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US: Winter weather? Almanac says 'Numb's the word!'

Lewiston, Maine - People worried about the high cost of keeping warm this winter will draw little comfort from the Farmers' Almanac, which predicts below-average temperatures for most of the U.S.

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©AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach
Peter Geiger, editor of the Farmers' Almanac, poses outside his company in Lewiston, Maine, on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008. The 192-year-old publication, which claims an accuracy rate of 80 to 85 percent for its forecasts that are prepared two years in advance is predicting below-average temperatures for most of the U.S. this coming winter.

"Numb's the word," says the 192-year-old publication, which claims an accuracy rate of 80 to 85 percent for its forecasts that are prepared two years in advance.

The almanac's 2009 edition, which goes on sale Tuesday, says at least two-thirds of the country can expect colder-than-average temperatures this winter, with only the Far West and Southeast in line for near-normal readings.

"This is going to be catastrophic for millions of people," said almanac editor Peter Geiger.

The almanac predicts above-normal snowfall for the Great Lakes and Midwest, especially during January and February, and above-normal precipitation for the Southwest in December and for the Southeast in January and February. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions will likely have an unusually wet or snowy February, the almanac said.

In contrast, the usually wet Pacific Northwest could be a bit drier than normal in February.

Cloud Lightning

Tornadoes strike near Denver on eve of convention

Tornadoes touched down just outside Denver amid stormy weather on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, the US National Weather Service said.

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©Jeff Smith

The service issued tornado warnings for four counties immediately south and east of Denver, but not for the city itself.

"Numerous trained weather spotters reported several tornadoes between Parker and Castle Rock," two towns south of Denver, the National Weather Service said in a bulletin.

It reported a large tornado in southern Arapahoe county, east of Denver, at 5:47 pm (2347 GMT).

Local television channel KUSA showed a huge funnel cloud touching ground in relative open country around Parker, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of downtown Denver.

Cloud Lightning

UPDATE: Two million hit by Indian monsoon, toll reaches 800

The death toll from monsoon-related accidents reached 800 and two million people have been displaced by flooding following heavy rains across India, officials said on Sunday.

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©AFP
Indian commuters make their way through a waterlogged street after a heavy downpour flooded parts of Amritsar on August 12, 2008. Heavy downpours of rain continue to cross northern India as the south-west monsoon travels across the Indian sub-continent.

At least 26 people died in overnight accidents in northern Uttar Pradesh, taking the toll to 686 in the country's most populous state since the monsoon struck in June, Relief Commissioner G. K. Tandon said.

"Several districts are receiving continuous rains for the past month and a half," Tandon said in the state capital Lucknow as local aid agencies backed by World Health Organisation staff rushed emergency supplies to those affected.

Tandon put the number of people hit by the floods at 1.29 million and said 3,000 villages were swamped in Uttar Pradesh, in monsoon damage he described as "unprecedented".

Cloud Lightning

Tropical storm Julio hits Mexico's Baja California

Los Cabos - Tropical Storm Julio drenched Mexico's Baja California on Sunday and hundreds of residents fled poor neighborhoods that were in danger of flooding near the popular tourist resort of Los Cabos.

The storm was earlier reported to be carrying winds of 50 mph (80 kph) over the eastern Pacific Ocean before it hit the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula on Sunday afternoon.

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©REUTERS/NOAA/National Hurricane Center/Handout
A graphic showing the location of Tropical Storm Julio at 10:44 PM, August 23, 2008.

"Right now we have five emergency shelters activated and we have the potential to open 14 if necessary," local emergency official Juan Carlos Guevara told Reuters.

"Hotels are open and guests are being cared for by the hotel's own security," he said. Some tourists walked along the beaches to watch 8-foot-high (2.4-m-high) waves pound the shore. Others hunkered down in their rooms to wait out the storm.

The port at Los Cabos, popular with cruise ships, was closed, but all the country's major oil exporting ports remained open, Mexico's Transport Ministry said in a statement.

Bizarro Earth

Climate Change Could Be Impetus For Wars, Other Conflicts, Expert Says

Hurricane season has arrived, sparking renewed debate regarding possible links between global warming and the frequency and severity of hurricanes, heat waves and other extreme weather events.

Jürgen Scheffran
©L. Brian Stauffer
Jürgen Scheffran, a research scientist in the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security and the Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research at Illinois, is among those raising concerns that climate-change-related damage to global ecosystems and the resulting competition for natural resources may increasingly serve as triggers for wars and other conflicts in the future

Bizarro Earth

Don't believe the GM apologists

Arguments about genetic modification, often wrongly characterised as science versus irrational nature-worshippers, have lost none of their passion. On one side are those who yearn for simple, high-tech solutions to complex problems. Against GM, there are ecological realities and scientific evidence. There is overwhelming evidence that farming took a wrong turn after the last war, with widespread use of artificial nitrogen fertilisers and sprays.

In Britain, we lost up to 95 per cent of our ancient woodlands, flower meadows, hedges and wildlife and saw massive losses of farms and farm workers' jobs. Farming became more oil-dependent. Our food lost vitamins, taste and diversity and our diet became unhealthy.

Cloud Lightning

Tropical Storm Fay not done yet, threatens Gulf cities

APALACHICOLA, Fla. - Fay just won't quit.

The tropical storm that set a record with four landfalls in Florida chugged west across the Gulf Coast on Saturday and cities from Pensacola to New Orleans prepared for several inches of rain.

Cloud Lightning

At least 70 dead in north India floods

At least 70 people have died since Wednesday in floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains in various parts of northern India, national radio reports said on Thursday.

The floods caused severe damage in the states of Punjab, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, and local authorities have asked the army for assistance in relief operations.

Roses

The buzz on sickly bees



bees
©Unknown

Humans aren't the only ones to get confused when they fall ill. Bumble-bees, the fuzzy insects that most people love, actually fail to remember where nectar-rich flowers are located. Researchers at Britain's University of Leicester conducted a study to investigate the effects that illness has on bumble-bees. Their findings were recently published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Bulb

Elephant legs are much bendier than Shakespeare thought

Throughout history, elephants have been thought of as 'different'. Shakespeare, and even Aristotle, described them as walking on inflexible column-like legs. And this myth persists even today. Which made John Hutchinson from The Royal Veterinary College, London, want to find out more about elephants and the way they move. Are they really that different from other, more fleet-footed species? Are their legs as rigid and 'columnar' as people had thought? Traveling to Thailand and several UK zoos, Hutchinson and his team investigated how Asian Elephants move their legs as they walk and run and publishes his results in The Journal of Experimental Biology on August 22 2008.