Days of deep freeze and dead bugs

Brrrrrrr!Other than killing off a few million ash borers and, you know, repelling the riff-raff, today’s brisk weather isn’t good for much. But it is getting us plenty of attention.

Holly Yan and Steve Almasy at CNN write: “In Embarrass, Minnesota, residents wondered whether they might see their record-cold temperature of 64 below zero, set in 1996, snap like an icicle. ‘I’ve got a thermometer from the weather service that goes to 100 below,’ resident Roland Fowler told CNN affiliate KQDS. ‘If it gets that cold, I don’t want to be here.’ ” Hey, it’s 90 miles to Wisconsin, dude. Enjoy the ride.

A Minnesotan, writing in the Bangkok Post, says: “My home state of Minnesota in the United States is getting a lot of attention today and for good reason. It is cold — just as cold as the planet Mars in some places, they say. … Our homes are heated, so extreme cold is manageable — unless, of course, you are forced to go outside. To prevent that, schools are closed until the temperatures ‘warm’ and many businesses, including grocery stores are closing as well. By Wednesday, things should be back to normal however, when the high for the day could reach a ‘balmy’ -15. And when it reaches zero, it will feel like spring.” Riiiight. And the alternate spelling of St. Cloud is “Yakutsk.”

Back in the realm of reason, Paul Douglas is saying: “-67F. coldest wind chill ever observed in the Twin Cities: January 22, 1936 (new formula). This would have been a wind chill of -87F using the wind chill formula in use before 2001. … It won’t get THAT cold, but an air temperature of -25F coupled with 25 mph winds will make it feel like -50 to -55F early this morning. … One small silver lining: the mercury has to reach -40F or colder to kill off beetle pests in Minnesota’s North Woods. RIP bugs.”

Says Paul Huttner at MPR: “Here’s the excellent and timely response Lee [Frelich, director of the Center for Forest Ecology] sent my way.

Paul: I think the forecast temperatures that we will experience in the next several days will cause a lot of mortality for emerald ash borer in MN. … Winter mortality for emerald ash borer is definitely temperature dependent. The larvae can supercool to a certain point, but they die if they freeze, and there is variability in tolerance among individual insects. … the few insects that do survive the upcoming cold spell might be more resistant to cold than an average insect, and give rise to a new generation of more cold-tolerant insects, although we don’t know much about this type of selection in emerald ash borer.’

Speaking of St. Cloud, Glen Schmitt of the Times says: “During the 2012 deer season, archery, firearms and muzzleloader hunters combined to shoot just shy of 187,000 deer. Predictions heading into the most recent season mostly indicated a harvest that would be about the same or slightly up in 2013. As of Friday morning, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had yet to release official harvest totals for 2013. But with the archery season wrapping up on Dec. 31, the numbers tabulated to date show that hunters shot 172,250 deer this past season. That’s a 6.5 percent decline from the previous year.” In other words, there’s still plenty left to take out your grille and headlights.

Jim Adams of the Strib has an update on former Mayor R.T. Rybak’s heart attack.  He was sitting in his car when some friends who happened to be skiing in the park, saw him looking distressed and called 911. ‘If he had waited another 15 minutes … the outcome could have been completely opposite,’ Dr. Betty Grey said at a news conference Sunday at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. … Grey said heart tests on Monday will show the extent of heart muscle damage, but Rybak is expected to fully recover and be discharged by midweek. He will begin a cardiac rehabilitation program.”

On the propane explosion(s) in Rogers Sunday, Pat Pfeifer of the Strib says: “Residents in The Preserve at Commerce, a 192-unit complex at 13600 Commerce Blvd., were knocked off their feet, glass from shattered windows was embedded in opposite walls and people from as far away as a mile said their houses shook … The complex’s 5,000-pound propane tank, buried in the ground, did not explode … The problem occurred in the unit above the propane tank. It converts LP gas into gas that can be used to help heat the huge complex, which has an indoor pool and meeting rooms.”

If you missed it, Mike Meyers’ commentary in the Strib on the importance of getting tough with “invincibles” is a darn good read: “In 2014, the uninsured pay only $95 for failure to sign up for Obamacare, or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater. The penalties gradually climb to $695, or 2.5 percent of annual pay, in 2016. After that, the maximum penalties rise at the pace of inflation. Here’s where an unofficial tax on the uninsured could increase the young invincibles’ incentive to carry insurance. Why should hale and healthy young people, never mindful of accidents or illnesses that might befall them, worry about medical bills if they escape paying, in part or altogether?” As Meyers says, it’s called “personal responsibility.”

If only we could run industry on politicians’ b.s. … Mark Steil of MPR reports: “On the far side of the state’s newest renewable power plant lies the heart of a nearly $45 million operation designed to produce an abundant supply of energy. Past a maze of storage tanks, ductwork and pipes in the new plant are two huge digester tanks, each of which holds about 1.6 million gallons of vegetable waste and cow manure. When the slurry of corn silage and manure is broken down by tiny organisms called methanogens and fermented, it creates methane gas to fuel four electricity generators that will send eight megawatts directly to the city of Le Sueur’s distribution system.” I mean a week of Capitol Hill alone could power all of Hennepin and Ramsey counties.

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Comments (14)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/06/2014 - 08:43 am.

    This morning

    My first thought upon waking this morning was “Cue the climate change deniers!”

    3 . . . . 2 . . . . 1 . . . . . .

    (Oh by the way, love the kitty cat graphic!)

  2. Submitted by jody rooney on 01/06/2014 - 08:45 am.

    Perhaps the “invincibles” need to see a

    list of what common repairs cost.

    I believe my broken wrist was about $9,000 to repair.

    Or perhaps it is still not to late for the tough love speech from parent to child. “If you become really ill I will not let you die for lack of treatment but I would prefer not to be bankrupt.”

  3. Submitted by Jeff Michaels on 01/06/2014 - 08:49 am.

    Global Warming?

    I am looking forward to when Mr. Douglas provides his perspective on how dangerous our cold weather would be if we did not have global warming (oops) climate change going for us.

    • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 01/06/2014 - 09:43 am.

      The thing is…

      Without the global warming, which is causing climate change, we might not even be having this particular cold snap.

      If you don’t know why, then you probably shouldn’t be discussing global warming and climate change.

  4. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 01/06/2014 - 10:16 am.

    Yes, things are happening exactly as the climate change models

    predicted: some places hotter, some places colder, stronger storms of all types.

    Those of us who grew up in Minnesota and are above a certain age remember when -20°F temperatures were common enough that no one ever dreamed of closing school. There were years when daytime highs stayed below zero for weeks at a time. This was true at least through the early 1980s, when I left Minnesota for Oregon.

    I moved back in 2003, dreading the prospect of the Minnesota winters that I remembered, but none of the winters so far, not even this one, have been as frigid or as snowy as the ones I remember from the 1980s and before. With this year’s early subzero temperatures and last year’s late snowstorms, the seasons seem to be out of whack.

    I saw an article today that explained today’s weather as the result of the normal polar air mass splitting and reaching southward. It said that such phenomena may become more common as the Arctic warms.

    • Submitted by Lance Groth on 01/06/2014 - 11:10 am.

      Yup

      Well stated. Winters over the past 20 years have been nothing at all like the winters I remember from the 60’s & 70’s. I can only conclude that denialists resident in Minnesota are either too young to have such memories, or are recent immigrants to the north. They also focus only on transitory temperatures, conveniently ignoring multiple converging lines of evidence, such as ocean acidification, species migration, ice melt, weakening of the jet stream, etc.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/06/2014 - 11:20 am.

      “New” windchill v.s. “Old” windchill

      I’ve been somewhat confused by the windchill numbers cited – especially when statements have been made along the lines of “We haven’t seen windchills this low in forty years” (when they were predicting windchills of around -40 to -60). More recently, articles have been a bit more careful to include the qualifier “new formula” when citing numbers, but I wanted to know what the “conversion” was – especially when I remember darn well one chilly winter night when I was in college and they were warning us to stay in the dorms due to windchills approaching 80 below (I believe actual temperature was something like -25) and I KNOW that wasn’t more than 40 years ago!

      So I found this:

      http://keyc.images.worldnow.com/images/20658413_BG1.jpg

      So it looks like my recollection of -80 windchills would be closer to -60 by the “new calculation”. It helps me a little with how to calibrate all the current reporting against my memories and experience.

    • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 01/06/2014 - 11:57 am.

      Indeed…

      and the biggest change we’ve been seeing is in the low temps. If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that this winter…actually most of the past 12 months or so…will show up as an anomaly as we go forward. Nighttime temps have been progressively getting warmer in the last 15-20 years.

      The Southern Hemisphere is seeing a VERY warm summer. The area currently beneath the polar vortex is about the only place on the globe experiencing below normal temps right now.

      It may be brutal out there today, but I actually find it rather refreshing to get a taste of the climate that used to be normal for Minnesota, if only for a short while. Hopefully, the pine beetle and Emerald Ash Borer populations will be negatively affected…and the moose population positively affected…by this somewhat normal winter so far.

  5. Submitted by Jeff Michaels on 01/06/2014 - 11:50 am.

    What about Antarctica?

    I also read the article describing how global warming “may” be responsible for our cold because the Arctic is rapidly warming and pushing very cold weather south as the result of a trapped jet stream. Creative writing “may” be a strong point for those on the left side of the political spectrum

    It is unfortunate Antarctica is not heating as well. Then that unique mixture of scientists and tourists, who were on a very mysterious South Pole mission that establishment news media stories failed to describe, would not have been stranded for days by heavy ice.

    • Submitted by Joel Fischer on 01/06/2014 - 01:17 pm.

      How do you know Antarctica isn’t warming?

      It’s an honest question. If there is credible, peer-reviewed research showing that Antarctica is not being affected, I’d love to read it.

      The Arctic is clearly and obviously being affected, which makes sense considering it is mostly ocean. Antarctica is very different. It is a mass of rock and ice surrounded by un-disrupted ocean currents which circle it keeping the warmer waters from reaching the landmass.

    • Submitted by Lance Groth on 01/06/2014 - 02:16 pm.

      It’s not, huh?

      Antarctica is not heating? Allow me to point you in the right direction for further research.

      I don’t know what MinnPost’s policy is about posting url’s, so kindly use Google to search for the following:

      “Arctic melt versus Antarctic freeze: Is Antarctica warming or not?” – National Snow & Ice Data Center

      “Antarctic Peninsula: rapid warming” – British Antarctic Survey

      “Five basic Antarctic facts for climate change sceptics” – The Guardian

      “Global warming expands Antarctic sea ice” – Nature

      “http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/antarctic-ice-melt” – Open Source Systems, Science, Solutions

      And, as a primer: “Global Warming Facts, An Overview” – Cool Antarctica

      Please note that none of these sources are Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Breitbart, or Fox News; i.e., these are serious sources who base their conclusions on actual data.

    • Submitted by Logan Foreman on 01/06/2014 - 03:57 pm.

      As my father used to say

      Ignorance is bliss

  6. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 01/06/2014 - 12:50 pm.

    The Primary Climate Change that I’ve Noticed

    Is the persistence of patterns. The jet stream, rather than shifting from a primarily east to west pattern with the bottom of it’s curve at some point in the country, the top of it’s curves running over central Canada and the entire pattern moving West to East while also tending to move low and high pressure systems from East to West,..

    now, seems not to move. It gets stuck for days, even weeks at time where it shoots far into northern Canada, even the Arctic, then swoops far to the south, and stays in a relatively stationary position for long periods of time.

    Here in the US these persistent jet streams patterns have left those of us caught on the North side of the jet stream staying chilly and wet and those on either it’s West or East side staying hot and dry – for weeks at a time.

    As we saw last summer with the first half being cooler and much wetter and the second half being reasonably warm but much, much drier than normal, the persistence of weather for days and even weeks at a time is a definite change from the weather I remember in earlier years, which, although it might have tended to be warmer or cooler than normal in any given season, it still tended to change every few days and almost never stayed consistent for a month.

  7. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 01/06/2014 - 03:11 pm.

    C’mon Joel and Lance..

    ..Ole’ Jeff’s got his political agenda and he’ll be darned if he’s gonna let science and cipherin’ and reasonin’ stand in the way!

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