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Photo Showing Moon and planets on Tuesday evening

Photo Showing Moon and planets on
Tuesday evening

Wednesday, May 31st - Amazing Alignments In Evening Skies...

Over the next two weeks sky watchers will be treated to a series of amazing alignments of the Moon and three planets in the western sky after sunset.

The series of alignments, which actually began two days ago, is unfolding against the wonderful glow of sunset over the mountains. As a bonus the Beehive Cluster (M44) of stars will be center stage during the events.

The Moon, Saturn and Mars are currently visible just after sunset. The Moon will move further away from the two planets daily, with the planet Mercury edging closer, completing the trio of planets on the evening of June 15th.

Go outside tonight just after sunset and look for the crescent Moon in the west (sky map). Saturn will be directly below the Moon, with Mars a little below and to the right of the pair. Binoculars will also reveal the beautiful Beehive Cluster between the Moon and Saturn as the evening skies darken. Small telescopes will easily reveal the rings of Saturn.

More information on this wonderful series of events can be found in a NASA article via the link provided below.

NASA - An Alignment of Stars and Planets

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Long's Peak as seen from Storm Mountain on Monday morning

Long's Peak as seen from Storm Mountain on Monday morning

Monday, May 29th - Cold Front Brings Needed Relief... 

A cold front that passed through the area on Sunday evening has brought much needed relief from the extreme fire danger in the form of cooler temperatures and lighter winds.

Highs today are predicted to be in the 70's with light winds across the area. This is in stark contrast to yesterday's upper 80's and strong, gusty winds.
The cooler weather has lowered the fire danger across our area from very high to extreme, down to a level of high fire danger.

As our fire season has only begun, residents are advised to continue using caution with any type of outdoor flame and to remain vigilant and alert for potential wildfires in our area.

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Rainbow on Tuesday Morning

Rainbow on Tuesday Morning

Sunday, May 28th - Photo Of The Week...

An approaching storm from the west and a brilliant sunrise in the east created the setting for this week's featured photo of a beautiful rainbow over the Storm Mountain area on Tuesday morning.

Rainbows are most common in the afternoon and evening, after a storm has passed. However, less common morning rainbows, like the one pictured above, form ahead of an approaching storm. Hence the old mariners saying, "Rainbow in morning, sailor take warning - Rainbow at night, sailor's delight."

Rainbows are created when light from the sun is refracted through water droplets, which act like small prisms spreading the sunlight into the beautiful displays we often see.

More information on rainbows and other atmospheric phenomena, as well as many spectacular photos, can be found at optical expert Les Crowley's website, via the link provided below.

Atmospheric Optics

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Area Around 1700 Garfield Ave

Area Around 1700 Garfield Ave

Saturday, May 27th - Girl Dies After Being Pulled From Lake Loveland...

An 11 year old girl who was pulled from the bottom of Lake Loveland on Friday evening died early Saturday morning at Children's Hospital in Denver.

Christine Marie Bass was reportedly swimming with a friend in the lake behind 1700 Garfield Avenue when she was reported as missing. Rescue crews found and pulled her from the bottom of the lake around 6PM, approximately 20 minutes later. 

Bass was rushed to McKee Medical Center in Loveland and then on to Children's Hospital in Denver at approximately 8PM on Friday evening. 

Christine was a student at Big Thompson Elementary School and a classmate of several area children. The class teacher has personally notified each student's family of this tragic loss at the request of Christine's parents, John and Miriam Bass.

A memorial service for Christine is scheduled for 2:00PM on Tuesday, May 30th at Crossroads Church, 57th & Taft, Loveland, Colorado.

We at SMN would like to extend our sincere condolences to the Bass Family and Christine's many classmates and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this most difficult time.

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Ref Flag Warning In Effect Thru Sunday

Red Flag Warning Thru Sunday Evening

Red Flag Warning Thru Sunday Evening...

The National Weather Service in Denver has issued a Red Flag Warning for a large part of eastern Colorado, including the Drake, Glen Haven and Storm Mountain areas, in effect through 9 PM MDT, on Sunday evening.

Conditions across the area are continuing to deteriorate rapidly with the current regional fire danger ranging from very high to extreme across most of the area. 

Firefighters on Friday evening responded to a wildfire south of Big Elk Meadows near the Spring Gulch area, and another wildfire in the Glacier View area south of Red Feather Lakes in northern Larimer County.

This is a very serious situation. Residents are advised to refrain entirely from using any type of open flame outdoors during the warning period. This includes grills and campfires. In addition, it is advised that residents stay alert and remain on vigilant watch status for potential wildfires in our area. This type of resident action can both help prevent a fire from occurring, and aid in crucial quick response times by firefighters in the event a wildfire should break out.

The complete text of this official fire warning can be found via the link provided below..

Red Flag Warning

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Fire Weather Watch This Afternoon

Fire Weather Watch Friday Afternoon

Friday, May 26th - Fire Weather Watch Friday Afternoon...

The National Weather Service in Denver has issued a Fire Weather Watch for the front range foothills, including the Drake, Glen Haven and Storm Mountain areas, for Friday afternoon and evening.

As we begin the official Summer season with Memorial Day this weekend, a dangerous fire situation is setting up across the front range foothills. Extremely dry conditions combined with hot daytime temperatures and moderate to high winds are forecast through Monday.

Memorial Day traditionally is when many residents and visitors alike take to the outdoors for holiday activities. These activities often involve fire in the form of barbeque grills, campfires, etc. With the high fire danger and no current fire ban in our area, this will be an especially tedious few days, as one careless mistake or accident can have disastrous results.

Residents and visitors alike are strongly advised to use extreme caution with any type of open flame and to stay alert for potential wildfires in their area. These fires can spread very rapidly in these types of conditions and quick action may be required.

Firefighters on Thursday afternoon responded to a thirty acre wildfire burning on the Larimer-Boulder County line. This is a prime example of just how serious conditions are at this time. Preventative steps and a well laid out fire plan are the best defense against wildfires.

More information on what you as a homeowner can do to protect your family and home from wildfires can be found via the link provided below.

Firewise Homeowner Resources

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Larmer County Sheriff's Department News Release

Larimer County Sheriff's Department
News Release

Wednesday, May 24th - Sheriff's Deputies Assist In Immigration Arrest...

Larimer County Sheriff’s Office received a request from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to assist in the apprehension of a suspect from Juarez, Mexico, who was wanted on immigration charges.  ICE agents stated they believed the suspect was with a construction crew working in the area of Interstate 25 and Highway 402 in Loveland.

Prior to deputies’ arrival, the suspect and two other individuals left the area, according to ICE agents who were conducting the surveillance at the construction site.  Larimer County Sheriff’s Office deputies spotted the vehicle at I25 and Highway 392. Deputies, investigators, SWAT and Special Agents from ICE followed the vehicle until it was considered safe to enact a high risk stop.

The vehicle was stopped at County Road 3 and Highway 392 near Windsor, Colorado.  All three occupants were taken into custody without incident and transported to the ICE office in Eaton, CO.

Mexican Government warrants referenced an incident in Juarez during May of 2005.

Further information developed by ICE revealed Ramon Esteban MENDOZA-Morales, 25, was wanted by Mexican authorities in Juarez for the alleged offenses of Murder and Attempted Murder.

“Larimer County Sheriff’s Office has provided a major community service in capturing this Mexican fugitive who is wanted for murder,” said Jeffrey Copp, special agent-in-charge of the Denver Office of Investigations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  “With such law enforcement partners, we create safer communities for everyone.”  Copp heads a four-state region which includes:  Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

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Larmer County News Release

Larimer County News Release

Tuesday, May 23rd - Investigation Leads To Arrest For Porn...

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with Poudre Fire Authority (PFA), has completed an investigation of former PFA Division Chief Ron Uthmann. This investigation began in early 2006 based on information received from informants who believed they had seen pornographic images on computers assigned to Uthmann while he was employed at PFA. 

Based on this investigation, probable cause was established to believe that Uthmann possessed a number of images of suspected child pornography on his department-issued computers. Uthmann had no personally owned computers at the time.  His issued computers were seized and a forensic analysis was conducted over the last few months with a detective from Fort Collins Police Services. It is believed that Uthmann received and exchanged images containing child pornography with other persons whose identities are not yet known.

It is further believed that Uthmann was not involved in the creation of these images but has received and exchanged these images via the internet.  Based on this investigation, it is not believed that Uthmann has been involved in any other crimes related to children. 

Uthmann, who now resides in Mesa County, was taken into custody without incident by Grand Junction Police Department on May 22, 2006, at approximately 5:00 P.M. and has been booked on the following charges:  two counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children, a class three felony and one count of Sexual Exploitation of Children, a class one misdemeanor. A felony is charged when an individual, among other things, distributes child pornography. The misdemeanor is charged when the material is possessed. Bail has been set at $25,000. 

Poudre Fire Authority Chief John Mulligan and Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden have scheduled a press conference for 3 p.m. today, May 23, at the Poudre Fire Authority Training Facility located at, 3400 West Vine Drive, in Fort Collins.

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Fire Weather Watch This Afternoon

Fire Weather Watch This Afternoon

Monday, May 22nd - Fire Weather Watch This Afternoon...

The National Weather Service in Denver has issued a Fire Weather Watch for the front range foothills, including the Drake, Glen Haven and Storm Mountain areas, for this afternoon and evening.

An approaching Pacific storm system is expected to bring high winds to the already dry area raising the fire danger level substantially and creating conditions favorable for the rapid development of wildfires.

Thunderstorms are also expected this afternoon with a higher probability of lightning than rain, further increasing the chances for a wildfire. Cooler temperatures will bring slight relief tonight and tomorrow, with a return to warm dry conditions expected by Wednesday.

Residents are advised to use extreme caution with any type of outdoor flame and to stay alert for potential fires in the area. No fire bans are currently in effect for our immediate area.

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Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 on Sunday morning

Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3
on Sunday morning

Sunday, May 21st - Photo Of The Week...

This week's featured photo is an amazing shot of Comet 73P/S-W3 taken on Storm Mountain at 4:12AM this morning.

Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, or 73P/S-W3, is quickly heading towards the sun making viewing more difficult each day as it becomes faded into the glow of sunrise.

The comet made it's closest pass by Earth last week at approximately six million miles in distance.

For the next few days two of the over sixty fragments of the comet will be visible in the eastern sky just before sunrise, and an easy target for binoculars and backyard telescopes.

A sky map and more photos of 73P/S-W3 can be found in our S-W3 galley via the link below.

73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 Gallery

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