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SKYE on AOL

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    The curtain will open Monday for a dangerous, multi-day severe thunderstorm outbreak across the nation as a major storm system emerges from the Rockies.

    A few storms on Sunday across Kansas already brought hail up to the size of golfballs near Wichita. There was even a weak, rope-shaped tornado that damaged a barn and radio tower near Paradise.

    Unfortunately, Sunday's severe storms were just a taste of what is to come this week.

    Instead of cooler and drier air replacing Sunday's violent weather, the stage has become set for several widespread rounds of potentially damaging thunderstorms to erupt Monday afternoon, and continue pushing slowly eastward each day though midweek.

    On Monday afternoon, AccuWeather.com meteorologists are especially concerned for numerous severe thunderstorms, including a few tornadoes, to target places in and around northwestern Kansas - home to the communities of Goodland and Colby.

    A few violent thunderstorms are also expected to erupt eastward to Omaha, Neb., and just north of Kansas City, Mo., and southward across Altus, Okla., and Junction, Texas.

    The severe thunderstorms that erupt Monday afternoon should shift to northern Missouri, southern Iowa and central Kansas at night, but will diminish after Monday evening across western Oklahoma and north-central Texas.

    The caboose of this multi-day severe weather danger for the central and southern Plains will come on Tuesday, and could lead to one of the worst severe weather outbreaks so far this season.

    Tuesday's outbreak will commence from far southeastern Nebraska and central Kansas to north-central Texas in the afternoon.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center
    First Alert of Impending Severe Weather
    Denver, Rapid City: Blizzard Follows Weekend Warmth


    Severe thunderstorms will then increase in coverage through Tuesday night as the danger zone expands across more of central Texas, eastern Oklahoma, eastern Kansas, western Arkansas and western Missouri.

    "Cities that could be hit by dangerous and damaging weather conditions during Tuesday [also spanning the overnight hours] include Dallas/Fort Worth, Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan.," stated AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski when he warned of the danger last week.

    Springfield and Joplin, Mo., and Tulsa, Okla., are among the other cities in harm's way.

    Thunderstorms on Tuesday could bring strong tornadoes, hail as large as baseballs, and wind gusts as high as 60 or 70 mph.

    On Wednesday, the severe weather danger will focus on places from St. Louis and Cape Girardeau, Mo., to Tyler and Houston, Texas.

    Residents throughout the central and southern Plains should continue to check back with AccuWeather.com for the latest updates on the impending violent and dangerous weather.

    Those living in places where the severe weather, including the danger of tornadoes, will occur at night should figure out a plan of how to avoid sleeping through potentially life-saving warnings.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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    After a blast of weekend warmth, residents from Denver to Cheyenne to Rapid City may find it hard to believe that a blizzard is on the way.

    The blizzard threatens to bring northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, western South Dakota and western Nebraska to a standstill Monday night through Tuesday.

    Strong winds severely blowing around heavy snow will dramatically reduce visibility and make driving extremely difficult, if not impossible. Officials may be forced to close stretches of interstates 25, 70, 80, 76 and 90.

    That is true even though the Front Range is in the midst of a mild stretch of weather, which has helped warm road surfaces, and the strength of the April sun. The snow will come down hard enough to overcome both obstacles.

    Parents should prepare for school closures, while airline passengers will likely face cancellations and/or lengthy delays.

    Cities in the path of the blizzard include Denver, Fort Collins and Sterling, Colo., Casper, Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyo., Scottsbluff and Chadron, Neb., and Rapid City, S.D. Snowfall totals in and around these cities will approach or top a foot.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Winter Weather Center
    AccuWeather.com Temperature Maps
    Multi-Day Severe Weather on Plains Starts Today


    The blizzard is in the works despite the warm weekend that has unfolded across the Front Range. For many, the warmth will persist through Monday with temperatures set to soar back into the 60s across most of northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska.

    This warmth will also help set the stage for another round of severe weather across the central and southern Plains later Monday.

    Cold air plunging southward and interacting with the storm moving through the West is all that is needed for the blizzard to take shape.

    The cold shot headed to Denver will be so intense that temperatures will plunge from the 60s at sunset Monday to the teens by daybreak Tuesday.

    The difference in high temperatures from Monday to Tuesday will range from 20 to 40 degrees in Denver and elsewhere where the blizzard will howl.

    A similar drop in temperatures will occur in Pueblo and Trinidad, Colo., despite these cities escaping the burying snow.

    Before the blizzard unfolds in Denver, Cheyenne and Rapid City Monday night, accumulating snow will first push through Montana and North Dakota on Monday.

    Then after the blizzard winds down Tuesday night, AccuWeather.com meteorologists will be monitoring the potential for the snow to shift eastward across the Upper Midwest.

    The impending blizzard is not entirely bad news for the Front Range. Runoff from the snow, which will quickly melt once milder air arrives later in the week, will bring needed moisture to the region's parched soil.

    Much of the Front Range is currently suffering from an extreme to exceptional drought, according to the latest report from the United States Drought Monitor.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 22 People More Sick of Winter Than You Are

     

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    The Large Underground Xenon detector in Homestake mine in South Dakota could reveal the particles that make up dark matter. (Credit: Matt Kapust, Sanford Laboratory)

    While the world's largest atom smasher was busy finding the Higgs boson particle - thought to explain why other particles have mass - physicists have been quietly building giant underground laboratories deep beneath the Earth.

    No, scientists aren't hiding the next James Bond supervillain down there. Instead, they are working more than a mile beneath the Earth's crust to find some of the universe's most elusive particles.

    The layers of rock may harbor evidence of a new force and shield delicate experiments from cosmic rays and other high-energy particles, allowing ultrarare particles to reveal themselves. From the unparticle to WIMPs, here are some mysterious particles that could be lurking underground.

    The unparticle

    Physicists are hunting for a new fundamental force within Earth's mantle. The unparticle, which behaves both as photons and mass-bearing particles do, could be responsible for long-range spin interactions, a new force that causes the electrons in atoms to align their spins over long distances.

    To find evidence of the new force, researchers mapped out the electron density and spin within the Earth's mantle and are now investigating whether these subterranean electrons are affecting how neutrons and electrons spin in two experiments separated by about 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers). If the electrons in the mantle are transmitting a force to those particles in lab experiments, it should change the frequency at which they spin. Then the new force would join gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces in dictating the behavior of the universe. [50 Amazing Facts About Planet Earth]

    Dark-matter particles

    The universe is filled with invisible stuff called dark matter, whose gravitational pull is thought to keep galaxies from flying apart. Leading theories propose that dark matter is made up of weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs, that rarely interact with ordinary matter.

    Several labs, including the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) Detector in Homestake, S.D., rely on the Earth's crust to shield experiments from cosmic rays that could drown out the few interactions of WIMPs with regular atoms. So far, traces of WIMPs have been few and far between, but with several experiments ongoing, evidence of WIMPs could be revealed within the next few years.

    Solar neutrinos

    Physicists at Gran Sasso National Laboratory, a particle detector buried a mile beneath an Italian mountain, have caught solar neutrinos in the act of changing types, or "flavors." The sun's nuclear reactions create these chargeless particles, but leading theories suggest they change flavor as they traveled to the Earth. As a result, physicists looking for certain flavors of solar neutrinos have measured fewer solar neutrinos of those flavors than they expected.

    Solar neutrinos rarely interact with matter, but by shooting beams of the particles 454 miles from the physics lab CERN to the underground lab in Gran Sasso, physicists managed to catch the particles in the act of changing flavor. The finding confirms that neutrinos do change flavor as they travel from the sun.

    Finding geoneutrinos

    Neutrinos may form at the sun, but they also are produced from radioactive elements within Earth's mantle. The Gran Sasso Lab also has isolated some of these so-called geoneutrinos, which form when radioactive uranium or thorium decays. The new particles could explain how much heat forms inside the Earth, driving the motion of tectonic plates. To catch these geoneutrinos emanating from the Earth's mantle, the researchers use an oil-based fluid that scintillates, or gives off light, when subatomic particles bump into the fluid. The researchers identified the geoneutrinos because they emit a positron followed by a neutron when bumping into the atoms of the fluid, which gives of a characteristic flash of light.

    Nucleon decay

    Although many subatomic particles break down into other particles, so far no one has caught the decay of protons or neutrons, which make up the nuclei of atoms. Nucleon decay is predicted by Grand Unified Theories that seek to explain everything in physics.

    To find evidence of this rare decay, scientists at the Super-Kamiokande experiment under Mount Kamioka in Japan have spent several years hunting for nucleon decay. Even if it takes protons one hundred hundred thousand million billion trillion (or 10 raised to the 34th power) years to decay, the detectors should be able to find at least a few of these events. So far, though, Super K still hasn't found any evidence of proton decay.

    Follow Tia Ghose on Twitter @tiaghose. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

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

     

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    The B-15T iceberg, spotted here off the Mawson Coast in East Antarctica, is a remnant of the world's largest recorded iceberg. (Credit: NASA)

    Swept halfway around Antarctica by ocean currents, a remnant of the world's largest recorded iceberg still drifts at sea, a new satellite image reveals.

    Spotted near the Mawson Coast in East Antarctica on March 16 by NASA's Aqua satellite, the B-15T iceberg was once part of the 4,250-square-mile B-15 iceberg. NASA's satellite snapped a shot of the 13-year-old iceberg floating near the Amery Ice Shelf, far from its birthing ground, the Antarctic Sun reported.

    The enormous B-15 berg peeled away from Antarctica' Ross Ice Shelf in March 2000, quickly shattering into a number of smaller ice chunks. But in this case, small is relative, as fragment B-15A was 2,470 square miles and clogged McMurdo Sound. The extreme pack ice in McMurdo Sound killed some emperor penguins and forced others to move to less-than-ideal breeding grounds, researchers found.

    It's not unusual for icebergs to survive for up to 25 years if they stay in Antarctica's chilly coastal waters, but the ice will quickly melt if they travel north. Scientists spotted another 'berg fragment, B-15J, disintegrating about 1,700 miles southeast of New Zealand in December 2011.

    Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @OAPlanet, Facebook or Google+. Original article on LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.

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


    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Breathtaking Images of Islands, Rivers and Seas from Space

     

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    Tourist watch the massive bird gathering on the cliffs in the La Jolla section of San Diego, Tuesday, April 2, 2013. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

    SAN DIEGO (AP) - La Jolla's jagged coastline is strictly protected by environmental laws to ensure the San Diego community remains the kind of seaside jewel that has attracted swanky restaurants, top-flight hotels and some of the nation's rich and famous, including billionaire businessman Irwin Jacobs and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

    Tourists flock to the place. So do birds. Lots of birds. And with those birds comes lots of bird poop.

    So, rather than gasping in amazement at the beautiful views, some are holding their noses from the stench coming from the droppings that cake coastal rocks and outcroppings near its business district.

    "We've had to relocate tables inside because when people go out to the patio, some are like 'Oh my god, I can't handle the smell,'" said Christina Collignon, a hostess at Eddie V's, a steak and seafood restaurant perched on a cliff straight up from the guano-coated rocks.

    On a recent afternoon, tourists on spring break walked along the sea wall. Some scrunched up their faces in disgust.

    "It smells like something dead," said Meghan Brummett as she looked at the birds with her husband and children. The family was visiting from Brawley, a farming town two hours east of San Diego.

    Biologists say the odor is the smell of success: Environmental protections put in place over the past few decades have brought back endangered species.

    Cormorants and brown pelicans nearly became extinct in the 1970s because of the pesticide DDT. The brown pelican was taken off the federal endangered species list in 2010, and its population, including the Caribbean and Latin America, is estimated at more than 650,000. The total U.S. cormorant population is about 2 million.

    La Jolla is a state-designated area of "special biological significance." That means California strictly regulates its waters to protect its abundant marine life, which also attracts birds.

    "We're kind of a victim of our own success," said Robert Pitman, a marine biologist at the National Marine Fisheries Service in La Jolla. "We've provided a lot of bird protections, so now we're getting a lot of birds. I think we're going to be seeing more of these conflicts come about, and I think we'll have to deal with them on a case-by-case basis. I think there'll have to be compromises all around."

    In Canada, guano from cormorants has been blamed for the destruction of native vegetation, while in Mississippi, catfish farmers loathe the sleek, black birds because their keen fishing skills cost them millions every year.

    In La Jolla, the birds took over the rocks after the city prohibited people from walking there years ago for safety reasons. There has been little rain to wash away the feces.

    George Hauer, who owns the gourmet restaurant George's At The Cove, launched an online petition that has garnered more than 1500 signatures. It states: "The cormorant colony at the La Jolla cove has reached critical mass with their excrement. The smell is overtaking the entire village. The result is a loss of business and a potential public health disaster."

    Any cleaning method will require a permit, city officials say. The area is regulated by several government agencies. Washing it with a non-toxic solution would cause concern because of the run off into the ocean, state officials say. Even using just water could cause problems since guano discharged into the ocean in high concentrations would be considered a pollutant.

    San Diego Mayor Bob Filner - lauded by animal lovers for placing a security camera at a nearby beach to catch anyone harassing seals there - has promised to find a fix. He wants something a solution before summer arrives and tourism peaks. He's suggesting the rocks be "vacuumed," but hasn't supplied details.

    Pitman said vacuuming would not work. He personally recommends something simpler: Sounding a horn over a period of weeks to scare off the birds.

    Jessica Manns said it would be a shame to see the birds relocate.

    "I think they are a tourist attraction and this is a tourist area so it probably wouldn't be a good idea to try to get rid of them," said Manns, a waitress who often hears complaints about the stench wafting by the seaside tables at the Goldfish Point Cafe.

    On a recent afternoon, nearby tourists snapped photos of the cormorants and pelicans standing stoically on their droppings next to seals, basking in the sun.

    "I guess it's the price you have to pay for having a locale this close to paradise," said waiter Anton Marek. "I wish there was something we could do about it honestly, but it's also a part of nature. People come here because they want to see nature."

    He added with a shrug: "Poop is a part of nature."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 10 Travel Hot Spots for 2013

     

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    (AP Photo)

    SEATTLE (AP) - Mud, trees and rocks hit an Amtrak passenger train traveling through Washington state Sunday morning, causing several cars to derail, according to a railway spokesman.

    There were no injuries reported in the mudslide that knocked off the dining car and two coach cars, the last three railcars on the train, said Gus Melonas, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which owns the tracks.

    The train was travelling south from Everett on the way to Seattle when the slide hit around 8:30 a.m., Melonas said. The train, known as the Empire Builder, started Friday in Chicago.

    None of the 86 passengers or 11 crew members on board were injured, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari confirmed.

    The derailed cars were disconnected, and the passengers were taken to Mukilteo, Wash., where they were transferred to a bus bound for Seattle, according to BNSF and Amtrak.

    The cause of the slide is under investigation by Amtrak and BNSF officials.

    It was not immediately clear how long Amtrak passenger service would be affected, Magliari said.

    Washington state has been plagued by mudslides this winter and spring, repeatedly closing tracks that carry Amtrak trains, plus freight and commuter lines.

    The tracks where the Empire Builder was damaged were closed as recently as March 21, due to mudslides.

    A freight train derailed on the same stretch of tracks in October.

    "This has been one of the most problematic years we've faced, historically," Melonas said. "It's due to day after day after day of successive rainfall."

    BNSF is working on solutions to stop mudslides in the area, Melonas said.

    Sunday's slide fell about 100 feet down a slope and covered the tracks in debris about 30-feet-long and 15-feet-deep.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Surprising Ways to Predict the Weather

     

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    Updated Monday, April 8, 2013, 5:08 p.m. PT

    Waves hit the Redondo Beach Pier in Redondo Beach, Calif., Monday, April 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Powerful winds raked much of California on Monday, toppling trees, causing scattered power outages, whipping up blinding dust storms, and sending waves crashing ashore as a vigorous spring weather system swept through the state on its way across the West.

    Rising winds were reported in Arizona, where 34 miles of Interstate 40 near Winslow had to be closed to traffic.

    In Phoenix, blowing dust obscured the mountains surrounding the city, and at least four people were injured in a pileup when two semi-trucks jackknifed in a dust storm on Interstate 10 in southern Arizona. The injuries were not life-threatening.

    New Mexico was expected to start feeling the impact late Monday and in Colorado, the blustery system was expected to bring up to 2 feet of snow.

    Northern California was first to feel the lashing blasts, which spread to the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.

    At least a dozen trees came down in San Francisco, police officer John Tozzini told KGO-TV, which reported that more than 20,000 utility customers lost power in the region. A swath of electrical outages occurred across the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the Sacramento Bee reported.

    The northwest-to-north winds were punctuated with gusts topping 80 mph at some Southern California points.

    The blustery system was being fueled by a cold front.

    "It's just a cold, really strong upper low," said Carol Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, Calif.

    Whitecaps flecked the Pacific Ocean along the California coast, where gale warnings and small craft advisories were posted. Recreational boaters were warned to stay in port. Wind-driven swells slapped over the tops of breakwaters and turned waves into a churning froth under piers at points such as Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach on the Los Angeles County coast.

    Blowing dust forced the California Highway Patrol to close State Route 14 in the high desert Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles due to low visibility. Officer Michael Farrell said minor accidents occurred as motorists stopped on the road and were hit from behind by other cars. No major injuries were immediately reported.

    Areas of the north San Fernando Valley experienced electrical outages as tree branches tangled with power lines in at least two areas, said Michelle Vargas, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. About 740 homes in Sylmar and 15 homes in Pacoima were affected.

    About 2,700 homes were without power Monday afternoon because of at least five downed utility poles in the remote desert area of Borrego Springs in San Diego County, according to Amber Albrecht, spokeswoman for San Diego Gas and Electric.

    Southern California Edison reported major weather-related outages throughout the San Gabriel Valley, with the lights out for 4,178 customers in Rosemead, 2,580 in Monterey Park and 1,443 in Altadena.

    In Ventura County, the power was out for 1,115 homes. Outages also affected more than 200 homes in Garden Grove and more than 80 homes in La Habra.

    Air quality alerts were issued for northern Santa Barbara County and adjacent southern San Luis Obispo County because of blowing dust and sand.

    The massive rush of air also had an upside. California's main power grid manager, the Independent System Operator, reported that turbines spinning within the ISO grid produced a record of 4,196 megawatts at 6:44 p.m. Sunday. The previous record was 3,944 megawatts on March 3.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Breathtaking Images of Earth from Space

    Earth from Space

     

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    Updated Tuesday, April 9, 11:20 a.m. ET

    (AP Photo)

    DENVER (AP) - A storm that toppled trees, whipped up blinding dust storms and may have spawned some tornadoes closed highways in Wyoming Tuesday and was slowing flights at Denver International Airport.

    In Wyoming, a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 25 between Cheyenne and Douglas was closed as well as a 125-mile section of I-80 between Laramie and Rawlins. More than a foot of snow had fallen as of midmorning in Lander. In Pine Bluffs, near the Nebraska border, wind has created 1- to 2- foot drifts out of the snow that has fallen there.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Photos of Breathtaking Winter Landscapes
    Yosemite WinterWind gusts up to 71 mph damaged a marina and windows in Sweetwater County.

    The storm has so far proved less potent than originally predicted in Colorado because the cold front lingered in Wyoming.

    Up to around 10 inches of snow had fallen in Colorado's mountains by dawn Tuesday. Another 5 to 10 inches was possible in some locations but final snowfall amounts would vary quite a bit, National Weather Service forecaster Jim Daniels said.

    Up to a foot had been in expected in Denver but forecasters are now calling for around 5 inches.

    The storm has canceled 465 flights at Denver International Airport and deicing was causing departing flights to be delayed by as much as a half hour.

    Blizzard warnings are also in effect from south of Denver to the New Mexico line and in northwestern Colorado. Winds gusting up to 50 mph were expected there.

    As the storm moved in Monday night, spotters reported two tornadoes near Akron in eastern Colorado.

    Northern California was first to feel the lashing blasts of the storm Monday, which spread to the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.

    At least a dozen trees came down in San Francisco, police officer John Tozzini told KGO-TV, which reported that more than 20,000 utility customers lost power in the region. A swath of outages occurred across the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the Sacramento Bee reported.

    A tree smashed into a Sacramento home where four friends were playing bridge, but they didn't stop playing their game Monday, according to KCRA.

    Gusts topped 80 mph at some places in Southern California. The blustery system was being fueled by a cold front.

    "It's just a cold, really strong upper low," said Carol Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, Calif.

    Whitecaps flecked the Pacific Ocean along the California coast, where gale warnings and small craft advisories were posted. Recreational boaters were warned to stay in port. Wind-driven swells slapped over the tops of breakwaters and turned waves into a churning froth under piers at points such as Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach on the Los Angeles County coast.

    The wind turned small wildfires into big problems in some areas, including a blaze in Fillmore about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles that burned two homes and forced the evacuation of 84 homes.

    Blowing dust forced the closure of state Route 14 in the high desert Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles due to low visibility. Officer Michael Farrell said motorists who stopped on the road were hit from behind by other cars, but no major injuries were reported.

    The power went out for more than 13,000 Southern Californians because of the winds and the weather.

    The rush of air had an upside: California's main power grid manager, the Independent System Operator, reported that turbines spinning within the ISO grid produced a record of 4,196 megawatts Sunday. The previous record was 3,944 megawatts on March 3.

    In Arizona, gusty winds produced by a cold front enveloped Phoenix in a dusty haze and closed 34 miles of Interstate 40 in the northern part of the state for several hours Monday. At least four people were injured in a pileup when two semi-trucks jackknifed in a dust storm on I-10 in southern Arizona. The injuries were not life-threatening.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 22 People More Sick of Winter Than You Are

     

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    High winds create a dust haze around a new community, Monday, April 8, 2013 in Gilbert, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    LOS ANGELES (AP) - Powerful winds raked much of California on Monday, toppling trees, spreading wildfires, causing scattered power outages, whipping up blinding dust storms, and sending waves crashing ashore as a vigorous spring weather system swept through the state on its way across the West.

    Rising winds were reported in Arizona, where 34 miles of Interstate 40 near Winslow were closed to traffic.

    In Phoenix, blowing dust obscured the mountains surrounding the city, and at least four people were injured in a pileup when two semi-trucks jackknifed in a dust storm on I-10 in southern Arizona. The injuries were not life-threatening.

    New Mexico was expected to start feeling the impact late Monday, and in Colorado, the blustery system was expected to bring up to 2 feet of snow.

    Northern California was first to feel the lashing blasts, which spread to the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.

    At least a dozen trees came down in San Francisco, police officer John Tozzini told KGO-TV, which reported that more than 20,000 utility customers lost power in the region. A swath of electrical outages occurred across the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, the Sacramento Bee reported.

    The wind sent a tree smashing into a Sacramento home where four friends were playing cards, but they didn't stop the game, according to KCRA-TV.

    "It could've been worse," said Dodie Backus, who lives in the house.

    "It's not going to stop our bridge game," said her game partner, Marilyn Baker.

    The northwest-to-north winds were punctuated with gusts topping 80 mph at some Southern California points.

    The blustery system was being fueled by a cold front.

    "It's just a cold, really strong upper low," said Carol Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, Calif.

    Whitecaps flecked the Pacific Ocean along the California coast, where gale warnings and small craft advisories were posted. Recreational boaters were warned to stay in port. Wind-driven swells slapped over the tops of breakwaters and turned waves into a churning froth under piers at points such as Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach on the Los Angeles County coast.

    The wind turned small wildfires into big problems in some areas, including a blaze in Fillmore about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles that burned two homes and forced the evacuation of 84 homes.

    Blowing dust forced the California Highway Patrol to close state Route 14 in the high desert Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles due to low visibility. Officer Michael Farrell said minor accidents occurred as motorists stopped and were hit from behind by other cars. No major injuries were reported.

    The power went out for more than 14,000 customers in the Los Angeles area because of the winds.

    Areas of the north San Fernando Valley experienced outages as tree branches tangled with power lines in at least two areas, said Michelle Vargas, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

    Southern California Edison reported major weather-related outages throughout the San Gabriel Valley, with the lights out for thousands of customers in Rosemead, Monterey Park and Altadena.

    In Ventura County, the power was out for more than 1,000 homes at the height of the winds, and nearly 300 homes in Orange County lost power.

    About 2,700 homes were without power because of at least five downed utility poles in the remote desert area of Borrego Springs in San Diego County, according to Amber Albrecht, spokeswoman for San Diego Gas and Electric.

    Air quality alerts were issued for northern Santa Barbara County and adjacent southern San Luis Obispo County because of blowing dust and sand.

    The massive rush of air also had an upside. California's main power grid manager, the Independent System Operator, reported that turbines spinning within the ISO grid produced a record of 4,196 megawatts Sunday. The previous record was 3,944 megawatts on March 3.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Breathtaking Images of Earth from Space
    Earth from Space

     

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    As a storm moves out of the Rockies, the risk of violent thunderstorms, some capable of producing a tornado, will progress slowly eastward across the Plains Tuesday and Wednesday.

    The storms will threaten lives and property and bring the risk of power outages and travel delays.

    The first storms erupted Sunday in portions of Kansas and Missouri, but they were merely a small preview of what is expected to unfold this week over the middle of the nation.

    The storms have the potential to cross through some or all of these major metropolitan areas over the Plains and Mississippi Valley, including Austin, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Little Rock, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Omaha, San Antonio, Shreveport, Springfield, Mo., Springfield, Ill., St. Louis, Topeka, Tulsa and Wichita.

    The storms will bring the full spectrum of severe weather ranging from large hail and damaging wind gusts to flash flooding and frequent lightning strikes. There is also the potential for the storms to produce strong tornadoes into Tuesday night.

    During Tuesday, severe thunderstorms will stretch from central Kansas, southward to west-central Texas.

    During Tuesday night, the storms will extend from southern Iowa to central Texas.

    During Wednesday, the storms will swing farther east at increasing forward speed reaching the Mississippi River.

    By the time the storms reach the Mississippi River, they are likely to organize into a squall line. However, while the risk of strong tornadoes may be significantly lower in this phase, there is still the potential for damaging wind gusts, hail and flash flooding.

    People within or near the red highlighted areas should be on the lookout for rapidly changing and potentially dangerous weather conditions.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center
    Important Tornado Safety Tips
    First Alert of Impending Severe Weather


    Severe thunderstorm or tornado watch areas will follow in all or part of these regions generally when storms can affect an area within six to eight hours.

    When a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning is issued, it is a time for action as life-threatening conditions are possible within minutes.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 18 Incredible Photos of Tornadoes

     

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    (AP Photo)

    Transatlantic airline passengers might expect to stay seated with their seatbelts securely fastened more often in the future, according to new research that finds climate change could lead to more airplane turbulence.

    By the middle of the century, turbulence strength over the North Atlantic flight corridor could increase between 10 percent and 40 percent, and turbulence frequency could jump between 40 percent and 170 percent, according to the new study published online today (April 8) in the journal Nature Climate Change.

    The increase could have major implications for the airline industry, as approximately 600 flights a day make the North Atlantic transit from Europe to North America and back.

    The study researchers focused on clear-air turbulence, the sort of bumps that occur even in the absence of clouds or mountains (which can also give airplane passengers a rocky ride). Clear-air turbulence occurs when masses of air moving at different speeds collide in the atmosphere, making it invisible to the naked eye and nearly impossible to detect using radar or satellite. Airplanes spend an estimated 3 percent of their flight time at cruising altitude dealing with clear-air turbulence, and 1 percent of cruising time in clear-air turbulence of moderate intensity or more.

    Clear-air turbulence is associated with major air currents called jet streams, which are expected to get stronger as the globe warms. Researchers Paul Williams of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom and Manoj Joshi of the University of East Anglia wanted to know how climate change might influence turbulence. [Infographic: Earth's Atmosphere Top to Bottom]

    The scientists used computer models to simulate a world where carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reaches twice pre-industrial levels. Ice core studies peg these pre-industrial levels at about 278 parts per million. Currently, there are about 396 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to measurements taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

    Focusing on the turbulence-heavy months of December, January and February on the North Atlantic Flight corridor, the researchers found a shift toward more and stronger turbulence, particularly above 50 degrees North latitude, which passes through Canada and southern England, where 61 percent of winter flights fly.

    "We conclude that climate change will lead to bumpier transatlantic flights by the middle of this century, assuming the same flight tracks are used," the researchers wrote.

    As a result, they wrote, flights may have to take more circuitous routes, resulting in longer flight times, more fuel use and thus more emissions that could further fuel climate change.

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

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


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

     

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    Updated Tuesday, April 9, 2013. 7:26 p.m. ET

    A messenger rides his bike in the snow in Denver's financial district on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

    CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A large spring snowstorm delivering heavy snow, high winds and rain was causing travel problems from Wyoming to Chicago on Tuesday.

    In Wyoming, some big stretches of Interstates 25 and 80 were closed Tuesday morning before being reopened, but snow and blowing snow conditions were still making driving dangerous along the interstates and smaller highways. No unnecessary travel was advised Tuesday afternoon on about 180 miles of I-25 between Cheyenne and Casper because heavy snow was causing near white-out conditions.

    Meanwhile, freezing rain, snow and strong winds, were hitting Kansas and South Dakota, where numerous local elections were postponed. Some schools in Minnesota dismissed students early as travel conditions deteriorated.

    RELATED ON SKYE: See 22 People More Sick of Winter than You Are
    Fall on IceSnow in the Denver area has been lighter than expected but around 500 flights have been cancelled at Denver International Airport and deicing was delaying departures.

    Flights bound for Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, meanwhile, were being delayed an average of nearly four hours because of dense fog.

    Tornadoes were also possible in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas later in the day.

    While April snowstorms aren't unusual in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West, the storm comes after a rather tame winter in many areas.

    "We haven't really had bad days like today where everybody is stuck and nobody can go anywhere," Sam Blaney, who was working the service counter at the Petro truck stop in Laramie, said.

    About two dozen truckers and other motorists took refuge at the truck stop to wait out the storm, Blaney said.

    Many areas of Wyoming and western Nebraska received more than a foot of snow. In western Nebraska, road crews reported 8- to 9-foot drifts.

    "I'm pretty confident that this particular storm is more widespread and has caused more travel problems and closures than any storm we've had this calendar year certainly," Bruce Burrows, spokesman for the Wyoming Department of Transportation, said.

    As the storm moved into Colorado Monday night, two tornadoes were reported near Akron on eastern Colorado's plains though forecasters haven't confirmed the twisters yet. A trailer home rolled over onto its top, a roof blew off a barn and six power poles were toppled, Washington County undersheriff Jon Stivers said.

    A motorcycle dealership partially collapsed in Pueblo, Colo., where winds gusted to 64 mph.

    In Wyoming's Sweetwater County, wind gusts up to 71 mph damaged a marina at Flaming Gorge Reservoir and broke windows at the Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, according to the National Weather Service.

    About 1,200 customers in Rock Springs lost power Monday afternoon after winds broke a cross-arm at the top of a power pole. Some residents in Lamont, a small town north of Rawlins, were without power Tuesday. Repair crews used snowcats to access the downed lines, Rocky Mountain Power Company spokesman Jeff Hymas said.

    Cold temperatures that made it feel more like January or February engulfed the entire state with many areas expecting daytime temperatures in the teens and 20s.

    The National Weather Service said Cheyenne's high of 12 degrees Tuesday was the coldest on record for April 9. The previous record was 23 degrees set in 1997.

    The temperature in Denver was expected to dip below 10 degrees with wind chills possibly below zero Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

    The same storm system toppled trees in San Francisco, produced gusts over 80 mph in southern California, fanning wildfires, and kicked up a dusty haze in Phoenix on Monday, closing a stretch of Interstate 40 in northern Arizona.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Spring Snowstorm Hits Great Plains
    Dog, Snowstorm

     

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    (iStockphoto)

    The wine-producing regions of the world are under threat from global warming, suggests a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

    But while places familiar to oenophiles - Bordeaux, Tuscany, Napa - face climatic challenges, Slate reports, new wine-producing regions may emerge.

    Chateau Montana, anyone?

    Wine grapes are notoriously picky plants, sensitive to subtle shifts in rainfall, heat and humidity, the Guardian reports.

    As the planet continues to warm and regional climates change in yet-to-be-determined ways, viticulture experts are striving to forecast how grapes will fare under new conditions. [Top 10 Surprising Results of Global Warming]

    And while researchers assumed there would be some changes to the climates of wine-growing regions by 2050, even they were surprised by the drastic alterations shown by an array of climate models.

    "We expected to see significant shifts, but we didn't expect to see shifts like these," Lee Hannah, a senior scientist at Conservation International and co-author of the PNAS study, told the Guardian.

    Vast swaths of France, Spain and Italy would become inhospitable to wine grapes by 2050 under the researchers' projections. Likewise, most of Australia's wine regions would be too hot and dry for grapes, and wines from California's famed Napa and Sonoma valleys would disappear from store shelves.

    "The fact is that climate change will lead to a huge shake-up in the geographic distribution of wine production," said Hannah.

    Some existing vineyards in familiar wine regions could continue to operate, but would probably need additional imports of irrigation water - already a vexing issue and not likely to get any easier as the planet gets hotter, the Atlantic reports.

    Beyond the agricultural concerns, however, lies an even knottier issue: the development of prime wildlife habitat. Many of the areas projected to be potential wine-producing regions are also the last refuge for endangered animals.

    China, for example, now imports most of its wine, but it may decide to plant more of its own domestic vineyards in the future, the Atlantic reports.

    However, China's prime wine regions are projected "to be in the same mountains that are habitat for giant pandas, so wine expansion in China may have repercussions for what is arguably the world's most iconic animal," Hannah said in a Conservation International blog post.

    The grizzlies, moose, pronghorn antelope and wolves of America's Yellowstone region could also face considerable pressure if new vineyards begin to crowd them out of their ever-shrinking habitat, the New York Times reports.

    There are, however, conservation initiatives that could ease the pressure on endangered plants and animals, such as South Africa's Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI).

    The BWI works in collaboration with South Africa's wineries and conservationists to protect the habitat in the Cape Floral Kingdom, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a biodiversity hotspot - as well as a superb area for vineyards.

    Follow Marc Lallanilla on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.com.

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

     

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    A man on his bicycle heads towards the University of Wyoming campus during a springtime snow storm that moved through Laramie, Wyo., Tuesday, April 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Laramie Boomerang, Jeremy Martin)

    CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A chilly spring storm was making its way eastward Wednesday after heavy snow and freezing rain prompted hundreds of flight cancellations, stranded motorists and knocked out power to thousands in several Western states.

    Officials in South Dakota warned residents to prepare for the worst by staying home and keeping off roads as the system moved through the eastern part of the state.

    "We need to hunker down," Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether said Tuesday. "This one is going to last a while."

    The storm crawled eastward Tuesday night from Colorado and Wyoming, with moderate snowfall forecast overnight from the Dakotas to Wisconsin. Nebraska, where strong winds caused a train derailment in the eastern part of the state earlier in the day, also was expecting more snow.

    RELATED ON SKYE: See 22 People More Sick of Winter than You Are
    Fall on Ice

    Freezing rain, low temperatures and strong thunderstorms were forecast elsewhere in the Midwest.

    Officials in Wyoming and South Dakota closed portions of major highways as blowing snow decreased visibility and freezing rain made roads treacherous. Up to a foot of snow fell in southwestern North Dakota on Monday, causing several vehicle accidents.

    "Spring storms are not unusual, but they can be very dangerous," said Greg Fuller, operations director for the Transportation Department.

    April snowstorms aren't unusual in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West, but the storm comes after a rather tame winter in many areas. The National Weather Service said Cheyenne's high of 12 degrees Tuesday was the coldest on record for April 9. The previous record was 23 degrees set in 1997.

    "I'm pretty confident that this particular storm is more widespread and has caused more travel problems and closures than any storm we've had this calendar year certainly," said Bruce Burrows, spokesman for the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

    The storm hit California and Arizona on Monday with strong wind and rain, knocking out power to thousands and kicking up a dusty haze in the metropolitan Phoenix area. It moved into Colorado, where two unconfirmed tornadoes were reported near Akron and strong gusts felled trees and power lines. More than six inches of snow fell at Denver International Airport, where hundreds of flights were cancelled and others were delayed.

    Wind rolled a trailer home onto its top and a roof blew off a barn, Washington County undersheriff Jon Stivers said. A motorcycle dealership partially collapsed in Pueblo, Colo., where winds gusted to 64 mph.

    In Wyoming's Sweetwater County, gusts up to 71 mph damaged a marina at Flaming Gorge Reservoir and broke windows at the Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, according to the National Weather Service.

    In parts of the Dakotas, officials cancelled classes and many local governments closed offices. In South Dakota, Secretary of State Jason Gant said more than two dozen cities and school districts informed him they were delaying elections for a week.

    Up to a foot of snow fell in southwestern North Dakota, along with freezing rain and sleet. An oil tanker crashed near South Heart, just south of Interstate 94 west of Dickinson, and spilled what authorities called a minimal amount of oil into the ditch.

    Interstate 90 was closed between Rapid City and Sioux Falls, and transportation officials will determine which, if any, stretches can reopen.

    Weather Service meteorologist Todd Heitkamp in Sioux Falls said that office had reports of ice accumulations from one-quarter of an inch up to nearly half an inch, leading to power outages and widespread tree damage. As much as 10 to 16 inches of snow was expected north and west of the city.

    "That's going to add to the weight of the trees, to the power lines," Heitkamp said. "Then we get the wind on top of that and then we get the snow on top of that. You can envision what can possibly occur."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Spring Snowstorm Hits Great Plains
    Dog, Snowstorm

     

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    The risk of severe weather will continue over the middle of the nation Wednesday, centering over the Mississippi Valley.

    During Wednesday and Wednesday night, the risk to lives and property will continue with lesser impact ranging from power outages and downed trees to travel disruptions and foiled activities.

    There is the potential for thunderstorms with damaging wind gusts, large hail and flash flooding from central Indiana, southwestward to the upper Texas coast Wednesday. There is also the potential for a few tornadoes to be produced.

    Cities in the path of the severe thunderstorms during the day and early evening hours Wednesday include Indianapolis, Peoria, Ill., St. Louis, Paducah, Ky., Memphis, Little Rock, Ark., Greenville, Miss., Shreveport, La., and Houston.

    During the overnight hours Wednesday, the storms will continue to march eastward at increasing forward speed. The storms are likely to reach from Ohio to southern Alabama, southern Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Center
    Important Tornado Safety Tips
    First Alert of Impending Severe Weather


    During Thursday and Thursday night, strong to locally severe thunderstorms are likely to affect the central and southern Appalachians and Piedmont areas, to as far south as northern Florida.

    It is possible that downpours and thunderstorms could affect activities during activities at the 2013 Masters Tournament at Augusta, Ga., Thursday afternoon into Friday morning.

    The thunderstorms that have the potential to bring tornadoes and very large hail to parts of the Plains Tuesday night will organize into a solid line of thunderstorms by Wednesday. The weather community refers to this as a squall line.

    There could still be a few brief tornadoes produced in the strongest storms along and ahead of the line Wednesday into Thursday.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Epic Storm Photos from the Twittersphere

     

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