Consider Coping Skills for a Minnesota Winter

In my heart of hearts I’m a warm-weather summer guy – but I appreciate all of Minnesota’s seasons. All 28 of them.

As daylight sputters, ice flutters, my lawn disappears under a cold, concrete crust and I trade in my bike for
a Zamboni, I need winter weather coping skills. Football. Christmas. Planning a February getaway. Napping.

Did I mention football?

For me the wildest lightning display of 2019 came late Monday night. A bit jarring for October 15. One storm doesn’t mean anything statistically, but Minnesota’s growing season is getting longer. MSP has yet to see an official frost. The average first 32F is October 3.

A cloud-cluttered Wednesday gives way to a nice late-week warming trend. 60s will feel good by Friday. Skies dry out on Saturday and much of Sunday looks dry, but another full latitude cyclone arrives Monday, possibly ending as a few flakes Monday night.

We cool off next week and in roughly 6-8 days it may be cold enough for a few inches of slush up north.

Thank God for football.

Relatively Mild Finish to October? That’s what NOAA’s GFS is (fairly consistently) predicting for late month with a significant zonal pattern, implying temperatures above average for much of the USA. In spite of occasional cold pops no prolonged cold waves are in sight just yet.

How to Track a Typhoon. The Forecasters on the Front Line of Extreme Weather. They do it a little different on the other side of the Pacific, according to a post at CNN Travel: “...Once a major storm system is detected, the Observatory has developed another technique for gathering firsthand data. KK Hon, another scientific officer with the Observatory, sends planes over the typhoons to collect valuable information about the strength, direction and pace of the moving weather system. “We need special methods,” he says. Instead of relying on imagery from satellites, Hon wants data gathered from deep inside the storm. The mission may sound dangerous, but Hon insists air crews can fly safely over the typhoons — if they go high enough. From there, they parachute cylindrical tubes full of weather sensors called “dropsondes” directly into the typhoon. “The dropsonde itself is equipped with a data probe which measures important weather parameters like wind, temperature, pressure and also GPS altitude position. These are then transmitted through radio transmission back to the aircraft...”

Fire Power. What if the answer to California’s wildfire woes is more fire? Grist poses the hypothetical question; here’s a clip: “…Almost all of the researchers I talked to thought that forest would be healthier with some thinning and burning to repair the legacy of clearcutting and fire suppression. Researchers were split, however, on the question of whether managing forests, or leaving them to the whims of nature, would allow them to soak up more carbon from the atmosphere. I began to notice a pattern: Scientists based in Oregon and Washington would tell me that simply leaving forests be was the best way to catch carbon, while researchers in Arizona and California would stress the importance of cutting some trees and performing prescribed burns. It makes sense: Forests get a lot more flammable as you move south. In the more arid parts of the West, they’re adapted to fires passing through as often as every five years, but a century of fire suppression has left them starved for burns…”

Illustration credit: Grist / Amelia Bates.

A Trillion Dollar Storm Looms for Earth, and It’s Not a Hurricane. Dr. Marshall Shepherd at Forbes reports on the one cosmic threat few people are worried about – but they should be: “Hurricanes can cause widespread damage because they are so expansive, long-lasting, and powerful. Two of the costliest hurricanes on record, Katrina and Harvey, tallied damage numbers close to $125 billion dollars, respectively. As impressive as those numbers sound, what if I told you that there are storms that could cause over $1 trillion (with a “t”) dollars in losses on Earth. These events are not hurricanes or tornadoes, but powerful geomagnetic storms that originate from the Sun. Space weather is a field of science that monitors and predicts them. What is space weather, and how is a trillion dollar storm even possible?...”

Image credit: “Geomagnetic storms can cripple infrastructure on Earth.” NASA.

Salesforce Founder Marc Benioff: What Business School Never Taught Me. Fortune has a very interesting interview; here are a couple of excerpts: “…Benioff: I would say that capitalism, as we know it, is dead. And that businesses have to move to a new capitalism: a more equal, fair, and sustainable way of doing business—one that values all stakeholders as well as shareholders…We’ve gone through two major recessions. We have gone through major economic cycles, ups and downs. We’ve gone through major business cycles—that’s a normal, healthy part of running the business. And we are focused on the shareholder return. But we also are focused hand-in-hand on the stakeholder return. And we think our shareholder return is higher than others over the long-term because we have focused on all stakeholders...”

Photo credit: “Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of” Matt Edge—The New York Times/Redux

Was the Automotive Era a Terrible Mistake? 20-20 hindsight is always easy, the question is how do we clean up our mess? Here’s a post with mind-boggling statistics from The New Yorker: “...In America today, there are more cars than drivers. Yet our investment in these vehicles has yielded dubious returns. Since 1899, more than 3.6 million people have died in traffic accidents in the United States, and more than eighty million have been injured; pedestrian fatalities have risen in the past few years. The road has emerged as the setting for our most violent illustrations of systemic racism, combustion engines have helped create a climate crisis, and the quest for oil has led our soldiers into war. Every technology has costs, but lately we’ve had reason to question even cars’ putative benefits. Free men and women on the open road have turned out to be such disastrous drivers that carmakers are developing computers to replace them…”

Illustration credit: Sebastien Plassard. The age of driving may be merely a cul-de-sac in transportation history.

The Longevity Files: How Do You Live To Be a Ripe Old Age? Some helpful advice (much of it common sense, whatever that is) courtesy of The Washington Post: “…Walking or other moderate activities are just as good if you’re looking for a longevity boost.Some of the early evidence for the heart benefits of moderate exercise came from studies in the 1950s by British epidemiologist Jeremy N. Morris showing that conductors on double-decker buses, who spent their shifts walking up and down, had lower rates of coronary heart disease and thus lived longer than bus drivers who spent their workday sitting. Since then, studies showing the cardiovascular benefits of exercise have been “incredibly consistent,” Joyner says. But there’s more. Physical activity also reduces the risk of diabetes, which one study found shaved six years off life expectancy. And it keeps your brain healthy, too. “Exercise has better effects on cognitive performance than sitting around playing brain games,” Carstensen says...”

Helicopter Parenting and Bulldozer Parenting Are Bad for Everyone – Including Parents. One of the hardest things any parent can ever do is let their children fail. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at NBC News: “…But is that such a great development? We’ve also been told that kids who aren’t allowed to figure things out for themselves — even if it means occasionally falling or failing — can develop anxiety and a kind of learned helplessness instead of the resilience they need to become successful adults. And less discussed, but also problematic, is the effect on parents. The vague mandate to “be involved” can lead to stress and guilt for time- and resource-strapped parents — and resentment in those of us who’d rather our relationship with our kids revolve around something besides worksheets and study guides...”

Graphic credit: “Parents have somehow gotten the message that if “parental involvement” is good, then complete and total parental control and oversight must be great.” Claire Merchlinsky / for NBC News.

Is Amazon Unstoppable? The New Yorker has an interesting read: “…Amazon is now America’s second-largest private employer. (Walmart is the largest.) It traffics more than a third of all retail products bought or sold online in the U.S.; it owns Whole Foods and helps arrange the shipment of items purchased across the Web, including on eBay and Etsy. Amazon’s Web-services division powers vast portions of the Internet, from Netflix to the C.I.A. You probably contribute to Amazon’s profits whether you intend to or not. Critics say that Amazon, much like Google and Facebook, has grown too large and powerful to be trusted. Everyone from Senator Elizabeth Warren to President Donald Trump has depicted Amazon as dangerously unconstrained. This past summer, at a debate among the Democratic Presidential candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders said, “Five hundred thousand Americans are sleeping out on the street, and yet companies like Amazon, that made billions in profits, did not pay one nickel in federal income tax...”

Image credit above: “Bezos, reportedly worth a hundred and fourteen billion dollars, has donated less than three per cent of his wealth to charity.” Illustration by Todd St. John.

Jessica Nabongo’s Lessons From Visiting Every Country. All 193 of them! Outside Online has a great post; here’s an excerpt: “…Nabongo found two unexpected adventure destinations: Jordan and Namibia. Nabongo was impressed with Jordan’s efforts to ramp up its outdoor tourism, from camping in the beautiful desert escape of Wadi Rum to exploring Aqaba, a port city on the Red Sea. Describing Namibia as “phenomenal,” Nabongo saw the Milky Way for the first time while staying in the Namib Desert at Sossusvlei, thanks to the miniscule amount of light pollution. She also climbed the huge nearby sand dunes. Some of her other favorite nature experiences included swimming with humpback whales in Tonga, the Molinere Underwater Sculpture Park in Grenada, whale-watching in the Arctic Circle, surfing in Peru, and hanging out in the Devil’s Pool at Victoria Falls in Zambia…”

Teens Makes Snoring Stepfather Hand out Ear Plugs to Airline Passengers. Fox News has the story: “Last month, Alan Tattersall, from Victoria, Australia, was preparing to head to Houston for business when his stepdaughter, Grace, got the idea, The Mirror reports. Just a few days before the trip, Grace took note of her stepfather’s “pretty serious” snoring problem, and felt badly for any poor soul unlucky enough to wind up sitting next to Tattersall on the plane. “I’d heard of moms giving out little care packages when they have babies on planes — acknowledging that their infants might be crying,” Grace explained. Together with the help of Tattersall’s wife, Ros, and a friend, Grace went out and purchased chocolates and earplugs, and sealed up 10 tiny care packages for Tattersall to hand out on the plane...”

File image: Shutterstock.

Did Pope Francis Tweet Out Support for New Orleans Saints? has the unlikely story: “The New Orleans Saints got some unexpected support from Pope Francis before Sunday’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Pope Francis isn’t known for his love for American football — he’s more of a soccer guy — but he posted a tweet that accidentally backed the Saints. “Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new #Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession,” he tweeted. The tweet was a line from the homily Pope Francis delivered on Sunday at the canonization of five new saints, but the hashtag added the fleur-de-lis symbol from the Saints helmets…”

52 F. yesterday’s official high in the Twin Cities.

59 F. average MSP high on October 15.

45 F. high on October 15, 2018.

October 16, 1996: Early evening storms produce 3/4 to 1 3/4 inch hail in Nicollet, Dakota, Brown, Watonwan, and Martin Counties. In Scott County near St. Patrick, hail fell intermittently for an hour and the area received 3 1/2 inches of rainfall. In Watonwan County, wind gusts up to 63 mph moved several garages off their foundations, destroyed a cattle shed and a corn crib, and uprooted and toppled trees. Southwest of Lake Crystal in Blue Earth County, a garage was blown over onto a vehicle. A 250 gallon fuel tank was also blown over.

October 16, 1937: A snowstorm dumps 10 inches at Bird Island.

October 16, 1880: An early blizzard occurs in Minnesota. The blizzard struck western Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas especially hard. Over a foot of snow fell in western counties. Railroads were blocked, and damage was done to Great Lakes shipping.

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, cool. Winds: NW 7-12. High: 47

THURSDAY: Partly sunny and milder. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 34. High: 56

FRIDAY: Clouds increase, milder than average. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 45. High: 63

SATURDAY: Peeks of sun, a dry sky expected. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 49. High: 59

SUNDAY: Clouds increase, rain at night. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 43. High: near 60

MONDAY: Periods of rain, turning colder. Winds: NW 15-25. Wake-up: 48. High: 52

TUESDAY: Sprinkles taper, slow clearing. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 38. High: 48

Climate Stories….

Climate Change is Shaping Iowa’s Physical and Political Landscape. Here’s an excerpt from NBC News: “…Mike Woltemath, 46, who farms 2,100 acres along the Missouri River, agreed, but he said something needed to change. This year he was only able to plant 200 acres and lost 150,000 bushels of corn and soybeans to the floodwaters, and he said it happens with a regularity that is becoming concerning. “Flooding doesn’t just happen here in the Midwest,” he said. “It’s happening in the Dakotas. It’s happening in California. It needs to be addressed. Congress needs to do something about it. It’s happening on rivers, and it’s happening on our coastlines with these hurricanes.” Woltemath said that Congress could make the most immediate impact by changing how the Army Corps of Engineers controls waterways in the United States, but he said moving Congress was like herding cats...”

Photo credit: “David Lieth, who lost thousands of bushels of corn he stored in his grain bins to the floodwaters that struck southwest Iowa, picks up a few kernels of spoiled corn that he had spread on his own land because it was the only way he could dispose of it.” Ed Ou / NBC News.

Florida GOP Leaders Finally Utter “Sea Level Risk”, Lament “Lost Decade”. The history books will not be kind to former Florida governor Rick Scott, a vocal climate denier. The Miami Herald reports: “…There hasn’t been a lot of conversation about this. I understand that, and I understand why,’’ he continued, leaving unsaid that the words “climate change” were banned from the lexicon for much of the eight-year tenure of former Gov. Rick Scott, and the state’s response to it was not considered a priority. But Lee, who served in the Senate for the last six years of Scott’s term, said he believes there has been “a paradigm shift” with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — who followed the lead of local governments in Florida and appointed a “chief resilience officer” to start talking about the effects of global warming on the state. The new landscape comes with new political realities, Lee said. “There’s a younger generation of conservatives in this state that aren’t as much in denial...”

Image credit: “During the highest tides of the year in Miami-Dade County, volunteers head to the flood zones to measure water depth and quality as part of Sea Level Solutions Day. The goal is to track flooding to better inform climate resilience policies.”

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Wired25: Stories of People Racing to Save Us. One of the 25 focuses on the young people suing the U.S. government for inaction on climate change. Here’s a clip from (paywall): “…By 2015, Juliana had had enough. She’d heard that a local legal nonprofit, Our Children’s Trust, was mounting a climate suit against the federal government. Together with 20 other young people, ranging in age from 8 to 19, she joined as a plaintiff. Citing harms such as worsening respiratory illnesses, forced relocation due to water scarcity, and the threat of losing their homes to rising seas, Juliana and her coplaintiffs argue that elected officials have failed to protect their constitutional rights. Their case, which has survived a number of legal challenges from both the fossil-­fuel industry and the Obama and Trump administrations, demands nothing less than a sweeping court order on the scale of Brown v. Board of Education—one that will affirm the fundamental right to a stable climate system for all. “At stake are the lives and safety of these young people,” says Julia Olson, the lead attorney in the case. “This is really their last stand…”

Credit: “Illustrations based on portraits by Robin Loznak/Our Children’s Trust.”

Exclusive: No Choice But to Invest in Oil, Shell CEO Says. Uh huh. Reuters explains: “…A defiant van Beurden rejected a rising chorus from climate activists and parts of the investor community to transform radically the 112-year-old Anglo-Dutch company’s traditional business model. “Despite what a lot of activists say, it is entirely legitimate to invest in oil and gas because the world demands it,” van Beurden said. “We have no choice” but to invest in long-life projects, he added. Shell and its peers have long insisted that switching away from oil and gas to cleaner sources of energy will take decades as demand for transport and plastics continues to grow. Investors have warned, however, that oil companies often rely on forecasts that underestimate the pace of change…”

Photo creditBen Van Beurden, CEO of Shell, speaks to Reuters reporters in Canary Wharf, London, Britain, October 8, 2019. Picture taken October 8, 2019.” REUTERS/Marika Kochiashvili.

Activists Thought Blackrock, Vanguard Found Religion on Climate Change. Not Now. A post at caught my eye: “…In 2017, the two biggest U.S.-based fund managers, BlackRock and Vanguard — which control a combined $12 trillion in assets — both voted to require Exxon Mobil to produce a report on climate change. It was a seen as watershed moment showing what can occur when the biggest index funds punch their weight at the annual meetings of corporations, and join other shareholders in supporting proxy proposals covering social issues. Until it wasn’t the watershed everybody thought it was. Since that 2017 vote, multiple analyses of proxy votes have shown BlackRock and Vanguard to have among the worst voting records when it comes to social issues supported by other shareholders, including many of their peers among the world’s largest asset managers…”

Scientists Endorse Mass Civil Disobedience to Force Climate Action. Or…we could all post really snarky remarks in the comment sections of our favorite news sites. If you see something, say something, right? Better yet, get off the sofa and do something. Here’s an excerpt from Reuters: “…In a joint declaration, climate scientists, physicists, biologists, engineers and others from at least 20 countries broke with the caution traditionally associated with academia to side with peaceful protesters courting arrest from Amsterdam to Melbourne. Wearing white laboratory coats to symbolize their research credentials, a group of about 20 of the signatories gathered on Saturday to read out the text outside London’s century-old Science Museum in the city’s upmarket Kensington district. “We believe that the continued governmental inaction over the climate and ecological crisis now justifies peaceful and non-violent protest and direct action, even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law,” said Emily Grossman, a science broadcaster with a PhD in molecular biology. She read the declaration on behalf of the group…”

Photo credit: “Julia Steinberger, an ecological economist at Britain’s University of Leeds, endorses mass civil disobedience to pressure governments to tackle climate change at a protest at London’s Science Museum, Britain October 12, 2019.” Louise Jasper/Handout via REUTERS.