Fierce tornado rips through Mich. town, but no injuries

Posted March 16, 2012, at 10:09 p.m.

DEXTER, Mich. — The twister that took aim at this Michigan village on Thursday evening unleashed winds of 135 mph and lingered on the ground for a full half-hour, plowing a path of destruction that stretched for 10 miles.

But after the tornado melted back into the clouds, townspeople emerged to a remarkable surprise: Not a single person was seriously hurt. Authorities credited storm sirens that provided more than 20 minutes of warning.

The twister damaged more than 100 homes and destroyed 13. Yet everyone emerged unscathed.

Two weaker tornadoes were reported in Monroe County’s Ida Township and in Lapeer County, near Columbiaville, where authorities found damage across a three-mile area. The storm ripped a two-story home from its foundation and damaged barns and vehicles.

Alaska’s largest city eyes snow record

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Near-record snowfall has buried Anchorage neighborhoods, turning streets into canyons with walls of snow. The snow’s weight has collapsed roofs, and moose are fleeing into the city to get away from deep snow. City dumps are close to overflowing with snow that may not melt entirely before next winter.

If another 3.3 inches fall, the nearly 60-year record of 132.6 inches will be broken.

Extreme weather has also hit the Lower 48. The first three months of 2012 have seen twice the normal number of tornadoes. And 36 states set daily high temperature records Thursday. The Lower 48 had its fourth-warmest winter on record, while Alaska had its coldest January on record.

Two different weather phenomena — La Nina and its northern cousin the Arctic Oscillation — are mostly to blame, meteorologists say. Global warming could also be a factor because it is supposed to increase weather extremes, climate scientists say.

Despite food-aid pact, North Korea planning satellite launch

BEIJING — Two weeks after agreeing to freeze its weapons programs in return for food aid, North Korea announced Friday it is preparing to launch a satellite in mid-April to mark the 100th anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung’s birth.

Although North Korea insisted its intentions are peaceful, the timing of the launch could scuttle the newly inked deal with Washington. The technology employed in shooting a satellite into orbit is essentially the same as a long-range missile test. Two previous tests, in 1998 and 2009, were also described by Pyongyang as satellite launches.

In Washington, the State Department called the announcement of the launch a “highly provocative” move that would jeopardize plans to deliver food aid to starving North Koreans, even though the United States has insisted the assistance did not depend on the deal.

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