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RAPID CITY, SD

Rural weather stations provide timely data

From temperature to topsoil, it's important for farmers and ranchers to keep a weather eye on the weather. The South Dakota State University Extension has created and operates mesonets, rural weather stations. Mesonets are high-frequency, high-density weather networks.

Many weather stations, including the National Weather Service's, are located in more populated areas with the data being updated hourly. However, farmers and ranchers in rural areas often need more data types, and need them more frequently.

The 26 mesonet stations in South Dakota, are updated every 10 minutes and have radar. The station provides data like soil temperature, wind conditions and how much water a crop is using every day. The data is also useful for climatologists who monitor drought conditions.

COLUMBUS, OH

Biologists battle feral pig impact

Wildlife biologists are fighting what they call the "ecological train wreck" of wild pigs running amok in Ohio fields and forests.

Officials say the non-native, invasive species members are nuisance animals that hurt native wildlife and the environment, trample crop fields and carry disease. The pigs are so unwanted that federal and state wildlife officials are working to completely eradicate them in Ohio and the rest of the country.

Officials encourage the hunting of feral swine, which is permitted year-round without limits on private and public lands.

Wild pigs compete for food such as acorns with native wildlife including deer, turkeys and squirrels. Pigs' habit of gobbling up acorns also hurts forest-recovery efforts at the Wayne that encourage the growth of oak and hickory trees.

The eggs of ground-nesting birds such as turkeys, grouse and waterfowl aren't safe, and the swine can even eat the young of large mammals such as deer and cattle.

Ohio's swine population of fewer than 2,000 is concentrated in southern and southeastern Ohio. Nationally, an estimated 6 million feral swine have been reported in at least 35 states. Escaped pigs from farms and hunting preserves have sustained the population by mating with the feral swine.

HOMER, Ill. (AP)

Weather Service: Tornado damages central Illinois farmhouse

The National Weather Service says a tornado has touched down in central Illinois, damaging a home in a rural area.

Meteorologist James Auten with the Weather Service's Lincoln office says weather spotters confirmed that a tornado touched down Friday night just south of the town of Homer, about 15 miles south of Champaign.

He says a farmhouse sustained significant damage but there were no injuries immediately reported.

Auten says that tornado was on the ground for about 17 minutes in Champaign County, touching down first near the town of Broadlands before moving south of Homer.

He says the same storm produced another tornado in adjacent Vermilion County and possibly another tornado near the town of Catlin.

Auten says the storms that produced those tornadoes later pushed into western Indiana.

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