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SKYE on AOL

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    Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013


    Cries rang out at an Orlando University High School football game Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, when lightning struck during the halftime show. A marching band was performing on the field when the bolt appears to strike a tree on the far side of the field. Slow-motion replays in the video reveal the tree completely illuminated when the bolt hits.

    "We all ran for cover," a parent of one of the players told the Orlando Sentinel. "The weather was great and it hit with no warning. Friday the 13th was a crazy night."

    No injuries were reported, but officials ended the game early.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Lightning Strikes Across the World
    Lightning

     

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    A tornado reportedly touched down in Nassau, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 17. Photos posted to Twitter reveal planes that appear to have been flipped at Lynden Pindling International Airport. According to Tribune42.com, there were no reports of injuries.

     

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    Since its launch in 2009, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been collecting images of the moon, not to mention all kinds of other data. This new time-lapse video employs some of those images to reveal the moon as we never see it: rotating in sunlight, all of it -- even, yes, the dark side.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Epic Photos of Astronauts on the Moon
    Astronaut on Moon

     

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    Photographer Wong May-E ascended Singapore's Swissotel The Stamford on Sept. 17, 2013 to capture this stunning shot. The Marina Bay Circuit, the course for the Singapore F1 Grand Prix, was lit up in anticipation of the race, which begins Sept. 21. Taken with a fish-eye lens, the photo shows the 3.147-mile strip of road glowing in the fading twilight.

    RELATED ON SKYE: Lightning Strikes Around the World
    Lightning, Willis Tower, Chicago

     

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    Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013

    Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colo. (Getty Images)

    CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Two women from Maine say they were "one bad event away from complete disaster" during their terrifying ordeal in an ice storm thousands of feet atop a Colorado peak.

    Connie Yang, Stranded HikerThirty-two-year-old Connie Yang and 33-year-old Suzanne Turell, both of York, Maine, say they took advantage of a break in the storm atop the 14,200-foot Longs Peak. They hiked down a gully into a valley to escape the bad weather.

    That was after they endured the previous night of rough weather, when they desperately tried to stay awake to keep snow from collapsing their tent as the storm raged around them.

    The next morning brought a lightning storm that lit up their tent and, they said, illuminated the number of life-threatening situations they were facing.

    "If our tent ripped away in the wind or the poles broke or we got caught in a flash flood or broke an ankle, it could be the end," they wrote in a four-page email sent to friends and shared with The Associated Press. They said they were already exhausted from a sleepless night, making it even more difficult to keep warm.

    Conditions were worsening, as ice coated their high-elevation location, and visibility was "non-existent."

    The two are experienced hikers. Both work at NEMO Equipment, an outdoor sporting goods manufacturer in Dover. Yang is director of engineering, and Turell heads the product design team.

    They had worked with Rocky Mountain State Park staff to coordinate their seven-day hike and plan for the weather, which was predicted to range between 40-80 degrees, with the possibility of thunderstorms each day. They began the hike Sept. 6.

    The weather took a turn for the worse on the third day of the hike, with thunderstorms increasing in intensity throughout the day. Cloud cover rendered their GPS unreliable.

    Suzanne Turell, Stranded HikerTheir cellphone battery had died from cold Sept. 11, but they were able to warm and revive it briefly the next day to send a message to Yang's sister. They relayed information about their location and told her about the threat of hypothermia, but they never knew if the message had been sent.

    As the day progressed, the sleet changed to rain and some of the snow and sleet melted off the summit, they wrote. They decided to attempt a descent to the valley, knowing the ranger station was in the vicinity. They threaded their way down amid a rushing flood of mud and rocks. They bushwhacked through rough terrain, ledges and thick vegetation.

    "Even with the hard work, we were still shivering uncontrollably," they wrote.

    They set up camp for their second night of adverse conditions before moving at first light toward the ranger station and an emergency phone there. Park rangers on all-terrain vehicles came to their rescue Sept. 13, because all surrounding roads were closed due to flooding.

    "It was only then that we learned about the destruction and devastation" of the flood damage to the national park and surrounding areas, they wrote.

    The women, now home in York, offered thanks to all who helped in their rescue, including U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and the National Park Service.

    "We will be reflecting on this experience for a long time to come," they wrote.

    RELATED ON SKYE: The World's Most Extreme Sports
    Extreme Sports

     

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    (Getty Images)

    As summer comes to a close, signs of fall are prematurely visible in leaves across the mid-Atlantic, the area most likely to receive a vibrant display of foliage this year.

    Cold air and a dry August have prompted an early emergence of colors for parts of the area, including Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. Meanwhile, surrounding regions may be hindered by flooding rain and unseasonable temperatures.

    "Most important is really what happens at the end of September and beginning of October into the middle of October. That's really the crucial period," according to Dr. Marc Abrams, professor of Forest Ecology and Physiology at Penn State University.

    Abrams began observing how weather conditions affect fall foliage more than 25 years ago.

    The AccuWeather.com 2013 Fall Forecast predicts near-normal temperatures and precipitation for the mid-Atlantic region, allowing bright, colorful leaves.


    Typical peaks in fall foliage color across the U.S.

    Meanwhile, those farther north may be somewhat disappointed. The Northeast is forecast to remain warmer than normal this fall.

    Through September and October, temperatures will average 2 to 3 degrees above normal in upstate New York and New England, lead long-range forecaster for AccuWeather.com Paul Pastelok said.

    Cold isn't anticipated to return until some time in November.

    "That's going to be problematic. It's going to delay the peak coloration, and normally when we have warm falls, the peak coloration is not the best," Abrams said. "Those cold temperatures are really, really important late September, early October."

    The result will be poor canopy color intensity for northern New England, according to associate research professor for physical ecology at the University of Maine Michael Day.

    "The warmer, wetter early autumns that have become typical in the northeastern U.S. in recent years have resulted in diminished foliar displays," Day said.

    RELATED:
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    AccuWeather.com 2013 Fall Forecast
    Midwest, Southeast to Bear the Brunt of Fall Allergy Season

    Cold temperatures will not be in short supply for the Midwest, where an early frost/freeze is forecast in October.

    A hard freeze while leaves are still green will transition the leaf straight to brown, rather than allowing multiple colors to come out. It may also delay the peak of the season, Abrams said.

    A frost, on the other hand, could be beneficial for the region.

    "A frost helps to bring out the color. What happens is that the chlorophyll - which causes the green color of leaves - starts to break down. This basically exposes the other pigments like red and orange," Abrams said.

    Leaves in the Southeast will struggle to change color this year, as the region continues to be hammered by flooding rain into the fall.

    A deluge will help the leaves stay green. A mild drought in late September and early October would have been more conducive, helping to move the the leaves into senescence, Abrams said.

    Extreme drought can thwart fall colors, however, impacting the leaf size, vigor and physiology.

    Much of the western half of the nation continues to be gripped by moderate to exceptional drought, particularly along the Rocky Mountains, the primary color-producing area of the West.


    RELATED ON SKYE: America's Best Fall-Foliage Road Trips

     

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    Genevieve Marquez, left, and Miranda Woodard help salvage and clean property in an area inundated after days of flooding, in Hygiene, Colo., Monday, Sept. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)


    After a week of devastating flooding, which washed out roadways and destroyed buildings, Colorado residents are now facing the threat of contaminated waters.

    The northeastern corner of Colorado, which contains numerous gas and oil wells and active drilling sites, has been inundated with rushing water.

    Gary Wockner, Colorado program director for Clean Water Action, said it will take days for the flood waters to recede enough to assess the contamination damage adequately.

    "The biggest concerns are around the contamination of surface water," Wockner said. "Once those chemicals hit flood water, they get across a large swath of the landscape."

    He said that at least a thousand gas wells have reportedly been flooded. The Denver Business Journal reported that at least two storage tanks were found floating in flood waters. Weld County alone, where significant flooding has taken place, is home to more than 18,000 gas and oil wells.

    Water treatment and sewage centers have also been flooded, which has led to boiling advisories for some mountain communities where the initial surge took place. Boil advisories used to clean water in other contamination zones won't work for areas that may have been affected by leaked fracking chemicals or gas and oil well overflows. Wockner said the best way to avoid the health hazards associated with these containments is to avoid the affected water and by drinking filtered tap or bottled water.

    Mountainous communities get their water from those mountains, but containments can enter rivers and flow across the counties to impact people with well water.

    The flooding has already claimed eight lives, Micki Trost, public information officer with the Colorado Department of Emergency Management, confirmed to AccuWeather.com. More than 500 people remain unaccounted for as of 10 a.m. EDT Tuesday.

    American Red Cross Volunteer and Public Information Officer Larry Fortmuller is on the ground in Colorado, receiving people who are being airlifted to Red Cross shelters. At the shelters, people are provided with clean bottled water, food, health care, mental health care and access to computers to connect with loved ones. They have been reuniting families and helping to take care of those people who have no where to go.

    On Sept. 16, the Fort Collins, Colo., the Red Cross center where Fortmuller is working received more than 300 people and 200 pets. He said the helicopters were able to run for only about half a day because of rain and cloud cover, but now that the rain has stopped they are expecting to bring in even more people on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

    According to AccuWeather.com meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski, conditions will improve for rescue efforts throughout the week. Stray showers may pass through the area Tuesday evening, with greater shower chances later in the day on Wednesday. These passing showers or thunderstorms should not be persistent or heavy, however. Skies will remain partly sunny but will clear up significantly after Thursday morning. It should stay clear and dry through to most of Sunday.

    RELATED:
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    Colorado Interactive Radar
    Why Was the September 2013 Colorado Flood So Bad?

    "This is another call to prepare for disaster," Fortmuller said. "I've heard it over and over again, people who say 'I never thought it would happen to us.' I heard it in Moore, I heard it in Boston, I heard it following Sandy. Nobody expects to need the Red Cross to come to their community."

    Because of the breadth of the affected area in Colorado the Red Cross is requiring supplies "by the truckload."

    "It's only a 10-minute helicopter ride to the emergency shelters, but when you have no food, no water, no electricity ... it's tough," Fortmuller said of those still stranded in the disaster area. He said many people are unable to use their cell phones and are "really isolated" as they wait for rescue.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Historic Flooding Devastates Colorado
    Colorado Floods

     

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    Updated Wednesday, Sept. 18, 8:49 p.m. ET

    People stand on the rooftop of a home in a flooded neighborhood after Tropical Storm Manuel pounded Acapulco, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. (AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez)

    ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) - The toll from devastating twin storms climbed to 80 on Wednesday as isolated areas reported deaths and damage to the outside world, and Mexican officials said that a massive landslide in the mountains north of Acapulco could drive the number of confirmed dead even higher.

    The storm that devastated the Pacific resort, Manuel, regained strength over water and became a hurricane Wednesday, taking a route that could see it make landfall on Mexico's western coast later in the night. It would be a third blow to a country still reeling from the one-two punch over the weekend of Manuel's first landfall and Hurricane Ingrid on Mexico's eastern coast.

    Outside Acapulco, federal authorities reached the cutoff village of La Pintada by helicopter and airlifted out 35 residents, four of whom were seriously injured in the slide, said Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong. Officials have not yet seen any bodies, he said, despite repo rts from people in the area that at least 18 people had been killed.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Big Storms Hit Mexico on Opposite Coasts
    Mexico Flooding"It doesn't look good, based on the photos we have in our possession," Osorio Chong said, while noting that "up to this point, we do not have any (confirmed) as dead in the landslide." Osorio Chong told local media that "this is a very powerful landslide, very big ... You can see that it hit a lot of houses."

    Mayor Edilberto Tabares of the township of Atoyac told Milenio television that 18 bodies had been recovered and possibly many more remained buried in the remote mountain village. Atoyac, a largely rural township about 42 miles (70 kilometers) west of Acapulco, is accessible only by a highway broken multiple times by landslides and flooding.

    Ricardo de la Cruz, a spokesman for the federal Department of Civil Protection, said the death toll had risen to 80 from 60 earlier in the day, although he did not provide details of the reports that drove it up.

    In Acapulco, three days of Bi blical rain and leaden skies evaporated into broiling late-summer sunshine that roasted thousands of furious tourists trying vainly to escape the city, and hundreds of thousands of residents returning to homes devastated by reeking tides of brown floodwater.

    The depth of the destruction wreaked by Manuel, which first hit Mexico as a tropical storm, was highlighted when the transportation secretary said it would be Friday at the earliest before authorities cleared the parallel highways that connect this bayside resort to Mexico City and the rest of the world. Hundreds of residents of Acapulco's poor outlying areas slogged through waist-high water to pound on the closed shutters of a looted Costco, desperate for food, drinking water and other basics.

    Many paused and fished in the murky waters for anything of value piling waterlogged clothing and empty aluminum cans into plastic bags.

    "If we can't work, we have to come and get something to eat," said 60-year-o ld fisherman Anastasio Barrera, as he stood with his wife outside the store. "The city government isn't doing anything for us, and neither is the state government."

    The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Wednesday evening that Manuel's eyewall was now nearing the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

    Forecasters said the deadly storm had top sustained winds of 75 mph (115 kph) and was centered about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of the western Mexican community of Altata.

    The center also says Manuel is moving north at 5 mph (7 kph) and a hurricane warning is in effect from La Cruz to Topolobampo in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

    With a tropical disturbance over the Yucatan Peninsula headed toward Mexico's Gulf coast, the country could face another double hit as it struggles to restore services and evacuate those stranded by flooding from Manuel and Ingrid, which hit the Gulf coast.

    Mexico's federal Civil Protection coordinator, Luis Felipe Puente, said 35,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

    Elsewhere in the verdant coastal countryside of the southern state of Guerrero, residents used turned motorboats into improvised ferries, shuttling passengers, boxes of fruit and jugs of water across rivers that surged and ripped bridges from their foundations over the weekend. Outside the town of Lomas de Chapultepec, the Papagayo River surged more than 30 feet (9 meters) during the peak of Manuel's flooding, overturning a bridge that stretched hundreds of feet across the mouth of the river.

    In Acapulco's upscale Diamond Zone, the military commandeered a commercial center for tourists trying to get onto one of the military or commercial flights that remained the only way out of the city. Thousands lined up outside the mall's locked gates, begging for a seat on a military seat or demanding that airline Aeromexico honor a previously purchased ticket.

    "We don't even have money left to buy water," said Tayde Sanchez Mor ales, a retired electric company worker from the city of Puebla. "The hotel threw us out and we're going to stay here and sleep here until they throw us out of here."

    A lucky few held up ransacked beach umbrellas against the sun. Temperatures were in the mid-80s but felt far hotter. Dozens of others collapsed in some of the few spots of shade, joined there by panting stray neighborhood dogs. Soldiers wandered through the crowds offering lollipops, an offer many greeted with angry disbelief.

    "Forty-eight hours without electricity, no running water and now we can't get home," said Catalina Clave, 46, who works at the Mexico City stock exchange. "Now all I ask for is some shade and some information."

    Mexico's federal transportation secretary said that 5,300 people had been flown out of the city on 49 flights by Wednesday afternoon, a fraction of the 40,000 to 60,000 tourists estimated to be stranded in the city.

    For many, the lack of clear information wa s more infuriating than the inability to get home.

    "You call and they say come here," said Patricia Flores, a 35-year-old tourist from the state of Tabasco. "You come here and they say 'call the call center.' And the call center doesn't answer."

    In the low-lying neighborhood of Colosio, residents drove through knee-high brown water to reach homes whose bottom floors were glazed in inches of brown sediment.

    "We're devastated," said Jorge Luis Pacheco Meijia, a 26-year-old English professor, pausing as he piled sodden, soiled furniture and appliances outside his house. "All the time you spend working from dusk 'til dawn, everything's lost."

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

     

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    This aerial photo shows aftermath of a massive fire that burned a large portion of the Seaside Park boardwalk, Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Seaside Park, N.J. (AP Photo/The Asbury Park Press, Bob Bielk)

    TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) - Superstorm Sandy still isn't done with the Jersey shore - investigators are blaming the storm for damaging electrical wiring that touched off last week's devastating boardwalk fire in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights.

    And they also said similar danger could be lurking elsewhere underneath other boardwalks, businesses or homes that were exposed to flood waters from the Oct. 29 storm.

    "I'm sure on every boardwalk everywhere (at the Jersey shore), there may be compromised wiring," said Ocean County prosecutor Joseph Coronato. "We don't want to start a panic mode; we just want to be reasonable. If you're a property owner and you think your electrical work came in contact with water and sand, we strongly recommend you have it inspected."

    Gov. Chris Christie's administration decided the state will use Sandy-recovery money to pay for debris removal. He also pledged $15 million in Sandy money to help rebuild the burned businesses.

    Christie said Tuesday the state will let businesses affected by the fire postpone filing sales and use tax returns that were due this month until Oct. 21 to help them recover.

    The boardwalk fire began accidentally Thursday in aged wiring that had been compromised by salt water and sand during the Oct. 29 storm, federal and county investigators said at a news conference Tuesday. The wind-whipped blaze destroyed more than 50 businesses in the two towns.

    Seaside Heights mayor William Akers, reached after the briefing, said there is no issue with potentially compromised wiring on the surviving sections of the boardwalk.

    "We did a total rebuild. All 16 blocks got all new wiring," he said.

    In Point Pleasant Beach, one of the approximately half-dozen Sandy-ravaged towns where businesses with electrical connections are located on the boardwalk, Mayor Vincent Barrella said streetlight wiring is all new in a section of the boardwalk that was rebuilt last winter.

    But he said about half the boardwalk, including sections in front of businesses, still needs to be redone this winter. After the prosecutor issued his warning, Barrella said he instructed borough officials to work with the local electric company and identify any wiring that might need to be replaced as part of the upcoming work.

    Flood-damaged wiring caused fires in several houses in Sandy-damaged communities once power was turned back on last November. Many homeowners had to replace their electrical wiring and main electrical boxes before moving back in.

    Investigators said last week's fire began in wiring that dated to the 1970s, and was located under a Kohr's frozen custard stand and the Biscayne Candies shop last Thursday afternoon.

    Jessica Gotthold, a senior special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said investigators located wires under the boardwalk that somehow came in contact with each other, causing an electrical arc that is believed to have started the fire. Coronato said those wires had been exposed to the storm surge and grating sand action of the storm, which compromised them.

    But as far as why the wires contacted each other, he said, "we will never know."

    The prosecutor said the investigation ruled out all other possible causes of the fire, including careless smoking or a deliberate act of arson. The wiring was inaccessible to the public, he noted.

    Authorities even pulled financial records of the businesses involved in the blaze to make sure no one had a financial motive to start a fire.

    "We left no stone unturned," he said. "This was not a suspicious fire."

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Fire Rages Along NJ Boardwalk
    New Jersey Boardwalk Fire

     

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    Two women are hoisted into a Blackhawk helicopter as they are rescued near Jamestown, Colo., on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, during a helicopter search of the area devastated by flooding in the state. (AP Photo/Denver Post, Joe Amon)

    LYONS, Colo. (AP) - As water recedes and flows east onto the Colorado plains - revealing toppled homes, buckled highways and fields of tangled debris - rescuers are shifting their focus from emergency airlifts to trying to find the hundreds of people still unaccounted for after last week's devastating flooding.

    Federal and state emergency officials, taking advantage of sunny skies, said more than 3,000 people have been evacuated by air and ground, but calls for those emergency rescues have decreased.

    "They've kind of transitioned from that initial response to going into more of a grid search," Colorado National Guard Lt. Skye Robinson said.

    In one of those searches Tuesday, Sgt. 1st Class Keith Bart and Staff Sgt. Jose Pantoja leaned out the window of a Blackhawk helicopter, giving the thumbs-up sign to people on the ground while flying outside of hard-hit Jamestown.

    Most waved back and continued shoveling debris. But then Bart spotted two women waving red scarves, and the helicopter descended.

    Pantoja attached his harness to the helicopter's winch and was lowered to the ground. He clipped the women in, and they laughed as they were hoisted into the Blackhawk.

    After dropping off the women at the Boulder airport, the Blackhawk was back in the air less than a minute later to resume the search.

    The state's latest count has dropped to about 580 people missing, and the number continues to decrease as the stranded get in touch with families.

    One of the missing is Gerald Boland, a retired math teacher and basketball coach who lives in the damaged town of Lyons. Boland's neighbors, all of whom defied a mandatory evacuation order, said Boland took his wife to safety Thursday then tried to return home.

    Two search teams went looking for him Monday.

    "He was very sensible. I find it amazing that he would do something that would put himself in harm's way," said neighbor Mike Lennard. "But you just never know under these circumstances."

    State officials reported six flood-related deaths, plus two women missing and presumed dead. The number was expected to increase. It could take weeks or even months to search through flooded areas looking for bodies.

    With the airlifts tapering, state and local transportation officials are tallying the washed-out roads, collapsed bridges and twisted railroad lines. The rebuilding effort will cost hundreds of millions of dollars and take months, if not years.

    Initial assessments have begun trickling in, but many areas remain inaccessible and the continuing emergency prevents a thorough understanding of the devastation's scope.

    Northern Colorado's broad agricultural expanses are especially affected, with more than 400 lane-miles of state highway and more than 30 bridges destroyed or impassable.

    A Colorado Department of Transportation helicopter crew has been surveying damage, said department spokesman Ashley Mohr.

    County officials have started their own damage tallies: 654 miles of roads in Weld County bordering Wyoming, 150 miles of roads in the Boulder County roads foothills, along with hundreds of bridges, culverts and canals.

    Dale Miller, road and bridge director for Larimer County, said it could compare to the damage wrought by a 1976 flood that killed 144 people. It took two years to rebuild after that disaster.

    State officials have put initial estimates at more than 19,000 homes damaged or destroyed throughout the flooded areas.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Historic Flooding Devastates Colorado
    Colorado Floods

     

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    We've seen a lot of rocket-launch photos, but few look like this. NASA photographer Bill Ingalls captured this stunning false-color infrared image off Virginia Wednesday, Sept. 18.

    The Antares rocket is carrying the Cygnus spacecraft and 1,300 pounds of cargo -- including chocolate -- bound for the International Space Station. American Astronaut Karen Nyberg, for one, can't wait for it's arrival.

    "It would be really nice to have some fresh home-baked goods, but the fresh part doesn't work very well when it takes a couple days to get here," she told AP. "So anything chocolate usually does it for me."

    RELATED ON SKYE: 20 Epic Photos of Astronauts on the Moon
    Astronaut on Moon

     

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    Typhoon Usagi

    Soaking rain will pelt Manila and parts of northern Philippines as Typhoon Usagi plows westward through the Luzon Strait.

    Western and northern Luzon will be most prone to flooding between Friday and Monday as Usagi tracks toward southern Taiwan and south China.

    At the same time, the brunt of the powerful storm's severe winds should, in the Philippines, strike only some small far-northern islands and perhaps the northern tip of mainland Luzon.

    RELATED:
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    Philippines Weather

    Rainfall could be heavy enough to trigger flooding in the capital region of the Philippines, which was inundated by literally feet of rainfall at the middle of August. At that time, extreme rainfall and widespread major flooding was sparked indirectly by Tropical Storm Trami (known as Maring in the Philippines), the center of which actually stayed hundreds of miles north of the Philippines.

    Usagi, like Trami before it, will unleash heavy rain as it activates and strengthens the southwesterly monsoon wind flow over the South China Sea and the Philippines. Whenever this happens, these wet tropical winds typically get wrung out between the west coast and the mountain spine that runs the length of Luzon. Manila is well placed to get a soaking under such circumstances.

    The vast metropolitan area of Manila, low-lying and crossed by many waterways, is prone to flooding during the heavy rains of the summer monsoon.

    As for the fate of Usagi, the powerful storm will pose a serious threat of damaging wind and flooding rain to both Taiwan and South China along and near its direct path on Saturday through Monday.

     

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    The tropical hot spot near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula is forecast to give birth to the next tropical depression and storm in the Atlantic basin late this week.

    According to tropical weather expert Dan Kottlowski, "Atmospheric conditions will cause the disturbance to drift into the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and become the next organized tropical system in the Atlantic basin Thursday into Friday."

    The next tropical depression that forms in the Atlantic for 2013 would be number 11, and the next name on the list of tropical storms is Jerry.

    Rain from this system is likely to drench part of northeastern Mexico and the Texas coast this weekend.

    In addition to bringing needed rain to parts of Texas, when combined with an approaching front from the north, it will bring the potential for flash and urban flooding.

    The system will again stir up the western Gulf of Mexico, and surf could become dangerous by this weekend along the Texas coast and part of the Louisiana coast. There is the potential for tides to run above published levels, and seas could get rough enough to suspend some offshore oil and gas rig operations for a time.

    RELATED:
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    The movement of the developed tropical system later this weekend into early next week is uncertain.

    "If the system misses the connection to ride northeastward into the southeastern U.S. this weekend, it could stall around in the Gulf of Mexico for a few days perhaps to get shunted eastward across the Florida Peninsula at a later date," Kottlowski said.

    Rain from the tropical system is unlikely to reach central and northern Texas.

    "A front dropping in from the Plains is likely to bring a few showers and thunderstorms to central, western northern and northeastern Texas Thursday into Friday night," Kottlowski added.

    The front and at least some tropical moisture will then slide eastward across the Deep South this weekend in the form of locally heavy rain and perhaps severe thunderstorms.

    Cooler and drier air will expand southeastward across Texas this weekend but will not reach all of the Texas coast until Saturday night.

    Parts of northeastern Mexico have been slammed by torrential rainfall and flooding this past weekend into early Wednesday morning associated with Ingrid. Between 9 and 11 inches of rain have fallen on Tampico, Monterrey, Tuxpan and Victoria City, Mexico, this week.

    While rain from Ingrid has diminished Wednesday, any additional rain in eastern Mexico in the near future could bring great risks to lives and property.

    Farther north in Texas, rain will be welcomed by many.

    Brownsville has received rain on a daily basis during much of September and has over 11 inches to show for it, compared to a normal total September rainfall of about 6 inches. However, rainfall diminishes farther north along the Texas coast. Rainfall amounts range from near normal around Corpus Christi to only about 25 percent of normal around Houston and less than 10 percent of normal around the Golden Triangle.

    Close to the Texas coast, the moisture from the front will be enhanced by the tropical system and could bring locally excessive rainfall.

     

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    Updated, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, 7 p.m. EDT

    A car lays buried in mud after flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Manuel as residents try to clean up their neighborhood in Chilpancingo, Mexico, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Alejandrino Gonzalez)

    ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) - With a low, rumbling roar, an arc of dirt, rock and mud tumbled down the hillside in the remote mountain village of La Pintada, sweeping houses in its path, burying half the hamlet and leaving 68 people missing in its mad race to the river bed below.

    It was the biggest known tragedy caused by twin weekend storms that struck Mexico, creating floods and landslides across the nation and killing at least 97 people as of Thursday - not counting those missing in La Pintada.

    All of the nearly 400 surviving members of the village remember where they were at the moment the deadly wave struck on Monday afternoon, Mexico's Independence Day.

    Nancy Gomez, 21, said Thursday that she heard a strange sound and went to look out the doorway of her family's house, her 1-year-old baby clutched in her arms. She saw the ground move, then felt a jolt from behind as her father tried to push her to safety.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Big Storms Hit Mexico on Opposite Coasts
    Mexico FloodingShe never saw him again. He's among 68 missing in the slide or a second one that fell and buried victims and would-be rescuers alike.

    When the rain-soaked hillside, drenched by days of rain during Tropical Storm Manuel, gave way, it swept Gomez in a wave of dirt that covered her entirely, leaving only a small air pocket between her and her baby.

    "I screamed a lot, for them to come rescue me, but I never heard anything from my mother or father or my cousin," she said as she lay on a foam mattress in a temporary shelter in Acapulco, her legs covered with deep welts. Eventually, relatives came from a nearby house and dug her and the baby out.

    The missing from La Pintada were not yet included in the official national death toll of 97, according to Mexico's federal Civil Protection coordinator, Luis Felipe Puente. Some 35,000 homes across the country were damaged or destroyed. Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said he now had a list of names of 68 missing La Pintada residents, b ut suggested that some may be alive and may have taken refuge in neighboring ranches or hamlets.

    Government photos show major mudslides and collapsed bridges on key highways, including the Highway of the Sun, a major four-lane expressway that links Acapulco to Mexico City. All the main arteries to the Pacific Coast resort town remained closed Thursday.

    Federal officials set up donation centers for storm aid Thursday, but they faced stiff questioning about why, instead of warning people more energetically about the oncoming storms, they focused on Independence celebrations and a military parade that kept dozens of aircraft and emergency vehicles in Mexico City, instead of the states where they were most needed. Congressman Manuel Huerta of the leftist Labor Party said "the underlying issue is that the federal government bears a large part of the responsibility for this tragedy."

    Federal security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez brushed off the criticism, telling re porters that emergency "protocols were followed strictly."

    Manuel, the same storm that devastated Acapulco, gained hurricane force and rolled into the northern state of Sinaloa on Thursday before starting to weaken, falling again to tropical storm strength.

    Sinaloa Gov. Mario Lopez Valdez says 100,000 thousand people have been affected by the storm and that one fisherman drowned in the village of Yameto. He didn't say if that death is included in the national toll.

    Sinaloa civil protection authorities said some areas were already flooding and more than 2,000 people were evacuated, many from small fishing villages on the coast.

    Manuel weakened to a tropical storm by Thursday afternoon after hitting Sinaloa as a Category 1 hurricane earlier in the day, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

    The center said it would continue to spread heavy rains inland.

    And a tropical disturbance was moving toward Mexico's soggy Gulf coast even as the coun try struggles to restore services and evacuate those stranded by flooding from Manuel and Ingrid, which hit the Gulf coast.

    Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong told local media that conditions were still so unstable in La Pintada on Thursday, three days after the slide, that rescuers hadn't been able to recover any bodies yet. He said villagers told him they had buried at least five of their neighbors themselves before help finally started arriving.

    So isolated is Acapulco that cargo ships have been contracted to supply food to the city by sea.

    Hundreds of stranded tourists remained lined up for a second day Thursday at an air base on the outskirts of Acapulco, where military aircraft were slowly ferrying people out of the resort.

    Increasingly angry and frustrated by the long wait overnight and in the rain, they began to block army trucks heading into the base with what stranded travelers believed were wealthy, well-connected people or foreig ners cutting the line to get a flight out. The angry crowds forced the trucks to detour a few blocks along the beach to get to the base.

    Mexican officials said that more than 10,000 people had been flown out of the city on about 100 flights by Wednesday evening, just part of the 40,000 to 60,000 tourists estimated to be stranded in the city.

    But their pain was nothing compared to that of Amelia Saldana, 43, a single mother who lost her four boys - twins aged 5, another aged 7 and the eldest, 17 - in the landslide in La Pintada.

    Saldana had gone down to town's main square for an Independence Day celebration, a rare time off for villagers who spent most of their days working in their coffee plantations. Because it was raining, Saldana told her sons to stay home while she went down to the square to get some of the free hominy stew being given away.

    Then she heard the landslide, a low rumbling that villagers described as sounding like an earthquake. When she ran back to where her house once stood, it no longer existed.

    "I tried to get back to my kids, but I couldn't" Saldana said between sobs. "I feel bad, because I lost everything."

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

     

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    This bird's-eye view of the Mer de Glace glacier was uploaded to YouTube by user Srachi on Sept. 16, 2013. Taken by a camera strapped to the back of a flying eagle, the video reveals sweeping views of Chamonix, France. In just a few days, it had more than 1.5 million views and was posted on media outlets across the Web. Srachi has yet to comment on the video, so little is known about its origins.

    RELATED ON SKYE: 10 Amazing Photos of Wingsuit Flying
    Wingsuit Flying

     

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    Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013

    Flood Damage in Salina on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, in the Fourmile Canyon area of Boulder County Colorado. (AP Photo/Daily Camera, Jeremy Papasso)

    LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) - The number of people unaccounted for from Colorado's devastating flooding has fallen dramatically as rescuers reach stranded victims, and electricity and phone services are restored to ravaged areas, allowing residents to contact family, friends or authorities.

    But some of the stranded are refusing to leave their homes, prompting crews to show them photos of the surrounding destruction amid warnings that they could be cut off from essential services for several weeks.

    Jennifer Hillmann, a spokeswoman for the Larimer County Sheriff's Office north of Boulder, said Wednesday that widespread airlifts have given way to "pinpoint" rescues and door-to-door searches.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Flash Flooding Deluges Parts of Colorado
    Colorado FloodsUrban search-and-rescue teams with dogs and medical supplies began picking through homes, vehicles and debris piles for victims.

    The number of people reported unaccounted for dwindled from a high of 1,200 to about 200.

    "We're having a lot of people who are holed up and they don't want to leave the area," Hillmann said. But she added that "we're getting a lot more people calling in and saying, 'Hey, here's where I'm at. I'm safe.'"

    Search crews also are documenting the damage they find, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said.

    It is part of responders ending the "high-octane" emergency response to the widespread flooding that began last week "and moving into the long and arduous task ahead," he said.

    Ten helicopters were still flying rescue missions, down from a high of about two dozen. Some of the helicopters that have been used for emergency airlifts may be returned to Fort Carson, where they will be on standby, Colorado National Guard Lt. Mitch Utterback said.

    Business owners also were being allowed back into the heavily damaged town of Lyons on Wednesday to assess the damage, and homeowners under mandatory evacuations were expected to follow Thursday.

    Also Wednesday, Jamestown residents were allowed home, and three entrances to Rocky Mountain National Park were reopened.

    Many homeowners ignored the evacuation orders to stay with their homes, and they waved off rescue helicopters flying overhead.

    Hillmann said search crews were showing some of them photos of how broad the destruction is in hopes they will leave, noting that some mountain communities could start getting snow soon.

    "Although it might be OK where you are now, up the canyon and down the canyon are completely washed out," she said.

    Meanwhile, the South Platte River crested and surged Wednesday through the towns and farms of the Colorado plains and into Nebraska.

    Volunteers in Ovid filled sandbags and built a dike overnight in the northeastern Colorado town of about 300, preventing serious flooding when the river crested there Wednesday morning, Sedgwick County emergency management director Mark Turner said.

    The river rose to a record level of more than 10 feet near the Colorado-Nebraska border, and some flooding was reported near the Nebraska town of Big Springs.

    The plains areas of eastern Colorado and western Nebraska is largely rural farmland, which has so far limited the damage compared to the devastation in the mountain communities to the west.

    State officials held the number of flood-related deaths at six, plus two women missing and presumed dead. The number is expected to increase, but it could take weeks or even months to search through all the flooded areas.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Historic Flooding Devastates Colorado
    Colorado Floods

     

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    This breathtaking photo shows a high-altitude balloon moments after it burst at a mind-bending 111,000 feet above northern Greece. The balloon was launched by the SlaRos project, which bills itself as Greece's the first sub-orbital photography effort. The image was captured by a GoPro Hero3 HD camera.

    NASA's Earth Science website featured the image as its photo of the day Sept. 19, 2013, pointing out that all high-altitude balloons explode when the atmospheric pressure drops so low that the balloon can't contain the expanding gas inside of it.

    See video of the balloon bursting at 4:26 below.

     

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    Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013

    LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) - Search teams working their way down the list of those still unaccounted for in Colorado's devastating flooding on Thursday were using satellite images to map out where houses once stood before the disaster washed them away.

    The number of people reported unaccounted for plunged from a high of 1,200 to about 200 as rescuers reach stranded victims, and electricity and phone services are restored to ravaged areas, allowing residents to contact family, friends or authorities.

    Meanwhile, authorities have resigned themselves to the fact that some people plan to stay in their cut off communities, even though winter in the foothills isn't far off. They've been warned that ambulances and deputies won't be able to reach them. Larimer County sheriff Justin Smith said he's still encouraging people to leave but nevertheless he's been impressed with the residents of one area who've already started rebuilding their access road using shovels, pick axes and ATVs.


    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Flash Flooding Deluges Parts of Colorado
    Colorado Floods In a sign of things to come, Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park - a key supply route to the town of Estes Park - was temporarily closed because of snow overnight. The high-elevation road normally closes in October for the winter but the park is working to keep it open as long as possible this year.

    Business owners were allowed back into the heavily damaged town of Lyons to assess the damage on Wednesday, and homeowners under mandatory evacuations were expected to follow Thursday.

    Also Wednesday, Jamestown residents were allowed home.

    Jennifer Hillmann, a spokeswoman for the Larimer County Sheriff's Office north of Boulder, said Wednesday that widespread airlifts have given way to "pinpoint" rescues and door-to-door searches.

    Urban search-and-rescue teams with dogs and medical supplies began picking through homes, vehicles and debris piles for victims.

    "We're having a lot of people who are holed up and they don't want to leave the area," Hillmann said. But she added that "we're getting a lot more people calling in and saying, 'hey, here's where I'm at. I'm safe.'"

    Search crews also are documenting the damage they find, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said.

    It is part of responders ending the "high-octane" emergency response to the widespread flooding that began last week "and moving into the long and arduous task ahead," he said.

    Ten helicopters were still flying rescue missions, down from a high of about two dozen.

    Many homeowners ignored the evacuation orders to stay with their homes, and they waved off rescue helicopters flying overhead.

    Hillmann said search crews were showing some of them photos of how broad the destruction is in hopes they will leave, noting that some mountain communities could start getting snow soon.

    "Although it might be OK where you are now, up the canyon and down the canyon are completely washed out," she said.

    PHOTOS ON SKYE: Historic Flooding Devastates Colorado
    Colorado FloodsTeams use satellite maps to find flood's missing

     

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