That beautiful spring-like day those of you in the Midwest and Northeast have been experiencing today after a brutal winter?
It's not going to last. As Weather.com reports, temperatures will plunge and then cities from Detroit to Cleveland to Buffalo and Burlington will receive yet another heavy round of snow.
The Detroit Free Press says Wednesday is shaping up to be pretty messy for commuters, as the storm dumps 8 to 10 inches in metro Detroit.
The storm the paper reports could put this season near record territory:
"[The predicted snow] would bring the season tally within a few inches of the snowiest winter in Detroit's recorded history. Metro Detroit has seen 84.1 inches of snow this season. The record is 93.6 inches, set in 1880-81.
"It's late in the season (first day of spring is March 20), but [National Weather Service meteorologist Joseph] Clark said that were he to guess, he'd say the record will get broken.
"'We could definitely get another one,' he said, adding that Detroit's biggest snowstorm was April 6, 1886, when 24.5 inches fell."
The Buffalo News reports that the area is expecting 14 to 18 inches of snow and winds of 25 to 35 mph.
Capital Weather Gang reports that in Washington, D.C., the temperature will be volatile. It'll be about 70 degrees tomorrow and then drop to below freezing overnight.
And that's too bad, because the trees were thinking it was spring. The Weather Gang quotes Susan Kosisky of the U.S. Army Centralized Allergen Extract Lab saying the "trees are awakening," sending tree pollen to moderate levels.
The Entire Playlist
- Rufus Du Sol, "Desert Night" (Sweat It Out!)
- Flight Facilities, "Stand Still (Mario Basanov Remix)" (Glassnote / Future Classic)
- Coldplay VS Booka Shade, "Essential Midnight" (Promo)
- Booka Shade, "Crossing Borders (Kolombo Remix)" (Blaufield Music)
- SBTRKT, "Kyoto" (XL Recordings)
- Little Dragon, "Klapp Klapp (Girl Unit Remix)" (Loma Vista/Republic)
- Chromeo, "Jealous (I Ain't With It)" (Big Beat / Atlantic)
- Uone, "Sao Paulo Groove"
- Haim, "If I Could Change (MK Regrets Dub)" (Columbia)
- Jonas Rathsman, "Hope I'm Wrong" (French Express)
- Booka Shade, "Crossing Borders (Mihalis Safras Remix)" (Blaufield Music)
- Sleight Of Hands, "Sometimes" (Smoke N'Mirrors)
- Derrick May, "Strings Of Life (Tom Middleton Remix)" (R&Amp;S Records)
- Phantogram, "Nothing But Trouble" (Barsuk / Republic)
- The Seshen, "Oblivian" (Tru Thoughts)
- Tensnake, "No Colour" (Astralwerks)
- Chris Malinchak, "If U Got It" (Ultra)
- Shur-I-Kan, "Blue Giraffe" (Lazy Days Recordings)
- Shur-I-Kan, "Away" (Lazy Days Recordings)
- Corbu Sound, "We Are Sound (Charles Webster Deep Dub)" (Promo)
- Eno / Hyde, "The Satellites" (Warp Records)
- Underworld, "Dark & Long (Dark Train)" (V2)
- Duke Dumont, "I Got U (Ft. Jax Jones) (High Contrast Mix)" (Blase Boys Club)
- Tom Middleton, "Gliding (D&B Mix)" (Urban Torque)
Another 940,000 people signed up for health insurance in February under the Affordable Care Act, bringing the total to 4.2 million since the troubled HealthCare.gov website was launched, the Department of Health and Human Services reports. The number is still well short of the administration's goal for March 31, when open enrollment ends.
To reach 6 million sign ups under the ACA, as the White House had hoped for, another 1.8 million people would need to enroll by the end of the month.
As The Associated Press reports:
"That's way above the daily averages for January and February, which have ranged between 33,000 and 34,000. The math seems to be going against the administration.
"Officials expect the pace to pick up. The big question is whether it will be enough to make up for the technical troubles that paralyzed HealthCare.gov much of last fall and the continuing challenges for several state-sponsored websites."
"The new data reveals a significant fall-off from January, when about 1.1 million people enrolled during the month.
"Another highlight—or lowlight—of Tuesday's enrollment report was the disclosure that the percentage of young adults signing up for Obamacare had remained at 27 percent of total sign-ups in the past two months. That's well below the 40 percent level some health-care experts have said would ensure that premiums paid to insurance companies would more than offset benefits paid out to older, sicker enrollees."
But CNBC quotes Timothy Jost, a law professor and health-care reform expert at Washington and Lee University, as saying that the 6 million goal is still possible.
"There's every reason to believe that they're right, that sign-ups are going to shoot up in March, and that they'll get to 6 million," Jost said.
However, 6 million is less than the original target of 7 million enrollments by the end of March.
The number of enrollees is just part of the overall equation - the mix is just as important. The administration wants to get enough young, relatively healthy people to enroll to offset the costs of the older, less healthy ones.
According to the report on Tuesday, cumulatively 30 percent of those who have signed up are between 55-64 years of age — the single largest group.
For more than a decade scientists have been saying that a genomic revolution will transform medicine, making it possible to scan all of a person's DNA to predict risk and customize medical care.
Well, we've got the machines. Where's the revolution?
Getting closer, say researchers at Stanford University, who tested the technology on 12 people. But not quite ready for every doctor's office.
""We were witness to the birth of this idea, and now we feel like we have an unruly teenager on our hands," says Dr. Euan Ashley, an associate professor of medicine and genetics at Stanford, and an author of the study. "It's going to take some tough love."
The study was published Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association.
Whole-genome scanning uses machines to plow through all of a person's DNA looking for variations that could be associated with disease. Though until now it's been used rarely for diagnosing patients, it's becoming increasingly fast and affordable. Machines are now able to run a whole-genome scan in a day or two, at a cost of just a few thousand dollars.
Quick and affordable, maybe, but not necessarily accurate.
When the Stanford researchers compared whole-genome scans done on two different machines, they found that the results matched up just one-third of the time for genetic variants that could signal a risk of inherited disease.
"That's not good enough; we need to do better than that," Ashley told Shots. But he thinks that's a "solvable problem," especially with a technology that's improving so quickly.
But even if the genome scanners become more accurate, doctors will still have to grapple with what all that data means.
When a mutation is found, geneticists have to comb back through published studies on genes and disease in people and animals, looking for a match. If it's for a disease caused by a single mutation, like cystic fibrosis, that's a cinch. But if it's for something like heart disease, which involves many, many mutations that vary from one person to the next, it's devilishly hard.
And many of the databases used to look for meaning have errors themselves, the researchers say.
One of the 12 people in this study did have a previously-unknown mutation that predisposed her to breast and ovarian cancer. For her, having her genome scanned could be life saving. But for the other 11, there were no revelations.
"You find a lot of stuff that's much harder to determine what do to with," says Dr. W. Gregory Feero, a geneticist and faculty member for the Maine-Dartmouth family medicine program. He wrote an editorial accompanying the Stanford study, titled "Proceed With Care."
With the Stanford volunteers, it took a lot of human effort to try to figure that out. Each had 90 to 127 genetic variants, and it took an average of an hour of expert time to try to figure out what they meant.
Scanning and interpretation cost about $15,000 per person, the Stanford group said.
Still, Ashley says people shouldn't dismiss genomic medicine as mere hype. "The worst thing would be if the hype overcame this, and people said we weren't delivering. There's opportunity here to transform medicine."
General Motors is coming under mounting criticism for its handling of a serious defect. Last month, the company recalled 1.6 million vehicles because of faulty ignition switches linked to 13 deaths. The cars, made from 2003-2007, could stall or fail to deploy their airbags.
It's an issue GM has known about for a while, and now Congress wants to know why it took the automaker almost a decade to warn the public about it.
When there is an accident with a car that could involve new technology or a defect, the government sends in a team: the special crash investigators.
Allan Kam, a retired senior attorney for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says when investigators for the government first heard rumblings of problems with the now-discontinued Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5, they filed a report.
The report, he says, "indicated loss of power and it was a kind of report which should have raised all kinds of red flags in the agency. It should have been referred to the Office of Defects Investigation to consider opening up a formal investigation."
It turns out the problem was the ignition. Essentially, a heavy keychain can put the ignition switch into the wrong position: Like when your car is sort of halfway on, and just the lights and radio are working but you can't drive.
Kam says NHTSA can only investigate problems that are brought to its attention. Carmakers are always hearing about potential defects from dealers, consumers and suppliers. GM had the first inklings of the problem 10 years ago.
"What you have is a failure, an apparent failure, of General Motors to make a defect determination which would result in a mandatory recall in a timely manner," Kam says. "And we're not talking here just about weeks and months — we're talking about years."
When a car company finds out about a defect, it's supposed to let authorities know within five days. NHTSA is asking GM what it knew and when.
The company has opened its own investigation and it hired a former U.S. attorney to lead the inquiry.
Now Congress has opened its own inquiry. Republican Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania is on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is investigating. He says he wants to know what GM knew and what the government knew as well.
"It sounds like there was enough loose ends here, enough data taking place that at least in retrospect we see there were trends pointing to a deadly problem," Murphy says. "And I want to know what each side knew."
Jack Nerad, with Kelley Blue Book, says the auto industry and its regulators work closely together.
"Well, I think NHTSA is viewed now as a part of the industry," Nerad says. NHTSA walks the line that any agency must when it oversees an industry, he says. "Well, I think most often NHTSA and the industry work together quite well. I think there is good, healthy give and take. One can question occasionally how quickly they move."
By law it doesn't matter necessarily how quickly the government moves — carmakers have a responsibility to point out problems. How quickly GM moves, however, could have wider effects.
"GM is a really a very special case because there really is an old GM and a new GM," says Jake Fisher, with Consumer Reports. He says the Cobalt is a sign of how bad the old GM was.
"It wasn't pretty. We weren't fans of the Cobalt. It was [an] uncompetitive vehicle that wasn't reliable."
Fisher says the company has improved tremendously in the last several years, but that may not matter.
"The vehicles of the old GM, which is ... the majority of the fleet out there, those bad experiences are having with those vehicles is going to make them not want to give the new GM a chance," he says. "Forget about the recall. Even in the best situation [if it's] not a very good car, why would you want to come back to GM."
In addition to the Cobalt, the recall includes the Chevrolet HHR, the Pontiac G5 and Solstice and the Saturn Ion and Sky.