Conservation Minnesota

Cold Weather = Dark Moods. Second Coldest Week of Winter?

40 F. high in the Twin Cities Sunday.
33 mph wind gust at 6:53 PM Sunday.
27 F. average high on February 7.
36 F. high on February7,2015.

4″ snow on the ground at KMSP.

February 8, 1996: Showers and thunderstorms bring a mix of freezing rain and rain across the eastern portion of Minnesota. In Edina, lightning damaged a house.
February 8, 1933: Arctic air remains entrenched across Minnesota with a morning low of -55 at Warroad.

Feeling Moody? Blame It On The Weather

The coldest nation on Earth? Russia, followed by Canada, Mongolia, Finland and Iceland. The USA gets an honorable mention.

According to Random History.com the cold, dark days of midwinter can put additional stress on relationships. Between the end of the holidays and Valentine’s Day couples are more than twice as likely to split up. Why? Holidays are stressful (no kidding) and lower energy levels during cold weather makes people moodier.

I’m trying to hold my tongue because this will be one of the 2 or 3 coldest weeks of winter. Highs only reach single digits and teens into the weekend; at least 3 nights below zero. Not even close to record-setting, but cold enough for anyone with a pulse.

One upside: our coldest days tend to be sunny. Our lakes are too small to spark lake-effect clouds and snow, with the exception of Superior.

By my calculations we’ve picked up an additional 78 minutes of daylight since December 21; increasing at the rate of 2-3 minutes a day.

Long range models show 20s returning next week; a shot at 40F again in less than 2 weeks. This too shall pass.


Current Travel Conditions. We saw just enough drizzle to firm up the snow in the metro area, cutting down on subsequent blowing and drifting wiithin 30 miles of the downtowns. But travel conditions are still rough over far southern and southwestern Minnesota with white-outs reported. Click here for the latest travel info, courtesty of MnDOT.


How Gloomy Winter Days Can Be An Issue for Employers. The dark days of winter can take a toll on mental and physical health, according to an article at The Chicago Tribune – here’s an excerpt: “…This is a real diagnosis, and it’s recognized by psychiatrists in many countries,” said Norman Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Rosenthal gave the disorder its name. According to the APA, symptoms of SAD include fatigue, pervasively sad mood, loss of interest, sleep difficulty or excessive sleeping, craving and eating more starches and sweets, weight gain, feelings of hopelessness or despair, and thoughts of suicide. In 2008, Rosenthal wrote in a journal article on seasonal affective disorder that 6 percent of the U.S. population is affected…”



Memories of January.  Although not as cold as mid-January, this week should be the second coldest week of the winter, the way things are setting up, a couple lobes of arctic air pushing south of the border, no real moderation until Sunday. 2-meter GFS temperature forecast: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Noticeable Chill in the Air. Models are in tight alignment, showing the lowest wind chill Wednesday morning, as cold as -18 to -26F. Parka weather into Saturday, then a slow climb back to average next week. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

Air Temperature Prediction. The coldest morning may come Wednesday, although if skies are clear Saturday may come close to the same negative values. Air temperatures in the metro may be -4 to -8F by midweek.

Moderation. NOAA’s GFS model shows mid to upper 30s returning by the end of next week as winds aloft blow from the Pacific, not the Yukon. Not even close to record chill, but a reminder that February is nearly as cold as January.


Too Cold For (Significant) Snow. When it’s this cold you tend to see a family of clippers, one such stormy swirl may drop a coating late Sunday, but the odds of a big, soggy, southern storm pushing a shield of snow into Minnesota into next week are pretty small. Source: WeatherSpark.


Brushed by a Nor’Easter. A few inches of snow may accumulate from Long Island to Providence, the best chance of plowable amounts from Cape Cod into Boston by tonight and Tuesday.


2-Week Outlook. No, don’t take this to the bank, but long-range GFS model guidance shows slow moderation within a couple of weeks; temperatures at or just above average as Canadian air becomes tempered by a milder Pacific flow.


Above Average? We may see 20s, even a few 30s the latter half of next week; the GFS model hinting at 40 by Friday evening, February 19. That same model hintsata plowable snowfall or an icy mix 12 days from now. Circle your calendar.



How Melting Arctic Ice May Have Set Off Era of Vicious East Coast Snow Storms. Jason Samenow connects the dots at Capital Weather Gang; here’s a clip: “…Cohen, who works at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc., has developed and published research that support a connection between declining Arctic ice and more severe East Coast storms. Cohen says the melting ice, which peaks in the early fall, sets off a chain reaction that establishes “a great atmospheric background for a blockbuster snowstorm” by winter. Here’s how it works…When sea ice melts, Cohen says, cold winds blowing over open waters in the Arctic pick up moisture which gets deposited as snow over Eurasia in October. The process is similar to how lake effect snow forms in the Great Lakes.…”

Image credit: “2015 September Arctic sea extent compared to 1981-2000 average portrayed by yellow line.” (NASA).


In Tornado Alley, Using Drones to Pinpoint Severe Weather. Here’s an excerpt of an interesting interview at PBS NewsHour: “…In other words, forecasters need to get closer to the action, scanning parts of the atmosphere that traditional radar, weather balloons and sophisticated weather towers can’t reach. That sweet spot is called the lower atmospheric boundary layer, a zone roughly 1,000 feet off the ground. Phillip Chilson is a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and is also involved in the project. “There has been a need for high quality measurements of the lower atmosphere that’s been known by the meteorological community for decades. The lowest level of the atmosphere is so dynamic spatially and temporally, that it’s very under-sampled at present...” (File image: J Pat Carter, Associated Press).



The Southwest May Have Entered a “Drier Climate State”. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “…We see a very intense trend in the Southwest,” Andreas Prein, a postdoctoral researcher at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said. “The Southwest might already have drifted into a drier climate state.” Prein, who led the research published on Thursday in Geophysical Research Letters, looked at weather patterns rather than average trends in precipitation. The team identified 12 major patterns, only three of which are favorable for rain in the Southwest. In an ominous finding for the region, they found that over the past 30 years, those three rainy patterns are becoming less frequent and the rains and mountain snow that come with them are drying up...”

Map credit above: “Precipitation across the U.S. that can be attributed to these changes in weather patterns. The gray dots show areas where the results are statistically significant.” Credit: Andreas Prein.



Cover Crops, a Farming Revolution With Deep Roots in the Past. Not only does in help to sequester carbon in the soil, it can make fields more resilient to drought and flood. Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “…But Doug didn’t become a believer until 2013, when the family was grappling with a terrible drought. “In the part of a field where we had planted cover crops, we were getting 20 to 25 bushels of corn more per acre than in places where no cover crops had been planted,” he said. “That showed me it made financial sense to do this.” Now some 13,000 of the 20,000 acres that the family farms across nine counties are planted with cover crops after harvesting, and farmers around them are beginning to embrace the practice…”

Photo credit above: “Dan DeSutter, in a field of dried-up daikon radish, sunflower, turnip and hairy vetch, has been experimenting with cover crops for 15 years.” Credit David Kasnic for The New York Times.


Car Fumes Are Killing Us. So Why Isn’t Anyone Telling Us Not To Drive? This study focuses on the UK, but the results and implications are more sweeping; here’s an excerpt at The Guardian: “…Because air pollution – in the memorable phrase of Prof Chris Griffiths, who shared the preliminary findings of a study with Channel 4’s The Great Car Con last week – causes children growing up in polluted areas (of which my London borough is one) to develop “smaller, stunted lungs”. It also causes people to die from heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer, and exacerbates other lung diseases and asthma. Usually it’s not the only cause, but air pollution is a factor in at least 30,000 deaths each year in the UK, although scientists are struggling to disentangle the damage caused by nitrogen dioxide from that caused by particulates, or soot. By way of comparison, in the UK there are up to 100,000 smoking-related deaths each year, nearly 9,000 alcohol-related ones and about 1,800 people killed in car crashes…”


Koch Network Frustrated by Trump. Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg Politics: “…Although historically the Koch network has supported mostly Republican candidates, Koch is sharply critical of both parties for what he views as out-of-control spending and corporate welfare. Sometimes he sounds like a liberal. Of Bernie Sanders’ crusade against the power of corporations, he said, “a lot of what he says is true. The businesspeople who are successful haven’t become successful because they helped others improve their lives. It’s because they helped rig the system...”


The Developing World Can Leapfrog Dirty Coal And Go Straight To Clean Energy. Just like many Soviet-block countries bypassed landlines and went right to cellular technology, the same thing is happening with energy. Here’s a snippet from a story at Fast Company: “…The rapidly unfolding energy transition is bypassing coal and going straight to low-cost renewables. As countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America seize this chance to “leapfrog” over fossil fuels and expand their clean energy capacity, they not only benefit from economic growth and cheap electricity, they also increase their security and avoid the severe damage to health and the environment that burning fossil fuels causes...”


What to Expect When You’re Expecting the Collapse of Society As We Know It. Here’s an excerpt of a harrowing and mildly disturbing article at BuzzFeed: “…There are tutorial blog posts on water purification, videos declaring “a vague sense of uneasiness is reason enough to prepare,” and five different Survival Mom Facebook groups totaling more than 150,000 members. “Preparedness runs the gamut from practical things all the way to the real, extreme, worst-case scenarios,” Bedford says. “The stuff that isn’t even that unthinkable anymore.” Stuff like a massive electromagnetic pulse. Or an earthquake, or a tidal wave, or a complete unraveling of the fabric of society — stuff that would make for a second Great Depression. Not the end of the world, then, so much as the end of a relatively pleasant and convenient one…”


The Injuries Most Likely To Land You In An Emergency Room. Here’s an excerpt from Quartz: “What you’re looking at are 367,492 visits to US emergency rooms in 2014, distributed by age. The data give us some insight into how people injure themselves at different points in their lives…”



TODAY: Flurries taper, cold wind, feels like -5F. Winds: NW 15-30.  High: 17

MONDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 4

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, feels like -10F. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 13

WEDNESDAY:  Some sun, winds ease. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: -7. High: 7

THURSDAY: Blue sky, light winds. No bugs. Winds: W 3-8. Wake-up: -8. High: 9

FRIDAY: Next clipper arrives, few flurries. Winds: N 10-20. Wake-up: 5. High: 12

SATURDAY: Lot’s of sun, feels like -10F. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: -8. High: 10

SUNDAY: Chance of light snow. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 7. High: near 20 (late)


Climate Stories…
Climate Talk in Alexandia. I want to thank Reverend John Riggle and some very dedicated volunteers for arranging a presentation to local pastors and a public talk in the Alexandria area on Saturday. I had a chance to review meteorological and climate trends, and talk about faith, stewardship and Creation Care. Photo above courtesy of the Alexandria Echo Press, which has details here.

Greetings from Alexandria. I had enough time to see Big Ole and take a quick tour of the Kensington Rune Stone, which dates back to 1362. Yes, there’s compelling evidence that the Vikings were here long before Christopher Columbus got close, and yet professional skeptics remain. Sound familiar?

T-Shirt Weather in the Arctic. The changes are happening even faster at more northerly latitude; here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The New York Times: “…Thunderstorms also raged over our camp. These storms used to be rare in the Arctic, but they strike often now. Lightning has set fire to the tundra, releasing into the atmosphere huge stores of ancient carbon from the permafrost. Sinkholes are also opening up in the thawing tundra. Walk up to one, and you will hear the trickle and clatter as heat dissolves permafrost into cascades of ice age mud and stones. We are only just beginning to understand these changes. Ecosystems involve a complex web of connections among species and the physical environment. Climate change alters these connections in ways that can surprise and baffle us...”

Some Trees May Slow Climate Change Better Than Others. Who knew? Here’s the intro to a story at AOL.com: “Planting trees to help fight climate-change works, right? Well, according to a new study that’s not always the case. It turns out that conifer trees, like evergreens, may actually cause temperature increases where they’ve taken root in place of broad-leafed trees. For example, look at Europe where the study was focused…”

What You Get When You Mix Chickens, China and Climate Change. Is a warming planet accelerating the spread of infectious diseases? Here’s an excerpt from The New York Times: “...Nobody knows just how this virus migrated over the oceans protecting the New World. But it’s possible that another consequence of human appetites — climate change — played a role. While Asian and European birds don’t migrate into North America, they can pass on viruses to birds that do. That could happen in a place where millions of birds from both the Old World and New World are instinctively drawn every spring: the Arctic lands surrounding the Bering Strait, known as Beringia...” (Image credit: Jason Holley).

Climate Change Implicated in a Specific Extreme Weather Event.  Severe weather attribution is emerging science, but the link between warmer air/oceans and an increase in flooding events is increasing. Here’s an excerpt from National Geographic: “…In an article published in Nature Climate Change, the team said that their climate model simulations showed that anthropogenic warming not only increased the amount of moisture the atmosphere can hold but also caused a small but significant increase in the number of January days with westerly flow, both of which increased extreme precipitation. The authors explained that climate change “amplified” the violent storms that led to the area’s wettest January in more than a century and that it has likely increased the number of properties at risk and raised the costs of a flooding event. Based on more than 130,000 simulations of what the weather would have been like with and without human influence on the climate, the study finds that man-made greenhouse gas emissions have raised the possibility of extreme flooding by 43 percent...”

Did ExxonMobile Lie to Investors About Climate Change? Here’s an excerpt from an article at The Nation: “…Telling the truth is not only crucial; it’s the law. American firms must regularly disclose to investors and the public all material risks that could affect corporate operations and profitability. That will be a challenging if not self-defeating exercise for fossil-fuel companies in the post-Paris era. Telling the truth about Paris only figures to further spook already-nervous investors. “There’s now a very clear message that fossil-fuel use must be quickly and dramatically reduced,” said an official involved with Schneiderman’s investigation. “Companies must acknowledge that. If they disagree, they need to state why and explain in clear, practical terms what the implementation of the Paris Agreement means for their business and its future…”

Deniers Sweating Over Senate Shaming. Here’s a clip from The Daily Kos: “…Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) have introduced an amendment to the energy bill that scolds merchants  of doubt and the companies that fund them. The amendment wouldn’t actually do anything. It’s a “sense of the Senate,” which means the amendment just serves to express an opinion to get Congress on record as supporting or opposing an issue. The amendment calls out the tobacco, lead and fossil fuel companies for knowing the peer-reviewed science of  their products and employing “a sophisticated and deceitful campaign that included funding think thanks to deny, counter, and obstruct (the science)…to mislead the public and cast doubt in order to protect their financial interest...”
File image: Shutterstock.

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About Paul Douglas

Paul Douglas
Paul Douglas is a meteorologist, author, entrepreneur, and software expert in Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota. He is a nationally recognized meteorologist with over 30 years of broadcast television and radio experience.
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