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Kirk Mellish's Blog

    The weather system impacting us overnight and this morning continues to look impressive. The worst pushes East after reports of 2-6 inches of rain, isolated higher totals. RADAR ESTIMATED RAINFALL THROUGH 11AM FRIDAY: Flood Warnings in green and red: NAMNEST MODEL SIMULATED RADAR 2PM: 5PM: 8PM: NOON SATURDAY: Some snow is still possible in the higher elevations of the Cumberland plateau and Smokies Saturday. Behind the cold front chilly temperatures tonight and tomorrow into Sunrise Sunday. 8AM EASTER SUNDAY: My Atlanta area 5-day forecast here. 
  • The above European model simulated radar chart shows the squall line of showers and storms moving in from Alabama after midnight tonight. The threat of at least a few isolated severe storms with hail and damaging straight line winds continues early Friday morning even though the risk looks higher to our West, South and East, especially the tornado risk. The tornado risk here is low but not zero.  ECMWF 8AM FRIDAY: The QLCS squall line will move across the Metro Atlanta area during the pre-dawn hours through at least the first half of the Friday morning rush hour, if not a little longer.  The rest of the day on Good Friday could see some peeks of sun but also scattered showers and an isolated thundershower. Temperatures will be in the mid 60s to start the day but behind the cold front temperatures will be falling into the 50s late day and into the 40s at night.  An isolated light shower or drizzle possible Saturday and unseasonably cold with a high only in the 50s.  Clearing for Easter Sunday with morning temperatures of 40-44 for sunrise services but warming Sunday afternoon into the low to mid 70s with sunshine.  SPC SEVERE WEATHER RISK AREAS THURSDAY NIGHT-FRIDAY: ESTIMATED RAINFALL BETWEEN NOW AND SATURDAY MORNING: Follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB. DOWNLOAD the WSB RADIO APP here and turn on weather alerts. 
  • No weather related travel concerns locally today as you can see in the above 2pm map as the storm system to our West continues to organize. It moves East with its severe weather threat by the end of the afternoon: Keep in mind NOT ALL computer models are showing severe weather in the Metro area tonight or tomorrow, some show none or just a few isolated cells in scattered coverage. The current ESTIMATED TIMELINE is for it to start Northwest by 10pm or so, with coverage increasing between Midnight tonight and Noon tomorrow give or take a couple hours. The tornado risk looks low but not zero.  The tornado risk looks higher to the West, South and East of Atlanta.  For the Atlanta area the chance of rain is much higher than the chance of big storms.  Stay tuned for updates in case things change which is always possible.  SEVERE WEATHER RISK THURSDAY NIGHT: SEVERE WEATHER RISK FRIDAY: ESTIMATED RAINFALL BETWEEN NOW AND 8AM SATURDAY: SIMULATED RADAR 2AM FRIDAY: SIMULATED RADAR 8AM FRIDAY: SIMULATED RADAR NOON FRIDAY: SIMULATED RADAR 5PM FRIDAY: SIMULATED RADAR SATURDAY MORNING: ODDS OF AT LEAST ONE INCH OF SNOW ACCUMULATION SATURDAY: For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • A gathering storm system out West will gain strength and head East in the days ahead, just bringing us an increase in clouds today but we stay dry through the daylight hours Thursday and unseasonably warm. (Seasonably warm would be a high of 73).  The system is expected to be so strong and tightly wound that jet stream speeds approach record levels by Friday in parts of the Eastern U.S. and parts of the Smoky Mountains and adjacent areas could get accumulating snow by Saturday thanks to the “bowling ball” low pressure aloft: SEVERE WEATHER as of now looks to be worse West and Northeast of Georgia, but HEAVY RAIN and some severe weather is possible here in the Metro Atlanta area as well, with a few damaging thunderstorm wind gusts. An isolated tornado can not be ruled out as the squall line (QLCS) that forms to our West moves across Georgia roughly between midnight and 11am Friday (late Thursday night-Friday morning). As is often the case that kind of timing, if correct, lowers the extent of severe weather by arriving at a time of day when the atmosphere is a little more stable compared to when a front arrives in late afternoon or early evening when daytime heating makes an air mass more unstable. Also strong storms to our South can sap some energy from storms further North.  None-the-less the details of the severe weather threat are yet to be determined and the forecast may be adjusted when we get closer to the “event”. MODEL SIMULATED SURFACE PRESSURE AND RADAR END OF DAY THURSDAY: MODEL SIMULATED SURFACE PRESSURE AND RADAR FRIDAY MORNING: SEVERE WEATHER RISK THURSDAY-FRIDAY: ESTIMATED RAINFALL BETWEEN NOW AND END OF FRIDAY:  MODEL SIMULATED SURFACE PRESSURE AND RADAR SATURDAY: ECMWF ENSEMBLE SNOWFALL SATURDAY: Some operational model indicators point to isolated totals at higher elevations of a half foot TN/NC. ECMWF MODEL SURFACE WEATHER SATURDAY: Temperatures plunge behind this system but only briefly as we go from around 10 degrees above normal today and Thursday to about 13 degrees below normal Saturday.  Easter Sunrise services dry but chilly, however it warms up nicely Easter afternoon with a high in the low to mid 70s with sunshine.  It’s worth pointing out that the European model is much colder than my forecast for both Saturday and Sunday showing highs Saturday only in the 50s and only 60s Sunday and Monday. Something I will monitor in case other models trend in that direction.  For more Follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • The cold front that caused yesterdays severe weather is off into the Atlantic and fair weather high pressure builds in for today and tomorrow as you can see in the map above.  We are in an active weather pattern again with a new rain maker coming through every 3 or 4 days and temperatures up and down from above normal to below normal and back again. Spring! There is a chill in the air this Monday morning as long forecast, but as long expected it is in and out quickly.  It looks like we repeat the pattern such that Saturday may look and feel like today maybe into Easter Morning with a mild Easter afternoon. The next weather maker will be approaching from the West late this week.  SURFACE WEATHER MAP MID-DAY THURSDAY: SURFACE WEATHER MAP 8PM THURSDAY: It brings the next chance of SEVERE WEATHER late Thursday into early Friday: CIPS ANALOG SEVERE WEATHER GUIDANCE USING GFS ENSEMBLE: SURFACE WEATHER MAP FRIDAY 8PM: MODEL SIMULATED SATELLITE AND SURFACE PRESSURE EASTER SUNDAY 8AM: SURFACE WEATHER MAP EASTER SUNDAY 8PM: ECMWF AND GFS ENSEMBLE TEMPERATURE GUIDANCE: For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • The above is NOT the current radar it was what the radar looked like when the Tornado Watch was issued. After the squall line moves through the Metro area, ending from West to East between 11am and 3pm, SOME but not all of our models indicate a narrow broken line of isolated storms may reform by 5pm give or take a few hours. It would not surprise me to see at least some sun after the first round moves out so there will be dry hours in between for outdoor activities, but even when it’s not raining or without a storm the Southerly winds will be gusty: Follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB. Download the WSB RADIO APP here and turn-on weather alerts. 
  • It still does not look like constant rain Sunday but there will be showers and thunderstorms at times.  As you can see in the SPC outlook in the map above the Severe Weather Risk level for Metro Atlanta is 3/5. Damaging strait-line winds are the primary risk in any severe storm that forms, but an isolated tornado can not be ruled out. The system does not look as strong here as it will be today in states to our West.  The chance of rain Sunday starts by 8am, goes up after 10am give or take a couple hours, then the odds go down after 2pm give or take a couple hours, with the rain threat going away after 10pm. When new data becomes available later the forecast will be adjusted as needed. The timing and threat level can still change.  As of now it looks like rainfall amounts Sunday will average a half to one-inch. SURFACE WEATHER CHART MID-DAY SATURDAY: SURFACE WEATHER CHART PALM SUNDAY 8AM: SURFACE WEATHER CHART 8PM SUNDAY: ESTIMATED RAINFALL SATURDAY/SATURDAY NIGHT: ESTIMATED RAINFALL SUNDAY 8AM-2PM: ESTIMATED RAIN AMOUNTS BETWEEN 2PM AND 8PM SUNDAY: ESTIMATED RAIN AMOUNTS BETWEEN 8PM SUNDAY AND 2AM MONDAY: AVERAGE RAINFALL BETWEEN NOW AND MONDAY MORNING: Read previous blog posts on Palm Sunday weather if you have not already as I am not repeating info here. For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB. Download the WSB RADIO APP and turn-on weather alerts.  THE MASTERS IN AUGUSTA, GEORGIA: Looks like the highest storm threat for Masters comes at the end or just after. 
  • Severe weather is by no means a slam dunk in Atlanta on Sunday, and whether there is or not it still does not look like an all day rain.  That is not to say that I am giving any kind of “all clear” that is not the case so far.  Some of our best HIGH RESOLUTION models do not go that far out in time, so the forecast will have to be fine-tuned during the day Saturday as we get new data. At this point two of my favorite models, one global-scale (ECMWF) and one meso-scale ((NAM) give at least hints, that there may be some weakening of the system as it arrives in Georgia as often happens... like a marathon runner running out of gas at the end of a long race.  There are indications that there may be two rounds of scattered showers and thunderstorms one in the morning, take a break for multiple hours, followed by a second by the end of the day.  Again none of this is certain as this is based only on those two models out of dozens. I should be able to refine the forecast with greater details and better confidence when we get more data Saturday and the timeframe enters the realm of the higher resolution models and CAM models (Convection allowing models) convection refers to thunderstorms.  For now, the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) specialists at National NOAA\NWS maintain the severe weather risk here as shown in the previous blog post. SIMULATED RADAR ECMWF MODEL 8AM SUNDAY:  SIMULATED RADAR NAM MODEL 8AM SUNDAY: Stay tuned for updates and Follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB. Download the WSB RADIO APP  and turn on severe weather alerts.  THE MASTERS IN AUGUSTA:
  • A weak front in the area today brings more clouds than rain despite a few hit and miss showers.  The same story for Saturday which looks more dry than wet despite a chance of an isolated shower or thundershower mainly the first half of the day. Then a strong weather system moves through the area Sunday bringing a chance of heavy rain and a risk of thunderstorms with damaging winds, hail and lightning. An isolated tornado can not be ruled out, however at least as of this writing the risk looks higher in adjacent states.  Even though it main not rain constantly Sunday the probability of showers and storms is high.  Make sure you understand the difference between a WATCH (be on alert, be prepared) and a WARNING (take cover now). Check back for updates on the changing weekend weather, listen for my updates on WSB radio including across all digital platforms.  ESTIMATED RAINFALL FRIDAY: ESTIMATED RAIN SATURDAY: ESTIMATED RAINFALL SUNDAY: ESTIMATED 3-DAY RAINFALL TOTALS ENDING BY MONDAY MORNING: SEVERE WEATHER RISK SUNDAY (3/5): SPC DISCUSSION: THE MASTERS IN AUGUSTA: TODAY-SATURDAY SUNDAY: Follow me on Twitter for more @MellishMeterWSB.
  • The ABOVE surface weather chart for today shows the news-making winter storm up North, while we enjoy another nice warm day.  A weak “wedge” front (BELOW) brings a chance of a few light showers tonight but no big deal: SURFACE WEATHER CHART TONIGHT: The front from the Northern blizzard approaches Georgia Friday and Saturday but stalls, while a new storm system forms in Texas: SURFACE WEATHER CHART FRIDAY MORNING: SURFACE WEATHER CHART SATURDAY: Despite a few scattered showers or thundershowers in the area Friday and Saturday there will be plenty of dry areas and dry hours, in fact for now at least, both days look to be more dry than wet when you add it all up. PALM SUNDAY that new storm low pressure system (technical term: extratropical mid-latitude cyclone) out of Texas heads Northeast sending a strong cold front our way with showers and storms Sunday including a risk of severe weather: SURFACE WEATHER CHARTS AND MODEL SIMULATED SATELLITE SUNDAY: SUNDAY SEVERE WEATHER RISK: ESTIMATED RAINFALL BETWEEN NOW AND MONDAY 8AM: The cold front pushes East and South of us on Monday with a clearing trend as fair weather High Pressure builds in from the West: MODEL SIMULATED SATELLITE MONDAY MORNING: MODEL SIMULATED SATELLITE MONDAY AFTERNOON: GFS ENSEMBLE TEMPERATURE GUIDANCE: For more Follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB. 

News

  • A California girl managed to avoid a man following her in a car as she walked through a Vacaville neighborhood by hiding behind a parked truck. >> Read more trending news  Home surveillance video captured the incident, which happened earlier this month, and shows the girl being followed by a dark colored Pontiac driven by an adult man. The girl is clearly trying to avoid the man as he repeatedly turns around and tries to approach her. Vacaville police Capt. Matt Lydon said when the girl first noticed she was being followed, she walked to a different neighborhood and the driver followed.  Trending: Children find their lost puppy hanging from noose in woods behind home “As she walked into the adjacent neighborhood, she saw the Pontiac again,” Lydon said, according to KRON-TV. “She hid behind a parked truck on the street as the male went up and down the street a couple of times attempting to get her attention and attempting to have a conversation with her.” The video shows the girl hide behind the truck as the car repeatedly drives by, backs up and stops as the driver tries to engage in a conversation with her. >> Trending: Opossum found living in 7-year-old’s bedroom for 3 days before parents find it  When the car appears to drive off, the girl takes off running. Police are hoping someone may be able to help identify the driver and the car.
  • Nine explosions hit multiple churches, hotels and other locations in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 300 people and injuring hundreds more, according to The Associated Press and other media outlets. >> Read more trending news  The victims included at least four Americans, State Department officials said Monday. Here are the latest updates:  Update 11:30 p.m. EDT April 23: Police said the death toll in the Easter attacks has risen to 359 and more suspects have been arrested. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara also said Wednesday morning that 18 suspects were arrested overnight, raising the total detained to 58. The prime minister warned on Tuesday that several suspects armed with explosives were still at large. Update 1 p.m. EDT April 23: Sunday’s bombings claimed the lives of 45 children, officials with the United Nation’s Children’s Fund said Tuesday in a statement. “Many children have lost one or both parents, and countless children have witnessed shocking and senseless violence,” UNICEF officials said. More than 320 people were killed and 500 injured in the bombings. Update 7:11 a.m. EDT April 23: The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the deadly Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, the Guardian and the Washington Post are reporting. The group, which has lost all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, has made a series of unsupported claims of responsibility. Update 5:55 a.m. EDT April 23: Sri Lankan officials said the death toll from Sunday’s bombings has risen to 321, the Guardian and the Washington Post reported Tuesday. The news came as Sri Lankan Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene said the attacks were “carried out in retaliation” for the deadly mosque shootings in New Zealand last month, according to The Associated Press. So far, at least 40 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, authorities said. Meanwhile, the country observed a day of mourning, including a three-minute moment of silence Tuesday morning. Mass burials also were held in Negombo, the Guardian reported. Officials have declared a state of emergency in Sri Lanka, giving military officials “enhanced war-time powers,” the AP reported. Authorities also are facing criticism amid reports that a top police official sent a letter April 11 to four security agencies warning that terror group National Towheed Jamaar was planning suicide bombings at churches, the AP reported. Update 9:45 p.m. EDT April 22: Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, issued a statement in response to the bombings.  “Today as a nation we mourn the senseless loss of innocent lives this past Easter Sunday. I would like to thank the military and police forces, the medical personnel and all those who have worked bravely and tirelessly without concern for their own safety, to ensure the safety and security of our citizens. It is imperative  that we remain unified as Sri Lankans in the face of this unspeakable tragedy.” A three-minute moment of silence for the victims of the explosions will be held at 8:30 a.m. local time, according to BBC reporter Azzam Ameen. Update 8 p.m. EDT April 22: The two Australians who officials said had been killed in the explosions have been identified by a family member. Sudesh Kolonne told Australian Broadcasting Corp. his wife, Manik Suriaaratchi, and their 1-year-old daughter Alexendria were killed in an attack in Negombo, which is north of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo. Kolonne said he was outside when the explosion happened. “I heard a huge noise and I jumped into the church and I saw that my wife and my daughter were on the floor,” he said. “I just saw my daughter on the floor and I tried to lift her up, (but) she was already dead. And (then) exactly the same… next my wife is there.” Kolonne said he and his family moved from Melbourne to Sri Lanka in 2014 when his wife started a consultancy business.  “I don’t know what to do,” he said. “We used to go to that church every Sunday. We never expected this.” Update 4:50 p.m. EDT April 22: A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed to The AP that the agency is providing assistance with the investigation into the bombings. She would not provide specifics. Update 3:50 p.m. EDT April 22: In an email to parents, officials at Sidwell Friends, a private school in the Washington-area, confirmed one of their students was killed in Sunday’s bombings, The Washington Post reported. School officials identified the student as Kieran Shafritz de Zoysa, a fifth-grade boy who had been on leave in Sri Lanka for the last year, according to the Post. “Kieran was passionate about learning, he adored his friends, and he was incredibly excited about returning to Sidwell Friends this coming school year,” school officials said in the letter. “We are beyond sorry not to get the opportunity to welcome Kieran to the Middle School.” State Department officials said earlier Monday that at least four Americans were among the nearly 300 people killed in Sunday’s attacks. Officials with the English education management company Pearson confirmed that one of the company’s Denver-based employees had also been killed in the bombings. Update 3 p.m. EDT April 22: Officials with the U.S. State Department confirmed Monday that at least four Americans were among the nearly 300 people killed in Sunday’s bombings in Sri Lanka. The department said that in addition to those killed, several others were seriously injured. Officials gave no details about the identities of the victims, citing privacy concerns. Earlier Monday, officials with the English education management company Pearson confirmed that one of the company’s Denver-based employees had been killed in the bombings. Pearson CEO John Fallon said Dieter Kowalski died shortly after arriving at his hotel in Sri Lanka for a business trip. Update 2:10 p.m. EDT April 22: President Donald Trump said he spoke Monday to Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe after a series of bomb attacks in the country. In a tweet, Trump said he told Wickremesinghe “the United States stands by him and his country in the fight against terrorism.” “(I) also expressed condolences on behalf of myself and the People of the United States,” Trump wrote. Earlier Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo vowed the government would provide “all possible assistance” to help in the investigation. Update 1:50 p.m. EDT April 22: Sri Lankan President Maithrpala Sirisena declared April 23 a national day of mourning in a statement obtained Monday by The Associated Press. In the statement, Sirisena said he planned to meet with foreign diplomats to seek international assistance. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier Monday that the U.S. would provide “all possible assistance” to help in the investigation. Officials said nearly 40 foreign tourists from 11 countries were killed in Sunday’s attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.  Update 11:20 a.m. EDT April 22: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday mourned the victims of Sunday’s bomb attacks in Sri Lanka and promised the government would provide “all possible assistance” to Americans and Sri Lankans alike. Related: Sri Lanka attacks: Who are the National Thowheed Jamath? “We urge that any evil-doers be brought to justice expeditiously and America is prepared to support that,” he Pompeo said. “We also stand with the millions of Sri Lankas who support the freedom of their fellow citizens to worship as they please.” Pompeo confirmed that Americans were among those killed in Sunday’s attack, though he didn’t specify the number of American victims. “It’s heartbreaking that a country which has strived so hard for peace in recent years has been targeted by these terrorists,” he said. Related: Sri Lanka attack: Danish billionaire loses three of his four children in bombings Update 9:50 am. EDT April 22: A Denver man has been identified as one of the nearly 300 people killed Sunday in bombings in Sri Lanka, his employer confirmed Monday. Dieter Kowalski worked as senior leader of the operation technical services team for Pearson, an education management company. Though the company is based in England, Kowalski worked in Pearson’s Denver office, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.  “Colleagues who knew Dieter well talk about how much fun he was to be around, how big-hearted and full-spirited he was,” Pearson CEO John Fallon said in a statement shared with company employees and posted Monday on LinkedIn. “They tell of a man to whom we could give our ugliest and most challenging of engineering problems, knowing full well that he would jump straight in and help us figure it out. Dieter, they tell me, was never happier than cheer-leading for our customers and our company and inspiring people in the best way he knew how – by helping them to fix things and doing it with joy, happiness and grace.” Fallon said Kowalski died shortly after arriving at his hotel Sunday for a business trip. Update 7:55 a.m. EDT April 22: Three children of Anders Holch Povlsen, who owns Bestseller clothing, were killed in Sunday’s attacks, The Associated Press is reporting. The 46-year-old Danish billionaire, who is also the largest shareholder in ASOS, and his family were on vacation in Sri Lanka, the AP reported. Authorities said 39 foreigners were among the 290 people killed in Sunday’s attacks.  Meanwhile, a vehicle parked near St. Anthony’s Shrine, one of the churches that was bombed Sunday, exploded Monday as police tried to defuse three bombs inside, according to the AP. At least 87 bomb detonators have been found in Colombo, officials said. Police have detained at least 24 suspects in connection with Sunday’s bombings. Update 5:15 a.m. EDT April 22:  Government officials said the National Thowheed, a Sri Lankan militant group, was responsible for Sunday’s deadly attacks, the Guardian is reporting. However, a government spokesman said an “international network” helped the attackers. Seven suicide bombers caused six of the nine explosions Sunday, a forensic analyst told The Associated Press. Authorities also said a second Chinese citizen and two Australian citizens were among those killed in Sunday’s attacks. So far, the dead include citizens of the United States, India, Britain, China, Australia, Japan and Portugal, the AP reported. Meanwhile, a Sri Lanka military official said crews defused a homemade pipe bomb discovered late Sunday on a road to the airport outside Colombo, the AP reported. Update 12:10 a.m. EDT April 22: The death toll in the bombings has increased to 290 and more than 500 people have been wounded, according to police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara. Among those killed are five Indians, who were identified in tweets from India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka, The AP reported. China and Portugal also said they lost citizens, and the U.S. said “several” Americans were also killed in the bombings. The AP reported Sri Lankan officials said they would examine reports that intelligence failed to heed or detect warnings of a possible suicide attack.  “Some intelligence officers were aware of this incidence,” Telecommunications Minister Harin Fernando said in a tweet, according to The AP. “Therefore there was a delay in action. Serious action needs to be taken as to why this warning was ignored.”  Update 9:50 p.m. EDT April 21: Japan has confirmed at least one citizen death and four injuries from the bombings. The country has issued a safety warning to Japanese people in the country, telling them to avoid mosques, churches and public places like clubs, malls and government offices, The AP reported. Foreign Minister Taro Kono expressed solidarity with Sri Lanka and sent his condolences to victims of the explosions. He also said Japan was committed to “combating terrorism.” Update 5:40 p.m. EDT April 21: The Associated Press reported that, according to internet censorship monitoring group NetBlocks, social media has been blocked across the country after the attacks. Most services, including YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook have been temporarily blacked out to curb false information spread, according to Sri Lankan officials. According to NetBlocks, such blackouts are usually ineffective. Related: Sri Lanka explosions: Sri Lanka shuts down social media in wake of Easter attacks “We are aware of the government’s statement regarding the temporary blocking of social media platforms,” Facebook, which owns Instagram and WhatsApp, said in a statement to The AP. “People rely on our services to communicate with their loved ones and we are committed to maintaining our services and helping the community and the country during this tragic time.” Update 3:28 p.m. EDT April 21: Police have 13 suspects in custody, impounded a vehicle they believed was used by suspects and located a safe house used by the attackers.  Related: Photos: Easter Sunday blasts at Sri Lanka churches, hotels kill dozens No one has claimed responsibility for what Sri Lankan officials have described as a terrorist attack by religious extremists. Update 9:28 a.m. EDT April 21: Police have so far arrested three people in connection to the blasts, The Guardian reported. A motive for the bombings is still unclear, investigators said.  Update 8:46 a.m. EDT April 21: At least 207 people were killed and 450 hurt in Sunday’s attacks, The Associated Press is reporting. Officials said eight blasts targeted three churches, three hotels, a guesthouse and an area near a Dematagoda overpass, the AP reported. Authorities reportedly have arrested seven people in connection with the incidents. Update 8:07 a.m. EDT April 21: Sri Lankan officials say at least 190 people, including at least 27 foreigners and two police officers, were killed in Sunday’s attacks, The Associated Press is reporting. Seven people have been arrested in connection with the eight explosions, which rocked at least three churches and three hotels, as well as a guesthouse, officials said. Update 7:35 a.m. EDT April 21: President Donald Trump tweeted condolences to the Sri Lankan people Sunday morning. “The United States offers heartfelt condolences to the great people of Sri Lanka,” Trump tweeted. “We stand ready to help!” Update 7:19 a.m. EDT April 21: Hours after explosions at Sri Lankan churches and hotels left dozens dead and hundreds more injured, Pope Francis prayed for the victims during his annual Easter message at the Vatican. Related: Sri Lanka explosions: Pope denounces attacks during Easter blessing “I wish to express my heartfelt closeness to the Christian community (of Sri Lanka), wounded as it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” Francis told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, according to Vatican News. He later added: “I entrust to the Lord all those who have tragically perished, and I pray for the injured and all those who suffer as a result of this tragic event.” Every year after leading Easter Mass, the pope delivers an “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”) message, which addresses global issues and conflicts. Update 5:32 a.m. EDT April 21: Two more blasts have been reported in Sri Lanka. A seventh explosion hit a hotel in Dehiwala, and an eighth blast was reported in the capital, Agence France-Presse is reporting. Update 4:20 a.m. EDT April 21: At least 156 people were killed in blasts at three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka, Agence France-Presse is reporting. The dead include 35 foreigners, officials said. Update 3:34 a.m. EDT April 21: At least 137 people were killed in blasts at three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka, Agence France-Presse is reporting. The dead include 45 people in Colombo, 67 in Negombo and 25 in Batticaloa, officials said. At least nine of the people killed were foreigners, the news agency reported. More than 500 people were hurt in the explosions, according to The Associated Press. Original report:  Explosions hit three churches and three hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing dozens of people and injuring nearly 300 more, news outlets are reporting. According to The Associated Press, blasts occurred Sunday morning at St. Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo and a church in Batticaloa. Explosions also rocked the Kingsbury, Cinnamon Grand and Shangri La hotels in Colombo, the BBC reported. The Agence France-Presse news agency said 52 people died in the blasts. At least 283 people were taken to the hospital, the AP reported. Suicide bombers may have caused at least two of the church blasts, a security official told the AP.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Britney Spears appeared on Instagram on Tuesday evening to tell her fans that “all is well.” >> Read more trending news In the very brief Instagram video, Spears checked in, saying she “just needed time to deal,” but promised that she would be back very soon. “I wanted to say hi, because things that are being said have just gotten out of control!!! Wow!!! There’s rumors, death threats to my family and my team, and just so many things crazy things being said. I am trying to take a moment for myself, but everything that’s happening is just making it harder for me. Don’t believe everything you read and hear. These fake emails everywhere were crafted by Sam Lutfi years ago... I did not write them. He was pretending to be me and communicating with my team with a fake email address. My situation is unique, but I promise I’m doing what’s best at this moment 🌸🌸🌸 You may not know this about me, but I am strong, and stand up for what I want! Your love and dedication is amazing, but what I need right now is a little bit of privacy to deal with all the hard things that life is throwing my way. If you could do that, I would be forever grateful. Love you” Earlier this month, Spears checked herself into a mental health facility as her father, Jamie Spears, continues to have health issues, according to TMZ. The celebrity news site reported that, according to unnamed sources, the singer has been distressed over her father’s illness, which the site claims is not getting better. In January, Spears announced that she was putting her planned Las Vegas residency — and the rest of her career — on hold for the sake of her father. The 37-year-old Spears has sons aged 13 and 12. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Children as old as 12, and even 13, may find themselves back in car booster seats under new legislation signed into law by Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee. >> Read more trending news  The new law updates children’s car seat regulations, requiring all children under 4 feet, 9 inches tall to ride in car booster seats.  According to House Bill 1012, children are required to sit in booster seats in vehicles “until the vehicle lap and shoulder seat belts fit properly, typically when the child is between the ages of eight and twelve years of age, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, or must be properly secured with the motor vehicle's safety belt properly adjusted and fastened around the child's body.” The new law also requires all children under 13 to ride in the back seat and requires children under 2 to ride in rear-facing car seats. “Children aged 2 to 4 can be forward-facing in a car seat until they reach the specifications for a booster seat,” according to the new law. >> Trending: Opossum found living in 7-year-old’s bedroom for 3 days before parents find it  People in violation of the law can be ticketed.
  • An Ohio 9-year-old boy performing in drag at a Lancaster bar prompted an Ohio lawmaker to introduce a bill to expand the definition of child endangerment. State Rep. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, introduced House Bill 180 to prohibit a performance in a bar where a child simulates sexual activity. The business could lose its liquor license and the parent could face misdemeanor criminal charges, if the bill becomes law. >> Read more trending news “Given our heightened focus on human trafficking and the role money plays in trafficking children, I knew I had to take action to make sure this activity does not occur again,” Schaffer said. “We can do better to protect innocent children and we must do better.” Related: Video of the boy’s performance Jacob Measley has been performing as Miss Mae Hem for several months, according to The (Toledo) Blade. His performance includes cartwheels, high kicks, splits and dancing in costume. He got interested in drag queens while watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality TV show, with his mom, Jerri Measley, The Blade reported. She could not be reached for comment on this story. Video of a Dec. 1, 2018 performance at JD Hendersons bar in Lancaster led to complaints and an investigation by Lancaster police and state agencies, said Lancaster Mayor David Scheffler. No law violations were found, he said. After the investigations ended, a “social media outbreak” occurred when a website purporting to be the city of Lancaster made it sound like it was an ongoing issue, Scheffler said. “It was all dead, gone, over. Investigation found no violations. Then someone anonymously on this site posted inaccurate information.” The posting led to threats of violence and demands to close the bar from people across the country, the mayor said. “It got really nasty.”
  • A Georgia woman has pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing her husband and four children, and stabbing a fifth child, who survived, the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office said. >> Read more trending news Isabel Martinez, 35, entered guilty pleas to five counts of murder, one count of aggravated assault and one count of cruelty to children Tuesday. Martinez's defense attorney, Don Geary, said she pleaded guilty, but mentally ill. Martinez called 911 on July 6, 2017. When paramedics arrived at her Loganville home, they found Martinez with her wrists slashed. Martinez’s husband, Martin Romero, 33, was found stabbed to death, along with 10-year-old Isabela Martinez, 2-year-old Axel Romero, 7-year-old Dacota Romero and 4-year-old Dillan Martin-Romero. Diana Romero, then age 9, was found with stab wounds, but survived. Diana Romero told a DFCS worker that Martinez began stabbing the children first; when Martin Romero tried to stop her, Martinez stabbed him, according to a DFCS report. Martinez was not crying or screaming as she killed her family members, and told Diana Romero that she was “going to the sky to see Jesus,” Diana Romero told a DFCS worker. Martinez confessed to the killings in the following hours and was arrested, according to the DA’s office. Later, she claimed a “family friend” committed the stabbings in her Loganville home, but she did not give police the name of that alleged friend.  The Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office declined to seek the death penalty in this case in part due to Martinez’s “apparent mental issues,” District Attorney Danny Porter said in 2018. Family and neighbors said Martinez was depressed in the weeks before she killed her family. Her father had died and Martinez was unable to attend the funeral in Mexico. She worried that he would go to hell because he practiced witchcraft, her brother-in-law, Orlando Romero, told the AJC. She told a Department of Family and Child services worker after her arrest that she felt a “devil-like spirit” was trying to take her children when they were playing in the ocean near Savannah shortly before the killings.  Martinez was sentenced to five life sentences with the possibility of parole plus 21 years after entering her plea Tuesday, according to the DA’s office.