Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What May? Plowable Snow from Denver to Twin Cities - Records May Fall

2.27" precipitation by Saturday morning (00z NAM model).
Cold rain today, mixes with wet snow by late afternoon or evening.
2-5" slushy snow possible tonight. Best chance of 3-4"+ southern/eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities.

3" all-time record for May snowfall from a single storm (most recently in 1946).

5 days with 2"+ snow in May at KMSP since 1891. Source: Minnesota State Climate Office.

Rain expected late Friday into Sunday; a second surge of Gulf moisture.

Flood Warnings posted for some rivers up north from Ft. Ripley and Long Prairie to Scanlong. Details from NOAA here.

Mayday! Mayday!

"Hey, it's Minnesota. What do you expect?" the old timer complained, sneaking a look at the sky while shaking his head, sadly. Good point.

Silly me, I thought spring might stick this time.

With accumulating snow possible by tonight I'm doing the only sensible thing: I'm going on strike. Rolling the Doppler into the lake - sneaking into KARE-11's "Backyard", holding up a big picket sign. These are intolerable working conditions.

There have been only 5 two-inch-plus May snowfalls in the Twin Cities since 1891, so yes, this is very unusual.

Numbing air over central Canada, displaced unusually far south, is responsible for this March-like time warp - enough cold air in the lowest mile of the atmosphere for an historic slush-storm.

The ground is warm (it was 81F Sunday) so any snow will melt on contact this afternoon but we may still wake up to a slushy 2-5" by Thursday AM. A plowable 3-7" snow may fall on some suburbs. Unreal.

A storm stalling over Missouri changes snow back to rain Friday & Saturday.

Before spending the morning with my therapist, then heading out to man the picket lines, let me attempt to reassure you that 60s & 70s should return next week.

Yes, spring has lost its bounce.
Not Again. Hey, I'm ready to track mosquitoes, dew points, even a few tornadoes, if that's what it takes to get consistent warmth up here. WSI's 12km. RPM model shows the heaviest snow band setting up just south/east of MSP; a narrow band of 8-10" from near Northfield to Hastings and Stillwater, with some 2-5" amounts for much of the metro tonight and Thursday morning. A slam dunk? No. It never is, but I suspect a very slushy start for your Thursday, with a 60% probability of setting an all-time May snowfall record for the Twin CIties. Hey, if it's 'gonna snow - let's go for a record.

Model Solutions. Expect another very heavy, wet, slushy snow tonight (ratio close to 7:1). Snow will melt on contact for a time this afternoon and early tonight, but start to accumulate on lawns and fields after 7 or 8 pm. Models seem to be converging on a solution in the 2-6" range, ECMWF suggests the heaviest amounts will be over the northern/western suburbs, NAM shows the axis of heaviest snow setting up over the southern/eastern suburbs. Plowable by Thursday morning? Yes - probably.

The Drought Is Over. O.K. I'm jumping the gun a little - but my point is this: the pattern is wet, and it's persistent. The drought is already over for most of the Twin Cities metro, and I expect the drought to slowly fade over central and western Minnesota in the weeks ahead. Some good news for Minnesota farmers - the chilly weather is a hassle, but a huge north-south temperature contrast has set the stage for a series of storms capable of (finally) tapping moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

Two Surges of Gulf Moisture. Surge #1 arrives today and tonight, starting as rain, then changing to a rare May snow event by tonight as a north wind cools the lowest mile of the atmosphere. Snow tapers Thursday morning; then a second surge of moisture arrives from the southeast Friday PM, temperatures aloft warming enough for rain (thank God). A "cut-off" low, cut off from the main belt of westerly jet stream winds will wobble and spin over Missouri, funneling 1-2" precipitation into MSP by Sunday. NAM animation: NOAA.

May Madness. From 81F. on a Sunday to 30s and heavy wet snow on a Wednesday night, to rain late Friday into Sunday, to highs near 70 early next week, to a possible mix (again?) by next Thursday, with a cooling trend as we sail into Fishing Opener Weekend. It's too early to say with certainty, but the odds of a lukewarm Fishing Opener are fading fast. Surprised? Me neither.

Freak Spring: A Mixed Blessing In The Weather Department. It hailed Tuesday in Silver Bay, Minnesota - warnings were issued for 1-2" diameter hail. Not all that unusual for late April, until you consider that hail was falling on 6-10" snow still left on the ground. Here's today's edition of Climate Matters, which examines the high amplitude jet stream pattern responsible for easing the drought east of the Mississippi - and unseasonably cold, snowy weather farther north and west: "Meteorologist Paul Douglas looks at how rare it is for cities like Denver and Minneapolis to see May snowstorms. Plus what's causing this late spring cold blast around the United States."

Clashing Seasons. Severe Storm Warnings were posted for Lake Superior's North Shore Tuesday morning, reports of 1.5" diameter hail at Silver Bay. What makes this unusual is the fact that large hail was falling on ground still largely snow-covered. Thanks to Kent Kaiser and WeatherNation TV for passing this along.

Ice-Out. It's not official, but most of the ice seemed to come off Lake Minnetonka on April 28-29, nearly 2 weeks later than usual. Here's an overview of how ice-out is calculated on 'Tonka, courtesy of The Freshwater Society: "On Lake Minnetonka the ice is designated as "out" when it is possible to travel by small boat from any shore to any other shore through any passage on the lake. Ice-out dates have been determined using this method since 1968. Previous methods include: when the ice was 50% gone, when a boat could circle Big Island, when a boat could travel between Wayzata and Excelsior, when a car fell through the ice and by visual observations from a number of lake locations."

Lake Minnetonka Ice-Out Dates. Last year ice-out came on March 21, in 2011 it was April 14, a bit closer to average. PDF document above courtesy of The Freshwater Society.

Ice-Out From Space. Here is Monday's1,000 meter resolution NASA MODIS image, showing ice covered lakes over roughly the northern half of Minnesota - snow on the ground still clearly visible over the northern third of the state.

Strange "Chandeliering Ice" Phenomena Unfolds At Medicine Lake. Check out the remarkable video and explanation from kare11.com: "...On a day in which spring made its return to Minnesota with a vengeance, Nadalie Thomas caught Old Man Winter making his last stand with an ice-shattering spectacle known to some as "chandeliering." Nadalie and her kids were down on the shores of Medicine Lake in Plymouth Saturday when they noticed large piles of ice that were splintering into fine shards similar to glass. As spectacular as the visual image was the ear-splitting sound that accompanied the icy scene..."

Flood Victims Compare Homes To War Zone. NBC Chicago has the video; here's an excerpt of their story on recent historic flooding in the Chicago area: "Less than a week has passed since a regional super storm dumped billions of gallons of water on Illinois homes, and caused devastating floods. Some homeowners, finally able to move about without canoes or flotation devises, are tearing apart flood ravaged homes. Resident's of flood ravaged Forest View, where about 90 percent of the town was evacuated, compared their town to a war zone. It's an idea backed up by images of heavy machinery moving debris from place to place. "Take a look around," said one homeowner near 46th street and Winona Avenue. "It's like war zone. It's unbelievable. People have lost everything. Their personal belongings, their houses everything. It's just devastating..."

Media credit above: "Nick Ariano, from left, Rick Watson and Keith Andrzejewski head out to rescue the grandmother of Andrzejewski, near Ogden and Rt. 53 in Lisle, Illinois, during heavy flooding on Thursday, April 18, 2013". (Antonio Perez/ChicagoTribune/MCT)

Tornado Sirens Giving Way To New Warning Technology. The new frontier is smartphones and even GPS-enabled tablets; check with your local wireless carrier to see if these new (free) warnings from NOAA are enabled. Here's an excerpt from USA Today: "...Cellphone alerts, rolled out nationally last year, are called "wireless emergency alerts." "They are up and running," said Tod Pritchard, a spokesman for Wisconsin Emergency Management. "It's a great tool." Pritchard said a cellphone is like a mini-radio that gets signals from surrounding cellphone towers. When a tornado warning is issued for a particular county, every cellphone tower there would transmit a warning to phones in range. A phone that receives a warning message will sound an alert. "It's not just a standard ring or the ring tone you've selected. It has a different sound to it," Pritchard said. Along with the tone, phones will display a short text message. A tornado warning might say, "Take shelter immediately..."

* more information on these new Wireless Emergency Alerts for each carrier from The CTIA.

As Hurricane Season Approaches, Weather Agencies Gird For Cuts. The first time public safety is threatened there will be howls of protest - wait for it. Here's an excerpt from bradenton.com: "...Federal officials say they have the resources to warn storm-prone areas about weather emergencies, but a federal union representative warns that a hiring freeze plus furloughs threaten public safety. Aircraft known as Hurricane Hunters will keep flying into storms to measure wind speed and air pressure, though their flight crews will have to take turns being furloughed. Weather satellites will remain on track, though the offices that monitor them will get squeezed. Officials say they can maintain adequate staffing at the National Hurricane Center near Miami, though its forecasters will be forced to take off four unpaid days by Sept. 30. Staff at the National Weather Service already is depleted because of a hiring freeze...." (Hurricane Hunter file image courtesty of NOAA and AP).

10 Best-Selling Informercial Products. Snuggie comes in at number 8? How can that be? Here's an excerpt from a fun little article at Mental Floss: "Snuggie did not invent the blanket with sleeves (that honor goes to the Slanket folks), but they did popularize the item with a series of widely seen and totally laughable commercials that insisted the behemoth blanket was the product viewers had always wanted. They must have done something right, because more than 20 million Snuggies have been cuddled up with to date. Of course, it helps that the product is big with groups; bar crawls and sporting events are just a few of the Snuggie-required group activities that have helped push those numbers up. In April 2010, Los Angeles Angels fans set a Guinness World Record when more than 43,000 spectators showed up to watch the game in their Snuggies."

May Meltdown. Duluth went from 17" snow on the ground last Saturday to NO snow as of Tuesday evening, which may be the most remarkable meltdown I can ever remember. International Falls reports 2" snow on the ground. Tuesday highs ranged from 55 at Grand Marais to 67 Duluth, 68 St. Cloud, 72 Twin Cities and 76 at Rochester.

Climate Stories...

Wild Weather Swings May Be A Sign Of Climate Change. The phase shift from extreme drought ot extreme flood has been breathtaking across the Midwest and Mississippi River Valley this month, as explained by Andrew Freedman at Climate Central; here's an excerpt: “...The recent flooding is due to an inordinately wet April,” said NWS climate services program manager Victor Murphy. “Portions of northern and central Illinois and eastern Iowa have received from 200 percent to 400 percent of normal precipitation over the past 30 days," Murphy said.  While spring flooding is typical in the Midwest as snow cover melts and heavy spring rainfall occurs, the recent extreme swings between record dry conditions and record flooding are anything but normal. The swings may be connected in part to climate change, since the atmosphere is now carrying more moisture than it used to due to warming air and ocean temperatures. Climate studies have projected that precipitation extremes will become more frequent and severe. Some studies have already found an increase in heavy precipitation events across the Northern Hemisphere and in North America, including in the Midwest..."

Photo credit above: "Flooding on Grand Avenue in Chicago after heavy rains struck the city in mid-April." Credit: NWS via John Trillik.

400 ppm. Graphic above courtesy of Forecast The Facts.

Sea Surface Temperatures Reach Highest Level In 150 Years Off On Northeast Continental Shelf. Potentially record snows for the Upper Mississippi Valley while water temperatures off the Northeast coast set new records. Very odd. Here's an excerpt from NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center: "Sea surface temperatures in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem during 2012 were the highest recorded in 150 years, according to the latest Ecosystem Advisory issued by NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). These high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are the latest in a trend of above average temperature seen during the spring and summer seasons, and part of a pattern of elevated temperatures occurring in the Northwest Atlantic, but not seen elsewhere in the ocean basin over the past century. The advisory reports on conditions in the second half of 2012. Sea surface temperature for the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem reached a record high of 14 degrees Celsius (57.2°F) in 2012, exceeding the previous record high in 1951. Average SST has typically been lower than 12.4 C (54.3 F) over the past three decades..."

To Fight Climate Change, Don't Mention It, Study Suggests. Well that makes perfect sense. Lalalalala. The fact that going green will save you money, help America conserve energy and become less dependent on foreign countries that don't seem to like us very much are all tangible benefits. Oh yeah - you might accidently do something good for the environment. But keep that a secret. Here's a clip from NBC News: "...Those who show a distaste for the environmental messages tend to side with conservative political ideologies, according to the paper, which teases apart how political views affect attitudes and choices when it comes to energy-efficient products. "As expected, the more conservative participants were, the less they favored investing in energy-efficient technology," Gromet and colleagues write in the paper published online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  The ideological divide was strongest when energy efficiency was tied to the environmental message of reducing carbon emissions. Energy efficiency is more broadly appealing for the financial savings it offers and for increasing energy independence..."

Photo credit above: "Compact fluorescent light bulbs such as those shown here are more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs. To sell them broadly, new research suggests, skip mention of their environmental benefits." Department of Energy Image.

1960s Satellite Images Add To Evidence Of Shrinking Sea Ice. Here's a clip from a story at NPR and Georgia Public Broadcasting: "Scientists have digitized and analyzed imagery taken by one of the first U.S. weather satellites to create a montage showing the extent of polar sea ice in 1964 so they can compare it to more recent satellite photos. The images from low Earth orbit beamed down by the Nimbus I satellite in 1964 reveal that Antarctic ice in September of that year was "substantially higher" than estimates for the period 1979-2000, according to the analysis published in the journal The Cryosphere..."

Image credit: "An artist's rendering of the Nimbus 1".

Climate Change Is In The Air. Here's a segment from an article at Clean Technica: "...Another Republican, former Secretary of State George Shultz, is an unlikely climate activist who considers the issue urgent enough to warrant a recent visit to Capitol Hill after a 20-year absence. His purpose? To push Congress to support alternative energy sources. And Shultz is not alone. Even before 2012, military leaders were expressing concern about climate change. In February 2010, the Pentagon’s primary planning document identified climate change and energy as “two key issues that will play a significant role in shaping the future security environment” and went on to note that “climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked.” In April of the same year, 33 retired generals and admirals wrote a letter to senate leaders warning that “Climate change is threatening America’s security” and urging action..."

U.S. Sociologist Tracks The Politics Of Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at UPI.com: ..."But there is still a political split on levels of perceived scientific agreement, in that fewer Republicans and conservatives than Democrats and liberals believe there is a scientific consensus." McCright say the results of a Gallup survey of 1,024 adults asking their views on climate change reaffirm the success of what he calls the "denial machine" -- an organized movement to undercut the scientific reality of climate change during the past two decades. The first step in dealing with climate change, he said, is getting both sides of the political spectrum to accept the scientific consensus. That would clear the way for policymakers to undertake the task of coming up with an approach to combat it, an effort that should involve both government and industry, he said..."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Freak May Snowstorm Brewing for the Twin Cities? (more soaking rains Mississippi Valley)

1.24" precipitation predicted for Wednesday and Wednesday night in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Much of that will probably fall as sleet and snow.

2-6" sleet and snow possible by Wednesday night. Bufkit predicts 6.1" for MSP by Thursday morning.

3" old record for most snow from a single May storm (May 11-12, 1946).

Strike. I'm going on strike. I can't take it anymore.

Record May Snowfall?

One of the 15 meteorologists on my staff has parents who returned from winter hibernation in Scottsdale back in early April, thinking they'd be "out of the woods".


I shouldn't laugh, but I can't help myself.

Three plowable snows and 18" later they are reportedly thinking of moving to Arizona for good. Come to think of it, our freakish un-spring may turn the rest of us us into snowbirds.

The most snow from a single May storm in the Twin Cities? 3" in 1946. Hey, if the weather is crummy let's at least go for a record. More boasting rights!

Here is what I know: Minnesotans lose their stoic sense of humor when it snows on their green lawns. A cold front arrives today; a cold rain likely on Wednesday. Amazingly, by Wednesday night the lowest mile of the atmosphere will be cold enough for snow - rain changes to wet snow Wednesday with a potential for a plowable snowfall of 2-6" for parts of the Twin Cities metro, significantly more over southeastern Minnesota. Good grief.

The same extreme pattern pumping moisture into Minnesota, easing our drought, is also funneling harsh outbreaks of winter chill southward. You can't have one without the other.

If it's any consolation long-range models show 60s, even 70s for the 2013 Fishing Opener.

I mean..what can possibly go wrong?

Historic May Snow Events In The Twin Cities. I was really hoping not to have to share this information with you, but with a nagging slush potential later this week I'm going to cover my (Doppler) and include this excerpt from The Minnesota Climatology Working Group: "Snow that falls in May is typically a novelty. The ground is usually too warm by May to allow much of an accumulation. Looking at past records for the Twin Cities, a trace of snow falls during the month of May fairly frequently, with the last windswept flurries reported on May 1-2, 2005. If the snow manages to accumulate it is generally under an inch and mostly on grassy surfaces. The most recent measureable Twin Cities snow event was 0.3 inches on May 5, 1991. About once every 30 years or so, there is a snow event that is enough to cover newly greened lawns and coat budding leaves. The last time there was a snow event in May greater than an inch in the Twin Cities was on May 2, 1976 with 1.2 inches. The most that it has snowed in May in a single event for the Twin Cities is three inches. This has happened on three occasions: May 20, 1892, May 1, 1935 and May 11-12, 1946."

Top 10 May Snow Events At MSP. I know, this is one Top 10 List you were hoping to never be subjected to. Will we make the list later this week? Probably. Information courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Almost Censored. Wednesday looks like the problem day, temperatures aloft probably cold enough aloft for (mostly) snow. Some of that snow will melt on contact with relatively mild lawns, fields and roads, but wet, sloppy, gloppy snow may eventually accumulate by Wednesday evening and night, and it may be enough to shovel and plow, especially south/east of the Twin Cities. If it's 3" or more we'll set a May snowfall record dating back to 1946. May I be excused?

NAM Solution. I'm not buying it (yet), because it would smash old May snowfall records for the Twin Cities, and temperatures aloft will be close to critical by Wednesday night and Thursday; a degree or two warmer than predicted aloft and we wind up with (mostly) rain. Will we see a slushy coating of an inch or two? Probably. But 3-6"? Not convinced, not yet.

A Very Wet Week. The ECMWF often gets a jump on trends, and then the U.S. models eventually catch up. We'll see if that's the case this week - the European model predicting over 3" liquid by Sunday, with a period of potentially significant snow Thursday and Friday. Spring stages a modest comeback by early next week.

U.S. Models - Not As Wet. The local NWS office is predicting about .80" liquid by Thursday night, but amounts may go higher by the weekend as Gulf moisture surges north, pulled along by a temporarily stationary storm over the Central Plains.

A Fishing Opener Warm Front? I'm hesitant even showing a 1-2 week extended outlook, because the pattern is still so erratic (and extreme), and the cold bias we've witnessed since early February is slow to fade. But GFS numbers shows 60s and 70s returning in time for the opener, The Race For The Cure, and Mother's Day. For the sake of mental health statewide, I hope the models are right.

Rapidly Fading Drought. At least that's the case over most of the Midwest and Mississippi River Valley, where precipitation since April 1 has been 1.5 to 3 times more than normal. Meanwhile drought is deepening over the Southwest.

Backwards Spring. Check out some of these monthly snowfall totals from Colorado - in many cases April has seen more snow than February and March combined! Remarkable. Thanks to Earth Network's Chad Merrill for passing this along.

Weathering The Irony Of The Sequester "Fix" To Air Travel Delays. The head of the AMS, The American Meteorological Society, Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, talks about the recent flap over The Sequester and air traffic delays in the larger scope of 24/7 access to reliable, accurate weather information. Here's an excerpt from his post at Facebook: "...The U.S. Department of Transportation finds that weather can be attributed to 40% of all flight delays. If you want this in economic numbers, ExecutiveTravelMagazine cites an FAA study that "calculated that delays and cancellations from all causes cost passengers $16.7 billion a year. That puts the price tag on weather-related schedule disruptions at around $6.7 billion. "Further, it is clear that weather contributes to a large percentage of aviation accidents and fatalities. Weather risks to flight include thunderstorms, fog, clearn-air turbulence, snow/ice, crosswinds, and wind shear. Many of these processes are not well-understood, which means sequester pressures on research, travel to scientific meetings, and journal access further complicate the safety of our nation's air travelers in the long run. In summary, I find that many people see the impact of the sequester on FAA furloughs and related travel. However, many don't seem to stop and think about how critical the national weather infrastructure and agencies are to air travel, yet the continue to suffer under the weight of an ill-conceived sequester. More alarming, weather information is vital to many facets of our daily lives. Our weather enterprise is vital to life, property and commerce in this country and piece-meal fixes are dangerous on many "fronts". Pun intented...

Weather information that supports air travel does not come from the "weather fairy"...

Weather Service Faces Furloughs During Hurricane Season. The first time there's a weather disaster and subsequent loss of life that can be linked to a shortfall in staffing levels, God help us - there will be screams of protest. Here's an excerpt from Florida's SunSentinel: "...“This could have a detrimental effect on everybody’s public safety,” said Bob Ebaugh, the steward in Miami for the National Weather Service Employees Organization. “Once you start limiting staffing, you start raising the potential for disaster.” He said furloughs could hamper the NWS’ ability to predict wildfire and tornado conditions during the spring and to pinpoint where storms might hit land during the summer. Citing 250 vacancies throughout the Weather Service, Ebaugh said the agency “saves money from not filling those positions, which just caused more stress on the rest of the employees.” This mix of warnings and assurances comes on the heels of an extraordinary year of storms, flooding, blizzards and droughts — 11 separate billion-dollar disasters in 2012, capped by superstorm Sandy. Weather-conscious Florida, where a tourism economy depends on the great outdoors, has the most at stake from any gaps in forecasting..." (Hurricane Floyd image courtesy of NASA).

Of Course You're Stressed - Just Look At You. Wait, stress is bad for you? I have a t-shirt that reads "high on stress". Launching a business in 2008, at the height of a recession, will do that to you. Here's an excerpt from a story at The L.A. Times: "We all know the face of stress: the clenched jaw, the furrowed brow, the intense stare. And, really, it's not a bad look. We all do some of our best work under pressure. Adrenaline and other stress hormones give us the kick start we need to meet deadlines and generally get ahead in life. But when stress runs too hot for too long, the look changes. People who are stressed for years don't merely appear driven or focused. They look beaten down. In large doses, stress can wear the body and speed up the clock on aging. The wear and tear of stress can show up in every part of the body: individual cells, bones, skin. You can even see it in photographs..."

Slaves To The Algorithm. The joys of data mining, turning noise into something approximating intelligence, even when it comes to which plot lines or actors to put in your upcoming film. Here's a snippet of a fascinating story at moreintelligentlife.com: "There are many reasons to believe that film stars earn too much. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie once hired an entire train to travel from London to Glasgow. Tom Cruise’s daughter Suri is reputed to have a wardrobe worth $400,000. Nicolas Cage once paid $276,000 for a dinosaur head. He would have got it for less, but he was bidding against Leonardo DiCaprio. Nick Meaney has a better reason for believing that the stars are overpaid: his algorithm tells him so. In fact, he says, with all but one of the above actors, the studios are almost certainly wasting their money. Because, according to his movie-analysis software, there are only three actors who make money for a film. And there is at least one A-list actress who is worth paying not to star in your next picture..."

Netflix CEO: "Over The Coming Decades...Internet TV Will Replace Linear TV". In a world of infinite choice, where traditional TV is becoming Internet-enabled - will viewers still watch linear TV? I hope so. Here's an excerpt from TVSpy: "...In a letter to shareholders this week, Hastings lays out the 10 reasons why Internet TV will continue to gain popularity, concluding that “over the coming decades and across the world, Internet TV will replace linear TV. Apps will replace channels, remote controls will disappear, and screens will proliferate”:
People love TV content, and we watch over a billion hours a day of linear TV. But people don’t love the linear TV experience where channels present programs at particular times on non-portable screens with complicated remote controls. Consumers click through a grid to choose something to watch. DVRs and VOD add an on-demand layer, at the cost of storage and increased complexity. Finding good things to watch isn’t easy or enjoyable. While hugely popular, the linear TV channel model is ripe for replacement..."

Nepal Officials Vow To Ensure Security On Everest After Fight. Because nothing gets the heart pounding faster than a rumble at 25,000 feet. Here's an excerpt from Reuters and Yahoo News: KATHMANDU (Reuters) - "Nepal officials vowed on Monday to ensure the safety of climbers seeking to scale Mount Everest after three European climbers were involved in a fight with sherpa guides on their way to the peak of the world's highest mountain. Three experienced climbers from Britain, Italy and Switzerland were on route to camp three at 7,000 meters (22,965 feet) on the 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) Everest summit when a brawl broke out on Saturday with sherpas fixing their ropes. Witnesses said the sherpas pelted the Europeans' tents with stones and punches were thrown..."

Photo credit: "In this Tuesday, May 6, 2003 file photo, Mount Everest, at 8,850-meter (29,035-foot), the world's tallest mountain situated in the Nepal-Tibet border as seen from an airplane. Days after four people died amid a "traffic jam" of climbers scrambling to conquer Mount Everest, Nepal officials said a similar rush up the world's tallest peak will begin soon, and there's little they can do to control it." (AP Photo/Binod Joshi, File)

Climate Stories....

Greenhouse Gas Levels Highest In 3 Million Years. 400 ppm. The steady upward climb in greenhouse gases continues, with CO2 levels closing in on 400 parts per million. Here's an excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald: "Carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere are on the cusp of reaching 400 parts per million for the first time in 3 million years. The daily CO2 level, measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, was 399.72 parts per million last Thursday, and a few hourly readings had risen to more than 400 parts per million. ''I wish it weren't true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400 ppm level without losing a beat,'' said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in the US, which operates the Hawaiian observatory. ''At this pace we'll hit 450 ppm within a few decades...'' (Image above courtesy of Scripps Institute of Oceanography).

British Winemakers Credit Climate Change For Boom In Bubbly Sales.The warming is showing up in unusual areas - good wine in England? That's a fairly recent development, as reported in The Washington Post: "Blessed with soil similar to France’s Champagne region, vineyards in England nevertheless produced decades of low-grade goop that caused nary a Frenchman to tremble. But a Great British fizz boom is underway, with winemakers crediting climate change for the warmer weather that has seemed to improve their bubbly. Increasingly hospitable temperatures have helped transplanted champagne grapes such as chardonnay and pinot noir thrive in the microclimates of southern England, touching off a wine rush by investors banking on climate change. Once considered an oxymoron, fine English sparkling wine is now retailing for champagne prices of $45 to $70 a pop. In recent years, dozens of vineyards have sprouted in Britain’s burgeoning wine country, with at least one traditional French champagne maker doing the once-unthinkable — scooping up land to make sparkling wine in England..."

Photo credit above: GRAHAM BARCLAY/BLOOMBERG NEWS. "Sparkling wine undergoes an early fermentation process at the Ridgeview Wine Estate in East Sussex, England. Warmer summers are producing wines competitive with some from France."

What's Climate Scientist James Hansen's Legacy? Some answers in this story at The Guardian; here's an excerpt: "Just a few weeks ago, one of the biggest names in climate science made one of the biggest announcements possible. Dr. James (Jim) Hansen said that he will "retire" from his duties at NASA to focus his energies elsewhere. This is a "retirement" that is anything but. Dr. Hansen has made clear that he will become more engaged in communicating climate science to the general public and he will continue to carry out the high-quality work which he is known for. What does this mean for climate science and the future of the Earth? It is impossible to know now but instead of looking forward, I want to shine a light on what Jim has done for climate science, what he signifies to the larger public, and how he is viewed by current and upcoming scientists..."

Image credit above: "Climate scientist James Hansen is retiring from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies." Photograph: Murdo Macleod.