Slap On More Layers – Even Colder Next Week

As human beings we are wired to defend our hometowns. We often rationalize; shading the truth to justify our decisions (to stay put). “The cold keeps the riff raff out!” Not sure about that one. “The crime rate goes down!” Prove it. “Makes me appreciate the warm fronts!” How true. Minnesotans, more than any place I’ve ever lived, do NOT take nice weather for granted.

Here’s the deal, you need to stay strong for another week, and then we’re out of the worst of it. I see no evidence of a polar pattern getting stuck overhead – no sign we’ll see week after week of subzero pain.

Flurries race past your window today and Saturday; a clipper pushing heavier snow across central and
southern Minnesota Sunday night. A plowable amount of powder is possible by Monday AM, when
we can expect challenging, white-knuckle commutes.

Metro air temperatures stay below 0F from Tuesday into Thursday next week. Weather records show only 4 outbreaks (of 2 or more days below zero) at MSP since 2000.

Prediction: 20s (above zero!) will feel like an epiphany come early February.

Plowable Powder Sunday Night into Monday Morning? Confidence levels continue to rise with an early week clipper dropping a few inches of snow (Sunday night into Monday morning). With a snow-rain ratio close to 30-1 it won’t take much moisture to whip up a quick 3-5″ of snow. Stay tuned for updates. Map: WeatherBell.

2 or More Consecutive Days Below 0F at MSP? It’s happened 4 times since 2000, the most recent 2-day stretch of negative numbers in the Twin Cities from December 30-31, 2017.

Last -20F Air Temperature at MSP. It looks like there have been 6 nights of -20F or colder since 2000 (more than I thought). The last time was December 18, 2016 with a low of -20F at MSP. The last time the airport registered anything colder than -22F was January 30, 2004. I’m thinking we may get that cold one night next week.

Slow Moderation in February. No sign of an early spring, but the epicenter of arctic pain lifts into New England and eastern Canada by the second week of February. You’ll be amazed how good 20s (above) can feel.

Bitter Cold a Greater Risk To Thin People. CBS Baltimore explains: “…Cold is especially dangerous for the elderly, children, those who are sick and skinny people. “If you have less fat you have less insulation and you can have too much cold inside the heart, liver, kidney, internal organs and then they become dysfunctional,” said Jagish Khubchandani, a community health professor at Ball State University. Research from Ball State University has documented how cold weather impacts people. It says people with a body fat range of 15 to 20 percent or lower could experience potential harmful side effects from frigid temperatures…The study says white women, especially those who are athletic or have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, are at the greatest risk of cold weather illness…”

File image: NOAA.

Insured Cat Losses Reach $90 Billion in 2018: Aon. Here’s a clip from a summary at Business Insurance: “Natural catastrophes caused $90 billion in insured losses in 2018, the fourth highest total on record, according to a report Monday from Aon PLC. The 394 natural catastrophe events generated economic losses of $225 billion, according to Aon’s Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight: 2018 Annual Report. Further, 2017 and 2018 now form the costliest back-to-back years on record for both insured losses across all perils at $237 billion and economic losses solely due to weather-related events at $653 billion, Aon said. The tropical cyclone peril was the largest single driver of loss as several significant storms made landfall, including hurricanes Michael and Florence in the U.S.; typhoons Jebi and Trami in Japan; Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines, Hong Kong and China; and Typhoon Rumbia in China, the report said…”

October 10, 2018 satellite image of Hurricane Michael courtesy of AerisWeather.

18 Unusual Facts About Hurricanes. I had no idea, but a post at BestLife set me straight: “…You’re more likely to donate to a hurricane relief effort if the offending storm shares your first initial. How’s that for name guilt? One study found that if a person shares the same first initial as a hurricane, they’re more than twice as likely to donate to its relief efforts. For example, people with the first initial “K” typically make up 4.2 percent of Red Cross disaster relief donors. But after Hurricane Katrina, they made up 9.8 percent of donors. The study also found that when a hurricane’s name sounds similar to a person’s name, that person tends to feel a bit of responsibility for any devastation the hurricane might bring…”

File image: NASA.

Bangkok Fights Water Pollution With Water-Spraying Drones. Quartz explains how this works: “Air pollution has reached hazardous levels in Bangkok, Thailand, leading some officials to attempt an unusual approach: letting drones spray the pollution out of the sky…The government has responded by unleashing a small fleet of drones that can spray water into the air and eliminate some of the pollution. Photos from a test on Tuesday (Jan. 22) show the yellow aircraft dispensing water and a “non-hazardous chemical spray,” reported the Bangkok Post. An official from the Defense Technology Institute, a government agency, said the test, in which drones sprayed for less than an hour, reduced the concentration of PM2.5 by 10 micrograms per cubic meter on average...

Photo credit: “The drones have been a modest success… in a very small area.” Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha.

How to Solve the World’s Plastics Problem: Bring Back the Milk Man. Here are a couple of clips from a story that caught my eye: “…Plastics are expected to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050.  Marine life is choking on the debris: Microplastics are in our soil, our water, our air, getting into our bodies with potential consequences that we don’t fully understand yet. Massive amounts of plastic have piled up in landfills, some emitting greenhouse gases and contributing to global warming over the seeming eternity they take to degrade. Plastics are threatening the health of the planet and its inhabitants, and they’re not going away…Loop is a new way to shop, offering about 300 items — from Tide detergent to Pantene shampoo, Häagen-Dazs ice cream to Crest mouthwash — all in reusable packaging. After using the products, customers put the empty containers in a Loop tote on their doorstep. The containers are then picked up by a delivery service, cleaned and refilled, and shipped out to consumers again. In other words, it’s the 21st century milk man — here to save the world from single-use plastics…”

Can a Nice Doctor Make Treatments More Effective? That appears to be the case, according to new research highlighted at The New York Times: “…We found that having a doctor who is warm and reassuring actually improves your health. The simple things a doctor says and does to connect with patients can make a difference for health outcomes. Even a brief reassurance to a patient from a doctor might relieve the patient’s symptoms faster…All of this research suggests that doctors who don’t connect with their patients may risk undermining a treatment’s success. Doctor-patient rapport is not just a fluffy, feel-good bonus that boosts Yelp reviews, but a component of medical care that has important effects on a patient’s physical health. Particularly as artificial intelligence promises a world where we don’t need to go to the doctor for minor questions, we should not overlook the value of interacting with a human doctor and hearing words of encouragement…”

Everything You Need to Know About the Fourth Industrial Revolution. A story at caught my eye: “…Schwab argued a technological revolution is underway “that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres.” Simply put, the Fourth Industrial Revolution refers to how technologies like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and the internet of things are merging with humans’ physical lives. Think of voice-activated assistants, facial ID recognition or digital health-care sensors. Schwab argued these technological changes are drastically altering how individuals, companies and governments operate, ultimately leading to a societal transformation similar to previous industrial revolutions...”

Workers in Heartland States Most at Risk of Losing Jobs to AI, New Study Finds. Here’s a clip from a story at PowerPost at The Washington Post: “People who live in heartland states such as Kentucky and Indiana are most at risk in the United States of losing their jobs to robots or other artificial intelligence, according to a new report published today from the Brookings Institution. President Trump carried many of these states in the 2016 election with promises to improve job opportunities for these “forgotten” Americans he said were left behind as other parts of the country recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. But the think tank found an impending wave of artificial intelligence could disrupt jobs even more in these states. Repetitive tasks that involve processing information, performing physical activities or operating machinery will be the first to be replaced by artificial intelligence — which could hit manufacturing jobs hard…”

Photo credit: “Robots weld the cab of a 2018 Ford F-150 truck on the assembly line at the Ford Rouge assembly plant in Dearborn, Mich.” (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

Never Tweet. In case you missed this column at The New York Times; here’s a clip: “…The Covington saga illustrates how every day the media’s favorite social network tugs journalists deeper into the rip currents of tribal melodrama, short-circuiting our better instincts in favor of mob- and bot-driven groupthink. In the process, it helps bolster the most damaging stereotypes of our profession. Instead of curious, intellectually honest chroniclers of human affairs, Twitter regularly turns many in the news — myself included — into knee-jerk outrage-bots reflexively set off by this or that hash-tagged cause, misspelled presidential missive or targeted-influence campaign. But Twitter isn’t just ruining the media’s image. It’s also skewing our journalism…”

Amazon’s New Robot Scout Delivers Packages to Rich People. Any job that can be automated or done by robots – will be. Quartz has details: “Amazon today (Jan. 23) unveiled Scout, a six-wheeled blue robot that delivers packages. The company said in its announcement that it’s field testing six Scout robots in a neighborhood of Snohomish County, Washington, during weekday daylight hours. Scout robots are “the size of a small cooler, and roll along sidewalks at a walking pace,” according to Amazon’s release. Amazon’s robots are similar to those that Starship Technologies, a robotics startup, introduced in 2016 to make deliveries in a handful of US and European cities. In the US, Starship has partnered with food-delivery startups DoorDash and Postmates on its tests. In December, Postmates debuted its own delivery robot, a bright yellow four-wheeled carriage named “Serve.” Delivery companies believe they can become more profitable by replacing their main expense—human labor—with trundling robots like Serve and Scout…”

Photo credit: “Amazon’s delivery robot, Scout.” Amazon.

Music is Essential for People Living with Dementia. I stumbled upon a story at “People with dementia are to be prescribed ‘personal playlists’ to alleviate symptoms thanks to a new ‘Music for Dementia 2020’ campaign. Dementia is a persistent neurocognitive disorder that impacts a person’s mood and memory – and many of those with the condition can be left feeling anxious and frustrated. Affecting more than 850,000 people in the UK each year and set to soar to over 1 million by 2025, this condition is most commonly caused by Alzheimer’s disease and is often seen in those aged over 65.  But research suggests that music may alleviate symptoms for people living with dementia and make them feel much happier. One expert said “Music can be a lifeline for people living with dementia. It facilitates shared, quality musical moments with friends, family and careers. Music for people living with dementia isn’t a nicety, it’s a necessity…”

For $80 You Can Buy “Used Tissues” And Decide When You Want to Get Sick. Fox News has the vaguely disgusting story: “A company which sells used tissues in an effort to allow consumers to decide when they get sick has reportedly been sold out online for months. The tissues, created by company Vaev and sold online for a steep $79.99, will help people “prepare for the flu season and feeling clear all year round,” according to the company website. “We believe that when flu season comes around, you should be able to get sick on your terms,” the Los Angeles-based company states online. “We believe using a tissue that carries a human sneeze is safer than needles or pills.” Oliver Niessen, the company’s 34-year-old founder, told TIME that the idea behind the product is to “choose” when you get sick, rather than deal with it when it naturally comes…Most customers who purchase the used tissues are “young parents and people in their 20s” who are skeptical of vaccines and seeking “alternatives,” according to Niessen...”

-1 F. minimum temperature in the Twin Cities Thursday (5:59 pm).

20 F. maximum temperature yesterday (3:02 am)

24 F. average high on January 24.

27 F. high on January 24, 2018.

January 25, 1964: A record high temperature of 64 is set at Redwood Falls.

FRIDAY: Mix of sun & flurries. Winds: SE 3-8. High: 5

SATURDAY: Coating of flurries possible. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: -6. High: 12

SUNDAY: Sunny start, snow arrives Sunday night. Winds: E 7-12 Wake-up: -4. High: 6

MONDAY: Plowable powder early? Slow commutes. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 0. High: 9

TUESDAY: Arctic sunshine, feels like -30F at times. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: -13. High: -3

WEDNESDAY: Coldest day of winter? Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: -20. High: -8

THURSDAY: Fun on the tundra. Still sunny and numb. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: -22. High: -2

Climate Stories…

Why Cold Weather Doesn’t Mean Climate Change is Fake. Weather vs. climate. A single freeze frame vs. an entire 2-hour movie. CNN Headline News vs. The History Channel. Here are a few excerpts from a good explainer at NatGeo: “…In a time when climate change is discussed in the context of record highs, droughts, and wildfires, cold weather and blizzards can seem out of place. For those who deny that climate change is happening, it’s an opportunity to undermine scientific consensus. How do you explain a cold winter in a world that scientists say is getting hotter?…A separate study published in March of last year in the journal Nature Communications found the same link but predicted the northeastern portion of the U.S. would be particularly hard hit. “Warm temperatures in the Arctic cause the jet stream to take these wild swings, and when it swings farther south, that causes cold air to reach farther south. These swings tend to hang around for awhile, so the weather we have in the eastern United States, whether it’s cold or warm, tends to stay with us longer,” said study author Jennifer Francis in a press release…”

Climate Change is Making Winter Colder in the Northeast. More perspective on how rapid warming of the Arctic is disrupting jet stream winds, creating more instability and volatility – increasing the odds of extreme temperature swings, courtesy of NexusMedia: “…Climate change is weakening the jet stream by reducing the difference in temperature between cold, northern air and warm, southern air. As the Earth warms, it’s not warming evenly. The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet, meaning it is growing closer in temperature to more southern latitudes. As a result, the barrier between cold and warm air is growing weaker, and the jet stream is going wobbly. Instead of forming an even ring around the Arctic, the jet stream is now twisting and contorting, allowing the polar vortex, the mass of cold, dense air over the north pole, to reach its tendrils further south, chilling large parts of the United States and Europe…”

Climate Change is a Public Health Emergency. A story at Scientific American makes the case; here’s the intro: “Recent national surveys showed that 58 percent of Americans believe that they themselves will not be harmed by climate change, while 61 percent had given little or no thought to how climate change might affect people’s health. Yet mounting scientific evidence has led experts to conclude that climate change presents “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century”. A recent study demonstrated that there are 467 different pathways by which human health, water, food, economy, infrastructure and security have already been impacted by climate hazards. Here are 8 major ways that climate change harms our health today and threatens it tomorrow...”

File image:

New Governors Target Climate Change From Day One in Vulnerable Great Lakes Region. InsideClimate News has the story: “Climate change poses risks to the economy and identity of a Great Lakes landscape, much of it defined by bountiful farms, pine forests and clear waters. But political leaders haven’t always treated it that way. That’s starting to change as a wave of new governors and attorneys general take office across the region with promises—and actions—to address climate change. The regional changes may signal a new dynamic for national debates, as climate policy advocates broaden their base of support to include some of the country’s hubs of manufacturing and farming. It also is happening at a time of growing urgency for concerted state-level efforts on climate change in response to the federal government’s push to roll back greenhouse gas emissions rules…”

Image credit: “Climate change is increasingly evident in the extreme weather, heat waves and algae blooms that can hurt agriculture, drinking water and tourism in the region, as the 2018 National Climate Assessment describes.” Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, ORBIMAGE.

Brands Could Flourish in The Anthropocene (Phew!): Links and headlines via Climate Nexus: “Major companies are pondering their futures under climate change–with some seeing some significant profits for their brands. Bloomberg first reported this week on disclosure filings from thousands of the world’s largest companies, including 1,800 US organizations, provided to the UK-based Carbon Disclosure Project. Apple in particular has garnered headlines for its prediction that climate disasters could improve the company’s “brand value” as consumers increasingly rely on products like the iPhone’s flashlight feature, its SOS service and the “Find My Friends” app. Pharmaceutical giants like Eli Lilly, Pfizer and Merck also identified new opportunities for existing and new medicines and products as climate change increases health risks. But it’s not all sunny news for capitalism: Coca-Cola and Intel both expressed worry over water shortages for their products, while Disney frets that its parks could become too hot for visitors.” (Disclosures: Bloomberg, Gizmodo, Axios, Mashable. Apple: Motherboard, Business Insider. Pharma: Axios).

Billionaire Miami Beach Developer Dismisses Rising Sea Levels as “Paranoia”. Uh huh. Here’s an excerpt from Bloomberg: “…Peres, who’s making significant investments in Miami Beach for the first time in almost two decades, said climate change has never come up with the banks and insurance companies he’s dealt with in Brazil. “You’re leaning toward paranoia, you know?” he said, suggesting that Americans are more fixated on the study of climate change than Brazilians are. “You see a ghost, and you run after it as if it were real.” Still, Peres didn’t fully discount global warming, instead saying he didn’t think it was going to occur “as quickly as people imagine.” Peres’ climate-change skepticism follows similar statements by a number of high-profile politicians and business leaders, most of them not scientists themselves…”

Image credit: “57 Ocean.” Photographer: Multiplan Empreendimentos Imobiliarios SA.

And Thinking About Extreme Weather: Links via Climate Nexus: “Extreme weather is helping shift Americans’ thinking on climate change, new research shows. A poll released Tuesday by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the University of Chicago finds that nearly half of Americans find the evidence on climate science more convincing than they did five years ago, while around three-quarters of those respondents say that extreme weather like droughts, floods and hurricanes have influenced their opinions on climate. The poll also found 67 percent of respondents would support a carbon tax with the funds used to restore the environment, compared to just under half of respondents who supported a tax with rebates going back to households.” (AP, Quartz, The Hill. Commentary: Axios, Michael Greenstone analysis).

Business Leaders Waking Up to Extreme Risks Posed by Climate Change. TheHill has the story: “The World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2019 shines a light on a topic that Zurich has been calling attention to for a long time. The report’s Global Risks Perception Survey identified “extreme weather” as the top risk in terms of likelihood over a 10-year horizon and placed it at No. 3 in terms of impact over the next 10 years. While there are a multitude of problems facing the world today — and 30 distinct global risks that survey respondents were asked to consider — it is not surprising that extreme weather has risen to the top and remained there for the third consecutive year...”

MSP Snowfall Trends. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Central: “A mid-winter cold snap has hit much of the country, but these episodes are becoming less frequent with climate change. Low temperatures and ample snowfall are a must for winter recreation — an industry that contributed more than $20 billion to the national economy in the 2015-2016 season. These conditions are under threat from warming winters, according to a new report from Climate Central. Warming is affecting regional snowfall patterns differently,  but from the 1970s to 2010s, 57 of the 107 analyzed weather stations saw the average annual snowfall trend downward by at least an inch. The biggest losers were Flagstaff, Arizona; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Casper, Wyoming — all historically snowy Western cities that are getting drier overall. Since the 1970s, the annual snowfall has dropped by a total of 48, 31, and 29 inches in those cities, respectively...”

Click here to see trends for your city.

Pentagon Fears Confirmed: Climate Change Leads to More Wars and Refugees. Bloomberg has the story: “The most comprehensive study done to assess the link between climate change, war and migration has confirmed that the warming planet is fueling conflicts that lead to more refugees. The conclusions published Wednesday in a scientific journal underscore the rising levels of anxiety that global warming has among leaders. Attendees at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said the inability to adapt to higher temperatures is the biggest global risk. A Pentagon report published on Tuesday in Washington warned that rising seas and more frequent wild fires threaten U.S. security...”

Image credit: “”Climate, conflict and forced migration” in January 2019 issue of Global Environmental Change.

Climate Change is a Key Part of Understanding Migration, GAO Tells Trump Administration. InsideClimate News has more perspective on a growing link between a warming climate sparking more migration: “As the movement of refugees strains countries worldwide and becomes fuel for political clashes in the United States, the Trump administration has eliminated guidelines that the government once gave to American diplomats about how to plan for the impact of climate change on migration and global security. In a report released Thursday, the Government Accountability Office recommended the State Department restore the guidelines so U.S. diplomats are prepared for major population shifts that could destabilize a country or region. “Without clear guidance, State may miss opportunities to identify and address issues related to climate change as a potential driver of migration,” the report said…”

File photo: AFP.

The Word From a Climate Change Believer. Foreign Policy has a post from climate scientist (and evangelical Christian) Katharine Hayhoe: “A thermometer isn’t Democratic or Republican. It doesn’t give us a different number depending on how we vote. And climate change isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. It is a human issue. We care about a changing climate because it affects every single one of us who share this planet—the only home we have. That’s why we have to present every option. We need to hear libertarian solutions, free market solutions, bipartisan solutions. But by hiding from the problem and pretending as if their opinion were somehow able to alter reality, Republicans today are counting themselves out of the game. The longer they ignore climate change, the more difficult and expensive it’s going to be to fix—and the more suffering there will be…”

Photo credit: “Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe speaks at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, on April 3, 2012.” (Nellie Doneva/Abilene Reporter-News via AP).