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Hawaii's big island summits could get more than 2 feet of snow

Sat, 03 Dec 2016 20:43:47 GMT

The summits of Hawaii's Big Island could get more than two feet of snow, with a winter storm warning in effect through Saturday.

Yes, it snows in Hawaii, Matthew Foster, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu, said he had to explain to some surprised out-of-state callers Friday.

"Typically when we get these snow events, it does get a lot of attention," he said, adding that he explains to curious callers that the snow is falling in a small, remote area where there are mainly telescopes and scientists. "We do have very high mountains here."

Once they realize the heights of the mountains, snow in the island state makes a little more sense, said Ryan Lyman, forecast meteorologist with the Mauna Kea Weather Center. Mauna Kea is nearly 14,000 feet above sea level.

The weather service forecasts new accumulations of about a foot of snow Friday night through Saturday. An additional foot is possible Sunday. Temperatures are in the mid-20s to lower-30s.

That's a significant amount of snowfall, but not uncommon for the summits, meteorologists say.

Lyman said there has been 30 to 36 inches in recent winters.

It's enough snow to shut down operations on Mauna Kea, Lyman said. The mountain's access road is expected to remain closed until next week, he said.

The weather service doesn't keep track of what the record amounts of snowfall are on the summits. Heavy snow is often accompanied by wind, which create drifts that make it difficult to accurately measure snowfall, Lyman said.

Abundant snow on Mauna Loa's 13,677-foot summit could be seen at sunset Thursday from parts of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, said park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane.

There was heavy rain in other parts of the state Friday, with a flash flood warning in effect for Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island.

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Guns at zoos? Texas says no while struggling to tame the rules

Sat, 03 Dec 2016 19:31:06 GMT

More than a year after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made firearms, including openly holstered weapons, legal in more places in the state, disputes remain over where guns are allowed - much to the frustration of advocates on both sides of the debate.

Firearms are banned in zoos but not wildlife preserves. Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton has warned community and junior colleges to not impose blanket bans, even though children sometimes attend classes on campus. And a judge has upheld a ban on guns at the Waller County courthouse near Houston.

"We can see a mess getting created here," said Terry Holcomb, who runs a gun-rights group called Texas Carry. "Because of the opposition, particularly in the liberal cities, it's starting to become a big mess."

Texas surpassed 1 million licensed concealed carry holders this year, and those who were worried about the possibility of tighter federal restrictions must be breathing easier with the election victory of Donald Trump. But an unintended consequence of looser gun restrictions in the state has been lingering disputes and bouts of confusion.

More than 120 complaints of unlawfully banned firearms have been filed with the state since last year, according to the attorney general's office. Paxton has issued formal responses to 20 of them, including one in November that upheld the outlawing of guns at the Fort Worth Zoo.

Waller County sued Holcomb, of Texas Carry, after he complained that the county was wrongfully prohibiting guns - a lawsuit designed to have a judge to settle the question of whether the county could keep guns out of the building. Paxton then later sued Waller County, saying a ban on firearms in its courthouse was a violation of the law.

But State District Judge Albert McCaig ruled this week that the county can prohibit guns in its courthouse, which also doubles as the home to the county's administrative offices. Another Paxton lawsuit to allow gun owners openly carry in Austin's city hall is pending.

Texas has allowed licensed concealed handguns in public since 1995. But universities had been off limits until Abbott signed a law last year allowing concealed carry on public campuses.

In August, three professors at the University of Texas at Austin sued to prevent guns in their classrooms on the 50,000-student campus. They argued that the law was unconstitutional, experimental and dangerous. They lost.

Republicans will press for even more relaxation of gun laws come January, including one proposal that would eliminate the $140 cost of applying for a handgun license, which is a fee that includes $2 to counties to perform a mental health background check. Republican state Sen. Robert Nichols said under his bill he still wants to ensure that "counties have the required resources they need to conduct the required background and mental health checks."

But for now, confusion reigns for some.

"It's frustrating. I imagine there will be more confusion going forward," said Andrea Brauer, executive director of Texas Gun Sense, which pushes for gun control measures. "It's confusing to law enforcement. It's confusing to the average citizen. It's hard to discern what's a real threat and what's not."

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Virginia district temporarily pulls classic novels after complaint

Sat, 03 Dec 2016 18:15:48 GMT

ACCOMAC, Va. (AP) -- A Virginia school district is considering whether two classic books are inappropriate for students after a parent filed a formal complaint.

Local news media outlets report that an Accomack County Public Schools parent filed a complaint against the use of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" because of their use of racial slurs.

The district has temporarily suspended the use of the books while officials examine the issue. A committee that includes a principal, librarian and others will now review the books and make a recommendation to the superintendent.

WAVY-TV reports that a parent voiced concerns over the books during a school board meeting earlier this month.

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