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Welcome Thaw – Possible Christmas Day Storm – How To Keep the Elderly Safer in Extreme Weather

19 Dec 2016, 4:04 pm

Polar Pain Fades – A Welcome Thaw This Week

If you could somehow teleport an 1836 settler into 2016 I wonder what they would think? Would they be amused by our skyways, heated car seats and remote-control gas fireplaces? Or would they be horrified by our creature comforts?

Friends in other (duller) parts of the USA ask me what -20F feels like. “Imagine being dipped headfirst into battery acid” I explain. “It only hurts when you breathe.” Then again, we have furnaces and insulated windows and walls. Most of us don’t have to chop wood to stay warm and survive. I still can’t fathom how our ancestors handled the bitter cold. Did they hibernate much of the winter? Talk about tough.

There’s a better than even chance that yesterday was the coldest day of the winter from the Rockies and Northern Plains into much of the Midwest. Historically, the coldest weather of the year comes in mid-January,  about 3-4 weeks after the Winter Solstice. We’ll see more arctic fronts (no kidding) but I have  a strong hunch  yesterday may have brought the most intense cold.

The prickly pain is fading, now comes the thaw. Highs flirt with freezing Tuesday into Friday for much of the USA. Avoid the temptation to take off your shirt.

No big travel problems Christmas Eve but Christmas Day may bring another major storm for the Plains and Midwest with snow, ice, even rain mixing in. Remember Murphy’s 7th Law: “Storms, given a choice, prefer to come on major holidays.” It’s uncanny how true that is. If you’re traveling next Sunday or Monday you’ll definitely want to stay tuned to WeatherNation for the very latest storm and travel updates.


For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Paul Douglas

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of WeatherNation

Wake-Up Weather Sunday – Coldest of the Winter?

Historically the coldest air of the year arrives in mid-January, coming about 3-4 weeks after the Winter Solstice. But I’m not so sure of that this year. Yesterday’s blast had been building over Siberia and Alaska for the better part of 6-8 weeks. We’ll see more arctic fronts this winter (no kidding) but I believe there’s a slightly better than even shot that Sunday’s temperatures may have been the coldest of the winter from the Rockies to the Midwest.

(Map: Oklahoma Mesonet)

Christmas Day Snowstorm?

It’s way too early for specifics, but the ECMWF model spins up an impressive storm across the Midwest and Plains by Sunday, possibly mixing with ice and rain south and east of the Twin Cities. The final track will determine who gets heavy snow vs. a mixed bag of weather. We need to see 3-4 days of additional model runs to see if there is any consistent solution, but if you’re driving or flying home Christmas Day or December 26 you’ll want to stay up on the latest forecast. Sunday evening, December 25.

(Map: WSI)3

10-Day Snowfall Potential

The GFS is also hinting at significant snows for the northern tier of the USA over the next 10 days; the heaviest projected amounts across Minnesota and Wisconsin next Sunday and Monday.  Stay tuned.


Cold Temperatures Kill More Americans Than Hot Ones, CDC Data Shows

Some interesting statistics, courtesy of The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: “…With heat, there may be a “threshold” temperature beyond which the body’s temperature regulating system essentially breaks down. If the temperature is below that threshold (which likely varies between individuals), your body is essentially good to go. It’s only when ambient temperatures surpass that point that mortality risks come into play. With cold temperatures, on the other hand, the authors of the Lancet study posit that it seems to produce negative health effects in a fairly linear fashion. There’s no threshold; rather, the colder it gets, the more trouble your body has adapting...”

4 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

nextavenue has some very good advice; here’s an excerpt: “…When Carol complained of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) — also known as the winter blues — her doctor gave her a brochure about a company that makes several varieties of high-powered therapy lights and lamps. “A light box mimics outdoor light. Researchers believe this type of light causes a chemical change in the brain that lifts your mood and eases other symptoms of SAD,” says the Mayo Clinic. A light box may be an effective treatment on its own or, the Mayo Clinic adds, “in combination with an antidepressant medication or psychotherapy.”

Think you may suffer from SAD? The Mayo Clinic lists these symptoms:
• Irritability
• Tiredness or low energy
• Problems getting along with other people
• Hypersensitivity to rejection.

5 Ways To Make Sure Your Parents Are Safe in Bad Weather

It pays to be paranoid, especially with older parents; here’s a clip from PBS nextavenue: “…Power outages can easily occur in winter and summer weather so it’s important that older adults know what to do and not do when the power is out. For example, I make sure that my dad has a good number of non-perishable food items and bottled water on hand so he’ll have plenty to eat if we can’t get to the store. But my husband and I have stressed that he should never try to heat up those non-perishables using his camping stove. As this piece from explains, because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, no one should ever “burn charcoal or use gasoline- or propane-powered equipment inside [the] home…”

Something Americans Can Agree On

Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Robert Redford at TIME: “…There are not many things the vast majority of Americans agree on. The election certainly reminded us of this fact. In an increasingly divided country, it is becoming harder and harder to find common ground, particularly surrounding the issues of energy development and climate change. One of the few issues with strong bipartisan support is, surprisingly, solar power. A recent poll found nearly nine in 10 Americans support the expansion of solar power. Among all the energy sources, it has the highest favorability rating. That’s for good reason…”

(Photo credit: Solar City)

Climate Stories

Global Sea Ice in November: Black Swans Flock To Both Poles

Yes, last month was off-the-scale unusual,  especially in the Arctic, as reported by NOAA’s “If every swan you ever saw was white, you might think a black swan is impossible. That idea is the basis for what people in the world of commerce call a black swan event: a situation—such as the 2008 financial crisis—so rare that few people saw it coming. In the world of sea ice, November 2016 brought the kind of surprise that few sea ice scientists anticipated. Ice conditions were so unusual that Ted Scambos, the lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, described them as a black swan event. In early December, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported that both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extents had dropped to record lows in November 2016. The surprise was more than just both hemispheres experiencing record-low extents. The extents were far outside the range of variability that we’d expect based on historical observations…”

Ski Resort  Execs Look For Climate Change-Proof Properties

Here’s an excerpt from “Ski-resort executives tend to hate climate change, for obvious reasons. Then there’s Les Otten. It’s not that he’s a fan, just that he’s looking to turn the global-warming equation on its head. How so? By carving out slopes in a remote spot in northern New Hampshire that’s frigid enough to out-snowpack rivals. While lower-elevation areas wilt, the lifts on higher ground will keep on humming. “You wouldn’t wish your fellow man ill,” said Otten, a winter-sports industry veteran who has teamed up with a pair of local businessmen, “but their seasons will be shortened. It would be dishonest to say that to a degree that’s not in our thinking…’’

(Photo credit: “Gunstock ski area in Gilford, New Hampshire. Some ski resort execs in New England are seeking more reliable snowfall further north.” Jim Cole / AP.)

Factcheck: Newspaper Claim About Global Temperature is “Deeply Misleading”

Carbon Brief has the story; here’s a clip: “In reality, 2014, 2015 and 2016 have been the three warmest years on record not because of a large El Niño, but because of a long-term warming trend driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases. The modest decline in temperatures in recent months from the peak of the El Niño event is completely in line with what has happened during past large El Niño events and was expected by scientists. To better understand what’s going on with the Earth’s temperature, lets take a look at the various temperature records and what they tell us…”

(Graphic credit: “Global average surface temperature, 1979-2016.”)

Every State Had a Top 10 Warmest Year in 2016.

WXshift has the story; here’s an excerpt: “Like the previous two years, 2016 is on pace to be the hottest year on record globally. In the U.S., the average temperature for the year is on track to be the second hottest in 122 years of records. In this analysis, we drilled down to the local level and examined how hot each of these cities has been in 2016 through the end of November….”

(Map credit: “Each of the lower 48 states is having one of its 10 hottest years on record.” Credit: )

Scientists Are Tying More Extreme Events to a Changing Climate

Here’s an excerpt from The Washington Post: “A new report, published Thursday as a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, provides some of the best evidence yet that climate change already has a hand in our worst weather. It points to a variety of extreme weather events in 2015 that were likely influenced by global warming, from heat waves in Australia to heavy rain in China to raging wildfires in Alaska. The report, examining research on two dozen weather events, was compiled and edited by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research…”

(Photo credit: “The setting sun is partially obscured by smoke from an out of control 2015 wildfire on the Parks Highway near Willow, Alaska.” (Reuters/Mat-Su Borough/Stefan Hinman).


For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Paul Douglas

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of WeatherNation

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