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    April 15, 2013

    A monarch butterfly perches on a tree branch. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

    The Monarch butterflies migrating from Mexico to Canada will cross states that lack wildflowers and Milkweed due to wildfires, weed control and drought conditions.

    This year's swarm is feared to be the smallest since the winter of 2004-2005, according to learner.org. During the migration south, the butterflies were dealing with sparse areas with wildflowers due to drought and wildfires across many of the southern states. The nectar they collect from the flowers help fuel them for their journey to Mexico where they overwinter.

    "This year, less than three acres of Monarchs made it into Mexico to overwinter," said Craig Wilson, Ph.D. Director USDA/HSNIP Future Scientist Program and Senior Research Associate at the Center for Mathematics and Science Education at Texas A&M University. Logging in Mexico has reduced the habitat where the butterflies overwinter, adding to their reduction in numbers.

    The dry conditions improved in recent weeks, however, the problem of less wildflowers will still exist during the return trip. Temperatures staying below average during the month of March for states like Raleigh, N.C., Columbia, N.C., and Dallas, Texas has slowed the growth of vegetation. Raleigh was 6.8 degrees F below average, Columbia was 4.6 degrees F below and Dallas was 1.2 degrees F below average for March.

    Another issue facing the Monarchs is a lack of Milkweed. The increased use of herbicides to kill weeds both on farm crops and along roads has reduced the amount of Milkweed available for the butterflies to lay their eggs on, according to Wilson. The Milkweed plant is important to the Monarchs because they will only lay their eggs on Milkweed plants.

    When the larvae hatch, they feed on the plant and ingest toxins from the plant that make the Monarchs toxic and bad tasting to their natural predators. Their colorfully patterned wings give a warning of their bad taste to birds and other predators.

    While it only takes one generation to travel to Mexico, it takes four generations to make the return trip. On that trip, both milkweed and wildflowers are vital to the Monarch's survival.

    "People can help by planting Milkweed and wildflowers on their property," Wilson said. It may be hard for people to purchase Milkweed plants as they are only carried by a few garden supply stores.

    Even people with limited space can plant Milkweed or wild flowers in planters on their property. Without enough of both kinds of plants, less Monarchs will be able to survive the journey north.

    "Without Monarchs, life will be less rich with less diversity," Wilson said. "They will be the 'wake-up' call, if Monarchs disappear, other species can disappear too."

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Biggest Insects
    Big Insect

     

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    April 15, 2013, 9:09 p.m. ET

    First responders rush to where two explosions occurred along the final stretch of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street in Boston, Mass., on Monday, April 15. (AP Photo/Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg)

    BOSTON (AP) - Two bombs exploded in the crowded streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing three people and injuring more than 130 in a bloody scene of shattered glass and severed limbs that raised alarms that terrorists might have struck again in the U.S.

    A White House official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still unfolding said the attack was being treated as an act of terrorism.

    President Barack Obama vowed that those responsible will "feel the full weight of justice."

    A senior U.S. intelligence official said two other bombs were found near the end of the 26.2-mile course in what appeared to be a well-coordinated attack.

    The fiery twin blasts took place about 10 seconds and about 100 yards apart, knocking spectators and at least one runner off their feet, shattering windows and sending dense plumes of smoke rising over the street and through the fluttering national flags lining the course. Blood stained the pavement, and huge shards were missing from window panes as high as three stories.

    "They just started bringing people in with no limbs," said runner Tim Davey of Richmond, Va. He said he and his wife, Lisa, tried to keep their children's eyes shielded from the gruesome scene inside a medical tent that had been set up to care for fatigued runners, but "they saw a lot."

    "They just kept filling up with more and more casualties," Lisa Davey said. "Most everybody was conscious. They were very dazed."

    Authorities shed no light on a motive or who may have carried out the bombings, and police said they had no suspects in custody. Authorities in Washington said there was no immediate claim of responsibility. The FBI took charge of the investigation.

    Police said three people were killed. Hospitals reported at least 134 injured, at least 15 of them critically. The victims' injuries included broken bones, shrapnel wounds and ruptured eardrums.

    At Massachusetts General Hospital, said Alisdair Conn, chief of emergency services, said: "This is something I've never seen in my 25 years here ... this amount of carnage in the civilian population. This is what we expect from war."

    Some 23,000 runners took part in the race, one of the world's oldest and most prestigious marathons.

    One of Boston's biggest annual events, the race winds up near Copley Square, not far from the landmark Prudential Center and the Boston Public Library. It is held on Patriots Day, which commemorates the first battles of the American Revolution, at Concord and Lexington in 1775.

    Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis asked people to stay indoors or go back to their hotel rooms and avoid crowds as bomb squads methodically checked parcels and bags left along the race route. He said investigators didn't know whether the bombs were hidden in mailboxes or trash cans.

    He said authorities had received "no specific intelligence that anything was going to happen" at the race.

    The Federal Aviation Administration barred low-flying aircraft within 3.5 miles of the site.

    "We still don't know who did this or why," Obama said at the White House, adding, "Make no mistake: We will get to the bottom of this."

    With scant official information to guide them, members of Congress said there was little or no doubt it was an act of terrorism.

    "We just don't know whether it's foreign or domestic," said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

    A few miles away from the finish line and around the same time, a fire broke out at the John F. Kennedy Library. The police commissioner said it may have been caused by an incendiary device but didn't appear to be related to the bombings.

    The first loud explosion occurred on the north side of Boylston Street, just before the photo bridge that marks the finish line.

    When the second bomb went off, the spectators' cheers turned to screams. As sirens blared, emergency workers and National Guardsmen who had been assigned to the race for crowd control began climbing over and tearing down temporary fences to get to the blast site.

    They occurred about four hours into the race and two hours after the men's winner crossed the line. By that point, more than 17,000 of the runners had finished the race, but more than 4,000 others had passed Mile 24 and were on their way to the finish.

    The attack may have been timed for maximum carnage: The four-hour mark is typically a crowded time near the finish line because of the slow-but-steady recreational runners completing the race and because of all the relatives and friends clustered around to cheer them on.

    A senior U.S. intelligence official said the two other explosive devices found nearby were being dismantled. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the findings publicly.

    Runners in the medical tent for treatment of dehydration or other race-related ills were pushed out to make room for victims of the bombing.

    A woman who was a few feet from the second bomb, Brighid Wall, 35, of Duxbury, said that when it exploded, runners and spectators froze, unsure of what to do. Her husband threw their children to the ground, lay on top of them and another man lay on top of them and said, "Don't get up, don't get up."

    After a minute or so without another explosion, Wall said, she and her family headed to a Starbucks and out the back door through an alley. Around them, the windows of the bars and restaurants were blown out.

    She said she saw six to eight people bleeding profusely, including one man who was kneeling, dazed, with blood trickling down his head. Another person was on the ground covered in blood and not moving.

    "My ears are zinging. Their ears are zinging," Wall said. "It was so forceful. It knocked us to the ground."

    Competitors and race volunteers were crying as they fled the chaos. Authorities went onto the course to carry away the injured, while race stragglers were rerouted away from the smoking site.

    Roupen Bastajian, a state trooper from Smithfield, R.I., had just finished the race when he heard the blasts.

    "I started running toward the blast. And there were people all over the floor," he said. "We started grabbing tourniquets and started tying legs. A lot of people amputated. ... At least 25 to 30 people have at least one leg missing, or an ankle missing, or two legs missing."

    The Boston Marathon honored the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shooting with a special mile marker in Monday's race.

    Boston Athletic Association president Joanne Flaminio previously said there was "special significance" to the fact that the race is 26.2 miles long and 26 people died at Sandy Hook Elementary school.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 2 Bombs Explode at the Boston Marathon
    Boston Marathon Explosions

     

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    April 15, 2013

    (Getty Images)

    Seasonal allergies will be in full swing this week in the Northeast as seasonable temperatures take hold.

    After a slow start to spring, more consistent, higher temperatures have finally migrated northward.

    However, with these warmer temperatures comes the return of seasonal allergies.

    Allergy MapWith milder conditions starting in the beginning of April, the growing season has really started up. Plants and flowers all over the region are blooming or are ready to bust out. However, it is not the bright, showy flowers that cause most problems for allergy suffers.

    This sudden boom in tree blossoms could have allergy sufferers seeing symptoms more abruptly than usual.

    As per this time of year, the tree pollen is the main allergy threat, especially from the less conspicuous oak, maple, pine and elm varieties.

    Higher levels of these allergens started in the Southeast several weeks ago. However, as the warm weather has expanded northward into Maryland, Pennsylvania and even southeastern New England, so has the allergy threat.

    What seems to have awakened the trees was the sudden warmth early last week, followed by drenching rain in many areas. Even though temperatures slipped back following the rain, they have averaged about 10 degrees higher than the first week of the month.

    RELATED:
    AccuWeather.com Allergy Central
    Will Allergies be Worse in 2013?
    The Best Ways to Beat Spring Allergies

    Consistent warmth is expected through this week, along with occasional rainfall. The combination of the two will continue to spur on blossoming and pollen release.

    Even though rain temporarily removes some of the pollen from the air, it promotes a new round of blossoming this time of the year.

    In Philadelphia, temperatures will remain at least a few degrees above average with temperatures in the 70s. New York City also looks to experience warmer-than-normal temperatures, reaching the middle to upper 60s this week. Overall, the same trend will reach Boston, with the temperature above the normal middle 50s most days.

    So far in April, temperatures have been slightly above normal in both the mid-Atlantic and southern New England. In Philadelphia, temperatures have averaged 2.1 degrees above normal, while Washington D.C., has reached an average of 3.8 degrees above the norm.

    The changes in New England are a bit less extreme. After finishing March slightly below average, cities like Boston and Providence have rebounded to about 0.3 degrees above normal for this time in April.

     

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    An Iranian man reacts as he sits among ruins of a building after an earthquake struck southern Iran one week ago, on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Fars News Agency, Mohammad Fatemi)

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranian state TV says at least 40 people have been killed by a major earthquake near the Iran-Pakistan border.

    Press TV gave no further details on the extent of damage in the sparsely populated areas. But the quake shook buildings as far away as New Delhi and Gulf cities of Dubai and Bahrain.

    Iran's seismological center said the 7.5 magnitude earthquake was centered near Saravan, a sparsely populated area about 26 miles from the Pakistani border. The U.S. Geological Survey put the preliminary magnitude at 7.8 and at a depth of nine miles.

    The quake struck less than a week after a 6.1 magnitude quake hit near Bushehr, on Iran's Persian Gulf coast, killing at least 37 people.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    Several earthquakes struck northeast of Oklahoma City, above. (Getty Images)

    LUTHER, Okla. (AP) - The U.S. Geological Survey says several earthquakes have shaken central Oklahoma.

    USGS geophysicist Jana Pursley says the temblors began around 1:45 a.m. Tuesday and all were centered northeast of Oklahoma City. She said three earthquakes have been confirmed and that she was working on a confirming a possible fourth. She says the strongest was a magnitude 4.3 quake centered near the town of Luther.

    Pursley says all the quakes were shallow, which is common for the area. She also says it's common for several earthquakes or aftershocks to strike during a short period of time.

    An official answering the dispatch line for the Oklahoma County Sheriff's office says they have received no reports of damage or injuries.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Incredible Natural-Disaster Photos from Space

     

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    Updated Tuesday April 16, 11:46 a.m. ET

    Motorist travel on West Mulberry Road at Shields Road as snow falls in Fort Collins, Colo., Monday April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/The Coloradoan, V. Richard Haro)

    DENVER (AP) - A spring storm is bringing much-needed moisture to parts of Colorado and Wyoming, but winds are raising the wildfire danger to the south.

    The second wave of a slow-moving system could bring another foot of snow to parts of Colorado's mountains Tuesday, on top of up to a foot that fell the day before. Southeastern Wyoming could also get up to a foot by the time the storm moves across Colorado's northeast plains and into Nebraska and Iowa on Wednesday night.

    Cheyenne, Wyo., received 6.9 inches of snow on Monday, breaking the old record of 6 inches set back in 1890.

    Colorado's southwestern corner and the agricultural San Luis Valley along with New Mexico are forecast to get only strong winds, making it easier for wildfires to spread in dried-out vegetation.

    The snow has closed some roads and causing some delays at Denver International Airport because planes need to be de-iced. The snow canceled the Colorado Rockies-New York Mets game Monday night and the teams hoped to squeeze in a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon. Light snow and rain is forecast during the day but snow is expected to grow heavier Tuesday night.

    April is typically the second-snowiest month for the region and wet spring snows help boost the mountain snowpack that provides most of the area's water supply. It also helps delay lawn watering in Denver and along the rest of the populated Front Range region, where many water districts have limited watering after two years of drought conditions.

    "It doesn't stick around as long but it gives that soil moisture heading into the drier months," National Weather Service forecaster Jeff Colton said of spring snow.

    But the heavy blanket of snow does squash daffodils and other plants that have started to bloom.

    The snowpack in both Colorado and Wyoming is still below average but has risen in the last week to 77 percent of average in both states.

    Most of Colorado's ski areas are already closed for the season, but Aspen Highlands announced Monday it would extend its season by another weekend after getting consistent snowfall over the past week. Winter Park, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin also are still open.

    The storm system is expected to pick up speed as it moves east into the Great Lakes Friday. It should move off the East Coast on Saturday, Colton said.

    There's a potential for more snow in Colorado's mountains on Friday.

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

     

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    This photo taken Saturday, April 13, 2013 shows Won Shin, 56, of Mukilteo, Wash. who was among the four who made it off the mountain first. (AP Photo/The Seattle Times, Ken Lambert)

    SEATTLE (AP) - Dangerous conditions Monday prevented rescuers from searching for a hiker who was caught in an avalanche over the weekend in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle.

    The hiker's wife, Marilynn Hungate, identified him to KING-TV as Mitch Hungate, 61, a dentist and seasoned athlete.

    He was with two other companions Saturday afternoon when an avalanche swept them more than 1,200 feet down Granite Mountain, a 5,600-foot peak about 45 miles east of Seattle. The two friends emerged from the snow and called for help. They tried but weren't able to find Hungate.

    "The longer the time goes on, the less chance of survival," said Sgt. Cindi West with the King County Sheriff's Office.

    Experts say the potential for avalanches still looks dangerous, West said Monday night, adding it could be a few days before the search can resume.

    Beverly Walker, office manager at Mitch Hungate's dental office in Renton, Wash., said he loved competing in Ironman triathlons.

    Marilynn Hungate, who was on the mountain waiting for news, told the television station: "I really didn't want to leave him. I want to be with him until he can be here with us."

    Also Monday, the King County Medical Examiner's Office identified a woman who had been killed Saturday while snowshoeing with her dog as Joy Yu, 55. The examiner's report said Yu, who was caught on Red Mountain in a separate avalanche, suffocated under the snow.

    A group of a dozen snowshoers who were also caught up in the avalanche dug the Yu out of five feet of snow and tried to keep her warm. It took rescuers hours to carry her on a sled down the mountain, where she was pronounced dead.

    Hikers found the woman's dog, named Blue, on Sunday. The animal is now back with Yu's relatives, West said.

    It was the first avalanche fatality reported in Washington this season, according to the Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center in Seattle. Nationwide, 16 others have died in avalanches this season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

    The Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center said the avalanche danger in the area Monday was "considerable" above 4,000 feet.

    Kenny Kramer, director of Northwest Weather and Avalanche Center, said 20 to 30 inches of snow fell over the weekend. All that new snow was weakly attached to the old snow crust, making it more unstable, Kramer said.

    Avalanches during the spring aren't rare, he said, noting that there's a secondary peak of landslides during this time because the Northwest still sees heavy storms, which can include snow. When that snow falls in the spring, it often warms up quickly, creating unstable conditions, he said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The 10 Snowiest Places on Earth

     

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    A major outbreak of severe thunderstorms is possible beginning Wednesday across the central and southern Plains. This could be one of the worst outbreaks of the year.

    Cities with the greatest potential for severe weather include Oklahoma City, Okla., Tulsa, Okla., Norman, Okla., Broken Arrow, Okla., Joplin, Mo., and Coffeyville, Kan., to name a few.

    Dangerous severe thunderstorms are expected to develop during the early to mid-afternoon hours and continue well into the evening.

    As northerly winds and much colder, drier air clash with southerly winds and much warmer and moist air, a twisting motion of the lower atmosphere will be the result.

    Tornadoes will be the biggest danger with these storms. While not every storm will produce a tornado, those that do have the possibility to contain long-tracking strong or even violent tornadoes.

    Extremely large hail the size of baseballs or softballs is also possible across these areas. Hail of this size can kill exposed livestock and cause extreme damage to vehicles, homes and other buildings. Hailstones of this size can also severely injure or kill people as well.

    In addition to tornadoes and very large hail, wind gusts associated with these storms could exceed 60 mph and, in some cases, reach speeds of up to 70 or 80 mph. Blowing dust, snapped or uprooted trees and damaged power poles are possible.

    On Thursday, the severe weather threat will develop farther south and east as a potent cold front tracks across the southern Plains, overtaking a warm, humid air mass.

    Thunderstorms will be ongoing Thursday morning from eastern Oklahoma through central Texas before spreading into the lower Mississippi River Valley Thursday afternoon and evening.
    This threat Thursday will expand from Dallas and Austin, Texas, eastward to Springfield, Mo., Little Rock, Ark., and Shreveport, La., by the afternoon and evening hours.

    Similar to what happened late last week, a large squall line could track across this region Thursday, bringing a widespread threat for wind damage. In addition, thunderstorms that pop up ahead of the main line could produce isolated tornadoes.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologists are also concerned about a threat for flash flooding across the middle Mississippi River Valley and some of its tributaries Thursday as torrential downpours accompany the thunderstorms.

    AccuWeather.com expert senior meteorologist Jim Andrews stated, "The Mississippi River at St. Louis just crested at 6 feet below flood stage and an additional 1-3 inches of rain could lead to the river rising above flood stage."

    Stay tuned to AccuWeather.com through early next week as we continue to monitor the potential for severe weather and river flooding.

    Check out the Severe Weather Center for the latest watches and warnings.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 18 Incredible Photos of Tornadoes

     

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    @Cmdr_Hadfield posted this photo of Seattle to Twitter on April 6, 2013, and wrote, "Seattle looking nice in the sunshine."

    Dear Commander Hadfield,

    I was riding the bus into downtown Seattle when your photo of Seattle appeared on my phone's tiny screen. As soon as I had the chance, I sat down in front of my computer, the one with the big monitor, and zoomed in to retrace my route, following the tiny lines that run from my house into downtown.

    I live close to Sea-Tac, Seattle's airport - just off the left edge of the image. Flights that use the northern approach to land bank over my neighborhood. I'm familiar enough with the view that I can recognize specific landmarks. In your photo, if I narrow my eyes a little, I can see the pale grayish lines that mark my neighborhood's two north-south arterials. If it were possible to zoom in further, I could see the roof of my house, with patches of lawn in the front and back.

    There's another landmark in the photo that really speaks to me: a skinny squiggle of a line connecting the big blue of Puget Sound to the smaller - but still expansive - blue of Lake Washington. There's the ship canal and the Ballard Locks, which has a fish ladder - a miracle of forward-thinking engineering. Built in 1917, the fish ladder has chutes that allow migrating salmon to pass downstream into the open waters of the Pacific. And after they've explored the expanses of that great ocean, something calls them home again. They find their way through the fish ladder back to the place where they were hatched. I'm weirdly obsessed by their stubborn drive to get back home.

    And here's where things start to get all metaphysical. We're not all as bold or driven by biology as the salmon, but humans are great explorers. We want so badly to know what's out there. But we seem to be hardwired to find our way home, too. Your view from the International Space Station looks both ways - out into the great expanse of space and back at the place we all call home.

    Forget about zooming in on my house. If I could zoom out and zoom out and zoom out in your photo, I'd have the feeling that this entire planet is my - our - home. That is a very good feeling.

    I recently found a YouTube video of Shawn Colvin and Ernie - Sesame Street Ernie, of Bert and Ernie fame - singing "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon." Shawn Colvin sings, "Though I'd like to look down on the Earth from above, I would miss all the people and places I love ..." and, "There's so many strange places I'd like to be, but none of them permanently."

    You should totally perform that song. It would be a great addition to your songs from space.

    Yours from that little smudge of gray in West Seattle,
    Pam Mandel
    @nerdseyeview

    RELATED ON SKYE: 25 Amazing Photos of the International Space Station
    International Space Station, Shuttle

     

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    Police officers keep an eye on commuters in a subway station in New York, Tuesday, April 16, 2013. (AP)

    LONDON (AP) - With two high-profile events in the days ahead - Margaret Thatcher's funeral and the London Marathon - British officials are looking anew at security precautions following the bombings in Boston.

    Terror threat levels in Europe and elsewhere, however, have remained unchanged, in contrast to other recent bombings and thwarted attacks that raised alarms and travel warnings.

    Such warnings have been issued in the past when threats are considered imminent and with potential international links.

    Threat levels also remained unchanged at U.S. defense installations at home and abroad after Monday's deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon, according to a Pentagon spokesman who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press about security.

    Britain made last-minute efforts to tighten measures for Wednesday's funeral for Thatcher, the former prime minister, at St. Paul's Cathedral, which is to be attended by hundreds of diplomats and dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II.

    The chief of London's Metropolitan Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe, said the force will carry out more searches and put more officers on the streets of the capital in the coming days as a precaution.

    Police with bomb-detecting dogs were seen Tuesday around such London landmarks as Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square, but officials said the searches were routine and unrelated to the Boston attacks.

    "The (Boston) attacks mean that we will be assessing our security protocols," said a British security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to be publicly named. "There is some initial information coming out ... but it is too early to draw any conclusions. There doesn't appear at this point, however, to be a wider threat."

    More than 37,000 runners and a half-million spectators, including Prince Harry, will be at Sunday's London Marathon. Marathon officials said the race would go on as planned but security was being evaluated.

    "The best way for us to react is to push ahead with the marathon on Sunday, to get people on the streets and to celebrate it as we always do in London," British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said. "We are absolutely confident here that we can keep the event safe and secure."

    Security would be particularly tight for the big events in Britain, which has been at the heart of several terrorist attacks in the past decade, including suicide bombings in 2005 that killed 52 people. Several international terror plots have also been traced back to suspects in Britain.

    Workers are inspecting some of the country's 4.3 million CCTV cameras in high-traffic areas around London to ensure views are unobstructed and equipment is functioning. Workers in an underground bunker monitor the footage around the clock.

    Boosting security may also include adding manpower, increasing air visibility and securing public transport routes. Police and counterterrorism officials are also aggressively monitoring potential suspects.

    Security was more evident at sites across the U.S., with military personnel seen near the Pentagon's subway station in Washington, D.C., and officers deployed to Chicago's Union Station.

    At the White House, the Secret Service expanded its security perimeter after the attacks, shutting down Pennsylvania Avenue and cordoning off the area with yellow police tape.

    In New York, authorities deployed highly visible patrol units that move in packs with lights and sirens along with more than 1,000 counterterrorism officers. Highly trafficked tourist landmarks were being especially monitored.

    "No matter how many days, months or years pass without a major terrorist attack, it only takes one such attack to bring us back to the cruel reality," Interpol chief Ron Noble told The Associated Press early Tuesday, saying police around the globe would be on alert.

    U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano urged the American public "to be vigilant and to listen to directions from state and local officials."

    The Boston bombings underscored the security challenges facing next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

    Ever since the attacks by Palestinian gunmen that killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Games, security has been a paramount concern for the Olympics.

    "We are very, very concerned," senior IOC member Gerhard Heiberg of Norway told the AP. "Security is priority No. 1, no question about it."

    Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said "all necessary measures" are being taken to ensure security at the World Cup and the Rio Olympics.

    Russian officials gave mixed signals over whether they needed to increase security at key sporting events like the World Athletics Championship and the Sochi Games.

    The track and field championship, which takes place in Moscow on Aug. 10-18, is seen as a dress rehearsal for Sochi.

    One top sports official said security was being increased but others said Russia's take on Olympic security was already very robust.

    Officials will speak with Boston Marathon organizers to find out what more precautions are needed, said Mikhail Butov, secretary general of the Russian Athletics Federation, adding that "when it's clear what actually happened (in Boston), we will draw our own conclusions."

    Federation President Valentin Balakhnichev told the Interfax news agency that the Boston bombings revealed "problems" in ensuring security at outdoor events and expressed concern that it may inspire "other organizers of terrorist attacks."

    In addition to Sunday's event in London, more than 30 marathons are also being held across the world this weekend in countries across Europe, in Japan, South Africa and around the United States.

    In Serbia, officials said they would raise their guard for the race.

    "We will do our best so that this year the security level is even higher," said Dejan Nikolic, the organizer of Sunday's Belgrade Marathon.

    Police in Linz, Austria's third-largest city, said security was being tightened for the city's marathon Sunday, with police closely checking key points along the race, particularly the finish-line area.

    Police Col. Heinz Felbermayr told reporters that his units are "totally prepared" for any eventuality, adding that while the Boston bombings should not be played down in relation to Linz "they also should not be overly dramatized."

    Organizers of the Hamburg Marathon said they did not plan any changes to their security measures for Sunday's race, saying they will have 400 officers on hand.

    Madrid authorities said they will meet next week to decide if extra security measures are needed for the April 28 marathon.

    Race officials for the Illinois Marathon in Champaign and Urbana, Illinois, said they were already fielding calls from worried runners and their families and planned to meet Wednesday to discuss more security measures such as bomb-sniffing dogs.

     

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    Created by a Formula 1 design engineer, the JetSurf is a motorized surfboard powered by a 100 cc combustion engine. It weighs 27 pounds and can go 40 mph -- pretty impressive.

    A lot of innovations come along in surfing but never take off. So is this one a game-changer?

    Only time will tell. But as surfer Jamie O'Brien says in the video, "It's crazy where surfing is going. You don't need a wave to surf any more. You don't need a paddle either."

     

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    (AP Photo)

    DENVER (AP) - It's the ski season that won't quit.

    A slow-moving storm that has brought snow and high winds to Colorado and Wyoming through at least Wednesday morning has also given at least four Colorado ski resorts an excuse to restart their lifts for one more weekend of skiing.

    Vail Mountain, Breckenridge Mountain Resort and Copper Mountain Resort held closing day festivities last Sunday, but when it didn't stop snowing, all three said they will reopen some terrain this Friday through Sunday.

    Vail said it's had 2 more feet of snow since closing day, Breckenridge has had 16 inches, and Copper said it got more than a foot.

    "Mother Nature is a fickle business partner, and apparently she wasn't ready for the ski season to be over," Copper Mountain general manager Gary Rodgers said in a written statement Tuesday.

    Aspen Highlands, which was scheduled to close this Sunday, has already said it would reopen April 27-28.

    Winter Park was assessing whether to extend its season past its closing day Sunday, spokeswoman Rachel Anderson said.

    The Loveland and Arapahoe Basin ski areas traditionally stay open well into the spring. A-Basin Chief Operating Officer Alan Henceroth mused this week that his ski area could stay open past June 2 if the snow keeps up.

    The storm helped boost mountain snowpack that provides water for farmers and cities through the summer, but it also stranded some drivers.

    The first round of the storm came Monday, when Cheyenne, Wyo., received 6.9 inches of snow, breaking the old record of 6 inches set back in 1890. The snow also postponed the opening game of the Colorado Rockies-New York Mets series in Denver. After Rockies co-owner Dick Monfort and others pitched in to dig out Coors Field, the teams squeezed in a doubleheader Tuesday.

    Blowing snow closed a 150-mile section of Interstate 80 in Wyoming and caused delays at Denver International Airport as planes were de-iced Tuesday.

    "Our crews can easily keep that road surface sustainable for travel, but if the wind comes up and you start get drifting and visibility problems then really you can't plow fast enough to fix that, so it can be a losing battle at times," Wyoming Department of Transportation spokesman Bruce Burrows said.

    The storm forced some Wyoming colleges and schools to close early Tuesday, and some state government meetings were canceled. Even a "Storm Spotter Training" session in Lander was canceled, according to the National Weather Service.

    Areas to the south got strong winds from the system, making it easier for wildfires to spread in the dry areas.

    A 33-mile stretch of Interstate 40 in northern Arizona was closed because of strong winds and reduced visibility.

    In southwest Colorado, the La Plata Electric Association said blustery winds that downed trees and branches were believed to have caused outages affecting hundreds of customers Tuesday.

    April is typically the second-snowiest month for Colorado.

    The snowpack in both Colorado and Wyoming is below average but has risen in the last week to 77 percent of average.

    The storm system is expected to pick up speed as it moves east into the Great Lakes on Friday. It should move off the East Coast on Saturday, National Weather Service forecaster Jeff Colton said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The 10 Snowiest Places on Earth

     

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    A woman walks through downtown Aspen as snow falls on April 15, 2013. (AP Photo/The Aspen Times, Janet Urquhart)

    DENVER (AP) - A slow-moving spring storm is bringing much-needed moisture to parts of the Rockies and the Plains, but winds are raising the wildfire danger to the south.

    Rocky Mountain National Park has already gotten more than 2 feet of snow, and more is expected to fall through Wednesday. Southeastern Wyoming could also get up to a foot. It was also snowing in western South Dakota and Nebraska, and the storm is expected to push farther into Nebraska and Colorado's plains Wednesday night.

    The first round of the storm came Monday, when Cheyenne, Wyo., received 6.9 inches of snow, breaking the old record of 6 inches set back in 1890. The snow also postponed the opening game of the Colorado Rockies-New York Mets series in Denver. After Rockies co-owner Dick Monfort and others pitched in to dig out Coors Field, the teams squeezed in a doubleheader Tuesday.

    Blowing snow closed a 150-mile section of Interstate 80 in Wyoming and caused delays at Denver International Airport because planes need to be de-iced.

    "Our crews can easily keep that road surface sustainable for travel, but if the wind comes up and you start get drifting and visibility problems then really you can't plow fast enough to fix that, so it can be a losing battle at times," Wyoming Department of Transportation spokesman Bruce Burrows said.

    The storm forced some Wyoming colleges and schools to close early Tuesday, and some state government meetings were canceled. Even a "Storm Spotter Training" session in Lander was canceled because of the storm, according to the National Weather Service.

    Meanwhile, parts of Colorado, including the state's southwestern corner and the agricultural San Luis Valley, along with parts of New Mexico and Arizona got strong winds from the system, making it easier for wildfires to spread in the dry areas.

    A 33-mile stretch of I-40 in northern Arizona was closed because of strong winds and reduced visibility.

    In southwest Colorado, the La Plata Electric Association said blustery winds and downed trees were believed to have caused power outages affecting hundreds of customers Tuesday.

    April is typically the second-snowiest month for Colorado and wet spring snows help boost the mountain snowpack that provides most of the water supply. It also helps delay lawn watering in Denver and along the rest of the populated Front Range region, where many water districts have limited watering after two years of drought conditions.

    "It doesn't stick around as long, but it gives that soil moisture heading into the drier months," National Weather Service forecaster Jeff Colton said of spring snow.

    The heavy blanket of snow does squash daffodils and other plants that have started to bloom, but any precipitation will be welcomed by dryland farmers on the Plains.

    The snowpack in both Colorado and Wyoming is below average but has risen in the last week to 77 percent of average in both states.

    Most of Colorado's ski areas are already closed for the season, but Vail, Breckenridge and Copper Mountain resorts announced Tuesday that they would open for a bonus three-day weekend this week because of all the new snow. Aspen Highlands, which is still open, plans to open for an extra weekend next week.

    The storm system is expected to pick up speed as it moves east into the Great Lakes on Friday. It should move off the East Coast on Saturday, Colton said.

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

     

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    Hikers make their way along the banks of the Colorado River in Black Canyon south of Hoover Dam, Sunday, April 14, 2013, near Willow Beach, Ariz. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

    LAS VEGAS (AP) - Drought and demand are pushing the Colorado River beyond its limits - with the needs of more than 40 million people in seven Western states projected to outstrip dwindling supply over the next 50 years, according to an advocacy group's report on endangered rivers released on Wednesday.

    The annual top-10 list by Washington, D.C.-based American Rivers points to a three-year federal Bureau of Reclamation study that warned last December that the river won't always be able to serve all the residents, businesses, ranchers, Native Americans and farmers who rely upon it.

    Already, the Colorado River is drained of nearly every drop by the time it reaches Mexico, American Rivers spokeswoman Amy Kober said.

    The list, produced with Protect the Flows and Nuestro Rio, notes that the Colorado is sometimes called the most controlled and plumbed river on Earth, and has more dams and diversions planned. River water irrigates nearly 4 million acres of farmland, which yield about 15 percent of the nation's crops, and serves as a primary drinking water supply for cities including Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

    The report lists 10 other rivers at risk from drought, overuse and pollution, including the Flint River in Georgia, the San Saba River in Texas, the Little Plover River in Wisconsin and the Catawba River in the Carolinas.

    Federal and local officials planned to highlight the threat to the Colorado River at a news conference Wednesday at a marina on the scenic but drought-scarred Lake Mead reservoir behind Hoover Dam. A white "bathtub ring" of minerals stretches more than 100 feet up the rocky shoreline from the current water line to the 1983 high-water mark. Officials say Lake Mead is still about half-full.

    The listing drew an endorsement from a top Interior Department official, who praised it for "bringing further visibility to the problems facing this critical resource."

    "The river is the essential foundation to the health and prosperity of the American Southwest." Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle said in a statement. It "provides multiple and diverse benefits including water supplies for agriculture and people, outdoor recreation, clean energy generation, and unparalleled ecosystems."

    Kober noted the Colorado River also topped the America's Most Endangered Rivers list in 1991 and 2004, and made the list in 1992, 1997, 1998 and 2010. Rankings are determined by nomination from river groups and advocates based on the size of the threat, the significance of the waterway to people and nature and whether it can help influence action in the coming year.

    "The bureau report underscores that there's not enough water to meet demand," Kober said. "No one is going to fix the Colorado River in one year. But we need people to come together and we need Congress to fund efforts like WaterSMART and Title XVI."

    Title XVI is a Bureau of Reclamation-led water recycling and reuse program. WaterSMART, an acronym for Sustain and Manage America's Resources for Tomorrow, was established in February 2010 to coordinate and encourage the efficient use of water and a blend of hydrologic and energy policies.

    Castle noted that in addition to completing the 163-page Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, the federal government signed a recent supplement to a Colorado River water use treaty with Mexico. It provides for international cooperation to ensure that river water reaches the Gulf of California for the first time in decades.

    The 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota ranked sixth on the Endangered Waters list, followed by the Black Warrior River in Alabama, the Rough and Ready and Baldface creeks in Oregon, the Kootenai River in Canada, Montana and Idaho and the Niobrara River in Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

    The Merced River, which flows through Yosemite Valley in California, was added to the list due to concerns that Congress may weaken wild and scenic protections, Kober said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 7 Surprising Health Effects of Drought

     

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    A major outbreak of severe thunderstorms is likely beginning Wednesday across the central and southern Plains. This outbreak has the potential to be one of the worst of the year.

    Cities with the greatest potential for severe weather into Wednesday night include Dallas, Wichita Falls, and Abilene, Texas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., Chanute, Kan., and Joplin and Springfield, Mo., to name a few.

    Thunderstorms will move across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa on Wednesday morning, despite temperatures in the 30s and 40s. Hail will be the biggest threat with these initial storms.

    Dangerous severe thunderstorms are expected to develop during the early to mid-afternoon hours and continue well into the evening Wednesday.

    Tornadoes will be the biggest danger with these storms. While not every storm will produce a tornado, those that do have the possibility to be rather strong and could be on the ground for an extended period.

    According to expert senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "Unlike the setup last week where cold air undercut the prime area for thunderstorms, this time the air is not quite as cold and seems to be holding farther north and west."

    "The setup last week yielded elevated thunderstorms (storms with the base of the clouds high off the ground) that were mostly hail producers," Sosnowski said. "Storms during the middle of this week over the Plains are likely to have a lower base and a greater risk of damaging wind and tornadoes along with an ongoing large hail threat."

    A southerly flow of moist air at the surface will shift to the west and become colder and drier higher above the ground. This shifting of wind with height, referred to by the weather community as wind shear, will contribute to the severity of the storms and may allow some of them to rotate. Rotating thunderstorms have a greater likelihood of producing a tornado.

    Extremely large hail to the size of baseballs is possible across these areas. Hail of this size can kill people and animals and cause extreme property damage.

    In addition to tornadoes and very large hail, wind gusts associated with these storms could exceed 60 mph and, in some cases, reach speeds of up to 70 or 80 mph. Blowing dust, uprooted trees and toppled power poles are possible.

    On Thursday, the severe weather threat will develop farther east as a potent cold front moves along through the Mississippi Valley, overtaking a warm and humid flow of air from the Gulf of Mexico.

    Thunderstorms will be ongoing Thursday morning from eastern Oklahoma through central Texas before spreading into the lower Mississippi River Valley Thursday afternoon and evening.
    This threat Thursday will reach the area from Shreveport and Alexandria, La., to Little Rock, Ark., Memphis, Tenn., St. Louis, Mo., and Peoria, Ill.

    Similar to what happened late last week, a large squall line could track across this region Thursday, bringing a widespread threat of wind damage. In addition, thunderstorms that pop up ahead of the main line could produce isolated tornadoes.

    AccuWeather.com meteorologists are also concerned about a threat of flash flooding across the middle Mississippi River Valley and some of its tributaries Thursday as torrential downpours accompany the thunderstorms.

    AccuWeather.com expert senior meteorologist Jim Andrews stated that "The Mississippi River at St. Louis just crested at 6 feet below flood stage and an additional 1-3 inches of rain could lead to the river rising above flood stage."

    Stay tuned to AccuWeather.com through early next week as we continue to monitor the potential for severe weather and river flooding.

    Check out the Severe Weather Center for the latest watches and warnings.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 18 Incredible Photos of Tornadoes

     

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    A statue of Branch Rickey is covered in snow outside of Coors Field before a baseball game between the New York Mets and the Colorado Rockies, Monday, April 15, 2013, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

    More than six Major League Baseball games have been postponed due to inclement weather this season, and more seem to be on the way.

    The Mets were unable to take on the Rockies Monday as snow fell in Denver, blanketing the uncovered stadium.

    This was the second consecutive postponement for the New York team -- a scenario they have not faced since August of 2011 during Hurricane Irene -- forcing the team into a split double header Tuesday.

    The two teams played a doubleheader on Tuesday, despite a biting wind and temperatures that were only in the 30s. Even though the teams were able to play Tuesday, Wednesday poses another chance for postponement. The team is slated to take on Denver Wednesday evening amidst forecasted snow and temperatures in the mid-20s.

    A stark contrast exists from last year, when Denver closed April at an average of 6 degrees above normal. In total, the month yielded only 1 inch of snowfall.

    Halfway through April 2013, however, the city is averaging 5 degrees below normal with more than 13.6 inches of snowfall.

    It's hit-or-miss with Denver this time of year, Bernie Rayno, AccuWeather.com Expert Meteorologist, explained.

    But the Rockies-Mets game will not be the only one facing game-threatening precipitation on Wednesday.

    As Texas takes on Chicago, temperatures will be in the lower 50s with rain. Precipitation may be intermittent enough, however, to get the game in, Rayno said.

    Minnesota will be at home versus Los Angeles, where light precipitation is expected. Though the game will probably not face postponement, it will be a cold one with temperatures dropping into the mid-30s.

    For a full map of stadium weather conditions across the country, visit the AccuWeather.com Baseball Stadium Weather Map.

    For more weather news, visit AccuWeather.com.

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

     

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    Miyake Island, Japan. (AP Photo)

    TOKYO (AP) - A strong earthquake and about 20 smaller temblors struck a small volcanic island south of Tokyo on Wednesday, slightly injuring three people but causing no danger of a tsunami.

    The strongest quake had a magnitude of 6.2 and hit just off Miyake island Wednesday evening at a depth of 12 miles, Japan's Meteorological Agency said. About 20 smaller temblors, half of them strong enough to be felt by humans, were recorded in the area throughout the day.

    Tokyo police said the strongest quake left three people with minor injuries. A man in his 40s suffered cuts from broken pieces of glass, and two elderly people at a nursing home sustained bruises from falling. The magnitude-6.2 quake also knocked down a concrete wall at a house and triggered several small landslides around the island, police said.

    "We've had moderate shakings repeatedly since this morning, and the one in the evening was surprisingly strong. Some things fell to the floor," said Miyake village official Naonobu Hayakawa.

    The Meteorological Agency said it detected no significant elevation in the island's volcanic activity and that there was no danger of a tsunami.

    The volcano, located 110 miles south of Tokyo, most recently erupted in 2000, forcing all 3,000 of the island's residents to evacuate for five years.

    A magnitude-5.8 quake struck Wednesday night off the coast of Miyagi in northern Japan, shaking large parts of the area devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the quake in the north. No abnormalities were reported at nuclear power plants in the region, including the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, public broadcaster NHK said.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Breathtaking Volcanic Eruptions Seen from Space

     

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