Environment & Outdoors

Tom Kasper

Tom Kasper is ignoring the -20 to -30 below windchills of the next few days, and the melting mid-30s after that in favor of  his plant and seed catalogs, where lawns are green,  gardens are lush and all the dahlias are above average.

stuart anthony/Flickr

Way back in 1996, Minnesota recorded the coldest temperature ever when Tower hit -60 on February 2.

Duluth checked in with a half-hearted -30 that day, but Larry Weber reminds us that five days later, we hit 45 degrees.

Oh, and if you're hoping for snow days this month, chances are you're out of luck.

Journey 4 Renewal

Chelsea Froemke, Steph Branchaud, Tessa Larson, and Whitney Vogel shared something special: years of guiding canoe trips at the Wilderness Canoe Base in the Boundary Waters.

So when the four found themselves needing some much needed personal renewal -- and discovered Wilderness needed some help, too -- they embarked on a 66 day canoe trip of over 12oo miles, from Seagull Lake to Hudson Bay.

Oh, and they'd never been all together before.

Códice Tuna Colectivo de Arte/Flickr

Perhaps Janus is indeed looking to the future and the past.

And then again, maybe he's looking at the below-normal first half of the month (average temperature 4 degrees) and the above normal second half of the month (average temperature 30 degrees).

If Sharon Moen isn't up to her ears in clay penguins, she soon will be.

The potter (and co-producer of The Sea Grant Files on KUMD) is all laughs when talking about her creations (or trying to fit headphones on one for a photograph), but all hilarity slips away when she starts talking about climate change, changes in the Antarctic ice shelf, the atmosphere and the oceans, and how the current administration will be dealing with - or not dealing with - those issues. 

Fyn Kynd Photography/Flickr

The January thaw Larry Weber predicted has come to pass, with record-breaking warm temperatures (45 degrees yesterday), northern shrikes and the winter crane fly.

Duluth has the same potential to generate solar energy as Jacksonville, Florida.  Or Houston, Texas.

Don't believe it?  Ask Bret Pence of Ecolibrium 3 ... or better yet, check out Duluth Shines!

Duluth Shines! is a solar map application that lets you see what kind of solar energy you could generate from your home or business.

Jamie Harvie

Without a "garbage patch" in Lake Superior (like the floating rafts of plastic debris found in our oceans),  maybe it's hard to work up concern about the plastic bags merchants tuck out stuff into when we buy something or the foam containers restaurants give us for our leftovers.

Bag it Duluth - For The Love of Place is suggesting a city-wide ban on plastic bags and foam containers, hoping to move consumers to reusable bags and compostable containers.

Sunrises are coming earlier (around 7:50am), sunsets are coming later (around 4:45pm) and while it's too soon to be looking for spring, naturalist Larry Weber says next week's January thaw is really going to shake things up.

Gabrielle R.

The good news is the cyclotella algae turning up in sediment samples from the Great Lakes aren't a problem - like blue-green algae is, for example.

The bad news is that they're indicating a problem: in the food web and with climate change.

Steve James/Flickr

So you have a shrubbery in your yard, perhaps close to the street or your driveway.

Maybe you even have an additional shrubbery, perhaps with a little path between the two.

So what do you do when the only place to plow or shovel snow is ... on your shrubbery?

Pat Matthews, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife [via Flickr]

Larry gives his phenological year-end summary.  Temperatures for the past year have been warmer than normal for every month but one. Icy snow over the last week caused difficulties for human travelers, but also for many animals living in the snow, such as the ruffed grouse and the deer.  

Steve Johnson [via Flickr, modified]

Tom Kasper reminds us in these winter months to be mindful of where we direct our slowblower jetsam. Especially with icy or heavy snow, branches can be easily damaged. 

This week on Backyard Almanac, Larry Weber details the dramatic highs and lows from this past week with a nearly 50 degree swing.  He shares the surprising fact that snow fall so far this year is average and answers a listener question about why the trees didn't drop all their leaves in fall. Listen for details about who is moving about over the snow and of course details about the Annual Christmas bird count.

"Christmas in the Trenches, 1914," EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com

Larry Weber says, by his reckoning, winter officially started this week.

For one thing, the rivers froze.

For another, it was -17 yesterday morning.

And of course, it was time for his favorite holiday tune.  (You can hear it after Larry's piece below)

You can read more about Christmas in the Trenches here:

You can see a music video about the event, backed with John McCutcheon's song here:

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