all rights reserved.

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

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    Saturday, May 17, 2014

    (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

    Torrential rainfall Thursday into Friday first drove small streams out of their banks and will lead to flooding of the Potomac River and others in the mid-Atlantic this weekend.

    Multiple roads were closed from North Carolina to upstate New York early Friday as a round of heavy rain moved into the area and stalled.

    From 2 to 6 inches of rain fell on part of the Potomac River basin this week and has been enough to cause the waterway to rise.

    Moderate to major flooding is forecast by National Weather Service hydrologists from Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, to Washington, D.C.

    With the river level forecast, unprotected areas of the waterfront at the Washington, D.C., seafood market would be flooded. In the Georgetown section of the District of Columbia, the volume of water moving downstream will supersede tide levels.

    Farther south, heavy rain fell across portions of southern Virginia and the Carolinas Wednesday night through Thursday, and streams and rivers swelled out of their banks.

    Moderate flooding is forecast along portions of the Roanoke River in Virginia. The Neuse River at Smithfield and Goldsboro, North Carolina, is forecast to reach moderate flood stage or higher this weekend. The Tar River at Rocky Mount, North Carolina, is also projected to reach moderate flood stage.

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    People in unprotected areas along the river will need to relocate. Park land and roadways along the river will take on water, and people should avoid these areas until waters recede early next week.

    Farther north, less intense, less widespread heavy rain has fallen over much of the Susquehanna River Basin. While a significant rise is forecast along much of both branches of the river this weekend, in most cases waters will stop short of moderate flood levels.

    The duration and intensity of the rain is forecast is not expected to cause major river flooding in New England this weekend.

    Only spotty shower activity is forecast this weekend into early next week in the wake of the heavy rainfall.

    Small streams will recede and runoff from streams feeding into the major rivers will diminish allowing the large waterways to crest.

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    Saturday, May, 17, 2014

    (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

    The week leading up to Memorial Day will definitely not feel like summer across the Northeast with heat and humidity being held at bay.

    Air conditioners and fans will get a break through the upcoming week as the weather pattern shaping up will help suppress summertime heat and humidity from the Northeast.

    The one exception will be at midweek when warmer and more humid air will briefly surge into the mid-Atlantic, setting the stage for thunderstorms to rumble.

    Fresh cool air will quickly sweep away the steamy air, causing the week to end just as it started.

    For the first part of the week, near- to below-normal temperatures, with highs in the 60s and lower 70s, will be common.

    Some residents around the eastern Great Lakes and central Appalachians may actually view Sunday as a cool end to the weekend with temperatures nearly 10 degrees below normal. Temperatures will fail to crack the 60-degree mark in Buffalo, New York, and Erie, Pennsylvania.

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    The air will also be cold enough for patchy frost and/or subfreezing temperatures in the normally colder locations around the Appalachians both nights of the weekend.

    In addition to spring jackets, some may want to keep an umbrella handy with daily occurrences of showers through at least Monday. Additional showers will dot New England on Tuesday as thunderstorms approach the eastern Great Lakes.

    While occurring more numerous across Maine, the showers will generally be brief, spotty and only pose minor inconveniences to those with outdoor plans. The showers will mainly be confined to the midday and afternoon hours.

    The good news is that without a tropical connection the showers are not expected to worsen flooding along already swollen streams and rivers.

    The greater disruptions to outdoor activities, including possible delays at baseball games, may happen at midweek as the warmer and more humid air surges into the mid-Atlantic and a storm system triggers steadier rain and thunderstorms.

    As that system tracks to Atlantic Canada, more showers will keep the Northeast damp later in the week and into at least the start of the Memorial Day holiday weekend as fresh cool air pours in.

    While temperatures may then trend upwards for Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer may not feel as such with heat and humidity likely to still be held at bay.

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    Sunday, May 18, 2014

    As in this file photo, large hail is expected as part of this storm system. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

    A low pressure system ejecting out of the Rockies will bring the risk of severe weather to part of the northern Plains to close out the weekend.

    Many of these storms are expected to develop late on Sunday afternoon from Montana to the Dakotas, lasting into the evening hours.

    Billings, Montana; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Bismarck and Dickinson, North Dakota are just a few locations that can have storms that produce hail as large as baseballs and damaging wind gusts past 60 mph.

    People in these areas outside enjoying Sunday's warmer weather should be mindful of the thunderstorms as they can move in with little notice.

    Frequent lightning associated with these storms can add danger to any outdoor activity, especially those in large open areas.

    Remember that if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning and should seek shelter until the storm has passed.

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    INFOGRAPHIC: Exploring Fact Versus Fiction of Eight US Disaster Films

    The same system responsible for these thunderstorms will progress eastward heading into the new week, tracking towards the Great Lakes.

    Although thunderstorms are in the forecast from Nebraska to Wisconsin for Monday, it does not appear like there will be a widespread severe thunderstorm threat. However, a few storms may still be strong enough to produce small hail and some gusty winds during Monday afternoon.

    This area will also experience showers and thunderstorms throughout a longer portion of the day, threatening outdoor activities in cities such as Minneapolis, Des Moines, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska.

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    Twin Waterspouts

     

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    Sunday, May 18, 2014

    A satellite image of the developing system, taken Saturday afternoon. (NOAA)

    A tropical system is looking to take shape off of the coastline of western Mexico over the next few days. Though this system will likely be slow to develop, there is uncertainty in the exact track into next week.

    Currently, some clouds off to the southwest of Acapulco, Mexico, are spinning a bit and continues to have storms circulating around the low pressure area.

    RELATED:
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    Western Heat, Fire Risk to Diminish This Weekend

    This system is going to be pushing off to the west the next few days as it moves over the warm waters of the Eastern Pacific. Into early next week, there is some uncertainty on the track this will take next week. But AccuWeather.com meteorologist Andy Mussoline says "We will have to keep a close eye for tropical development next week. There is plenty of warm water to help spur development, but the cluster of showers and thunderstorms we are monitoring will battle wind shear through the week."

    There are two possible tracks for this storm. We could see this move off to the west and remain in the waters of the open Pacific Ocean. If this occurs, we may see a named storm, but we are not likely to see this affect any land when it weakens over the ocean.

    Another possible track for this is turning off to the northeast by the beginning of next week and moving into southern Mexico. If this occurs, we could see some heavy rainfall over southern Mexico which could lead to flooding and mudslides. Since this would remain a weaker system if it develops, AccuWeather.com meteorologists are not expecting this to bring strong winds or storm surge to the coast of Mexico regardless of the track.

    No matter if this develops of not, this is just the beginning of tropical season for the Eastern Pacific as the season stretches from May 15 through November 15.

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    Sunday, May 18, 2014

    Smoke plumes rise behind the Marine Corps Camp Pendleton entrance Friday, May 16, 2014, in Oceanside, Calif. San Diego County officials said Friday five wildfires have been 100 percent contained. Still, crews were focusing efforts on two large fires - one in the city of San Marcos and two blazes at the Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

    ESCONDIDO, Calif. - The last of tens of thousands of evacuees returned home Saturday after firefighters scoured charred hillsides north of San Diego to guard against a resurgence of flames that ripped through the region this week.

    For those battling a series of blazes for days, the relief was mixed with a sense of dread that drought-sapped vegetation, high temperatures and low humidity portend a long fire season ahead.

    The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has responded to more than 1,500 fires this year, compared with about 800 during an average year.

    "Normally, I don't even put wildfire gear in my vehicle until the end of April. This year I never took it out," Kirk Kushen, battalion chief of the Kern County Fire Department, said at a base camp in Escondido. "We never really completed the 2013 fire season. It's been a continuation."

    At least 10 fires spanning 39 square miles have chewed a destructive path through San Diego County since Tuesday, destroying 11 houses, an 18-unit apartment complex and two businesses. A badly burned body was found in a transient camp, and one firefighter suffered heat exhaustion.

    The first blaze was caused by a spark from construction equipment, according to state officials, but it could take months to get to the bottom of the most damaging fires. Alberto Serrato, 57, pleaded not guilty Friday to an arson charge in connection with one of the smaller fires, but authorities say they don't believe he started it, just added brush to it.

    In the Central California city of Modesto, a fire fueled by hot weather and high winds on Friday quickly spread to a row of town houses, destroying three of the structures and damaging six others. Authorities said the blaze started on the grassy berm of a freeway project frequented by homeless people.

    Ocean breezes and lower temperatures Saturday aided firefighters, who focused on a 1,000-acre blaze on the Camp Pendleton Marine base and a 4-square-mile blaze that started in the suburb of San Marcos.

    Firefighters doused remaining hotspots with hoses and water-filled backpacks, sawed large logs and raked soil with shovels and other hand tools to ensure the ground was moist enough to prevent fires from returning.

    Kushen, who was working his 10th straight day and was nearly 27 hours into his shift as his team prepared to go rest at a hotel, saw between 15 and 20 destroyed houses or other structures while combing the hills in and around San Marcos for smoke and smoldering brush.

    San Marcos, a suburb of 85,000 people where strip malls and new housing tracts mix with older homes, slowly returned to normal as more roadblocks were removed.

    "It's such a wonderful blessing to be back," Jamie Williams said as he unloaded three bags of clothing from his car that he took when ordered to evacuate Wednesday night. "It was almost a teary-eyed kind of thing."

    Most evacuations were lifted, except for one neighborhood in San Marcos.

    The tinder-box conditions have put firefighters on alert throughout California. The state firefighting agency went to peak staffing in the first week of April, instead of its usual start in mid-May.

    Battalion Chief Kevin Taylor of the Paso Robles Fire Department in central California usually doesn't leave home until late July to assist other agencies during the fire season. He was dispatched to the Los Angeles area in January and led a crew that began work near San Diego on Thursday.

    "There hasn't been a break," said Taylor, as he ate lunch under a shaded tree amid orders to be ready to move on three minutes' notice. "It's almost a 12-month fire season."

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    Sunday, May 18, 2014

    Cumulonimbus clouds are a sign of a maturing thunderstorm, which may produce heavy rain, hail and dangerous lightning. (Thinkstock)

    During severe weather outbreaks, conditions can change rapidly and the weather can turn volatile quickly.

    It is crucial to follow severe weather and tornado-related watches and warnings during episodes of severe storms. Keeping a weather radio nearby, with extra batteries handy, is a must.

    If you are out on the open road, staying tuned to severe weather alerts and being able to read the clouds for severe weather can help save your life.

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    The following is a breakdown of ominous-looking clouds and whether there is imminent danger associated with them.

    Cumulonimbus Clouds

    Rapid vertical growth in these cauliflower-looking cumulonimbus clouds shows that there is a mature thunderstorm, likely producing heavy rain. Abundant moisture and instability due to cool air aloft and heating at the surface set the stage for cumulonimbus to develop.

    A lifting mechanism, such as a cold front, can help trigger these clouds to form.

    Heavy rain, frequent lightning, strong winds and hail can be threats associated with cumulonimbus clouds.

    Scud clouds are benign but are mistaken sometimes for funnel clouds. (Jesse Ferrell)

    Scud Clouds

    Scud clouds may appear to be ominous as they hang vertically below a cumulonimbus cloud. Sometimes, scud clouds are mistaken for funnel clouds.

    However, these clouds are benign and non-rotating. They often have a ragged appearance that sets them apart from the often smooth funnel clouds.


    Nick Marusiak spent 48 hours chasing tornadoes as a severe weather outbreak unfolded across Mississippi on April 29, 2014. He snapped this photo of the supercell that hit Louisville, Miss. (Nick Marusiak)

    Shelf Clouds

    Shelf clouds often form at the leading edge of a gust front or outflow boundary from a thunderstorm or strong winds flowing down and outward from a storm.

    The outer part of a shelf cloud is often smoother with a notable rising motion exhibited by a tiered look (hence, the name shelf cloud). Underneath, a turbulent, unsettled appearance is often the case.

    A shelf cloud should be seen as a harbinger of strong winds, so take caution.

    A wall cloud forms in April 2014 near Kinsley, Kansas. (Cory Mottice)

    Wall Clouds

    A wall cloud is a cloud that is lowered from a thunderstorm, forming when rapidly rising air causes lower pressure below the storm's main updraft.

    "Wall clouds can range from a fraction of a mile up to nearly 5 miles in diameter," according to the National Weather Service.

    Wall clouds that rotate are a warning sign of very violent thunderstorms. They can be an indication that a tornado will touch down within minutes or even within an hour.

    Take cover when a funnel cloud is spotted. (Thinkstock)

    Funnel Clouds

    A funnel cloud is a rotating column of air (visible due to condensation) that does not reach the ground.

    If a funnel cloud reaches all the way to the ground, it is then classified as a tornado.

    When out on the road, funnel clouds should be treated as tornadoes, since they could touch down.

    A tornado touches down near Severy, Kansas, in May of 2014. (Cory Mottice)

    Tornadoes

    A tornado is a rotating column of air, reaching all the way to the ground. Strong tornadoes are one of the most destructive forces of nature on a small scale, the strongest of which can level entire towns.

    A roaring noise, often compared to that of a train, can be heard in many cases when a tornado touches down.

    Vehicles are not a safe place to be if there is a tornado nearby.

    Anvil clouds are the flat top of cumulonimbus clouds, which are associated with well-developed thunderstorms. (Thinkstock)

    Thunderstorm Anvil Clouds

    Anvil clouds are the flat top of a thunderstorm, or cumulonimbus cloud.

    They can spread up to "hundreds of miles downwind from the thunderstorm itself," according to the National Weather Service.

    Lightning can strike from anvil clouds, even far away from a thunderstorm. Lightning described as striking "from out of the blue" is usually from an anvil cloud that has drifted from a thunderstorm.

    It takes a turbulent atmosphere for mammatus clouds to develop. (Thinkstock)

    Mammatus Clouds

    Striking mammatus clouds can sometimes be seen below thunderstorm anvil clouds.

    The rounded and smooth look of mammutus clouds captivates onlookers.

    They are often found underneath anvil clouds of severe thunderstorms; however, they can form underneath clouds associated with non-severe thunderstorms as well.

    Asperatus clouds are very ominous in appearance, usually described as looking like a rough sea. (Thinkstock)

    Asperatus Clouds

    An abundance of heat in the atmosphere is needed to produce enough energy for the dramatic, rolling formations of asperatus clouds. Another factor is the interaction of very moist air (often on the fringes of thunderstorm complexes) with very dry air.

    The darkness of the clouds is likely due to the large amount of water vapor.

    Asperatus clouds are not necessarily accompanied by stormy weather. In fact, they have often been observed without the development of thunderstorms.

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    Hole Punch Cloud

     

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    Sunday, May 18, 2014

    A large coal excavator at the flooded coal pit mine near the village of Veliki Crljeni, 18 miles south of Belgrade, Serbia, Sunday, May 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

    BRCKO, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Floodwaters triggered more than 2,000 landslides across much of the Balkans on Sunday, laying waste to entire towns and villages and disturbing land mines left over from the region's 1990s war, along with warning signs that marked the unexploded devices.

    The Balkans' worst flooding since record keeping began forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and threatened to inundate Serbia's main power plant.

    Authorities organized a frenzied helicopter airlift to get terrified families to safety before the water swallowed up their homes. Many were plucked from rooftops.

    Water receded Sunday in some locations, laying bare the full scale of the damage. Elsewhere, authorities warned that floodwaters would keep rising into Sunday night.

    "The situation is catastrophic," said Bosnia's refugee minister, Adil Osmanovic.

    Three months' worth of rain fell on the region in three days, producing the worst floods since rainfall measurements began 120 years ago. At least two dozen people have died, with more casualties expected.

    The rain caused an estimated 2,100 landslides that covered roads, homes and whole villages throughout hilly Bosnia.

    The cities of Orasje and Brcko in northeast Bosnia, where the Sava River forms the natural border with Croatia, were in danger of being overwhelmed. Officials in Brcko ordered six villages to be evacuated.

    Rescuers urged people to go to the balconies or rooftops of their houses with bright fabric to make themselves visible.

    Brcko Mayor Anto Domic said that unless the Bosnian Army is able to reinforce from the air, the city will be flooded completely. He called for the Defense Ministry to use helicopters to lower steel barriers that could be backed by sandbags to contain the water.

    "It is a very demanding task," he said, acknowledging that officials would have no other way to protect the port city of more than 70,000.

    Civil protection commander Fahrudin Solak said the Sava River was spilling over a separate water barrier in Orasje while emergency workers tried desperately to reinforce it with sandbags.

    In Serbia, where floods have inundated towns and villages, authorities braced for high water that could last for several more days.

    Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said Sunday that 12 bodies have been found so far in Obrenovac, site of the coal-fired Nikola Tesla power plant, Serbia's biggest.

    The situation is of grave concern in Serbia, as parts of the plant and a nearby mine that provides its fuel are already underwater.

    Serbia's state power company, EPS, said crews were doing all they could to prevent any further damage to the plant. Damage to the mine alone is estimated at more than $137 million.

    The floods and landslides raised fears about the estimated 1 million land mines planted during Bosnia's 1992-95 war. Nearly 120,000 of the unexploded devices remain in more than 9,400 carefully marked minefields. But the weather toppled warning signs and, in many cases, dislodged the mines themselves.

    Loose mines could create an international problem if floodwaters carry the explosives downstream. Experts warned that mines could travel through half of southeast Europe or get stuck in the turbines of a hydroelectric dam.

    From the air, the northeastern third of Bosnia resembled a huge muddy lake, with houses, roads and rail lines submerged. Officials say about a million people - more than a quarter of the country's population - live in the worst-affected areas.

    The hillside village of Horozovina, close to the northeastern town of Tuzla, was practically split in two by a landslide that swallowed eight houses. More than 100 other houses were under threat from the restless earth. Residents told stories of narrow escapes from injury or death.

    "I am homeless. I have nothing left, not even a toothpick," Mesan Ikanovic said. "I ran out of the house barefoot, carrying children in my arms."

    Ikanovic said 10 minutes separated him and his family from likely death. He carried his 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son to safety.

    He said he had secured a mortgage and moved in only last year. "Now I have nothing," he said. "Where will I go now? Where will we live?"

    Semid Ivilic's house in the lower part of the village was still standing. But looking up at the mass of earth and rubble that engulfed his neighbors' homes, he said he was worried.

    "Nobody is coming to help us," he said.

    The final person to evacuate a village near Brcko said he had lost everything he valued.

    "I was the last one to leave," said 72-year-old Anto Zuparic. "I left everything behind, my cattle and everything else. I do not know what to do. I am glad I won't live much longer anyway."

    More than 10,000 people have already been rescued from the town of Bijeljina in northeast Bosnia. Trucks, buses and private cars were heading north with volunteers and tons of aid collected by people in cities outside the disaster zone.

    The Bosnian Army said it had 1,500 troops helping on the ground. But many bridges have been washed away, leaving many communities dependent on airlifts.

    Helicopters from the European Union, Slovenia and Croatia were also aiding rescue efforts.

    Large parts of eastern Croatia were underwater too, with several villages cut off and hundreds still fleeing the flooded zone in boats and trucks. Refugees were being housed in sports halls and schools, and aid centers were set up to distribute medicine, food, blankets and clothing.

    In Serbia, more than 20,000 people have been forced from their homes.

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    Sunday, May 18, 2014

    Sukkertoppen Isflade, a small ice cap in the southwest Greenland mountains. (Michael Studinger/NASA)

    The decline of Greenland's glaciers could be more spectacular than predicted, because the island's valleys run longer and deeper than thought, a new study finds.

    Researchers have created the most detailed map to date of Greenland's toothy rim -- the canyons and mountains hiding beneath its thick ice. The survey revealed never-before-seen valleys that sink below sea level, which can make glaciers more vulnerable to melting, according to the study, published today (May 18) in the journal Nature Geoscience. Many glaciers thought to flow atop shallow beds are instead streaming atop the deep gorges, the researchers said. [Fly Over Greenland's Grand Canyon (Video)]

    "Below each outlet glacier, there is a valley, which makes sense, but we didn't expect it," said lead study author Mathieu Morlighem, a glaciologist at the University of California, Irvine. "An outlet glacier doesn't have to have a valley, but we found that's the case for almost the entire periphery of Greenland."

    Many glacial valleys identified in the new study are deeper and wider than those shown in earlier maps, and extend farther inland -- an average of 41 miles.

    The findings mean some of Greenland's worst-case scenarios for melting ice need to be revised, the researchers said.

    Melting from Greenland accounts for about 10 percent of sea-level rise, but in recent years, a handful of reassuring studies predicted that the pace would slow in coming decades. One reason proposed for the slowdown is that glaciers are shrinking back into high fjords (the name for long, narrow canyons with steep sides). The fjords would squeeze the glaciers in place, halting their retreat, and the high elevation would raise the ice out of reach of warm ocean water.

    Finding submarine valleys in Greenland heightens the risk of widespread melting, Morlighem said. Because the canyon bottoms sit below sea level, if glaciers retreat into their depths, the ocean will follow. There's no escape from the heat.

    "The ice will stay in contact with the ocean for longer than we thought," Morlighem told Live Science. "Greenland is more vulnerable than we thought, but we can't say by how much."

    The researchers estimate half of Greenland's outlet glaciers could undergo massive melting. (That's 60 of 123 glaciers, draining 88 percent of the ice sheet.)

    In a nutshell, Morlighem and his colleagues built the map by taking the surface elevation of the ice and calculating the ice thickness, then subtracting one from the other.



    Topography of Greenland (blue is below sea level). (Mathieu Morlighem/UC Irvine)

    However, the new map won't be the final word on Greenland's future melt. Mapping the topography there means charting one of the world's last great regions of terra incognita. The thick ice, remote location and harsh climate make surveys difficult, and there is still much detail to uncover.

    But Morlighem said the specifics of future Greenland maps are unlikely to change significantly.

    "The maps will be more and more accurate, but they won't be night and day like it is today," he said.

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

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

    RELATED ON SKYE: SKYESCAPES: 15 Stunning Photos of Alaska

     

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    Thursday, May 29, 2014

    A map of the California coast in the City of Long Beach showing areas predicted to be inundated (in red) by the SAFRR Tsunami scenario. These include the Long Beach Convention Center and many retail businesses. (Credit: SAFRR Tsunami Scenario)

    Several deadly tsunamis hit California in the past four centuries, but there's no evidence of a devastating megatsunami, according to a new report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

    Geologists from the USGS, the California Geological Survey and Humboldt State University searched for evidence of ancient tsunamis at more than 20 sites along 683 miles (1,100 kilometers) of shoreline, from Crescent City in the north to the Tijuana River estuary in the south.

    Only two spots preserved strong evidence of past tsunamis: Crescent City and Half Moon Bay, both in Northern California. The sand layers at these spots matched up with waves from historic earthquakes, one offshore of Washington in 1700, and two others in 1946 and 1964 in Alaska.

    In Crescent City, the earthquake-triggered tsunami in 1700 traveled up to 1.2 miles (2 km) inland. The 1946 and 1964 Alaska earthquakes and related tsunamis both damaged docks and buildings at Crescent City and killed California residents. But none of the evidence points to waves as damaging as those that hit Japan in 2011 or Sumatra in 2004. [Waves of Destruction: History's Biggest Tsunamis]

    "We haven't found evidence for a megatsunami in the recent geologic record," said study co-author Bruce Richmond, a research geologist with the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California.

    But Richmond and his co-authors warned that California shouldn't see the report as a signal to ignore tsunami hazards.

    "We may not get huge tsunamis, but we can still be impacted by tsunamis," Richmond told Live Science's Our Amazing Planet.

    The massive coastal survey was part of an effort to better estimate California's risk from tsunamis. Computer models created for the same project show that harbors and marinas all along the coast are at risk of major flooding during a Pacific Ocean tsunami. (These computer models are akin to those that predict where a tsunami will strike soon after an earthquake occurs.)

    A direct hit by waves from Alaska could cause billions in damage. Japanese earthquakes are another likely source of tsunamis. (The 2011 Tohoku, Japan, tsunami killed one person and caused $100 million in damage in California.) Emergency planners also worry about an earthquake along the Cascadia subduction zone - where one of Earth's plates dives beneath another - which stretches from Vancouver, Canada, to Northern California.

    Earthquakes at subduction zones, such as those along Alaska and Japan, shift the seafloor and generate a paddlelike effect that triggers a tsunami. Tsunami waves can soar to staggering proportions as they near the shore. Underwater landslides also can launch a tsunami.

    Most of California does not have an offshore subduction zone that would generate a tsunami, but its big earthquakes could trigger an underwater landslide. The research team is now studying sand layers at Carpinteria, near Santa Barbara, for evidence of tsunamis caused by earthquake-generated landslides.


    Humboldt State University geologists collecting sediment samples in the Morro Bay estuary. Sediments in the marsh preserve evidence of past tsunamis. Credit: Eileen Hemphill-Haley

    Tsunami deposits are usually thin, continuous sand layers with unique characteristics that help to differentiate them from storm deposits. They're most commonly found in marshes, ponds and lagoons, where the sand layer sharply contrasts with dark, organic-rich material that typically builds up in marshes and lagoons.

    But researchers found few of these tsunami sand layers in California's coastal marshes. Instead, evidence of past tsunamis was most common in shallow ponds, where the sand carried by big waves was deposited and preserved in standing water.

    "I think we have a poor chance of preserving deposits from tsunamis that came all the way across the Pacific," said study co-author Eileen Hemphill-Haley, a geologist at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. "They would have wave heights that are destructive to coastal properties, but we're not talking a wall of water like they had in Tohoku."

    The report was published online May 20 by the USGS.

    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.


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    Virga Sunset
    Virga is seen as the sun sets in Arizona. (Wild Horizons/UIG via Getty Images)

    The polar vortex and bombogenesis, two terms commonly used in meteorology, became social media buzzwords this past winter. Here is a list of 10 additional obscure weather words that could become the next to enter the mainstream this summer.

    Dry Punch

    A slang term for a surge of dry air, a dry punch can at times increase the risk for severe weather.

    "It is generally just a push of dry air into an area of high humidity, often associated with a cold front," said AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. "In the case of general showers and thunderstorms, it could shut them down. In the case of severe thunderstorms, it could be talking about a push of dry air at mid-levels of the atmosphere that often make thunderstorms more severe."

    Virga

    Virga is the word for precipitation that evaporates before making contact with the surface below. It can be visible from a distance in summer rainstorms, appearing as thin streaks reaching down from the clouds.


    Virga streaks down from the clouds in South Dakota. (Flickr/Adam Englehart)

    This process occurs when air in the upper levels of the atmosphere holds enough moisture for rain to fall, but drier air closer to the Earth's surface cause it to evaporate.

    Bear's Cage

    A bear's cage, or just bear cage, is a slang term for a particular part of a tornado. Being "in the bear cage" typically means that a storm chaser is in a severe storm that has the potential to spawn, or already has spawned, tornado development.

    Anywhere there is rotation in a severe thunderstorm can be a bear's cage.

    Fetch

    This could be the summer to make "fetch" happen. The word, meteorologically, is relevant to ocean wave heights, according to Sosnowski.

    "Fetch is the distance over water a parcel of air can blow across," he said. "The longer the distance over water a single parcel of air can travel without interruption, the bigger the waves on the waters where it is blowing toward. If they create a long, continuous flow of air, say from high pressure to low pressure, the potential near the end to which the wind is blowing toward can yield big waves."

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    Cyclogenesis

    A cyclogenesis is the development of a system around an area of low pressure, leading to cyclonic activity. When warm air and cool air meet around low pressure, it creates movement. This is the term for the early development stages of a cyclone.

    Freshet

    A freshet is the name for springtime floods caused by snow and ice melt. When winter accumulations, which hold a good deal of moisture, melt with spring rains and rising temperatures, they can slowly overfill creeks and rivers and cause this seasonal flooding.

    Meteotsunami

    Unlike typical tsunamis, which are the result of seismic activity, meteotsunamis are caused by a weather event, such as a derecho, creating and pushing large waves.

    When the waves are created by a weather event like a derecho, it requires more, exact elements to come together for its creation. These elements are harder to track because they occur above the Earth's surface.

    Tsunamis and meteotsunamis are more than just large waves, however. Wave frequency and speed are more emphasized factors in applying these labels.

    Backdoor Front

    Fronts typically travel from west to east. In a backdoor front, the direction is reversed. As will be seen this week, a backdoor cold front will begin as cold air in the East then push out towards the West.

    Mesoscale Convective Complex

    A mesoscale convective complex is a type of thunderstorm that occurs at night.

    "Daytime thunderstorms usually fire up as the sun warms in the afternoon, and then they fall apart at night," said AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno. "With MCCs, they thrive at night and then fall apart in the daytime."

    These storms are created when warm air travels, say from Texas to the Plains, and meets with colder air aloft. The temperature difference creates storms. When the sun rises and temperatures climb, the temperature difference decreases and the storms fall apart.


    Nighttime, flooding rains may sometimes be attributed to mesoscale convective complexes. (Flickr/metamatic)

    According to Rayno, these storms are capable of producing tornadoes, but they aren't likely to. They are more typically associated with bringing downpours and creating flooding. While they are able to occur in multiple locations, Rayno said that they are a critical source of rain in the Plains during the summer.

    These storms are large systems. When they occur on a smaller scale, they do not classify as mesoscale convective complexes.

    Suction Vortex

    Within a tornado, a suction vortex is a small but powerful circulation. These swirling, intense systems are the usual cause of much of the damage associated with the overall tornado.


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

     

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    Sunday, June 1, marks the start of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.

    In an effort to raise awareness and prevention efforts for the season, which lasts through Nov. 30, the National Hurricane Center has declared this week Hurricane Preparedness Week.

    While it's no secret that hurricanes are dangerous and can cause serious destruction, a hurricane's specific composition is less commonly known.

    From a hurricane's warm core to spiral bands, examine the following infographic to learn the basic components behind one of the most powerful forces of Mother Nature.

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