Psychology of Snow
A veritable blizzard of e-mails, texts, tweets and calls came into my office yesterday from concerned citizens. You would have thought I was tracking a cloud of radioactivity, a volcanic eruption near Willmar - or maybe a swarm of zombies showing up on Doppler.
"Is it going to be bad?" No. It's just snow.
"Why do we panic so much now for just a few inches of snow?" someone asked at a St. Paul Rotary talk yesterday. Great question. My hunch? Far more traffic on area roads. An inch of snow at the wrong time (and temperature) can wreak havoc with people's schedules. That, and a steady drumbeat of weather drama in the media. Hey, storms are good for ratings, right?
The reality: it's tough getting a huge pile of snow when there's so much mild air already in place, and soil temperatures are still relatively warm from a few days in the 40s and 50s. A fresh blast of arctic air usually precedes our most notable snowfalls, when not only the air but the ground is cold enough for the snow to stick and accumulate rapidly.
Our quick shot of slush gives way to chilled sun later today, any snow in your yard mostly-gone by Thursday. 40s return early next week before another cold frontal passage Monday and Tuesday. Cold but not exactly arctic. A zonal, west to east wind flow from the Pacific may prevent any extended bitter outbreaks looking out the next 2 weeks or so.
Death By Lightning A Danger In Developing Countries. It's an ongoing danger here too, but we have technologies and warning systems (and mass media) that many countries simply don't have access to. National Geographic has the report; here's a clip: "Developing countries have long lists of problems—illiteracy, disease, hunger, corruption. There's one more problem that has gotten less attention, until recently: lightning strikes, which cause a disproportionately high number of deaths in developing countries. Thanks to years of public education campaigns, most Americans know that "when thunder roars, go indoors." But that basic guideline isn't as well known in many developing countries, which consistently see hundreds or even thousands of deaths and injuries per year from lightning strikes. Experts point to lack of education, but a number of doctors and meteorologists from around the world are trying to change that..."
Photo credit above: "South Africa's Cape Town had a severe electrical storm that ripped through the skies at regular intervals for more than an hour." Photograph by Lynda Smith, Your Shot, National Geographic.
Photo credit above: "Todd Fadel, at piano, leads singers at a recent gathering of Beer & Hymns at First Christian Church Portland." John Burnett/NPR.
Photo credit above: "Thorium Concept Car." Image Courtesy www.greenpacks.com
"Enders Game" And Maneuver Warfare. With the movie about to come out I found this concerpt intriguing; here's the intro to a story at medium.com: "In the mid-1980s there arose a new theory of warfare. The idea is to avoid large force-on-force attacks, use speed instead of firepower and strike at the enemy’s vulnerabilities. Proponents describe it as fighting smart. You attack the enemy’s thinking, forcing on him an unending chain of hard choices. Still practiced today, it’s called “maneuver warfare.” At the same time the new concept was gaining popularity, an award-winning military science fiction novel was released. Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is now a sci-fi classic..."
Image credit above: Lionsgate.
Photo credit above: PETE MAROVICH FOR BOSTON GLOBE. "Willie Soon’s work is funded by energy industry grants."
Adapting To Climate Change Does Not Mean Accepting It. Here's a clip from an entry at Huffington Post: "...My view is that the technical breakthroughs needed for this transformation will come. I am counting on human ingenuity coupled with a growing cultural awareness of the need for clean, renewable energy. As early 20th century New Yorkers stepped through the manure in lower Manhattan, they knew that the era of horse-based transportation had reached its limit. Horses worked well in small towns, but created problems in larger cities. We know that a planet with over seven billion people cannot fuel its economy the same way it did when it was as a planet of one or two billion people. We also need to remember that adapting to climate change does not mean that we accept it. We still need to eliminate global warming by reducing the production of greenhouse gases."
Power Plants Try Burning Wood With Coal To Cut Carbon Emissions. Here's a clip from an interesting story at The New York Times: "Even as the Environmental Protection Agency considers requiring existing coal-fired power plants to cut their carbon dioxide output, some utilities have started to use a decidedly low-tech additive that accomplishes that goal: wood. Ranging in size from sawdust to chunks as big as soup cans, waste wood from paper mills, furniture factories and logging operations has been used with varying levels of success. Minnesota Power, which once generated almost all of its power from coal and is now trying to convert to one-third renewables and one-third natural gas, found that co-firing with wood was a quick way to move an old plant partly to the renewable category..."
Photo credit above: "Kulluk rig."
Photo credit above: "Aerosols such as this smog over Mexico City have helped keep temperatures down. What would happen if they were cleaned up?" Flickr/brian.gratwicke.