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12/17/2003
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Hot Time For Christmas?

An errant advisory on the National Weather Service's Web site Wednesday briefly reported that Earth had broken out of its orbit and is careening toward a fiery end.

For a while, it looked like Santa was going to need a tank top this year. According to an urgent advisory issued Wednesday morning by the National Weather Service, the Earth has broken out of its orbit and is careening toward a fiery end.

"Unusually hot weather has entered the region for December ... as the Earth has left its orbit and is hurtling towards the sun," read the message, posted on the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Web site. "Unusually hot weather will occur for at least the next several days as the Earth draws ever nearer to the sun. Therefore, an excessive heat watch has been posted."

But don't assume this news is going to get you out of finishing your Christmas shopping. The release, signed "Heinlein," was only a test message, erroneously posted by during a training session, according to a Weather Service spokesman. By midafternoon, the statement had been removed and a correction issued.

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