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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Severe storms, possible tornado lash Illinois

OKAWVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- Cleanup efforts were under way Wednesday in southern Illinois after a storm pounded the region with large hail and as much of six inches of rain, and spawned an apparent tornado that overturned a tractor trailer and leveled farm outbuildings.

Okawville Police Chief Steve Millikin said a tornado that he videotaped Tuesday night on his dashboard camera clipped the northern edge of his 1,400-resident Washington County village, narrowly missing the community's downtown.

"We got lucky, to be flat honest with you," he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "Had it come a half mile to the south, it would have come right through town, and we would have had a mess."

Millikin said the trucker in the semi rig that was blown over on Interstate 64 was slightly injured. He also said the storm leveled a house being built and damaged roofs and farm structures.

Eyewitness reports and video appear to confirm that a tornado caused that damage, although the intensity, path and length of that twister were expected to be determined Wednesday, said meteorologist Ben Miller of the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

"We're pretty sure it's a tornado," Miller said.

Portions of southern Illinois got pelted by hail at times as big as pingpong balls, with 4 to 6 inches of rain dumped by the storm since Tuesday night causing flash flooding.

Miller said the storms were expected to hound the region perhaps into the weekend.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to letters@usatoday.com. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to corrections.usatoday.com.

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Friday, November 2, 2012

American Sunscapes: St. Thomas, V.I.

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Julie Quandt sent us this photo from a resort on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

"The top part of the water is the infinity pool which then overlooked the ocean below," she writes. "It was the most beautiful sunset we've ever witnessed!


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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Winds could fan deadly Calif. wildfire

Residents help battle the fire in Murrieta, Calif. Firefighters say it's too soon to determine the gender of the body found in a burned home in the Campo area on Monday. Frank Bellino, The Press-Enterprise/AP

Residents help battle the fire in Murrieta, Calif. Firefighters say it's too soon to determine the gender of the body found in a burned home in the Campo area on Monday.

Frank Bellino, The Press-Enterprise/AP

Residents help battle the fire in Murrieta, Calif. Firefighters say it's too soon to determine the gender of the body found in a burned home in the Campo area on Monday.

CAMPO, Calif. (AP) â?? A fire that killed an elderly man who refused to evacuate and burned 20 homes in rural San Diego County was smoldering Tuesday, but gusty afternoon winds could push it back to life, authorities said.

Nearly 1,000 firefighters planned an all-out effort to surround the blaze, which continued to threaten about 25 homes in the rural community of Tierra del Sol near the U.S.-Mexican border, said fire spokesman Andy Menshek. Residents of two other small communities were allowed to return home earlier.

About 80 residents remained under evacuation orders.

"That is the one remaining evacuated area," Menshek said. "That's out highest priority today â?¦ we have propane tanks, downed power lines and a lot of hotspots to mop up."

The fire, which has burned nearly 4 1/2 square miles of hilly brush land since Sunday, was 55 percent contained.

Although no active flame was showing, winds began picking up Tuesday morning and gusts of up to 40 mph could hit in the afternoon, Menshek said.

"If we get one ember over the line, the fire could take off," he said.

On Monday, the body of an elderly man was retrieved from a burned home in Tierra del Sol. Neighbors reported the man missing when they saw his only vehicle parked at the home, authorities said. His identity was not immediately released, but neighbors told U-T San Diego he was 82 and had one leg.

Reverse 911 calls notifying homeowners of the evacuation order were made by the county sheriff's department. Neighbors said the man decided to remain.

"He felt that he was going to be OK if he stayed," sheriff's Lt. Rose Kurupas told the newspaper.

"He chose to stay and that's sad," Menshek said. "That's why we issue these evacuations."

Other blazes in the West remained active, blanketing some communities in eastern Washington state with smoke. The air quality in many Wenatchee and Cashmere areas was deemed either "hazardous" or "unhealthy" by state officials.

Authorities there updated the sizes of two of the state's largest fires after more accurate mapping and burnouts to create fire lines, officials said. The Wenatchee complex of fires was reported at 82 square miles, while the Table Mountain fire had burned nearly 57 square miles.

Crews also gained ground on a 5 1/2-square-mile fire in Montana's Musselshell County, allowing residents to return to about 50 homes southeast of Roundup. That blaze was human-caused and under investigation.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to letters@usatoday.com. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to corrections.usatoday.com.

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Floods kill dozens in India; more than 1 million flee

(AP) GAUHATI, India (AP) -- Flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains have killed at least 30 people in India's remote northeast over the last three days, officials and news reports said Monday. More than a million people have been forced to flee their homes.

Police in Gangtok said Monday that 21 bodies were recovered after flood waters washed away a highway in Sikkim state that the men were working on. Ten thousand villagers were cut off by the heavy road damage near the town of Chungthan in the mountainous region. At least eight others were feared missing after a landslide hit another part of Sikkim.

The Press Trust of India news agency reported that at least four people have been killed by flooding over the last three days in the neighboring state of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Assam state government said flood waters there have killed at least seven people and forced nearly a million to leave their homes.

Military helicopters have been dropping food supplies and helping rescue stranded villagers in the worst-hit parts of Assam, local officials said. In Tinsukhia district at least 150 people have been rescued by air force helicopters, local administrator Meenakshi Sundaram said.

He said river ferries were unable to reach at least one region because heavy timbers were floating down the Brahmputra river at high speed, making it very dangerous for boats.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to letters@usatoday.com. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to corrections.usatoday.com.

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