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    Avalon, Calif. (AP)

    MEXICO CITY (AP) - The U.S. Geological Survey says a large earthquake has struck in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California and Mexico.

    The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.4, was recorded at 2:36 a.m. (1036 GMT) Friday, 163 miles (262 kilometers) south southwest of the California city of Avalon and 167 miles west southwest of Rosarito, Mexico.

    It was at the relatively shallow depth of 6.3 miles (10.1 kilometers).

    No tsunami warning has been issued.


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    An artist who lost paintings during superstorm Sandy, moves a painting out of his Red Hook studio in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Superstorm Sandy was not kind to the arts community. It upended not only paintings, equipment, tools and paper, turning them into tangled and soggy heaps, but also the livelihoods of hundreds of artists who have helped make the New York area a dynamic art capital.

    Six weeks after Sandy, Pier Glass, a studio of four glass blowers on an old pier in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, remains without power. Corrosive salt water destroyed its furnace, scattered grinding and polishing tools, shattered glass, and destroyed historic prints.

    It had also seen some water in last year's Tropical Storm Irene, but nothing like this.

    "With Irene we had a few inches," said Mary Ellen Buxton-Kutch, one of its glass artists. "That you can handle. We probably could handle four feet. But over five feet was catastrophic."

    Artists, galleries and lofts, many that helped bring about a renaissance in the ribbon of all-but-abandoned warehouses that line New York's coastal areas, face tens of thousands of dollars in repairs. Though no major museums reported damage, the toll among smaller operations and individual artists is steep. In response, various institutions and foundations are offering recovery help ranging from grants to free advice on how to rehabilitate damaged works of art.

    Requests to the New York Foundation for the Arts for storm-related assistance total $12 million among almost 500 artists in New York and New Jersey, nearly 90 percent of them in New York, executive director Michael Royce said. The Craft Emergency Relief Fund, or CERF+, said it has received applications from 65 artists.

    Pier Glass has received a grant from CERF+ and plans to seek more money from NYFA and other groups. It also plans a fundraiser even as friends have generously contributed in amounts of $1,000 and $1,500.

    "You still have all your bills to pay even as you're getting this money," Buxton-Kutch said.

    Apart from the studio, she and her husband, Kevin Kutch, were flooded out of their house in Brooklyn's Coney Island area and have been camping out with relatives and friends ever since the Oct. 29 storm.

    Even without electricity at their studio, not working is not an option. Pier Glass does large private and public commissions and work for architects and museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    "My partner has gone to another facility to rent because we're trying to stay in business as well as rebuild," said Buxton-Kutch, who estimated the studio suffered as much as $200,000 in damage. A new furnace would cost an additional $20,000.

    The institutions that lost buildings or property include both the obscure and the well-known.

    Salt water damaged some textiles and ceremonial batons at the New York City Police Museum and soaked about 60 boxes of paper archives at the New York City Opera, said Eric Pourchot, professional development director for the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works.

    At Westbeth Artists Housing in Manhattan's West Village, eight feet of water inundated a labyrinth of studios in the basement of the artist colony about a block from the Hudson River, submerging paintings, sculptures and musical instruments. The adjacent Martha Graham dance company lost costumes and sets.

    In New Jersey, a historic conservation group called Preservation New Jersey has reports of storm damage from 40 historical societies and house museums, some of it from falling trees and wind in addition to flooding.

    Most waterlogged items can be saved, Pourchot said, but sometimes the time and the cost may be prohibitive.

    "For individual artists and galleries, that's a terrifying decision," he said. "Can they be saved in such a way that they can be sold?"


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    A cyclist rides his bike through flooding at a Highway 1 off ramp from highway 101 in Marin County, Calif. on Wednesday. (AP Photo/San Francisco Chronicle, Brant Ward)

    HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) - The tide is high, and it's holding on.

    Some Californians were in for another day of ankle-deep seawater in low-lying coastal communities Friday as unusually high "king tides" pulled the Pacific farther ashore than normal.

    The tides, the result of an occasional astronomical alignment, caused some damage Thursday but proved mostly just a nuisance.

    Water flooded Pacific Coast Highway and side streets in Sunset Beach, a sliver of Huntington Beach between the ocean and a yacht harbor. Down the Southern California coast, Newport Bay was brimming, while just north of San Francisco the tide swamped a commuter parking lot in Marin City and seeped into dozens of cars.

    Bruce DuAmarell, an 18-year Sunset Beach resident, said he got a call at work from an alarmed neighbor and came home.

    "My garage had flooded. There were four to five inches in my garage," he said, as he took a break from sweeping water onto the street. "It came up over the seawall and literally filled up the harbor."

    DuAmarell said he lost a vacuum cleaner and some Christmas presents for his children, but otherwise was unscathed.

    Occurring several times a year, king tides happen when the Earth, moon and sun align in a way that increases gravitational pull on the Earth's oceans, raising water levels several feet above normal high tides. The non-scientific term also refers to extremely low tides.

    Residents of Sunset Beach expect flooding, but that didn't keep 13-year resident Fred Grether out of trouble.

    He tried to drive his 2004 Porsche to a car wash to rinse off the salt water after the flooding reached the rims and undercarriage. But driving to the car wash did more damage than staying put, he said as a tow truck prepared to haul his car to the shop.

    "I didn't realize how deep it was at the intersection and as soon as I got to the intersection, I heard this frizzling noise and my car alarm started going off and I realized that I had burned out the electrical system on my car," he said.

    "Now I'm off to my local mechanic today about me doing something very, very stupid," said Grether, who's seen flooding three times.

    The tide at Marin City reached 7 feet, slightly higher than during last December's king tides, which prompted the California Highway Patrol to temporarily close a local highway connector ramp due to roadway flooding midmorning.

    The damage could have been much worse if the weather had brought big waves along with the high tides, National Weather Service forecaster Larry Smith said.

    "Right now it's just a neat thing.... When we have the low tide this afternoon you will be see father out than you normally would," Smith said. "It kind of does give you a glimpse of what the future might be with the sea level rise."

    The tides reached over 10 feet in Redwood City, a bit above predicted levels, the National Weather Service said.

    The event provided organizers of the California King Tides Initiative an opportunity to get California residents thinking about and preparing for the future. The 3-year-old initiative, sponsored by government and nonprofit groups, enlists camera-toting volunteers to photograph the King Tides as an illustration of what low-lying coastal areas could look like if predictions about the Earth's climate come to pass.

    As of Thursday afternoon, about 100 new snapshots had been uploaded to the photo-sharing project, coordinator Heidi Nuttles said.

    "It's definitely very high tides this year, and we just encourage people to use this opportunity to go out, take pictures and reflect what this means for our shoreline and the fact that's its constantly changing even today, and how that might affect how we think about sea level rise in the future," Nuttles said.


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    (AP Photo)

    WASHINGTON (AP) - Nearly 4 out of 5 Americans now think temperatures are rising and that global warming will be a serious problem for the United States if nothing is done about it, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds.

    But only 45 percent of those surveyed think President Barack Obama will take major action to fight climate change in his second term.

    Belief and worry about climate change are inching up among Americans in general, but concern is growing faster among people who don't often trust scientists on the environment. In follow-up interviews, some of those doubters said they believe their own eyes as they've watched thermometers rise, New York City subway tunnels flood, polar ice melt and Midwestern farm fields dry up.

    Overall, 78 percent of those surveyed said they thought temperatures were rising and 80 percent called it a serious problem. That's up slightly from 2009, when 75 percent thought global warming was occurring and just 73 percent thought it was a serious problem. In general, U.S. belief in global warming, according to AP-GfK and other polls, has fluctuated over the years but has stayed between about 70 and 85 percent.

    The biggest change in the polling is among people who trust scientists only a little or not at all. About 1 in 3 of the people surveyed fell into that category.

    Within that highly skeptical group, 61 percent now say temperatures have been rising over the past 100 years. That's a substantial increase from 2009, when the AP-GfK poll found that only 47 percent of those with little or no trust in scientists believed the world was getting warmer.

    This is an important development because, often in the past, opinion about climate change doesn't move much in core groups - like those who deny it exists and those who firmly believe it's an alarming problem, said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University social psychologist and pollster. Krosnick, who consulted with The Associated Press on the poll questions, said the changes the poll shows aren't in the hard-core "anti-warming" deniers, but in the next group, who had serious doubts.

    "They don't believe what the scientists say, they believe what the thermometers say," Krosnick said. "Events are helping these people see what scientists thought they had been seeing all along."

    Phil Adams, a retired freelance photographer from North Carolina, said he was "fairly cynical" about scientists and their theories. But he believes very much in climate change because of what he's seen with his own eyes.

    "Having lived for 67 years, we consistently see more and more changes based upon the fact that the weather is warmer," he said. "The seasons are more severe. The climate is definitely getting warmer."

    "Storms seem to be more severe," he added. Nearly half, 49 percent, of those surveyed called global warming not just serious but "very serious," up from 42 percent in 2009. More than half, 57 percent, of those surveyed thought the U.S. government should do a great deal or quite a bit about global warming, up from 52 percent three years earlier.

    Overall, the 78 percent who think temperatures are rising is not the highest percentage of Americans who have believed in climate change, according to AP polling. In 2006, less than a year after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, 85 percent thought temperatures were rising. The lowest point in the past 15 years for belief in warming was in December 2009, after some snowy winters and in the middle of an uproar about climate scientists' emails that later independent investigations found showed no manipulation of data.

    Broken down by political party, 83 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Republicans say the world is getting warmer. And 77 percent of independents say temperatures are rising. Among scientists who write about the issue in peer-reviewed literature, the belief in global warming is about 97 percent, according to a 2010 scientific study.

    The AP-GfK poll was conducted Nov. 29-Dec. 3 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. It involved landline and cellphone interviews with 1,002 adults nationwide. Results for the full sample have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points; the margin of error is larger for subgroups.


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    By Matt Alto, Meteorologist

    The same Western storm system which brought cold rain and mountain snow to Southern California and Arizona this week will emerge out of the Four Corners region Friday and organize as it tracks into the central Plains Friday night.

    The storm system will bring a wintry mess to the Upper Midwest this weekend, impacting holiday shoppers and travelers throughout the region.

    While major flight delays are not anticipated at the airports across the region, the storm will certainly be enough of a nuisance for travelers as the roads and highways become slippery and wet.

    As the strengthening storm system tracks across the central Plains Friday night, a bit of rain and freezing rain will break out late Friday night across southern and central Minnesota and central Wisconsin.

    RELATED ON ACCUWEATHER: Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

    By the early morning hours, the rain will transition to a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain in many towns and cities from northern Wisconsin into south-central Minnesota.

    The lack of cold air associated with this system will lead to this mix bag of precipitation types. However, the precipitation will eventually transition to all snow from west to east during the day Saturday.

    The transition will occur just a few hours before ending, so not much in the way of accumulation is expected.

    Snow from this storm will fall on some areas which were inundated from last weekend's potent storm system, but snowfall amounts will be significantly less.

    Related at AccuWeather: Where to Go for a Guaranteed White Christmas

    As is the case with most winter storms, the heaviest snowfall will blanket areas northwest of the storm track. A small general swath of 1-3 inches of snowfall will be possible for parts of northwestern Minnesota.

    Farther south, a period of rain will wet areas from Omaha, Neb., Madison, Wis., and Des Moines, Iowa, eastward into Chicago, Detroit and the Ohio Valley.

    A wintry mix will be likely in-between these two area.

    The storm system will begin to weaken as it crosses the Great Lakes and heads toward the Northeast Sunday and Monday.

    Snow will spread into portions of southern Ontario, the St. Lawrence Valley and New England.

    Across the Upper Midwest, drier and colder air will filter in the wake of the storm system on Sunday. A few snow showers will linger for a time across the Upper Midwest as the system departs.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Blizzard Blankets the Midwest


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    Swiss Pilots Plan Solar-Powered US Flight

    On their journey to become the first pilots of a solar-powered aircraft to circumnavigate the globe, two Swiss aviation pioneers announced they are planning to fly across the continental United States in 2013. The pair hope to embark on the monumental flight in 2015.

    SEE ON SKYE: Stunning Photos of Daredevil Skydiver


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  • 12/14/12--03:45: 25 Mesmerizing Photos of Fog

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    In this Nov. 29, 2012, file photo, clean up continues on the site of a demolished home on the Rockaway Peninsula in New York. AP Photo.

    NEW YORK (AP) - As winter approaches, construction crews in New York are in a race against the clock to make thousands of houses damaged by Superstorm Sandy habitable again, and the slow pace of progress has led some people to urge officials to bring in campers or mobile homes as a stopgap solution.

    Thousands of residents along the New York and New Jersey coastlines still lack power and heat after the October storm and a tidal surge turned basement furnaces and electrical panels into worthless junk.

    In New York City and Long Island, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and municipal officials have tried a new approach to getting basic utilities to those homes restored quickly: a $500 million program called "rapid repair." More than 2,000 workers have been sent into flood-damaged neighborhoods to get home heating systems back on line, plug holes in roofs and walls, and restore electrical hookups. All the work is being done for free.

    The program has been building steam lately, but with seven weeks elapsed since the Oct. 29 storm, there is still so much work left to do, prompting some to call on FEMA to bring in temporary housing - a solution that has been repeatedly rejected by officials as unworkable in New York.

    As of Friday, 60 percent of the more than 13,600 New Yorkers who had applied for help from the repair program were still waiting for the work on their homes to begin. Work has been completed on 2,625 homes. Repairs were in progress on another 2,800, according to the city. Those numbers represented a big improvement from the first week in December, when only around 400 projects had been completed.

    "I think the trend, right now, is headed in the right direction," said Michael Byrne, the FEMA official supervising Superstorm Sandy recovery in New York.

    But the likelihood that some people would still be waiting for repair work in the icy chill of January has also prompted concern, and some anger.

    Activists affiliated with the "Occupy" movement were planning demonstrations Saturday at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's home and locations on the Rockaway Peninsula and Staten Island, calling for FEMA to activate the trailer program in New York. A town hall style meeting in Staten Island recently drew hundreds of residents, including some who loudly called for trailers to be brought in.

    Other groups have sought other relief. A group of clergy in Queens led a meeting of hundreds of Rockaway residents on Monday, calling on the city to add mold remediation to the rapid repair program and ease red tape for contractors hailing from outside New York who wish to get involved in the program.

    "We are seeing a ton of homes where people are sitting in them without heat, hot water and electricity, and mold is just growing in them," said Joseph McKellar, executive director of the group Queens Congregations United for Action.

    Bringing in trailers is an option that both FEMA and Bloomberg have said could be a disaster.

    The winterized mobile homes in FEMA's fleet are meant for trailer parks, where they can sit on cement slabs and be easily connected to water, sewer, electrical and natural gas utilities. No such sites exist in New York City, and while there is available parkland where trailer parks could be constructed, doing so would be expensive, involve laying sewer and gas lines and could take two to three months, Byrne said.

    "If people are interested in relocating up to Orange County, we could find sites like that," Byrne said. "But I don't think that's what New Yorkers want."

    FEMA no longer uses the small, camper-like trailers that were abundant in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina after they were widely criticized as unfit living arrangements. Asked about FEMA trailers on Tuesday, Bloomberg said he would rather get people back in their own homes.

    "That's where our focus is," he said. "And trailers, if you take a look at what the experience was in New Orleans, it was not good. They had formaldehyde problems. They couldn't get rid of them. Everybody disliked them. It was a very big problem."

    FEMA has been putting 2,000 New Yorkers with uninhabitable homes up in hotels.

    In the meantime, some homeowners, like Rockaway resident Valerie Close, have turned to the private sector to get repairs done. That route hasn't been easy either.

    Close, whose house still lacks heat or hot water, had trouble finding an electrician and only got her power back on this week. She still hasn't found a contractor to fix her boiler.

    "We called one company, and they said they didn't have any appointments to fix it for a month-and-a-half," she said. "It's just become a really ugly situation."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Indelible Images from Superstorm Sandy


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    By Meghan Evans, Meteorologist

    Cold, windy and snowy weather may impact holiday travel across portions of the Great Lakes and Northeast next weekend, while stormy weather slams the West.

    There may be some trouble spots with rain and fog across parts of the South as well.

    AAA predicts that 93.3 millions Americans will travel 50 miles or more this holiday season, an increase of 1.6 percent compared to last year. Of that estimate, 90 percent (84.4 million), more than a quarter of the U.S. population, are projected to travel by automobile. Meanwhile, air travel is expected to increase 4.5 percent from 2011.

    It will be stormy leading up to the weekend before Christmas with chances of wintry precipitation in the Great Lakes and Northeast.

    RELATED ON ACCUWEATHER: The probability you'll get a white Christmas

    "A storm may be moving off the East Coast the weekend before Christmas with lingering precipitation and wind in the Northeast on Saturday," AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. "It looks like there may be snow in New England."

    People traveling around Boston on Saturday will have to watch for the potential for snow.
    Depending on the track and strength of the storm, there may be potential for wind-driven snow as far south as New York City and Philadelphia.

    "While the storm will be leaving, it will be key. That's the storm that will bring cold and a few days of lake-effect snow," Rayno said.

    RELATED ON ACCUWEATHER: Where to go for a guaranteed white Christmas

    Cold winds and lake-effect snow showers may impact travel across the typical lake-effect snowbelts downwind of the Great Lakes through the central Appalachians next weekend. Motorists should be prepared for suddenly reduced visibility and slippery travel through snow squalls.

    A Pacific storm will have an impact on portions of the West next weekend. It may throw locally heavy rain into the coast and unleash snow in the mountains.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Blizzard Blankets the Midwest


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    Breaking Weather: Rain, Snow Advance Northeast

    Spotty rain and snow showers will push across the Northeast on Sunday, bringing some travel delays. Northern New York, New Hampshire and Vermont could get a couple of inches of snow, while further south will see a wintry mix. Behind the storm system, it will be very chilly in the Plains.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Blizzard Blankets the Midwest


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    Much of Arizona saw its first significant snowfall yesterday, and Kozmo the dog just wanted to play in it. (The snow caused a big mess for travelers, with a large section of Interstate 40 west of Flagstaff closed for hours).

    RELATED ON SKYE: Blizzard Blankets the Midwest


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    While some parts of the country wonder where the snow is, Old Man Winter has certainly found his way to the Northwest.

    A dangerous storm that slammed into the coast of Washington Monday morning has already begun to batter the region.

    Interstate 90's Snoqualmie Pass shut down Sunday afternoon as heavy snow and blizzard conditions set in.

    There were several collisions at the summit area as strong winds and blowing snow brought visibilities down to near zero.

    The pass has since reopened, but heavy snow continues and authorities will only let vehicles with chains or all-wheel drive make the journey.

    Blinding snow and white-out conditions extend down the length of the Washington and Oregon Cascades.

    They also include the Olympic Mountains in northwestern Washington and the Blue Mountains of northwestern Oregon.

    Over a foot of snow, with some places getting over two feet, will fall across all of these areas. Snow drifts will reach 4-6 feet in spots and travel will be extremely dangerous at best.

    As Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski points out, the wild winter weather is not only limited to the mountains.

    According to Kristina, "Up to a half of a foot of snow will turn Wenatchee, Wash., into a winter wonderland Sunday night into Monday with 2-4 inches whitening Spokane, Wash."

    The snow will then spread to the mountainous areas of California, Idaho and Utah through Monday evening.

    The highest elevations across these areas will see 6-12 inches of new snowfall.

    The combination of the new snowfall and strong winds will even produce the risk for avalanches.

    Further south and east, the snow turns to rain in places such as Seattle, Portland and Medford.
    With 1-2 inches of rain falling Sunday and Sunday night, another 1-2 inches is likely today.

    This kind of rain will lead to excessive ponding of water on roadways and quick rises on area creeks, streams and rivers.

    Check back often at AccuWeather.com for the latest up-to-the-minute information on this storm.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The 10 Snowiest Places on Earth


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    Breaking Weather: New England Slip 'N' Slide

    Freezing rain in Massachusetts is causing treacherous roadways. School delays have resulted the hazardous travel, according to WBZ in Boston.

    The storm that brought a wintry mix to the Midwest Saturday will continue to create slick spots across parts of the Northeast into Monday.

    Old man winter is making a visit to cities and towns from northern New York state to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, as well as across the neighboring Canadian communities in the St. Lawrence Valley.

    While not a blockbuster winter storm, enough snow and ice is falling to create slick and dangerous travel.

    Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Check out the probability here.

    Not everyone will see the wintry weather as a nuisance, those hoping to hit the ski slopes across New England will welcome the snow. A fresh 1 to 3 inches is expected to accumulate.

    For those looking for an end to the hazardous travel conditions, relief will gradually come in a south-to-north fashion northward to Portland, Maine, and Burlington, Vt., into Monday.

    As warmer air flows northward, any snow or wintry mix will change over to rain.

    Farther to the south, the rest of the Northeast will remain damp into Monday with steadier rain reaching the mid-Atlantic Monday afternoon as another storm system arrives.

    That rain will continue to spread across the Northeast Monday night into Tuesday with more snow and ice across northern New England.

    Colder air on the storm's backside will pour across the central Appalachians on Tuesday, but only near the eastern Great Lakes and in the higher elevations of the central Appalachians will the air be cold enough for wet snow to mix in.

    For more updates, head to AccuWeather.com.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The 10 Snowiest Places on Earth


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    While a large part of the South welcomes beneficial rain into Monday, a handful of communities will become the target of violent thunderstorms.

    The stage is set for locally severe thunderstorms to erupt south of the band of rain slowly pressing eastward across the South and helping to ease the region's drought.

    The severe weather threat exists from far north-central Florida to southeastern North Carolina on Monday. Albany, Augusta and Savannah, Ga., Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Wilmington, N.C., are among the communities at risk.

    The strongest thunderstorms will be capable of producing damaging winds and flooding downpours. Isolated reports of hail and tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologists want to stress that an outbreak of severe weather is not expected into Monday. Any violent thunderstorms will instead erupt on a localized level with the South receiving beneficial rain the main weather story.

    All severe weather warnings should still be taken seriously since it only takes one powerful thunderstorm or tornado to inflict damage on a family or community.

    Wednesday night into Thursday is when a more widespread outbreak of damaging thunderstorms and tornadoes may threaten the South, from the same storm set to unleash substantial snow over the Midwest.

    Stay tuned to AccuWeather.com for more details on the impending midweek violent storms.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere


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  • 12/17/12--00:39: Ferocious Cyclone Slams Fiji
  • Ferocious Cyclone Hits Fiji

    SUVA, Fiji (AP) - A powerful cyclone ripping through Fiji has caused flooding and structural damage but so far there have been no reports of deaths or serious injuries.

    Cyclone Evan earlier killed at least four people in Samoa while 12 more people remain missing there.

    Fiji's Permanent Secretary of Information Sharon Smith-Johns said on Monday that the northern parts of Fiji had lost power and that some bridges and roads had been washed out after the cyclone first hit late Sunday. She said about 3,500 people had evacuated to emergency shelters, and that the nation's advance preparation had helped prevent deaths.

    The cyclone is expected to make its way south over the next day. It is expected to affect tourist areas around the town of Nadi but miss the capital Suva of the Pacific island nation.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere


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    A kitesurfer near the Dutch island of Texel caught more than his fair share of excitement while skimming over waves recently. While zipping along at high speeds, he jumped right over a nearly 40-foot-long humpback whale. It appeared that the whale had become stranded on a sandbar. The kitesurfer returned to shore to alert authorities, who then launched a rescue operation.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The world's most extreme sports


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    Millions of people will travel more than 50 miles to reach their holiday destinations this year.
    Some will drive, others will take a plane, a train or a bus. There are several precautions that can be taken to stay safe and healthy.

    Plane Travel

    Getting sick from germs that circulate through the air on a plane is a big concern for many passengers. The odds of catching and airborne illness from another plane passenger is about 1 in 1,000 according to medicinenet.com.

    The risk of getting an infection (such as a sinus infection), however, increases. Pressurized cabin air is created by heating, then cooling the air. During this process, the moisture content decreases. As you breathe the drier air, your sinus passages become drier. This makes them more susceptible to infection. You can keep them moist by ordering a hot beverage and inhaling the steam, or using a saline spray or gel.

    Although highly unlikely, if you are taking a plane to your holiday destination, there are a few things you can do to minimize your risk of a crash.

    Most accidents take place during a plane's take-off or landing. By taking a direct flight, you can minimize the amount of take-offs and landings you will experience. The time of day of the flight does not make a difference.

    RELATED ON ACCUWEATHER: The probability you'll get a white Christmas

    Another common cause of crashes is the weather. Try to fly during good weather. Ice becomes a factor during the winter months and often planes will not fly or will be delayed in snowy or icy weather.

    Train Travel

    Getting sick from the germs of a nearby passenger have about the same odds as on a plane. The best way to avoid becoming sick is to frequently wash your hands and try to avoid passengers who are coughing or sneezing.

    If you have to cough or sneeze, don't sneeze into your hands. Try to use a tissue, handkerchief or sneeze into the elbow joint of your arm if you have sleeves.

    Bus Travel

    A study released by United Kingdom scientists in 2011 suggests that you are six times more likely to catch a cold if you take public transportation, like a bus or subway. The passengers on buses and subway cars tend to be closer together than those on a train. These close quarters make it more likely that you will breathe in the germs of a sick person.

    You can reduce the risk of illness by irrigating your sinuses after riding public transportation. This will help eliminate some of the germs you have inhaled.

    RELATED ON ACCUWEATHER: Where to go for a guaranteed white Christmas

    Being well rested and fed before your trip can also help reduce your risk of illness.

    Car Travel

    The risk of catching a cold or flu from strangers is eliminated if you decide to make the trip in your own car. However, new risks like accidents or disabled vehicles need to be prepared for. Winter driving conditions also increase during the holiday season.

    A winter driving kit is essential if you plan on taking a long trip. In the event that your vehicle leaves the road in icy conditions, you should have enough supplies for a day or two, just in case.

    Your kit should include: gloves, hat, boots, waterproof poncho, water, food (nuts, dried fruit, energy bars, nourishment drinks), solar blanket, flashlight, cell phone and charger, first-aid kit, waterproof matches, collapsible shovel, chains or traction devices, tow rope, jumper cables, tool kit, flares and a cutting device.

    Make sure all of your vehicle lights are in working order and your brakes, lights and tires are all in good condition. Consider having your car looked at by a mechanic before your trip.

    Of course, using safe driving practices will reduce the chance of a vehicle mishap. If it is snowy or icy during your drive, reduce your speed, tap the brakes lightly, allow extra space between your car and those of others and try to avoid swerving or stopping suddenly.

    Preparing for your trip before you go will help ensure a pleasant and illness-free holiday visit with your family.

    For more weather news, visit AccuWeather.com.

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