Thursday, April 9, 2015

EXTREME WEATHER: Destructive Tornado Rips Across Northern Illinois As Severe Thunderstorms Break Out From U.S. South To Midwest - Killing At Least One Person; Widespread Damage! [PHOTOS + VIDEOS]

Tornado near Rochelle, Ill. (Joe Napolitano/ABC7 Facebook fan)

-  One person was killed in Fairdale, Illinois as tornadoes and severe thunderstorms ripped through the far northwest suburbs of Chicago, according to the Illinois Office of Emergency Management.

The Rockford Fire Dept. reported widespread damage in the small farming community located roughly 20 miles southeast of Rockford.

Tornado damage has been reported by police in Rochelle, Ill., and state emergency officials say a team has been sent to look at the area.

A Rochelle restaurant named Grubsteakers was severely damaged by the storm. Raymond Kramer, 81, said he pulled over at Grubsteakers at his wife's insistence, just minutes before the storm struck.

"I stood at the door taking pictures of the tornado coming at me, and finally the owner of the restaurant said, 'Everybody in the basement right now!'," Kramer said. "And no sooner did we get down there when it hit the building and laid a whole metal wall on top of the doors where we went into the storm cellar."

A tornado is spotted in Rochelle, Ill. (@ryleehahn_77/instagram) 

tornado is spotted in Rochelle, Ill. on Thursday, April 9, 2015. (@jazzy614/instagram) 

A tornado is seen in Ashton, Ill. (@hannahjane2014/instagram) 

Shared by ABC7 Facebook Fans Alex and Almita Perales in Rochelle.

Shared by ABC7 Facebook Fan Alexa Johnson in Rochelle

Shared by ABC7 Fan Mark Olson in Lake in the Hills

Kramer was trapped along with 11 others - including the restaurant owners and staff - in the storm cellar for about 90 minutes.

"When the tornado hit, we all got a dust bath. Everyone in there got shattered with dust and debris falling out of the rafters," Kramer said.

Emergency crews had to remove debris to free them from the cellar. No one was injured, Kramer said.

The State of Illinois Emergency Management Agency said it has activated its state incident response team in various areas that have reported damage, including Rochelle.

Funnel clouds were also spotted by viewers in Ashton, Kirkland, and Kingston.


Tornado watches have also been issued for the following Chicago-area counties until later Thursday night:

ILLINOIS: Boone; Bureau; Cass; Champaign; Christian; Cook; DeKalb; DeWitt; DuPage; Ford; Fulton; Grundy; Iroquois; Kane; Kankakee; Kendall; Knox; Lake; LaSalle; Lee; Livingston; Logan; Macon; Marshall; Mason; McHenry; McLean; Menard; Morgan; Ogle; Peoria; Piatt; Putnam; Sangamon; Schuyler; Scott; Stark; Tazewell; Vermilion; Will; Winnebago and Woodford until 11 p.m.

INDIANA: Benton; Jasper; Lake; Newton and Porter until midnight

WISCONSIN: Green; Jefferson; Kenosha; Milwaukee; Racine; Rock; Walworth and Waukesha until 11 p.m.

A flood warning has also been issued for Cook County until Saturday night, and flood advisories have been issued for Cook, Lake and Will counties until Saturday afternoon.


In the northwest suburbs, at least two homes were struck by lightning during severe storms overnight Wednesday.

Clean up crews have their hands full in the Jacksons' Algonquin home after a lightning bolt hit their house early Thursday morning.

Brion Jackson and his wife were inside the home when the strike happened.

"I kept hearing a crackling sound in the walls and thought maybe it's just one of those squirrels or raccoons, but it turned out the crackling was actually the fire started by the lightning up in the ceiling above where I was sleeping," Jackson said.

Smoke filled the top level of the home.

Damage after severe weather in Fairdale, Ill. via Rockford Fire Department.

Storm damage seen in photo via Rockford Fire Dept.

Damage reported at Grubsteakers restaurant in Rochelle, submitted via USEEIT.

Shared by ABC7 Facebook Fan Royal Randall in McHenry.

"My wife called out, 'Brion the house is on fire!'" Jackson said. "Well, that will wake you up real quick, I run out, look out the window and, oh my goodness, it was smoke all around."

The Jacksons said they rushed to get out. Their family and their three cats are OK, but the damage to their home will take time to clean up.

In Mount Prospect, another homeowner rushed outside to safety after lightning struck their townhome.

Smoke was coming from the second floor of the unit, located in a complex on Lincoln Street. The homeowner suffered minor smoke inhalation and will be OK.

"They heard a loud boom, a loud clap of thunder and lightning in the area, and after that is when they thought they smelled something burning," said Chief John Malcolm, Mount Prospect Fire Department.

In the midst of all of this rain and severe weather, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District is reminding residents to limit water usage to prevent any flooding issues.

"If people aren't using water, five million people, that can leave a lot of room for storm water in that same pipe system," said David St. Pierre, executive director at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

HAIL 101
With storms rolling through and hail expected, we thought this might be a good time to explain hail measurement. When your local meteorologist calls it "golf-ball" sized hail, or "pea" sized hail, that's not just an estimate, it's actual, approved measurement by the NOAA.

 WATCH: Storm Chasers Track Illinois Tornado.

Here's what you need to know right now:
  • The Illinois Office of Emergency Management said one person was killed in Fairdale, a small hamlet that took a direct hit. Rescue crews continue to sift through debris.
  • A large, long-track tornado began near Ashton, Illinois, around 6:40 p.m. CDT Thursday. It crossed Interstate 39 several miles north of Rochelle, Illinois, shortly after 7 p.m. CDT. The tornado was broadcast live on The Weather Channel. Fairdale in DeKalb County took a direct hit. The parent storm continued to spawn a tornado – possibly the same tornado – all the way northeast into McHenry County in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago, where it was sighted near Marengo and Harvard before eventually weakening and dissipating as it approached the Wisconsin border.
  • In North Carolina, lightning killed a man in the parking lot of a shopping center near Cary as strong to severe thunderstorms moved through Thursday evening.
  • A tornado was spotted near Donahue, Iowa, at 5:17 p.m. CDT. Tornadoes were later spotted near DeWitt and Clinton, Iowa, from the same supercell thunderstorm. These communities are just north of Davenport, Iowa.
  • A tornado was also sighted in Walbridge, Ohio, near Toledo, Thursday evening.
  • Thursday's first tornado was reported at 1:32 p.m. just north of Peoria, Illinois. There are no immediate reports of damage. The same storm prompted another report of a brief ropelike tornado near Rome, Illinois, a few minutes later.
  • A tornado watch is in effect until 1 a.m. CDT for parts of Indiana, southern Illinois, southeast Missouri and western Kentucky. This includes the cities of Indianapolis and Evansville, Indiana.
  • Two tornado watches are in effect until 11 p.m. CDT, covering parts of Illinois, northwest Indiana, and eastern Missouri. This includes the Chicago metropolitan area.
  • A tornado watch is in effect until 10 p.m. CDT for parts of southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana and east Texas. This includes Shreveport, Louisiana, and Tyler, Texas.
  • A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect until 1 a.m. CDT for eastern Arkansas, west Tennessee and north Mississippi. This includes the city of Memphis.
  • Severe thunderstorm watches are in effect until 10 p.m. CDT for parts of northeast and central Arkansas, southeast Oklahoma, and central and northeast Texas. This includes Little Rock, Arkansas.
  • A mobile home was blown over and rolled in Centralia, Missouri, as a severe thunderstorm moved through at 4:10 p.m. CDT. Local dispatchers also said a tree fell on a trailer in Centralia, causing minor injuries and structural damage.
  • The FAA says arriving flights into O'Hare were being delayed by an average of 3 1/2 hours Thursday afternoon. said nearly 900 flights to and from O'Hare were cancelled Thursday.
- ABC 7 Chicago | The Weather Channel.

WORLD WAR III: "A Dangerous Game Of Military Brinkmanship" - U.S., Russian War Games Rekindle Cold War Tensions!

In this photo taken Wednesday, April 8, 2015, a U.S. military fighter jet participates in a NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission practice mission in the Tapa training
area, some 70 kilometers (43 miles) southwest of Tallinn, Estonia. Russia is so close that the F-16 fighter pilots can see it on the horizon as they swoop down
over a training range in Estonia in the biggest ever show of U.S. air power in the Baltic countries. The four-week drill is part of a string of non-stop
exercises by U.S. land, sea and air forces in Europe - from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria in the south - scaled up since last year to reassure
nervous NATO allies after Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

- Russia is so close that the F-16 fighter pilots can see it on the horizon as they swoop down over a training range in Estonia in the biggest ever show of U.S. air power in the Baltic countries.

The simulated bombs release smoke on impact, but the M-61 cannon fires live ammunition, rattling the aircraft with a deafening tremor and shattering targets on the ground.

The four-week drill is part of a string of non-stop exercises by U.S. land, sea and air forces in Europe — from Estonia in the north to Bulgaria in the south — scaled up since last year to reassure nervous NATO allies after Russia's military intervention in Ukraine. U.S. and Russian forces are now essentially back in a Cold War-style standoff, flexing their muscles along NATO's eastern flank.

The saber-rattling raises the specter that either side could misinterpret a move by the other, triggering a conflict between two powers with major nuclear arsenals despite a sharp reduction from the Cold War era.

"A dangerous game of military brinkmanship is now being played in Europe," said Ian Kearns, director of the European Leadership Network, a London-based think-tank. "If one commander or one pilot makes a mistake or a bad decision in this situation, we may have casualties and a high-stakes cycle of escalation that is difficult to stop."

With memories of five decades of Soviet occupation still fresh, many in the Baltic countries find the presence of U.S. forces a comfort rather than a risk.

In recent months, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have seen hundreds of U.S. armored vehicles, tanks and helicopters arrive on their soil. With a combined population of just over 6 million, tiny armies and no combat aircraft or vehicles, the last time tanks rumbled through their streets was just over 20 years ago, when remnants of the Soviet army pulled out of the region.

The commander of Estonia's tiny air force, Col. Jaak Tarien, described the roar of American F-16s taking off from Amari — a former Soviet air base — as "the sound of freedom."

Normally based in Aviano, Italy, 14 fighter jets and about 300 personnel from the 510th Fighter Squadron are training together with the Estonians — but also the Swedish and Finnish air forces. Meanwhile, Spain's air force is in charge of NATO's rotating air patrols over the Baltic countries.

"A month-long air exercise with a full F-16 squadron and, at the same time, a Spanish detachment doing air policing; that is unprecedented in the Baltics," said Tarien, who studied at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

In Moscow the U.S. Air Force drills just 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the Russian border are seen in a different light.

"It takes F-16 fighters just a few minutes to reach St. Petersburg," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said, referring to the major Russian port city on the Baltic Sea. He expressed concern that the ongoing exercise could herald plans to "permanently deploy strike aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons at the Russian border."

Moscow also says the U.S. decision to deploy armored vehicles in Eastern Europe violates an earlier agreement between Russia and NATO.

NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero called those allegations "baseless" and said it is Russia that has breached the agreement through its actions in Ukraine.

She said NATO's increased military presence in Eastern Europe "is rotational and well below any reasonable definition of ?substantial combat forces. All our measures are defensive, proportional and in line with our international commitments."

Russia has substantially increased its own military activity in the Baltic Sea region over the past year, prompting complaints of airspace violations in Estonia, Finland and Sweden, and staged large maneuvers near the borders of Estonia and Latvia.

"Russia is threatening nearly everybody; it is their way," said Mac Thornberry, the Republican chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, during a recent visit to Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.

"They want to intimidate the Baltic states, Poland, Ukraine and Romania, country after country. And the question is, do you let the bully get away with that or do you stand up and say 'no, you can threaten, but we will not allow you to run over us,'" Thornberry said.

The Pentagon has said that some 3,000 U.S. troops will be conducting training exercises in Eastern Europe this year. That's a small number compared to the hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops that have been withdrawn from Europe since the days when the Iron Curtain divided the continent. But the fact that they are carrying out exercises in what used to be Moscow's backyard makes it all the more sensitive; the Kremlin sees NATO's eastward expansion as a top security threat.

During a symbolic visit to Estonia in September, U.S. President Barack Obama said that the defense of the Baltic capitals of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius is just as important as defending Berlin, Paris and London — a statement warmly received in Estonia, a nation of 1.3 million and with a mere 5,500 soldiers on active duty.

Welcoming the U.S. fighter squadron to Estonia, U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey D. Levine said the air drill was needed "to deter any power that might question our commitment to Article 5" — NATO's key principle of collective defense of its members.

On Wednesday, The Associated Press observed bombing and strafing drills at the Tapa training ground both from the ground and from the back seat of one of the two F-16s taking part.

On board the fighter jet, the pull of the G-force was excruciating as the pilot swooped down onto his target before brutally ascending to circle the range.

After dropping six practice bombs each, the two jets returned to Amari air base, flying so low over the flat Estonian countryside that they frequently had to gain altitude to avoid radio towers.

On the ground, Lt. Col. Christopher Austin, commander of the 510th Squadron, dismissed the risk of his pilots making any rash moves that could provoke a reaction from the Russians.

"We stay far enough away so that we don't have to worry about any (border) zones or anything like that," he said. "We don't even think about it." - Yahoo.

PLAGUES & PESTILENCES: Powassan Virus - Doctors Warn Of Untreatable, Potentially Deadly Tick-Borne Virus, Says It Is Worse Than Lyme Disease!

April 9, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- It’s even worse than Lyme disease. Ticks in our area have been found to carry a rare, potentially life-threatening, virus.

As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported, doctors have warned that the Powassan virus, a rare, tick borne illness could be serious. It doesn’t have a treatment or a cure.

“The doctor just has to support you during the acute illness and hope that you survive,” Dr. Daniel Cameron explained.

Dr. Cameron is the President of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. He said that if bitten by an infected tick you can get the virus within a matter of minutes, and while the symptoms are similar to Lyme disease, they are more severe.

“You can get seizures, high fevers, stiff neck. It comes on so suddenly that it’s the kind of thing people go to the emergency room for,” he explained.

Researchers with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station said the Powassan virus is starting to show up in Bridgeport and Branford.

“I couldn’t imagine having something worse than this. It sounds really awful,” Lyme disease patient Jennifer Cirigliano said.

Cirigliano was diagnosed with Lyme disease 2-years-ago. The 15-year-old said it’s been a long road of recovery.

“I was getting scared that there could be seriously something wrong,” she said.

WATCH: Ticks found to carry virus worse than Lyme Disease.

Now, with this emerging tick borne illness, doctors say be on the lookout.

“Be more vigilant about checking. I can’t stay indoors. Summer is the time to be outside,” one woman said.

Doctors said there are ways you can protect yourself. The suggested wearing pants and long sleeves outside, avoiding bushy and wooded areas, checking for ticks, and wearing bug spray. - CBS.

OMEN: "Blood Rain" To Fall On Britain As Red Saharan Dust Blows In From Africa - Warnings Of Soaring Levels Of Air Pollution!

Red sand from the Sahara will be mixed with rain which falls on Britain at the beginning of the weekend Photo: AP/Ian Jones

April 9, 2015 - BRITAIN
- ‘Blood rain’ will fall on Britain this weekend staining cars and pavements a rusty brown as red dust blows in from the Sahara desert.

Parts of the UK are facing soaring levels of air pollution as African dust mingles with city pollution, prompting health officials to issue warnings to vulnerable people.

Much of the South East and eastern England will see high levels of pollution, although the problem is expected to be short-lived, with Atlantic winds dispersing the murky air by Saturday, the Environment Department (Defra) said.

"Blood rain" is the term used when rain mixes with sand from deserts. Storms in the Sahara desert whip up sand into a fine dust which is carried for more than 2,000 miles to Britain.

When the rain falls it looks a reddish colour and when it dries it leaves a thin layer of dust capable of coating houses, cars and garden furniture.

Although it is more common in Spain and the South of France, it has been known to travel longer distances and fall in areas like Scandinavia. In some parts of India the colour has been vibrant enough to stain clothing.

Met Office forecaster Dan Williams said: “People could find yellow or brown dust from the Sahara on their cars on Saturday morning.”

In ancient times ‘blood rain’ was believed to be actual blood and considered a bad omen, heralding death and destruction. It is mentioned in Homer’s Iliad and in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s tales of King Arthur.

The Anglo Saxon Chronicle records that in 685, "there was a bloody rain in Britain. And milk and butter were turned to blood. And Lothere, king of Kent, died"

The historian William of Newburgh also claimed that Richard the Lionheart was caught in a shower of 'blood rain'.

Richard the Lionheart was covered in a shower of 'blood rain'

MeteoGroup forecaster Mario Cuellar added: “Spain saw ‘blood rain’ on Wednesday as the Saharan dust moved north.”

“Some of this dust currently in the UK’s polluted air could be found on cars after rain on Friday night.”

Health officials have issued a warning about the high level of pollution in Britain in the coming days. Adults and children with lung or heart problems, and older people have been advised to avoid strenuous activity.

People are also advised to reduce physical exertion, particularly outside, and asthma sufferers were warned that they may need to use their inhaler more frequently.

A Defra spokeswoman said: "Locally generated air pollution, combined with pollution from the continent and Saharan dust, could cause high or very high levels on Friday.

Cars were covered in Saharan dust in London in 2012

"This is expected to clear on Saturday and pollution levels will return to low throughout the morning."

Temperatures on Friday are expected to 72F (22C) which is due to be the hottest day since last year’s Halloween heatwave saw conditions peak at 73F (23.6C) on October 31.

In fact, conditions on Friday could nudge the record for the hottest ever April 10, 73F (23.3C) which was set in Devon in 1909.

The high temperatures have already sparked dozens of blazes including a two square mile grass fire in Darwen, Lancashire and a 20-acre grass fire in Cheddar, Somerset.

However the hot and humid conditions will break overnight with rain and windy conditions in the North.

Temperatures will plummet on Saturday to usual conditions for mid-April. The Met Office forecast 46F (8C) highs in Scotland, 50F (10C) in the Midlands and 59F (15C) in the South-East.

Forecaster Brian Gaze of The Weather Outlook said: “Decent summer weather will be followed by weekend rain - typical.”

Two inches of snow is expected at Scottish ski resorts on Saturday and wind gusts will nudge a gale-force 40mph in the West, 45mph in the North and 50mph in Scotland.

Dan Williams from the Met Office added: “Saturday will see temperatures drop and breezes increase, feeling noticeably added with windchill and more cloud.

“Sunday’s showers will turn wintry on higher ground in Scotland, where weekend gales are expected in exposed parts.” - Telegraph.

EXTREME WEATHER: Lightning Strike "SHOOK" Iceland Plane Leaving Massive HOLE in The Nose - But Pilots Don't Notice And Carry On With Eight-Hour Flight!

A plane was struck by lightning shortly after takeoff during a flight from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Denver, Colorado on Tuesday

April 9, 2015 - ICELAND
- Passengers of an Icelandair flight to Denver on Tuesday were left in a bit of shock after their plane was struck by lightning shortly after takeoff.

Though the Boeing 757 continued its 3,700-mile journey from Reykjavik, Iceland, to Denver, it wasn't until the plane landed that passengers and crew were aware of a gaping hole in the nose of the plane.

The hole was at a point in the plane where weather radars are housed, but the plane landed safely in Denver and no one was injured. It is unknown how many people were on board.

Passenger Kyle Hernandez, a member of the band The Bunny Gang, said that the lightning 'shook the plane and it was bright'.

'Everybody kind of got tense and we all jumped and looked at each other,' Hernandez told FOX31.

It wasn't until after landing that the passengers and crew found out the lightning strike caused a gaping hole at the nose of the plane

His bandmate Nathen Maxwell told the Denver Post that it sounded like a 'bang and a pop'.

'At some point pretty soon after we left, we got hit. It wasn't at the halfway point,' Maxwell said. 'I thought we'd probably have to go for an emergency landing or turn around, detour or something.'

Passenger Amanda Boldenow said everyone from the plane immediately walked to the terminal's windows when they arrived in Denver.

'We walked over and everyone is staring at this hole in the nose,' she said. 'Lighting had struck the plane. I had never been in a plane that had been struck by lightning, so I was really startled.'

The journey from Reykjavik to Denver is about 3,740 miles. Passengers on the plane said the lightning struck shortly after takeoff

Aviation experts said that lightning strikes to commercial planes happen one to five times per year, according to 9News, and modern aircraft are equipped to handle these strikes.

Metropolitan State University of Denver aviation professor Jeff Price said that lightning strikes that damage a plane, however, are rare.

'It could be one of those weird "acts of God" where it hit at the right point. The important thing is the plane landed safely,' Price said.

Pilots reported the lighting but continued on with the eight-hour flight to Denver. The plane landed safely and no one was injured

A spokesman from Icelandair said that though people were concerned there was no detour, the pilots followed protocol in the situation.

The spokesman said: 'During departure from Keflavik International Airport the Boeing 757 aircraft used for Icelandair flight 671 was struck by lightning.

'The aircraft handling characteristics and notification systems were unaffected and the flight continued.

'Lightning strikes are common and protocol was followed. There was no cause for further concern and the flight landed without issue. This aircraft was replaced upon landing and is being evaluated.'

The plane has been removed from service and will be inspected and repaired and Iceland's FAA equivalent will be responsible of the investigation. - Daily Mail.

TERMINATOR NOW: The Rise Of The Machines - U.S. Pentagon Gears Up For Robot Warfare; United Nations Urged To Ban "Killer Robots" Before They Can Be Developed!

Before leaving office, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel got a look at high-tech projects being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Brad Tousley demonstrated a robot that would assist wounded warriors. (Associated Press)  

April 9, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work on Wednesday outlined the Pentagon’s plans for an advanced war-fighting strategy involving robot weapons and remote-controlled warfare.

In a speech to the Army War College Strategy Conference, Mr. Work said the “third offset strategy” will rely heavily on autonomous systems that will allow machines and U.S. technological superiority to win wars.

The strategy follows two earlier “offsets” — the use of asymmetric means to counter enemy advantages. During the Cold War, strategic deterrence and tactical nuclear arms were used to offset the Soviet Union’s ground force numerical advantages. In the 1970s, precision-guided conventional weapons were deployed to offset the quantitative shortcomings of foreign conventional forces.

Mr. Work said precision-guided warfare is reaching the end of its shelf life as foreign states have developed countermeasures.

The third offset will be designed to defeat states like China, which is developing niche, offset weapons such as anti-ship ballistic missiles and anti-satellite arms.

“The real essence of the third offset strategy is to find multiple different attacks against opponents across all domains so they can’t adapt, or they adjust to just one, and they died before they can adapt again,” he said.
Mr. Work said defense strategists are divided between those who seek to continue to focus on low-end conflict and those who say future wars will require high-end forces for use against competitor states with large militaries, like China and Russia. “We don’t have an answer right now” on which direction the Pentagon will go, he said.

The deputy defense secretary said the offset strategy calls for adapting “three-play chess” to modern warfare, in which U.S. military forces will employ highly skilled people operating advanced technological machines against less-capable forces.

Mr. Work said the “Air Sea Battle” concept, designed to break into Asia against Chinese missiles and submarines, has evolved into “Air Land Battle 2.0.”

“Air Sea Battle, in my view, kind of went wrong,” said Mr. Work, one of the concept’s architects.

The revised concept will involve avoiding being targeted by massive Chinese missile salvos or submarine attacks through “getting into their networks, blowing them up and keep them from seeing you,” he said.

Next, salvo attacks will be countered with defenses designed to hit missiles and destroy submarines and missile-carrying bombers before they fire. Last, after surviving the massed strikes, joint assault forces will be injected to make it an “air-land battle.”

“I believe that what the third offset strategy will revolve around will be three-play combat in each dimension,” Mr. Work said. “And three-play combat will be much different in each dimension [air, sea, land], and it will be up for the people who live and fight in that dimension to figure out the rules.”

“We will have autonomy at rest, our smart systems being able to go through big data to help at the campaign level and to be able to go through big data at the tactical level. So autonomy at rest and autonomy in motion,” he said.

The most difficult domain for robots is the ground.

“Just getting robots to move over terrain is one of the most difficult things you can imagine,” Mr. Work said.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s high-tech development center, is working on a program called Squad X that is focusing on human-machine interaction at the tactical level. The program includes ground robots, microdrones and squad-sized military units equipped with intelligence and super-lethal weapons that can cover large areas.

“And this is not as far away as you might think,” Mr. Work said, noting that the Army is conducting experiments with “manned and unmanned teaming” of Apache attack helicopters.
Robot-driven vehicles also are coming, along with human-sized robots used as porters, firefighters, countermine robots, and countersniper robots.


The key threat posed by the al Qaeda offshoot terrorist group Islamic State is not the infiltration of fighters crossing the U.S. southern border but the group’s sophisticated social media recruitment effort.

That’s the conclusion of Navy Adm. William Gortney, commander of the Colorado-based U.S. Northern Command, which is charged with defense of the homeland.

“I don’t believe that it’s ISIL that we have to worry about infiltrating through our southern approaches,” Adm. Gortney told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday, using an acronym for the terrorist group.

“They are a threat to us because they’re using a very sophisticated social media campaign to incite American and Canadian citizens to do harm against American and Canadian citizens,” he said. “That’s how they are trying to attack us in that regard, through that very sophisticated social media campaign.”

In addition to frequent posts seeking recruits placed on Facebook and Twitter, the terrorist group has launched a slick English-language magazine called Dabiq that lists email addresses and an encryption key for potential recruits to contact the Islamic State.

The FBI is engaged in a major law enforcement campaign to stop would-be jihadis in the U.S. from traveling to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State.

FBI Special Agent Andrew McCabe, head of the FBI’s Washington field office, said the bureau is struggling to keep up with related cases, including seven people in the past two weeks linked to the Islamic State group. Other cases involve people in their early and middle teens who want to travel overseas.

“It’s not hard to anticipate that, as numbers begin to grow, at some point our traditional investigative approaches and capabilities will be outstripped by the sheer numbers we’re facing,” Mr. McCabe told CBS News on Tuesday.

Adm. Gortney said the border security problem involves “seams” in defenses that enemies are exploiting.

“And they’re going to move through those seams people, drugs, money, weapons or something even greater,” he said. “And that’s why we work so hard looking down there and trying to close those seams with our homeland partnerships and with the other geographic combatant commanders.”


Paula DeSutter, assistant secretary of state for verification, compliance and implementation in the George W. Bush administration, said Congress should request a formal assessment of whether the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran will include adequate verification provisions to prevent Tehran from cheating.

“Congress has the authority to request a verifiability assessment of the agreement from the administration but has not done so,” Ms. DeSutter told Inside the Ring.

Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has introduced legislation that would require the Iran agreement to be submitted to Congress.

Under the Constitution, the Senate has the power of advice and consent on foreign treaties and agreements.
Ms. DeSutter added that, based on the preliminary framework made public last week, adequate verification does not appear possible.

“Transparency measures” announced as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action will facilitate violations at known locations but not at secret undeclared sites, she said.

Fred Fleitz
, an ex-CIA analyst and former State Department arms control official, also voiced concerns about verifying Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal.

“I believe the verification provisions in a nuclear agreement with Iran, based on the new framework, will fall far short of what the Obama administration claimed last week,” Mr. Fleitz said.

“Intrusive inspections of Iran’s nuclear program only appear certain for its peaceful program,” he said. “Inspections of possible military-related nuclear activities would take place under the IAEA additional protocol.”

Iran has said it would adopt a limited “provisional application” of an International Atomic Energy Agency protocol, which Obama administration officials have said is the key to stringent verification.

A formal agreement is to be drawn up by June 30.

“Given Iran’s record of covert nuclear activities and apparent loopholes in the framework on requiring inspections of reports of such activities, I question whether an agreement based on the framework can provide adequate verification to assure that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program,” Mr. Fleitz said. - Washington Times.

UN urged to ban 'killer robots' before they can be developed

A protest takes place outside the London offices of the defence contractor General Atomics against drones and killer robots.
Photograph: Peter Marshall/Demotix/Corbis

Fully autonomous weapons, already denounced as “killer robots”, should be banned by international treaty before they can be developed, a new report urges the United Nations .

Under existing laws, computer programmers, manufacturers and military commanders would all escape liability for deaths caused by such machines, according to the study published on Thursday by Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School.

Nor is there likely to be any clear legal framework in future that would establish the responsibility of those involved in producing or operating advanced weapons systems, say the authors of Mind the Gap: The Lack of Accountability for Killer Robots.

The report is released ahead of an international meeting on lethal autonomous weapons systems at the UN in Geneva starting on 13 April. The session will discuss additions to the convention on certain conventional weapons.

Also known as the inhumane weapons convention, the treaty has been regularly reinforced by new protocols on emerging military technology. Blinding laser weapons were pre-emptively outlawed in 1995 and combatant nations since 2006 have been required to remove unexploded cluster bombs.

Military deployment of the current generation of drones is defended by the Ministry of Defence and other governments on the grounds that there is always a man or woman “in the loop”, ultimately deciding whether or not to trigger a missile.

Rapid technical progress towards the next stage of automation, in which weapons may select their own targets, has alarmed scientists and human rights campaigners.

“Fully autonomous weapons do not yet exist,” the report acknowledges. “But technology is moving in their direction, and precursors are already in use or development. For example, many countries use weapons defence systems – such as the Israeli Iron Dome and the US Phalanx and C-RAM – that are programmed to respond automatically to threats from incoming munitions.

“Prototypes exist for planes that could autonomously fly on intercontinental missions [the UK’s Taranis] or take off and land on an aircraft carrier [the US’s X-47B].

“The lack of meaningful human control places fully autonomous weapons in an ambiguous and troubling position. On the one hand, while traditional weapons are tools in the hands of human beings, fully autonomous weapons, once deployed, would make their own determinations about the use of lethal force.

“They would thus challenge longstanding notions of the role of arms in armed conflict, and for some legal analyses, they would be more akin to a human soldier than to an inanimate weapon. On the other hand, fully autonomous weapons would fall far short of being human.”

The report calls for a prohibition “on the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons through an international legally binding” agreement, and urges states to adopt similar domestic laws.

The hurdles to accountability for the production and use of fully autonomous weapons under current law are monumental, the report states. “Weapons could not be held accountable for their conduct because they could not act with criminal intent, would fall outside the jurisdiction of international tribunals and could not be punished.

“Criminal liability would likely apply only in situations where humans specifically intended to use the robots to violate the law. In the United States at least, civil liability would be virtually impossible due to the immunity granted by law to the military and its contractors and the evidentiary obstacles to products liability suits.”

Bonnie Docherty, HRW’s senior arms division researcher and the report’s lead author, said: “No accountability means no deterrence of future crimes, no retribution for victims, no social condemnation of the responsible party. The many obstacles to justice for potential victims show why we urgently need to ban fully autonomous weapons.”

Human Rights Watch is a co-founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which is supported by more than 50 NGOs and supports a preemptive ban on the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons. - The Guardian.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: America's Massive Methane Mystery - NASA Set To Investigate Unexplained Hotspot Over The "Four Corners" Intersection In Southwest Covers 2,500 SQUARE MILES; Predates Widespread Fracking In The Area?!

The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background
concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher). The hot spot, near the Four Corners intersection
of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, covers only about 2,500 square miles.

April 9, 2015 - U.S. SOUTHWEST
- A small 'hot spot' in the U.S. Southwest is responsible for producing the largest concentration of the greenhouse gas methane seen over the United States - and is the subject of a major new investigation to find out why.

The hot spot, near the Four Corners intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, covers only about 2,500 square miles (6,500 square kilometers), or half the size of Connecticut.

A recent Nasa map shows is produces more than triple the standard ground-based estimate - and researchers say they don't know why.

Methane is very efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Like carbon dioxide, it contributes to global warming.

To calculate the emissions rate that would be required to produce the observed concentration of methane in the air, the authors performed high-resolution regional simulations using a chemical transport model, which simulates how weather moves and changes airborne chemical compounds.

Researchers from several institutions are now in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest with a suite of airborne and ground-based instruments, aiming to uncover reasons for a mysterious methane 'hot spot' detected from space.

'With all the ground-based and airborne resources that the different groups are bringing to the region, we have the unique chance to unequivocally solve the Four Corners mystery,' said Christian Frankenberg, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, who is heading NASA's part of the effort.

Other investigators are from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in Boulder, Colorado; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Last fall, researchers including Frankenberg reported that a small region around the Four Corners intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah had the highest concentration of methane over background levels of any part of the United States.

An instrument on a European Space Agency satellite measuring greenhouse gases showed a persistent atmospheric hot spot in the area between 2003 and 2009.

The amount of methane observed by the satellite was much higher than previously estimated.

The satellite observations were not detailed enough to reveal the actual sources of the methane in the Four Corners.

Likely candidates include venting from oil and gas activities, which are primarily coalbed methane exploration and extraction in this region; active coal mines; and natural gas seeps.

Researchers from CIRES, NOAA's Earth Systems Research Laboratory and Michigan are conducting a field campaign called TOPDOWN (Twin Otter Projects Defining Oil Well and Natural gas emissions) 2015, bringing airborne and ground-based instruments to investigate possible sources of the methane hot spot.

Shiprock, New Mexico, is in the Four Corners region where an atmospheric methane "hot spot" can be seen from space.
Researchers are currently in the area, trying to uncover the reasons for the hot spot.

The JPL team will join the effort on April 17 and fly two complementary remote sensing instruments on two Twin Otter research aircraft.

The Next-Generation Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRISng), which observes spectra of reflected sunlight, flies at a higher altitude and will be used to map methane at fine resolution over the entire region.

Using this information and ground measurements from the other research teams, the Hyperspectral Thermal Emission Spectrometer (HyTES) will fly over suspected methane sources, making additional, highly sensitive measurements of methane.

Depending on its flight altitude, the NASA aircraft can image methane features with a spatial resolution better than three feet (one meter) square. In other words, it can create a mosaic showing how methane levels vary every few feet, enabling the identification of individual sources.

Hotspot of total column methane anomalies centered over the Four Corners region from 2003 to 2009, when a satellite-based methane-measuring instrument was
operational. The April study will focus on verifying the hotspot and determining the methane sources producing
the exceptionally elevated methane concentrations.

With the combined resources, the investigators hope to quantify the region's overall methane emissions and pinpoint contributions from different sources. They will track changes over the course of the month-long effort and study how meteorology transports emissions through the region.

'If we can verify the methane detected by the satellite and identify its sources, decision-makers will have critical information for any actions they are considering,' said CIRES scientist Gabrielle Pétron, one of the mission's investigators. Part of President Obama's recent Climate Action Plan calls for reductions in methane emissions.

The research team also includes scientists from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado, Boulder; the U.S. Bureau of Land Management; and the state of New Mexico.

In each of the seven years studied from 2003-2009, the area released about 0.59 million metric tons of methane into the atmosphere.

This is almost 3.5 times the estimate for the same area in the European Union's widely used Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research.

In the study published online today in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers used observations made by the European Space Agency's Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography (SCIAMACHY) instrument, which measured greenhouse gases from 2002 to 2012.

The atmospheric hot spot persisted throughout the study period.

A ground station in the Total Carbon Column Observing Network, operated by the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory, provided independent validation of the measurement.

To calculate the emissions rate that would be required to produce the observed concentration of methane in the air, the authors performed high-resolution regional simulations using a chemical transport model, which simulates how weather moves and changes airborne chemical compounds.

Research scientist Christian Frankenberg of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, first noticed the Four Corners signal years ago in SCIAMACHY data.

'We didn't focus on it because we weren't sure if it was a true signal or an instrument error,' Frankenberg said.

The study's lead author, Eric Kort of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, noted the study period predates the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, near the hot spot.

This indicates the methane emissions should not be attributed to fracking but instead to leaks in natural gas production and processing equipment in New Mexico's San Juan Basin, which is the most active coalbed methane production area in the country.

Natural gas is 95-98 percent methane.

Methane is colorless and odorless, making leaks hard to detect without scientific instruments.

'The results are indicative that emissions from established fossil fuel harvesting techniques are greater than inventoried,' Kort said.

'There's been so much attention on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, but we need to consider the industry as a whole.'

In just one place in the United States do four states meet. The borders of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona intersect at Four Corners,
west of the confluence of the Mancos and San Juan Rivers.

Coalbed methane is gas that lines pores and cracks within coal.

In underground coal mines, it is a deadly hazard that causes fatal explosions almost every year as it seeps out of the rock. After the U.S. energy crisis of the 1970s, techniques were invented to extract the methane from the coal and use it for fuel. By 2012, coalbed methane supplied about 8 percent of all natural gas in the United States.

Frankenberg noted that the study demonstrates the unique role space-based measurements can play in monitoring greenhouse gases.

WATCH: Methane bubbles get popped and ignited with a match.

'Satellite data cannot be as accurate as ground-based estimates, but from space, there are no hiding places,' Frankenberg said.

In March 2014 the Obama Administration announced a strategy to reduce methane emissions under its Climate Action Plan.

The strategy includes improving the measurement and monitoring of methane emissions and assessing current methane emissions data. - Daily Mail.

GEOLOGICAL UPHEAVAL: Puzzling Sinkholes Are Opening Up Along The Dead Sea - Sea Shrinking Rapidly; The Water's Surface Has Receded About 3 FEET Per Year; Craters Developing Along Fault Lines In The Jordan Rift Valley; Researchers Call For URGENT INVESTIGATION!

April 9, 2015 - DEAD SEA
- For millennia, the salty, mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea have drawn visitors and health pilgrims to its shores. But in recent years, gaping chasms have been opening up without warning along its banks, posing a threat to such visitors and tourism in general.

Nestled between Israel and the Palestinian territories to the west, and Jordan to the east, the Dead Sea is famous for is extreme salinity (34 percent salt, almost 10 times as salty as the ocean), and for having the lowest elevation on Earth, at 1,407 feet (429 meters) below sea level.

Sinkholes are eating up buildings! You've seen 'em on the news, maybe even in your own neighborhoods ... but what exactly causes them in the first place?

But for the past few decades, the sea has been shrinking rapidly, due to the diversion of water from the Jordan River (which feeds the Dead Sea) and mineral mining from its waters in the south. The water's surface is currently receding by about 3 feet (1 m) per year, according to Hanan Ginat, a geologist and academic chairman of the Dead Sea and Arava Research Center, in Israel.

As the briny water recedes, fresh groundwater wells up and dissolves layers of salt, creating large underground cavities, above which sinkholes form. The holes can open up without warning, Ginat told Live Science. "We're looking for systems to forecast where they will happen, but it's very complicated," he added.
The main reason for the Dead Sea's decline is diversion of water from the Jordan River, which used to provide about 450 billion gallons (1.7 billion cubic meters), but now only provides about 20 percent of that, Ginat said. A factory called Dead Sea Works, which pumps out seawater to harvest its salts and minerals, plays a role in the problem, he said.

Ginat's colleague at Dead Sea and Arava Research Center, geologist Eli Raz, has studied the sinkhole problem in depth. Raz found that many of the craters developed along seismic fault lines in the Jordan Rift Valley. Inside these faults, the dissolved salts are less stable and more susceptible to invading freshwater, which hollows out the gaping holes, Raz's studies suggest.

The sinkholes were first noticed in the 1970s, but have been forming more rapidly in recent years. The holes are dangerous for people who visit or live in the area, and while no one has been killed, the problem should be taken seriously, researchers warn. The sinkholes can reach up to 82 feet (25 m) deep and 131 feet (40 m) in diameter, and nearby holes sometimes join to form giant ones, according to Raz and his colleagues. More than 4,000 sinkholes exist today, mostly on the sea's western shores, Ginat said.

However, there may be a way to stave off the Dead Sea's decline. Authorities have proposed a canal that would run from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea, called the Red Sea-Dead Sea Conduit, which, in addition to providing water to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories, would bring salt water to the Dead Sea and generate electricity to supply its own energy. Israel and Jordan approved the first stage of the project last month, Ginat said.

"You can't stop the sinkholes," Ginat said. But when people plan roads, buildings and other infrastructure, they should take note of the research, "and choose where to put things [based on] the knowledge we have about the sinkholes," he said.

Other areas of the world are also home to puzzling sinkholes. For instance, in Siberia, at least seven giant craters have been found since 2014, which scientists believe to be the result of the explosive release of methane gas from melting permafrost. Researchers have called for urgent investigation of the craters out of safety concerns. - Discovery.

INFRASTRUCTURE COLLAPSE: Big Apple Breakdown - Burst Water Main Floods New Yor City Subway, Streets! [PHOTOS + VIDEO]

Screenshot from youtube video by GBE NYC

April 9, 2015 - NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - A busted water main flooded streets and interrupted subway service near Greenwich Village in New York City on Wednesday. The fire department and water crews are responding.

The cause of the broken water main is unclear at this point, but the fire department said it's possible that a Con Edison utility crew accidentally struck the water pipe. The incident resulted in a downpour of water at the 14th Street station, where the 1, 2 and 3 trains stop.

Videos posted online show one subway car stuck on the rails as water cascades down its sides, with people still sitting inside. The fire department told DNAinfo that there have been no reports of people still inside the station, though some 500 people had to be evacuated.

Another video shows so much water falling onto the tracks that a pool is formed almost as high as the subway platform.

 WATCH: Water main break at 14th Street station.

According to amNewYork, power has been cut to the train tracks and service has been diverted. The trains are still running, but with significant delays, and none are stopping at 14th Street.

Meanwhile, the flood of water ended up above ground on the streets as well. Some roads have been shut down, NBC 4 stated. - RT.

WEATHER PHENOMENON: Sun And Moon Halo - Ice Crystals And Sunbeams Create Stunning Luminous Ring Effect In The Heavens!

April 9, 2015 - SWEDEN
- Ice crystals in high clouds have a beautiful effect on sunlight. Sunbeams that strike the crystals are bent into luminous rings called ice halos.

Moonbeams are affected the same way. Exactly the same way. Göran Strand proved it with this composite image above of the sun and Moon over Östersund, Sweden, on April 1st.

"During the day I took a photo of the 22° solar halo," says Strand. "And later that night, 10 hours later, when the Moon was in the same position in the sky, I took another shot from the same location, showing a 22° Moon halo.

Merging the two photos shows the halos are a perfect match." 22º radius halos are visible all over the world and throughout the year. The ice crystals that create them float 5 km to 10 km above the ground.

Those altitudes are always freezing even during the warmest months of summer.

Look for halos, night and day, whenever the sky is wisped with cold cirrus clouds. - Space Weather.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: Extreme Drought, Water & Food Crisis - California Water Department Now Using Smart Meters To Track And Prosecute Water Wasters!

- Water authorities are using a new tool in a major effort to crack down on people and businesses wasting water in light of new water restrictions issued by Gov. Jerry Brown to fight the drought.

The Long Beach Water Department says sprinklers at a McDonald’s restaurant on Bellflower Boulevard went on for 45 minutes at a time, twice a night, for an undefined number of nights. Complaints continued to mount as water pooled and wasted. The department, however, could do little about the wasting.

That was before the smart meter.

Since its installation in February, Long Beach Water Department General Manager Kevin Wattier says he saw an immediate spike by tens of thousands of gallons, each time McDonald’s overwatered their property.

“It collects the data every five minutes, then after midnight, the cellphone that’s built in here comes on, makes one call, and calls it in to the database that we and the customer, through a password security system, have online access to their consumption,” Wattier said.

WATCH: California Water Authorities To Use New Tool In Fight Against Water Wasters

“The accuracy is just incredible, because we get the data the next day.”

Using this data, Wattier knew the precise moment to send his employees to videotape the infractions to use as evidence.

“We are using it specifically for an enforcement tool to go after those customers who we’ve gotten lots of complaints about,” Wattier said.

Wattier says he believes the smart meter will be used in both businesses and homes to track water waste across Southern California. - CBS Los Angeles.

WATCH: No privacy with smart meters.

EXTREME WEATHER: At Least Four Tornadoes Spotted Wednesday Across U.S. Plains And Midwest - Severe Threat Of Destructive Hail, Damaging Winds, Flash Flooding And More Twisters Continues Thursday! [PHOTOS + MAPS + FORECAST]

Clouds in Potosi, Missouri, the evening of April 8, 2015. (Instgram/spaarkplug) 

April 9, 2015 - UNITED STATES
- Severe thunderstorms continue to break out across parts of the Plains and Midwest as a multi-day severe weather event continues to unfold. Large and destructive hail has been the biggest problem today, but damaging winds, flash flooding and a few tornadoes have also been reported.

Here's what you need to know right now:
  • A tornado was confirmed outside Hammon, Oklahoma, in a rural area.
  • Storm spotters reported brief tornado touchdowns near Garden Plain, Goddard and Andale.
  • A tornado was spotted near the Kansas/Oklahoma state line earlier this evening. 
  • A 75-year-old Hendricks County, Indiana, woman was killed after falling into a stream. She was clearing debris from a flooded ditch. 
  • A tornado touched down in Comanche County, Kansas. Minutes later the same storm spawned another tornado, which lasted 3 to 5 minutes, in rural Barber County, Kansas.
  • Five people were injured after a Tulsa school bus rolled off Highway 75 in Oklahoma. Weather and speeding appear to be factors.
  • A University of Dayton student is in serious condition after being struck by lightning on campus.
  • A severe thunderstorm caused significant damage in Potosi, Missouri, between 3:30 and 4 p.m. CDT. Some buildings lost roofs in the storm. There was a report of a possible tornado in the area, but there are no further details and no photos of the purported tornado.
  • Earlier severe thunderstorms damaged outbuildings and brought widespread power outages around Rushville, Indiana, according to WTHR-TV and National Weather Service reports.
  • Grapefruit-size hail was reported around Sullivan, Missouri, around 2:30 p.m. CDT. There are reports of smashed car windshields and damage to homes. Hail up to the size of softballs struck Farmington, Missouri, around 4:45 p.m.
  • The strongest directly measured thunderstorm wind gust today has been 81.9 mph at a Texas Tech Mesonet observation site in Sundown, Texas, early this evening. Estimated gusts up to 80 mph were reported with mid-afternoon storms in parts of southeast Kansas.

Hail in Farmington, Missouri, on Wednesday, April 8, 2015. (Twitter/karlschneiderwx) 

Hail the morning of April 8, 2015, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Twitter/loveviy) 

Hail shown in Chicago, Illinois shortly after midnight on April 9, 2015. (Instagram/drewinchicago) 

Stormclouds near Lancaster, Ohio pictured at sunrise on Thursday April 9, 2015. (Instagram/rgreenbomb)

A view of clouds over Wichita, Kansas on April 8, 2015. (Instagram/ricow) 

Lightning over Wichita, Kansas, taken by meteorologist for The Weather Channel Dave Malkoff. (Twitter/malkoff) 

Derek Smith, 14, from Bonne Terre, looks at the shattered rear window of his mom's car that was busted out by hail slightly smaller than a tennis ball that fell
from a storm in downtown Farmington, Mo., Wednesday, April 8, 2015. Numerous cars sustained broken windows from the hail.
(AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, David Carson) 

Here's the latest on today's severe weather. Time stamps on the left are in Eastern time; subtract one hour for Central time.

Click here or scroll down for current weather maps of the risk zone, including radar, watches and warnings.

Current Radar with Watches and Warnings (Midwest, Ohio Valley)

Current Conditions and Enhanced Satellite. Brighter colors indicate colder and therefore higher cloud tops. Current temperatures, dewpoints
(a measure of humidity) and wind speeds are plotted for selected cities.

Visible Satellite (Daytime Only). This image shows how clouds look to the naked eye from outer space.
You will be able to see shadows cast by powerful thunderstorms, which can be more than 50,000 feet tall.

- The Weather Channel.