Coldest Readings of Winter Behind Us Now?

And this is why we stay - to experience the full frontal frigidity of a Minnesota winter. The burning tickle as you inhale deeply. The refreshing ice crystals up your nostrils. Squeaky snow underfoot. When it's this cold the crime rate drops and your garbage doesn't stink!

And boasting rights? Temperatures that would have most Americans weeping and dialing 911. We shrug and complain. Next?

We're waking up to double-digit negative numbers but less wind chill this morning. Expect mid-30s tomorrow, which will feel amazingly good. Another drive-by Canadian front sparks a cold dip the middle of next week, but nothing that will linger. Temperatures approach 40F a week from Saturday as another surge of moderate, Pacific air sails into the Midwest.

And no, the pattern isn't ripe for any significant snow anytime soon, but a weak, slow-moving system could drop a few slushy inches next Monday.

My semi-educated, almost-literate hunch? Yesterday will wind up being the coldest day of winter. It's all uphill now, more or less. That wasn't so bad!

Coldest of Winter Behind Us? I know I'm a naive optimist, but that's my hunch after studying the various models. Beyond 2 weeks or so things are a crap-shoot, but assuming a positive phase of the AO (Arctic Oscillation) lingers into March a mild bias should persist. 40 degrees by the weekend of Feb. 22-23? That's what ECMWF is predicting. Graphic: WeatherBell.

A High-Octane Yukon-British Columbia Blend. Prevailing winds looking out 2 weeks suggest a modified Pacific flow for most of the nation, with more frequent Canadian slaps from the Upper Midwest into New England. I still don't see anything that qualifies as a "Polar Vortex".

January 2020 was Earth's Hottest January On Record. NOAA has details: "In the span of 141 years of climate records, there has never been a warmer January than last month, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. What’s more, the temperature departure from average was the highest monthly departure ever recorded without an El Niño present in the tropical Pacific Ocean. January 2020 marked the 44th consecutive January and the 421st consecutive month with temperatures, at least nominally, above the 20th-century average..."

Billion Dollar Disasters in the US. Here's an excerpt from an update at Climate Central: "...Of the four decades since NOAA data began, the 2010s accounted for nearly half the total number of disasters and cost, even after adjusting for inflation. The 2010s had 119 billion-dollar disasters (double the previous decade), with total costs exceeding $800 billion. Many individual states show similar trends. Compared to the three previous decades, the 2010s had the most billion-dollar disasters in 34 of 52 states and territories (65%). States in the central U.S. had the largest recent spike—compared to any other decade, the 2010s had 33 more disasters in Texas, 23 more in Illinois, and 22 more in Missouri..."

Taking Zinc Tablets Can Shorten Your Cold. has a fascinating story: "The common cold is a top reason for missed work and school days. Most of us have two or three colds per year, each lasting at least a week. There's no real cure, but studies from the last several years show that some supplement containing zinc can help shorten the duration of cold symptoms by up to 40% — depending on the amount of the mineral in each dose and what it's combined with. Zinc has an interesting back story. It wasn't even acknowledged as an essential mineral for human health until the 1970s. But that changed thanks to the work of Dr. Ananda Prasad — a 91-year-old doctor who, decades ago, had a hunch that led to a better understanding of zinc's role in immunity..."

Note to Self: Pay for Moving Insurance. Ouch. has the story: "An extremely rare, $194,000 grand piano was smashed when movers dropped it while taking it out of a recording studio, Canadian virtuoso Angela Hewitt has revealed. Hewitt, one of the world's leading classical pianists, said in a Facebook post that she had just finished recording Beethoven's piano variations in Berlin when the movers entered the studio control room to tell her they had dropped her handmade Fazioli piano. The pianist said it had taken her 10 days to share the "very sad piece of news" because it "has been such a shock to me that I didn't immediately want to share it with the world." Her precious F278 Fazioli piano was the only one in the world with four pedals, she wrote..."

Secret to Living to be 112 Years Old? ABC News has the story; here are a few excerpts that caught my eye: "...Japanese resident Chitetsu Watanabe was presented with an official certificate and plaque from the Guinness World Records on Wednesday. Watanabe, who has been alive for 112 years and 344 days as of Feb. 12, told GWR how he has stayed alive for so long.  "Not to get angry and keep a smile on your face," the world record holder said. The world's oldest living man ran a large farm with his son that grew an array of fruits and vegetables from potatoes to plums. He was active on the farm until age 104. While not as active as he once was, Watanabe still takes part in daily exercise, origami, calligraphy and math exercises..."

Perfect Gift for Your Valentine. You can't make this stuff up. Mediaite reports: "Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer will record you a Valentine’s Day message for your loved one on Cameo for just $199 this month. “Hey guys, it’s Sean Spicer with an amazing deal. This month, for the entire month of February, my videos that normally cost $400– over 50 percent off,” announced Spicer in an Instagram video, Tuesday. “$199 is going to give you the best Valentine’s Day gift ever. What way to say, ‘I love you, I’m thinking of you,’ this Valentine’s Day than a video from me?” Cameo has become a popular platform for former Trump administration officials to make money by selling custom videos of themselves..."

-11 F. minimum temperature in the Twin Cities Thursday morning.

1 F. maximum temperature yesterday at MSP.

28 F. average high on February 13.

20 F. high on February 13, 2019.

February 14, 1923: A 'Black Dust Blizzard' ends after two days. Dirt blown into the state from North Dakota created drifts.

FRIDAY: Numb and number. Sunny! Winds: S 15-25. High: 19

SATURDAY: More clouds with a welcome thaw. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 17. High: 35

SUNDAY: Patchy clouds, a bit cooler. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 16. High: 29

MONDAY: Snowy potential, a couple inches? Winds: NE 10-15. Wake-up: 23. High: 31

TUESDAY: Flurries taper, cooler breeze. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 19. High: 26

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and chilly. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: -3. High: 18

THURSDAY: Closer to average, clouds increase. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 5. High: 26

Climate Stories...

Inside Australia's Climate Emergency: the New Fire Zone. Check out an amazing multimedia experience (make sure your sound is turned up) and you'll have a better understanding of the horror Australians have endured in recent months, courtesy of The Guardian: "...Firefighters use the forest fire danger index to tell them how bad conditions are. The index combines the key ingredients that influence a bushfire – temperature, wind speed, humidity and the dryness of the “fuel”, including grasses and fallen wood from trees. Human-caused climate change has pushed the index higher in recent decades. The trends show not only that conditions are becoming more dangerous, but that the fire season is starting earlier..."

There Are Rivers in the Sky, Drenching the U.S. Because of Climate Change. Bloomberg has the story: "Climate change is spurring a new, deep dive into a complex, little-studied weather system blamed for creating billions of dollars in flood damage across the western U.S. Atmospheric rivers are narrow ribbons of concentrated moisture that originate in the Pacific and can flow thousands of miles before dropping rain and snow on land. Scientists are ramping up their research into the systems this winter fearful that warmer temperatures tied to climate change will boost the moisture they carry, supercharging them moving forward. “Hurricane hunter” planes are set to fly at least 12 missions directly into the systems, double last year’s number, to gather a wide range of meteorological data..."

Image credit: "An atmospheric river drenches the state of California in this image captured by the GOES West (GOES-17) satellite on February 14, 2019." Source: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory.

BP Sets Ambition for Net Zero by 2050. Not exactly sure how a fossil fuel company can pull this off, but I'm hoping they can. Here's an excerpt from BP's website: "BP today set a new ambition to become a net zero company by 2050 or sooner, and to help the world get to net zero. The ambition is supported by ten aims:

1. Net zero across BP’s operations on an absolute basis by 2050 or sooner.

2. Net zero on carbon in BP’s oil and gas production on an absolute basis by 2050 or sooner.

3. 50% cut in the carbon intensity of products BP sells by 2050 or sooner.

4. Install methane measurement at all BP’s major oil and gas processing sites by 2023 and reduce methane intensity of operations by 50%.

5. Increase the proportion of investment into non-oil and gas businesses over time..."

BP’s Big Promise: Climate Nexus has links and headlines: "Oil giant BP said Wednesday that it plans to go carbon neutral by 2050, outpacing its competitors Shell, Total and Equinor, who have all pledged to halve emissions by that date. BP said it will zero out emissions from both its operations as well as the oil and gas it sells, but that it will not stop extracting fossil fuels entirely. The company’s announcement was light on specifics, and CEO Bernard Looney said BP would provide more details in September. “Unless BP commits clearly to stop searching for more oil and gas, and to keep their existing reserves in the ground, we shouldn’t take a word of their PR spin seriously,” campaigner Ellen Gibson told the New York Times." (New York Times $, Washington Post $, WSJ $, The Verge, Buzzfeed, Bloomberg, The Guardian, E&E $. Commentary: Reuters, Jason Bordoff op-ed, Bloomberg, Liam Denning op-ed)

Carbon Capture Wins Fans Among Oil Giants. Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports: "Can new technology suck carbon dioxide, a prevalent greenhouse gas, out of the air—economically? More companies are betting that it can, as governments adopt ambitious carbon-emissions targets and investors grow increasingly concerned about the risks of climate change. Carbon-capture techniques have existed for decades. But it’s incredibly expensive—not to mention energy intensive—to remove the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on a large enough scale to make a significant dent. Now, Exxon Mobil Corp., Microsoft Corp. and others are focused on reducing the cost and the amount of energy required to capture carbon dioxide. Some companies are using giant fans to suck up air, then separating the carbon dioxide chemically..."

Plant a Trillion Trees: Republicans Offer Fossil-Friendly Climate Fix. Reuters has an update: "Republican lawmakers on Wednesday will propose legislation setting a goal for the United States to plant a trillion trees by 2050 to fight global warming, a plan intended to address climate change by sucking carbon out of the air instead of by cutting emissions. The proposed legislation reflects an acknowledgement in the Republican party of rising voter demand for action on climate change, even as it seeks to preserve the economic benefits of an historic drilling boom that has made the United States the world’s biggest oil and gas producer. President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly cast doubt on the science of climate change, had expressed support for the idea of a massive tree-planting campaign during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month..."

Photo credit: Paul Douglas.

Fossil Fuels Cost Us Millions of Lives, Billions of Dollars: Climate Nexus has headlines and links: "Air pollution from burning fossil fuels causes more than 4 million premature deaths worldwide each year and costs the global economy $8 billion a day, a new report from Greenpeace Asia shows. The report estimates that more than 40,000 children die before their fifth birthday due to exposure to particulate pollution, which also causes three times the number of deaths as road accidents in the global population. Economically, China, the US and India suffer from $900 billion, $600 billion and $150 billion of yearly losses from pollution, while pollution-related illnesses cause 1.8 billion missed work days each year." (The Guardian, Bloomberg,

File image: Paul Douglas.

Trump's Biggest Vulnerability Is His Climate Change Denial. So says Mother Jones in a recent post; here's an excerpt: "...For the last year, there’s been a clear trend in polls finding that climate change is Trump’s most unpopular position, outranking health care, immigration and foreign policy as the issue he gets the worst marks on from registered voters. A Politico/Morning Consult poll released in late January—smack in the middle of the impeachment trial—asked 2,000 voters about Trump’s performance on a number of issues ranging from jobs, economy, and terrorism to trade, climate, immigration, foreign relations, health care, and draining the swamp. They were the least impressed with climate: More than half—54 percent—gave Trump a D or F, while just 21 percent gave him an A or B..."

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