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Ticker: Existing home sales surge; Feds warn of salmonella outbreak tied to onions

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Oppler: Industry expert rebuts – Realtors put consumers first

Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes bounced back in September to their strongest pace since January as mortgage rates tick higher, motivating buyers to get off the sidelines.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that existing homes sales rose 7% compared with August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.29 million units. That was stronger than the 6.11 million units that economists had been expecting, according to FactSet.

Sales were down 2.3% compared with September last year, a time when home purchases surged as buyers who had held off during the early months of the pandemic returned in force.

“The increase in sales in the latest month I would attribute to mortgage rates,” said Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist. “This autumn season looks to be one of the best autumn home sales seasons in 15 years.”

While the average rate for a 30-year mortgage remains near historic lows, it has been inching higher since August, when the weekly rate averaged 2.77%, according to Freddie Mac.

Feds warn of salmonella outbreak tied to onions

A salmonella outbreak tied to onions has sickened more than 650 people in 37 states, U.S. health officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at least 129 people have been hospitalized. No one has died. Nearly all of the illnesses were reported in August and September, and the largest numbers of cases were in Texas and Oklahoma.

The outbreak has been traced to whole red, white and yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, and distributed throughout the United States by ProSource Inc., the CDC said this week.

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The best meteor shower of the year brings nightly views for over 2 weeks

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The best meteor shower of the year brings nightly views for over 2 weeks

One of the best meteor showers of the year begins this weekend, and you can catch the shooting stars at night over the next few weeks.

The Geminids meteor shower begins Friday night and will be active through Dec. 17, reaching a peak in the early hours of Dec. 14. Experts say the best time of night to catch them while they’re active is at about 2 a.m., but beware the moon washing out the fainter meteors.

According to EarthSky.org, Geminid meteors tend to be bold, white and quick. The shower is better seen in Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, originating from a rock comet called 3200 Phaethon. During the shower’s peak, between 50 to 150 meteors per hour are visible if the sky is dark.

The best places to view the spectacle are from dark-sky locations. Jackson Lake State Park, about an hour from Denver, is possibly the closest spot for Denverites, while Dinosaur National Monument and the Great Sand Dunes National Park are great sites for stargazing statewide.

Even closer to Denver, the Majestic View Nature Center in Arvada is hosting a viewing on Dec. 13 in the evening.

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Denver and much of the metro area now in extreme drought

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Denver and much of the metro area now in extreme drought

Denver alongside parts of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson and Weld counties are now all considered to be in an extreme drought, according to fresh data from the National Drought Mitigation Center.

The center, based out of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, updated Colorado’s drought map this week to indicate that much of the state sunk deeper into drought. That means increased wildfire risk and worsening conditions for pasture, cropland and livestock.

National Drought Mitigation Center

The latest data from the National Drought Mitigation Center shows worsening drought conditions across the state, especially in and around Denver.

“We can probably call it a heat wave,” Russ Schumacher, a climatologist with Colorado State University and director of the Colorado Climate Center, said. “It’s much much above normal for early December, not just in Colorado but across a big swathe of the country.”

Currently 38% of the state is in severe drought and 14.34% of the state is in extreme drought, up from 32% and 8.75%, last week, respectively, the drought map shows. The rest of the state varies between moderate drought and abnormally dry. Less than 5% of the state is not classified as in a drought, though those portions are still categorized as abnormally dry.

The worsening drought comes as Denver not only continues to set the record for how long the city has gone without its first measurable snow (the previous record was Nov. 21, 1934), ending the ninth driest November on record. Plus, the city tied its high temperatures for Dec. 1.

Higher temperatures exacerbate the already dry conditions, according to Richard Heim, a meteorologist with the National Centers for Environmental Information.

“You’re getting a lot of evaporation of moisture out of the ground,” Heim, who also authored Colorado’s latest drought statistics, said.

Aside from the more immediate risk of wildfires, the worsening drought also means Colorado’s snowpack levels are lagging further behind normal levels. Therein lies the bigger concern, Schumacher said.

“We should be building up the snowpack right now but instead we’re flat or getting worse,” he said.

Data collected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service shows that snowpack around Alamosa sits at 36% of normal levels, down 1% from last week. Snowpack around Durango decreased by the same amount and now sits at 33% of normal levels.

Snowpack further north worsened even more with levels around Ouray and Gunnison at 53% of normal, down from 61% last week. And snowpack around Aspen and Glenwood Springs is now 63% of normal, down from 72% last week.

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Honda recalls SUVs and pickups because hoods can fly open

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Honda recalls SUVs and pickups because hoods can fly open

DETROIT (AP) — Honda is recalling nearly 725,000 SUVs and pickup trucks because the hoods can open while the vehicles are moving.

The recall covers certain 2019 Passports, 2016 through 2019 Pilots and 2017 through 2020 Ridgeline pickups.

Honda says in documents posted Friday by U.S. safety regulators that the hood latch striker can become damaged and separate from the hood.

Dealers will either repair the striker or replace the hood if necessary at no cost to owners. Honda will notify owners by letter starting Jan. 17.

The worldwide total is 788,931, with just under 725,000 in the U.S.

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