Many times people ask, “If aliens are here, why don’t they land on the White House lawn?” Well, you may be surprised to know, in 1952, Washington, D.C. was buzzed by UFOs.
Jets were scrambled, but, according to the jet pilots, they could not catch the mysterious objects. These UFO incursions took place on several occasions, and on one of them, U.S. Air Force UFO investigators were prepared to observe the whole affair. Sure enough, they witnessed one of these events from the control tower at Washington National Airport.
Perhaps the most thorough examination into the UFO issue was conducted by the U.S Air Force. They began their investigation in 1948. It was called Project Sign, then its name was changed to Project Grudge, and finally changed once again to Project Blue Book.
As for the findings, the Air Force states:
As a result of these investigations and studies and experience gained from investigating UFO reports since 1948, the conclusions of Project BLUE BOOK are: (1) no UFO reported, investigated, and evaluated by the Air Force has ever given any indication of threat to our national security; (2) there has been no evidence submitted to or discovered by the Air Force that sightings categorized as “unidentified” represent technological developments or principles beyond the range of present-day scientific knowledge; and (3) there has been no evidence indicating that sightings categorized as “unidentified” are extraterrestrial vehicles.
However, upon closer examination of the thousands of files released regarding the Blue Book investigations, it becomes apparent that the Air Force’s conclusions were not shared by everyone involved in the investigation, and that there were some truly fascinating cases that remain unsolved.
UFO sightings over Washington, D.C. in July 1952 made worldwide headlines and left the Air Force dazed and confused, according to the head of Project Blue Book at the time. The events spanned several days and included multiple radar identifications of unknown aircraft, some of which were correlated by witnesses on the ground. Many of the sightings caused the Air Force to scramble jet fighters, and in each of these cases, the UFOs outmaneuvered the jets. This all culminated into what may be the most important official Air Force UFO investigation of all time.
The investigation of the events in Washington, D.C. is best explained in a book written by the lead Air Force investigator, Captain Edward Ruppelt, the head of Project Blue Book from its inception in early 1952 until late 1953.
The summer of 1952 was a busy time for Blue Book investigators. Ruppelt referred to this period as “The Big Flap.” Some of the most credible reports were coming from the Washington, D.C. area.
On July 20, Ruppelt was flying to Washington on unrelated business. His plane landed at Washington National Airport in the morning, and he grabbed a paper to catch up on the latest news. There he found in big, bold, capitalized font, “INTERCEPTORS CHASE FLYING SAUCERS OVER WASHINGTON, D.C.”
Ruppelt immediately called his superior officer at the Pentagon and was briefed on the incident later that day at Bolling Air Force Base. At 11:40 p.m. the previous night, seven objects were caught on radar at Washington National Airport. At first, the radar operators thought the objects were a formation of planes, but nothing like that was scheduled. The objects moved slowly at about 100 to 130 miles per hour, but then would streak across the scope in sudden bursts of speed. The targets had moved all over the area, including over prohibited areas, such as the airspace above the White House and the U.S. Capitol building. One of the objects was clocked at speeds of more than 7,000 miles per hour.
One week later, it happened again. However, this time the Air Force was ready. As soon as reports began coming in, several people from the Pentagon hurried out to Washington National Airport.
At about 10:30 p.m., Washington National Airport had once again picked up the slow-moving targets. The objects were in an arc surrounding the Washington, D.C. area. The same radar operators were present from the prior event, so they were prepared and worked quickly to track the UFOs. They contacted Andrews Air Force Base who confirmed they were also tracking the objects.
At 11:30 p.m., it was decided to call in interceptors to check out the objects. Two Lockheed F-94 Starfires were in the air by midnight. At this point, reporters and photographers were asked to leave the radar room. Ruppelt says the radar room was cleared because some Air Force officers thought this might be the night they would get a good up-close look at a UFO.
The next day the press reported that fighter pilot Lieutenant William Patterson said:
I tried to make contact with the bogies below 1,000 feet, but [the radar controllers] vectored us around. I saw several bright lights. I was at my maximum speed, but even then I had no closing speed. I ceased chasing them because I saw no chance of overtaking them. I was vectored into new objects. Later, I chased a single bright light which I estimated about 10 miles away. I lost visual contact with it about 2 miles.
The papers were once again packed with headlines about the UFO chase. Ruppelt flew to Washington and when he got to his hotel, was mobbed by reporters and photographers.
According to Ruppelt, the Air Force was in a state of confusion. Unable to dodge the public’s fascination with the Washington events, on July 29, Major-General John Samford notified the press that he would have a press conference on the Washington UFO incidents. Ruppelt felt it a bit odd that none of the men in the radar room at Washington National Airport were involved in the press conference. Instead, the press conference was held by Major General Samford and another officer, neither of whom had been fully briefed.
Samford told the press that Air Force UFO investigations had turned out to be mostly misidentifications, but that the other 20 percent of the reports that came in were from “credible observers of relatively incredible things.”
He said the Air Force would continue to investigate those reports, but they suspected that the Washington, D.C. events may have been false radar readings due to temperature inversions.
According to Ruppelt, the actual investigation ruled out temperature inversions.
Alleged pictures and videos of this event can be found on the internet. However, they are all either reflections or recreations of the incidents. No pictures or video were actually captured. However, the case remains unsolved.
Ruppelt said this case convinced many in the Air Force that UFOs were interplanetary spaceships.
Alejandro Rojas is a radio host for Open Minds Radio, editor and contributing writer for Open Minds magazine as well as OpenMinds.tv. For several years Alejandro was the official spokesperson for the Mutual UFO Network as the Director of Public Education. The views expressed in this column are those of the author.
Joaquin Urias Moralez, 76, passed away on Sunday, January 14, 2018. A Rosary will be recited at Anderson Bethany Funeral Home and Crematory Chapel on Thursday, January 18, 2018, 7:00 PM. A Funeral Service will be held at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Dexter, NM, on Friday, January 19, 2018, 10:00 AM. Interment will take place at Saragosa Cemetery located in Saragosa, TX. Celebrate Joaquin’s life by visiting www.andersonbethany.com to offer a memory or expression of sympathy for his family.
On August 25, 1941, Joaquin was born to Jose Moralez and Simonia Urias in Boquillas de San Isidro, Chihuahua, Mexico. A man of many traits, Joaquin loved gardening, caring for his animals, fixing cars, and taking care of his ranch.
Amongst his favorite things to do was spending time with his family. He always made sure his family was taken care of above all things. Joaquin loved to make everyone laugh by being a clown. One of his favorite ways to make his family laugh was by making up songs, singing to his family and his beloved wife, Lupe. Joaquin was a very entertaining storyteller. The family enjoyed his many stories about his childhood and younger days.
For every holiday, he enjoyed making his famous asado for all of his family to eat. Joaquin was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, son, and friend to many. He will be greatly missed and be forever loved.
Those left to cherish Joaquin’s memory are his loving wife, Guadalupe S. Morales; children: Joaquin Morales Jr. and wife, Delma of Monahans, TX, Belia Morales and husband, Chris of Andrew, TX, Norma Morales of Monahans, TX, Irma Dutchover of Dexter, NM, Raul S. Morales and wife, Renee of Carlsbad, NM, Delma S. Morales of Dexter, NM, Charlie Morales and wife, Adrianea of Roswell, NM; grandchildren: Stefanie, Monique, Tracy, Johnny, Tiffany, Miranda, Mariah, Serena; great-grandchildren: Alena, Zaidee, Ayven, Kallie, Isaiah, Baby Joaquin siblings: Armando Moralez of Saragosa, TX, Tranquilino Moralez of San Antonio, TX, Ramon Moralez of Kosse, TX, Seno Nunez of Monahans, TX; numerous nieces and nephews; and loving pet, Shoe Shoe Morales of Dexter, NM.
Preceding Joaquin in death were his parents: Jose Moralez and Simonia Moralez; brothers: Juan Moralez, Manuel Moralez, Felix Moralez; sisters: Dulce Bejaran and Amelia Bejaran; and precious pets: Sarah, Scooby and Daisy.
Pallbearers will be: Raul Morales, Charlie Morales, Johnny Rodriguez, Chris Craft, Abel Leyba and Tomas Bejaran.
God Saw You Getting Tired
God saw you getting tired,
and a cure was not to be.
So He put His arms around you
and whispered, “Come with Me.”
With tearful eyes we
watched you slowly fade away.
Although we loved you dearly,
we would not make you stay.
A golden heart stopped beating,
your hard-working hands put to rest,
God broke our hearts to prove to us
He only takes the best
Joaquin’s family lovingly wrote this tribute in his honor.
Cynthia Lawner, 88, passed away on Sunday, January 14, 2018, in Roswell, New Mexico. She spent the last year in Roswell, making new friends, reading books from the Roswell Public Library, and especially enjoying time spent at Senior Circle playing mah jong. She moved to Roswell from the Orlando, Florida area, where she and her husband, Maurice, who predeceased her, moved for their retirement in 1984.
She was born Cynthia Ritter in the Bronx, New York, in 1929, graduated from Morris High School, and married Maurice Lawner in 1949. She lovingly raised her two daughters and worked as a bookkeeper in Queens, New York.
Cynthia is survived by her two daughters, Leslie Lawner and her husband Robert Carroll, and their two children Matthew and Casey (and her husband Chris Smith), and Debra Rich and her husband Randall, and their two sons Adam and Cory. She dearly loved her grandchildren and treasured her time with them.
The family is indebted to the members of First Presbyterian Church of Roswell for their many kindnesses to Cynthia, and to Margo Fullinwider for her loving care in Cynthia’s time in New Mexico. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Humane Society of the United States or the Alzheimer’s Association.
No services will be held at this time.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Ballard Funeral Home and Crematory. An online registry can be accessed at ballardfuneralhome.com.
Armando Gutierrez, 82, passed away Wednesday, January 17, 2018 in Dexter, NM. A memorial service will be held Friday, January 19, 2018, 11:00 AM, at First Presbyterian Church, 201 5th Street in Dexter, NM. Pastor Stephen Deutch will officiate the service. Celebrate Armando’s life by visiting www.andersonbethany.com to offer a memory or expression of sympathy for his family.
On November 5, 1935, Armando was born to Rodrigo Gutierrez and Catalina Cabrrera in El Bosque, Chihuahua, Mexico. He worked as a laborer in Dexter. Armando married his love, Tillie Salcido, on September 20, 1959. He enjoyed growing his garden, coaching baseball and watching his favorite professional football team – the Dallas Cowboys. Above all, his greatest joy was spending time with each of his grandchildren, whom he loved very much.
Those left to cherish Armando’s memory are his loving wife, Tillie Gutierrez; children: Israel Gutierrez and wife, Yvonne, Irene Gutierrez, Irma Ramirez and husband, Fidencio; siblings: Emma Sanchez and husband, Manual, Ernesto Gutierrez and wife, Adela, Ofilia Montanez; grandchildren: Steven Ramirez, Justin Ramirez, Anthony Ramirez, Michael Ripley, Shaun Juarez, and Shalee Gutierrez; great-grandchildren: Tristan Juarez, JJ Juarez, Laci Juarez, Chayse Costa, Aaron Ramirez, and Reed Ramirez; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Preceding Armando in death are one child, Adam Gutierrez; father, Rodrigo Gutierrez; mother, Catilena Gutierrez; siblings: Robert Gutierrez, Lydia Avila, and Raquel Rede; nephew, Armando Gutierrez; and niece, Gloria Rede.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Todd Haley spent six seasons helping turn the Pittsburgh Steelers offense into one of the most dynamic in the NFL.
All the yards and all the touchdowns weren’t enough, however, for the fiery offensive coordinator to keep his job.
The Steelers chose not to renew Haley’s contract on Wednesday, three days after the AFC North champions were ushered out of the playoffs in a 45-42 divisional round loss to Jacksonville.
“I have made the decision to not renew the contract for offensive coordinator Todd Haley,” coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. “I would like to thank Todd for his contributions to our offense the past six years, and we wish him the best in his coaching future.”
The 50-year-old Haley, whose father Dick spent two decades as Pittsburgh’s director of player personnel in the 1970s and 80s, was hired in 2012 and tasked with developing an offense around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Though there appeared to be some tension between the two early in Haley’s tenure, the results rewrote much of the team record book.
The Steelers finished in the top seven in total offense in each of the past four seasons, including third in 2017.
Pittsburgh won three division titles and reached the playoffs in each of those seasons thanks in part to Haley’s playcalling, the ascension of All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown to one of the best players in the league and the arrival and development of All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell.
Brown is the only player in NFL history with five consecutive seasons with at least 100 receptions. Bell is one of the best all-around backs in the league and his 406 touches in 2017 were 60 more than any other player.
Roethlisberger tied for the NFL lead in yards passing in 2014 and just as importantly saw the number of times he was sacked decrease substantially even as he put the ball in the air more frequently.
Haley and Roethlisberger downplayed any discord between the two, though Haley swapped places with Randy Fichtner in the middle of the season, moving from the sideline to the coach’s box.
Haley was injured during an incident at a bar near Heinz Field on New Year’s Eve shortly after the Steelers wrapped up a 13-3 season with a victory over Cleveland.
Haley was not considered a direct party to the incident and he said afterward he had the team’s full support and was told it was not an issue moving forward.
Less than two weeks later, Haley finds himself looking for work. Tomlin declined to endorse Haley’s return during his season-ending news conference on Tuesday. A day later Haley’s productive if tumultuous time with the Steelers was over.
Whoever replaces him will have one of the most talented offenses in the NFL at his disposal. The entire starting offensive line is under contract for 2018. Roethlisberger has already stated publicly he will be back for a 15th season.
Brown is signed through 2021. Bell’s situation is a little more unclear. The team can place the transition tag on him as it did this season, though he told ESPN.com he could sit out or retire if he and the Steelers do not reach a long-term agreement. Bell said on Sunday his hope is to remain in Pittsburgh.
Fichtner is the leading in-house candidate to take over for Haley. Fichtner has been with the team since 2007 and has spent the past eight years as quarterbacks coach. He has a solid rapport with Roethlisberger and the transition would likely be very easy for a team built to win now.
For all of Haley’s acumen, Pittsburgh’s offense came undone this season in critical moments due to curious playcalling.
Twice the Steelers were stopped in fourth down situations against Jacksonville. A first-quarter drive ended when Bell lost yards on fourth-and-inches.
Pittsburgh had the ball and a chance to tie the game early in the fourth quarter when Roethlisberger threw incomplete to rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster on fourth down when advancing the ball a mere foot would have extended the drive.
Those sequences came a month after the Steelers lost to New England at home on Dec. 17 when a potential go-ahead touchdown pass to Jesse James in the final seconds was overturned on replay and Roethlisberger attempted a pass after a fake spike two plays later.
The pass was picked off and the Steelers lost, costing them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, a sequence that helped cost Haley his position with the team.
NOTES: Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak will remain with the team. The Hall of Fame offensive lineman and former head coach of the Tennessee Titans had interviewed for the vacant head coaching job in Arizona but removed himself from contention saying “the timing for my family was not appropriate for me to pursue this potential opportunity.” … Longtime wide receivers coach Richard Mann announced his retirement after 33 seasons as an assistant, including the past five with Pittsburgh.
When Dr. Brian Hainline learned about the apparent suicide of another college athlete, it hit hard. Again.
No, he didn’t know Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski. But he’s heard such stories far too often.
The NCAA’s first chief medical officer has coped with friends, patients and other college students who took their own lives and whenever it happens, the same emotions and questions come racing back. So Hainline has put together recommendations that may help college athletic departments understand how to help players.
“What we’re trying to do is get every single campus to operationalize this,” Hainline told The Associated Press on Wednesday, the first day of the NCAA’s annual convention. “The same problems regular students have with mental health are the same problems student-athletes have. They think they’re unique and they’re not.”
The 21-year-old Hilinski was found in his Pullman, Washington, apartment on Tuesday after he didn’t show up for practice, dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police also found a rifle and a suicide note.
Police Chief Gary Jenkins declined to reveal the contents of the note.
Police were interviewing Hilinski’s friends and people who knew him to try to learn why the Cougars’ presumptive starting quarterback apparently took his life. “The missing piece here is why,” Jenkins said.
Hilinski’s family in California issued a statement saying they were in “complete shock and disarray” over his death.
They weren’t the only ones grieving.
A makeshift memorial sprouted near the football stadium on the Pullman campus, next to a bronze statue of the team’s mascot. Social media were also filled with comments, including one from former Washington State star quarterback Ryan Leaf, who said he couldn’t stop crying.
More than 2,000 miles away in Indianapolis, Hilinski’s name repeatedly came up during a previously scheduled panel discussion on student well-being. The session on suicide prevention was full of emotion and concern.
“Last night it was 11 p.m. and I was going to work out when my best friend from UCF texted me pictures of the tweets,” Student Athlete Advisory Committee representative Enna Selmanovic said, referring to the reaction about Hilinski. “And she said, ‘When is this going to end?'”
Numbers show why mental health has become such a serious issue on college campuses.
According to National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression, one out of every 12 college students makes a suicide plan and 7.5 students per 100,000 kill themselves.
Hainline said the stats are similar for athletes, something Selmanovic found in her own research.
The former swimmer and current pre-med student at the University of Cincinnati found 35 college athletes killed themselves from 2009-15, which represents 7.3 percent of all deaths among college athletes during that time. Twenty-nine of the deaths were male athletes and 13 played football.
Selmanovic revised her prepared remarks after hearing about Hilinski. But the solutions remain the same.
“The lack of education that we believe exists right now will make it worse if it’s not solved,” she said. “Educating staff and coaches is just as important because they are the ones who are going to know when performance is slipping. And confidentiality is key.
“Getting athletes to know the resources are out there, that’s the biggest thing,” she added.
While some athletes may avoid asking for help because of worries about what coaches and peers think or whether they may lose a scholarship, the bigger problem might be the long-held stigma attached to mental illnesses.
Former Clemson football player Jay Guillermo understands.
The starting center on college football’s national runner-up in 2015 and the 2016 national champions stepped away from football during his sophomore year so he could be treated for depression. At his worst, he said he contemplated suicide but never attempted it.
“The struggle, at least I know for myself, was more admitting that I needed to talk to someone,” he said in a telephone interview, noting the university and the coaching staff provided the support he needed. “Especially a male athlete, and a football player in such a physical rough sport, you never want to be the guy that’s having to admit that something’s wrong. You get that mindset of always pushing through. Nothing’s wrong. I’m good to go. I think that’s the toughest part. At least for me. Not that there wasn’t any resources there, but reaching out to those resources.”
Hainline said college students are more vulnerable because a range of illnesses peak during the ages of 18 to 22.
The stress of performing in school and on the field only ratchets up the pressure and if a student isn’t sleeping well, as often happens in college, studies show the suicide risk can double or triple even without a mental illness.
Hainline believes schools shouldn’t just have a plan, they need to practice the plan and be prepared to help players before dealing with tragedy.
“What’s it going to take? Is it going to take having a licensed sports psychologist on campus? Maybe,” Selmanovic said. “But we have to hit the mark or sadly more (athletes) will end up like Tyler. I’m not sure about you, but I can’t take another Tyler.”
NEW YORK (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 34 points, Patty Mills made seven 3-pointers and the San Antonio Spurs responded to the latest absence of Kawhi Leonard by beating the Brooklyn Nets 100-95 on Wednesday night.
Mills finished with 25 points and combined with Aldridge on the most important play of the game, a three-point play for Aldridge with 53 seconds remaining on a pass from the reserve guard after the Nets had cut a 17-point deficit to three.
The Spurs announced earlier Wednesday that Leonard would be out indefinitely so he can continue rehabilitating from the right thigh injury that forced him to miss the start of the season.
“We didn’t feel he was ready. His confidence level wasn’t there, so we decided to give it some more time,” coach Gregg Popovich said.
They were fine without him Wednesday, thanks also to Pau Gasol’s 13 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Allen Crabbe scored 20 points and Joe Harris had 18 for the Nets, who lost their third straight.
Mills went 5 for 5 off the bench in the first half, all 3-pointers, and finished with the most 3-pointers by a Spurs player this season.
Spurs: San Antonio was also without Manu Ginobili because of a bruised right thigh. … Ginobili and Davis Bertans had shared the Spurs’ high of six 3-pointers in a game this season.
Nets: Brooklyn has lost five straight at home. … The Nets have dropped the last six meetings.
Leonard has played in just nine games after missing the beginning of the season because of right quadriceps tendinopathy. He also was sidelined briefly because of a shoulder injury. Popovich said Leonard hadn’t sustained another injury, but also didn’t seem confident in his ability to play at the level that had him finishing third in the voting for NBA MVP last season.
“He didn’t reinjure it or anything but he was having pain, but not right after games, but maybe the next day at noon or that kind of thing and so the pain wasn’t dissipating,” Popovich said. “It wasn’t going in the right direction, it was going the other way and you’ve got to be confident in your body to go out there and play at the level that he’s expected to play.”
POPOVICH ON …
PLAYER ALTERCATIONS: “NBA fights are the silliest, namby-pambiest things I’ve ever seen in my life. Except there was that one in the stands a few years ago. That one got ugly.”
RESPONDING TO REFEREES: “It evens out, it’s just that we’re all so prejudice it’s ridiculous. We think we’re the ones getting screwed all the time. So referees cannot win. I don’t care what happens, they will never win. Everybody’s always going to (complain) about them, so it’s best to just play the game, don’t cry about it and move on.”
Spurs: Visit Toronto on Friday night.
Nets: Host Miami on Friday night.
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — SMU coach Tim Jankovich said his Mustangs would have to be “near perfect” to have a chance against No. 7 Wichita State.
Shake Milton gave Jankovich that and more.
“Might have been better than perfect,” Jankovich said.
Milton scored a career-high 33 points on 11-of-14 shooting to lead the Mustangs to an 83-78 victory, snapping the Shockers’ 27-game winning streak at Koch Arena on Wednesday night.
“I don’t know how you play better than that,” Jankovich said. “Shake controlled the game, not just scoring in bunches. He had control of everything.”
SMU (13-6, 3-3 American Athletic Conference) had lost three straight, not winning since Dec. 31. Wichita State (15-3, 5-1) had won 67 of 68 at Koch Arena.
“I think we need to be desperate every game right now,” said Milton, who was 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. “But knowing it would be an environment like this, that the fans would be crazy, was motivation.”
Jahmal McMurray scored 16 points for the Mustangs, who shot 63.8 percent. Ethan Chargois had 12 points, and Ben Emelogu added 10.
Landry Shamet led the Shockers with 20 points and 10 assists, and Shaquille Morris scored 17. Darral Willis scored 12 points off the bench, and Conner Frankamp added 11.
Wichita State rallied after trailing 70-57 with 4:33 remaining to make it a one-possession game twice in the final minute.
Like much of the game, the Mustangs made shots when it mattered.
“In the end, they really had tremendous playmakers that made great plays,” Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said. “They kept throwing dagger, dagger, dagger. We would get it down to four or three, and they would hit another big shot.”
The Mustangs rarely use a zone defense, but Jankovich had them employ one the entire game. They also had personnel issues to overcome. Jarrey Foster, the Mustangs’ second-leading scorer, did not return after getting injured less than six minutes into the game.
By the 10-minute mark of the second half, Emelogu and Chargois each had four fouls.
SMU found a way to hang on with some stellar individual plays. Each team had 30 field goals, but the Mustangs had just 10 assists — 14 fewer than Wichita State.
“I thought our execution was excellent,” Jankovich said.
Marshall gave credit to a “better game plan.”
“They tried to score early and, if not, they held the ball and ran clock,” Marshall said. “And with the zone, they wanted to shorten the game. And it worked.”
HOME STATE VIBES
McMurray had not scored in double figures in any of the three January games before reaching that mark by halftime Wednesday. He had 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first half, hitting both of his 3-pointers.
McMurray is from Topeka and also attended Sunrise Christian Academy Prep School in Wichita before playing two seasons at South Florida.
In another way to shorten the game, the Mustangs would often let the ball bounce around after Wichita State made shots. That forced a Shocker or a referee to retrieve the ball as the clock ran.
“It felt like we lost two minutes just to that,” Marshall said.
SMU: The Mustangs could turn their season on this victory, and it will go down as a signature performance for Milton.
Wichita State: The Shockers suffered their first conference loss with a rare lackluster show from their defense.
SMU: Hosts Tulane on Saturday.
Wichita State: Plays at Houston on Saturday.
NEW YORK (AP) — Jay Bruce was surprised by the free-agent market.
“The way the offseason kind of went and the slowness of it kind of maybe changed my outlook on it a little bit,” he said Wednesday at a Citi Field news conference.
Bruce returned to the Mets for a $39 million, three-year contract, five months after New York traded the 30-year-old outfielder to Cleveland.
“I think there’s been a sea change in the industry,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said. “It’s at least arithmetic in nature if not mathematical, so everybody’s information is roughly the same, which means the assessments of players are probably more uniform today than they ever have been, because they’re predicated not on subjective observation.”
Bruce agreed to the deal last week, and New York finalized the agreement Tuesday after the three-time All-Star passed a physical.
His deal was the third-highest among free agents this offseason behind first baseman Carlos Santana’s $60 million contract with Cleveland and close Wade Davis’ $52 million agreement with Colorado, both also for three-year terms. Just 38 of 166 major league free agents have completed agreements, down from 58 of 158 on the same date last year.
“The people who are working within the organizations now are a little more numbers based, a little more statistically driven, and I think they understand that it kind of behooves them to wait,” Bruce said. “There’s a month ’till spring training starts, and there’s really no rush. And I think that a lot of times they feel like they had the leverage and they’re going to utilize that as much as they can. ”
Bruce hit a career-high 36 home runs last year, including 29 for the Mets, and batted .254 with 101 RBIs. He reunites with former Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Callaway, who replaced Terry Collins as Mets manager after the season. Bruce expects the Mets under Callaway to institute some of the Indians’ methods.
“They were very, very adamant about certain things when it came to preparation and recovery and just taking care of yourself in general,” he said. “And I expect Mickey to bring a lot of news ideas and things that make sense for the organization.”
Coming from Beaumont, Texas — with a population of just over 100,000 — Bruce and wife Hannah enjoyed living in midtown Manhattan with their son Carter, who turns 2 in April. She is pregnant with their second child.
“We just had a great experience the whole time, and it was never something that we shied away from,” he said. “It’s exciting to be back.”
Acquired from Cincinnati in August 2016, Bruce slumped at first with the Mets but doesn’t think the unfulfilling start was tied to acclimating.
“It’s a big stage and I think that you have to embrace it and you have to be here and understand the passion of the fans and the market,” he said.
Bruce figures to start the season in right field while Michael Conforto recovers from surgery Sept. 6 to repair a tear in the posterior capsule in his left shoulder.
“There have been no setbacks, but his schedule is such that I don’t expect him back until the first of May,” Alderson said.
Bruce also could see time at first base along with prospect Dominic Smith, Wilmer Flores and Adrian Gonzalez, who agreed to a one-year contract that has not yet been finalized.
While maintaining patience, Alderson chose not to wait for a possible further drop in Bruce’s price.
“If we were analogizing the stock market, it’s always nice to buy when it hit rock bottom, but how often do people do that?” Alderson said.
New York still seeks a second baseman but thinks it has enough bullpen help. From the time he departed last summer, Bruce was open to a return.
“They said, you know, listen, there could be a reunion and we definitely want to kind of explore those options in the offseason,” Bruce explained. “They wasted no time in getting down to business and showing that they want me back and they wanted to be here and wanted me to be a part of what I can kind of consider some unfinished business as a Met.”
Bruce gets a $3 million signing bonus split into equal payments on Jan. 31 in 2019 and 2020, and salaries of $10 million this year and $13 million in each of the following two seasons. The signing bonus is not taxable in New York, more significant than in the past because of the federal changes eliminating deductions for state and local taxes.
“That was definitely a factor,” he said. “It’s something we paid attention to.”
HOUSTON (AP) — Gerrit Cole is joining a rotation filled with aces.
“I was just tremendously excited,” Cole said Wednesday, four days after the Houston Astros acquired him from the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I was out with some friends having a good time for my wife’s birthday weekend. So, it was a really good phone call. How you can ask for anything more than coming to the World Series champions.”
Wearing a No. 45 uniform, the 27-year-old right-hander was introduced at Minute Maid Park. He was obtained for right-handed reliever Michael Feliz, right-hander Joe Musgrove, infielder Colin Moran and outfield prospect Jason Martin.
Houston ace Dallas Keuchel was joined late last season by Justin Verlander, who helped the Astros win their first championship.
“I’m certainly happy with the depth of this rotation,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “It’s hard to argue the quality we can throw out there every day if we are healthy and if we continue to push forward.”
Cole was 12-12 with a 4.26 ERA last year, leaving him 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA in 127 big league starts.
He will make $6.75 million in 2018, is arbitration eligible again next winter and can be a free agent after the 2019 season. The New York Yankees, who lost Game 7 of the AL Championship Series to the Astros, were thought to be interested in Cole.
“We had some chips to give up, so maybe they didn’t have the depth on that side,” owner Jim Crane said. “Any time we can beat the Yankees, that’s good.”
Keuchel won the 2015 AL Cy Young Award. Verlander earned the 2011 AL Cy Young and MVP honors.
“I’m sure he has a wealth of knowledge that he has accumulated winning Cy Youngs and World Series,” Cole said. “I don’t anticipate learning one or two specific things. I’m just looking forward to playing next to him. He is somebody that every right-handed power pitcher has looked up to. Just a cool opportunity to be able to work with somebody that good.”
Among Astros pitchers, Cole is familiar with Charlie Morton, his former Pirates teammate.
“Charlie has been a good friend of mine ever since I came up,” Cole said. “He’s got nothing but wonderful things to say about the organization, the city, the fans. He has really enjoyed his time here. He’s excited to play with me again, I’m excited to play with him again. Just a lot of great feelings.”
Following the trade, Cole heard from Astros catcher Brian McCann.
“We talked a little bit about his career and mine and tried to get to know each other a little bit,” Cole said. “He gave me a few insights on his philosophy. How he likes to work, how he likes to communicate with his starting pitchers. Other than that it was a hello and welcome to the club.”
LONDON (AP) — After being stunned by a late equalizer, Chelsea was left bewildered and infuriated over the experimental video referees.
And as frustration grew over the lack of winner against Norwich in the FA Cup, so did the number of dives by Chelsea players.
Chelsea finished Wednesday’s third-round replay with nine men after Pedro Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata saw red in the frenzied conclusion with the teams locked at 1-1. Chelsea did eventually prevail on penalties against the second-tier visitors, winning 5-3 to advance to the fourth round in the rain at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was relieved but also seeking answers about the role of video assistant referees and how on-field official Graham Scott was consulting them. Scott certainly didn’t go over to a monitor to assess decisions himself.
“If we want to improve,” Conte said, “we have to wait to check with the person who is watching the game and then (see) if this person is sure 100 percent that it is simulation.”
Chelsea had looked all set for the fourth round thanks to Michy Batshuayi’s strike 10 minutes into the second half that ended the west London team’s goal drought of more than 5½ hours.
But Norwich produced an equalizer with almost the last kick of regulation time. Timm Klose crossed from the left flank and Jamal Lewis evaded Davide Zappacosta to guide a header into the roof of the net.
There was confusion at the start of extra time when Chelsea midfielder Willian was booked for diving rather than being awarded a penalty after being clipped by Klose. Was the decision by referees across west London at the match control center? It’s unclear.
“The Willian penalty was a big, big mistake,” Conte said. “To avoid a big mistake you have to call the referee and to say, ‘Oh look, maybe this situation this is a doubt. It’s better if you go to watch.’
“Otherwise we cut the power to the referee on the pitch, and that is not right.”
The red cards were shown in the final four minutes.
Pedro received a second yellow card for fouling Wes Hoolahan after already receiving a caution for diving. Then Morata was booked for simulation and again for remonstrating.
“If there is diving, it’s right to take a yellow card. I don’t want an advantage,” Conte said. “I’m not happy for the second yellow card to Morata. The second yellow card was for dissent and you must pay attention, to stay calm and make the best decision.”
Conte berated the match officials as the teams prepared for the shootout, when the hosts converted all their kicks but Nelson Oliveira’s miss for Norwich proved costly. Eden Hazard took the penalty that sealed a fourth-round meeting with Newcastle.
In northern England, there was a success Wednesday for lower-league opposition as third-tier Wigan beat Premier League side Bournemouth 3-0 with goals from Sam Morsy, Dan Burn and Callum Elder.
It is five years since Wigan became the first team to win the FA Cup and be relegated from the Premier League in the same season. Wigan will play West Ham in the fourth round.
Swansea eliminated second-tier leader Wolverhampton with a 2-1 victory to set up a trip to Notts County.
The opening goal from Jordan Ayew evoked memories of Ricky Villa’s acclaimed 1981 FA Cup final goal for Tottenham with the Swansea forward evading six challenges before slotting into the Wolves net. In the second half, Diogo Jota equalized but Wilfried Bony secured Swansea’s passage into the fourth round.
MADRID (AP) — Lionel Messi missed a penalty and Barcelona conceded late as its 29-match unbeaten streak ended in a 1-0 loss to city rival Espanyol in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal on Wednesday.
Messi failed from the spot in the 62nd minute, his shot brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Diego Lopez. Youngster Oscar Melendo netted the winner for the hosts in the 88th with his first goal as a professional.
“I have no words, I was looking forward to this first goal,” said the 20-year-old Melendo, who had come on as a substitute in the second half.
It was Espanyol’s first win against Barcelona at its RCDE Stadium.
The second leg of the Catalan derby is next week at Camp Nou.
Barcelona hadn’t lost since a 2-0 defeat by Real Madrid in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Aug. 16. It had won 23 of its last 29 matches in all competitions.
“We knew we would lose one day,” Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. “The positive thing is that in a week we have a chance to rebound and advance.”
Messi had his chance from the spot after Sergi Roberto was fouled by Esteban Granero, but his low shot into the right corner was stopped as Diego Lopez dived to his left to tip the ball away.
It was a rare miss for Messi, who is having a stellar season and is the Spanish league’s top scorer with 17 goals.
“The penalty save gave us the boost that we needed,” Melendo said. “We were playing too defensively.”
Melendo netted the winner with a low shot from the middle of the area after a well-timed pass by Marc Navarro.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde did not use all of the team’s regular starters, leaving players such as Luis Suarez on the bench.
The match was interrupted for a few minutes in the 76th after Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was hit by an object thrown by fans behind his goal.
Barcelona midfielder Paulinho was replaced in the second half because of a foot injury.
SEVILLA STRIKES FIRST
Sevilla scored two late goals to come from behind and beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in the first leg of their quarterfinal.
Diego Costa gave Atletico the lead in the 73rd but the visitors equalized with an own-goal by Atletico goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya in the 80th and secured the victory with a strike by Joaquin Correa after a breakaway in the 88th.
Atletico was debuting its attacking trio of Costa, Antoine Griezmann and Victor “Vitolo” Machin, a former Sevilla player, but they were not able to get the job done in an entertaining match in which both teams created many scoring chances at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
“It was an open match, but they capitalized on their chances,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “They deserved the victory.”
The result ended Atletico’s four-game winning run.
Sevilla is enduring a five-game winless streak in La Liga but had won both games against second-division Cadiz in the Round of 16 of the Copa del Rey.
Police said an Atletico fan in his early 20s was hospitalized in a serious but stable condition before the match after being stabbed in a fight near a metro station in the stadium area.
VALENCIA ALSO RALLIES
Valencia also scored two late goals in a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over 10-man Alaves.
Ruben Sobrino put the visitors ahead with a strike from outside the area into the top corner in the 66th, but Valencia equalized seven minutes later with Goncalo Guedes. His angled shot deflected off a defender and goalkeeper Antonio Sivera was unable to recover in time to make the save.
Alaves played a man down from the 77th after defender Adrian Dieguez was sent off with a second yellow card.
Forward Rodrigo scored the winner from close range, firing a shot that hit the post before going in.
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — With lingering questions about the status of Colonial’s title sponsorship, the PGA Tour says the historic tournament will be played as scheduled in May.
The PGA Tour said in a statement Wednesday that it is working closely with Colonial Country Club.
“As we look toward the 2018 event and beyond, we will continue to work alongside Colonial Country Club in an effort to ensure the event will be a part of the PGA Tour schedule for many years to come,” the statement read.
Dean and Deluca notified the PGA Tour and Colonial late last year that it may be unable to meet its financial obligations to remain title sponsor for the tournament, according to a letter from Colonial Country Club president Rob Doby to its members that was obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. This 2018 tournament is supposed to be the third year of a six-year deal for the upscale grocer as title sponsor.
With only about four months until this year’s tournament May 24-27, Colonial officials are working to secure sponsorship and the financial resources necessary to conduct the event.
The Colonial was first played in 1946 and is the longest-running PGA Tour event still being played at its original site. Hall of Fame golfer Ben Hogan, a Fort Worth native and club member, won the inaugural Colonial and is the tournament’s only five-time winner.
In its statement, the PGA Tour noted Colonial as a “showcase of the game’s best players” and “a leader in giving back to the community in Fort Worth.” The tournament is among the PGA Tour leaders in charitable giving, contributing more than $11.7 million in 2017 and over $100 million in its history.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The LPGA is returning to Los Angeles after a 13-year absence with a $1.5 million tournament in April.
The HUGEL-JTBC Open will be played April 19-22 at Wilshire Country Club, which has hosted previous LPGA, PGA and Champions Tour events.
The 72-hole event announced Wednesday is part of the tour’s California swing that includes the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, Kia Classic in Carlsbad and a tournament in San Francisco.
The LPGA visited Los Angeles from 2001-05 when its Office Depot Championship was played at various courses, including President Donald Trump’s layout in Rancho Palos Verdes. Wilshire hosted the 2001 event won by Annika Sorenstam.
In 2011, the Kia Classic was played in suburban Industry before returning to the San Diego area.
Located in the Hancock Park section of Los Angeles, Wilshire is a links course founded in 1919.
The tournament is sponsored by HUGEL, a South Korea-based maker of beauty products including Botox, and JTBC, which is the LPGA’s Korean TV rights holder.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — It was quite a predicament for Grigor Dimitrov, still basking in his triumph at the ATP Finals as he entered his second-round match at the Australian Open against a young American who had never won a tour-level match before qualifying for the first major of the season.
Mackenzie McDonald is ranked 186th and played college tennis at UCLA. He had never played anyone ranked better than No. 69 before facing the third-seeded Dimitrov on Wednesday.
McDonald broke Dimitrov’s serve three times in the fourth set and pushed the fifth beyond 12 games — there’s no tiebreakers in fifth sets at the Australian Open — before his first double-fault of the set suddenly gave Dimitrov a match point.
Dimitrov finished it off 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 0-6, 8-6 as midnight approached.
“Really the game wasn’t there today. I wasn’t feeling well on the court — fourth set was a disgrace,” said Dimitrov, who took Rafael Nadal to five sets in a marathon semifinal in Melbourne last year. “But I won with what I had. That was my fighting spirit.
“He played an unbelievable game (but) experience in the end really helped me.”
That seemed to be a theme of Day 3.
Second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki had to save two match points and come back from 5-1 down in the third set to beat 119th-ranked Jana Fett 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 Australian Open finalist, rallied from 5-2 down in the fifth to overcome Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5.
And 38-year-old Ivo Karlovic overcame Yuichi Sugita 7-6 (3), 6-7 (3), 7-5, 4-6, 12-10.
Nadal, the 2017 runner-up, didn’t risk any close calls. The top-ranked Spaniard made only 10 unforced errors and had just one hiccup — dropping a service game while serving for the match — in a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) win over Leonardo Mayer.
“It’s an important victory for me,” said Nadal, who won the French Open and U.S. Open last year but had his preparation for Australia interrupted by an injured right knee. “After a while without being on the competition … second victory in a row, that’s very important.”
In the match preceding Nadal and Mayer on Rod Laver Arena, Wozniacki felt like she was “one foot out the tournament” before winning six straight games to advance.
“That was crazy,” Wozniacki said. “I don’t know how I got back into the match. I was like, ‘This is my last chance.’
“At 5-1, 40-15 … she served a great serve down the T (and) it was just slightly out. I was kind of lucky.”
Wozniacki won the next nine points, and 24 of the 31 points played from the first match point.
She’ll next play No. 30 Kiki Bertens.
After his enthralling comeback victory over Shapovalov, highlighted by a between-the-legs shot on an important point, Tsonga will meet 17th-seeded Nick Kyrgios in what shapes up to be an entertaining third-round encounter.
Kyrgios had a 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (2) win over Viktor Troicki, overcoming audio problems at Hisense Arena and complaining to chair umpire James Keothavong, who ended up turning off his microphone and later being hit in the head by a wayward tennis ball.
Dimitrov’s reward for beating McDonald is a match against No. 30 Andrey Rublev, who beat him at the U.S. Open last year and who accounted for 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2.
At the other end of the experience spectrum, 15-year-old qualifier Marta Kostyuk followed up her first-round win with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over wild-card entry Olivia Rogowska.
The Australian Open junior champion, who entered the season-opening major ranked No. 521, became the youngest player since Martina Hingis in 1996 to win main draw matches in Melbourne.
Things will get harder for her now. She next faces fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina, who had a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 win over Katerina Siniakova.
Another Ukrainian, Kateryna Bondarenko, beat 15th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-3 and will next play No. 19 Magdalena Rybarikova.
Alize Cornet beat 12th-seeded Julia Goerges 6-4, 6-3, ending the German player’s 15-match winning streak, and Elise Mertens lost the first five games before beating No. 23 Daria Gavrilova 7-5, 6-3 in a match that finished just before 2 a.m. Those results meant seven of the eight seeded players are out of that quarter of the draw.
French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko struggled at times before beating Duan Yingying 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 and will next play No. 32 Anett Kontaveit.
Among the men advancing were Kyle Edmund, No. 6 Marin Cilic, who next plays Ryan Harrison, and No. 10 Pablo Carreno Busta, who will meet No. 23 Gilles Muller.
McDonald didn’t quite get the biggest upset of the day, but he got some valuable experience in front of a big crowd on a center court and from his first-round win over Elias Ymer.
He attacked Dimitrov’s second serve and his backhand, turning a potential weapon almost into a liability for the Bulgarian.
“I know how close I was to winning,” said McDonald, who had practiced with Dimitrov and Roger Federer in the past, and should rise up the rankings. “But he’s a good player, he’s been out here a while.
“I was soaking it all in. It was a long match and I enjoyed every single moment of it. I’m super happy about it.”
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Maria Sharapova ticked off more items on her “to do” list at the Australian Open, returning to center court and accounting for the only person who has beaten her at a Grand Slam since her comeback from a doping ban.
Sharapova advanced to the third round with a 6-1, 7-6 (4) win over No. 14-seeded Anastasija Sevastova as the temperature began to rise at Melbourne Park.
With a forecast high of 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit), Sharapova appeared to be in a hurry to get off the Rod Laver Arena court ASAP and won the first set in 23 minutes.
The five-time major winner was broken while serving or the match, but recovered quickly in the subsequent tiebreaker to advance in the tournament.
Ninth-seeded Johanna Konta was more exposed to the heat on an outside court, and lost to U.S. lucky loser Bernarda Pera 6-4, 7-5.
No. 123-ranked Pera is making her Grand Slam debut and, after losing in the last round of qualifying, didn’t even know she had a spot in the main draw until Monday when Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan withdrew with an injury.
Konta saved three match points in the ninth game of the second set, then broke Pera to level at 5-all.
But Pera clinched it on her fifth match point when Konta, a semifinalist here in 2016, shanked an overhead at the net.
Sharapova is playing at Melbourne Park for the first time since serving a 15-month doping ban for testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. She lost to Sevastova in the fourth round at the U.S. Open last September in her return to Grand Slam tennis.
The 30-year-old Russian is one of just two Australian Open winners in the women’s draw. They could meet in the third round if Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champion, beats Donna Vekic on Thursday.
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. is warning North Carolina drivers not to venture out into a snowstorm after he slid off the road and hit a tree.
Earnhardt said on his Twitter account Wednesday that he had just used his winch to help a sedan out of a ditch in snowy weather when he himself drove off the road and into a tree.
He wrote: “NC stay off the roads today/tonight. 5 minutes after helping these folks I center punched a pine tree.”
A spokesman for Earnhardt, Mike Davis, said that the recently retired NASCAR driver wasn’t injured and his pickup truck had only minor damage, if any. Davis said the people Earnhardt helped weren’t injured, either.
Earnhardt’s crash happened in Mooresville near where his racing team has its shop and offices.
ATLANTA (AP) — Snow, ice and a record-breaking blast of cold closed runways, highways, schools and government offices across the South and sent cars sliding off roads Wednesday in a corner of the country ill-equipped to deal with wintry weather. At least 10 people died, including a baby in a car that plunged off a slippery overpass into a Louisiana canal.
Icicles hung from a statue of jazz musicians in normally balmy New Orleans, and drivers unaccustomed to ice spun their wheels across Atlanta, which was brought to a near-standstill by little more than an inch (2.5 centimeters) of snow. The beach in Biloxi, Mississippi, got a light coating. And the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill canceled classes as the storm unloaded at least 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow in Durham and Greensboro.
Even the best drivers had trouble: Retired NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted that he had just used his winch to help pull a car out of a ditch when he drove off the road and into a tree in North Carolina.
“NC stay off the roads today/tonight. 5 minutes after helping these folks I center punched a pine tree,” he reported. A spokesman said Earnhardt was not hurt and his pickup had only minor damage.
Though skies were sunny and bright in many places, temperatures remained below freezing throughout the day in much of the South.
Thousands of schoolchildren and teachers got the day off. Many cities canceled meetings and court proceedings, and some businesses closed. Slippery runways and the need to de-ice planes forced cancellations and delays in New Orleans; Memphis, Tennessee; and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Electricity usage surged as people struggled to keep warm.
In Alabama, where some places got at least 3 inches (7 centimeters) of snow, dairy farmer Will Gilmer bundled up for the drive to his milking barn before daybreak in rural Lamar County, the thermometer reading 7 degrees (minus 14 Celsius).
“I probably had four layers on and then insulated coveralls and a heavy coat on over that. I made it OK except for my toes,” he said.
The mercury dropped to record lows overnight in several places in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. It was 21 degrees (minus 6 Celsius) before dawn in New Orleans, breaking the city’s record of 23 (minus 5 Celsius), set on the same date in 1977.
At least four people died in Louisiana, including a man knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans when a pickup spun out on ice, and an 8-month-old baby in a car that slid into a canal in suburban New Orleans. The baby’s mother was in critical condition.
Two others died along an icy stretch of I-75 southeast of Atlanta when a driver lost control and hit them, one of them inside a stopped car and the other standing beside it, authorities said.
One person died in a weather-related traffic accident in West Virginia. In the freezing Houston area, a homeless man was found dead behind a trash bin, apparently of exposure, while an 82-year-old woman with dementia succumbed to the cold after walking away from her home. Also, a woman was discovered dead in a snowy park near City Hall in Memphis. The temperature was around 10 degrees (minus 12 Celsius) when she was found.
Snow fell in a wide band that stretched from southeastern Texas all the way to western Massachusetts. And along the Gulf Coast, ice pellets covered the tops of sago palm trees, and stretches of I-10 were closed in Louisiana and across Alabama’s Mobile Bay.
Downtown Atlanta — the corporate capital of the South, notorious for its heavy traffic — was eerily quiet.
Susan Luciano, walking in snow-blanketed Peachtree City just south of Atlanta, was delighted: “It is the most romantic setting. It is beautiful. This is God’s masterpiece … a living postcard.”
Still, dozens of accidents were reported across the Atlanta metro area, one involving a salt truck.
Southern states and cities don’t have the large fleets of snowplows, salting trucks and other snow-removal equipment common in the North.
“Y’all aren’t going to make it!” a driver in a pickup truck yelled at two drivers in compact cars that were spinning their wheels on an icy boulevard near SunTrust Park, where the Atlanta Braves play. “You’re going to slide back down the hill! Turn around!”
Adrian Benton, a 26-year-old native of snowy Buffalo, New York, tried to help.
“The up-north way of dealing with snow needs to come down here,” Burton said of snowplows and salting up North.
Yet one weather expert who grew up in brutal Michigan winters and now lives in Atlanta said Southern winters have the North beat.
Ryan Maue, a meteorologist with the private forecaster Weather.US, said Atlanta’s mostly untreated roads were fraught with icy peril during his car outing Wednesday to the supermarket.
“My little car was struggling even to move,” he said, adding he worried just as much about Southern motorists risking their necks — and those of others in their “non-winterized cars.” But he told The Associated Press that Southern comfort is on the way, with the mercury to start rising above freezing by midday Thursday in the region and even into the low 60s (15 Celsius) in spots by the weekend.
Said Maue: “We should feel a widespread warming throughout the South. It will feel wonderful.”
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A small California city at the base of the tallest U.S. dam filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the state over an emergency that forced authorities to order 188,000 people to flee last year, arguing the crisis was caused by decades of mismanagement.
The City of Oroville blames a culture of cronyism and a priority for low cost dam repairs over quality maintenance for the crisis.
Its lawsuit is the latest escalation in years of tension between water managers and Oroville city officials who believe state officials never delivered promised dam benefits and skimped on repairs to continue delivering cheap water to farmers and Southern California residents.
“This was not an act of God. This was not just a wild rainstorm. This went back 20 years of neglect,” said Joseph Cotchett, the lead attorney.
Erin Mellon, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Water Resources, did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
The February 2017 crisis began when a massive crater opened in Oroville Dam’s main spillway, a 3,000-foot (914-meter) concrete chute that releases water from Lake Oroville, California’s second-largest reservoir.
Water managers shut off releases to investigate just as a storm dumped torrents of water in the Feather River Basin, causing the lake to fill up and sending water over a concrete weir that served as an emergency spillway.
Water quickly eroded the barren hillside below, leading to fears the weir would collapse and release an uncontrolled wall of water that would swamp Oroville and other cities downstream. The crisis was averted before the weir gave way.
Oroville’s case, filed in Butte County Superior Court, seeks unspecified monetary damages to reimburse the city for the cost of the evacuation, lost revenue from sales taxes and tourism, and other expenses.
Cotchett said the city’s damages are in the millions of dollars and predicted dozens more lawsuits will follow by other local governments, business owners, farmers and others who lost money or incurred expenses.
Oroville’s lawsuit alleges that managers ignored maintenance needs and condoned shoddy dam work. It quotes one worker who said he was part of a repair crew in 2013 that was instructed to drag chains on the spillway and listen for hollow sounds that might indicate voids underneath the concrete. One person assigned to the task was legally deaf, the worker said.
The lawsuit also claimed that managers tolerated sexist and racist behavior, including a noose left in a breakroom to harass an African-American employee.
A large chunk of concrete dislodged from the spillway, which may have shown evidence of improper maintenance, was disposed of before it could be inspected by experts, the suit alleges.
An independent investigation by dam-safety experts made public earlier this month blamed “long-term and systemic failures” by dam managers and regulators for the crisis.
The experts said the dam was badly built from the start in the 1960s and that its principle designer had almost no professional engineering experience.
State officials incorrectly believed both the main and emergency spillways sat on top of solid bedrock that would not erode, despite geologic reports showing otherwise, experts who said in the report.