Pharyngula

A complaint I have to get off my chest

It’s the evening. It’s January. This is Minnesota. And it’s raining. There is liquid water on the ground.

This is simply not right. I am distressed.

Comments

  1. #1 Liz Tracey
    January 28, 2006

    Today in Cleveland it was 55 degrees and sunny — strange weather indeed.

  2. #2 Belathor
    January 28, 2006

    I love it!!! After last winter, I HATE snow and ice! I can’t count the number of times I slipped on the ice on my way to class! With no snow or ice, I can take my bicycle back to school. (-=

  3. #3 GrrlScientist
    January 28, 2006

    NYC is also warm — 55 — although, not so sunny.

  4. #4 PZ Myers
    January 28, 2006

    It’s not quite that warm here — it will all freeze overnight, and in the morning we will have the smoothest sheets of ice you ever saw over the sidewalks and roads.

    And no, bicycles are a very bad idea right now. Friday morning, one student nearly took me out when he discovered bicycle brakes don’t help at all when there is no friction between tire and ground (fortunately for me, he chose to steer clear by letting the bike fall — he must have slid twenty feet on his elbows, to stop when he crashed into a bench).

  5. #5 FishyFred
    January 28, 2006

    I gotta say it’s pretty damn cold in D.C. Last night I went out for a long walk wearing a t-shirt and a windbreaker. Two and a half hours later my nips were ready to fall off.

    Obligatory: What global warming?

  6. #6 rjb
    January 28, 2006

    I was working on my garden today in WV… Daffodils and irises are already coming up.

  7. #7 Jamie
    January 28, 2006

    I’ve a couple hundred dollars worth of confused bulbs budding way too early. However, if I had a nickel for every “well gaaawd damn, this global warmin’ thing is teh cool, nevermind them tree huggin’ sci-n’tsts,” I’d have, like, a whole bunch of nickels. In all seriousness, it seems lots of folks fail to understand the concept of global patterns . . .

  8. #8 Samnell
    January 28, 2006

    While living on the Great Lakes I worry a fair bit about what these warm spells could mean in the long run (I’m less than a mile from Lake Huron, and it’s flat land.) I have to say I’m not missing the winter at all. In Northern Michigan, we’ve been having nearly typical stretches, then a two-to-four day thaw in between. You get to see the grass again and the water comes down liquid, washing away the snow.

    Oh, if there were a way to banish winter without causing all kinds of problems…

  9. #9 GrrlScientist
    January 28, 2006

    i never thought i’d say this about the great white (frozen?) north, but i wish i was there. or you and yours, here.

  10. #10 wolfa
    January 28, 2006

    It’s also remarkably warm here — above freezing and sunny now (better than the recent above freezing and rainy, where all our steep streets were steep ice slides when it would dip below 0). I think it’s averaged 5 degrees — Celsius — above normal this January. And as long as it stays a bit below freezing and sunny, I admit I don’t mind.

    But this is going to end up killing off a lot of plants, and these warm nights means maple syrup will do vdry poorly. (Why yes, maple syrup *is* more important to me than vegetables.)

  11. #11 BJHokanson
    January 28, 2006

    Tell me about it… I felt really stupid for some reason taking an umbrella around today.

  12. #12 Torris
    January 28, 2006

    Does anyone know about the environmental impact of the chemicals that melt ice? Are some better than others for the environment? I’d rather not use any chemicals but things can get dangerously slippery at times.

  13. #13 Nerfgun
    January 28, 2006

    Dude, it is nighttime in Toronto right now as I type this, and its +4C. And raining. Forget Minnesota, this simply does not happen in Toronto in January.

  14. #14 Monado
    January 28, 2006

    I’m with you. It’s Toronto. January. And there’s been practically no snow on the ground since Christmas. It’s been over 10 C (50 F) about three days last week. Buds are starting to swell. There’s nothing to protect the garden if we have a cold snap. I’m worried about my cousin up at Chocpaw Expeditions near North Bay. Is he having to cancel dog-sledding trips? What about NEXT year?

  15. #15 ColinB
    January 28, 2006

    It was 7C or so here in Ottawa (Canada). It’s been an unseasonably warm winter here in Ottawa, where it’s normally pretty damned frigid.

    WRT salting roads, I was struck by the oddity of throwing tonnes of salt on the roads when I first moved to Canada, and wondered about its affect on the environment.

    Apparently Health Canada worries about it too…

    http://www.ec.gc.ca/substances/ese/eng/psap/final/roadsalts.cfm

  16. #16 JDub
    January 28, 2006

    Winter? I like to call it the rainy season here. Today in San Francisco, it was in the lower 60’s (just a tad above normal) and now at 9pm, it’s 55F 🙂

  17. #17 Lauren
    January 28, 2006

    55 degrees here today and a snowstorm slated for tomorrow. I’m going to write a thank you letter to the big three in Detroit.

  18. #18 MJ Memphis
    January 28, 2006

    Here in Memphis it was 57 today and rained like nobody’s business. Should be 60 tomorrow. We didn’t really have a winter here, and that’s just how I like it. Wednesday morning I am off to Bangkok, where it is supposed to be low 90s in the day, mid 70s at night… perfect.

  19. #19 John Wilkins
    January 28, 2006

    Are any of your neighbours building a large wooden boat, and have a lot of exotic animals in their yard?

  20. #20 Stoic
    January 28, 2006

    Just remember-there’s no such thing as “global warming”.

  21. #21 chrisberez
    January 28, 2006

    Dude, I’m in Maryland. Ususally it’s cold. But it’s been in the 50s and 60s for most of December and January. It was the same way in 2002 when I was in Vermont.

    We’ve had almost no snowfall in the D.C. area this year. And when it does get cold, we have extreme wind conditions. It’s all very spooky.

    For the past few years, the winter in Maryland just keeps geting stranger and stranger.

  22. #22 beccarii
    January 28, 2006

    It’s now raining in more southerly Minnesota. This has potential for throwing off my personal definition of the beginning of spring here: the first time of the new year that I hear thunder. Temperatures and other normally significant (in other parts of the country) indicators have less meaning for me here since the appearance of snowflakes on Memorial Day many years ago. A March tornado followed by snow on the next day that occurred several years later didn’t modify that outlook.

  23. #23 tom
    January 28, 2006

    Hmm, a low of 68 here in Honolulu. Then again, I’ll be the first one under water when the ice caps melt.

  24. #24 Eric
    January 29, 2006

    January is wrapping up, and for the month here in mile-high northern Colorado we’ve had maybe one inch of snow, which has long since melted. We’ve also had about 20 days of high temperatures over 50, including 5 over 60. JANUARY. At nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, you have to drive up to over 9,000 feet elevation before you see any appreciable snowpack. Unbelievable.

  25. #25 Nick
    January 29, 2006

    PZ, I know what it is to be freaked out by this. After taking a summer class on weather and climatology, Omaha NE should be buried in white. This time last year it was damn freezing, and the average temp for Feb ’05 was ten degrees Fahreinheit. This is spooky.

  26. #26 badgersdaughter
    January 29, 2006

    We have had our windows cracked open a few inches since it started getting cool here in Houston. The Canadians and Scotsmen and Norwegians I work with (oil industry) are uniformly disgusted… but still glad they aren’t at home. LOL.

    Nice September we’re having, isn’t it?

  27. #27 Graculus
    January 29, 2006

    no snow = spring drought.

    Going to be … interesting.

  28. #28 Arun
    January 29, 2006

    It was probably raining anti-freeze. Oh wait, it’s Minnesota, not NJ….

  29. #29 Linkmeister
    January 29, 2006

    tom, where the heck do you live? Waikiki? If so, you may be right. I’m a mile above Pearl Harbor, myself.

  30. #30 Shem
    January 29, 2006

    Yeah, I’ve been remembering lately what a drought-ridden summer we had (here on the Eastern seaboard) after a nearly snow-free winter a few years back. On the bright side, maybe this will mean I don’t have to worry so much about my lawn this spring if it’s all gonna wilt …

  31. #31 gmm
    January 29, 2006

    I am in Alberta- NO WINTER HERE except the skiff of snow that fell yesterday. Plus 10 this week. I am waiting to have my Christmas in July, as this pretty much cancels out all hope for summer………

  32. #32 Kristjan Wager
    January 29, 2006

    Does anyone know about the environmental impact of the chemicals that melt ice?

    Torris, I wasn’t aware of such chemicals – here in Denmark we use such advanced stuff as salt and sand. Salt to make it melt when it lands, sand to make it possible to stand upright, when the salt didn’t work. The fact that the chimicals are not available, indicates that there are some issues with them – Denmark tend to err on cautionesss, but I would still be cautionous.

  33. #33 Samnell
    January 29, 2006

    Around here the preferred de-icer of roads is a considerably stronger salt than one would want at the table. It’s enough to seriously discolor shoes if left on.

    To my knowledge, all of this washes down the storm sewers come spring and right out into Lake Huron. I dimly recall the compound used as Sodium Fluoride, but that assumes my memories of fifth grade science are correct.

  34. #34 Polliwog
    January 29, 2006

    Usually it’s just calcium chloride that is put on the roads, at least around here (New Brunswick, Canada)- or a salt and sand mix, depending on circumstances.

  35. #35 wolfa
    January 29, 2006

    Salt and when it’s above — I forget, -20C? — and sand when the salt-water mixture would be frozen anyhow.

  36. #36 Pamela
    January 29, 2006

    A little warmer than Ottawa, a little colder than Toronto–in my region of eastern Ontario a warm winter means lots of ice, just as Dr. Myers describes for Morris. Today’s forecast: freezing rain all day long–ice to cover the walkways, and to form a hard, icy crust on our little remaining snow–until it melts again. Real winter is much better than this.

  37. #37 Caledonian
    January 29, 2006

    Is it just my imagination, or have the seasonal weather patterns been weird for several years now?

  38. #38 Theo Bromine
    January 29, 2006

    Wow, I didn’t realize that there were so many Pharyngula groupies in the Ottawa-Eastern Ontario area.

    The odd thing about this Ottawa winter is that even though it has been unseasonably warm with lots of rain and freezing rain and more to come today, there is still more than a foot of snow on the ground, and we haven’t seen the grass since before Christmas. (I consider this a Good Thing.)

    As for melting ice, the standard is to use calcium chloride (since a solution of NaCl in water freezes at 0 F, by definition). However, on our walk and driveway, we use high-nitrogen fertilizer for an ice melter/traction aid – if it gets on the lawn, the grass doesn’t mind (though the clover gets annoyed).

  39. #39 ericnh
    January 29, 2006

    Does anyone know about the environmental impact of the chemicals that melt ice?

    This page gives some info on the different de-icing salts, if it helps.

    As for the weather, after the last couple of cold, snowy winters here in New England I’ll gladly take a warm one. January’s been fairly mild so far, with some snow.

  40. #40 Ian H Spedding
    January 29, 2006

    I know. I am so disappointed. Here I am in Fargo and it looks nothing like the movie. It’s all melting.

  41. #41 Ian H Spedding
    January 29, 2006

    John Wilkins wrote

    Are any of your neighbours building a large wooden boat, and have a lot of exotic animals in their yard?

    “How long can you tread water?”

  42. #42 PZ Myers
    January 29, 2006

    You’re in Fargo? So are you going to zip a mere two hours down the road to say hello?

  43. #43 Ted
    January 29, 2006

    I’m in Montreal and we’re having the same crazy weather — warm and rainy. I think it rained on four seperate occassions in January, and it never rains here in January. We’ve had 2 or 3 really cold days all winter. For the most part the temperature has been hovering right around freezing nearly everyday so everything melts during the day and then freezes sold again at night. Its miserable, you’re walking around on ice all the time and we’re not getting snow to make it easier to get around. Truly bizarre stuff — something is wrong!

  44. #44 Keith Douglas
    January 29, 2006

    Needless to say the weather is wacky in Montreal, too. When I was growing up here, I remember January being days of -20 degree (celcius) weather. Now, things are just demented.

  45. #45 Torris
    January 29, 2006

    ericnh – Thanks for the link. I didn’t know there were so many de-icing options. I’ll have to check out the fertilizer Theo mentions too.

  46. #46 Dianne
    January 29, 2006

    Meanwhile, roofs are collapsing in Europe as they get more snow than they can handle. Probably related to the polar ice cap melting and disrupting the Gulf Stream. Then there’s last year’s hurricane season, which ended in December with hurricane Zeta. Should be…interesting…to see what next year brings.

    Oh, I think it’s snowed about twice here (NYC) this year.

  47. #47 beccarii
    January 29, 2006

    Here are some links on deicing chemcals – they’re pretty innocuous, in general (but the chloride-containing materials promote corrosion).

    http://www.forester.net/sw_0106_deicing.html/
    http://pubs.acs.org/cen/whatstuff/stuff/7901scit5.html/

    An earlier poster mentioned sodium fluoride – this is most definitely not used – sodium chloride is probably what was meant.

  48. #48 andy
    January 29, 2006

    We’ve had rain a couple nights in a row up here in Brainerd. I work at night and was able to see for myself. But it’s amazing- rain at midnight. In Minnesota. In January.

    It reminds me of that first winter when things Started Getting Weird- I think it was like the winter of ’98-’99. I stepped out of my place around 4:00AM in February and it was raining- but it was a warm rain.

  49. #49 Rebecca
    January 29, 2006

    I’m in southern Vermont, and right now it’s 46F and raining. This is my first winter here, and definitely not what I expected. We’ve been getting 2-3″ of snow once a week or so, which is either then added to by another snowfall or melted by this bizarre number of days of mid-50’s temperatures with rain we’ve been getting. It’s quite a bit further north than Missouri, which is where I came from, but I get higher temperatures here than my family does in Missouri.

  50. #50 Elizabeth Ditz
    January 29, 2006

    I have the answer, PZ. It’s G-d’s wrath. Just ask the fundies.

    But after all I am a life-long Californian–anybody remember the great drought of ’87-’92?

    Out here, the acacias bloomed about a week early, and it looks like the fruit trees are going to be early too. Hope the bees are ready, or the stone-fruit crop is going to be pretty light.

  51. #51 justawriter
    January 29, 2006

    Thanks a lot PZ, right after you posted this we got between four and six inches of white stuff up here in Grand Forks. Now I’m sure some local fundie will be chortling at how god made some internet athiest look bad.

  52. #52 PZ Myers
    January 29, 2006

    It’s snowing here, too. But it’s still warm! Hovering around freezing just isn’t the right temperature for this time of year. Last year this time my wife was living in Crookston, and we’d swap thermometer readings to brag about how many tens of degrees below zero it was…and she’d beat me every time. Why isn’t it -30° like it’s supposed to be?

  53. #53 LJ
    January 29, 2006

    “It’s the evening. It’s January. This is” Eugene. “And it’s raining. There is liquid water on the ground.”

    You may think that is normal .. however, it has only briefly stopped raining for 2 months. Maybe the FSM/Zues/Pat Robertson is angry at me for returning here after my 24 year absence. If you were to come back PZ I expect snow and freezing blizzards would ensue.

    The ‘dogs’ are angry.

    There can be no other explanation … well unless we use science of course.

  54. #54 Ian H Spedding
    January 30, 2006

    P Z Myers wrote

    You’re in Fargo? So are you going to zip a mere two hours down the road to say hello?

    I hope so – once I’ve got used to the, ummm, interesting driving conditions: “interesting” referring to gingerly approaching an intersection first thing in the morning, applying the brakes carefully and finding nothing much happens, so “zip” is maybe not quite the right word.

  55. #55 PZ Myers
    January 30, 2006

    Just say when. We actually have a series of events going on this week: Cafe Scientifique tomorrow at 6, Tyrone Hayes is giving a lecture on Wednesday at 7:30, and our Performing Arts series is on Friday, with an Urban Funk Spectacular show. It might also be possible to get a ticket to the Prairie Home Companion show here on 11 Feb.

  56. #56 PZ Myers
    January 30, 2006

    Oh, yeah…and how the heck did you end up in Fargo?

  57. #57 Anonymous
    February 2, 2006

    P Z Myers wrote

    Just say when. We actually have a series of events going on this week: Cafe Scientifique tomorrow at 6, Tyrone Hayes is giving a lecture on Wednesday at 7:30, and our Performing Arts series is on Friday, with an Urban Funk Spectacular show. It might also be possible to get a ticket to the Prairie Home Companion show here on 11 Feb.

    I’ll let you know when I head out your way. Unfortunately, there’s a big band playing at a Fargo theatre 11 Feb and it’s a long time since I’ve seen a good big band live…

  58. #58 Ian H Spedding
    February 2, 2006

    P Z Myers wrote:

    Oh, yeah…and how the heck did you end up in Fargo?

    That’s where my fiancee, Terri, lives. We met on a message board set up by the Sjodin family when their daughter Dru disappeared. We became part of a group that grew out of local search volunteers which continued to try and work out where she was after the official searches had been called off because of bad weather. We got on really well. I visited the US a couple of times and Terri came to the UK and the upshot is I will shortly have a new SO and, probably, dual US/British citizenship.

  59. #59 PZ Myers
    February 2, 2006

    Love brought you to North Dakota?

    That’s a good story and a good reason.

  60. #60 george cauldron
    February 3, 2006

    But after all I am a life-long Californian–anybody remember the great drought of ’87-’92?

    Hey, screw the great drought of ’87-’92 — I remember California’s Great Drought of ’77-’79. Year after year of no fucking rain whatsoever, all over the state.

    Tho this thread’s half-dead now, I concur, it’s a tad rainier than usual, but otherwise, this winter in the SF Bay Area is completely typical. Pissing down rain, overcast 95% of the time, 40’s-50’s all day. BOR-ing…

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