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Photos: Meghan Markle through the years

Photos of actress Meghan Markle before she married Prince Harry and became Duchess of Sussex.

'I am ugly crying:' 5-year-old with autism says first word in McDonald's drive-thru

A 5-year-old girl in Athens, Alabama, gave her mom the surprise of a lifetime during a trip through a McDonald’s drive-thru.

>> Read more trending news 

Briana Blankenship shared the video of her daughter, Taylor, saying the word “mama” for the first time, according to WXIN.

Blankenship tells WXIN that Taylor has nonverbal autism and has never spoken until now:

“I am ugly crying in the McDonald's parking lot and the employees probably think I'm crazy. In the drive thru I suddenly heard Taylor say MAMA. 

“For those of you that don't know. Taylor is 5 and has nonverbal autism. She has NEVER said a word. EVER. 

“As soon as she said it I grabbed my phone and started recording. I'm pretty sure I held up the drive thru line but there was no way I wasn't getting proof of this. I can't explain how unbelievably grateful and ecstatic I am right now. #AutismAwareness #BigWin.”

The 5-year-old has been in speech therapy since she was 3 years old, WXIN reports. Blankenship said the next word the family hopes to hear is “dada.”

Houston Texans star J.J. Watt visits Santa Fe High School shooting victims 

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt continues to make an impact in the wake of the mass shooting at a southeastern Texas high school, KTRK reported.

>> Read more trending news

Watt visited some of the victims injured in the deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School on Monday and took photographs with them and their nurses at the hospital. He also visited several victims at their homes, KHOU reported.

A gunman opened fire Friday at the high school in Santa Fe, Texas, killing 10 and wounding 13.

Among the students Watt visited Monday was Chase Yarborough, who he visited at home; and Clay Horn, who remains in the hospital after suffering a gunshot wound.

Horn could undergo more surgery Tuesday, KTRK reported.

>> J.J. Watt offers to pay for funerals of Santa Fe victims

Last week, Watt offered to pay the funeral expenses for the people who were killed.

>> Exchange student, substitute teacher among those killed

Louisiana man charged with driving lawn mower while drunk

A south Louisiana man was arrested Saturday after sheriff’s deputies said they saw him driving a lawn mower while drunk.

Brian K. Cheramie, 59, of Cut Off, is charged with second-offense driving while intoxicated, according to the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office. He was also booked on an outstanding contempt of court warrant.

Sheriff’s Office officials reported that deputies saw Cheramie driving a lawn mower on the shoulder of the highway just after midnight Saturday morning. As they watched, he swerved into a lane of traffic and back onto the shoulder, the deputies said. 

>> Read more trending news

They pulled Cheramie over, at which point he admitted that he drank several beers before getting on the lawn mower, authorities said

Cheramie also did badly on a field sobriety test. A breath test indicated he had a blood alcohol concentration of .144 percent, well over the legal limit of .08 percent.

He was booked into the parish jail, where he remained in lieu of $2,800 bond on Tuesday.  

Photos: Hawaii Kilauea volcano eruption

Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii has erupted. More than 1,500 residents have been evacuated.

Teen takes late boyfriend’s father to senior prom

It was supposed to be the dance of a lifetime, but a Pennsylvania teen’s boyfriend passed away before prom day arrived.

Carter Brown died last month when he was heading home from college to surprise his girlfriend Kaylee Suders.  He was killed when his car crossed the centerline and was hit head-on, The Associated Press reported.

>> Read more trending news 

They had been dating for more than a year, the Centre Daily Times reported.

A month after his death, Suders was planning on skipping the formal dance. That was until Brown’s father, Robert, asked his son’s girlfriend if he could go with her, the AP reported.

“I was kind of surprised before he asked me, and it was really, really heartwarming,” Suders told the Centre Daily Times. “I didn’t have to think about it. I definitely said ‘yes.’ It was so great of him to ask me.”

Brown had to get permission from officials at James Buchanan High School to attend. On the night of the dance, Brown and Suders posed for photos, even adding a photos of Carter to some of the poses. They also went to dinner to T.G.I. Fridays, the site of Suder’s and Carter’s first date, the Centre Daily Times reported.

New York parents take 30-year-old son to court to force him to move out

A New York couple is asking the Supreme Court of New York State to step in and help get their 30-year-old son to move out of their home. 

Christina and Mark Rotondo stated through court filings that they have been trying to get their son, Michael Rotondo, to move out of their Camillus home for several months, according to WSTM.

>> Read more trending news 

As evidence, the couple included five written notices to prove they have asked their son to leave, according to The New York Post

The couple gave Michael Rotondo the first notice on Feb. 2, giving him two weeks notice to move out. About two weeks later, Michael got a second warning, stating that he is “hereby evicted,” “effective immediately.”

In a third note sent five days later, the couple offered their son $1,100 to “find a place to stay,” WSTM reports. The note also included some advice, telling him to “organize the things you need for work and to manage an apartment.” 

It also suggested that he sell any items of significant value, including weapons: “You need the money and will have no place for the stuff,” WSTM reported. The note also stated: “There are jobs available even those with a poor work history like you. Get one - you have to work!”

In the end of the note, the couple stated, “your Mother has offered to help you find a new place to live.”

The fourth message included in court filings demanded that Michael Rotondo move out by a March 15 deadline, stating, “... we have seen no indication that you are preparing to leave” and they will “take any appropriate actions necessary to make sure you leave the house as demanded.”

In a fifth message, the couple addressed the issue of Michael Rotondo’s car, which was still parked outside the residence. 

In a response filed Wednesday, Michael Rotondo stated that the five notices did not give him a reasonable amount of time to move out.

He cited as precedent a “common law requirement of a six-month notice” before forcing someone to move out. 

Michael Rotondo’s court filing also stated that he lived in the home for eight years and in that time he was never asked to help out with chores or household expenses.

Rotondo also stated that his parents didn’t give him any reason why he needed to leave and claims they are retaliating against him, WSTM reports

He has asked the court to dismiss his parent’s request.

A hearing is scheduled for May 22. 

Fans say Brandi Chastain's Hall of Fame plaque is a bust

American soccer legend Brandi Chastain is one of the most recognizable women athletes in the world. But sports fans were scratching their heads after viewing her plaque as she was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night.

>> Read more trending news

In their minds, Chastain’s bust was, well, a bust.

Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, who wrote inscription for the plaque, called the rendition “shameful” and tweeted that Chastain’s plaque makes Cristiano Ronaldo’s plaque “look perfect.”

“Brandi Chastain is one of the most beautiful athletes I’ve ever covered. How this became her plaque is a freaking embarrassment,” she tweeted.

Chastain was inducted during a ceremony at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. She has won two Olympic gold medals and two World Cup titles with the United States women’s soccer team.

Chastain was diplomatic about the plaque, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

“It’s not the most flattering,” Chastain said. “But it’s nice.”

On a lighter note, social media posters were having a field day. Some compared Chastain’s likeness to Gary Busey, Rex Ryan, Jimmy Johnson, Jerry Glanville, Peter King, Jerry Lewis, John Goodman, Bill Belichick and even Mickey Rooney. Others were comparing it to a hideous rendition of another soccer legend, Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Cristiano Ronaldo sculptor: Eh, this isn’t too bad. Brandi Chastain sculptor: Hold my chisel,” The Washington Post tweeted.

“I don’t know about Brandi Chastain, but they nailed Mickey Rooney,” Jason Davis tweeted.

There are no plans to redo the plaque, Andy Savick, the vice president of finance and administration for BASHOF told the Mercury News. He told the newspaper that images on the plaques are “representations” and not intended to be photographic likenesses. 

Chastain’s bust was on a more favorable view at the 1999 World Cup. She scored the game-winning penalty kick and celebrated by sinking to her knees, ripping off her jersey to reveal her sports bra while clenching her fists. The photograph of that moment has become an iconic moment of celebration in sports history.

There are no plans to redo the plaque, Andy Savick, the vice president of finance and administration for BASHOF told the Mercury News. He told the newspaper that images on the plaques are “representations” and not intended to be photographic likenesses. 

Chastain’s bust was on a more favorable view at the 1999 World Cup. She scored the game-winning penalty kick and celebrated by sinking to her knees, ripping off her jersey to reveal her sports bra while clenching her fists. The photograph of that moment has become an iconic moment of celebration in sports history.

Here are some other infamous renditions of athletes. How does the Chastain plaque measure up?

Hurricane season: What is the Saffir-Simpson scale; how does it work; is there a Category 6?

One was a structural engineer who thought in the ways engineers are trained to – logically and result-oriented. 

The other, a meteorologist who, at age 6, had survived one of the deadliest hurricanes to ever hit the United States, and was eager to warn others of the destructive potential of a tropical weather system. 

Together, engineer Herbert Saffir and meteorologist Robert Simpson developed a system that offered people who live in storm-prone areas a clear early warning of trouble to come. 

It’s been 45 years since the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale was unveiled, and the names of the monster storms it classifies are still referenced today – Camille, Andrew, Hugo, Mitch.

As hurricane season approaches on June 1, here’s a look at the system that ranks tropical cyclones by their potential destructive power, how it works and the men who invented it.

What is the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale?

The scale rates the potential for damage from hurricanes based on the storm’s sustained wind speed. 

Who are Saffir and Simpson?

Herbert Saffir was a structural engineer who moved to Florida to become a county engineer after graduating from Georgia Tech and serving in World War II. 

After living in South Florida for a while, Saffir became interested in the effects of hurricane-force winds on coastal structures, and in 1959 opened a structural engineering firm in Coral Gables, Florida.

He quickly became an expert on the forces that damage buildings during a storm and was asked to help develop building codes for the region.

His expertise led to an appointment to head a United Nations project looking for a way to reduce damage to low-cost buildings in hurricane-prone areas. The work he did on that project became the basis for Saffir’s scale of wind damage. 

Saffir continued to work in structural engineering until four weeks before his death at age 90 in 2007.

Robert Simpson had first-hand knowledge of hurricanes from an early age. In 1919, when he was 6, he and his family survived a massive hurricane that made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas. The family had to swim down the streets of the town to safety as the waters rose to 8 feet above street level. 

“The family had to swim — with me on my father’s back — three blocks in near hurricane force winds to safe shelter in the courthouse,” Simpson said. “A lot of what I saw frightened me, but also supplied a fascination that left me with a lifelong interest in hurricanes.”

After graduating from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and then earning a master’s degree at Emory University in Atlanta, he worked as a music teacher in Texas high schools because he could not find work as a physicist. Finally, in 1940, he was hired by the U.S. Weather Bureau as a meteorologist. Simpson worked all over the world for the Weather Bureau, with stints in New Orleans, Panama, Miami, Hawaii and Washington D.C. 

In the 1950s, he lobbied officials at the Weather  Bureau (the forerunner of the National Weather Service) to do more research into tropical systems and the effects they have on coastal areas. His arguments worked, and in 1955, he was appointed to lead the National Hurricane Research Project.

He headed up the project for four years then left to get a doctorate at the University of Chicago. In the 1960s, he was in charge of Project Stormfury, an experiment in which clouds were seeded with silver iodide in the hopes of diminishing hurricane intensity. 

In 1967, Simpson became the deputy director of the National Hurricane Center. In 1968, he was named the center’s director. He stayed at NHC until 1973.

He retired to Washington to start a weather consulting firm with his wife, Joanne.

How was the Saffir-Simpson scale developed?

The system of categories that became the National Hurricane Center’s way of conveying the strength and destructive potential of a storm did not start out as an NHC project. 

Saffir’s United Nations project work led him to creating a rating system for hurricanes that the U.N.  could use to try to match buildings with their potential risks for damage. At the time, hurricanes were classified as either “minor” or “major” storms. In 1969, Saffir came up with a rating system that included five categories using wind speed, barometric pressure, likely flooding and storm surge as determining factors.

Saffir took his work to Simpson who was the head of the NHC at the time. Simpson wanted to have a system that gave people common sense information about storms to help them make a decision about staying put or evacuating a coastal area.

Neil Frank, who seceded Simpson as NHC director, told The Washington Post Simpson was, “very sensitive to being able to communicate to the public in meaningful terminology.”

Simpson and Saffir worked together and Simpson assigned a range of wind speeds and storm surges for each category, and the Saffir-Simpson scale was born. 

The NHC released the scale to the public in 1973 and began classifying storms the following season.

The system remained as it was developed until 2009 when the NHC eliminated storm surge, pressure and potential flooding from the factors that make up the categories. Those factors, the NHC explained, did not always match up with the damage that storms can inflict. 

Another change was made in 2012 when the wind speed for a Category 4 storm was changed by 1 mph at both ends of the category. That was done because winds speeds are measured in 5-knot increments by the NHC, and the conversion to a miles-per-hour-measurement was incorrectly classifying storms as either Category 3 or Category 5.

How does the Saffir-Simpson scale work?

The scale has five categories ranging from Category 1 – with winds from 74 mph to 95 mph to a Category 5 – with sustained winds in excess of 155 mph. The National Hurricane Center uses a one-minute averaging time to establish a measure of sustained winds. In other words, the highest winds speed maintained for a full minute would be the highest sustained wind speed for a storm.

Here, from the National Hurricane Center, are the categories for the scale:

Category 1: Maximum sustained winds are at 74-95 mph. Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.

Category 2: Maximum sustained winds are at 96-110 mph. Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.

Category 3: Maximum sustained winds are at 111-129 mph. Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.

Category 4: Maximum sustained winds are at 130-156 mph. Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Category 5: Maximum sustained winds are at 157 or higher. Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Can there be a Category 6 hurricane?

With stronger storms of the past decade, some have questioned whether there should be another category for hurricanes, a Category 6 that would be made up of storms with sustained winds of 158 mph-180 mph. 

Before his death in 2014, Simpson argued that there was no need for another category since what is measured is the potential damage a hurricane’s winds can inflict on human-made structures. Simpson once told The Washington Post that "...when you get up into winds in excess of 155 mph (249 km/h) you have enough damage if that extreme wind sustains itself for as much as six seconds on a building, it's going to cause rupturing damages that are serious no matter how well it's engineered." 

In other words, winds from a Category 5 storm will be sufficient to severely damage or destroy most man-made structures.  

For more information on hurricanes, see:

>>What is a storm surge and why is it dangerous? 

>>How to use internet during a storm when your internet is down 

>>Why you should never use a generator during a storm 

>>9 weather terms you should know when preparing for a hurricane 

>>15 safety tips that could save your life during a hurricane 

>>Hurricane evacuation: Helpful apps for finding gas, hotel rooms, traffic routes 

Avril Lavigne reportedly dating Phillip Sarofim, son of Texas billionaire

Avril Lavigne has reportedly been dating Phillip Sarofim, the son of Texas billionaire Fayez Sarofim, according to E! News.

Lavigne and Sarofim have been dating for two to three months, according to an unnamed source. The rumored new relationship comes after Lavigne, 33, split from Canadian music producer J.R. Rotem.

>> Read more trending news 

ET Canada reported that the news of the reported dating comes after Lavigne and Sarofim were photographed holding hands and getting coffee together last month.

Phillip Sarofim was previously married to Lori Krohn, but it’s not clear when they split. Lori Krohn’s mother, Susan Krohn, married Fayez Sarofim in 2015.

Before dating Rotem, Lavigne was married to Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger from 2013 to 2015 and Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley from 2006 to 2010. She took a break from the public eye when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2013, but told ET Canada last month that she was read to move forward.

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