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  • Smoke lessens from wildfires in Ore. Cascades

    Updated: Fri, Aug 29, 2014

    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Smoke from the Oregon Cascade Range wildfires blamed for making the air unhealthy over a wide area has lessened, a spokeswoman for fire crews said Thursday night. The Deception Complex fires generated less smoke Thursday than the giant plume that drew air advisory warnings on Wednesday, said spokeswoman Rita Dyer. Calls from residents concerned about the smoke came from as far away as the central Oregon community of Bend. "There was less of a smoke column Thursday," Dyer said. Another expected air inversion could make things smoky early Friday, she added. The forecast calls for cooler temperatures and higher humidity that should help firefighters.

  • Papua New Guinea volcano erupts, locals evacuate

    Updated: Fri, Aug 29, 2014

    CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Several communities were evacuated and some international flights were diverted Friday after a volcanic eruption on Papua New Guinea. Authorities in the South Pacific nation had evacuated communities close to Mount Tavurvur which erupted early Friday in Rabaul district on New Britain Island, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement. Residents of Rabaul town, the provincial capital, had been advised to remain indoors to avoid falling ash, the statement said. Local resident David Flinn told Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the volcano was emitting steam and occasionally boomed. Flinn said about one centimeter (half an inch) of ash covered surrounding areas.

  • FEMA denies Hawaii's post-storm disaster request

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    HONOLULU (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday denied Hawaii's request for a major disaster declaration after Tropical Storm Iselle. Iselle made landfall over the Big Island's isolated and rural Puna region nearly three weeks ago, knocking down trees and power lines. FEMA denied the request because "it has been determined that the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to go beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments and voluntary agencies," the agency wrote to the state Thursday. Officials who toured the area about a week after the storm hit identified 28 homes with major damage and 11 that were destroyed, FEMA spokesman Casey De Shong said. About 20 p

  • Southern California gets more waves as storm eases

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — High surf generated by a former hurricane in the eastern Pacific rolled onto Southern California beaches again Thursday, showing signs of diminishing but still bringing warnings of possible property damage and dangerous rip currents. Big breakers chewed away at beaches and provided thrills for surfers, body-boarders and shoreline crowds. In Venice Beach, a 27-year-old man was pulled from high surf in grave condition Thursday night, but paramedics were able to regain a pulse as he was taken to a hospital, Los Angeles fire spokesman Erik Scott said. However, meteorologists said the conditions had peaked and would gradually subside through Friday, with high surf advisories expected to expire that eveni

  • Still deep in drought, southwestern Oklahoma hopes for rain

    By Silas Allen, Staff Writer | Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    After several weeks of rain, deep drought conditions have swept back over much of southwestern Oklahoma, according to a U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday. Nearly 16 percent of Oklahoma, mostly in far western and southwestern areas, were listed as being in extreme or exceptional drought, the report’s two most severe conditions.

  • 10,000 of 174,000 customers still without power

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    DETROIT (AP) — DTE Energy Co. says about 10,000 homes and businesses remain without power two days after severe thunderstorms struck parts of southern Michigan, knocking out service to 174,000 utility customers. Tuesday's storms brought 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts that knocked down trees and power lines. DTE says about 10,000 of its 165,000 affected customers remain powerless Thursday afternoon, the majority in Wayne County. It says mature trees knocked down some major power lines, slowing the restoration process. DTE says its crews are working 16-hour shifts to restore service. It says additional crews from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana are assisting. It says the "vast majority" of those still affected will be bac

  • Mystery of Death Valley's moving rocks solved

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — For years scientists have theorized about how large rocks — some weighing hundreds of pounds — zigzag across Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park, leaving long trails etched in the earth. Now two researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, have photographed these "sailing rocks" being blown by light winds across the former lake bed. Cousins Richard Norris and James Norris said the movement is made possible when ice sheets that form after rare overnight rains melt in the rising sun, making the hard ground muddy and slick. On Dec. 20, 2013, the cousins catalogued 60 rocks moving across the playa's pancake-flat s

  • Branstad offers disaster relief to Clarke County

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad has issued a disaster proclamation for Clarke County to respond to recent storms. Branstad announced the declaration Thursday. The county suffered damage after severe storms and rain on Saturday. Under the declaration, the county can use state resources to recover from the storm. In addition, households that meet certain income requirements can apply for grants to help pay for expenses related to storm recovery. Those seeking such grants can get more information on the Iowa Department of Human Services' website. Clarke County is in southern Iowa.

  • In small Miss. town, a costly Katrina legacy

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) — When Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame dedicated a $22 million small-craft harbor last month, he told residents their city had won every battle in its war to recover from Hurricane Katrina. The harbor was the final major project on long list the Mississippi coast town about 45 minutes east of New Orleans undertook after the devastating storm. Now, with the federal money that largely paid for those projects drying up, Bay St. Louis is running out of cash and faces a new challenge: Having won a war of recovery, how to survive a return to normal in its aftermath.

  • Inslee proclaims emergency in Okanogan County

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency for Okanogan County following severe rainstorms earlier this month that resulted in flash floods and mudslides that blocked two state highways. On Aug. 21, severe storms produced extreme rainfall over fire damaged areas, resulting in flash flooding, landslides and slope erosion. Debris blocked large sections of State Route 153 and State Route 20, resulting in road closures, limited access and detours during the busy summer tourism season. The cost to fix the roads is estimated at more than $800,000. The proclamation directs state agencies to do everything reasonably possible to assist affected areas.

  • Drought spreading across Alabama

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Drought is quickly spreading across Alabama, but the state climatologist said Thursday the dry weather doesn't mean the state is headed the direction of the parched West Coast. New statistics from the National Drought Mitigation Center showed that about two-thirds of the state is abnormally dry, and about 10 percent of the state is in a moderate drought. A week of hot, dry weather with temperatures around 100 degrees made conditions worse. Less than half the state was experiencing any type of drought conditions a week ago. The state's water situation also is much worse than this time last year, when rainfall levels were normal and Alabama was drought-free. "We're in a minor drought area,"

  • Storm hits Ferguson, other parts of St. Louis area

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — The St. Louis region is cleaning up for a thunderstorm that caused widespread damage, including to parts of Ferguson, the town still hurting in the wake of the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Storms rolled through the region Wednesday evening, leaving thousands without power. Wind and lightning caused downed tree limbs and power lines. Significant damage was reported in parts of Ferguson. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

  • FEMA continues Michigan flood damage assessments

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    CLAWSON, Mich. (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is continuing preliminary evaluations of the damage caused by massive flooding in the Detroit area earlier this month. State police say their Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division will be out Thursday in Oakland County along with FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration and local officials. Teams of federal and state officials began checking the Detroit area on Tuesday. Surveys are planned Thursday in Clawson, Ferndale and Troy. The federal assessment will determine whether tens of thousands of people affected by the Aug. 11 storm will get financial assistance. Gov. Rick Snyder could use their assessment to formally request a disaster decl

  • Chance of rain Thursday, Friday in central Oklahoma

    FROM STAFF REPORTS | Published: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    There is a 30 percent chance of rain Thursday afternoon in central Oklahoma. Friday there is a 60 percent chance of rain.

  • USM to honor donors to tornado recovery

    Updated: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — The University of Southern Mississippi will unveil a Tornado Relief and Landscape Restoration Honor Wall on Sept. 5, recognizing donors who made significant contributions to the restoration campaign. The ceremony also will feature a grand reopening of the Ogletree House, the home of the University's Alumni Association that suffered extensive damage from the Feb. 10, 2013 storm. The event will also include recognition of major restoration projects involving the front campus landscape and arts facilities. Gov. Phil Bryant, a USM graduate, is expected to attend the 10 a.m. ceremony. The EF-4 tornado that tore through the Hattiesburg area 17 months ago caused heavy damage to the southern edge of

  • Cowabunga! Storm sends big waves to California

    Updated: Wed, Aug 27, 2014

    NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Thundering surf spawned by a Pacific hurricane pounded the Southern California coast Wednesday, causing minor flooding in a low-lying beach town while drawing daredevil surfers and body-boarders into churning, 20-foot waves as crowds of spectators lined the shore. Despite the danger, surfers, body-boarders and body-surfers flocked to favorite spots such as the notorious Wedge at Newport Beach, where the interaction of swells and a jetty produced huge waves, and cars were backed up for miles along the only road to the narrow peninsula. Big crowds watched surfers in the morning, while bodysurfers took on the surf in the afternoon.

  • 30,000 of 174,000 customers still blacked out

    Updated: Wed, Aug 27, 2014

    DETROIT (AP) — DTE Energy Co. says about 30,000 homes and businesses remain without power a day after severe thunderstorms struck parts of southern Michigan, blacking out 174,000 utility customers. Tuesday's storms brought 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts that knocked down trees and power lines across a stretch of southern Michigan. DTE says about 30,000 of its 165,000 affected customers remain powerless at 9 p.m. Wednesday, the majority in Wayne County. It says mature trees knocked down some major power lines, slowing the restoration process. DTE says the "vast majority" of those still affected will be back on line by late Thursday. CMS Energy Corp. says it's restored power to 9,000 blacked-out customers.

  • AP PHOTOS: Storm-roiled waves hit beach towns

    Updated: Wed, Aug 27, 2014

    SEAL BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Massive waves turned into floodwaters Wednesday along the Southern California shore as Hurricane Marie stirred up the surf from afar. Beachfront properties were inundated with saltwater, and the storm-roiled Pacific knocked out pilings at Malibu Pier. The sea breached oceanfront walls to flood streets and homes. Both Tuesday and Wednesday, beachgoers reveled in the towering surf at The Wedge in Newport Beach, with crowds egging on surfers and body-boarders brave enough to take on waves surging up to 20 feet. Lifeguards on both sea and shore kept a watchful eye on the crowd, making multiple rescues. Here is a collection of photos of the storm's shoreline impact.

  • Some facts about Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont

    Updated: Wed, Aug 27, 2014

    Tropical Storm Irene settled over Vermont on Aug. 28, 2011. Here are some facts about flooding and other damage from the storm, the state's worst natural disaster in almost 100 years: — Some parts of the state got up to 11 inches of rain in 24 hours. — More than 500 miles of roads and 200 bridges were damaged or destroyed. — Six people were killed. — More than a dozen communities were cut off from the outside world, some for several days. Some funding highlights of the Irene recovery: — The Federal Highway Administration provided $129.6 million to help repair roads and bridges. — The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided about $166.9 million. — State emergency relief fu

  • 3 years after Irene, new office complex rising

    Updated: Wed, Aug 27, 2014

    WATERBURY, Vt. (AP) — Three years after flooding from Tropical Storm Irene made most of the state office complex in Waterbury unusable, its replacement is rising out of what was a sodden mess that reeked of the nearby Winooski River. An 86,000-square-foot office building is being constructed above the level of any expected flooding, and many of the historic buildings that are being preserved are being flood-proofed by filling in what had been their lowest levels. The $125 million project, the largest state building project in Vermont history, is on track for completion at the end of 2015, when the first of 800 Agency of Human Services employees who will work there are scheduled to move in.