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    Friday, May 30, 2014

    Shutterstock

    After experiencing temperatures more appropriate for early April, much of the Northeast can expect a warming trend and some sunshine this weekend.

    The warmup will be good news for folks heading to ball games, amusement parks, beaches and camp grounds.

    After a high temperature near 50 F in Boston and afternoon temperatures in the 50s around New York City on Wednesday, 50-degree air settled into Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., on Thursday. The temperatures are 20 to 25 degrees below normal.

    Despite the multiple pushes of cool air into the Northeast in the past four weeks, temperatures have averaged between 1 and 3 degrees above normal for the month of May.

    The cool air will run its course into the end of the week. With a few exceptions, the extensive area of low clouds, patchy fog and spotty rain over the mid-Atlantic will slowly break up and dissolve.

    Temperatures are forecast to reach seasonable levels this weekend from Virginia to Maine. At the end of May and the beginning of June, high temperatures average from near 70 in Boston to the middle 70s in New York City and Pittsburgh, the upper 70s in Philadelphia, and near 80 in Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia.

    RELATED:
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    AccuWeather Summer 2014 Forecast
    When Will Rain Hit Your Location? Try AccuWeather MinuteCast[TM]

    One potential trouble-maker will be a disturbance dropping southeastward from Canada Friday into Saturday.

    According to AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist Dave Samuhel, "This system can bring spotty showers and thunderstorms from New England to part of the mid-Atlantic on Saturday; however, the majority of the time this weekend will be free of rain and fine for most outdoor plans."

    For New England to New York City and northeastern Pennsylvania, Sunday will be the nicer of the two weekend days.

    The weather is expected to be mostly sunny at Dover, Delaware, on Sunday, home to the Monster Mile at Dover International Speedway.

    The NASCAR FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT Sunday. Temperatures are forecast to be in the 70s for the race.

    For people heading to the beaches, Atlantic surf temperatures range from the chilly middle 50s along Massachusetts to near 70 at the Virginia capes. Exercise caution when venturing into the water when the surf is this chilly.

     

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    Friday, May 30, 2014

    Image taken from drone footage of the devastation following the deadly Mayflower tornado in Arkansas on Sunday, April 27, 2014. (Video/Brian Emfinger)

    While Amazon may deliver your new book via drone, the continued study of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) could increase the amount of weather data collected to better predict storm intensities and save lives in the path of severe weather.

    According to experts, warnings for violent storms such as tornadoes could increase from 20 minutes to 60 minutes, an increase that could save thousands of lives and give people more time to protect their property.

    Drones have the opportunity to fill the gap between the surface and satellites, an area in which scientists can find useful information about storms and weather patterns.

    Joshua Wurman, president of the Center for Severe Weather Research, sees drones as mostly a novelty, though one that can provide quality research data.

    Wurman and his team are working on VORTEX2, a project dedicated to better understanding tornadoes.

    "What we're trying to do is learn how the storms make tornadoes so that in the future, tornado warnings will be better informed," he said.

    The team is currently using radar, mobile measurements and weather balloons to surround storms in order to collect as much data as possible. Still, there is a gap in data that drones could fill, and Wurman has pushed for increased use of drones in research missions.

    A robust drone would also be safer to send into a storm rather than a vehicle or aircraft with human life inside.

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    Eric Frew, director of the Research and Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said the industry joke is that drones "do the dull, dirty and dangerous jobs."

    One of those dangerous jobs is flying in the middle of a violent storm.

    Frew sends drones directly into a storm to collect pressure, temperature, humidity and wind velocity measurements that radar can't provide. Those measurements are sent back to scientists and meteorologists who can better learn how storms develop.

    "These are measurements and things you could not get safely any other way," Frew said.

    As research develops, the use of drones as standard measurement devices could become the norm. Though the public may see the technology as new, Frew said that UAS have existed since the Wright brothers, though technology has picked up in the last 20 years.

    One of the best innovations is the immediacy of the data collected according to Robbie Hood, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program, which uses drones to collect data and research about hurricanes and other severe weather.

    "Being able to download data in real-time I think is going to be one of the bigger pros," she said. "Getting data into the hands of forecasters, the weather prediction models and also getting data into the researcher's hands generates a lot of conversation."

    Moving forward, Hood sees drones as an integral part of forecasting and relaying the most accurate information to the public. While there will always be a place for manned aircraft, Hood predicts that within the next 15 years drones will be part of the normal forecasting routine.

    "I'm hoping that we're going to move forward to have a better understanding of how to collect the most critical data that we need in a storm's development," she said. "It will give us better forecasts down the road. People, days in advance, will have much better understanding of what to prepare for."

    There is still untapped potential for drones within the industry. AccuWeather.com meteorologist Jesse Ferrell mentions storm damage surveys, aerial footage of flood and drought and wildfire fighting assistance as some of the potential weather-related use-cases for small consumer drones.


    RELATED ON SKYE: Breathtaking Photos of Earth From Space

     

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    Friday, May 30, 2014
    COLO WEATHER
    (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

    Multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms are in store for the Plains through the weekend, threatening outdoor activities from Texas to Minnesota.

    Anyone planning on going to an amusement park, concert or a local event should be on the lookout for these storms and know where to seek safety if they strike.

    The first of the storms are set to erupt from northeast Colorado to northern Minnesota on Friday, bringing the risks of gusty winds, large hail and flooding downpours.

    Frequent lighting will also accompany these thunderstorms, making it dangerous to be in a pool or open field until the storm has passed.

    Storms will slowly shift south and east heading into the weekend, impacting a larger area and more cities.

    Denver; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Rapid City, South Dakota, are a few cities that could experience severe weather multiple days in a row.

    Similar to those on Friday, the main threats from storms over the weekend will be damaging winds and large hail, although a few isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

    The threat of severe weather will continue to expand across the Plains Sunday, reaching from northern Texas to western Wisconsin.

    Minneapolis; Omaha, Nebraska; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Dodge City, Kansas, are a few locations that could experience hail as large as baseballs, wind gusts past 65 mph and downpours that spark flash flooding.

    RELATED:
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    Heading into the first week of June, the threat of sever thunderstorms will continue, focusing on Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri.

    Some of these storms may even impact major travel hubs in the Midwest such as Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee and possibly even Detroit.


    Related on SKYE: The World's Wettest Places
    COLO WEATHER

     

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    Friday, May 30, 2014
    China Earthquake
    Rescue workers search for victims under a building that collapsed after an earthquake jolted Yingjiang county in southwestern China's Yunnan Province on Thursday, March 10, 2011. (AP Photo)

    BEIJING (AP) - A moderately strong earthquake struck southwestern China near the border with Myanmar on Friday, injuring at least 33 people.

    Residents fled buildings and students evacuated schools that had already been damaged by a quake in the same area last week.

    Five of the injured people were in serious condition, said a woman at the Yunnan provincial earthquake monitoring bureau, who gave only her surname, Xu.

    The quake in Yunnan's Yingjiang county was registered at magnitude 6.1 by China'searthquake monitoring agency, but at 5.9 by the U.S. Geological Survey.

    Electricity was cut to some areas in the quake zone, but communications were not affected.

    More than 1,000 soldiers were helping rescue efforts and tents and bedding were sent to aid survivors. About 300,000 people live in the area.

    A tremor lasting a few seconds was felt in Myitkyina, the capital of Myanmar's northeastern state of Kachin, and in the town of Bhamo, according to people reached there by phone. There were no reports of injuries or damage there.

    China's mountainous southwest suffers frequent earthquakes. Last August, a quake in Yunnan killed five people.

     

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    Friday, May 30, 2014


    As the usage and accessibility of social media grows constantly, severe weather preparation, emergency response and disaster relief efforts are undergoing major renovations, catapulted by digital media.

    With every passing year, technology supersedes itself, advancing day in, day out. Each year, severe weather threatens millions across the globe as snowstorms, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes and more induce devastation, destruction and loss of life.

    Receiving Alerts and Preparation Information Before a Storm

    Once alerts were only able to be distributed by newspapers and radio broadcasts, but social media is now changing the way citizens send and receive potentially life-saving weather alerts.

    While some weather events display tell-tale signs before their arrival, others come quietly. Today, the world can have the latest weather weather information at their fingertips if they simply utilize their smartphone.

    Cell phone providers allow the National Weather Service and other private weather companies, such as AccuWeather, to send imminent weather alerts, including watches and warnings, to patrons who are located in an area at risk.

    "It functions as not only an encyclopedia of weather data, but it also automatically alerts you to the most impactful weather," AccuWeather mobile applications product manager Brandon Marsh said. "The AccuWeather app helps people make actionable decisions."

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    Other applications enable users to access key emergency weather preparedness tips and advice geared towards specific weather phenomena.

    The American Red Cross provides a plethora of free apps that give real-time information and updates on life-threatening weather situations, including hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and wildfires. They give step-by-step instructions on what to do before, during and after the threat passes as well as signal a high-pitched siren accompanied by a message when severe weather is approaching.

    The added benefit of these smartphone apps is that these apps can be accessed even if the home loses power, as long as a car charger is available.

    Social media can also aid in the dissemination of essential weather information as state transportation, police and emergency management offices release timely updates on traffic patterns, accidents, road and school closings, damage reports and more on their specific Twitter feeds.

    Receiving and Providing Assistance

    A decade after the birth of Facebook in 2004, the online social networking service can be used today to connect people with their loved ones in times of disaster.

    When a storm hits, people are able to reach their loved ones on a large scale by posting a status, tweet or update to say where they are and if they are all right.

    People also use these sites to reach out to the public and offer assistance or to seek out help themselves.

    Following the ice storm that hit Atlanta in 2014, online groups were created to help provide people with places to stay and access to food and water if they were stranded on the closed highways.

    Other programs, such as Adopt a Hydrant, allow people to volunteer their time to help their cities in a storm's aftermath. With this app, people can "adopt" a fire hydrant buried by the snow in their city, digging it out of the snowbanks so that they will be available for emergency personnel in the event of a fire.

    Recovering Items, Reuniting With Pets

    The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) utilized social media in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 by promoting #SandyPets as a social media hashtag.

    By tracking the hashtag, HSUS volunteers were able to help spread important pet safety information ahead of the storm. After Sandy hit, they used the hashtag to share information on shelters and animals recovered to help owners locate the pets they had been separated from.

    Social media has also helped people recover lost items in the aftermath of a storm. Following the 2011 Joplin tornado, for example, several Facebook pages were created, allowing people to post items they had found in the devastating storm aftermath, so that they may returned to their original owners.

     

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    Saturday, May 31, 2014


    (Photonews via Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is urging Americans to prepare for this year's hurricane season.

    Emergency response officials are briefing Obama on hurricane preparedness at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters.

    Obama says states have the primary response role, but it's a team effort.

    Obama says it is every citizen's responsibility to be prepared for emergencies. He's urging every family and business to explore digital tools that can help. He says there are apps that can help people plan evacuation routes, receive emergency alerts, learn about power outages and locate gas stations.

    But Obama says climate change means events like Hurricane Sandy will become more common. He says that's why he's taking steps to reduce carbon pollution blamed for global warming.

    Hurricane season starts Sunday.
    ___
    Online: www.ready.gov

    RELATED ON SKYE: Stunning Hurricane Photos from Space

     

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    Saturday, May 31, 2014


    (AccuWeather)

    Temperatures will be on the rise across the Northeast this weekend, setting the stage for a warm and more humid start to June.

    Big changes will start to take place on Sunday as high pressure shifts over the region. This will bring an end to the clouds and showers seen around on Saturday.

    Anyone with plans to spend time in the outdoors this weekend may want to hold off until Sunday when these showers and clouds are replaced by sunshine and seasonable temperatures.

    "The warmup will be good news for folks heading to ball games, amusement parks, beaches and camp grounds." said AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

    Although temperatures are forecast to climb well into the 80s along the I-95 corridor on Tuesday and Wednesday, those in northern New England should expect a slight cooldown.

    After a warmer Monday, temperatures will retreat into the 70s over New Hampshire and the 60s over Maine, near normal for early June.

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    Not only will those in the Northeast experience warmer weather early this week, but also the threat of severe thunderstorms.

    Following a dry Monday, thunderstorms are set to swing into the region on Tuesday afternoon, bringing the threat of gusty winds and small hail from New York to Virginia.

    This may lead to travel delays as well as localized power outages.

    Looking ahead to the second half of the week, temperatures are expected to remain a few degrees above average across the Northeast.

    Many locations will experience highs in the 70s with the exception of highs in the 80s along the I-95 corridor.

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

     

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    Saturday, May 31, 2014

    Multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms are in store for the Plains through the weekend, threatening outdoor activities from Texas to Minnesota.

    Anyone planning on going to an amusement park, concert or a local event should be on the lookout for these storms and know where to seek safety if they strike.

    The severe weather danger will slowly shift south and east heading into the weekend, impacting a larger area and more cities.

    Similar to those on Friday, the main threats from storms over the weekend will be damaging winds and large hail, although a few isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

    Frequent lighting will also accompany these thunderstorms, making it dangerous to be in a pool or open field until the storm has passed.

    The threat of severe weather will continue to expand across the Plains Sunday and Sunday night, reaching from the Texas Panhandle to western Wisconsin.

    Minneapolis; Omaha, Nebraska; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Dodge City, Kansas, are a few locations that could experience hail as large as baseballs, wind gusts past 65 mph and downpours that spark flash flooding.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center
    Interactive Radar
    Summer: Definitions, Myths of the Season Explored


    Heading into the first week of June, the threat of severe thunderstorms will continue, focusing on Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri.

    Some of these storms may even impact major travel hubs in the Midwest such as Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee and possibly even Detroit.

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

     

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    Saturday, May 31, 2014

    The Milky Way galaxy arcs across the night sky in this magnificent view from the Azores, a chain of nine volcanic islands near Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean. (Miguel Claro)

    Astrophotographer Miguel Claro of Lisbon took the image from São Miguel Island in the Azores on April 5.

    "One of the islands is St. Miguel, where we can find a beautiful lake in the crater center, called Lake of Fire, 'Lagoa do Fogo.' Above it, the sky reveals the magnificent arc of our galaxy, the Milky Way, besides the light pollution coming from Vila Franca do Campo, a small town at the southern shore of the island, that illuminates the clouds near the horizon with the an orange tone," Claro wrote in an email to Space.com. [Amazing Stargazing Photos of May 2014]

    Claro used a Canon 60Dam, ISO2500; 24mm at f/2 with an exposure of 20 seconds to create this 21-image mosaic.

    Visible from left to right are the Cygnus (Swan) constellation, with its North America nebula (NGC7000) clearly visible below the star Deneb. Down to the right, is the constellation Aquila. Sagittarius is covered by the cloud. Near the right side is Scorpius and its super giant star, Antares. The planet Saturn, meanwhile, is visible along the right edge of the image, in the constellation Libra.

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

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

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

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

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space

     

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    Saturday, May 31, 2014

    Tropical troubles brewing in the eastern Pacific may lead to concerns in the Gulf and far northwestern Caribbean soon after the official start to the Atlantic hurricane season.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologists are monitoring an area south of Mexico, in the eastern Pacific, for a new tropical storm to take shape over the next few days.

    It is possible that the system's energy could then slowly fuel tropical development in the Atlantic Basin in the days that follow.

    Hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin officially commences on June 1.



    After tracking across and bringing the threat of flooding rain to southern Mexico and neighboring Central America, energy from the system is likely to reach the southern Gulf of Mexico or the far northwestern Caribbean during the latter part of next week.

    "The environment that we are seeing unfolding across the Gulf of Mexico and far northwestern Caribbean for next week would cause any tropical feature to move slowly and support possible slow development," stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Rob Miller.

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    A slower solution would increase the chances of the system developing, according to AccuWeather.com Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski.

    "The faster the system reaches the Gulf of Mexico, it will have a harder time developing due to the presence of strong wind shear," Kottlowski stated. Wind shear refers to winds above the surface that can rip apart developing tropical systems.

    "The longer it waits to come out, the better chances the wind shear slackens and development takes place."

    Regardless of whether a tropical system takes shape, heavy rain could be drawn across western Cuba and northward to Florida and the central Gulf Coast later next week or the following weekend.

    The area of concern for tropical development in both basins is currently a broad area of low pressure located a few hundred miles south-southeast of the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

    The low is likely to organize into a tropical depression within the next day or two.

    "It will tend to drift northward into the Gulf of Tehuantepec by Tuesday, possibly strengthening into a strong tropical storm or hurricane," stated Miller.

    The waters in the path of the system are sufficiently warm for tropical development. While some wind shear is present, it is not overly strong.



    The next tropical storm in the eastern Pacific would acquire the name "Boris."

    Miller expects the system to move inland from the Gulf of Tehuantepec around Tuesday.

    "The threat for damaging wind would be in a concentrated area around the point of landfall. Flooding rain and mudslides would be the main impact with some mountainous areas potentially receiving 10 to 20 inches (250 to 500 mm) of rain through next week," Miller continued.

    As the system moves onshore and its moisture is drawn northward, heavy rain is likely to overspread the majority of far southeastern Mexico, including the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as Guatemala and Belize.

    Cities that will potentially endure a soaking from the system include Oaxaca, Veracruz, Merida, Belmopan and Guatemala City. Vacationers at the resort cities of Cancun and Chetumal also face an unpleasant wet stretch of weather.

    "It has already been active across the resort areas on the Yucatan Peninsula due to daily thunderstorms, but the weather will only get worse next week as moisture from the eastern Pacific system comes into play," Miller stated.

    Despite the disruptions to vacationers and the prospect of flooding and mudslides, Miller pointed out that the rain will bring long-term benefits to easing the ongoing drought across the area.

    If the system in the eastern Pacific acquires a name and makes the track across southern Mexico without dissipating, it would then keep its eastern Pacific name in the Gulf of Mexico or northwestern Caribbean. However, storms from the eastern Pacific typically do not survive the trip across mountainous southern Mexico.

    If the system dissipates over southern Mexico and only a piece of its energy fuels a new tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, the new system would acquire a name from the Atlantic Basin's list.

    The first tropical storm of 2014 in the Atlantic would be named "Arthur."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    Saturday, May 31, 2014


    Aquarius Reef Base is a seafloor habitat located roughly 63 feet underwater in the Florida Keys.
    (Kip Evans, Mission Blue)

    A month-long research mission on the ocean floor, led by Fabien Cousteau, the grandson of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, is slated to begin this weekend. Fabien Cousteau and a team of "aquanauts" will spend a record 31 days living and working underwater as part of the expedition, dubbed Mission 31.

    Cousteau and his team are expected to splash down on Sunday (June 1), at around 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT). The researchers will live aboard Aquarius Reef Base, a seafloor habitat located roughly 63 feet (19 meters) underwater in the Florida Keys.

    Throughout Mission 31, the aquanauts will test new technologies and examine the effects of climate change on corals, sponges and other sea life. The expedition is also designed to spark interest in ocean exploration, providing a window into "the adventure, risk and mystique of what lies beneath," Mission 31 planners have said. [9 Craziest Ocean Voyages]

    "The overarching theme for Mission 31 is the human-ocean connection within the lens of exploration and discovery," Cousteau said in a statement.

    The aquanauts will spend roughly six to nine hours each day diving and performing experiments outside the Aquarius habitat. The entire underwater expedition will be webcast live for the public, and film crews will also compile footage throughout the month-long excursion for a future Mission 31 documentary, Cousteau has said.

    Additionally, during their time underwater, the aquanauts will investigate the physiological and psychological impacts of long-term saturation diving, and the effects of living in prolonged confinement.

    Mission 31 will pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of Jacques Cousteau's famous Continental Ice Shelf Station Two (Conshelf Two) expedition in 1963. During that mission, the trailblazing oceanographer lived in an underwater habitat located 30 feet beneath the Red Sea for 30 days.

    Fabien Cousteau and his team are expected to surpass the milestone set by the Conshelf Two mission by one full day. If successful, Mission 31 will be the longest that researchers have lived aboard the Aquarius habitat, the expedition's planners have said.

    Aquarius Reef Base is the only underwater habitat in the world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration owns the facility, and Florida International University manages it.

    Follow Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow. Follow us @OAPlanet, Facebook and Google+. Original article at Live Science's Our Amazing Planet.

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

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Truly Bizarre Creatures of the Deep
    Mola Mola

     

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    June 1, 2014

    The threat for severe weather will expand across the Plains on Sunday and continue to track eastward heading into the first week of June.

    Those from the Texas Panhandle to Minnesota should prepare for severe thunderstorms on Sunday as they can bring several inches of rain, large hail and damaging wind gusts.

    Rapid City and Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Omaha, Nebraska; Dodge City, Kansas; and Minneapolis are a few of the cities in the path of these severe storms.

    Anyone in this area with outdoor plans should be on alert for severe thunderstorms as they develop throughout the afternoon and continue into the night.

    While wind gusts past 65 mph and hail as large as golf balls will be the primary threats, a few isolated tornadoes are not out of the question.

    Western Kansas and the panhandle of Oklahoma appear to be the areas at most risk of having a tornado.

    Know when the storms will hit by using AccuWeather.com MinuteCast[TM]. It has the minute-by-minute forecast for your exact location. Type your city name, select MinuteCast[TM], and input your street address. On mobile, you can also use your GPS location.

    RELATED:
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    Looking ahead to the first week of June, the threat of severe weather will shift eastward, focusing from Minnesota to Missouri on Monday followed by the Northeast on Tuesday.

    Tuesday's storms can bring the highest impacts as gusty winds and torrential downpours take aim at the I-95 corridor.

    The timing of these storms may cause headaches for those traveling during the afternoon rush hour around cities such as New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.



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

    Lightning Hits the Grand Canyon

     

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    Sunday, June 2, 2014

    This photo provided by the National Parks Service, shows the Liberty Ridge Area of Mount Rainier as viewed from the Carbon Glacier, Saturday, May 31, 2014, in Washington state. Six climbers missing on Mount Rainier are presumed dead after helicopters detected pings from emergency beacons buried in the snow thousands of feet below their last known location, a national park official said Saturday. (AP Photo/National Park Service)

    SEATTLE (AP) - Six climbers on Mount Rainier likely perished in a fall after helicopters detected pings from avalanche beacons and spotted climbing gear thousands of feet below the group's last known location, national park officials said Saturday.

    Searchers believe the group fell 3,300 feet from their last known whereabouts of 12,800 feet on Wednesday, park spokeswoman Patricia Wold said in a statement. The helicopter crew spotted camping and climbing gear in the avalanche-prone area, park Ranger Fawn Bauer told The Associated Press.

    "There's not a viable chance of survival," Bauer said.

    Air and ground searches were suspended late Saturday afternoon. The danger of falling rock and ice in the area where searchers picked up the pings prevents a ground recovery effort, Wold said.

    "It would expose our rangers to pretty extreme conditions," Bauer said. "And, in all honesty, we may never be able to get on the ground there."

    The loss of life would be among the deadliest climbing accidents ever on the peak in the Cascade mountain range. In 1981, 11 people were killed during a guided climb when they were struck by a massive ice fall on the Ingraham Glacier.

    Aircraft will survey the area periodically in the coming weeks and months, Wold said, but the possibility of recovering the six is uncertain.

    The missing group includes four clients of Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International and two guides. They were due to return from the mountain on Friday. When they did not return, the climbing company notified park officials, Bauer said.

    Officials have yet to finish family notifications, so the names of the climbers are unlikely to be released until Sunday.

    "The climbing community is a small one and a close one and a loss of this magnitude touches many," Superintendent Randy King said in the statement.

    Mount Rainier, southeast of Seattle, stands at 14,410 feet and attracts thousands of climbers trying to reach its summit every year. It is popular with climbers of all abilities, from novices who take guided climbs to experienced alpinists who use the glacier-laden peak to train for attempted ascents on taller mountains in the Himalayas and other mountain ranges.

    The search for the missing climbers focused on the northwest shoulder of the mountain at the Liberty Ridge area, near where they were last heard from, Bauer said. Saturday's search included a team of three climbing rangers on the ground and flyovers with a Hughes helicopter. An Army Chinook helicopter then joined the search from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

    The group was scheduled to reach the summit of Mount Rainier on Thursday, with a day to climb down.

    Snow flurries and hail hit the mountain Wednesday, Bauer said, but the weather has been clear since then.

    Bauer said ground crews on Saturday checked "every possible area" where someone could have sought refuge in the storm.

    Alpine Ascents' director of programs, Gordon Janow, said he wasn't ready to release information about the climbers. Details - such as ages, gender or hometowns - for the climbers were not immediately available, Bauer said.

    In a statement from the park, the guides were described as skilled.

    In a blog post on the Alpine Ascents website Thursday, the post said the team had turned around at 13,000 feet during their attempt to reach the summit because of weather conditions. The blog post said all team members were well.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    Sunday, June 1, 2014

    The French Open, which runs May 25 through June 8, 2014, draws in the fiercest tennis competitors of today's world as they vie for the prestigious Roland-Garros title. However, weather patterns in Paris over the course of the tournament could favor some athletes over others.

    "The weather is a huge factor in determining competitive advantages for tennis players," retired American Tennis Pro and Analyst and On-Air Talent with the Tennis Channel Justin Gimelstob said.

    After a sunny and comfortable start to the Open on Sunday, May 25, 2014, a cool and unsettled start to the first week of competition unfolded. Because of this, players' defensive skills became even more essential for securing victory in the beginning of the tournament.

    Just last year in 2013, the whole event was mostly cold and damp, which made it tougher for athletes to penetrate the court and thus finish points, according to Gimelstob.

    "The cooler and more mild the conditions, the more defensive skills are at a premium," Gimelstob said.

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    A dry from the rain will continue through Monday with near-normal warmth.

    "The warmer weather creates faster conditions which favor more aggressive players like Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal," Gimelstob said.


    Rafael Nadal is in action at the 2013 French Open in Paris, France. The prestigious competition began Sunday, May 26, 2013, and finished on Sunday, June 9, 2013. (Photo/Tennis Channel)

    Known for their "red clay" compositions, both Court Philippe-Chatrier and Court Suzanne Lenglen can be affected by heat, which can make the ball more explosive off the court. In drier, hotter conditions, the ball does not absorb as much moisture, thus helping the ball accelerate, according to Gimelstob.

    Just last year, the afternoon of the 2013 men's semifinal was the warmest day of the tournament, and as a result, the court was not as moist.

    "This was a HUGE advantage for Rafael Nadal, aiding his excessive topspin, making the ball jump higher, less predictably and tougher for Djokovic to defend against," Gimelstob said. "This year the same elements apply."

    Although all athletes train to perform well, no matter the conditions, the weather could favor some players over others.

    "Obviously all great players can adjust to whatever conditions and variables they are confronted with, but subtle differences move the margins in different directions," Gimelstob said.

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    Sunday, June 1, 2014

    Artist's concept image of ISEE-3 (ICE) spacecraft. (NASA)

    Red tape and a moderate earthquake did not deter a private group from meeting its goal of making contact with a 36-year-old NASA spacecraft that has been slumbering in deep space since 1997.

    Now, members are trying to redirect the path of the vintage International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 (ISSE-3) probe before it's too late.

    The engineers, programmers and citizen scientists -- working under the name ISEE-3 Reboot Project -- "spoke" with the probe Thursday (May 29) using the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. This was after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the area earlier this week during testing, temporarily shutting down telescope operations. [NASA's Vintage ISEE-3 Spacecraft in Pictures (Gallery)]

    "It took a lot of preparation and perseverance," said co-leader Keith Cowing, who remained behind in Virginia for co-ordination while other co-lead Dennis Wingo worked at Arecibo. Wingo's team has at the Arecibo Observatory for two weeks and is expected to leave Friday (May 30).

    The team technically had the capability to command the spacecraft last Friday (May 23), but under a Space Act Agreement with NASA had to have the agency's approval before making the move. That approval finally came through Thursday (May 29).

    Cowing acknowledged waiting for approval took longer than he hoped, but said given it's the first time a private group wanted to do something like this, he could appreciate the agency's caution.

    Luckily for the group, their preparation worked: first contact went off without a hitch, with the spacecraft responding to a tone exactly as expected. "I'm doing my happy dance," Cowing said.

    Firing the engines

    There are numerous technological hurdles to overcome before moving the spacecraft, which is moving towards Earth but in an orbit that is not suitable for repurposing ISEE-3. Redirecting it should "ideally" happen before mid-June before the fuel demands grow very high, Cowing said.

    The group plans to put the spacecraft in the Earth-sun Lagrange Point 1 (ES-1), a gravitationally stable spot about 930,000 miles from Earth. Getting there won't be as simple as firing the engines, however; more preparation is needed.

    First, the group will do more detailed communications with the spacecraft in the coming days to see which of its 13 instruments are working, where it is going and how healthy the spacecraft is overall.

    While the exact process is still being worked out, Cowing expects controllers will first do a short test of the engines, and then make a series of engine firings over several days.

    If they succeed, then Cowing says it will be the time to decide what to do with ISEE-3, since it's easier to negotiate with a working spacecraft than a perhaps-working one.

    Commands will be sent through Arecibo from "McMoon's", a command center Wingo and Cowing originally established in Mountain View, Calif. to restore old images from the NASA Lunar Orbiter spacecraft in the 1960s. McMoons got its name from its location: an abandoned McDonald's at the NASA Ames Research Center.

    Multiple lifetimes

    ISEE-3 is such an old spacecraft that it doesn't have a computer on board. Its thermostat failed years ago, and its engine has experienced excess heating in the past. But with the spacecraft now talking to the Reboot Project, there's the potential it could change its destiny – again.

    The spacecraft first launched in 1978 to study cosmic rays and the solar wind, but ended up doing much more until it was put into hibernation in 1997, such as chasing after two comets and examining the sun.

    Cowing said the success of the mission will also depend on more funding. The group raised nearly $160,000 on Kickstarter, exceeding its initial goal by $35,000, but every dollar will be needed to rent telescope time and ship needed hardware from all over the world. More campaigns will happen, but he's not sure in what form as it depends on funding from partners.

    He noted that NASA will again need to give approval before the Reboot Project fires ISEE-3's engines, but he's hoping the process will go quicker this time.

    "It's even more critical this time because the laws of physics are involved in this," Cowing said, referring to the fact that more fuel will be needed as the spacecraft moves further in its orbit. But he's keeping NASA apprised of progress frequently. "They know what we're doing."

    Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or Space.com @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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

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    Sunday, July 1, 2014

    (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

    Lightning has claimed four lives so far this year across the United States. People who do not take the proper precautions could suffer the same fate or injury as thunderstorm activity increases through the summer months.

    It is no coincidence that the average number of lightning deaths across the U.S. peaks at the same time of thunderstorm activity and when people are spending more time outdoors.

    The plethora of summer thunderstorms is the result of the influx of warm and moist air that is usually not present in the cooler months. Frontal boundaries, mountains, tropical systems and daytime heating give rise to the thunderstorms.

    The atmosphere is always trying to find a balance and thunderstorms are nature's air conditioners on a hot and humid summer day.

    Lightning causes an average of 400 injuries each year, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

    As recently as this past Thursday, reports received by the NWS stated that five people (comprised of three in Wyoming and two in Florida) sustained injuries due to lightning in a single day.

    The 30-year average for lightning-related deaths in the U.S. is 51 with 37 of those deaths occurring during the months from June to August. To put that into perspective, the 30-year average for tornado and hurricane deaths stands at 75 and 47, respectively.

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    The four lightning-related deaths so far in 2014 occurred in May with the most recent being the Thursday prior to Memorial Day, according to data complied by the NWS.

    Thomas Wartell, 44, was struck and killed by lightning while he was riding his motorcycle through Cimarron, New Mexico, on May 22.

    On May 14, 40-year-old Agustin Navarrete-Guerrero died from a lightning strike when he was closing car windows at a construction site in Seminole, Florida.

    All those killed by lightning this year have been males, which, as AccuWeather.com Staff Writer Michael Kuhne reports, is statistically the gender lightning strikes the most.

    "Among the most common activities in which lightning resulted in death, fishing ranked the highest," stated Kuhne.

    That is exactly what 71-year-old Larry Webb was doing when he was struck and killed on May 14, 2014.

    According to Vaisala's National Lightning Detection Network, cloud-to-ground lightning flashes averaged nearly 23 million a year across the 48 contiguous U.S. states from 1997 to 2012.

    Lightning flashes per square miles was highest in Florida, while Washington State ranked last.

    Lightning deaths are most common during summer afternoons and evenings, states the NWS. That coincides with when the majority of thunderstorms rumble this time of year.

    The current of a lightning bolt averages 10,000 to 200,000 amps, meaning that the average lightning flash would light a 100-watt light bulb for three months.

    This intense charge of electricity is why lightning poses an extreme danger to people and animals. Structural fires can also start from a lightning strike.

    Do not undermine the power of a thunderstorm if a warning is not issued. The criteria for a severe thunderstorm involves damaging winds and hail, not lightning.

    If you are caught outdoors during a thunderstorm and there is no other way to seek shelter, make yourself the smallest target possible. Crouch down with your knees together and your weight on the balls of your feet. Put your head down and cover your ears. Do not lie flat. The goal is to minimize your height and your body's contact with the ground.

    Never seek shelter underneath a tree. The lightning charge can strike the tree, then cause fatalities up to 100 feet away. Avoid lakes, streams and swimming pools since water conducts electricity.

    When you hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning.

    A thunderstorm may not be directly overhead, but you could still get hit by lightning. A bolt of lightning can strike people and buildings 10 miles away from where it is raining. In extremely rare cases, lightning has been detected almost 50 miles from the parent thunderstorm.



    A sturdy and enclosed building or a vehicle is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm. However, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer Mark Leberfinger dispels the myth that the rubber tires of a vehicle is what keeps people safe during a thunderstorm.

    Water, windows, plumbing and electrical appliances should be avoided. Roughly 4 to 5 percent of people that have been struck by lightning were talking on a corded telephone.

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    Sunday, June 1, 2014

    This April 17, 2014 image provided by NASA shows workmen unloading a saucer-shaped test vehicle for NASA's Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) project, at the U.S Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii. The engineering test flight is scheduled for June 1, 2014. The saucer will be boosted to high altitudes via balloon and rocket, before releasing an inflatable tube and an enormous supersonic parachute -- possible landing technologies for future Mars missions. (AP Photo/NASA)

    LOS ANGELES - The skies off the Hawaiian island of Kauai will be a stand-in for Mars as NASA prepares to launch a saucer-shaped vehicle in an experimental flight designed to land heavy loads on the red planet.

    For decades, robotic landers and rovers have hitched a ride to Earth's planetary neighbor using the same parachute design. But NASA needs a bigger and stronger parachute if it wants to send astronauts there.

    Weather permitting, the space agency will conduct a test flight Tuesday high in Earth's atmosphere that's supposed to simulate the thin Martian air.

    Cameras rigged aboard the vehicle will capture the action as it accelerates to four times the speed of sound and falls back to Earth. Viewers with an Internet connection can follow along live.

    Engineers cautioned that they may not succeed on the first try.

    "As long as I get data, I'll be very happy," said project manager Mark Adler of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    The search for a way to land massive payloads on Mars predates the existence of NASA. Back then, engineers toyed with sending a winged spacecraft that would land like an airplane, but the idea was not feasible, space historians say.

    Landing has always been "one of the big technology challenges for a human Mars mission," American University space policy professor Howard McCurdy said in an email.

    When the twin Viking landers became the first spacecraft to set down on Mars in 1976, they relied on parachutes to slow down after punching through the Martian atmosphere. The basic design has been used since including during the Curiosity rover's hair-raising landing in 2012.

    With plans to land heavier spacecraft and eventually humans, NASA needed a heftier solution. So it designed a supersonic parachute that's 110 feet in diameter - twice as big as the one that carried the 1-ton Curiosity. It's so gigantic that it can't fit into the wind tunnels that NASA typically uses to test parachutes.

    Since it's impractical to test unproven technology on Mars, NASA looked to Earth as a substitute.

    During the flight, a high-flying balloon will loft the disc-shaped vehicle from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai to 23 miles over the Pacific where it will be dropped. Then it will fire its rocket motor to climb to 34 miles, accelerating to Mach 4. The environment at this altitude is similar to Mars' thin atmosphere.

    As it descends to Earth, a tube around the vehicle should inflate, slowing it down. Then the parachute should pop out, guiding the vehicle to a gentle splashdown in the Pacific.

    Robert Braun, space technology professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, called the project a "high-risk, high-reward effort."

    The latest test program "is advancing capabilities and creating the engineering knowledge needed for the next generation of Mars landers," Braun, who served as NASA's technology chief, said in an email.

    NASA plans more test flights next year before deciding whether to use the new parachute on a future Mars mission.

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    Monday, June 2, 2014

    The Atlantic Hurricane Season commenced on Sunday and already there are tropical concerns for the Gulf of Mexico, along with the eastern Pacific, this week.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologists are monitoring an area of low pressure south of Mexico and an area of disturbed weather across Central America for eventual tropical troubles in the Gulf of Mexico.

    The area of disturbed weather currently over Central America is expected to develop into a broad area of low pressure across the Bay of Campeche at midweek.

    Depending on the strength of the Atlantic ridge of high pressure, this low could track to northeastern Mexico with drenching showers and thunderstorms or slowly meander near the Yucatan Peninsula later in the week.

    In the latter solution, the low may then spread heavy and potentially flooding rain to Florida, western Cuba and the Southeastern U.S. Friday and through next weekend.

    Even if the low heads to northeastern Mexico, the above places may still face tropical troubles during the first half of June.

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    Energy from the low currently in south of Mexico (not the low itself though) could eventually reach the southern Gulf of Mexico, re-organize and spread heavy rain to a portion of the Southeast during the week of June 9.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologists will be closely monitoring both of these features for possible development as they pass over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The main battle each faces will be wind shear (strong winds above the surface that can rip apart tropical systems).

    Some wind shear is also present in the vicinity of the low currently south of Mexico. However, the low should overcome this obstacle and develop into a tropical depression within the next couple of days.

    The low may further strengthen into a tropical storm as it drifts northward to the Gulf of Tehuantepec by midweek. The next tropical storm in the eastern Pacific would acquire the name "Boris."

    Whether this low maintains its strength and makes landfall along or near the Gulf of Tehuantepec will depend on how the future low in the Bay of Campeche evolves.

    "After developing in the next 48 hours, I think that the system will sit near the [Mexican] coast and slowly weaken into the end of the week, possibly as the [low in the Bay of Campeche] begins to develop," stated AccuWeather.com meteorologist Adam Douty.

    Regardless of exactly which low becomes the dominant feature on the weather map, southeastern Mexico, including the Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala and Belize will become the target of torrential rainfall this week.

    "Flooding rain and mudslides would be the main impact, with some mountainous areas potentially receiving 10 to 20 inches (250 to 500 mm) of rain this week," stated AccuWeather.com meteorologist Rob Miller.

    Cities at risk of a soaking include Merida, Belmopan and Guatemala City. Vacationers at the resort cities of Cancun and Chetumal also face an unpleasant stretch of wet weather.

    "It has already been active across the resort areas on the Yucatan Peninsula due to daily thunderstorms, but the weather will only get worse this week as moisture from the tropical systems comes into play," Miller continued.

    Despite the disruptions to vacationers and the prospect of flooding and mudslides, Miller pointed out that the rain will bring long-term benefits to easing the ongoing drought across the area.

    Following a season with the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982, the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to follow suit as a below-normal hurricane season.

    That does not mean that residents in coastal communities should let their guard down, reported AccuWeather.com staff writer Kristen Rodman.

    "All we need is one hurricane," AccuWeather.com tropical weather expert Dan Kottlowski said. "Just because we are saying this is going to be an inactive season doesn't mean we couldn't have a couple of very intense hurricanes."


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    Monday, June 2, 2014
    down town los angeles at sunrise
    Shutterstock

    A magnitude-4.2 earthquake shook the Los Angeles area on Sunday night.

    The epicenter was reported at 7:36 p.m. PDT, four miles west-northwest of Westwood, California, the United States Geological Survey said.

    It was initially rated as a magnitude-3.7 earthquake and then a 3.8, but was later upgraded to a 4.2.

    The quake was first believed to be an aftershock from a March 17 temblor near Encino, but that was later determined not to be correct, Seismologist Lucy Jones of the USGS posted on her Twitter feed.

    The Pittsburgh Pirates were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium at the time of the quake. Pirates broadcasters Greg Brown and John Wehner said on KDKA-FM that they didn't feel the quake.

    There were no initial reports of injuries, KABC-TV in Los Angeles reported.

    Right after the Westwood quake, two other quakes were reported in the area, the USGS said. A magnitude-1.8 quake occurred near Topanga, and the second quake, a 1.6 magnitude, was reported near Santa Monica.

     

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    Monday, June 2, 2014
    bouncy castle
    A file photo of an inflatable slide. (Getty Images)

    Two 10-year-old children were injured on Saturday after the inflatable slide they were playing on was blown across a park in Littleton, Colorado.

    The slide was reportedly tossed about 300 feet according to ABC News.

    The children's conditions were not immediately known.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologist Erik Pindrock said observations from Centennial Airport, about five miles east of Littleton, reported winds gusts of up to 41 mph around 2 p.m. MDT.

    Pindrock added that shortly after the strong winds there was a shower that moved through the area, but prior to the gusty shower, winds were light.

    Just last month, three children were injured in South Glens Falls, New York, when a bounce house they were playing in was lifted into the air by a strong gust of wind or a 'freak dust devil.'

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    "Wind gusts can be very localized and also depending on terrain and structures, winds can be funneled and become much stronger than other nearby areas," AccuWeather.com meteorologist Eric Leister said after the incident in South Glens Falls.

    These inflatable attractions are commonly popular with younger children. As a safety precaution, they should be fastened with stakes in the ground.

     

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