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    Updated 6:30 p.m. ET, Sept. 15, 2013

    A group of trailers are smashed together at a storage site near Greeley, Colo., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013, as debris-filled rivers flooded into towns and farms miles from the Rockies. (AP Photo/John Wark)

    LYONS, Colorado (AP) - The search for people stranded from the Rocky Mountain foothills to the plains of northeastern Colorado grew more difficult Sunday, with a new wave of rain hampering airlifts from the flooded areas still out of reach.

    From the mountain communities east to the plains city of Fort Morgan, numerous pockets of individuals remained cut off by the flooding. With rain impacting helicopter searches, rescuers trekked by ground up dangerous canyon roads to reach some of those homes isolated since Wednesday.

    More than 1,750 people and 300 pets have already been rescued from communities and individual homes swamped by overflowing rivers and streams. The surging waters have been deadly, with four people confirmed dead and two more missing and presumed dead after their homes were swept away.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Flash Flooding Deluges Parts of Colorado
    Colorado FloodsHundreds of people have still not been heard from, but with phone service being restored to some of the areas over the weekend, officials hoped that number would drop as they contacted more stranded people.

    The additional rain falling on ground that has been saturated by water since Wednesday created the risk of more flash flooding and mud slides, according to the National Weather Service.

    Days of rain and floods have transformed the outdoorsy mountain communities in Colorado's Rocky Mountain foothills from a paradise for backpackers and nature lovers into a disaster area with little in the way of supplies or services. Roadways have crumbled, scenic bridges are destroyed, and most shops are closed.

    In Lyons, the cars that normally clog main street have been replaced by military supply trucks. Restaurateurs and grocers in Lyons were distributing food to their neighbors as others arrived in groups carrying supplies.

    Chris Rodes, one of Lyon's newest residents, said the change is so drastic that he is considering moving away just two weeks after settling there.

    "It's not the same," Rodes said. "All these beautiful places, it's just brown mud."

    In Estes Park, some 20 miles from Lyons, hundreds of homes and cabins were empty in the town that is a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. High water still covered several low-lying streets. Where the river had receded, it had left behind up to a foot of mud.

    Estes Park town administrator Frank Lancaster said visitors who would normally flock there during the golden September days should stay away for at least a month, but it could take a year or longer for many of the mountain roadways to be repaired.

    Meanwhile, people were still trapped, the nearby hamlet of Glen Haven has been "destroyed" and the continuing rain threatened a new round of flooding, he said.

    "We are all crossing our fingers and praying" Lancaster said. Ironically, the massive Estes Ark - a three-story former toy store designed to look like Noah's Ark - was high and dry.

    "I don't know if it's open anymore, but soon it's going to be our only way out," joked Carly Blankfein.

    Supplies of gas and groceries had been running low until Route 7 was recently reopened. On Sunday, people were lined up at the one gas station where a tanker had arrived.

    At the town's historic Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for Stephen King's horror story "The Shining," clerk Renee Maher said the hotel was nearly empty. Though it sits on a hill overlooking town, the ground was so saturated that water was seeping in through the foundation, and had caused one suite's bathtub to pop out "like a keg," Maher said.

    Despite the mess, some people staying in town turned out for the Stanley's nightly ghost tours.

    "They said they came because they had nothing to do," Maher said.

    In Boulder, often called America's fittest town, Mayor Matt Appelbaum warned people to stay out of the wide-open spaces that ring the city.

    "I know that people are eager to get out there again, but it's truly unsafe." he said. "Places that I've known and loved for 30 years are gone."

    Boulder remained a refuge for evacuees from the more isolated mountain towns. These refugees filled a church, a YMCA and a high school and crashed on couches around town. Meanwhile, water continued to back up in some parts of town and a water treatment plant remained down Sunday.

    But the town was bouncing back. Libraries and recreation centers have reopened. Students are again spilling out of cutesy restaurants on Pearl Street, and classes at the University of Colorado are expected to resume Monday.

    Meanwhile, in the neighboring state of New Mexico, another round of rain moved across the state on Sunday, renewing the threat of heavy runoff from already saturated soils and flooding in low areas as residents faced a major cleanup effort from damage left in the wake of days of relentless rain.

    The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for much of central and northern New Mexico. The flooding killed at least one person - a man who died after his car was submerged when his car was washed into a ravine and carried nearly a mile from the road.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Dramatic Flooding in Colorado
    Colorado Floods


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    Updated: 7:30 p.m. ET, Sept. 15, 2013

    Rain water pours into the beach due to heavy rains caused by Tropical Storm Manuel in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, Mexico, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez)

    ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) - Tropical Storm Manuel edged onto Mexico's Pacific coast Sunday while Hurricane Ingrid swirled offshore on the other side of the country, as heavy rains and landslides caused at least 13 deaths and led authorities to evacuate thousands.

    Stormy conditions led some communities in affected states to cancel Independence Day celebrations planned for Sunday and Monday.

    The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Manuel began to weaken as soon as it made landfall near the port of Manzanillo during the afternoon, but remained a threat to produce flash floods and mudslides. It was predicted to dissipate by Monday.

    In the southern coastal state of Guerrero, six people died when their SUV lost control on a rain-swept highway headed for the tourist resort of Acapulco. Landslides killed two people in Guerrero, and the collapse of a fence killed one person in Acapulco.

    Manuel had maximum sustained winds of about 45 mph and was moving to the northwest at 9 mph late Sunday afternoon. Its center was about 15 miles north of Manzanillo.

    Rains from Ingrid caused landslides that killed three people in the central state of Puebla, and a woman died when a landslide buried her house in Hidalgo state.

    The hurricane center said Ingrid, the second hurricane of the Atlantic storm season, could reach the Mexican mainland early Monday after gathering strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It was packing top sustained winds of 85 mph as it slowly crawled toward land with little change in strength in hours.

    Manuel was expected to dump 10 to 15 inches of rain over parts of Guerrero and Michoacan state, with maximums of 25 inches possible in some isolated areas. Authorities said those rains would present an especially dangerous threat in mountains, where flash floods and mudslides were possible.

    Ingrid also was expected to dump very heavy rains. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and was centered about 110 miles east-northwest of the port city of Tampico as it moved west-northwest at 6 mph. A hurricane warning was in effect from Cabo Rojo to La Pesca.

    In Tamaulipas state to the north, where Ingrid was expected to come ashore, the government said in a statement that Independence Day festivities were cancelled in the cities of Tampico, Madero and Altamira. The Sept. 15 and 16 celebrations commemorate Mexico's battle of independence from Spain.

    Officials in the Gulf state of Veracruz began evacuating coastal residents Friday night, and civil protection authorities said that more than 6,600 people had been moved to shelters or the homes of family and friends.

    More than 1,000 homes in Veracruz state had been affected by the storm to varying degrees, and 20 highways and 12 bridges had damage, the state's civil protection authority said. A bridge collapsed near the northern Veracruz city of Misantla on Friday, cutting off the area from the state capital, Xalapa.

    A week ago, 13 people died in the state when a landslide buried their homes in heavy rains spawned by Tropical Depression Fernand.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos


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    Sept. 15, 2013

    This image taken July 20, 1969, from NASA's Apollo 11 lunar landing mission shows the Earth rising over the moon. The image was among NASA's first posts on the social photo-sharing service Instagram. (NASA)

    Space fans, rejoice! NASA is extending its social media reach by launching a new Instagram account, giving people the chance to share out-of-this-world photos on the go, according to agency officials.

    "We're constantly looking to expand our social media portfolio to include tools that will best tell NASA's story of exploration and discovery," NASA spokesperson Lauren Worley said in a statement.

    Instagram, the popular photo- and video-sharing social network service will provide more opportunities for NASA to connect with its fans.

    "Instagram has a passionate following of users who are hungry for new and exciting photos," Worley said. "We believe we have some of the most engaging images on and off the planet -- and we can't wait to engage with instagrammers."

    The new NASA account will feature space photos and videos to promote aeronautics, astrophysics, Earth science, human spaceflight and more, agency officials said.

    The space agency's first posts shared glimpses of the launch preparations for the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) probe, which streaked into space in a dazzling night launch on Friday (Sept. 6) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va.

    To highlight the lunar mission, NASA officials will post historic moon images and real-time photos from the Wallops Island launch complex before and during LADEE's liftoff. Visit NASA's Instagram account to follow along:

    The robotic LADEE satellite is designed to orbit the moon, collecting detailed information about the structure and composition of the lunar atmosphere.

    Follow Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on

    Copyright 2013, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    SEE ON SKYE: 21 Awe-Inspiring Spacewalk Photos


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    Sept. 15, 2013

    La Union residents look on in disbelief at what was once San Antonio Street before flood waters demolished the entire roadway, leaving many residents in La Union, N.M. stranded in their homes, Friday, Sept. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/The Las Cruces Sun-News, Shari Vialpando-Hill)

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Flood waters broke through dams, inundated neighborhoods and killed at least one person, leaving New Mexico residents with a major cleanup effort.

    The massive flooding prompted Gov. Susana Martinez to issue a state of emergency, opening up recovery funding after rivers overflowed because of heavy rains and caused millions of dollars in damage.

    State Police Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said the body of a man was found Saturday in his partially submerged vehicle next to State Road 51 in Ash Canyon, about 150 miles from Albuquerque. Investigators believe the man died after his vehicle washed into a ravine covered in mud near the Elephant Butte dam and was washed nearly a miles off roadway, probably Friday during the flooding, Gutierrez said.

    The man's name was not released.

    Officials said heavy rain on Friday caused the Rio Grande and nearby creeks to overflow in Sierra County - where the man was found - and forced an unknown number of residents to evacuate. The flooding also ruptured an earthen canal in Las Vegas and an aging earthen dam in southern New Mexico.

    The canal east of Bradner Dam near the village of Los Vigiles gave in late Thursday or early Friday, which caused flooding in the city of Las Vegas and wreaked havoc throughout San Miguel County, officials said.

    Las Vegas Mayor Alfonso Ortiz said repairs could take days, if not longer.

    In addition, three of the four major bridges in Las Vegas - Bridge Street Bridge, Independence Street Bridge and the Mills Avenue Bridge - were closed at some point Friday. All but Bridge Street later reopened.

    "It is widespread and throughout the county," Leger said of the flooding. "We're telling people to stay away from water courses. If you're safe where you're at, stay there. If you're home, and you're safe, stay there."

    More than two dozen homes on the Santa Clara Pueblo were ordered to evacuate. The area had been hit hard due to the Las Conchas Fire in 2011, which created a burn scar and made the canyon especially vulnerable to a flood.

    "Our first objective is always life, safety. We always want to protect life, safety," Santa Clara Pueblo Sheriff Regis Chavarria said.

    In Dona Ana County, heavy rains overwhelmed an aging earthen dam outside La Union causing flooded homes, washed out roads and utility outages. County spokesman Jess Williams told the Las Cruces Sun-News that no injuries were reported and he did not know how many people were affected.

    "It's yet another wake-up call," Williams said, referring to the many earthen dams throughout the county. "They were never meant to protect residential areas."

    He estimates the La Union dam is at least 50 years old and 20 years beyond its lifespan.

    In Albuquerque, a flood warning was canceled as water levels for Rio Grande slowed.

    Heavy rains also raised the Gila River by 15 feet in the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument area, prompting the closure of the Gila Cliff Dwellings, the Gila Visitor Center and nearby campgrounds, officials said.

    Meanwhile, the city of Carlsbad, which was in the middle of a multiple-year reconstruction project, saw close to a $1 million of damage. City Administrator Steve McCutcheon said officials weren't sure who would help with the damage, but a meeting has been set with the contractor.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Dramatic Flooding in Colorado
    Colorado Floods


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  • 09/15/13--05:37: breaking news banner
  • Death Toll Expected to Rise in Colorado Flooding. Latest here.


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    Raw: Colorado Floods Force Thousands to Flee
    In this video shot in Boulder, Colorado, you can see streets surging with storm water and homes flooded with rising waters.

    Colorado governor John Hickenlooper declares that this might be "a hundred-year flood."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Dramatic Flooding in Colorado
    Colorado Floods


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    La Union resident George Enriquez, left, and Pablo Romero of Las Cruces, N.M., survey the damage in La Union, N.M., where Thursday's massive flooding destroyed multiple roads in the small town, Friday, Sept. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/The Las Cruces Sun-News, Shari Vialpando-Hill)

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Another round of rainfall moved across New Mexico on Sunday, renewing the threat of heavy runoff from already saturated soils and flooding in low areas as residents faced a major cleanup effort from damage left in the wake of days of relentless rain.

    The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for much of central and northern New Mexico. In the northeastern corner of the state, where the chance for heavy rain was greatest, residents along the Gallinas River were warned that the waterway could swell again.

    "As long as you get the right thunderstorm right over your area, I wouldn't be surprised if more records are broken as far as one-day rainfall totals because we still have that abundant moisture in the area," said Jason Frazier, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

    For a state that has been in the grasp of an unprecedented drought, numerous records have fallen in the past week as floodwaters have broken through dams, inundating neighborhoods and leaving behind muddy swaths of debris.

    That was the case in Crownpoint, where floodwaters rushed through earlier in the week and left behind soggy carpet and other damage at Navajo Technical University. The nursing department suffered the most damage, and portable buildings have been requested so that classes can resume soon.

    The university will be closed Monday as staff returns to finish assessing the damage, university President Elmer Guy said.

    "This came all too sudden," he said. "We've had those floods before that will come through our campus, but this time it was wider and there was more water and it rose up. It was strong."

    Crews have been working since Friday to lessen pressure on a dam near the Crownpoint community. Guy said the water level has dropped about 12 feet and volunteers have been filling and stacking sandbags in key areas.

    Some areas of New Mexico received close to 10 inches of rain since the deluge started Tuesday. Parts of Albuquerque have seen more than 4 inches, marking the wettest September on record for the city.

    "A lot of locations have had more moisture for the month of September than they've had all this year or maybe even all of last year as well," Frazier said.

    The rain is helping New Mexico out of the drought, but the cost has been high. At least one person has been killed, and state officials estimate the overflowing of rivers and the runoff has caused millions of dollars in damage.

    The massive flooding prompted Gov. Susana Martinez to issue a state of emergency Friday, opening up recovery funding for roads. She toured some of the water-logged areas Saturday and told the Albuquerque Journal that she expects to make additional emergency declarations.

    "We will be able to release as much money as is necessary to rebuild infrastructure," Martinez told residents during a stop in Sierra County.

    It was along a state road in Ash Canyon in the southern New Mexico county that authorities found the body of a man in his partially submerged rental car. State Police Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said investigators believe Steven Elsley, 53, of Phoenix, died after his car was washed into a ravine and carried nearly a mile from the road.

    Officials said heavy rain caused the Rio Grande and nearby creeks to overflow in Sierra County, forcing an unknown number of residents to evacuate. The flooding also ruptured an aging earthen dam in southern New Mexico and an earthen canal in Las Vegas.

    It was raining again in Las Vegas on Sunday, and authorities were warning residents that the Gallinas River was expected to rise, reaching levels similar to those that resulted in flooding just days earlier.

    Las Vegas Police Chief Christian Montano told the Optic there were reports of some homes flooding Sunday and sandbags were being distributed.

    "We're closing down the river walk as much as possible for safety reasons," he said.

    Heavy rains raised the Gila River by 15 feet in the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument area, prompting the closure of the monument and nearby campgrounds. The National Weather Service said more would likely result in flooding along the river into Monday.

    The Catron County Sheriff's Office reported Sunday that the rain caused flooding in Glenwood, Alma and the surrounding areas. An unknown number of residents were evacuated from the Mineral Creek and White Water Creek areas, while some residents were stuck in their homes.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Historic Flooding Devastates Colorado


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    19-Year-Old Couple Dies in the Colorado Flood

    Persistent rains and devastating floodwaters have ravaged parts of Colorado in recent days. At least four people are dead and two missing. Two of the confirmed victims were 19-year-old Wesley Quinlan and Wiyanna Nelson. After their car was stopped by massive flooding, Wiyanna was swept away by the waters and Wesley jumped into the turbulent waters in an attempt to save her. The parents of the young couple met for the first time to offer each other condolences, as their friends remembered the pair.

    Some 1,500 homes have been destroyed and about 17,500 have been damaged in the historic floods, and thousands of stranded residents still await rescue. Sixteen or 17 helicopters will resume searching for trapped residents on Monday, according to officials.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Historic Flooding Devastates Colorado


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    National Weather Service staffers working the early morning shift in Sterling, Va., were treated to a stunning sight when they looked out their north-facing windows Monday, Sept. 16.

    Moving toward their office -- quickly -- was this incredible roll cloud.

    "It was a shocker," meteorologist Heather Sheffield told SKYE. "You don't really see clouds like that all that often. It went by in two minutes."

    Staffers captured this photo and posted it to their Facebook page, writing:

    An outflow boundary from the showers associated with the cold front produced a very well defined roll cloud that passed over our forecast office this morning just before 7:30 am. Here's a picture of it as it approached (moving toward the camera) ... it was moving very fast!

    Others in the area spotted the cloud and posted photos to Twitter. H/T Capital Weather Gang

    RELATED ON SKYE: 13 Clouds to See in Your Lifetime
    Lenticular Clouds


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    This photo has it all: Caribbean waters that are a thousand shades of blue, islands, swirling clouds, the curvature of the Earth and even the blackness of space. Not a bad view.

    Astronaut Karen Nyberg posted it to Twitter on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013 from the International Space Station, writing, "Southern Florida & the Bahamas. September 14."


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    Humid, summer weather didn't burst one veteran astrophotographer's cosmic bubble when he spent three nights capturing this beautiful image of NGC 7635, also known as the Bubble Nebula.

    Space photographer Terry Hancock took the photo from Down Under Observatory in Fremont, Mich. after 11 hours of exposure time on the nights of Aug. 15, 16 and 18. To capture the amazing nebula photos, Hancock used a QHY11 monochrome CCD camera, QHY Color Filter Wheel, Astronomy Technologies Astro-Tech 12" f/8 RRitchey-Chrétien astrographoptics, Paramount GT-1100S German Equatorial Mount (with MKS 4000), and image acquisition software Maxim DL5.

    "While the skies were clear, the seeing conditions were quite poor due to high humidity,"Hancock wrote in an email.

    Approximately 6 light-years wide, NGC 7635 is located roughly 7,100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cassiopeia. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers). Intense radiation and stellar winds from a nearby star created this delicate-looking bubble, which shines pink because of surrounding red, hot gas.

    Follow on Twitter @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

    Copyright 2013, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    RELATED ON SKYE: More Mind-Blowing New Images from Space


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    Updated Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 1 p.m. ET

    In this Sept. 13, 2013, file photo, cars lay mired in mud deposited by floods in Lyons, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

    DENVER (AP) - Little more than a year after Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper insisted his wildfire-ravaged state was still "open for business," he may have to throw another lifeline to the state's billion-dollar tourism industry as the world takes in the startling images of dramatic flood rescues and washed-out roads.

    The flooding has struck at the very mountains that give the state its identity and attract millions of hikers, campers and skiers. Months and possibly years of painstaking, expensive repairs lie ahead, but Colorado officials must also deal with a second problem - the risk that catastrophic damage could keep tourists away, even from places that are unharmed.

    Some tourism operators want to see a media campaign to counter the photos of raging rivers and towns ruined by muddy floodwaters.

    David Leinweber owns Angler's Covey in Colorado Springs, which caters to fly fishermen seeking prime trout. He said the images on television and social media make it look as if this year's fishing season is finished.

    "Our out-of-state business is down 15 percent. People don't realize that we still have 9,000 miles (14,500 kilometers) of fishable water and 2,000 lakes in Colorado that aren't affected," he said. "And they won't know unless we tell them."

    Thousands of tourists flock to the Front Range this time of year to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. Some come for elk mating season, when the animals clash with their antlers and make bugle-like calls. Other visitors drive the Peak to Peak Highway in the foothills west of Boulder to see fall colors.

    But right now the national park and its eastern gateway, the town of Estes Park, are off-limits.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Flash Flooding Deluges Parts of Colorado
    Colorado Floods

    Eastern approaches to both places are cut off, and many Estes Park residents are still in salvage-and-recovery mode. The town hopes it can welcome visitors in about a month, once some initial fixes are made and a smaller access road is repaired. One of the main access roads, through Big Thompson Canyon, took several years to repair after a 1976 flood that killed more than 140 people.

    "We need a little time to get back on our feet and then, as soon as possible, want people to come," town spokeswoman Kate Rusch said.

    The extent of damage to the park, visited by 3.2 million people last year, still isn't known. Trail Ridge Road, which normally carries tourist marveling at the sweeping views above the treeline, is now a supply route for trucks going to Estes Park.

    The park could reopen in stages but when depends on those access roads being repaired.

    "It's something that we don't have any control over. We'll deal with it the best we can," park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson said.

    Lily Brown, manager of the Briar Rose Bed & Breakfast in Boulder, said dozens of people canceled reservations on Thursday and Friday after they saw water from Boulder Creek running rampant through the center of town. She said her establishment only got a little water in the basement, and customers are only gradually coming back.

    She hopes the lost business returns when the water recedes, but so far, there is no end in sight.

    The good news is that skiing, the highest-profile part of Colorado's $16.7 billion tourism industry - the state's second biggest - hasn't been affected. Most of the resorts are farther to the west.

    Colorado is about to launch a national media campaign promoting itself as a ski destination. It was planned before the flooding started. The state doesn't have the budget to do advertising to respond to emergencies, but it does plan to use social media to get the word out about places people ca n still visit, as it did after the wildfires, tourism director Al White said.

    Leinweber said state officials learned valuable lessons from the wildfires about how to organize emergency response teams, quickly set up shelters and map out rescue plans. Tourism interests need their own emergency plan.

    "If state officials can have a quick-response team, why can't tourism officials have something ready to go?" he asked. "It's not like this is the first time something like this has happened."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Historic Flooding Devastates Colorado
    Colorado Floods


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    A heavy flow of water pours out of a parking lot in Estes Park, Colo., overwhelming a culvert heading under the roadway. (AP Photo/ The Denver Post, Kathryn Scott Osler)

    HYGIENE, Colo. (AP) - Weary Colorado evacuees have begun returning home after days of rain and flooding, but Monday's clearing skies and receding waters revealed only more heartbreak: toppled houses, upended vehicles and a stinking layer of muck covering everything.

    Rescuers grounded by weekend rains took advantage of the break in the weather to resume searches for people still stranded, with 21 helicopters fanning out over the mountainsides and the plains to drop supplies and airlift those who need help.

    The number of dead and missing people was difficult to pinpoint. State emergency officials reported the death toll at eight Monday, but local officials were still investigating the circumstances of two of the fatalities.

    In a Colorado Springs creek Monday, authorities recovered the body of a man but can't say yet if the death is related to recent flooding. And in Idaho Springs, an 83-year-old man died Monday afternoon when the ground he was standing on gave way and he was swept away by Clear Creek, according to the Denver Post.

    Two of the eight fatalities are women missing and presumed dead.

    The number of missing people was dropping as the state's count fell Monday from just over 1,200 to about half that. State officials hoped the overall number would continue to drop with rescuers reaching more people and phone service being restored. "You've got to remember, a lot of these folks lost cellphones, landlines, the Internet four to five days ago," Gov. John Hickenlooper said on NBC's "Today" show. "I am very hopeful that the vast majority of these people are safe and sound."

    Residents of Hygiene returned to their small community east of the foothills to find mud blanketing roads, garages, even the tops of fence posts. The raging St. Vrain River they fled three days earlier had left trucks in ditches and carried items as far as 2 miles downstream.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Flash Flooding Deluges Parts of Colorado
    Colorado Floods"My own slice of heaven, and it's gone," Bill Marquedt said after finding his home destroyed.

    Residents immediately set to sweeping, shoveling and rinsing, but the task of rebuilding seemed overwhelming to some.

    "What now? We don't even know where to start," said Genevieve Marquez. "It's not even like a day by day or a month thing.

    "I want to think that far ahead but it's a minute by minute thing at this point. And, I guess now it's just help everyone out and try to get our lives back," she added.

    The town of Lyons was almost completely abandoned. Emergency crews gave the few remaining residents, mostly wandering Main Street looking for status updates, a final warning to leave Sunday.

    Most of the town's trailer parks were completely destroyed. One angry man was throwing his possessions one by one into the river rushing along one side of his trailer on Sunday, watching the brown water carry them away while drinking a beer.

    Helicopters had evacuated more than 100 stranded residents in Larimer County by midafternoon Monday, said Chuck Russell, a spokesman for the federal incident command helping with the response.

    Russell said he expected that helicopter crews would evacuate a total of up to 400 by the end of the day and perhaps twice that number on Tuesday.

    Once the evacuations are complete, officials said it could take weeks or even months to search through flood-ravaged areas looking for people who died.

    In the mountain towns, major roads were washed away or covered by mud and rock slides. Hamlets like Glen Haven were reduced to debris and key infrastructure like gas lines and sewers systems were destroyed.

    Hundreds of homes around Estes Park, next to Rocky Mountain National Park, could be unreachable and uninhabitable for up to a year, town administrator Frank Lancaster said.

    State emergency officials offered a first glimpse at the scope of the damage, with counties reporting about 19,000 homes either damaged or destroyed.

    Those preliminary figures are certain to change as the waters continue to recede and roads are cleared to allow crews to access more areas.

    Searchers in the air and on the ground scoured isolated areas from the foothills east to homes and communities along waterways downstream.

    Cole Cannon, a volunteer firefighter with the Indian Peaks Fire Protection District, said he encountered mud, rocks, slides and fallen trees rode as he rode an all-terrain vehicle down Lefthand Canyon to the town of Rowena.

    Numerous houses had been destroyed, and he didn't know whether the residents had escaped or would be found dead.

    Hickenlooper said later at a news conference that many of the bridges, culverts and roadways that were damaged and destroyed were built a long time ago, and with federal assistance, the state could come away with a stronger infrastructure.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Historic Flooding Devastates Colorado
    Colorado Floods


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    Giglio Joyful as Wreck Rights

    GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy (AP) - Engineers declared success on Tuesday as the Costa Concordia cruise ship was pulled completely upright during an unprecedented, 19-hour operation to wrench it from its side where it capsized last year off Tuscany. The remarkable project now allows for a renewed search for the two bodies that were never recovered from the 32 dead, and for the ship to eventually be towed away.

    The Concordia's submerged side suffered significant damage during the 20 months it bore the weight of the Concordia on the jagged reef, and the daylong operation to right it stressed that flank as well. Exterior balconies were mangled and entire sections looked warped, though officials said the damage probably looks worse than it really is.

    The damage must be repaired to stabilize the ship so it can withstand the coming winter, when seas and winds will whip the liner, and be towed to be turned into scrap sometime in 2014.

    Shortly after 4 a.m., a foghorn boomed off Giglio Island and the head of Italy's Civil Protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, announced that the ship had reached vertical and that the operation to rotate it - known in nautical terms as parbuckling - was complete. It was a dramatic operation that unfolded in real time as TV cameras recorded the final hours when the rotation accelerated with gravity pulling the ship into place.

    "We completed the parbuckling operation a few minutes ago the way we thought it would happen and the way we hoped it would happen," said Franco Porcellacchia, project manager for the Concordia's owner, Costa Crociere SpA.

    "A perfect operation, I must say," with no environmental spill detected so far, he said.

    For Italy, it was a moment of pride after the horror and embarrassment of the Jan. 13, 2012, collision. The Concordia slammed into a reef off Giglio Island after the Italian captain brought it too close to shore in an apparent stunt. He earned the public's contempt when he abandoned the ship before everyone was evacuated, and then refused coast guard orders to go back on board.

    The Concordia drifted, listed and capsized just off the island's port, killing 32 people. Two bodies were never recovered. Now that the ship is upright, a new attempt can be made to locate the bodies, though Gabrielli stressed that the wreckage must be secured again before divers can go in.

    "We hope that will happen in the next few days," he said.

    Other recovery efforts were also possible now that the ship is upright: Officials can now go cabin to cabin to open the safes and return whatever was stowed inside to their rightful owners, officials said.

    Premier Enrico Letta phoned Gabriele to congratulate him. "I told him that all those who are working there are a great pride," Letta tweeted.

    Nick Sloane, the South African chief salvage master, received a hero's welcome as he came ashore from the barge that had served as the floating command control room for the operation, embraced and cheered by residents who have come to appreciate the work of his team, dubbed the "Magnificent 11."

    "Brilliant! Perfetto," Sloane said, using some of the Italian he learned during a year on Giglio preparing for the operation. "It was a struggle, a bit of a roller coaster. But for the whole team it was fantastic."

    The operation to right the ship had been expected to take no more than 12 hours, but dragged on after some initial delays and maintenance on the system of steel cables, pulleys and counterweights that were used to roll the 115,000-ton, half-submerged carcass of steel upright.

    Parbuckling is a standard operation to right capsized ships. But never before had it been used on such a huge cruise liner.

    The Concordia is expected to be floated away from Giglio in the spring. The aim was to right it intact, to prevent the leakage of potentially toxic waste into the pristine waters around Giglio, which is located in a marine sanctuary.

    Sloane said an initial inspection of the starboard side, covered in brown slime from its 20 months under water, indicated serious damage that must be assessed and fixed in the coming weeks and months. But Sloane seemed confident: "She was strong enough to come up like this, she's strong enough to be towed."

    The starboard side of the ship, which was raised 65 degrees in the operation, must be stabilized to enable crews to attach empty tanks on the side that will later be used to help float the vessel away. Currently, the ship is about two-thirds submerged, engineers said.

    Such tanks were affixed to the exposed, port side of the ship and were filled with water in the later phases of the rotation to help pull the port side down.

    The ship must be made strong enough to withstand the winter storm season, when high seas and gusts will likely buffet the 300-meter (1,000-foot) long liner.

    After receiving cheers, embraces and a kiss from his wife on shore, Sloane said he wanted to get some sleep, a beer "and maybe a barbeque tomorrow." He was later seen celebrating in a harborside bar with members of the salvage team.

    "I think the whole team is proud of what they achieved," he said as he was mobbed by well-wishers and television crews, still wearing an orange life vest around his neck and carrying a South African flag that was handed to him by his wife.

    Helping the Concordia to weather the winter and stabilize it is an artificial platform on the seabed that was constructed to support the ship's flat keel.

    About an hour before the rotation was complete, observers said the ship seemed to suddenly settle down upon its new perch, with a clear brown-green line of algae drawn across its front delineating the half of the liner that had been underwater and the half that was exposed.

    Mayor Sergio Ortelli said the island felt a wave of relief as soon as the Concordia was freed from the reef in the initial hours of the operation. But he said there was also the realization that two bodies still have yet to be found.

    "While there is happiness today, there is no triumphalism," he told The Associated Press.

    The Concordia's captain is on trial for alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship during the chaotic and delayed evacuation. Capt. Francesco Schettino claims the reef wasn't on the nautical charts for the liner's weeklong Mediterranean cruise. Five other Costa employees were convicted of manslaughter in a plea bargain and were sentenced to less than three years apiece.

    Costa is a division of Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise company.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: 50 Must-See Weather Photos


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    Rain water pours into the beach due to heavy rains caused by Tropical Storm Manuel in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, Mexico, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez)

    MEXICO CITY (AP) - Twin storms have created havoc on both of Mexico's coasts, cutting off the resort city of Acapulco on the Pacific and causing heavy damage along the Gulf.

    Thousands of tourists found themselves stranded in Acapulco on Tuesday with the airport flooded and highways blocked by landslides and water caused by Tropical Storm Manuel. Local news media reported that much of the city was without water or power service.

    Mexico's Gulf Coast states meanwhile are trying to recover from Hurricane Ingrid, which drove tens of thousands of people from their homes and blocked highways.

    The remnants of Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel drenched northeastern and southwestern Mexico with torrential rains Monday, flooding towns and cities, cutting highways and setting off landslides in a national emergency that federal authorities said had caused at least 34 deaths.

    The Mexican government said the country had not seen a similar weather crisis since 1958, when the country was simultaneously hit by two tropical storms, also on separate coasts.

    The governor of the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz announced that 12 people died when a landslide smashed into a bus traveling through the town of Altotonga, about 40 miles northwest of the state capital.

    More than 23,000 people fled their homes in the state due to heavy rains spawned by Ingrid, and 9,000 went to emergency shelters. At least 20 highways and 12 bridges had been damaged, the state's civil protection authority said.

    Some of the heaviest damage was in the southern coastal state of Guerrero, where Mexico's government reported 15 confirmed deaths from Manuel. State officials said people had been killed in landslides, drownings in a swollen river and a truck crash on a rain-slickened mountain highway.

    Flooding closed the main highway from Mexico City to Acapulco, and power cuts shut the resort city's main airport, isolating many tourists over a long holiday weekend. Telephone service was cut around the state, though authorities said it was mostly restored by Monday afternoon.

    Mexico's federal Civil Protection coordinator, Luis Felipe Puente, told reporters late Sunday that stormy weather from one or both of the two systems also caused three deaths in Hidalgo, three in Puebla and one in Oaxaca.

    Manuel came ashore as a tropical storm Sunday afternoon near the Pacific port of Manzanillo, but quickly lost strength and was downgraded to a tropical depression late Sunday. It dissipated into an unorganized rain system Monday.

    Manuel dumped heavy rains over much of the states of Guerrero, Michoacan, Colima, Jalisco and Nayarit, presenting a dangerous threat in mountains where flash floods and mudslides were possible.

    Late Monday, Ingrid had moved inland over northeastern Mexico and was a tropical depression with maximum sustained winds of 30 mph. It was centered about 10 miles west of the Ciudad Vitoria, capital of Tamaulipas and was moving west at 5 mph. Forecasters predicted the storm would dissipate Tuesday.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Big Storms Hit Mexico on Opposite Coasts
    Tropical Storm Manuel, Mexico


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    A woman and her daughter flee their home as Mount Sinabung erupts in Karo, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

    MEDAN, Indonesia (AP) - A volcano in western Indonesia erupted for the second time this week on Tuesday, forcing some villagers who were just returning home to flee the mountain again, an official said.

    Local disaster mitigation agency chief Asren Nasution said Mount Sinabung's midday eruption spewed volcanic ash and thick smoke up to 3 kilometers (nearly two miles) into the air and blew eastward to the hilly resort town of Brastagi.

    He added that there are no immediate reports of damages or injuries.

    Tuesday's eruption also caused forest fires to ignite on the slopes of the volcano, and black smoke could be seen billowing from two villages, according to an Associated Press photographer on the scene.

    The 2,600-meter (8,530-feet) volcano in North Sumatra province first erupted Sunday after being dormant for three years. It spewed thick ash and small rocks that pelted neighboring villages.

    The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said more than 6,200 people were evacuated as of Tuesday afternoon and were being sheltered in eight locations. Most of them were from six villages within 3 kilometers (nearly 2 miles) of the mountain in Karo district.

    The volcano's last eruption in August 2010 killed two people and forced 30,000 others to flee. It caught many scientists off guard because the volcano had remained quiet for four centuries.

    Mount Sinabung is among 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation which is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Breathtaking Volcanic Eruptions Seen from Space


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    This new Hubble image shows galaxy cluster Abell 1689. [Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), J. Blakeslee (NRC Herzberg Astrophysics Program, Dominion Astrophysical Observatory), and H. Ford (JHU)]

    A new image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows an enormous collection of galaxies and star clusters in stunning detail.

    Hubble spied 10,000 or so of the estimated 160,000 globular star groupings thought to reside in the huge galaxy cluster Abell 1689, which lies about 2.25 billion light-years away from Earth. For comparison, our own Milky Way galaxy has only about 150 globular clusters, which are spherical clumps of old stars tightly bound by gravity.

    The telescope's new observations - which focused on the center of Abell 1689 and incorporated both visible and infrared data - could help shine a light on dark matter in the galaxy cluster's region. Dark matter is a mysterious substance believed to make up much of the universe but which can only be seen through its effects on other objects. [Take a video tour of the massive group of globular star clusters.]

    For example, the 10,000 globular clusters Hubble spotted are most abundant in the middle of Abell 1689, where dark matter is pooled, then thin out as the distance to the center increases.

    "In other words, if you know how many globular clusters are within a certain distance, we can give you an estimate of the amount of dark matter," Karla Alamo-Martinez, a member of the research team who is an astrophysicist at National Autonomous University of Mexico, said in a statement.

    Based on the new Hubble observations, astronomers estimate that Abell 1689 has 160,000 of these clusters in a stretch of 2.4 million light-years.

    While dark matter is invisible to conventional observing equipment, its presence can be inferred through effects such as gravitational lensing.

    First described by Albert Einstein, gravitational lensing occurs when huge foreground objects bend light from other, more distant bodies, often making galaxies visible that are actually behind other objects from a vantage point on Earth. Mapping such light distortions is one way to trace dark matter's location.

    Because globular clusters are old - most of them formed within the first few billion years of the universe's 13.7-billion-year history - astronomers described the groupings in Abell 1689 as "fossils of the earliest star formation" in the region.

    "Our work shows [the clusters] were very efficient in forming in the denser regions of dark matter near the center of the galaxy cluster," said John Blakeslee, the lead researcher and an astrophysicist at Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Canada, in a statement.

    "Our findings are consistent with studies of globular clusters in other galaxy clusters, but extend our knowledge to regions of higher dark matter density," he added.

    Researchers hope to get an even better look at the cluster when NASA's James Webb Space Telescope's more sensitive infrared lens goes into orbit, which is scheduled to happen in late 2018.

    A paper based on the research will appear in the Sept. 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

    Follow Elizabeth Howell @howellspace, or @Spacedotcom. We're also on Facebook and Google+. Original article on

    Copyright 2013, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Mind-Blowing New Photos from Space


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    Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013

    Days of rain and floods have transformed several communities in Colorado's Rocky Mountain foothills into disaster areas. Officials believe that eight people have died as a result of the flooding, and about 19,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed by the deluge. Witnesses have shared dramatic photos and videos across social media. Scroll down for short videos of the historic floods posted to Vine.

    See SKYE's full coverage here.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Historic Flooding Devastates Colorado
    Colorado Floods


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