This May 3, 1999, funnel became the F-5 storm that damaged thousands of buildings in central Okahoma. University of Oklahoma storm chasers and observers are anticipating the annual tornado season as it approaches the central part of the country.
Dozens of people line up in a Tuscaloosa, Ala., supermarket. They're buying weather alert radios and having them programmed to receive specific warnings about bad weather. Tuscaloosa was hit by a monster tornado that decimated parts of the town last April.
Computer screens at the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service show forecast models. Meteorologists use the information to predict severe weather. During Alabama's tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011, forecasters were forced to take shelter when one of the twisters came close to their offices.
For many, the only way they learn a tornado is approaching are sirens. In the spring and summer, tornado sirens go off a lot more when twisters roar across Alabama, which has been hit by 900 since 2000, accounting for a quarter of all U.S. tornado deaths.
"I am still surprised that so many people rely on just one source of getting warned, and that has to change," said Jim Stefkovich, meteorologist in charge of the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service.
Holmes County High School Principal Eddie Dixson says paddling is used for minor offenses like back-talking or consistent tardiness. Students at the school are spanked only by Dixson or the assistant principal, and there is always a witness.
Spanking in school may seem like a relic of the past, but every day hundreds of students — from preschoolers to high school seniors — are still being paddled by teachers and principals.
In parts of America, getting spanked at school with a wooden or fiberglass board is just part of being a misbehaving student.
"I been getting them since about first grade," says Lucas Mixon, now a junior at Holmes County High School in Bonifay, Fla. "It's just regular. They tell you to put your hands up on the desk and how many swats you're going to get."
Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 5:46 pm
Update at 4:34 p.m. ET. 15 of 19 Banks Pass Stress Test:
The Federal Reserve says 15 of the country's top 19 banks have enough capital to survive a "severe recession," which it defined as "peak unemployment rate of 13 percent, a 50 percent drop in equity prices, and a 21 percent decline in housing prices."
Credit Jackson Forderer for Minnesota Public Radio
AGCO employees work on the assembly line in the company's newly expanded Jackson, Minn., manufacturing plant. The expansion brought the facility's staff from 850 to 1,050 workers and allows the plant to make tractors that were previously made in France.
Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University and former president of the Students for Reproductive Justice group there, testifies during a hearing before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee last month in Washington.
Could Georgetown University students like Sandra Fluke have to wait an extra year for free birth control?
There's a reason to ask the question.
Fluke, in case you missed it somehow, is the law student who testified before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee last month about the importance of providing free contraceptive services to students and others at religiously affiliated institutions.
Originally published on Tue March 13, 2012 2:31 pm
Citing an economy that is "expanding moderately," an improving labor market and subdued inflation — but a housing sector that "remains depressed" — the Federal Reserve just announced it is holding to its current policy on short-term interest rates.
The central bank's policymakers also said they expect "moderate economic growth over coming quarters" and that the jobless rate will continue to "decline gradually."
The sudden national fame for 85-year-old North Dakota newspaper columnist Marilyn Hagerty because she wrote last week that the new Olive Garden restaurant in Grand Forks is "impressive ... welcoming ... [and] is the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating" in the city reinforces two things for this blogger:
1. Almost everyone loves a story about someone who seems to be just so darn nice and who's still going strong at an age when many of us will just be glad to still be around.