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Hurricanes

    An eerie weather phenomenon across parts of the United Kingdom is turning the skies an anemic yellow color and making the sun appear blood red. >> Read more trending news The anomaly is not the beginning of the end of days or a sign of the apocalypse, scientists said. Instead, it’s directly related to Hurricane Ophelia, which is whipping through the region. The storm’s tropical air dragged in dust from the Sahara Desert and air pollution from wildfires in Spain and Portugal as it moved north through the Atlantic, creating the strange spectacle, the BBC reported. “The dust gets picked up into the air and goes high up into the atmosphere, and that dust has been dragged high up in the atmosphere above the UK,” BBC weatherman Simon King said, according to the Express. The blood-red sun Monday morning across the region is a result of the same weather phenomenon creating the yellow skies, according to the U.K.’s  Meteorological Office or Met Office. “The same southerly winds that have brought us the current warmth have also drawn dust from the Sahara to our latitudes and the dust scatters the blue light from the sun letting more red light through much as at sunrise or sunset,” Met officials said on the agency’s website. >> Related: Yellowstone supervolcano could erupt much sooner than predicted, study reveals Social media users in London chronicled the spectacle on Twitter.
  • President Donald Trump on Thursday declared a federal disaster in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria brought pounding rain and punishing winds to the island, knocking out power and causing widespread flooding and landslides. >> Read more trending news The declaration allows for federal resources to be used for Puerto Rico’s recovery efforts. The island is reeling after Maria made landfall Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane. With maximum sustained winds measured at 155 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center, Maria was the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years. 'Months and months and months and months are going to pass before we can recover from this,' Felix Delgado, mayor of the northern coastal city of Catano, told The Associated Press. Videos posted on social media showed swift floodwaters and powerful winds brought to Puerto Rico by Maria. Maria knocked out power to the entire island and its 3.4 million residents, officials said Wednesday. Ricardo Ramos, CEO of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, told CNN that it could be as long as six months before power is restored. “The system has been basically destroyed,” he said. Maria continued to churn over the Atlantic Ocean as a major Category 3 hurricane on Thursday afternoon with maximum sustained winds measured at 115 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in an 11 a.m. advisory. Officials warned that the storm, which is expected to turn to the north early Friday, could still strengthen over the next day or two.
  • There’s really no place that’s 100 percent safe in Florida when it comes to hurricanes. Even Orlando got hit twice in 2004 by hurricanes Charley and Frances. >> Read more trending news And, although Florida enjoyed a more than 10-year hurricane drought after 2005’s Hurricane Wilma, Hurricane Hermine made landfall in the Florida Panhandle in 2016.  Still, Homeinsurance.com has ranked Florida’s cities based on their evaluation of NOAA-identified storms from 1965 to October 2014, doling out scores based on the number of storm events, number of storm-related deaths, property damage and storm-related injuries. The top 10 safest cities in Florida during a hurricane, according to the insurance study, are: Leesburg Orlando Sanford Kissimmee Palatka Lake City Naples Ocala Gainesville Fernandina Beach The entire ranking is below. Read more about the Home Insurance study here.
  • Whenever a hurricane is poised to strike a region, there are several terms meteorologists use that might not be familiar. >> Read more trending news Here are common ones you should know as you keep your eye on the storm’s path:  Feeder band Lines or bands of low-level clouds that move (feed) into the upper region of a thunderstorm, usually from the east through south. This term also is used in tropical meteorology to describe spiral-shaped bands of convection surrounding, and moving toward, the center of a tropical cyclone. Squalls When the wind speed increases to at least 16 knots and is sustained at 22 knots or more for at least one minute. Storm surge An abnormal rise in sea level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm. The height is the difference between the normal level of the sea surface and the level that would have occurred in the absence of the cyclone. Storm surge is usually estimated by subtracting the normal or astronomic high tide from the observed storm tide. >> Related: What is storm surge and why is it dangerous?  Eye wall An organized band or ring of clouds that surround the eye, or light-wind center, of a tropical cyclone. Eye wall and wall cloud are used synonymously. Sustained winds Wind speed determined by averaging observed values over a two-minute period. Computer models Meteorologists use computer models to figure out a storm’s path and its potential path. The models are based on typical weather patterns. Advisory Official information describing all tropical cyclone watches and warnings in effect along with details concerning tropical cyclone locations, intensity and movement, and precautions that should be taken. Hurricane watch An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are possible. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds. Hurricane warning An announcement that sustained winds of 74 mph or higher are expected somewhere within the specified area in association with a cyclone. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the warning is issued 36 hours in advance. The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or high water and waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.
  • Florida car dealer Ed Napleton on Tuesday defended his company’s decision to park its new cars at public parking garages in West Palm Beach and at a garage at Florida State University before Hurricane Irma’s arrival. The part-time Ocean Ridge resident said in an interview that he made arrangements with both CityPlace garage and FSU to pay to park his dealership cars at the properties. >> Read more trending news But the social media backlash has been intense, and Napleton said Tuesday he never intended to harm the public, who also wanted to park their cars in garages as Hurricane Irma churned toward the state. “We would never try to hurt our local constituents,” Napleton said from his offices in Illinois. “We made arrangements well in advance” of the storm. Indeed, social media has been in an uproar since late last week, when people went to park in the garages and found brand-new Napleton vehicles taking up spots. On Napleton Hyundai’s Facebook page Tuesday, people posted scathing comments, calling the CityPlace parking job “bad business practice” while others said using the garages for vehicle inventory was “abhorrent, immoral and disgusting.” Making matters worse: After CityPlace on Wednesday said the public could park at its garages for $10 a day, Mayor Jeri Muoio on Thursday said that CityPlace and West Palm Beach would open their garages to the public for free starting at 5 p.m. Friday. As it turned out, by 2:30 p.m. Friday all five downtown garages were full and CityPlace’s garages were filling fast. The CityPlace garages have 3,000 spaces. A CityPlace spokeswoman said Napleton took up 350 spaces but Napleton officials said it was 400. Roger Dean Chevrolet also parked at CityPlace garages, taking up another 200 spots. >> Related: Dealer faces fines, jail time after parking cars in public garage during Irma Napleton said it was a Weather Channel report early last week that gave him the idea to park some of his inventory in garages, shielded from what seemed to be an unprecedented storm heading straight for the east coast of Florida. Read more here.
  • “I'm just a little loud-mouth country girl from the backwoods of Kentucky who's been in this situation before and wanted to help.” That’s what Kimberly Gager wrote in one post on her Facebook profile in response to the attention she’s received for her admirable mission: using top-notch couponing skills to help Hurricane Harvey survivors. >> Read more trending news Gager, who lives in the San Antonio area, does indeed know the struggles of hurricane evacuees firsthand. In 1999, she lost her home in Newport News, Virginia, to Hurricane Floyd, according to ABC News, an event she told the outlet was “horrific.” “I lost everything in the flood,” she said. “I was living in military housing at the time because I was in the Navy. The entire apartment complex was flooded. I was looking at all the stories and pictures of houses and everything underwater in Harvey and knew I had to do something.” When Harvey hit Texas late last month, Gager began seeing pleas for supplies on social media. She knew what she had to do, and took to Facebook to offer her talents as a coupon clipper extraordinaire.
  • Hurricanes can leave behind tons of damage, including flooding, but did you know treading through the wrong kind of water can cause illnesses and even death? >> Read more trending news Floodwaters and standing water are often contaminated, posing several risks, such as infectious diseases, chemical hazards and injuries. Here are six sicknesses you should beware of in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.  Diarrheal diseases Drinking or eating anything that has come in contact with floodwaters can lead to cryptosporidiosis, E. coli or giardiasis. While cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis are brought on by parasites, E. coli is caused by bacteria. >> Related: Irma: Live updates Symptoms from each include diarrhea, gas, nausea and vomiting. Cryptosporidiosis, however, can even be fatal for those with weakened immune systems, such as AIDS or cancer.  Wound infections Open wounds and rashes that are exposed to flood water can cause tetanus or Vibrio vulnificus. Tetanus is a bacterial infection, and it can enter the body through breaks in the skin like a cut. Vibrio vulnificus, another bacteria, can be contracted the same way. Many people become infected by consuming undercooked shellfish or exposing an injury to brackish or salt water. >> Related: First responder contracts deadly bacteria in Harvey floodwaters, ends up in ICU Other illnesses  People affected by flooded areas can also get trench foot. It occurs when your feet are wet for long periods of time. It can cause pain, swelling and numbness. You should also be aware of chemical hazards from materials that may have spilled into the water. And be cautious of electrical hazards, since there are puddles that may be electrified due to fallen power lines. Curious about other diseases you can catch. Take a look at the full list at CDC’s official website.  
  • When severe weather traps you inside your home with your children, whether in the aftermath of a hurricane or during less severe bad weather and power outages, there are things you can do to keep kids entertained while you keep your sanity. >> Read more trending news If you're home for the day, or a few days, here are a few things you can do to stay entertained without going crazy or running up your data plans. If you still have power: Do some family-friendly baking: One way to keep kids occupied is with a slew of simple cooking tasks (cracking eggs, manning the mixing bowl) and the promise of sweets. Cooking Light has a roundup of “kid-friendly desserts,” including gluten-free s'more bars, chewy caramel apple cookies and more. If you run through that list, the Food Network has another. And not having kids is no reason not to bake in bad weather: for company, just sub in the closet available roommates, family, friends or pets. (This advice applies to the rest of the list.) >> Related: Hurricane Irma: What to do about fallen trees and how to stop the danger Check out these party games: Jackbox's Drawful is a bizarre twist on Pictionary: players score points not just for drawing the best possible version of, say, 'angry ants'; but also for getting other players to guess their answer for a given drawing instead of the correct one. Drawful comes packaged as part of the Jackbox Party Pack and is available to buy and download here, and is compatible with the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Amazon Fire TV and others. All you need to play is a phone, tablet or controller.  But if you're feeling more competitive and less artistic, consider QuizUp. Available for both iPhone and Android. This competitive trivia app pits two players against each other in seven rounds of questions in one of several hundred different categories, including pop culture and academia. And it's free.  Get crafty: Create a crafting area in your home. Fill it with crafting materials like tape, paper and boxes. When inspiration strikes your child, they can create fun things in their own “workshop.” Without power: Get clever: When the house goes dark, kids’ imaginations light up. A trip to the bathroom with a flashlight can become an adventure, and reading stories by candlelight will stick with them more than just another movie night.  Get ahead of a power outage: Stock up on glow sticks. Kids can really have fun with these simple light sticks. Once you crack them, they provide a bright light for up to 12 hours and a dim light for as long as 36 hours. They come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors, and can provide hours of fun for children. >> Related: Hurricane Irma aftermath: Drone video shows St. Augustine damage Build a fort: Kids love building forts just for fun anyway. So if you find yourself in the dark without power, gather up pillows and blankets, and plan on moving some furniture around to help your little ones build the perfect fortress. You can even make it more like an adventure. Plan to snuggle in for the night, and maybe tell a few ghost stories, too.
  • Hurricane Irma, once a Category 5 monster with record-breaking 185-mph winds, weakened to a tropical storm as it plowed through parts of the Southeast after leaving Florida on Monday. >> Read more trending news The storm killed more than 40 people in the Caribbean and Florida, and at least three people were killed in Georgia, two crushed by falling trees. Millions of people were left in the dark, as the storm toppled trees and power lines across parts of the Southeast. If you’re experiencing tree damage following the tropical storm, here are expert tips on tree safety, removal and more:  >> Related: Of your neighbor’s tree falls in your yard, who pays for it? Signs of tree danger Dead branches or branches barely hanging by a thread Insect infestations Hollowing inside the tree Leaking sap Cracks in the lower trunk or large stems split from the tree Severed or broken roots Noticeable tree lean after a storm >> Related: Hurricane Irma damage: What to do before, during and after a flood What to do if a tree falls on your property and who to call for help Do not attempt to self-clean. According to Ryan Smith of Monster Tree Service, this is one of the most dangerous mistakes people make after a tree causes damage on their property. “So many people get hurt after a storm because they get on the roof to try and fix the damage themselves and slip and fall,” he said. “Our experts won’t even do that without the proper equipment.” Stay away from the damaged areas. If you walk on compromised areas, such as near downed power lines, the repercussions could be quite dangerous, Smith said. Immediately call a tree removal service, but avoid getting scammed. You want to find a tree removal company that not only carries insurance, but specifically includes workers’ compensation. This is because the biggest risk during tree removal is someone getting damaged on property, Smith said. When calling the company, ask for certificates and proof of liability insurance and workers’ compensation. >> Related: Photos: Hurricane Irma damage in Florida Keys Remember to look out for any unsolicited offers and too-good-to-be-true bargains. It’s always best to double check references and read reviews. Be sure to sign a written agreement before the work, and unless it’s just a small deposit, there’s no reason to pay up front. Read more here.
  • As Hurricane Irma battered Florida on Sunday and other parts of the Southeast on Monday, the Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier offered these 4 tips for residents whose property has been damaged as a result of the storm. >> Read more trending news 1. Locate all applicable insurance policies. This may include a homeowners’ policy, flood policy (flood coverage is not covered under a typical homeowners’ policy and is separate coverage) and an automobile policy (may cover damage to your car from flooding). 2. Document all damaged property and belongings. Take photos or shoot video footage before attempting any temporary repairs. When you file an insurance claim, you may be asked for visual documentation of damages. A photographic home inventory is a handy resource for this situation. A free smartphone app developed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners called “MyHome Scr.APP.book” can help you take and store a room-by-room log of photos. 3. Contact your insurance company or insurance agent as soon as possible to report damages. Insurance policies require prompt reporting of claims, so it is important to act as soon as possible. >> Related: Hurricane Irma: Live updates 4. Cover damaged areas that may be exposed to the elements in order to prevent further damage. Your insurance company may reimburse the expense of these temporary repairs, so keep all receipts. Remove water-logged and otherwise damaged items from your house to prevent the spread of mold, but document them and do not dispose of any damaged property until your insurance company adjuster has had an opportunity to survey it. >> Related: Post-Hurricane Erma destruction: 10 tips for right after storm passes