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Randy Mann: Start planning outdoor activities

Thu., April 4, 2013, midnight

On Feb. 15, a “surprise” meteor streaked across the sky over Russia’s Ural Mountains. As the fireball exploded, it created a sonic boom and injured more than 1,000 people. Hundreds of buildings were damaged, and there was panic in three major cities in Russia.

The last time an event of this magnitude was recorded was in 1908. The Tunguska event occurred in an isolated region, but the explosion was so massive that it knocked down an estimated 80 million trees over an 830-square-mile area. It was estimated that the shock wave from the blast would have measured a 5.0 on the Richter scale.

Since Feb. 15, there have been additional reports of meteors streaking across the sky. On March 22, a meteor was spotted across the East Coast. More than 800 reports were logged from North Carolina to Washington, New York and northward to Canada. On March 28, another meteor was spotted in Wyoming, South Dakota, Colorado and Montana.

The meteor sightings have raised interest in meteor impacts and their effects. If one meteor or asteroid was large enough, and hit the Earth, our climate would drastically change to the colder side.

Scientists state that approximately 65 million years ago, a meteorite the size of Mount Everest, crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. After the impact, Earth’s climate became much colder and plant life died off. A smaller impact could alter our planet’s climate, but the chances of that occurring in the near future are extremely slim.

In terms of our local weather, this past weekend was very nice with temperatures climbing into the 60s. Across Europe, however, it was one of the snowiest Easter weekends ever recorded. Conditions in northern Europe at the end of March and early April were more like January.

There’s still a chance we could see some snow showers over the next week to 10 days. The rest of the spring season still looks like it will be a little wetter and cooler than normal. But there will be days, like the ones we had last weekend, with lots of sunshine and pleasant afternoon temperatures. We shouldn’t have conditions similar to those in spring 2012 when many stations reported record precipitation.

The upcoming summer season looks very good with drier than normal weather. Start planning some of those outdoor activities.

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