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.