Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First Freeze On The Way

End of the Growing Season? Predicted low temperatures for Saturday night/Sunday morning. A hard freeze is defined as at least 3 hours colder than 28 degrees, cold enough to kill of most plant life (including ragweed!) Allergy sufferers may be breathing a bit easier by earlier next week, but if you have some plants you want to keep around a bit longer, consider bringing them indoors or covering them up by tomorrow evening.



Yesterday was a sunny relief, a tonic for the soul, a blue-sky reminder of how nice autumn can be here in the great state of Minnesota. Having that sun out seems to make all the difference. I've found that's the case pretty much year-round - yes, the temperature matters, but what matters MORE is the presence or absence of sunlight. It can be -15 F, but if the sun is shining brightly people will be in a better mood than when it's 45 and gray for a week in a row. That would imply that people are generally happier the farther south and west they live, that people in California, Texas and Florida are routinely happier than residents of Washington, Minnesota, Michigan and Maine. Not sure I'm ready to float that theory - many factors go into true happiness, but call me crazy: I'm thinking of buying one of those full-spectrum lights this winter, you know, the lights that imitate the sun? Instead of just one frequency these (more expensive) light bulbs shine with multiple frequencies, just like the sun, and they can pull SAD sufferers out of their dark, lonely funk. SAD is real, btw - a lack of sun affects the production of melatonin, a hormone in your body, and that can leave many people feeling groggy, depressed and irritable, with a strange urge for donuts (or any other carbs) and an even stronger desire to curl up into the fetal position and hibernate for a few months. That's probably unrealistic for most of us, so you should do something about it, if you suspect you fit the profile. Women are more likely to suffer from SAD than men. Up to 10% of the population may be affected (some people seem to have a much tougher time than others). The good news: There are solutions: including full spectrum light bulbs and medication. The most important bit of advice: see your doctor before you do anything. You don't have to sit there (in the dark, under a depressingly gray sky)...and suffer.



More on seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is far more common in Minnesota and Wisconsin than it is in Florida or Arizona.....click here.

A colder front arrives today on gusty northwest winds - the latest models bring this wind-shift through dry for most of Minnesota, steadier rains to our south over Iowa, possibly brushing far southern counties, near Albert Lea and Austin. We'll be lucky to see 50 this afternoon, with afternoon temperatures stuck in the 40s from Friday into Monday of next week. A reinforcing shot of cold air arrives Friday night, and there may be just enough moisture for a few flurries across parts of Minnesota - a few of us could even wake up to flurries Saturday morning, especially if you're up early. A very light, slushy coating can't be ruled out altogether (although ground temperatures are still warm - even if we do see a little snow Friday night most of it will probably melt on contact). The next chance of flurries, even a period of very light snow comes Sunday night, as an area of low pressure tracks off to our south and east. Again, any amounts in the "nuisance" range, but the fact that we're talking about flurries during the first week of October may be distressing to some - yes, it's coming about 1-2 weeks earlier than usual, but these premature flakes do NOT necessarily mean a harsher winter is in store. Chalk this up to random weather. There's a good chance we'll see at least 1 or 2 more spells of Indian Summer, with more 60s - I wouldn't be shocked to see another day with a 70-degree high, maybe third week of October.


Early Winter Outlook, October through December. From CPC, the Climate Prediction Center (a division of NOAA in Washington D.C.). I know the Weather Service is basing their prediction of significantly milder weather over the next 90 days on the mild El Nino brewing in the equatorial Pacific ocean waters. Approximately 2 out of 3 El Nino winters wind up being milder and drier for the northern tier of the USA, including Minnesota. Odds favor milder through Christmas, but it's by no means a sure thing. It never is.

Paul's Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: A mix of scrappy clouds and sun, cool breeze. Winds: NW 10-20+ High: 52

Tonight: Clearing, frosty in the far outlying suburbs late. Low: 34

Friday: Intervals of sunshine, feels more like early November. High: 48

Friday night: More clouds, a few random flurries possible. Low: 31

Saturday: Partly cloudy, still chilly (stray flake can't be ruled out, especially far northern MN). High: 43 (wind chill dipping into the 20s at times).

Sunday: Hard freeze early. Sunny start gives way to increasing clouds. High: 46

Monday: Patchy clouds, few flurries possible. High: 48

Tuesday: Partly sunny, not quite as nippy. High: 51

Wednesday: Mix of clouds and sun, feels seasonable again. High: 56

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