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Storm Chasers Put Twister Star Bill Paxton On the Map with GPS Tribute

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Bill Harding may be gone, but a group of real-life storm chasers want to be sure he isn't forgotten. After news of Twister star Bill Paxton's passing broke over the weekend—he died of a stroke following surgery February 25—nearly 200 weather-loving adventurers collaborated on Sunday to spell out the late actor’s initials on a map using GPS coordinates.

Spotter Network, a nonprofit group that tracks tornado chasers’ positions and provides storm information to the National Weather Service, arranged the tribute on Facebook. Participants were instructed to enter their coordinates on a map depicting Tornado Alley, a particularly storm-prone region in the southern plains of the central United States. (The town of Wakita, Oklahoma, which served as a backdrop for most of Twister’s scenes, sat in the map’s center.)

Some storm chasers traveled to designated points on the map to mark their dots, but many entered their GPS coordinates manually. The project took place in real time; as the day went by, Paxton’s red-dotted initials covered swaths of Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

Spotter Network president John Wetter told the AP that the group had previously performed tributes like this for people who have “made a significant contribution to the field.”

"This is the first time we've gone way outside of that. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of meteorologists today—myself included—who were impacted by the movie Twister and the role Bill played in that," Wetter told the AP. "Twister was kind of the first time in a mass media marketplace the meteorologist became cool, if only for a little while."

[h/t Associated Press]

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Weather Watch
New Contest Will Give Kids the Chance to Become Weather Channel Meteorologists for a Day
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Not every kid dreams of being an on-air meteorologist, but for young ‘uns obsessed with storm forecasts and local weather reports, a new contest presents a unique opportunity to live out their dreams. The Mini Meteorologist Contest, sponsored by Lands’ End, will give four kids a chance to present a weather report on The Weather Channel this summer.

The nationwide contest is open to future meteorologists in the U.S. and Canada ages 6 to 16. To enter, they just have to write an essay between 50 and 500 words long on why they love learning about science and weather and why they’d like to be a meteorologist for a day. Four winners will receive a trip for them and their parents to The Weather Channel’s headquarters in Atlanta. They’ll have the opportunity to report the weather for the show on July 12, which happens to be National Summer Learning Day.

The essays will be judged based in equal parts on creativity, grammar, and the entrant’s love of meteorology. The only rules for the essays are that they can’t mention any products or brands other than Lands’ End or The Weather Channel (so no essays about how L.L. Bean inspired your love of cloud formations, kids) and has to be the child’s original work. Kids who are chosen as semi-finalists will have their on-air presentation skills judged in a Skype interview.

Should they win, they’ll get an inclusive trip to Atlanta with media training, a tour of The Weather Channel headquarters, and a $500 Lands’ End gift card to get just the right weather-reporting wardrobe.

The deadline for entering is May 21. Essays can be submitted here.

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Weather Watch
Thanks to Desert Dust, Eastern Europe Is Covered in Orange Snow
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Certain areas of Eastern Europe are starting to look a bit like Mars. Over the last few days, snowy places like Sochi, Russia have experienced an unusual snowfall that coated mountains in orange powder, according to the BBC.

The orange snow was the result of winds blowing sand from the Sahara east to places like Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Russia. The sand mixes with precipitation to form orange-tinted snow. According to the BBC, the phenomenon occurs semi-regularly, turning snow orange about once every five years, but this year is especially sandy. As a result, skiers are navigating slopes that look like they're from a different world, as you can see in the video below from The Guardian.

The Sahara rarely gets snow, but when it does, the landscape can look somewhat similar, as you can see in this image of the Atlas mountains in Morocco.

Instagram is currently filled with photos and videos from Eastern Europe featuring the odd-looking snow. Check out a few samples below.

[h/t BBC]

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