Earth ChangesS

Cloud Lightning

Monsoons Two Months Early? New Mexico's Weird Weather

New Mexico's weather is always weird - but this spring has been far weirder than normal.

State Climatologist Ted Sammis said in 30 years as a weather watcher he's never seen a spring like it.

Monsoon season isn't supposed to start until July 4, give or take two weeks, he said.

But the persistent small thunderstorms and cooler temperatures of recent weeks sure look like typical July monsoons, Sammis said.

Light Saber

Earth is warming, but are we to blame?

To the editor:

A recent CBC story said eating red meat is a major contributor to global warming, because of the methane gas emitted when cows pass gas. One contributor to the program equated bovine flatulence with air pollution created by SUVs, and advocated a vegetarian diet for all earthlings. Only at the end of the program was it revealed the person was a vegan.

I equate global-warming fanatics with the more extreme members of the anti-tobacco lobby - people who seem to enjoy bullying people who smoke.

Cloud Lightning

South Carolina: May rainfall totals could be the lowest in more than a century

This may turn out to be one of driest months of May in more than 100 years. The Midlands is entering the first stage of drought.


Birds, Bees, Frogs: Our vanishing helpers

But these dyings-off are happening. They're real. They can't be laughed off with glib sarcasm. No, don't panic - rather, accept these as true harbingers of profound processes in which we play an important role. If we don't heed these warnings, the dyings-off could become dyings-out.

Not to say we are the main or the only cause. But human beings and what they do are likely involved. If there's a way we can improve matters, we should - that is, unless we're prepared to do without these wonderful animals and what they give the world.


Colorado's Pikes Peak has snowiest spring in more than a decade

Last May, Teresa Taylor was watching climbers pad up to the summit of Pikes Peak in shorts and sneakers. This year, she's warning everyone that beyond Barr Camp, you'd better be dressed for the worst.

This is the snowiest spring on Pikes Peak in more than a decade. Barr Camp recorded 231 inches of snow this winter. (It only saw 50 inches in 2006.)

Hikers venturing above treeline will find that the peak is more wintry this May than it usually is in January, and they should be prepared.

"The snow is still waist-deep in places, and we just got more today," Taylor, the caretaker at Barr Camp, said Wednesday. Every day, she warns people that the trail is buried.

Some climbers listen - she persuaded a dozen Texans in jeans to turn back Sunday. But some climbers don't. Two Air Force Academy cadets headed up to the summit Tuesday. They became stranded above treeline and had to be rescued by helicopter Wednesday morning.


Photographer Mauled by Yellowstone Bear

A man whose face was severely mauled by a grizzly in Yellowstone National Park is a photographer and author of books about grizzlies who also had been attacked in 1993.

The National Park Service said Jim Cole, 57, was hiking alone, off- trail in prime grizzly habitat Wednesday when he was attacked by a sow with a cub. He apparently was carrying pepper spray but whether he used it was unclear.

Cole told rangers he walked two to three miles to seek help.

Cole, of Bozeman, Mont., was in fair condition Friday at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. He underwent seven hours of surgery Thursday to repair his face.

Longtime friend Rich Berman said Cole was unable to speak and was breathing through a ventilator and being fed through a tube. "He's lucky to be alive," Berman said.


Georgia Feeling Effects of Drought

Neighbors are turning in neighbors for violating water restrictions, farmers are jittery about crops and churchgoers are praying for rain as Georgia suffers through one of its worst droughts in decades.

Sweltering conditions are expected to intensify. State climatologist David Stooksbury this week classified 74 of the state's 159 counties as being in "extreme" drought - more than double the assessment he delivered just a few weeks ago.

And he said he's doubtful conditions will improve any time soon, with little rain in the forecast.

The drought has forced state officials to restrict when residents can water their lawns - limiting it to early mornings on alternating days. Some cities, including Atlanta, have gone a step further, ordering residents to water lawns, wash cars and restrict other outdoor use to one day a week.

In the Atlanta suburb of Roswell, police are giving residents the option to call 24 hours a day to report water-use violations.


Earlier Cicada Invasion Spurred by Warmer Spring

After 17 years underground, billions of cicadas are about to descend upon the U.S. Midwest, crowding the trees and filling the air with their distinctive mating call.

But the usually punctual Brood XIII bugs are emerging about a week ahead of schedule - which has some scientists pondering how a changing climate might alter the cicadas' little-understood life cycle.

"The fact that our Aprils are warmer than they have been in the past is apparently encouraging the cicadas to emerge a week or so earlier than they have in the past," said Gene Kritsky, a biologist and cicada expert at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Alligator Captured Near Los Angeles Lake

For months, the city's most famous reptile eluded paparazzi and faithful fans who gathered at the edge of a park lake to catch a glimpse of the celebrity alligator.

But when "Reggie" decided to come out, the gator did it in true Hollywood style: Swarmed by fans and photographers as it sunned by the water, the reptile was whisked away with a police escort as TV helicopters gave chase and broadcast live footage of the cagey critter's freeway journey to the zoo.

"We were petting him, talking to him," said City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose district includes the park. "I feel like I know him because I've invested a lot of time and energy in him."

Cloud Lightning

Storms, Flooding Kill 5 in Central Texas

Two days of heavy storms and flooding had killed five people in central Texas by Friday, and bad weather was expected to continue pounding the Plains over the holiday weekend.

A man remained missing in Texas after his sport utility vehicle was swept away in a swollen creek, officials said. Several other people were rescued, and Gov. Rick Perry activated search and rescue teams.