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    Police tape surrounds the house of Jeff Bush, who was consumed by a sinkhole while lying in his bed March 1, 2013 in Seffner, Florida. (Photo by Edward Linsmier/Getty Images)

    SEFFNER, Fla. (AP) - In a matter of seconds, the earth opened under Jeff Bush's bedroom and swallowed him up like something out of a horror movie. About the only thing left was the TV cable running down into the hole.

    Bush, 37, was presumed dead Friday, the victim of a sinkhole - a hazard so common in Florida that state law requires home insurers to provide coverage against the danger.

    The sinkhole, estimated at 20 feet across and 20 feet deep, caused the home's concrete floor to cave in around 11 p.m. Thursday as everyone in the Tampa-area house was turning in for the night. It gave way with a loud crash that sounded like a car hitting the house and brought Bush's brother running.

    Jeremy Bush said he jumped into the hole but couldn't see his brother and had to be rescued himself by a sheriff's deputy who reached out and pulled him to safety as the ground crumbled around him.

    "The floor was still giving in and the dirt was still going down, but I didn't care. I wanted to save my brother," Jeremy Bush said through tears Friday in a neighbor's yard. "But I just couldn't do nothing."

    He added: "I could swear I heard him hollering my name to help him."

    Officials lowered equipment into the sinkhole and saw no signs of life, said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico.

    A dresser and the TV set had vanished down the hole, along with most of Bush's bed.

    "All I could see was the cable wire running from the TV going down into the hole. I saw a corner of the bed and a corner of the box spring and the frame of the bed," Jeremy Bush said.

    At a news conference Friday night, county administrator Mike Merrill described the home as "seriously unstable." He said no one can go in the home because officials were afraid of another collapse and losing more lives. The soil around the home was very soft and the sinkhole was expected to grow.

    Engineers said they may have to demolish the small, sky-blue house, even though from the outside there appeared to be nothing wrong with the four-bedroom, concrete-wall structure, built in 1974.

    "I cannot tell you why it has not collapsed yet," said Bill Bracken, the owner of engineering company called on to assess the sinkhole and home.

    Engineers said there was an initial collapse followed by another one a short time later. The hole was 15 feet deep but grew to about 25 feet deep, and it was about 20 feet to 30 feet across.

    Florida is highly prone to sinkholes because there are caverns below ground of limestone, a porous rock that easily dissolves in water. A sinkhole near Orlando grew to 400 feet across in 1981 and devoured five sports cars, most of two businesses, a three-bedroom house and the deep end of an Olympic-size swimming pool.

    More than 500 sinkholes have been reported in Hillsborough County alone since the government started keeping track in 1954, according to the state's environmental agency.

    Jeremy Bush said someone came out to the home a couple of months ago to check for sinkholes and other things, apparently for insurance purposes.

    "He said there was nothing wrong with the house. Nothing. And a couple of months later, my brother dies. In a sinkhole," Bush said.

    Six people were at the home at the time, including Jeremy Bush's wife and his 2-year-old daughter. The brothers worked maintenance jobs, including picking up trash along highways.

     

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    A spring break reveler gets a drink at a bar in the resort city of Cancun, Mexico, early Tuesday. Cancun is one of the No. 1 foreign destination for U.S. college students wanting to enjoy Spring Break. AP Photo/Israel Leal

    CANCUN, Mexico (AP) - Tens of thousands of U.S. college students are flooding into the Mexican city of Cancun, where officials have stepped up patrols of marines, soldiers and special tourist police in zones packed with hotels and bars.

    City officials said Friday that they expected thousands more visitors than the 25,000 who came to the Caribbean coast resort last year. They said at least part of that increase might be due to people avoiding Pacific Coast resorts such as Acapulco, which have been hit by high-profile incidents of criminal violence in recent years.

    Cancun tourism director Maximo Garcia Rocha said some major tourist agencies were expecting as many as 43,000 spring breakers, but the major influx was only beginning Friday. The Cancun Hotel Association said occupancy was at 90 percent citywide.

    Brad Madani, a 24-year-old from Toronto, said he had come to Cancun for the second time and was drawn by the beaches, discos and bikini contests. While many Canadians think Mexico is dangerous, Madani said, he felt safe in Cancun, particularly with the heavy presence of marines.

    Speaking in halting Spanish, he added, "Hay muchas chiquitas bonita," or "There are many pretty girls."

    Garcia said city authorities were distributing flyers at the 10 main spring break hotels giving numbers for the U.S. Consulate and advising spring breakers not to drink or urinate in the streets, use drugs, start disturbances or destroy property.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos

     

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    Sea ice is pushing farther north than usual this year in parts of Antarctica, as shown in this Feb. 22 satellite image from NASA's Terra satellite. NASA Earth Observatory

    Strong winds make for strange sea ice patterns in the Southern Hemisphere.

    In the Weddell Sea along the coast of Antarctica, the sea ice stretched 124 to 186 miles north of its typical extent in January and February, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

    A satellite image snapped Feb. 22 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite shows Antarctic sea ice tightly packed in the Weddell Sea, next to the Larsen C Ice Shelf. Ice to the north appears thin, diffuse and broken up, Walt Meier, a scientist at the NSIDC, told NASA's Earth Observatory. Though the ice is thin, the region north of the Weddell Sea typically has little or no ice at all this time of year, the Earth Observatory reported.

    Cold winds driven by a persistent region of high pressure west of the Weddell Sea are responsible for the unusual ice pattern, according to the NSIDC. The high pressure means winds blow from east to north, pushing ice to the north. The wind pattern also brings cold air from the continent across the ice, keeping it from melting as it moves northward into warmer latitudes, the Earth Observatory wrote online.

    Reach Becky Oskin at boskin@techmedianetwork.com. Follow her on Twitter @beckyoskin. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter @OAPlanet. We're also on Facebook and Google+.

    Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Intense Blizzard Slams Central Plains

     

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    Engineers talk in front of a home where a sinkhole opened up underneath a bedroom late Thursday evening and swallowed a man, Saturday in Seffner, Fla. AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

    SEFFNER, Fla. (AP) - Engineers worked gingerly to find out more about a slowly growing sinkhole that swallowed a Florida man in his bedroom, believing the entire house could eventually succumb to the unstable ground.

    Jeff Bush, 37, was in his bedroom Thursday night when the earth opened and took him and everything else in his room. Five other people were in the house but managed to escape unharmed. Bush's brother jumped into the hole to try to help, but he had to be rescued himself by a sheriff's deputy.

    Engineers were expected at the home to do more tests after sunrise Saturday. They spent the previous day on the property, taking soil samples and running various tests - while acknowledging that the entire lot was dangerous. No one was allowed in the home.

    "I cannot tell you why it has not collapsed yet," Bill Bracken, the owner of an engineering company called to assess the sinkhole, said of the home. He described the earth below as a "very large, very fluid mass."

    "This is not your typical sinkhole," said Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill. "This is a chasm. For that reason, we're being very deliberate."

    Officials delicately addressed another sad reality: Bush was likely dead and the family wanted his body. Merrill, though, said they didn't want to jeopardize any more lives.

    "They would like us to go in quickly and locate Mr. Bush," Merrill said.

    Two adjacent houses were evacuated and officials were considering further evacuations. Even the media was moved from a lawn across the street to a safer area a few hundred feet away.

    "This is a very complex situation," said Hillsborough County Fire Chief Ron Rogers. "It's continuing to evolve and the ground is continuing to collapse."

    Sinkholes are so common in Florida that state law requires home insurers to provide coverage against the danger. While some cars, homes and other buildings have been devoured, it's extremely rare for them to swallow a person.

    Florida is highly prone to sinkholes because there are caverns below ground of limestone, a porous rock that easily dissolves in water.

    "You can almost envision a piece of Swiss cheese," Taylor Yarkosky, a sinkhole expert from Brooksville, Fla., said while gesturing to the ground and the sky blue home where the earth opened in Seffner. "Any house in Florida could be in that same situation."

    A sinkhole near Orlando grew to 400 feet across in 1981 and devoured five sports cars, most of two businesses, a three-bedroom house and the deep end of an Olympic-size swimming pool.

    More than 500 sinkholes have been reported in Hillsborough County alone since the government started keeping track in 1954, according to the state's environmental agency.

    The sinkhole, estimated at 20 feet across and 20 feet deep, caused the home's concrete floor to cave in around 11 p.m. Thursday as everyone in the Tampa-area house was turning in for the night. It gave way with a loud crash that sounded like a car hitting the house and brought Bush's brother running.

    Jeremy Bush said he jumped into the hole but couldn't see his brother and had to be rescued himself by a sheriff's deputy who reached out and pulled him to safety as the ground crumbled around him.

    "The floor was still giving in and the dirt was still going down, but I didn't care. I wanted to save my brother," Jeremy Bush said through tears Friday in a neighbor's yard. "But I just couldn't do nothing."

    He added: "I could swear I heard him hollering my name to help him."

    A dresser and the TV set had vanished down the hole, along with most of Bush's bed.

    A sheriff's deputy who was the first to respond to a frantic 911 call said when he arrived, he saw Jeremy Bush.

    Deputy Douglas Duvall said he reached down as if he was "sticking his hand into the floor" to help Jeremy Bush. Duvall said he didn't see anyone else in the hole.

    As he pulled Bush out, "everything was sinking," Duvall said.

    Engineers said they may have to demolish the small house, even though from the outside there appeared to be nothing wrong with the four-bedroom, concrete-wall structure, built in 1974.

    Jeremy Bush said someone came out to the home a couple of months ago to check for sinkholes and other things, apparently for insurance purposes.

    "He said there was nothing wrong with the house. Nothing. And a couple of months later, my brother dies. In a sinkhole," Bush said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    Alaska Goes Barking Mad For Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Mushers and their dogs took a leisurely jaunt through Anchorage on Saturday in the ceremonial start of Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

    The 1,000-mile race kicked off in a festive mood as 66 teams posed with fans and sailed their sleds 11 miles on streets covered with trucked-in snow. Each sled carried an Iditarider, a fan who won the short ride at auction.

    "Today is fun, with a capital F," said smiling veteran musher Aliy Zirkle, the runner-up in last year's race. "If you don't have a good time on Saturday with your dogs and all these fans, you're not in the right sport."

    The event comes ahead of the real, competitive start of the race Sunday in Willow, 50 miles to the north. This is when teams leave the big crowds behind for remote terrain shared mostly with their dogs.

    "Today we have fun. Tomorrow we're serious," defending champion Dallas Seavey, of Willow, said Saturday between chatting with spectators and signing autographs for fans, including Bunky Nistler of Beach, N.D.

    Nistler said the Iditarod was on her bucket list following her husband's death of cancer a year ago.

    "I've been in love with the Iditarod for over eight years," she said. "This was my dream of a lifetime."

    From Willow, where the race clock starts ticking, mushers and their dog teams will begin making their way through unforgiving wilderness toward the finish line in the old frontier town of Nome on Alaska's western coast. Before reaching their destination, the teams will cross mountains, frozen rivers and forests before hitting the wind-pummeled coast. They'll sign in at village checkpoints, sometimes stopping for mandatory layovers.

    The winner will get a new truck and $50,400. The rest of the $600,000 purse will be split between the next 29 mushers to cross the finish line.

    Participants in the 41st running of the race include six past Iditarod winners, including Seavey and his father, Mitch Seavey. Dallas Seavey also is among six past winners of the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, held just weeks before the Iditarod.

    Lance Mackey of Fairbanks - the only musher to ever win both races the same year - just scratched from the Quest in February because of a team of ailing dogs. He is going for a fifth win in the Iditarod, this time taking mostly young dogs and only four veterans from the Quest.

    At Saturday's ceremonial start, fans regularly stopped by to wish him luck.

    "This is like a pregame warm-up," Mackey said of the party-like atmosphere.

    Sunday will bring a more highly charged approach among contenders.

    "It's game time, and you get your game face on," Mackey said. "Put some blinders on - and go race."

    RELATED ON SKYE: Iconic Widescreen Images of the Iditarod

     

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    Jeremy Bush, right, is consoled by an unidentified woman Sunday as he sits outside a home where a sinkhole opened up underneath a bedroom late Thursday evening, swallowing his brother, Jeffrey Bush, in Seffner, Fla. Crews on Sunday began the demolition of the Florida home. AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

    SEFFNER, Fla. (AP) - Crews with heavy equipment on Sunday began the demolition of a Florida home over a huge sinkhole where a man is presumed dead after being swallowed by the earth three days ago.

    The search for Jeff Bush, 37, was called off Saturday, and a heavy machine with a large bucket scoop was moved into position Sunday on what was believed to be solid ground. The 20-foot-wide opening of the sinkhole was almost covered by the house, and rescuers said there were no signs of life since the hole opened Thursday night.

    Jeremy Bush, the man who tried to save his brother, was escorted with a woman by a deputy to the front of the house early Sunday before equipment moved into position. He repositioned some flowers from a makeshift memorial to a safer location, where Bush and the unidentified women knelt in prayer.

    People gathered on lawn chairs, bundled up with blankets against unusually chilly weather. Several dozen milled about within view, including officials and reporters.

    Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said officials had talked to Bush family Sunday. Crews would try their best to move the structure forward, toward the street, so the family can get some belongings, Merrill said.

    "We don't know, in fact, whether it will collapse or whether it will hold up," he said.

    He said crews' goal for Sunday is to knock down the house, and on Monday they will clear the debris as much as possible to allow officials and engineers to see the sinkhole in the open.

    Demolition paused Sunday later morning as firefighters just outside the home went through belongings found inside, putting items such as books, binders and what looked like photo albums into boxes. They gestured to the Bush family, positioned across the street, as they sorted the items.

    The Rev. John Martin Bell of Shoals Baptist Church said he had been with the Bush family all morning. "We just prayed with them," he said, adding that the family hopes to salvage keepsakes such as photographs.

    Bell said all five who lived in the house - Jeremy Bush, 35; his girlfriend, Rachel Wicker, 27; their daughter, Hannah, 2; and two others ages 50 and 45 - were in need of support and prayers from the community.

    Jeff Bush was in his bedroom Thursday night in Seffner - a suburb of 8,000 people 15 miles east of downtown Tampa - when the ground opened and took him and everything else in his room. Five others in the house escape unharmed as the earth crumbled.

    The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is conducting the investigation. Detective Larry McKinnon said that sheriff's office and the county medical examiner cannot declare Bush dead if his body is still missing. Under Florida law, Bush's family must petition a court to declare him deceased.

    "Based on the circumstances, he's presumed dead, however the official death certificate can only be issued by a judge and the family has to petition the court," McKinnon said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    Demolition experts watch as the home of Jeff Bush, 37, is destroyed Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Seffner, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

    SEFFNER, Fla. (AP) - Authorities hope to get a better look at a sinkhole that swallowed a man in his Florida home once demolition crews knock down the remaining walls of the house Monday and begin clearing away the debris.

    Crews on Sunday razed more than half the home, managing to salvage some keepsakes for family members who lived there.

    The opening of the sinkhole has been covered by the home, but once emergency officials and engineers can see inside it more clearly, they could begin planning how to deal with it. They also need to decide what will happen to the two homes on either side of the now-demolished house. Experts say the sinkhole has "compromised" those homes, but it's unclear whether steps can be taken to save them.

    Jeremy Bush, 35, tried to save his brother, Jeff, when the earth opened up and swallowed him Thursday night.

    On Sunday morning, Bush and relatives prayed with a pastor as the home - where he lived with his girlfriend, Rachel Wicker; their daughter, Hannah, 2; and others - was demolished and waited for firefighters to salvage anything possible from inside. The home was owned by Leland Wicker, Rachel's grandfather, since the 1970s.

    The operator of the heavy equipment worked gingerly, first taking off a front wall. Family belongings were scooped onto the lawn gently in hopes of salvaging parts of the family's 40-year history in the home.

    As of Sunday afternoon - when demolition had stopped for the day and only a few walls remained - a Bible, family photos, a jewelry box and a pink teddy bear for Hannah were among the items saved. Firefighters also were able to pick out the purse of one of the women in the home.

    Cheers went up from family, friends and neighbors each time something valuable was salvaged.

    Wanda Carter, the daughter of Leland Wicker, cradled the large family Bible in her arms. She said her mother and father had stored baptism certificates, cards and photos between the pages of that Bible over the years.

    "It means that God is still in control, and He knew we needed this for closure," she said, crying.

    Carter said she spent from age 11 to 20 in the home, and she had to close her eyes as the home was knocked down.

    "Thank you for all of the memories and life it gave us," she said.

    The Rev. John Martin Bell of Shoals Baptist Church said he had been with the family all morning. "We just prayed with them," he said. He added that all five who lived in the house - Bush, Wicker, Hannah and two others, ages 50 and 45 - were in need of support and prayers from the community.

    Several generations of family members lived in the home at the time of the ground collapse, including Jeff Bush, the man now presumed dead.

    Jeremy Bush tried to save his brother by jumping into the sinking dirt hole. He had to be pulled out of the still-shifting hole by a Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy, who was visibly shaken when talking about the incident more than a day later.

    "I've never seen anything move so fast and do so much destruction," Deputy Douglas Duvall said.

    The search for Jeff Bush, 37, was called off Saturday. He was in his bedroom Thursday night in Seffner - a suburb of 8,000 people 15 miles east of downtown Tampa - when the ground opened and took him and everything else in his room. Five others in the house at the time escape unharmed as the earth crumbled.

    The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is conducting the investigation. Detective Larry McKinnon said the sheriff's office and the county medical examiner cannot declare Bush dead if his body is still missing. Under Florida law, Bush's family must petition a court to declare him deceased.

    "Based on the circumstances, he's presumed dead; however, the official death certificate can only be issued by a judge and the family has to petition the court," McKinnon said.

    The area around Seffner is known for sinkholes due to the geography of the terrain, but they are rarely deadly. No one - from longtime public safety officials to geologists - could remember an incident where a person was sucked into the earth without warning.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    In this photo taken Sunday, March 3, 2013, a vehicle of Kazuyo Miyashita is seen after being dug out of the snow along a road in Nakashibetsu, Hokkaido, northern Japan. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

    TOKYO (AP) - Heavy snow that fell in northern Japan over the weekend killed eight people on Hokkaido island, including a family whose car became buried.

    Kazuyo Miyashita, 40, her two daughters Misa, 17, and Sayo, 14, and her son Daiki, 11, died at a hospital Saturday night of carbon-monoxide poisoning after their vehicle got buried in the snow, according to Kyodo news service.

    Separately, Haruna Kitagawa, 23, froze to death after leaving her car stuck in the snow. A 53-year-old man died Sunday after getting buried in the snow, although his 9-year-old daughter found with him was recovering, Kyodo said.

    Also over the weekend, a 54-year-old man and a 76-year-old man were found collapsed in the snow in another part of Hokkaido, and both were confirmed dead, it said.

    The storm caused two-meter-high (six-and-a-half-feet) drifts and was blamed for derailing a bullet train in Akita prefecture, south of Hokkaido, on Saturday afternoon. Kyodo said the passenger train was moving slowly because of the heavy snow on the tracks, and the derailment caused no injuries.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    Firefighters work on a damaged building after a 5.5-magnitude earthquake hit southwest China's Yunnan Province, Sunday, March 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Ge Shangneng)

    BEIJING (AP) - A moderate earthquake collapsed hundreds of homes and injured at least 30 people in southwest China.

    The earthquake bureau in Yunnan province, where the quake occurred Sunday, said three of the injured people were in serious condition.

    The official Xinhua News Agency said the quake damaged 2,500 houses and caused 700 others to collapse.

    About 55,000 people were affected by the quake, Xinhua said, citing Yunnan's Civil Affairs Department. Supplies were on their way to the quake-hit area, including 6,000 tents.

    The magnitude-5.5 quake struck 51 kilometers (32 miles) from the city of Dali at a depth of 33 kilometers (20 miles), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

    About 34 aftershocks were recorded after the quake, Xinhua said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    Russian 'Meteor Disneyland' to Become New Tourist Attraction

    Russia is reportedly looking into making parts of the Chelyabinsk territory where the meteor struck last month into a new tourist attraction -- a "meteor Disneyland," of sorts. The site also happens to be the location where a facility exploded, resulting in the release of radioactive waste and the deaths of hundreds. Still, according to this report, Russian officials believe the presence of space rocks will help the region overcome its stigma as a "radioactive wasteland."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Jaw-Dropping Meteor Explosion

     

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    Impacts from a storm targeting millions of people in the eastern states will range from travel disruptions and power outages caused by heavy snow to coastal flooding from storm surge.

    A major storm will bring heavy snow from parts of North Carolina to portions of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, spanning Wednesday into Thursday.

    The storm will be moving through the central Appalachians toward the mid-Atlantic coast during the middle of the week, after blasting portions of the Plains and Midwest Monday into Tuesday.

    Snow

    Based on the latest information, the area that is most likely to receive a foot or more of snow lies across the higher elevations of eastern West Virginia into western parts of Virginia.

    Charlottesville, Roanoke, Harrisonburg and Winchester, Va.; Frederick and Hagerstown, Md., and Martinsburg, W.Va. appear to have some of the greatest snow potential. This potential would be dangerous, travel-haulting snow. The weight of heavy snow can bring down trees and power lines in this area.

    However, dozens of other cities in the region could receive anywhere from a couple of inches of slush to a foot or more of back-breaking snow. These include Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Md., Richmond, Va., Dover, Del., and Vineland, N.J. These areas are likely to receive rain during part of the storm and a larger percentage of the snow that falls is more likely to melt for a time.

    There is still the risk the storm strengthens upon nearing the coast and either turns farther to the north or grows in size spreading snow and other effects farther north.

    Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg are also on the bubble with the chance of a period of heavier snow that can bring a big accumulation or lesser snow to primarily a rain/snow mix. These details will not be known until the storm is virtually under way. A shift in track of the storm and its heavy snow by 50 miles can make the difference.

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    New York City is likely to be on the northernmost edge of the lesser snow area. Unless the storm stalls and expands substantially northward, a heavy snowfall appears to be a low probability. Southeastern New England and Long Island, which extend out into the Atlantic a bit more, have a slightly higher chance of a period of accumulating snow.

    A slightly more southerly track would throw heavier snow farther south over western and central North Carolina. As a result folks in Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Raleigh, N.C., and Norfolk, Va., should watch this storm closely.

    Wind, Coastal Flooding and Beach Erosion

    Based on the latest information, AccuWeather.com meteorologists feel this storm will deliver the punch of a moderate to strong nor'easter. Such storms produce winds over a large fetch of water and drive that water toward the coast. The shape of the coast and wind direction determines which areas are most susceptible to coastal flooding. The duration and strength of the onshore wind determines the severity of the water rise.

    Winds can become strong enough to cause sporadic power outages from eastern North Carolina to southern New Jersey. Gusts to 60 mph are possible. A 24 to 48 hour period of pounding surf will cause moderate beach erosion in these areas. Offshore seas can reach 30 feet.

    Areas from eastern North Carolina to southern New Jersey are most likely to have coastal flooding problems during times of high tide Wednesday into Thursday. While it is a bit too early to be highly confident on water level rises, there is a chance of tides levels running between 2 to 4 feet above published values. Fortunately, astronomical impact around the time of the storm be minimal with significant distance between the new and full moon phases.

    Because of the track and speed as to which the storm will strengthen, the risk of coastal flooding problems over portions of the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays cannot be eliminated at this time. There may be a period where winds are from a direction to cause water to back up.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    A winter storm will spread a swath of heavy snow from the Dakotas to the Ohio Valley early this week.

    This is the same winter storm which could bring significant snow to Washington D.C. and Baltimore metro areas with dangerous coastal flooding along the East Coast Wednesday into Thursday.

    This storm, which has already brought accumulating snow to the northern Rockies and rain showers as far south as San Francisco and Salt Lake City, ejected out into the Plains Sunday night.

    Steady snow developed across eastern Montana through northern Iowa, with accumulations beginning in Bismarck, Fargo, and Watertown, S.D.

    Snow will continue eastward, spreading into Minneapolis, Eau Claire, and Chicago during the day Monday into Monday night.

    Snow will begin toward the evening rush hours in Chicago, which could lead to hazardous road conditions developing while millions are traveling home.

    The heaviest snow in the corridor from Minneapolis to Chicago is then expected Monday night into Tuesday morning with snowfall rates of up to 1 inch per hour. This will lead to significant travel problems across I-35, I-43, I-90, I-29, and I-94.

    AccuWeather.com Meteorologists are expecting snowfall accumulations on the order of 6-12 inches from Fargo, N.D. through Minneapolis, Minn. through the southern suburbs of Chicago.
    Minneapolis would need an accumulation of nearly a foot to surpass their biggest storm of the season, which was the 10.5 inches that fell way back on December 9th.

    In the city of Chicago, approximately 6 inches of snow accumulation is expected through Tuesday with lesser amounts to the north toward Racine and Milwaukee, Wisc. An accumulation of 6 inches would surpass the biggest storm of the season in Chicago, which to date is 5.4 inches that fell Feb. 26th-27th.

    Snow will spread farther to the east on Tuesday, bringing accumulations to Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Toledo.

    6+ inches of snow is likely Tuesday into Tuesday night from the northern suburbs of Indianapolis to near Gary with a corridor of 3-6 inches as far north as Kalamazoo, Mich. and Toledo, Ohio.

    Moderate snow accumulations will then streak through central Ohio into the central Appalachians Tuesday night into Wednesday before our attention turns to the mid-Atlantic part of the country.

    AccuWeather.com Meteorologists will continue to update this story and our forecasted snow amounts as this storm takes shape across the Plains tonight into Monday. Any slight fluctuation in the track of the system could mean the difference between heavy, travel disrupting snow or nuisance, lighter amounts.

    Check back with AccuWeather.com and also click over to our Winter Weather Center for a larger version of our latest snowfall forecast map.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 15 Photos of Monster Blizzards

     

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    March 4, 2013

    Maury Lawson drags his suitcase through the snow Monday, March 4, while crossing N.P. Avenue in Fargo, N.D., on his way to the bus depot. (AP Photo/Michael Vosburg, The Forum)

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A late-season snowstorm that blanketed parts of the Dakotas on Monday was threatening to do the same to cities from Minneapolis to Chicago, which were bracing for as much as 10 inches of powder.

    The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for a long swath stretching across the Upper Midwest from North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, then southeastward into western and southern Wisconsin, northeastern Iowa, northern Illinois, northern Indiana and into western and central Ohio.

    "There's quite a variance (in precipitation) depending on where you are, but overall it's a pretty large storm system," said Dave Kellenbenz, a weather service meteorologist in Grand Forks, N.D.

    North Dakota took the brunt of the storm early Monday. In the northeast part of the state, Devils Lake had 11 inches of snow by midmorning, and a foot of snow fell in Sarles about 60 miles to the north. In southeastern North Dakota and parts of eastern South Dakota, freezing rain that coated roads was more of a problem but there were no immediate reports of major accidents.

    No travel was advised in several North Dakota counties, while many schools started classes late or canceled them for the day, as did a handful in Minnesota.

    Morning commuters in the Twin Cities area got a foretaste of the storm as they were greeted with up to an inch of snow. While rush-hour traffic slowed on many major metro highways, few accidents were reported. The relative lack of problems prompted Lt. Eric Roseke, spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol, to drop his plan to tweet accident totals, as he customarily does in major snowstorms.

    Few delays were reported at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

    Morning snowfall totals reached 4 inches in Vesta, Wanamingo and a few other parts of southern Minnesota, but only 1.4 inches in Minneapolis. Still, the weather service said the snowfall was expected to intensify in the afternoon and evening.

    More than 10 inches of snow was possible from northwestern Minnesota down into southwestern Wisconsin, including the Twin Cities, by Tuesday evening, according to the weather service.

    As the storm moves east, Milwaukee could get as much as 3 to 5 inches of snow and other areas in far southeastern Wisconsin could get as much as 6 to 8 inches Tuesday. The Chicago area and other parts of northern Illinois were forecast to get 7 to 10 inches by Tuesday night.

    The weather service warned that the greatest impact in the Chicago area would be felt during the Tuesday evening rush hour, and that travel through Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports was likely to be significantly affected Tuesday.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 15 Photos of Monster Blizzards
    Midwest Blizzard

     

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    This image provided by NASA shows an image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory of a blast of plasma streaming from the sun in August 2012. (AP Photo/NASA)

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Curiosity hunkered down after the sun unleashed a blast that raced toward Mars.

    While the hardy rover was designed to withstand punishing space weather, its handlers decided to power it down as a precaution since it suffered a recent computer problem.

    "We're being more careful," project manager Richard Cook of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Wednesday.

    While Curiosity slept, the Opportunity rover and two NASA spacecraft circling overhead carried on with normal activities.

    On Tuesday, scientists noticed a huge flare erupting from the sun that hurled a stream of radiation in Mars' direction. The solar burst also spawned a cloud of superheated gas that barreled toward the red planet at 2 million mph.

    The eruption did not appear severe or extreme, but "middle of the road, all things considered" said space weather chief Bob Rutledge at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    The solar tempest was not expected to have an impact on Earth. In the past, such outbursts have triggered solar storms with the ability to disrupt utility grids, airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services. They're also known to produce shimmering auroras in places farther from the poles.

    Since Mars lacks a planet-wide magnetic field, it does not experience geomagnetic storms. Rather, the planet sees a spike in radiation, Rutledge said.

    Powerful solar blasts can cause trouble to Mars spacecraft. In 2003, an intense solar flare knocked out the radiation detector on the Odyssey orbiter.

    NASA does not expect similar drama from the latest solar activity.

    In the worst-case scenario, one or more of the working Mars spacecraft may enter "safe mode" in which science activities are halted, but they remain in contact with Earth.

    "We'll be watching and seeing what happens," said Roger Gibbs, JPL deputy manager for the Mars exploration program.

    The unsettled space weather comes as Curiosity is recovering from a memory hiccup that put its science experiments on hold. It was the first major problem to hit the car-size rover since it landed last year in an ancient crater near the Martian equator to hunt for the chemical building blocks of life.

    Engineers were in the middle of troubleshooting when they decided to wait for the weather to pass. The delay means it'll take longer for Curiosity to return to analyzing the pinch of rock powder it collected from a recent drilling.

    Since its instruments are turned off, it can't use its radiation sensor to track the solar particles.

    "It's just bad timing," Cook said.

     

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