December 24th, 2011
04:14 AM ET

Gingrich, Perry fail to qualify for GOP primary ballot in Virginia

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich failed to collect enough signatures to appear on the Virginia primary ballot, the Republican Party of Virginia announced Saturday morning.

Gingrich, as well as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, did not meet the state's requirement of 10,000 signatures and, therefore, did not qualify for the ballot, the Virginia GOP said via Twitter.

The state GOP announced Perry's failure to qualify late Friday.

The state party spent Friday verifying that the submitted petitions met the requirements to appear on the ballot. The Virginia GOP said on its Twitter page Friday that Romney and Paul had both submitted enough signatures to appear on the ballot.

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Filed under: Elections • Politics • U.S. • Virginia
Police identify man they say killed Virginia Tech officer, himself
Police investigate Thursday's shooting that killed a Virginia Tech police officer.
December 9th, 2011
06:10 PM ET

Police identify man they say killed Virginia Tech officer, himself

[Updated at 6:11 p.m. ET] Virginia State Police have identified Ross Truett Ashley, 22, as a man they say fatally shot a Virginia Tech police officer on Thursday before killing himself about 30 minutes later.

[Updated at 10:47 a.m. ET] The person that investigators believe fatally shot a Virginia Tech police officer on campus Thursday is not believed to have had any previous contact with the officer, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told reporters Friday.

Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek W. Crouse and another man were fatally shot with the same gun on campus Thursday, police said. Police say they believe the second man matched the description of the gunman that shot the officer.

Investigators are "very confident" they know the identity of the person they believe shot the officer, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told reporters Friday. Authorities intend to reveal the person's identity after an official determination is made and the shooter's family is notified, Geller said.

The motive for Thursday's killing is still unknown, she said.

[Initial post, 9:15 a.m. ET] The suspected Virginia Tech shooter was not a student at the university, school spokesman Larry Hincker said Friday.

Hincker declined to provide any further detail on the identity of the alleged shooter, though Virginia State Police have scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m.

Ballistics evidence testing has officially linked Thursday's two fatal shootings on the Virginia Tech campus, state police said earlier Friday.

Both Virginia Tech Police Officer Deriek W. Crouse and another man were shot with the same gun.

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Filed under: Crime • Justice • Virginia
December 8th, 2011
05:31 PM ET

2 dead, including police officer, after Virginia Tech shooting incident

A Virginia Tech police officer was among two people killed Thursday on the school's campus, prompting a sweeping search and school-wide lockdown that lasted over four hours.

Around 4:30 p.m., the school in Blacksburg, Virginia, announced on its Twitter feed that "law enforcement agencies have determined there is no longer an active threat or need to secure in place. Resume normal activities."

Police said the incident started shortly after noon, when the police officer made a traffic stop in the Coliseum parking lot near McComas Hall. During that stop, a person who wasn't involved in the traffic stop approached and shot the officer, authorities said.

After witnesses told police that the shooter fled toward a nearby parking lot, an investigating officer saw a "suspicious person" alive in that lot. When the officer circled back to approach the person - described as a white male - that person was dead of a gunshot wound, police said.

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Overheard on CNN.com: Virginia Tech shooting saddens devoted Hokies
Virginia Tech has posted on its website that the campus is on lockdown after reports of shots fired.
December 8th, 2011
04:55 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Virginia Tech shooting saddens devoted Hokies

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

News of a shooting incident at Virginia Tech today, in which two people - including a Virginia Tech police officer - were killed, brought out a spirited debate about violence in educational institutions, as well as gun use. Some people were critical of Virginia Tech, but many were supportive. Among these comments were several passionate notes from the Virginia Tech community, with scores Hokies and their families expressing sadness over the deaths and support for the school.

2 dead, including police officer, after Virginia Tech shooting incident

One student posted the following comment while waiting in lockdown.

Ryan: "I'm currently a student at Virginia Tech, and I am currently locked in Pamplin Hall which is near where the events have taken place. This school is an amazing place with an amazing community, and nothing could happen here that would convince me to go to a different school no matter what anyone says. I feel extremely safe at this school, and I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else. To everyone that is being disrespectful, I'm praying for you that you can recognize how tragic some of the events that have happened here are."

Students shared their feelings and fears with the community:

Carol: "I am a Hokie and will go for my Ph.D. to Blacksburg and I really feel we do not deserve this. My prayers with all the Blacksburg students." FULL POST

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Filed under: Crime • Overheard on CNN.com • Virginia
FAA administrator resigns after arrest
Police arrested Randy Babbitt, 65, Saturday, on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
December 6th, 2011
05:30 PM ET

FAA administrator resigns after arrest

Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt resigned Tuesday, three days after he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving near his suburban Washington home.

In a brief statement released to the press, Babbitt said he had submitted his resignation to his boss, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and that LaHood had accepted it.

Babbitt, a former airline pilot, said serving as FAA administrator had been "the highlight of my professional career."

"But I am unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by my colleagues at the FAA," Babbitt said.

The statement made no mention of the arrest.

Earlier in the day, LaHood told reporters he was "disappointed" that he had learned about Babbitt's Saturday night arrest only after police in the city of Fairfax, Virginia, released a press release about the incident.

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Autistic boy found alive days after vanishing at park
Robert Wood Jr., 8, was found Friday, five days after he vanished during a family hike in a Virginia park.
October 28th, 2011
03:35 PM ET

Autistic boy found alive days after vanishing at park

[Updated at 4:27 p.m. ET] An autistic boy whose disappearance in a Virginia park five days ago prompted a search with thousands of volunteers was found alive Friday afternoon at a nearby quarry, authorities said.

Robert Wood Jr., 8, was found lying down but alert in a creek bed at a quarry near the 80-acre North Anna Battlefield Park, Hanover County Sheriff David Hines told reporters at a news conference.

The boy was flown by helicopter to a hospital, where he was reunited with his family. Hines said he didn’t know Robert’s medical condition, but the boy appeared to be “in good shape.”

“Whenever a child goes missing, everyone wants to step up. And that’s happened today,” Hines said.

Robert had wandered from his father at the park on Sunday. Robert, his father, Robert's younger brother and his father’s girlfriend were hiking at the park, which is in Doswell, Virginia, according to CNN affiliate WTVR.

The child was found less than a mile from where he was last seen, Hines said.

Robert is autistic and does not speak, which complicated the search, according to WTVR.

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Filed under: Virginia
September 1st, 2011
09:41 AM ET

Officials: Nuclear plant's fuel storage casks moved by Virginia quake

Twenty-five of 27 spent fuel storage casks at a Virginia nuclear plant were shifted between 1 and 4 inches during last week's 5.8-magnitude earthquake, officials said Thursday.

The cylinders, each 16 feet tall and weighing 115 tons, were not damaged, and no radiation was released, said Rich Zuercher, spokesman for Dominion Virginia Power, which owns the North Anna Power Station.

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Irene death toll in U.S. hits 27
Signs stick out of a submerged neighborhood Monday in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.
August 29th, 2011
10:20 PM ET

Irene death toll in U.S. hits 27

Flooding emerged as a major concern Monday for states hit by Irene, which hit the East Coast as a hurricane and then a tropical storm over three days.

Even as Irene weakened to a tropical storm, authorities warned that its impact was not waning, especially in Vermont.

"Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in coming days as rivers swell past their banks," President Barack Obama said Sunday, adding: "The recovery effort will last for weeks or longer."

Officials said the storm had knocked out power to more than 4 million people and was responsible for at least 27 deaths.

Check out our Open Story, read the full CNN Wire story and follow the latest developments here:

[Updated at 10:20 p.m.] Personnel in a state police helicopter on Monday rescued 21 people who had been stranded by post-Irene floodwaters in a Prattsville, New York, house, a local official said.

The group was stranded at a house that was cut off when all the bridges near it were washed out after torrential rains flooded homes and businesses and left the Catskill Mountains town of Prattsville largely cut off from the outside world.

Emergency workers rescued 87 people from the Prattsville area a day earlier, including 25 people who were stranded at a motel for hours after 70 mph wind gusts grounded aircraft.

[Updated at 7:32 p.m.] Vermont's governor warns that further flooding and loss of life related to Irene are likely for his state. Although small brooks have crested, large rivers have not, he said.

"It's just devastating," Gov. Peter Shumlin said. "Whole communities under water, businesses, homes, obviously roads and bridges, rail transportation infrastructure. We've lost farmers' crops," he said. "We're tough folks up here but Irene ... really hit us hard."

Three people are reported to have died in Vermont as a result of the storm. The nation's death toll from Irene is at 27.

FULL POST

August 28th, 2011
01:41 AM ET

Live blog: Death toll now at 20; Irene no longer tropical storm

Flooding emerged as a major concern Sunday for states hit by Irene, which hit the East Coast as a hurricane and then a tropical storm over three days.

Even as Irene weakened to a tropical storm, authorities warned that its impact was not waning, especially in Vermont.

"Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in coming days as rivers swell past their banks," President Barack Obama said Sunday, adding: "The recovery effort will last for weeks or longer."

Officials said the storm had knocked out power to more than 4 million people and was responsible for at least 20 deaths.

Check out our Open Story, read the full CNN Wire story and follow the latest developments here:

[Update 11:11 p.m. Sunday] Emergency officials said at least 20 people across the United States have died as a result of Hurricane Irene .

[Update 11:09 p.m. Sunday] The body of woman who apparently drowned after either falling or being swept into a storm swollen creek was recovered Sunday near New Scotland, New York State Police said. The woman's body was pulled from Onesquethaw Creek about 4:30 p.m., police said. The identity of the woman was not immediately released, though police said that a New Scotland man reported his wife missing about noon. She was last seen near the creek.

[Update 11:08 p.m. Sunday] Irene ceased being a tropical storm late Sunday as it swirled near the U.S.-Canadian border, the National Hurricane Center reported.  Despite losing its tropical characteristics, the storm continued to kick out sustained winds of 50 mph about 50 miles north of Berlin, New Hampshire.

[Update 8:41 p.m. Sunday] More details about flooding concerns in Vermont's capital, Montpelier: Jill Remick, from the state's emergency management division, said water in the area where multiple rivers converge could rise as high as 20 feet, above the 17.5 feet that led to substantial flooding in May in Montpelier.

See how other states are faring in this state-by-state list of Irene developments.

[Update 8:30 p.m. Sunday] New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he erroneously reported that a firefighter died during an attempted water rescue in Princeton. He said he was provided erroneous information and apologized, saying the firefighter was in intensive care.

This lowers a count of U.S. deaths reported to be linked to Irene to at least 18 in seven states.

FULL POST

August 27th, 2011
02:45 AM ET

Live blog: Hurricane death toll at 9; New York closes bridge entrance, port

Hurricane Irene continues to crawl north after making landfall Saturday morning in North Carolina. The storm is expected to head up the East Coast from Virginia to Maine, bringing hurricane-force winds, heavy rain, flooding and widespread power outages.

Follow the latest developments here, or read the full CNN Wire story:

[Midnight] Authorities shut down the Port of New York and the Port for Long Island Sound late Saturday as Hurricane Irene closed in on the New York City area. Also, the Palisades Interstate Parkway entrance to the George Washington Bridge in New York City has been closed due to weather conditions, according to a statement from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

[Update 11:40 p.m.] U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.  The declaration frees federal funds to help in the recovery effort, according to the White House.

[Update 11:20 p.m.] The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority closed down late Saturday because of a tornado warning in Philadelphia, according to SEPTA representative Jerri Williams.

[Update 11:05 p.m.] Irene remains a category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 mph and gusts to 100 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 11 p.m. ET advisory.

[Update 11 p.m.] Storms in Delaware damaged 30-40 homes Saturday night in the town of Lewes, according to Ed Schaeffer, a fire department spokesman.  Five of them were damaged severely. There were no injuries, he said.

A tornado watch remains in effect until 5 a.m. Sunday.

[Update 10:47 p.m.] The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning until 11 p.m. ET for the city of Philadelphia, including east-central Chester County, northeastern Delaware County, central Philadelphia County and southeastern Montgomery County.

[Update 10:37 p.m.] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, addressing reporters Saturday night, said residents should prepare to hunker down as Hurricane Irene approached. "The storm is finally hitting New York City," he said.

“The time for evacuation is over. Everyone should go inside and stay inside," Bloomberg  said. "The city has taken exhaustive steps to prepare for whatever comes our way.”

[Update 10:26 p.m.] The National Weather Service has issued tornado watches - extending through 5 a.m. Sunday - for parts of southern Delaware, eastern New Jersey, southeastern New York and Long Island and southwestern Connecticut.

[Update 9:52 p.m.] A tornado touched down in Lewes, Delaware, damaging at least 17 homes, the governor said Saturday night.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, Governor Jack Markell told CNN affiliate KYW. He wouldn't have official damage figures until Sunday morning, he said.

[Update 9:42 p.m.] Amtrak said Saturday night it is suspending all service north of Jacksonville, Florida, and east of Toledo, Ohio, and Indianapolis through Sunday because of Hurricane Irene.

[Update 9:27 p.m.] As of 9 p.m. ET Saturday, the storm was centered about 155 miles south of Dover, Delaware, moving northward at 16 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm’s intensity was 80 mph “with the center of the hurricane passing very close to the coasts of Delaware and New Jersey from late tonight into Sunday morning,” according to the weather service.

“The storm will bring damaging winds … torrential rain with dangerous flooding … and coastal flooding,” the weather service said.

[Update 9:17 p.m.] Philadelphia International Airport will close Saturday at 10:30 p.m. ET and won’t re-open until 4 p.m. Sunday at the earliest, said spokeswoman Victoria Lupica.

The airport had already cancelled all departures because of Hurricane Irene.

[Update 9:03 p.m.] Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Corey Booker said he’s been going door to door warning residents to flee the storm.

 “We're strongly encouraging residents to leave,” Booker told CNN Saturday night. “I benefited a lot from the surprise factor as the mayor showing up [at their doors],” he said. "I think they got the point, and hopefully they’ll behave appropriately. Booker said ultimately the city would do what it could to save people in distress due to the storm.

FULL POST

August 26th, 2011
02:31 PM ET

Live blog: Hurricane warning issued for New York, surrounding coastal areas

Hurricane Irene will parallel the Florida, Georgia and South Carolina coasts Friday as it approaches a Saturday landfall in North Carolina.

Officials in counties and cities along much of the East Coast ordered evacuations.

Follow the latest developments here, or read the full CNN Wire story:

[Updated 11:00 p.m.] New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said cats and dogs would be welcome at the emergency shelters set up for people fleeing the storm.

“If you have your pet bring them with you. … No one should be staying in their homes in an endangered area because they feel like they can't bring their pets with them," Christie said.

Mark Lavorgna, a mayoral spokesman, confirmed that pets are allowed in the 91 emergency evacuation shelters set up in preparation for Hurricane Irene. But “we strongly, strongly argue against it,” he said. “We urge people to bring their pets to friends or familiy’s houses or shelters outside Zone A, but if people need to bring them they can,” said Lavorgna. “They should come leashed and muzzled.”

[Updated 10:36 p.m.] North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the state was prepared but cautious. "We urge people to just be really aware. It doesn't sound like a huge storm right now - 50 mile-an-hour winds - but we think it's going to stay over our state 10 or 12 hours and that's where the problem becomes," she said.

Perdue then referenced reports of a bowl-shaped part of the low-lying coastline that is especially vulnerable to high waters.

"That bowl that you were talking about earlier full of water, it's going to dump somewhere, and when it dumps there's going to be a surge of water and who knows what'll happen," Perdue said.

Irene targets heavily populated, least prepared urban areas

[Updated 10:23 p.m.] The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will be closed Saturday through Monday because of Hurricane Irene, according to Jane Ahern, public affairs chief of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island.

All units of the Gateway National Recreation Area, Governor’s Island and all National Park sites in Manhattan will be closed to visitors Saturday and Sunday, with a chance of opening Monday depending on storm damage and a safety assessment.

“The safety of our visitors and employees is our top priority at this time,” said National Parks of New York Harbor Commissioner Maria Burkes. “Our park employees are currently working diligently to protect park resources per our Emergency Response Plans.”

[Updated 10:05 p.m.] Russell Honoré, the general famous for his management of the federal government's military response to Hurricane Katrina, told CNN's Piers Morgan Friday night that local authorities were right in calling for mass evacuations in low-lying areas along the Eastern Seaboard.

“I think we have had a cultural shift in government because, working with hurricanes for about the last 10 to 12 years while I was in uniform, local governments and governors were reluctant to make that decision to evacuate because of the impact [of what would happen] if they evacuated people and the storm didn’t come," he said. "But the options of not evacuating people, with the warnings that we have now and the accuracy of prediction, (it) needs to be done,” Honoré said.

[Updated 9:53 p.m.] Maryland's Martin O'Malley was one of several East Coast governors to declare a state of emergency in advance of the storm. Residents of low-lying areas in the state were told to evacuate ahead of what the governor called "a very dangerous and potentially deadly hurricane."

The governor said Friday that "anybody that thinks that this is a normal hurricane and that they can just stick it out is being both selfish, stupid and also diverting essential public safety assets away from the task at hand, which is safeguarding lives and getting people out of the way."

[Updated 9:40 p.m.] The Port Authority has announced the closing of five airports - JFK International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Teterboro and Stewart International - to all arriving passenger flights, international and domestic, starting at noon Saturday.

[Updated 9:15 p.m.] Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, spoke to CNN’s Anderson Cooper Friday night, stressing the strength and size of the storm heading toward the Northeast.

“For some folks this will be the most significant event perhaps in 20 years from a tropical system,” Rappaport said.

He said unlike typical storms that follow a similar trajectory and curve move toward the sea, Irene"s forecast track comes very close to the shore.

"That means all the weather that's usually, in this case, worst to the east will be much closer to the metropolitan areas this time around," Rappaport said, "and in fact will definitely hit the southern New England area and since there are strong winds, high surge right near the center of the storm, we'll see some of that along the East Coast as well."

[Updated 8:53 p.m.] “The core of the hurricane” was barreling toward the North Carolina coast Friday night, the National Weather Service said in a bulletin. “The hurricane is forecast to move near or over the Mid-Atlantic Coast Saturday night and move over southern New England on Sunday.”

The weather service said maximum sustained winds would remain near 100 mph - a category two hurricane - and wouldn’t weaken until some time Sunday.

“Interests in southeastern Canada should monitor the progress of Irene,” the weather service said.

 [Updated 8:38 p.m.] The Giants-Jets game, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been postponed until Monday, the NFL said in a press release.

"Along with the NFL office and the Jets, we have closely monitored the hurricane and the forecast and its potential impact on our area for the past several days," said Giants President and CEO John Mara. "After conferring with (New Jersey) Governor (Chris) Christie, (Jets owner) Woody Johnson and (NFL) Commissioner (Roger) Goodell, we have determined the best course of action for the safety and well being of all is to move the game to Monday night."

See other events postponed or canceled

[Updated 6:33 p.m.] With public transportation halted due to the incoming storm, all Broadway performances on Saturday and Sunday have been canceled, according to Paul Libin, chairman of the Broadway League.

“The safety and security of theatregoers and employees is everyone's primary concern,” Libin said. “As a result of the suspension of public transportation by government authorities in preparation of Hurricane Irene, all performances will be cancelled on Saturday, August 27th and Sunday, August 28th.”

CNN on the ground: 'Good Night, Irene' and 'Go Away, Irene'

[Updated 6:08 p.m.] The mayor of Annapolis, Maryland, declared an emergency and announced that more police officers will be on patrol in the city.

Police Chief Michael Pristoop warned residents to take police orders seriously. “Everyone needs to be prepared for the worst," he said. "I encourage everyone to evacuate the low-lying areas of Annapolis before Saturday afternoon. Make sure you secure your homes and belongings.  Once we begin to feel the affects of the hurricane, everyone should stay off the streets as wires and trees may come down. Don't put yourself in harm's way and don't put our emergency personnel in a position that could have been avoided."

Obama: Irene likely to be 'historic'

[Updated 5:47 p.m.] President Barack Obama has declared an emergency in New York as the state and surrounding region brace for Hurricane Irene’s impact.

Obama’s order mobilizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and means federal aid will be used to buoy state and local relief efforts in preparation for the storm.

[Updated at 5:00 p.m.] A hurricane warning has been issued from north of Sandy Hook to Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts, including New York, Long Island, Long Island Sound, coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island, Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

[Updated at 4:34 p.m.] Greyhound said it has delayed or canceled several East Coast routes in preparation for the storm.

Some routes originating in New York; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Richmond, Virginia; Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina, have been either pushed back or canceled, the company said on its website.

[Updated at 4:15 p.m.] The Red Cross plans to open shelters and dispatch more than 200 mobile feeding vehicles to the East Coast to aid people in the storm's path, the organization said on its website.

KFOR: Oklahomans help with Hurricane Irene

"The Red Cross is moving volunteers, vehicles and supplies, getting ready for a response effort that spans nearly the entire East Coast," Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross, said in a statement on the site. "We want everyone in the storm's path to get ready as well by getting a disaster kit, making a family emergency plan, and listening to local officials regarding evacuations."

[Updated at 2:31 p.m.] Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said his city, which is under hurricane warning, will not order evacuations but urged residents, especially those in flood-prone areas, to use common sense and evacuate if necessary.

Significant localized flooding is expected, he said, as are power outages that could last for several hours or even days. He said the city will open three shelters Saturday evening with a maximum capacity to accommodate 6,000 people.

[Updated at 2:26 p.m.] The first family will accompany President Barack Obama when he departs Martha's Vineyard to return to Washington on Friday evening, a White House spokesman said.

[Updated at 2:21 p.m.] American Airlines has tentatively canceled all flights in the Washington area from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, said spokesman Ed Martelle. The airline has also canceled all flights at Raleigh-Durham International Airport scheduled for Saturday.

JetBlue has canceled almost 900 flights in the Northeast ahead of the storm. Most of those are Sunday and Monday flights out of the New York metro area and Boston, said spokesman Mateo Lleras.

[Updated at 2:10 p.m.] Hurricane Irene's winds have dropped to 100 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

As of 2 p.m., the service reported, the hurricane was about 300 miles south-southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, moving north at 14 mph.

[Updated at 2:01 p.m.] New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said low-lying sections of the city, mostly along the city's waterfront, are under mandatory evacuation orders. The mandatory evacuations, which affect all five boroughs, are the first in New York's history, he said.

Click here to see the areas being evacuated.

[Updated at 1:50 p.m.] Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said 30 agencies are coordinating ahead of Hurricane Irene’s weekend arrival. The state is taking several precautions, he said, including drawing down state reservoirs to provide additional capacity in the event of torrential rains.

Residents should make certain they have supplies and enough food, water, batteries and necessary medications to last for a couple of days.

The worst of the storm is expected Saturday night into Sunday, Patrick said, and downed trees and power lines are expected. He urged residents to stay off the roads. If travel is a must, try to complete it Friday before the storm arrives, he said.

As for air travel, the governor said, as of now, Logan International Airport will remain open, but there will “undoubtedly” be service interruptions.

Patrick said he was aware that this is one of the last summer weekends and said boaters and swimmers should be cautious about riptides and strong currents.

FULL POST

August 26th, 2011
11:07 AM ET

Hurricane Irene forces cancellations, changes to East coast weekend plans

Hurricane Irene has put all sorts of end-of-summer festivities on hold. Here's a rundown of some plans that have had to be reworked ahead of this weekend's hurricane:

The dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington has been postponed until September or October.

Amtrak canceled service in parts of the Northeast for the weekend.

Several colleges have had to make scheduling changes. New York University pushed back the beginning of move-in week for incoming freshmen to Monday, and Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, moved its day to Tuesday. Rutgers University has changed its move-in date for residence halls on the New Brunswick/Piscataway campus to Saturday.

The New York Jets will start a pre-season game against the Giants earlier Saturday due to the approaching storm. Kickoff has been changed from 7 p.m. ET to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The Hampton Classic announced on its website that the event, which was supposed to start Sunday, will be postponed since horses cannot be transported and stabled this weekend. The show will begin on Wednesday instead.

B.B. King was supposed to play at Jones Beach on Saturday. The event has been canceled.

The U.S. Open, which is scheduled to begin Monday, is thus far going ahead with those plans. The hurricane is forecast to have passed Flushing Meadows, New York at that point.

Airlines are waiving cancellation and change fees because of the hurricane.

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Filed under: District of Columbia • Maryland • New York • North Carolina • South Carolina • U.S. • Virginia
August 23rd, 2011
04:06 PM ET

Earthquake shuts down Virginia nuclear plant

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 struck Tuesday afternoon near Washington, D.C., the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The epicenter was in Mineral, Virginia. The quake was four miles deep, according to the USGS. Did you feel it? Send CNN an iReport.

To get complete coverage and all the latest updates, click on CNN's main story here. View a CNN Open Story about the quake. CNN Open Story combines iReports with reports from CNNers across the globe on a map and timeline.

Update 3:36 p.m. ET: Terminal A at Washington Reagan National Airport has been evacuated because of an odor of gas, airport spokeswoman Courtney Mickalonis said. Initial sweeps of the building showed no major damage from the earthquake.

Light structural damage has been reported in Culpepper and Orange counties in Virginia, said Laura Southard of the state Emergency Operations Center. She said there have been no reports of injuries in Virginia.

Update 3:28 p.m. ET: The White House and adjacent buildings evacuated as a precaution following the earthquake have been given the all-clear, the U.S. Secret Service said. The FBI and Justice Department have also reopened evacuated buildings.

Update 3:25 p.m. ET: East Coast residents should be prepared to feel aftershocks from Tuesday's earthquake, a U.S. Geological Survey official said.

Update 3:22 p.m. ET: The North Anna nuclear power plant, located 20 miles from the epicenter, is shut down and in a safe condition, a company official and the Louisa County public information office report. There has been no release of nuclear material, Louisa County spokeswoman Amanda Reidelbach said.

Update 3:04 p.m. ET: All national monuments and parks in Washington are "stable but closed" following Tuesday's earthquake, a United States Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said. A couple of minor injuries and some minor structural damage have been reported in Washington, following Tuesday's earthquake, according to Schlosser.

Part of the central tower of the National Cathedral, the highest point in Washington, was damaged, according to spokesman Richard Weinberg. "It looks like three of the pinnacles have broken off the central tower," Weinberg told CNN.

Update 3:02 p.m. ET: Amtrak is reporting service disruptions between Washington and Baltimore because of the earthquake, the company reported on Twitter.

Aftershocks are a concern, U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones told CNN. "People should be expecting (them), especially over the next hour or two," she said.

The quake was felt in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; New York City and on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where President Barack Obama is vacationing. It's unknown if the president felt the quake.

The Pentagon has been evacuated, CNN's Barbara Starr reports. "When the building began shaking rather violently, hundreds of people began streaming out," she said, because many people thought that the building was under attack. Starr was standing in the Pentagon's press office when the roof started to shake.

Cell phone service has been disrupted in New York City, CNN learned within minutes of the quake.

FULL POST

August 23rd, 2011
10:52 AM ET

Irene intensifies as it roars toward Carolina coast

An intensifying Hurricane Irene churned northwestward over the tropical waters of the Caribbean Tuesday and is projected to make landfall in the United States this weekend.

The five-day forecast map puts the storm on the Carolina coast by Saturday evening, although the National Hurricane Center said predictions this far out can be hundreds of miles off, meaning most of the southeast is potentially at risk.

"The Southeast coast of the U.S. will feel some impacts from this storm," meteorologist Wallace Hogsett said. "It's difficult to say whether that will be in terms of big waves or whether it's a more direct impact."

Emergency officials in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas stepped up operations in preparation for the first dangerous storm to threaten the United States in three years.

Irene became a Category 2 hurricane Monday evening, with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph. The storm could strengthen to a Category 3, which would make it a major hurricane, forecasters said.

"The storm was already stronger than we were forecasting," said John Cangialosi, a specialist with the Miami-based hurricane center.

He said Irene, the first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic season, could even approach Category 4 status as it gathers steam over tropical waters.

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Filed under: Florida • Georgia • Hurricanes • North Carolina • South Carolina • Virginia • Weather
August 4th, 2011
03:12 PM ET

Virginia Tech lifts alert after report of possible gunman

[Update 3:07 p.m.] Virginia Tech has lifted an alert on campus hours after three youths reported that someone may have had a gun there, according to a post on the school's website.

"There will continue to be a large police presence on campus today," the announcement said. "Police
have not received nor discovered additional information about a person possibly carrying a weapon beyond that reported this morning.

"The university community may resume normal campus activity. Only Blacksburg campus classes have been cancelled today."

[Update 11:16 a.m.] Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum warned students and others to continue to stay indoors as police search for a person who may be carrying a weapon on campus.

Several people have been questioned but police have not apprehended anyone, Flinchum said.

[Update 11:09 a.m.] No one is in custody and the campus safety alert remains in effect, Virginia Tech's campus police chief says.

[Update 10:31 a.m.] Virginia Tech is in lockdown as authorities look for a man three youths said may have had a weapon, possibly a handgun.

The white male was described as having light brown hair and being 6 feet tall and was walking in the direction of a volleyball court. The man was wearing a blue and white striped shirt, gray shorts and brown sandals. He had no glasses or facial hair, according to the report.

[Original post, 10:18 a.m.] Virginia Tech, the site of a 2007 massacre, has issued an alert saying someone is possibly carrying a weapon on campus.

Regular classes aren't in session at the moment, but there is summer school. The university in Blacksburg, Virginia, is asking people on campus to stay inside and secure doors. The person was spotted near Dietrick Dining Hall.

In April 2007, Cho Seung-Hui, 23, shot dead 32 people on campus before killing himself.

Are you on campus? Share your account, but please stay safe.

Follow CNN's continuing coverage
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Filed under: Crime • Virginia
On the Radar: Winehouse autopsy, famine meeting, cemetery spruce-up
Flowers, pictures and messages are left in tribute to Amy Winehouse near the house in north London where her body was found.
July 25th, 2011
06:03 AM ET

On the Radar: Winehouse autopsy, famine meeting, cemetery spruce-up

Three things you need to know today.

Amy Winehouse: An autopsy to determine what killed singer Amy Winehouse has been scheduled for Monday afternoon, Scotland Yard says.

"Inquiries continue into the circumstances of the death," police said Sunday. At this stage, the 27-year-old's death "is being treated as unexplained and there have been no arrests in connection with the incident," police said.

The singer, beloved for her talent but infamous for erratic public behavior, arrests and drug problems, was found dead at her apartment in London on Saturday, police and her publicist confirmed.

Winehouse's family said in a statement Sunday it "has been left bereft by the loss of Amy, a wonderful daughter, sister, niece. She leaves a gaping hole in our lives. We are coming together to remember her and we would appreciate some privacy and space at this terrible time."

Somalia famine: The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations convenes an emergency meeting in Rome on Monday to address the famine on the Horn of Africa.

Last week, a unit of the U.N. agency declared a famine in two regions of southern Somalia and warned that famine conditions are expected to spread in the coming months.

Monday's meeting was organized by the French government. Representatives from governments and non-governmental organizations are expected to attend.

The goal of the meeting is to look at ways to combat famine and drought in several countries and not to solicit pledges of aid, according to the FAO's website.

Arlington cemetery spruce-up: Five hundred landscapers and lawn care professionals from around the country head to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Monday for a day of service at the cemetery.

The landscapers from the PLANET Professional Lawncare Network will prune, mulch, aerate and plant over the cemetery's 200 acres, according to an announcement on the group's website.

This is the 15th year for the Renewal and Remembrance event at the cemetery. The work to be performed is estimated at $250,000 in value, which will bring the total 15-year contribution to more than $2 million, according to the organizers.

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Filed under: Africa • Music • On the Radar • Showbiz • Somalia • Virginia
War re-enactment to bring much-needed money to small town
July 24th, 2011
10:55 AM ET

War re-enactment to bring much-needed money to small town

When the state of the economy is discussed, it is sometimes analyzed solely from a macro level. But when it's broken down to the micro level, it can be seen how much the economic downturn has affected individual states, cities and small towns.

Manassas, Virginia, is one such town. But city officials say mindful budgeting and wise spending have allowed them to stay one step ahead.

"I would say that Manassas is in that lean and mean area," said Harry "Hal" Parrish, mayor of Manassas. "We made some (budget) decisions about three years ago when we saw the downturn starting."

Nevertheless, revenue is always welcome, and Manassas officials are taking advantage of a major Civil War anniversary of which they can take full ownership. They are commemorating the 150-year anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run the first major battle of the Civil War. The four-day event, which ends Sunday, offers everything from workshops and exhibits to parades and a re-enactment of the battle.

City officials are expecting up to 25,000 people to come to Manassas, and they are expecting them to be in a spending mood.

"Any time you have an influx of people, heritage and tourism those kinds of people are going to spend money," said Parrish.

Manassas officials say those 25,000 tourists could result in a $25 million boost to their city's economy.

"I hope to bring in at least half of what I normally do for Christmas," said Christine Finnie, owner of Whimsical Galerie. "I have a lot of 150-year commemorative items. I have everything from T-shirts to the beautiful tapestry wall hangings exclusive to my shop, and I am hoping that will be a draw to bring people in for those items, but then also look around and see other things they might like."

The big draw this week is the battle re-enactment. Thousands of people are expected to attend despite record-setting heat.

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Filed under: Virginia
Four killed in Virginia tour bus crash
The tour bus ran off Interstate 95 in Virginia.
May 31st, 2011
10:09 AM ET

Four killed in Virginia tour bus crash

Four passengers aboard a commercial tour bus died and an undetermined number others were injured early Tuesday when the vehicle overturned on I-95 in Caroline County, Virginia, according to state police.

The bus ran off the right side of the road and overturned about a quarter-mile from the Carmel Church exit, according to Corinne Geller, public relations manager for the Virginia State Police.

Injured passengers were being taken to hospitals in Fredericksburg and Richmond, Virginia, Geller said.

Police have not named the tour company or the itinerary.

The accident happened before 5 a.m. Tuesday morning. As of 7:30 a.m., state police had closed the northbound lanes of the interstate while accident investigators examine the scene, she said.

The northbound lanes were expected to remain closed until mid-morning, according to police. Southbound lanes were not affected, Geller said.

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Filed under: Travel • Virginia
South gets a major buzz on every 13 years
The 13-year periodical cicada has big red bug-eyes to go with its orange legs and wing parts.
May 24th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

South gets a major buzz on every 13 years

The brood is back, and it's gonna be noisy.

Trees, posts, walls and other vertical surfaces throughout the American South are being covered this spring with billions of periodical cicadas: red-eyed insects that emerge, like Chicago Cubs fans' pennant hopes, for a few weeks just once every 13 years.

The bugs are perfectly harmless to humans, unless you count annoyance caused by the remarkable amount of noise the love-starved little critters make. The male cicada's mating call has been compared to a circular saw, only more shrill - and that's just the way the lady cicadas like it. FULL POST

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May 5th, 2011
07:43 AM ET

Thursday's live video events

President Obama heads to the World Trade Center site in New York today to honor the victims of the 9/11 attacks.  Watch CNN.com Live for coverage on this story.

Today's programming highlights...

9:45 am ET - Exiting Afghanistan briefing - Now that Osama bin Laden is dead, what does this mean for the U.S. military's presence in Afghanistan?  Two House lawmakers will unveil legislation calling for the president to submit a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops from the country.

FULL POST


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