Snow day, sort of

We got word yesterday that the University will have “reduced operations” for a few days, all because of a little snow. Are we not Minnesotans? We can handle this!

Coursework should move to distance/online learning between 8 a.m. Wednesday and 12 p.m. Thursday. If your course cannot be delivered via distance, it should be canceled. Faculty and instructors should be in touch with their students as soon as possible to inform them about how to connect to distance learning or to determine how missed classes or related assignments may be made up. Students who have not heard from their instructors are encouraged to reach out for more information.
Only designated “essential on-campus” employees must report to work on campus while we are in reduced operations. Managers and supervisors have identified affected employees and should promptly notify them about scheduling. A number of employees are necessary to maintain our campus’ 24-hour operations and we greatly appreciate their service. We urge managers to work with essential on-campus employees to ensure they are taking proper safety precautions.

Yeah, I know, heavy snowstorm, blizzard conditions, yadda yadda. On the one hand, I agree: if you have to travel to get here, it’s going to be hazardous, stay home and stay safe. On the other hand, the weather news has been playing up this storm for days, talking about two feet of snow, etc. I’ve gotten used to discounting these predictions — I’m going to estimate we’ll probably get about 10 inches, because I tend to cut all the predictions in half. That’s not nothing, but it’s nothing to panic over.

This is Minnesota, and we’re equipped to handle this stuff. The snow plows were out in force overnight, we’ve got a snowblower, we’ve got a pantry with supplies to keep us well fed for a week or two (although meals will get boring by the end), our house is snug and warm, I’m not at all worried by this storm.

I’m reminded of my grandfather telling stories of growing up in northern Minnesota. They had to tie a rope from the house to the outhouse so they wouldn’t get lost and freeze to death on the way to relieving themselves. Now we have something better than a rope — it’s called indoor plumbing.


  1. wzrd1 says

    We used to have to write our weight on the outhouse door. That way, if we fell in, they knew how much to scoop out.

  2. StevoR says

    Please can I swap some of your cold and snow for some of my (South Aussie) extreme heat and consequent bushfire risk?


    Next two days here in Adelaide are forecast to be 41 degrees – Celsisus – so .. 105 Fahrenheit. (By this : )

    Today reached 39 Celsius outside. (102 F) Not that ispent myuch time outside because, well, see previous sentence.

    If only I could trade heat for cold here would do so any day. Easy to warm up, working briskly. Cooling down. No so easy. Not unless you want to get very wet anyhow.. & even then..

  3. planter says

    I must admit I rather like this weather forecast. I am heading to (near) your area this weekend to ski the American Birkebeiner (Hayward WI). The significant snowfall, with weather clear on Friday so the roads can be cleared and ski tracks can be reset, and a high of -4 C on race day sounds pretty ideal.

  4. StevoR says

    PS. FWIW it is currently fast approaching 1.30 a.m. here and it is 28 degrees Celsius still. That’s 83 & a half ish in American, er, Fahrenheit.

  5. wzrd1 says

    @StevoR, that temperature was what my swimming pool at my villa in Qatar routinely was in the summer. Well, in the shallow end, the two meter deep end was still cool and I was infamous for resting on the bottom.
    If I could export some of our rain, I’d happily help out. We can spare a little bit. At least, to judge from the river right outside of my window.
    Currently 5 C here and cloudy, looks and feels like it’ll rain a little. Of course, this being south-central Pennsylvania, it’ll likely be doing something else in 10 minutes. I’ve had it start out around 5 C, cloud up, drop to -7 and dump two inches of snow, then jump to 28 C over the course of two hours.
    I literally had soldiers with mild frostbite sitting next to heat exhaustion patients.
    Pretty much weather like Germany can get.

    Still, I prefer it hot to being cold. To the point where some people firmly believe that I was born on the sun.

  6. Jazzlet says

    I hope you can enjoy teaching from home PZ, and that the spiders are ok for a couple of days too.

    @ StevoR take care, besides being debilitating in itself, that sort of heat really messes with your sleep which makes you clumsy.

  7. wzrd1 says

    Oh, OT, scientists have discovered two novel types of ices under conditions expected on Europa. Both require high pressure and cold temperatures, but one form of 17 water to one NaCl molecule form remains stable under one atmosphere and temperatures fairly close to melting at one atmosphere. Hence, those ices are also expected to form in subglacial lakes in Antarctica.
    Chemistry gets weird under high pressures and well, pretty much anything not STP. Glad they’re finally researching such extremes!

  8. StevoR says

    @ ^ Jazzlet : Yes, yes it does – clumsier even – and I’ll take any excuse I can get for my lousy typing ..

    Seruiously tho’, yeah. Staying inside. Cancelled work fror next few days and hiding from heat inside & just trying to keep my garden alive here right now.

  9. says

    We live in Scarizona. It’s snowing tiny, tiny flakes but the ground is just wet. I’m sick of all these lizard conditions. Welcome to the climate roller coaster the most dangerous ride.

  10. says

    @10 StevoR, thanks for providing your balancing comments. Are you or are we upside down? I’m not sure any more. I remember the old story about how ‘everything goes down the drain in the opposite direction’ in the Southern Hemisphere. But, in today’s world of human insanity, we both know it doesn’t matter because everything is going down the drain. But, best wishes to you in your fire season, stay safe (and hydrated – Fosters anyone?).

  11. says

    By the way (somewhat off topic), an Australian named Barry Kauler is one of the great names in Linux innovation. he is the creator of two of the best distributions around: Puppy Linux and EasyOS. They are free, fast, safej, highly capable and easy to learn and use. I’m using puppy on this old computer to connect to the internet right now.

  12. StevoR says

    @ shermanj : Well, it depends where you are.. “up” & “down” are relative terms needing a frame of reference.. Also that the drains thing has been debunked & I prefer Coopers personally but – your best wishes are still very much appreciated. Thanks shermanj.

    (Hope that didn’t sound toochurlish becoz really ..Cheers. Respect.)

  13. says

    I can say that we are well prepared in this region for a severe winter…but we wouldn’t handle a severe summer at all well. Most homes don’t bother with air conditioning. We don’t even have swamp coolers. Fans, that’s about it.

  14. says

    One bad thing about this change is that I’ve been frantically reorganizing today’s lecture, especially the introductory bio class, which isn’t very well set up for online classwork. I’m also struggling to figure out what the class expects, because I only started teaching it on Monday. Hooray for abrupt upheavals!

  15. Akira MacKenzie says

    Right now, we’re getting more sleet than snow down here near Milwaukee. I just hope it doesn’t start coming down after work. I’ve got some errands to run.

  16. birgerjohansson says

    StevoR @ 2.
    True. When it is cold you can usually adapt by adding another layer of winter clothing.

    When it is really hot, you are stuck with a heat that makes everything – even rest- an ordeal.
    And we have winter five months a year, so people do not invest in AC .When the unexpected high pressure wave of hot air arrives in summer and gets stuck, we are unprepared.

  17. birgerjohansson says

    I think there was an episode of South Park where they got stuck somewhere, and naturally reverted to cannibalism the moment they got hungry.

  18. asclepias says

    We’re good here just as long as no one wants to go anywhere. I-80 is closed through Laramie, and I-25 is closed north of here. Travel not recommended on secondary highways. The temperature is sitting at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit right now, and expected to get down to -15 sometime tonight, lower with wind chill. I’ll be generous and say we have maybe 2 inches of snow on the ground right now, but that gets moved around a lot by the wind. Par for the course. Yesterday afternoon the high was 50F, and by Saturday afternoon it’s supposed to be about that again. (I had a massive headache last night to go with the massive pressure change.)

  19. John Morales says

    A good fatalistic attitude.

    This is Minnesota, and we’re equipped to handle this stuff. The snow plows were out in force overnight, we’ve got a snowblower, we’ve got a pantry with supplies to keep us well fed for a week or two (although meals will get boring by the end), our house is snug and warm, I’m not at all worried by this storm.

    Imagine living somewhere with a climate that means one wears jumpers in winter and T-shirts in summer. Those places are equipped to handle their stuff, too.

    I suppose research stations in Antarctica are equipped to handle their stuff, too.
    So it could be worse.

  20. Tethys says

    I’m sitting inside, dreading that at some point I will need to go remove snow. Since the wind is going to blow it into drifts for the next 12 hours or so, I am not going to bother until the snow stops.

    I appreciate long range forecasts, but the need to act like a snowstorm that lasts a few days and drops over 12” of snow is dramatic, historic, etc..
    is ridiculous. It’s almost March, which is historically the snowiest month; and monster snowstorms in Minnesota are normal and typical weather.

  21. wzrd1 says

    Heh, the snow lasted less time than the snow geese hanging out on the river. They left when the tide went out.
    Low of 39 F (3.8 C), high tomorrow of 71 F (21.7), then the temperature will bounce down and up a bit, just to confuse everyone.

  22. rockwhisperer says

    @16 PZ, I live part-time in the San Francisco Bay Area and part-time on the desert side of the Sierras. Swamp coolers are useless after the relative humidity gets above about 20-25%. The one we had when we lived in one Eastern Sierra town worked great, at least until the summer wildfire smoke happened. (Summer humidities of 10-15%.) I spent a few summers in SE Minnesota where my grandmother and uncle lived and farmed in the 1970s. A swamp cooler would be a useless waste of electricity there.

    Since building a permanent house south of that original place at higher elevation, even on the dry side of the Sierras, snow keeps defying manufacturers’ claims where it is concerned. A side yard solar array, guaranteed to take up to 125 pounds per square foot of snow load, has buckled in several places with significant snow but far less than that load. An ATV snowblower attachment (we have a quarter-mile driveway) has bent the attachment equipment, despite Husband babying the heck out of it. A stainless handrail for the mobility access ramp buckled under snow a couple of years ago. We’re still based in lowland California but go up on weekends and wonder, what will have failed this time?

    At least we have a good summer climate solution. The house has a geothermal heating system with hydronic (under-floor) heating. In the summer it can be converted to run cooling water through the floor pipes, and efficient ceiling fans pull the cold upward. Especially appreciated when the outside air is full of smoke, now an expected characteristic of a California summer.