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    Thursday, June 6, 2013
    Tropical Storm Andrea
    The tropical storm toward over Florida's west coast. (NASA/NOAA)

    MIAMI (AP) - Heavy rain was pouring across much of Florida early Thursday as the first tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season headed toward the state's western coast and a new tropical storm warning was issued for a swath of the U.S. East Coast.

    Tropical storm warnings were in effect for a large section of Florida's west coast from Boca Grande to Indian Pass and for the East Coast from Flagler Beach, Florida, all the way to Cape Charles Light in Virginia.

    Tropical Storm Andrea's maximum sustained winds increased to near 60 mph (95 kph) and the storm was expected to make landfall in Florida's Big Bend area Thursday afternoon before moving across southeastern Georgia and the Carolinas. It was not expected to strengthen into a hurricane.

    "The rain covers a good portion of the Florida peninsula even though the center is a couple of hundred miles off shore," said Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

    Storm surge would be the biggest threat as the storm comes onshore, Blake said. The Hurricane Center expects a storm surge of up to 4 feet (1.2 meters) "near and to the south" of where the center makes landfall.

    He added that flash flooding was a concern, with up to 6 inches (152 millimeters) of rain expected. Isolated areas in Florida and southeastern Georgia could get 8 inches (200 millimeters) of rain.

    Already, the National Weather Service in Tampa confirmed two tornados touched down early Thursday - one in Myakka City and the other in Sun City Center. Meteorologist Rodney Wynn said there were reports of downed tree limbs and power lines and minor damage to the porch on at least one home. There were no reports of injuries.

    Wynn said there have also been reports of minor flooding in the area, including along Tampa's Bayshore Drive.

    Tornado warnings and watches could be issued throughout the day.

    The storm was expected to hug the coastline, bringing rain as far as the southern New England area through the weekend.

    As of about 8 a.m. EDT (1600 GMT) Thursday, the storm was centered about 160 miles (255 kilometers) west of Tampa and was moving north-northeast near 14 mph (22 kph).

    In Florida, Gulf Islands National Seashore closed its campgrounds and the road that runs through the popular beach-front park Wednesday. The national seashore abuts Pensacola Beach and the park road frequently floods during heavy rains. On Pensacola Beach, condominium associations asked people to remove furniture on high balconies because of the expected high winds and beach lifeguards warned tourists of possible high surf.

    In Alabama, authorities said that 13 people had to be rescued from rough surf kicked up by the storm Wednesday at beaches in two coastal towns. Most of those rescued did not require medical treatment.

     

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    Dresden, Germany, Flood
    Firemen evacuate residents in a rubber boat from the Halle Neustadt district flooded by the swollen Saale river on June 6, 2013 in Dresden, Germany. Eastern and southern Germany are suffering under floods that in some cases are the worst in 400 years. At least four people are dead and tens of thousands have evacuated their homes. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

    DRESDEN, Germany (AP) - The surging Elbe River crested Thursday in the eastern German city of Dresden, sparing the historic city center but engulfing wide areas of the Saxony capital.

    Residents and emergency crews had worked through the night to fight the floods in Dresden. The German military and the national disaster team sent more support in a frantic effort to sandbag levees and riverbanks as floodwaters that have claimed 16 lives since last week surged north.

    "Everybody's afraid but the people are simply fantastic and sticking together," said Dresden resident Silvia Fuhrmann, who had brought food and drinks to those building sandbag barriers.

    The Elbe hit 8.76 meters (28 feet, 9 inches) around midday - well above its regular level of two meters (6 1/2 feet). Still, that was not high enough to damage city's famous opera, cathedral and other buildings in its historic city center, which was devastated in a flood in 2002.

    Germany has 60,000 local emergency personnel and aid workers, as well as 25,000 federal disaster responders and 16,000 soldiers now fighting the floods.

    Farther downstream, the town of Lauenburg - just southwest of Hamburg - evacuated 150 houses along the Elbe, n-tv news reported, as the floodwaters roared toward the North Sea.

    In the south, the Bavarian city of Deggendorf was hit by a third levee break on Thursday, with floods gushing into neighborhoods. Scores of homes remained underwater and authorities warned that a dam was still in danger of bursting.

    "It's indescribably bad," Bavarian governor Horst Seehofer said upon visiting the area. "It's beyond comparison."

    In the Saxony-Anhalt city of Bitterfeld, an attempt to blow open another levee to lower waters threatening the city along the Mulde river was unsuccessful.

    Some 30,000 residents in nearby Halle were urged to evacuate, meanwhile, as the Saale river reached its highest level in 400 years.

    In the Czech Republic, firefighters said some 700 Czech villages, towns and cities have been hit by flooding in the last few days and some 20,500 people had to be evacuated. In the country's north, the water in the Elbe reached its highest level overnight and began to recede Thursday.

    In the Slovak capital of Bratislava, the Danube was still rising from the record levels it reached a day earlier, but authorities said protective barriers have held firm so far.

    So far, the floods have killed eight people in the Czech Republic, five in Germany, two in Austria and one in Slovakia.

     

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    Oklahoma television meteorologist Mike Morgan is being criticized for his reporting on the tornadoes that hit the Oklahoma City area on Friday, May 31. Morgan, chief meteorologist for Oklahoma City TV station KFOR, told viewers that if they couldn't take shelter underground or in a safe room, they should take to the roads and flee.

    "If you can't get below ground, get out of its way," he tells viewers at 14:40 in the video above. "But you don't have any time left. You can't wait any longer. It's got to be done immediately. Just drive to the east, away from it."

    According to Reuters, some people say they took Morgan's advice and found themselves in stalled traffic on major highways.

    The Oklahoman reports that at least eight of the 20 people who died in the storms were in their vehicles.

    The news organization pointed out that a former Oklahoma City TV meteorologist who is currently working in Dallas disagreed with Morgan's advice. "Not to get on my soapbox," Rick Mitchell tweeted Saturday morning, "but we really need to address this new message of having to leave a storm's path in order to survive ..."

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin called the situation on the roads a "nightmare."

    Ernst Kiesling, research professor at Texas Tech's National Wind Institute, also criticized the advice. "Irresponsible reporting of that kind is unconscionable in my mind," Kiesling told Reuters. "You have the responsibility to give more than your off-the-cuff opinions."

    Morgan has worked at KFOR since 1993 and has won numerous awards, including five Emmys. Morgan has not appeared on the station since Friday's report. KFOR said the meteorologist is on vacation and will return Thursday.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Stunning Photos from the 2013 Tornado Season
    Kansas Torndao

     

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    (Getty)

    The booming deer population in the northern United States is bad for the animal's beloved hemlocks, a new study finds.

    During Michigan winters, white-tailed deer converge on stands of young hemlocks for protection from winter chill and predators. The same deer return every year to their favorite clumps of the bushy evergreens, called deeryards. The high concentration of deer in a small space saturates the soils with nitrogen from pee, according to a study published online in the journal Ecology. While deer pee can be a valuable source of nitrogen, a rare and necessary nutrient for plants, some deeryards are now too rich for the hemlocks to grow.

    "Herbivores like deer interact with the ecosystem in two ways. One is by eating plants and the other is by excreting nutrients," said Bryan Murray, an ecologist and doctoral student at Michigan Tech University. "Urine can be a really high nitrogen resource, and hemlock can be out-competed by other species in really high nitrogen environments."

    Slow-growing hemlocks prefer low-nitrogen soil, and the prolific pee results in nitrogen-loving species like sugar maple outgrowing the hemlocks, the researchers found.

    Hemlocks are already struggling to recover from logging and other ecosystem changes that reduced their numbers to 1 percent of pre-settlement populations in some parts of Michigan, Murray said. "At the moment, it's difficult to find hemlock stands where there are saplings in the understory that are going to replace the hemlocks in the overstory when they die," he told OurAmazingPlanet. The lack of regeneration could be due to a number of issues, but deer overpopulation is a factor, he added.

    With the reduced hemlock cover available for deer, the booming white-tailed deer population means more deer crowd into the remaining forest. The researchers found more than 100 deer per square mile (2.6 square kilometers) in popular deeryards. And young hemlocks have a tough time recovering from the deer nibbling and browsing.

    In the eastern United States, an invasive sap-sucking bug called the adelgid is also killing off hemlocks.

    "The Upper Midwest represents one of the last strongholds of hemlocks," Murray said.

    Email Becky Oskin or follow her @beckyoskin. Follow us @OAPlanet, Facebook & 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.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 13 Animal Photos from Nat Geo's 2013 Traveler Photo Contest
    Swimming Pig

     

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    A view of a valley from the Wicklow Way, Ireland. (Getty)

    Major volcanic eruptions around the world have coincided with periods of unusually cold weather in Ireland for a span of more than 1,200 years, new research shows. The findings suggest eruptions could have complex effects on regional climates, possibly leading to cooling in areas of the Northern Hemisphere even in wintertime, which hadn't been clearly shown before.

    The study, published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, reconstructed the history of cold events in Ireland from the fifth through 17th centuries A.D., based on more than 40,000 writings of scribes and monks from that time. The history of volcanic eruptions was also recreated based on levels of sulfate found in Greenland ice cores - an accepted method to date past eruptions, said study author and Harvard researcher Francis Ludlow. By comparing the two sources, Ludlow and his colleagues found cold events were more likely to occur in the years after these eruptions: More than half of the 69 coldest periods happened in the years following huge volcanic eruptions, Ludlow said.

    "This suggests that a very major volcanic eruption can have a long-lasting impact on climate, with extreme cold occurring for possibly several years after an event," Ludlow told LiveScience.

    Cooling eruptions

    Scientists agree that on a global scale, large volcanic eruptions can cool the Earth. This happens because volcanoes spew out particles of sulfate, which can reach the stratosphere (the layer of the atmosphere above the troposphere, the segment of air we breathe and that is closest to the ground). Once in the stratosphere, the sulfate particles reflect incoming solar radiation and cool the globe. [Image Gallery: Wild Volcanoes]

    The impact of volcanoes on climate is most obvious in the summer. In winter, it gets more complicated: In some areas of the Northern Hemisphere, large volcanic eruptions have been associated with slightly warmer winters. This may be because sulfates can absorb heat leaving the Earth's surface, and reflect it back at the ground, Ludlow said.

    However, the new study found that many of these cold events happened in the winter. "This suggests that on a regional scale the response of the climate in winter may be more complex, and that an initial warming effect could potentially change to a significant cooling for some regions in the years following major tropical eruptions," Ludlow said (although the study looked at all major eruptions, not just tropical ones). "We need to learn more about how the climate of particular regions responds to major volcanic eruptions."

    Detailed records

    The records kept by medieval Irish scribes were incredibly detailed, and they were in agreement about many of these periods of cold weather. For example, the records described periods of frost and snowfall that were unusual for Ireland, said Andrei Kurbatov, a scientist at the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine who wasn't involved in the research.

    The records are so meticulous, and some of them are reliable enough that they will help tweak climate models, Kurbatov said. "Who would have thought?" he asked.

    One reason why certain monks took such detailed notes was that they thought extreme weather could signal the coming of the apocalypse. Here is one example shared by Ludlow, taken from the Annals of the Four Masters, written in 772: "... Terrific and horrible signs appeared at the time, which were like unto the signs of the day of judgment, namely, great thunder and lightning, so that it was insufferable to all to hear the one and see the other."

    One of the big historic eruptions that corresponds to severe cold in Ireland is the 1104 eruption of the Icelandic volcano Hekla, known from its large deposits of sulfate in Greenland ice. One writing from the same year, in the Annals of Inisfallen, reported, "Heavy snow this year, and a greatloss of cows, sheep and pigs in the same year." Then, in 1107, a record in the Annals of Ulster recorded that "Snow fell for a day and a night on the Wednesday before the feast of St. Patrick, and inflicted slaughter on beasts in Ireland."

    The effects of Hekla on the regional climate are particularly interesting because "Hekla is still very much an active volcano - one of the most active in Iceland, in fact - and probably has more trouble in store for us in the future," Ludlow said.

    Email Douglas Main or follow him on Twitter or Google+. 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.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Breathtaking Volcanic Eruptions from Space
    Volcanic Eruptions from Space

     

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    Thursday, June 6, 2013, 2:53 p.m.
    Tropical Storm Andrea Track

    Andrea will brush the mid-Atlantic coast and sweep over New England Friday into Saturday with locally heavy rain, brief gusty winds and a flooding risk.

    Early Wednesday evening, showers and thunderstorms in the eastern Gulf of Mexico had organized enough to become Tropical Storm Andrea.

    As of 11:00 a.m. EDT Thursday, maximum sustained winds with Andrea were 60 mph. The storm was located approximately 110 miles south-southeast of Apalachicola, Fla. Landfall is expected late in the day Thursday, near Cedar Key, Fla.

    While widespread flooding problems are not expected in the Northeast, Andrea will sweep quickly out of the Gulf of Mexico and northeastward along the Atlantic coast bringing tropical downpours and urban flooding concerns to end the week.

    Andrea is likely to retain tropical storm status at least as far to the northeast as the Carolinas.

    Travel delays from blinding tropical downpours, poor drainage area flooding and locally gusty thunderstorms are possible. A brief period of stiff winds will sweep northward, brushing the coast in some areas, especially Cape Hatteras, N.C., Long Island, N.Y., and Cape Cod, Mass.

    Coastal Rain, Urban Flooding

    The rain from Andrea will precede the center of circulation by 12 hours or more.

    Disruptive downpours can occur around Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton, New York City, Boston, Hartford, Providence, Portsmouth, N.H., and Portland, Maine.

    Indications are that most locations in this swath will be in for a 2- to 4-inch rainfall, but locally heavier amounts are possible, especially in southeastern Virginia, Delmarva, southern and coastal New Jersey, Long Island and southeastern New England.

    Coastal Wind, Above-Normal Tides

    A brief (approximately six-hour) period of gusty onshore winds along the coast will make for locally rough surf and strong rip currents. Bathers should exercise caution Friday and Saturday as the system approaches then swings by.

    RELATED:
    Interactive Hurricane Tracker
    Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast: AccuWeather.com Versus NOAA
    AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center
    Tropical Rainstorm Impact on Florida, South


    A water rise causing significant coastal flooding is not expected, due to the increasing forward speed and relatively weak nature of the tropical part of the system.

    However, higher astronomical tides occur during high tide cycles near and just before the new moon, which is midday Saturday. Brief, minor flooding around time of high tide is possible later Friday into Saturday morning. Water levels can be as high as 2 feet above published levels.

    Appalachian Rain, Flooding Concerns

    Another component of the rain will be from a storm system moving in from the Midwest. This rain is preceding Andrea's rain by a day or more but will linger somewhat in Andrea's wake.

    Tropical Storm Andrea

    The combination of Andrea's moisture and the presence of the Midwest system can enhance rainfall over the Appalachians, potentially leading to localized flash and urban flooding problems. Rainfall in this area can top 2 inches in some locations.

    Widespread flooding of streams and major river flooding are not expected, due to the quick forward motion of both systems.

    In between both main areas of heavy rain on the coast and over the mountains, downpours more spotty in nature will also occur. Rainfall in this area can vary tremendously from location to location, ranging from less than 0.25 of an inch to a couple of inches.

    Strong Thunderstorms

    Finally, the combination of the tropical part and non-tropical part of the storms can lead to locally strong thunderstorms, of which a handful could be severe at the local level. The greatest risk for locally severe thunderstorms would be near and just east of the track of the tropical system's center of circulation.

    Incidents of power outages and property damage would be very sporadic and should be relatively minor. However, since forecasting the exact location of individual thunderstorms is nearly impossible days in advance, there is the risk of a severe thunderstorm hitting a major population center with more widespread consequences.

    Heavy rain and locally gusty winds and thunderstorms will focus over Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland later Saturday and Saturday night, as both the Midwest and Gulf systems merge into one.

    On a positive note for lawn, garden and agricultural interests, the combination of the two storms will bring a dose of rain to many areas. Recent sunshine, low humidity and breezes have dried out the topsoil leaving shallow root vegetation in need of moisture.

    The bulk of the rain will leave the mid-Atlantic by Saturday morning and New England by Saturday afternoon and will allow most outdoor activities to resume for the balance of the weekend.

    There is a risk of spotty showers in the area during the early evening for the Belmont Stakes on Long Island, N.Y.

    However, a disturbance producing thunderstorms around Texas and Louisiana Thursday evening can bring a round of thundery downpours to part of the mid-Atlantic Saturday afternoon and evening.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Stunning Hurricane Photos from Space

     

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    Friday, June 7, 2013, 9:12 a.m. ET

    The High Hazard surf warning flag flies in front of the Atlantic Beach, Fla., Ocean Rescue station was nearly blown away by the winds. Wind, rain and heavy surf hit the area as Tropical Storm Andrea moved into Florida. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack)

    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - After bringing rains, heavy winds and even tornadoes to parts of Florida, Tropical Storm Andrea moved quickly across south Georgia and was speeding through the Carolinas on Friday morning, promising sloppy commutes and waterlogged vacation getaways through the beginning of the weekend.

    The first named storm of the Atlantic season lost some intensity after making landfall Thursday in Florida's Big Bend and its winds were down to 45 mph (75 kph) Friday.

    Ben Nelson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville, Fla., said Andrea (pronounced AN'-dree-ah) was "moving at a pretty brisk pace" and could lose its tropical characteristics Friday.

    During the morning rush hour in Charleston, S.C., there was little evidence the center of the storm was passing to the northwest beyond a few downed tree branches, gusty winds and some puddles in the street. The sun occasionally peeked through.

    Derrec Becker with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division said the storm was moving northeast at nearly 30 mph. Across the state, he said, Andrea has brought nothing more than a severe thunderstorm. No injuries were reported and there had been no reports of significant damage.

    The storm was expected to move into North Carolina by midday.

    The National Weather Service issued flood watches across much of both states, was well as tornado and flash flood watches in several counties.

    Thousands of power outages were also reported.

    Tropical storm warnings remained in effect for the East Coast from Savannah, Ga., to Cape Charles Light in Virginia, the Pamlico and Albemarle sounds and the lower Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort. A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected somewhere inside the warning area within a day and a half.

    As of 8 a.m. EDT Friday, Andrea was centered about 35 miles (60 kilometers) north-northwest of Charleston with little change in strength expected.

    Rains and winds from the storm were forecast to sweep northward along the Southeastern U.S. coast Friday.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott had warned of the risk of tornadoes, and officials said that eight were confirmed across the state.

    "This one fortunately is a fast-moving storm," he said Thursday. Slower-moving storms can pose a greater flood risk because they have more time to linger and dump rain.

    In The Acreage, a part of Palm Beach County, Fla., pre-kindergarten teacher Maria Cristina Arias choked back tears and clutched valuable personal papers as she surveyed the damage done by a tornado to her five-bedroom home when she was away. Windows were smashed and a neighbor's shed had crashed into her bedroom.

    "It's all destroyed," she told The Palm Beach Post. "This is unbelievable. I don't know what we're going to do."

    Her 19-year-old son, Christian, was sleeping when he heard a loud noise.

    "It was really scary," said the teen, who wasn't hurt. "It sounded like something exploded. I didn't know what was going on."

    In the Carolinas, Andrea's biggest threat was heavy rain, with as much as 6 inches expected, the weather service said.

    Forecasters didn't expect major problems, however, along the most vulnerable parts of the coast such as the Outer Banks, a popular tourist destination.

    John Elardo, a meteorologist with the weather service in Newport, N.C., said the storm would push major waves to the north and northeast, away from the Outer Banks, where storms in the fall and winter wore away dunes and washed out portions of N.C. Highway 12, the only road connecting the barrier island to the mainland of North Carolina.

    Andrea could bring up to a foot of flooding on the sound side of the Outer Banks, Elardo said.

    The rain threatened to ruin a beach day for Angela Hursh, 41, of Cincinnati, who had rented a house in Frisco, N.C. Hursh was planning Friday to soak in the hot tub and watch movies with her 9-year-old and 13-year-old daughters.

    "I think we're just going to hunker down and eat junk food," Hursh said Thursday.

    Doug Brindley, who owns a vacation lodging rental service on the northern end of the Outer Banks near Virginia, said Thursday he expects all outdoor activities to be washed out Friday, driving tens of thousands of early-summer vacationers toward unexpected shopping sprees.

    "We're going to have rain and wind," said Brindley, who owns Brindley Beach Vacations and Sales. "Retailers are going to love it."

    In Cuba, heavy rains associated with the storm system have soaked the western part of the island for the past several days, overflowing rivers and damaging crops. At least 30 towns were cut off by flooding, and more than 2,600 people sought refuge from the rising waters at relatives' homes or state-run shelters, the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported Thursday.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tropical Storm Andrea Pounds Florida

     

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    Updated Friday, June 7, 2013, 6:40 pm. ET


    Andrea will brush the mid-Atlantic coast and sweep over New England Friday into Saturday with locally heavy rain, brief gusty winds and a flooding risk.

    As of 2:00 p.m. EDT Friday, maximum sustained winds with Andrea were around 45 mph. The storm was located about 5 miles south-southwest of Fayetteville, N.C.. Around 5:45 p.m. EDT Thursday, Andrea made landfall along the Florida Big Bend.

    While widespread flooding problems are not expected in the Northeast, Andrea will quickly move along the Atlantic coast on Friday, bringing tropical downpours and urban flooding concerns to end the week.

    Andrea retained tropical storm status into Friday afternoon as it crossed through the Carolinas before being recategorized as a tropical rain storm around 5 p.m. EDT.

    Travel delays from blinding tropical downpours, poor drainage area flooding and locally gusty thunderstorms are possible. A brief period of stiff winds will sweep northward, brushing the coast in some areas, especially Cape Hatteras, N.C., Long Island, N.Y., and Cape Cod, Mass.

    Coastal Rain, Urban Flooding

    The rain from Andrea will precede the center of circulation by 12 hours or more.

    Disruptive downpours can occur around Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton, New York City, Boston, Hartford, Providence, Portsmouth, N.H., and Portland, Maine.

    Indications are that most locations in this swath will be in for a 2- to 4-inch rainfall, but locally heavier amounts are possible, especially in southeastern Virginia, Delmarva, southern and coastal New Jersey, Long Island and southeastern New England.

    Coastal Wind, Above-Normal Tides

    A brief (approximately six-hour) period of gusty onshore winds along the coast will make for locally rough surf and strong rip currents. Bathers should exercise caution Friday and Saturday as the system approaches then swings by.

    RELATED:
    Interactive Hurricane Tracker
    Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast: AccuWeather.com Versus NOAA
    AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center
    Tropical Rainstorm Impact on Florida, South


    A water rise causing significant coastal flooding is not expected, due to the increasing forward speed and relatively weak nature of the tropical part of the system.

    However, higher astronomical tides occur during high tide cycles near and just before the new moon, which is midday Saturday. Brief, minor flooding around time of high tide is possible later Friday into Saturday morning. Water levels can be as high as 2 feet above published levels.

    Appalachian Rain, Flooding Concerns

    Another component of the rain will be from a storm system moving in from the Midwest. This rain is preceding Andrea's rain by a day or more but will linger somewhat in Andrea's wake.

    The combination of Andrea's moisture and the presence of the Midwest system can enhance rainfall over the Appalachians, potentially leading to localized flash and urban flooding problems. Rainfall in this area can top 2 inches in some locations.

    Widespread flooding of streams and major river flooding are not expected, due to the quick forward motion of both systems.

    In between both main areas of heavy rain on the coast and over the mountains, downpours more spotty in nature will also occur. Rainfall in this area can vary tremendously from location to location, ranging from less than 0.25 of an inch to a couple of inches.

    Strong Thunderstorms

    Finally, the combination of the tropical part and non-tropical part of the storms can lead to locally strong thunderstorms, of which a handful could be severe at the local level. The greatest risk for locally severe thunderstorms would be near and just east of the track of the tropical system's center of circulation.

    Incidents of power outages and property damage would be very sporadic and should be relatively minor. However, since forecasting the exact location of individual thunderstorms is nearly impossible days in advance, there is the risk of a severe thunderstorm hitting a major population center with more widespread consequences.

    Heavy rain and locally gusty winds and thunderstorms will focus over Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland later Saturday and Saturday night, as both the Midwest and Gulf systems merge into one.

    On a positive note for lawn, garden and agricultural interests, the combination of the two storms will bring a dose of rain to many areas. Recent sunshine, low humidity and breezes have dried out the topsoil leaving shallow root vegetation in need of moisture.

    The bulk of the rain will leave the mid-Atlantic by Saturday morning and New England by Saturday afternoon and will allow most outdoor activities to resume for the balance of the weekend.

    There is a risk of spotty showers in the area during the early evening for the Belmont Stakes on Long Island, N.Y.

    However, a disturbance producing thunderstorms around Texas and Louisiana Thursday evening can bring a round of thundery downpours to part of the mid-Atlantic Saturday afternoon and evening.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tropical Storm Andrea Pounds Florida

     

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    Friday, June 7, 2013

    This file film image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel." (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, Clay Enos, File)

    BURBANK, Calif. (AP) - In the upcoming film "Man of Steel," Superman faces off against ruthless outcasts from his home planet. The last son of Krypton also encounters a more realistic force of nature on earth: a deadly tornado.

    "Man of Steel" director Zack Snyder said there was never any discussion about altering the pivotal scene involving a twister following recent deadly storms in Oklahoma.

    "He's changed by those events," said Snyder during an interview to promote the movie. "If anything, we feel like our Superman has a connection - not to make light of it - to the kind of grief that happens during those kinds of natural disasters. Also, in a sad way, even Superman can't change that."

    A top-of-the-scale EF5 tornado hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore on May 20, killing 24 people. Another round of violent storms that produced a separate EF5 tornado struck last Friday, leaving nearly two dozen people dead.

    "It's a terrible tragedy, mother nature doing its thing," said Henry Cavill, who plays Clark Kent and Kal-El. "I hope that everyone who can salvage things can salvage things, grieve if they need to grieve, move on from stuff and repair and rebuild, if they have the opportunity. I can't even imagine what it's like."

    The tornado scene in "Man of Steel" can briefly be spotted in the latest trailers for the Warner Bros. film, which is set for release June 14.

    Earlier this year, Warner Bros. released "Gangster Squad" after delaying the shoot-'em-up movie so filmmakers could rework a key scene involving an attack on a theater after the deadly shooting at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo.

     

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    Friday, June 7, 2013

    Cars stand submerged in the floodwater of the river Danube in Deggendorf, southern Germany, Friday, June 7. (AP Photo/dpa, Peter Kneffel)

    BERLIN (AP) - The crest of the flood-swollen Danube River surged toward the Hungarian capital of Budapest on Friday, while communities along the Elbe in Germany braced for high water as the river churned toward the North Sea.

    Elsewhere in central Europe, communities were beginning to count the cost of devastating floods that have hit Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic.

    At least 19 people have died over the past week, and experts say the economic damage in Germany alone could top €11 billion ($14.59 billion).

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Massive Flooding in Central Europe
    Germany FloodingThe Danube's crest left Austria on Friday and entered Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned that water levels were above the all-time highs.

    "It is now certain that we must face the largest-ever flood on the Danube, so we must be prepared for the worst," Orban said in the western city of Gyor, on the Danube.

    The Danube crest was expected to reach Budapest on Monday, and Mayor Istvan Tarlos said that in a worst-case scenario up to 55,000 people may need to be evacuated. But he was confident that only the lowest-lying areas of the city would be exposed to the Danube's expanded flow.

    Tarlos said the Danube was expected to rise to around 8.95 meters (31 feet) in the downtown area, while the walls along the river and temporary defenses would be able to keep out waters rising to as much as 9.3 meters (30.5 feet).

    Farther upstream in Hungary, about 900 people had to leave their homes because of the flood.

    In neighboring Slovakia, the situation was critical in the border city of Komarno where the Danube was still rising and was expected to do so till Saturday. Rescuers, soldiers and volunteers have been filling sand bags to reinforce protective barriers.

    In the Czech Republic, the government's central crisis committee ordered local authorities to leave all flood protection measures in place because meteorologists have forecast a risk of heavy rains for the next few days and the situation might get worse again.

    "The flooding is not over yet," Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas.

    In Germany, meanwhile, water levels were stabilizing in the south and east, even as the crest of the Elbe rolled northward.

    Authorities in Magdeburg, the state capital of Saxony-Anhalt, reported that water levels in the Elbe were higher than during record floods the region experienced in 2002. Since then, flood defenses have been significantly upgraded.

    The German military said some 11,300 soldiers were helping build sandbag barriers and flying helicopters over flood zones to ensure levees and dams were holding.

    A 74-year-old man died after he was hit by a vehicle carrying sandbags in the eastern town of Wittenberg. Five other flood-related deaths have been recorded in Germany, ten in the Czech Republic, two in Austria and one each in Slovakia and Switzerland.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Massive Flooding in Central Europe
    Flooding Germany

     

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    Tropical Storm Andrea spawned a number of tornadoes this week, and surveillance cameras captured the moment one of them hit Yummy's restaurant in Gulfport, Fla. Reported by My Fox Tampa Bay:

    The twister that began as a waterspout moved down Beach Boulevard; Yummy's suffered the most significant damage in the town when a cedar tree was ripped apart and its branches were thrown into the restaurant.


    A day after the tornado struck, the restaurant's owner told the station he would open for business on schedule and would rebuild damaged areas.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tropical Storm Andrea Pounds Florida

     

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    A woman makes her way along flooded areas of Singletary Street after heavy rain from Tropical Storm Andreas sweeps across the region Friday, June 7, 2013 in Wilson, N.C. (AP Photo/The Wilson Times, Gray Whitley)

    NEW YORK (AP) - Soaking rains that spawned numerous flood warnings pushed some streams and creeks over their banks throughout the Northeast, yet the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season sped up the Eastern Seaboard without causing major damage.

    The storm was centered over eastern Long Island in New York by 5 a.m. Saturday, with winds of 45 mph, and flood warnings were in effect for parts of New England. The storm was expected to reach Canadian waters by Sunday.

    After bringing rain, strong winds and tornadoes to Florida, Andrea lost most of its tropical characteristics late Friday into Saturday. The storm was packing winds that gusted between 20 to 30 mph, and officials warned of near gale force from New Jersey to Canada through Sunday.

    The storm was blamed for one traffic-related death in Virginia.

    Late Friday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami discontinued all tropical storm warnings, but cautioned about possible coastal and localized flooding from New Jersey to New England.

    Dean Iovino, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Laurel, N.J., said Saturday the storm was expected to pick up speed through the overnight hours, and could drop from 3 to 5 inches of rain in areas from New Jersey into New England before tapering off.

    Officials in the Mid-Atlantic region and Northeast had prepared for it Friday night. New York City activated its flash flooding plan, and heavy rainfall resulted in a number of flash floods, causing some sections of roadways to be closed throughout Long Island.

    A number of roads were flooded in the Boston area. A flight that left Boston on Friday night headed to Palm Beach was diverted to Newark International Airport in New Jersey after being struck by lightning. There were no injuries.

    The weather service reported that small streams and creeks in southeastern Pennsylvania were going over their banks Friday night. New York City's airports experienced flight delays, and Connecticut reported numerous lane closures on highway as cars spun out amid heavy rain.

    The rainy weather washed out events such as NASCAR's Sprint Cup qualifying in Pennsylvania's Poconos, and MLB games in Washington, New York and Boston.

    The heavy rain from the storm's outer bands was being blamed by authorities in Virginia for a fatal accident on Interstate 77 in the state's western mountains. William Petty, 57, of Lexington, S.C., died when a car in which he was a passenger hydroplaned while passing a tractor-trailer. He survived the crash, only to be killed moments later when the car was struck by second tractor-trailer, authorities said.

    During Friday's morning rush in Charleston, S.C., there was little evidence - beyond a few downed tree branches, gusty winds and some puddles in the street - that the center of the storm was passing nearby. The sun occasionally peeked through.

    Derrec Becker with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division said the storm brought only a severe thunderstorm Friday. No injuries were reported, and there had been no reports of significant damage.

    Mike Sprayberry of North Carolina Emergency Management told the Weather Channel that there had been some flash flooding and local road closures in the state but that "so far we have been quite fortunate."

    Thousands of power outages were also reported.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott had warned Thursday of the risk of tornadoes, and officials said that eight were confirmed across the state.

    There were no major problems along the most vulnerable parts of the coast such as North Carolina's Outer Banks.

    David Tweedie, 41, of Ocracoke, said an early-morning burst of rain and the forecast of another three hours or so of rain and wind on the Outer Banks island has done little to alter the day's routine for the roughly 1,000 year-round residents.

    The Friday fish fry that kicks off the island's annual folk music and arts festival was moved indoors to the island's only public school, and a musical performance of the three-day event was shifted to the community center. But the tropical system was otherwise forcing no changes to the Ocrafolk Festival that normally draws more than 2,000 visitors, Tweedie said.

    Authorities in coastal Bertie County, N.C., said a school bus with 32 elementary students on board slid off the road and into a ditch about 8 a.m. No injuries were reported.

    A Coast Guard cutter and HC-130 Hercules airplane were called to rescue four adults aboard a 35-foot sailboat about 65 miles off Charleston, S.C. The sailboat's engine was disabled during the storm and left rocking in 15-foot seas and 35-mph winds.

    Farther east in Chapel Hill, heavy rains forced the forced the postponement of Friday's NCAA super regional baseball series opener between No. 1 seeded North Carolina and South Carolina until Saturday. A second game between N.C. State and Rice in Raleigh was also postponed.

    While the storm moved out of Florida early Friday, the Sunshine State was still feeling the effects into the day. The weather service estimated that feeder bands from Andrea's remnants dropped more than 9 inches of rain on eastern Miami-Dade County and more than 6 inches of rain on eastern Broward County on Friday.

    In Cuba, days of torrential rains associated with Andrea caused rivers to jump their banks in the western province of Pinar del Rio. More than 3,300 people evacuated endangered homes, and nearly 1,000 acres of croplands suffered "serious damage," state-run newspaper Juventud Rebelde said Friday. Rain was forecast to continue falling on already waterlogged areas through Saturday.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tropical Storm Andrea Pounds East Coast

     

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    Crew members in ponchos push the car of Timmy Hill through the garage area during inspections for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 auto race Friday in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo/Russ Hamilton Sr.)

    The remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea washed away sporting events from the Southeast to New England.

    Major League games in Washington, Boston and New York were postponed Friday, hours before their scheduled starts.

    Rain was expected to last in New York until Saturday morning, possibly leaving a wet track for the Belmont Stakes.

    Qualifying for the NASCAR's race in Long Pond, Pa., was canceled. The Party in the Poconos 400 is scheduled for Sunday and the point standings will be used to set the lineup. Points leader Jimmie Johnson will automatically sit on the pole.

    There are only 43 entries for the race so no driver will miss the field.

    In Chapel Hill, N.C., the first game of the best-of-three NCAA super regional between North Carolina and South Carolina was postponed. The teams will play Saturday and Sunday. If a third game is needed, it will be played Monday.

    Over in Raleigh, N.C., Game 1 of the Rice-North Carolina State super regional was also pushed back until Saturday.

    The first named storm of the Atlantic season lost some intensity after making landfall Thursday in Florida and its winds were down to 45 mph Friday afternoon.

    The storm is forecast to move out of North Carolina on Friday night and north up along the Delmarva peninsula and into New England. A tropical storm warning for the Atlantic Coast on Friday extended from Little River inlet in South Carolina to the lower Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. The storm was expected to bring 2 to 4 inches of rain to the Eastern Seaboard as well as storm surge-related flooding.

    Cities in the Mid-Atlantic region and Northeast were bracing for the storm. New York City activated its flash flooding plan, while a flash flood watch was issued for southeastern Pennsylvania.

    The Mets were scheduled to play the Marlins, but the matchup of young aces Matt Harvey of New York and Jose Fernandez of Miami was pushed back a day. Friday's game will be part of a September doubleheader.

    The Red Sox and Angels will play a doubleheader on Saturday at Fenway Park to make up for the postponement. The Nationals and the Minnesota Twins will make up their game with a Sunday doubleheader.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Tropical Storm Andrea Pounds East Coast

     

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    Inhabitants carry belongings through the floods of river Elbe in Magdeburg, eastern Germany, Saturday. (AP Photo/dpa,Jens Buettner)

    BERLIN (AP) - More than 80,000 emergency personnel including firefighters and soldiers were on duty Saturday, working aggressively to contain the most dramatic floods in Germany in a decade. Thousands of residents were still unable to return to their homes, and bridges and streets were impassable in many regions of eastern and southern Germany.

    Twenty people reportedly have already died in the floods across central Europe after several days of heavy rains.

    German news agency dpa said people in Magdeburg in Saxony-Anhalt were anxiously waiting downstream as the crest of the Elbe river approached Saturday, while residents further upstream were starting to clean up the debris that was left along the river.

    In Magdeburg, authorities evacuated a nursing home and turned off electricity in several parts of the city. Where the Saale river meets the Elbe, about 3,000 people had to leave their homes.

    High water levels were also reported in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, while thousands of people in Austria were busy shoveling away mud left by the receding floodwaters of the Danube.

    In Hungary, around 2,000 residents of the town of Gyorujfalu northwest of the capital of Budapest were evacuated because authorities were afraid the levees wouldn't withstand the pressure of the Danube's waters. Another 980 residents had to leave their homes along the river out of precaution.

    The rising waters of the Danube, Europe's biggest river, were expected to reach Budapest on Monday. The water levels were already at 28.2 feet on Saturday and expected to rise to 29.4 feet at the peak of the flood - inching close up to the top of the river's flood fences, which are 30.5 feet tall.

    In Slovakia, the Danube was still on the rise in the towns of Sturovo and Komarno near the Hungarian border. The situation in Komarno was especially critical as several protective barriers started leaking and volunteers had arrived to reinforce them with sandbags.

    In the Czech Republic, the waters were dropping further and clean-up work was under way. However, anti-flood measures were to remain in place as heavy rains and thunderstorms were forecast for the weekend.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Stunning Hurricane Photos from Space

     

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    NASA's Opportunity rover has spent nine years on the surface of Mars. NASA/JPL

    NASA's Opportunity Mars rover is poised to break the distance record for off-planet driving, but any celebration of this exploration milestone will have to wait until scientists figure out exactly what the record is.

    The all-time mark is held by the Soviet Union's remote-controlled Lunokhod 2 rover, which traveled about 23 miles (37 kilometers) on the moon back in 1973. Opportunity is breathing down Lunokhod 2's neck, having racked up 22.75 miles (36.61 km) on Mars since touching down in January 2004.

    But it's unclear exactly how much farther Opportunity needs to go, because the old moon rover's mark is imprecise, scientists say. [Distances Driven on Other Worlds (Infographic)]

    "They didn't really have any good orbital images in which to operate [Lunokhod 2], so their estimate, which has been published for many years, of 37 kilometers is highly uncertain," Opportunity principal investigator Steve Squyres of Cornell University told reporters today (June 7).

    "We have enormous respect for what the Soviets managed to accomplish in 1973 with the technology of that day," Squyres added. "And so we would not want to claim to have beaten the record until we're really sure that we did it."

    Scientists now have high-quality images of the moon taken by spacecraft such as NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and some of these photos even show Lunokhod 2's tracks. So researchers could nail down the longstanding off-planet driving record if they wanted to, Squyres said.

    But he and his fellow Opportunity team members have no plans to do this work themselves.

    "We are just going to patiently wait until somebody, either in Russia or in the United States, comes up with a really well-calibrated number for how far Lunokhod actually drove, and then we'll see," Squyres said.

    The Opportunity rover has been exploring the rim of 14-mile-wide Endeavour Crater since August 2011. Last month, the robot departed from a site called Cape York, where it found evidence of a possibly habitable ancient environment, to head toward Solander Point, which lies 1.4 miles away.

    Mission scientists want Opportunity to investigate Solander's many layers of exposed geological material. The area also has a north-facing slope, which will allow Opportunity to point its electricity-generating solar panels toward the sun during the coming southern-hemisphere Martian winter, which peaks in February 2014.

    Opportunity already holds the American record for off-planet driving, wresting it away last month from the Apollo 17 moon buggy, which NASA astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt drove 22.21 miles (35.74 km) across the lunar surface in December 1972.

    Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebookor Google+. Originally published on SPACE.com. Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

     

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    Manhattan, Rising Sea Levels
    (Comstock)

    NEW YORK (AP) - By the 2050s, more than 800,000 New York City residents could be living in a flood zone that would cover a quarter of the city's land and New Yorkers could sweat out as many 90-degree days as is now normal for Birmingham, Ala., as effects of global warming take hold, a scientists' group convened by the city says.

    With local waters a foot to 2½ feet higher than they are today, 8 percent of the city's coastline could see flooding just from high tides, the group estimates. And while the average day could be 4 degrees to nearly 7 degrees hotter, a once-in-a-century storm would likely spur a surge 5 or more feet higher than Superstorm Sandy, which sent a record 14-foot storm tide gushing into lower Manhattan.

    The updated predictions were released Monday, ahead of recommendations Mayor Michael Bloomberg is to present Tuesday on what to do about threats that Sandy brought into stark relief.

    "We have to look ahead and anticipate any and all future threats, not only from hurricanes and other coastal storms but also from droughts, heavy downpours and heat waves - many of which are likely to be longer and more intense in the years to come," an excerpt from the mayor's planned speech says.

    Two top Bloomberg aides who oversaw the study, Seth Pinsky and Deputy Mayor Caswell Holloway, wouldn't hint at what the suggestions would be, what they might cost or how they might be financed. Many key decisions likely will come after Bloomberg's third and final term ends this year.

    Bloomberg said last winter the study would examine the pros and cons of building berms, dunes, levees and other coast-protection structures. But he has historically been cool to the idea of massive sea walls - and emphatic about not suggesting that people move out of coastal areas.

    City Hall, the state government and others have released warnings over the years about climate risks in the nation's most populous city. The city has required some new developments in flood zones to be elevated and has restored wetlands as natural barriers, among other steps.

    "Sandy, obviously, increased the urgency of dealing with this and the need to plan and start to take concrete steps," Holloway said.

    The new projections echo 2009 estimates from the scientists' group, called the New York City Panel on Climate Change, but move up the time frame for some upper-end possibilities from the 2080s to mid-century.

    "The overall numbers are similar, but we have more compelling evidence now that (a more severe scenario from 2009) is looking like a more realistic possibility now," due to improved computer models and more evidence that some ice sheets are melting, said Radley Horton, a climate scientist with Columbia University's Earth Institute and a researcher with the city climate panel.

    Scientists have reached a consensus on global warming, but still debate how severe the effects will be.

    Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released revisions Monday to proposed new flood zone maps for the city. About 218,000 people and 35,000 buildings are in the current once-in-100-year flood zone, drawn in the 1980s. The new maps roughly double those numbers, though the revision shifts about 5,800 structures from a subset called the V zone - the area expected to suffer the worst damage - to a less stringent zone.

    A roughly two-year review is expected before new maps become official. They can affect building regulations and insurance.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 10 U.S. Cities Most At Risk from Rising Sea Levels
    Boston, Rising Sea Level

     

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