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   ATLANTA (AP) — Hundreds of drivers have been reunited with abandoned cars and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal ordered state employees back to work as the Atlanta area rebounds from a winter storm that coated the area with snow and ice.
   Many school districts throughout the metro area announced that they'd remain closed Friday, and Deal extended a state of emergency to Sunday night.
   He said in a statement that the declaration was extended to allow the state to continue using certain resources to help local governments clear roads and deal with other storm-related issues. Deal and emergency response officials have taken responsibility for poor planning leading up to the storm.
   Temperatures in the region are expected to reach the low 50s Friday, which should help responders clear ice accumulations from roads.
Published in National News
   Bitterly cold weather and extreme wind chills are creating a dangerous situation for anyone who has to venture outside.  Local hospitals generally see a spike in emergency room visits from patients affected by the cold.
   Barnes-Jewish Hosptial ER Dr. Brian Froelke told Fox 2 News that in this weather, it doesn't take long to get into trouble.  "The risk is the possibility of frostbite," Dr. Froelke says.  "You have somewhere between ten minutes to a half an hour, depending on how cold it is."
   Dr. Froelke says its important to dress in layers and cover up any exposed skin.  
   Parents are especially encouraged to keep an extra eye on kids who will be waiting at the bus stop or walking to school in this weather.
 
Published in Local News
   With dangerous sub-zero wind chills back in the St. Louis area, city officials are scrambling to fund an overflow shelter for the homeless that's already blown its budget.  
   The mayor's office says the community center at Tucker and Park costs about $1000 a night to keep open.  It provides shelter for 125 people.  The city's budget allotted for 20 days of operation this winter.  But because of the unusual amount of cold and snow, the shelter has already been open for 27 days, and the winter is only half over.  
   St. Louis Human Services Director Bill Siedhoff told Fox 2 News that the budget can't dictate the city's response to the cold.  "Mayor Slay has made it very clear," Siedhoff said.  "This is a necessity.  We will find the money.  We will find it some place.  We have to.  It’s a responsibility the city has."
   Siedhoff says the shelter will remain open as long as the extreme weather continues.
 
Published in Local News
   BOSTON (AP) — Snow blowers whirred and shovels scraped across sidewalks as the Northeast tried to keep up with a winter storm that swirled up the coast, creating blizzard conditions on Cape Cod, disrupting government work in Washington and leaving behind it bitter Canadian cold that sapped fuel supplies.
   The huge storm stretched from Kentucky to New England but hit hardest along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between Philadelphia and Boston. Snow began falling midmorning Tuesday in Philadelphia and had dumped as much as 13.5 inches by midnight, with New York seeing almost as much. Manalapan, N.J., had the highest snowfall reading with 16 inches.
   The storm, which dropped nearly a foot of snow in parts of Massachusetts, promised to create headaches for motorists in Boston on Wednesday morning. Commuters in Philadelphia and New York had packed early trains or spent hours inching along roads in swirling darkness to get home the night before.
   The New Yorkers and Bostonians who normally swarm Cape Cod in fishing hats or bikinis in July and August wouldn't recognize it this week. A blizzard warning through Wednesday afternoon kept business brisk at Aubuchon Hardware in Sandwich, where salt and snow shovels were popular.
   "The flow of customers is pretty steady, but everyone waits until the worst of the storm to start worrying," manager Jeff Butland said.
   Boston ordered schools closed Wednesday, following the lead the day before of many districts in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. Federal workers in Washington also got a snow day Tuesday.
   Nearly 3,000 commercial flights were canceled Tuesday into and out of some of the nation's busiest airports, including in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, where Logan Airport advised passengers to expect extremely limited domestic service at least through Wednesday morning.
   At New York's LaGuardia Airport, congested even on a good day, a television monitor displayed a litany of canceled flights. Crowds of people who had been hoping to fly out instead gathered around ticket counters trying to make alternate arrangements.
   "We don't expect to get out here till 6 p.m. maybe, tomorrow," Paula Black said Tuesday after her flight to Chicago was canceled.
   Amtrak told passengers on its busiest line, the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston, to expect fewer trains. Lines serving Harrisburg, Pa., and Albany, N.Y., also were slowed.
   The storm put a damper on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's inauguration, forcing the cancellation of a Tuesday evening gala on Ellis Island. In Massachusetts, Gov. Deval Patrick postponed his annual State of the State address, saying he was worried about guests trying to get to the Statehouse.
   On I-95, one of the nation's busiest highways, traffic was bumper to bumper Tuesday evening north of New York City, where some people simply gave up and tried to navigate side streets, creating another traffic jam in suburban New Rochelle.
   "I just want to get to the Bronx," Peter Neuwens said. "It's a big place. Why can't I get there?"
   The storm was a conventional one that developed off the coast and moved its way up the Eastern Seaboard, pulling in cold air from the Arctic. Unlike the epic freeze of two weeks ago, it was not caused by a kink in the polar vortex, the winds that circulate around the North Pole.
   Nonetheless, overnight temperatures in the single digits were expected in Philadelphia and New York, with wind chills dipping into the negative teens.
   The newest wave of cold air helped to deplete fuel supplies and send prices for propane and natural gas to record highs. Higher natural gas prices also are leading to sharply higher wholesale electricity prices as power utilities snap up gas at almost any price to run power plants to meet higher-than-normal winter demand.
   Propane users will get pinched the most. Those who find themselves suddenly needing to fill their tanks could be paying $100 to $200 more per fill-up than a month ago. Homeowners who use natural gas and electricity will see higher heating bills because they'll use more fuel. But prices won't rise dramatically because utilities buy only a small portion of the fuel at the elevated prices.
   The storm was blamed for at least one death in Maryland, after a car fishtailed into the path of a tractor-trailer on a snow-covered road about 50 miles northwest of Baltimore and the car's driver was ejected. Police said the storm might have claimed more lives: A preliminary investigation showed wet conditions played a role in a two-vehicle crash that killed two people in Prince George's County, Md.
Published in National News
   Residents in the St. Louis area are bracing for the next round of winter weather.  Snow, cold and wind... the next winter storm will have a little bit of everything.
   Overnight, widely scattered snow showers are expected to spread across the metro area ahead of a blast of arctic air.  Up to an inch or two of accumulation is possible by Tuesday morning, especially along and east of the Mississippi River.  Farther south and west could see just a dusting.  
   Then temperatures will nose-dive, dropping into the mid-teens by 6:00 a.m. with wind chills around zero.  That's because of strong winds from the northwest.
   A Wind Advisory is in effect until 6:00 a.m.  Sustained winds of 20 TO 30 mph are expected during the early morning hours, with gusts up to 45 mph.  The strong winds could make driving difficult, especially for high-profile vehicles and in areas were there's snow falling.
  By 1 a.m., transportation officials were reporting roads in northeastern Missouri as snow-covered, including portions of Interstate 70 through Warren and Montgomery Counties.  Most roads in St. Charles and St. Louis Counties were reported to be partially snow covered.  Current road conditions can be found on MoDOT's traveler website
   Illinois officials report roads and highways in central and northern Illinois are snow covered.  Current conditions can be found on IDOT's winter road conditions website
 
 
 
Published in Local News
   PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Former players for the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks will play a charity hockey game to benefit victims of November's deadly tornadoes.
   The game will be Jan. 15 at the Peoria Civic Center. The money will go to the Salvation Army Tornado Relief Fund. Tickets are $10. The game is being called "Skate Strong." A special pre-game ceremony is planned.
   The Peoria Journal Star reports that tentative Chicago Blackhawks alumni who will play include Denis Savard, Dave Mackey, Reggie Kerr, Murray Bannerman, Reid Simpson, Denis Cyr, Cliff Koroll and Grant Mulvey. Former St. Louis Blues players include Kelly Chase, Reed Low, Jeff Brown, Terry Yake, Gino Cavallini, John Wensink, Alex Brooks and Steve Martins.
   About two dozen tornadoes struck Illinois on Nov. 17, killing seven.
 
Published in Local News
   BOSTON (AP) — A blustering post-Christmas snowstorm that has dropped nearly 2 feet of snow just north of Boston, shut down major highways in New York and forced U.S. airlines to cancel thousands of flights nationwide is continuing its bitter cold journey through the Northeast.
   The brutal weather — which brought plummeting temperatures to some areas that forecasters predicted could see highs just above zero and wind chill readings of minus 10 degrees and colder by early Friday — dumped 21 inches of snow in Boxford, Mass., late Thursday night and 18 inches in parts of western New York near Rochester. In Central Park early Friday, the National Weather Service said just over 3 inches of snow had fallen.
   The snowfall, frigid cold and stiff winds extended Christmas break for some students while posing the first test for New York City's new mayor and perhaps the last challenge for Boston's outgoing one.
   U.S. airlines canceled more than 2,300 flights due to snowfall and low visibility.
   "It's been a tough road," said traveler Heather Krochuk, of Toronto, Canada, inside a Boston hotel Thursday night after her flight home out of Logan International Airport got canceled in what's turned into a 36-hour trip from Seattle, where she spent Christmas with her husband, Ron.
   But, she said, "we have a place to sleep that isn't the airport."
   Snow began falling overnight Wednesday in parts of New England and New York state, but the brunt of the storm began late Thursday.
   The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Cape Cod, coastal areas north and south of Boston and part of Maine as well as New York's Long Island.
   Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said state offices that closed early Thursday would remain closed on Friday. He said National Guard members and state police were on standby for any high tide flooding in vulnerable coastal areas, but no mandatory evacuations had been ordered.
   New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered three major highways in his state, stretching from Long Island to Albany, closed overnight. The highways were expected to reopen at 5 a.m. Friday.
   As of late Thursday in Connecticut, about 3 inches of snow had fallen in Hartford County, and 3 inches were reported in East Hartford and Simsbury. Parts of New Hampshire had 5.5 inches, and areas of Rhode Island had more than 2.
   Outreach teams looked to get homeless people off the frigid streets of New York City and Boston.
   Staff members at the Pine Street Inn were keeping the Boston shelter open 24 hours and said they would turn no one away, even if it meant setting up extra cots in lobbies and other common areas.
   The heavy weather began rolling in just a day after New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in to lead the nation's largest city and a few days before Boston Mayor Thomas Menino ends 20 years in office on Monday.
   De Blasio, who as public advocate in 2010 criticized his predecessor Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his handling of a large snowstorm, dispatched hundreds of plows and salt spreaders on the streets as soon as the snow started falling Thursday night. Forecasters said that while only 3 inches of snow had fallen in Central Park by early Friday, up to 8 inches were still expected in the city.
   "If you don't need to go out, please don't go out," de Blasio said at a press conference Thursday evening, urging residents to use mass transit. "Stay off the streets, stay out of your cars."
   Across the region, state and local police were busy responding to accidents and reports of stranded vehicles.
   Amtrak planned to run trains on all of its Northeast lines on Friday but operate on a modified schedule, spokeswoman Christina Leeds said.
   As the storm approached, a worker at a suburban Philadelphia salt storage facility was killed when a 100-foot-tall pile of road salt fell and crushed him. Falls Township police said the man was trapped while operating a backhoe. There was no word on what may have caused the accident.
   Douglass Bibule shopped for rock salt and other supplies at a home improvement store in Watertown, N.Y.
   "Well, there will be some shoveling that I will have to do and some sanding," he said. "I've got to go home and do some stretching exercises to make sure I don't hurt myself while doing that, and do a little shopping to make sure that we have all the supplies that we need. We need food because we have three older children at home."
   The snowstorm worked its way east from the Midwest, where it dropped up to a foot of snow on Michigan and more than a foot in parts of Illinois, prompting the cancellation Thursday of hundreds of flights at both Chicago airports.
   Nearly 17 inches of snow fell in some of Chicago's northern suburbs, and more than 12 inches of snow was recorded at Midway International Airport.
Published in National News
Friday, 03 January 2014 02:18

STL bracing for extreme winter weather

   St. Louis is seeing some of the harshest winter weather of the last couple of years.  Snow followed by bitterly cold temperatures seems to be a repeating pattern.  

   Snow is expected again Saturday night into Sunday, with 6-7 inches of accumulation possible.  

   That will be followed by historically cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills.  Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in St. Louis say it could be the coldest weather the metro area has seen in the last 20 years.  

   Low temperatures are expected to fall to zero or below both Monday and Tuesday mornings.  Daytime highs won't get out of the single digits and wind chills are expected to be 15-25 degrees below zero from Sunday through Tuesday. 

   Average highs and low temperatures for St. Louis in early January are 40 and 24.
Published in Local News

   TACLOBAN, Philippines (AP) — A city devastated by last week's typhoon buried some of its dead in a mass grave in a hillside cemetery on Thursday, a somber reminder of the tragedy that has left the Philippines with the monumental task of providing for some 11.5 million affected people.

   Aid was beginning to reach some of the 545,000 people displaced by Typhoon Haiyan that tore across several islands in eastern Philippines six days ago, killing thousands of people. Most of the casualties occurred in Leyte province, its capital Tacloban, and Samar island. Many bodies are still lying along the roads in the city and others are buried under debris.

   Outside the Tacloban City Hall, dozens of bodies in bags were lined up Thursday, waiting to be trucked to the cemetery just outside the city for burial. The stench of death filled the air.

   In the first such operation, 30 bodies in leaking black bags were lowered into graves without any prayers being said.

   "I hope this is the last time I see something like this," said Mayor Alfred Romualdez. "When I look at this it just reminds me of what has happened from the day the storm hit until today."

   Officials said efforts had been made to identify the bodies so families have a chance of finding out what happened to their loved ones in the days and weeks to come. It was not immediately clear whether this included DNA testing.

   Authorities say 2,357 people have been confirmed dead in the disaster, but that figure is expected to rise, perhaps significantly, when information is collected from other areas of the disaster zone.

   Valerie Amos, the U.N. humanitarian chief who toured Tacloban on Wednesday, said some 11.5 million people have been affected by the typhoon, which includes people who lost their loved ones, were injured, and suffered damage to their homes, business or livelihoods.

   "The situation is dismal ... tens of thousands of people are living in the open ... exposed to rain and wind," she told reporters in Manila on Thursday.

   She said the immediate priority for humanitarian agencies over the next few days is to transport and distribute high energy biscuits and other food, tarpaulins, tents, clean drinking water and basic sanitation services.

   "I think we are all extremely distressed that this is Day 6 and we have not managed to reach everyone," she said.

   Along with aid workers, Philippine soldiers on trucks were distributing rice and water. Chainsaw-wielding teams cut debris from blocked roads, as thousands swarmed the airport, desperate to leave.

   The first nighttime flights — of C-130 transport planes — arrived since the typhoon struck, suggesting air control systems are now in place for a 24-7 operation — a prerequisite for the massive relief operation needed.

   Tacloban city administrator Tecson Lim said 70 percent of the city's 220,000 people are in need of emergency assistance, and that only 70 of the city's 2,700 employees have been showing up for work.

   He also stuck to an earlier estimate that 10,000 people had died in Tacloban even though President Benigno Aquino III has said the final death toll would top 2,500.

   While there is no shortage of aid material — both domestic and international — much of it is stuck in Manila and the nearby airport of Cebu because of the extensive damage that Tacloban airport suffered. Some of it, including food, water and medical supplies from the U.S., Malaysia and Singapore, had reached Tacloban and sat on pallets along the tarmac.

   Amos said because of a lack of fuel in Tacloban, the few trucks on ground are unable to move the aid material from the airport to the city. The weather also remains a challenge, with frequent downpours. The good news is that the debris on the road from the airport to the city has been pushed to one side, she said.

   On Wednesday, the U.N.'s World Food Program distributed rice and other items to nearly 50,000 people in the Tacloban area. Nearly 10 tons of high energy biscuits were also delivered to the city on Wednesday, with another 25 tons on the way.

   The Tacloban airport has also become the site of a makeshift clinic where hundreds of injured people, pregnant women, children and the elderly have poured in. The run-down, single-story building with filthy floors has little medicine, virtually no facilities and very few doctors.

   Doctors who have been dealing with cuts, fractures and pregnancy complications said Wednesday they soon expect to be treating more serious problems such as pneumonia, dehydration, diarrhea and infections from lack of clean water.

   Some among the desperate residents have resorted to raiding for food. Mobs overran a rice warehouse on Leyte, collapsing a wall that killed eight people. Thousands of sacks of the grain were carted off. But police say the situation is improving on the ground, and there was little sign Thursday of a deteriorating security situation there.

   Philippine Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said it may take six weeks before the first typhoon-hit towns get their electric power back. He said that in Tacloban, order needed to be restored "because if there's no peace and order, it's hard to reinstall the power posts."

   He said army troops had fired shots Wednesday to drive away a group of armed men who approached a power transmission sub-station in Leyte province. The unidentified men fired back then fled. Nobody was hurt.

Published in National News

   MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Thousands of villagers in the central Philippines, including those from a province devastated by a recent earthquake, were being evacuated Thursday as one of the most powerful typhoons globally this year approaches.

   Typhoon Haiyan was already packing sustained winds of 215 kilometers (134 miles) per hour and ferocious gusts of 250 kph (155 mph), and could pick up strength over the Pacific Ocean before it slams into the eastern Philippine province of Eastern Samar on Friday, according to government forecasters.

   The U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii said it was the strongest tropical cyclone in the world this year, although Cyclone Phailin, which hit eastern India on Oct. 12, packed winds of up to 222 kph (138 mph) and stronger gusts.

   Governors and mayors were supervising the evacuation of thousands of residents away from landslide- and flood-prone communities in several provinces where the typhoon is expected to pass, said Eduardo del Rosario, head of the government's main disaster-response agency.

   President Benigno Aquino III has ordered officials to aim for zero casualties, a goal often broken in an archipelago lashed by about 20 storms each year, most of them deadly and destructive. Haiyan is the 24th such storm to hit the Philippines this year.

   Edgardo Chatto, the governor of Bohol island province in the central Philippines, where an earthquake last month killed more than 200 people, said that soldiers, police and rescue units were helping displaced residents, including thousands still in small tents, move to shelters. The typhoon was not forecast to directly hit Bohol but the province was still expected to be battered by strong wind and rain, government forecaster Jori Loiz said.

   Army troops were helping transport food packs and other relief goods in hard-to-reach communities and rescue helicopters are on stand-by, the military said.

   "My worst fear is that the eye of this typhoon will hit us. I hope we will be spared," Chatto told The Associated Press by telephone.

   Haiyan was forecast to barrel through the country's central region Friday and Saturday before it blows toward the South China Sea on Sunday, heading toward Virtnam. It was not expected to hit the densely populated capital, Manila, in the north, Loiz said.

Published in National News
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