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April the Giraffe’s Labor ‘Close,' Storm Affects Live Stream


As a powerful nor’easter moved into upstate New York, the zoo live-streaming April the giraffe’s pregnancy said the long-necked beauty has undergone “significant changes” and that her labor appears to be fast approaching.

“Ladies and gentlemen — we are close,” The Animal Adventure Park wrote Monday night in a Facebook post that included a photo of April paying close attention to her backside.

The zoo said April’s “back end has become significantly larger and relaxed” and “motion and pulsing in this area” has been noted and “discharge” observed.

“Are you on the edge of your seat?” the zoo asked millions of fans who have been closely waiting for the birth of April’s fourth calf.

More than 50,000 people were watching the stream at 8 a.m. Tuesday as April chewed on some food and looked directly at the camera. 

Watch the live stream below (NOTE: weather conditions are causing intermittent disruptions).

But just as April’s pregnancy appeared to be reaching its crescendo, the live stream went offline Tuesday morning — and then it was back up again. The zoo warned that it could be on and off throughout the day.

It couldn’t be a worse time for technical problems. Keepers and vets have observed “significant changes” in April, who is “larger than ever” this week.

“We are still not confirming active labor, but will state all physical signs are heading in the right direction,” it continued.

On Sunday, the zoo posted a photo showing dark, rough-looking spots, or wax caps, decorating April's underbelly. It said the caps seal the udder to ensure there will be enough milk for the calf’s first nursing.

“Caps are shed just prior or during delivery, or can be removed by the suckle of the baby,” the zoo wrote.

April has had periods of edginess in recent weeks brought on by stretches of cold weather and her active calf, which has been busy kicking away, according to the zoo.

Nevertheless, April is in “great physical and mental condition,” and the vets who have been monitoring her say they’re pleased with her progression.

April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines late last month after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's stream following complaints by animal activists that it violated the site's policies concerning "nudity and sexual content." Thousands upon thousands of commenters voiced their frustration on Facebook and YouTube, and the stream was restored within an hour or so.

Jordan Patch, owner of the Animal Adventure Park, says the natural curiosity surrounding giraffes and their birthing process has been a huge factor in drawing crowds.

"I think the fact that she's a giraffe and she's a neat species that people are interested in, that's fostered a lot of the attention," he said. "The fact that you're gonna get to witness the miracle of birth from an animal that you really don't get to see give birth — that's neat."

He added that April's pregnancy is not just live entertainment, but a teachable moment and source for education.

Giraffe pregnancies last up to 15 months. Labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The calf, which will be the first born at Animal Adventure Park, will be about 150 pounds and 6 feet tall at birth and up and walking in about an hour.

The zoo said it will hold an online competition to name the baby giraffe once it's born.

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No Injuries Reported in Salem Rollover

American Kidnapped in Democratic Republic of Congo


An American was abducted while working as a United Nations official in central Africa, his father told NBC News on Tuesday.

Michael Sharp, 34, was among a team traveling by motorcycle through the Democratic Republic of Congo when they were kidnapped by "an unidentified militia group," according to his dad, John Sharp.

Officials confirmed Monday that the team had disappeared in the country's Kasai Central province — although it was unclear when exactly the incident took place.

Michael Sharp was abducted along with a Swedish U.N. worker named Zahida Katalan, three local drivers and a translator, Congo's government and a U.N. official told The Associated Press. 

The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa said it was aware of the reports and added that the State Department said it was monitoring the situation, the AP reported.

Photo Credit: Courtesy John Sharp

PHOTOS: DC Cherry Blossoms Left Frozen by Late-Season Storm


After days of sunny weather, a late-season snowstorm left many of the Washington, D.C., region's blooming flowers including cherry blossoms frozen in time.

Photo Credit: @FlyDTW

2 Transported After 9-Vehicle Crash on I-95 in Fairfield


Two people were taken to the hospital and one has serious injuries after an accident involving three tractor-trailers on Interstate 95 in Fairfield Tuesday morning.

Fairfield fire officials said crews responded to a nine-vehicle accident on I-95 North near exit 19 around 1:15 a.m. First responders found one vehicle stuck under a box trailer with the driver trapped inside.

Crews had to lift the trailer off the vehicle and extricated the driver, who was transported to Bridgeport Hospital with serious injuries.

A second driver, from a different tractor-trailer, was also taken to the hospital.

Neither victim was identified. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Photo Credit: Fairfield Fire Department

Manchester Firefighters Battle Garage Fire in Nor'easter


Firefighters in Manchester responded to a fire at a home on Mountain Road during the peak of the nor’easter Tuesday.

Manchester fire officials said they responded to 203 Mountain Road around 10:40 a.m. for a report of a fire in a garage with smoke spreading to the attached home.

The occupants of the home all escaped unharmed before crews arrived. Firefighters quickly knocked down a fire I the garage and ventilated the house. Fire officials said blizzard conditions were a challenge for crews on scene, but there was no serious damage and the residents were able to get back inside their home.

Police said the fire was caused by a bag of yard waste that was decomposing in a paper bag.

Rain, Sleet Keep Snow Amounts Down in Southeastern Connecticut


While most of the state is being buried in snow, snow amounts in southeastern Connecticut have been kept down, thanks to some sleet and rain.

Southern New London and Middlesex counties transitioned over to a mixture of rain and sleet late Tuesday morning while the northern areas of New London and Middlesex Counties had more of a change to sleet and snow.

Sleet is now mixing in to areas as far north as Hartford and Willimantic.

The mixed precipitation was expected to continue into early evening.

NBC Connecticut meteorologists are forecasting the mix of rain, sleet, and snow to transition back over to plain snow by the end.

We’re expecting the snow to taper off late this evening between 8 and 10 p.m.

Photo Credit: Submitted Photo

Blizzard Day Turns Into ‘Brownie Tuesday’ in Connecticut


Schools and roads are closed because of the storm and the day of the blizzard has been deemed “Brownie Tuesday” on social media after Gov. Dannel Malloy urged people to stay home and safe and suggested it’s a good day to make brownies.

During a news conference on Tuesday morning, the governor was addressing questions about the travel ban that has been in effect since 5 a.m. 

“The point is, if you don’t have to travel, don’t be on the road. That allows everyone to safely do their job,” Malloy said, meaning that Department of Transportation crews can get the roads cleat. Then he relayed what it was like to see a car slide off the road.

“Of course, there’s a Connecticut State Trooper assisting, but that person’s in danger because he’s assisting that situation and I doubt that that travel was necessary for that individual,” Malloy said. “Good day to make brownies, is my point, and/or read a book.”

It did not take long for “Brownie Tuesday” to catch on through social media. 

“Brownie Tuesday has been captured. We’re getting Facebook information about it on a regular basis,” Malloy said during his 1 p.m. news conference. “I have more pictures of brownies than I would ever have wanted to have, so it’s working,” Malloy said of the warning to stay home.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Stay Safe on Icy Sidewalks: Walk Like a Penguin


The trick to balancing on slick sidewalks is to "walk like a penguin."

Instinct tells us to do the opposite and center our weight mid-stride, which works on dry walkways.

But this tactic forces legs to split your body weight in half and rely on both feet to maintain balance — not the best idea for icy streets.

A couple years ago, Little Baby’s Ice Cream in Philadelphia's Northern Liberties neighborhood shared a simple infographic on their blog to remind everyone to think of gravity and mimic penguins. Shifting one’s weight onto the front leg keeps people – and penguins – from slipping.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention backs up the penguin waddle claim, reminding people to also spread feet slightly to fortify the center of gravity.

With sidewalks freezing over, remember to stay smart and give yourself extra time to waddle to and fro.

One more tip, keep your hands out of your pockets and wear a puffy coat…so if you do fall, at least you can catch yourself and cushion your buns.

Photo Credit: Curtis Whaley/Tablet Infographics

List of Eversource Power Outages in Connecticut

March Nor'easter Grounds Flights, Closes Schools


A powerful March nor'easter dumped more than a foot of snow in cities along the East Coast, shuttering schools, knocking out power and grounding thousands of flights from Washington, D.C., to Boston. See the photos.

Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer/AP

White House Ups Drone Strikes, Tolerates More Civilian Deaths


The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to make it easier for the CIA and the military to target terrorists with drone strikes, even if it means tolerating more civilian casualties, U.S. officials told NBC News.

The military already has declared that parts of Yemen and Somalia are war zones — "areas of active hostilities" in Pentagon parlance — which means the U.S. has greater latitude to launch strikes even if civilian deaths are possible.

That is part of a broad policy shift underway, U.S. officials say, to grant the CIA and the military more autonomy to target and kill al Qaeda and ISIS militants without presidential sign-off in countries such as Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.

"Some of the Obama administration rules were getting in the way of good strikes," said one U.S. official briefed on the matter.

Photo Credit: AP, File

Pedestrian Hit in Enfield During Blizzard

North Stonington Family Welcomes Son During Blizzard


Tuesday's blizzard brought lots of snow to Connecticut and one special delivery for a North Stonington family. 

The Hardee family welcomed their third child, Harrison Everett Hardee, at Backus Hospital at 8:29 a.m. Tuesday. 

A statement from the hospital says the hours leading up to the birth were a bit stressful for mom Lisa Hardee because her husband, Joseph, is in the Navy and currently deployed. 

“The staff was wonderful. Everyone was so accommodating,” Hardee said, according to the hospital. 

The bundle of joy, born at 7 pounds, 1 ounce, is a younger brother to 4- and 6-year-old sisters.

Photo Credit: Hartford Health Care

Yahoo's Male CEO Will Get Twice Marissa Mayer's Salary


The guy hired to run what's left of Yahoo after it imploded under Marissa Mayer will get twice her salary, according to a new filing.

The company named board member Thomas McInerney, 52, as the head of its new spinoff company, Altaba, NBC News reported.

McInerney, former CFO at IAC media company - which owns brands such as Tinder, OKCupid, and the Princeton Review - is to get $2 million base pay, the company announced in an SEC filing Monday.

Mayer will get a $23 million golden parachute, as well as around $57 million in stock options.

Photo Credit: AP

Flooding in Milford During Massive March Blizzard

GOP Congressman Tells Town Hall Attendee to 'Shut Up'


A Republican congressman from Texas is facing sharp criticism after telling one of his constituents to "shut up" during a fiery exchange at a town hall over his vote against a bill that aims to stop violence against women, NBC News reported. 

A cellphone video obtained by The Dallas Morning News captured Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) losing his composure in Frost, Texas, over the weekend after an attendee questions Barton's decision not to support legislation to combat violence against women. 

Barton responds to the question by saying, "On the first bill that I voted against, that's a true statement, and I voted against it because I think that's a state issue, not a federal issue."

The comment elicited several loud boos and taunts, including those from a man who says: "It's violence against women, that's a national issue. That is an issue that impacts everyone everywhere, not only in this country but everywhere."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

58-Year-Old Man Suffers Extensive Burns in Terryville Fire

Police ID Man, 83, Killed By Plow Outside East Hartford Home


An 83-year-old man died after being hit by a plow driver in the parking lot of his apartment building, Willow Arms Apartments in East Hartford, during the blizzard Tuesday afternoon.

The victim, Daniel Baerga, was cleaning off his van in the parking lot of the apartment complex at 446 Main St. around 3 p.m. Wednesday when a private snowplow driver backed up and hit him, according to officials.

Baerga was taken to Hartford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police have not released the man’s name.

"The fatal accident late this afternoon during the storm is a tragedy. Our thoughts are with the deceased family at this time," Mayor Marcia Leclerc said in a statement.

The private plow contractor, a 47-year-old Broad Brook man, was driving, according to police. Officials from the plow company said the driver was distraught and their prayers go out to the family.

Police are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Blowing Snow and Cold Temperatures for Wednesday's Cleanup


NBC Connecticut meteorologists are forecasting frigid temperatures throughout the day on Wednesday. 

The cleanup continues for much of Connecticut, especially the northwest corner where some locations saw two feet of snow. Click here to check out snowfall accumulations throughout the state.

There are several schools that have decided to cancel or delay classes for Wednesday. Click here to check out an up to the minute list of cancellations.

Make sure to check ahead with your carrier if you traveling in the air tomorrow. Hundreds of flights at Bradley International Airport were cancelled yesterday.

We're forecasting mostly cloudy skies Wednesday with blowing snow and temperatures well below normal. Winds will be out of the west tomorrow at 10 to 20 mph. Temperatures for inland Connecticut will only rise into the middle to upper 20s. Temperatures along the shore will also be on the chilly side with highs near 30 degrees. The average high temperature for this time of the year is 47 degrees for inland Connecticut.

The rest of the work week will remain relatively quite with partly cloudy skies Thursday and mostly sunny skies on Friday.

We're also keeping our eyes on some wintry weather for the weekend. Light snow is expected Saturday morning which will transition to rain showers by the afternoon. Another round of snow showers are expected on Sunday.

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