Saturday, October 31, 2009

Swine Flu Blues

* Check your watch: did you remember to "fall back" late last night? Daylight Saving Time is over.

* 50s likely today, sunshine south, showers of rain/snow far northern Minnesota.

* Turning cooler tomorrow, temperatures this week should be 2-5 degrees cooler than average.

* A real cold front is roughly 7-8 days away, highs may hold in the 30s by next Tuesday, November 10.

"Yep, looks like you have H1N1," the doctor muttered under her breath, doing her best to stay as far away from me as humanly possible. Say what? It took a few seconds for that to sink in, but now my worst fear was confirmed. Friday morning at 4 am I woke up, shivering uncontrollably. I piled on a few blankets - didn't help. My wife (Laurie) convinced me to go to Urgent Care, and that's where I got the diagnosis. "Just about all the flu we're seeing out there right now is H1N1," the doctor told me at Park Nicollet in Chanhassen. "We're not seeing the seasonal flu yet - this is all swine flu." Anything I can do? She shook her head. "We have Tamiflu, but only for high-risk patients, kids under 5, pregnant women, people with preexisting medical conditions. Sorry. Drink plenty of fluids, if your fever goes above 104 come back in. That, and if you can't breathe." Oh, great.

I went home - dazed, aching all over, and proceeded to take a nap, only to wake up feeling worse than I thought possible. The doc had explained that swine flu is respiratory-related (that's why she asked if I had asthma or smoked). No and no, thank God. But when I was sleeping all the fluids collected in my lungs - I woke up WHEEZING, sounds coming out of my lungs I've never heard before, like there was water collecting down there. And every time I tried to cough it up it felt like my lungs were being plugged into an AC wall socket. Like I was coughing up fireballs. Electric pain. Not to get too detailed here (TMI) but like most other things in life, the fear of H1N1 is probably worse than the reality.

"99.6% of people don't have to go on ventilators. Most people recover after a week or so, but you can't go out into public - and risk infecting others - until 24 hours after your fever breaks." She warned me about pneumonia, told me that many people didn't see pneumonia symptoms until 5-7 days into their illness. Great! Have a nice day.

No idea how I caught it - I've been stuck on 8 different planes during the last 2-3 weeks, so God only knows where I contracted this cute little bug, but I'm down for the count for a few days - have just enough strength and stamina to punch a few keys on my laptop, update you on Halloween '09, and the crazy, soggy-cool October of '09, peer ahead (cautiously) into the first 10 days of November.

Weather Headlines

Dry Halloween, but temperatures 10 degree below normal will make for chilly Trick or Treat conditions.

Don't forget to "fall back" one hour late tonight as Daylight Saving Time ends.

3rd wettest October (6.01"), 4th coolest on record....fewest number of 60-degree days since 1925!

50s return Sunday, series of weak, clipper-like disturbances next week - no more major soakings (or snow) in sight.

El Nino getting stronger - increasing odds of a milder winter (I know, hard to believe right now).

Halloween worked out pretty much as expected (happy to see the gale force winds subside just in time for little costumed creatures to roam area neighborhoods, in search of sweets). As winds swing around to the southwest today temperatures should reach the 50s by afternoon, a few showers (rain or snow) skirting far northern Minnesota, but the sun should be peeking through from St. Cloud on south to the Iowa border.

No big, beefy storms are brewing for next week, just a series of weak Alberta Clippers, each one preceded by clouds and a few light showers, each one followed by a weak, reinforcing shot of chilly air. Highs should be mostly in the 40s to low 50s, the only real chance of (rain) showers coming Thursday night. We're still due for a real outbreak of Indian Summer, but I just don't see it, at least not through the first 2 weeks of November. I predicted one more run of 60s, but at this rate it may take a minor miracle to get that kind of warmth into town. I wouldn't rule it out, but the odds drop off now (rapidly) with each passing day. Computer models are hinting at a memorable shot of cold air roughly one week out, by Monday/Tuesday, November 9-10 highs may hold in the 30s over much of Minnesota, but the models are hinting at a fairly rapid thaw - we'll see more 40s and even some 50s into mid November. After that the old crystal ball gets VERY murky!

Paul's Outlook for the Twin Cities

Today: Partly sunny, breezy and milder. A few rain/snow showers over far northern MN. Winds: south 10-20. High: 55

Sunday night: Patchy clouds. Sprinkles/flurries stay well north of the metro area. Low: 38

Monday: Turning noticeably cooler again, lot's of clouds, a cold wind. High: 48

Tuesday: More sun, less wind expected. High: 49

Wednesday: Plenty of sun, "near normal" again. Shower possible late. High: 51

Thursday: Mostly cloudy, chance of a few showers. High: 46

Friday: Unsettled, another shower or sprinkle. High: 44

Saturday: Partly sunny and brisk. High: 45

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