Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday Phenology: January 23, 2012

Posted by Kirk
Our last full week of January! The sun rose this morning at 7:42 AM and set again at 5:08 PM. I'm starting to enjoy having some extra sun in the mornings. We now have 9 hours 25 minutes and 47 seconds of daylight and we're gaining a little over 2 minutes per day. While most of the time gained is at the end of the day we did start gaining light in the mornings back on January 7th. We've gained 8 minutes in the morning since the 7th so, well, you've got those 8 minutes you need in the morning now to get spectacular abs.

Your Week in Review:

Tuesday I continued to see pair flights of mallards. This is yet another positive sign that spring is coming. I started seeing this several weeks ago and mentioned it on the podcast but at the time the ducks seems to be sometimes in pairs and sometimes in groups. Now when I'm seeing them flying they seem to be almost always paired up. Pair flights are a way for the ducks to reinforce their pair bond. Think of them as duck dating.

Wednesday was cold and temps continued to drop as some of the first truly arctic air of the winter came down out of Canada. Meteorologists and weather geeks of all stripes watched the temperature inch closer and closer to zero as the clock approached midnight. If the mercury dropped to -1 before midnight, we'd tie the record for the latest in the winter sub-zero temperature reading, if it dipped below after midnight, i.e. on Thursday, we'd have a new record. Alas, the official temperature at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport hit -1 just before midnight and we tied the records of 2002. Interestingly, the 2002 temp is also a tie with 1889.

Thursday was the coldest morning of the year which is no surprise given that we dropped into the sub-zero range before midnight on Wednesday. We had our first daytime sub-zero temps of the winter which was doubly shocking. I was shocked that it took so long and then shocked by the reality of the bitter cold. We've had it easy this year. When I arrived at work it was -14° and it kept dropping from there. An hour or so later it was -17 which was the coldest reading I personally saw that day. In spite of the cold, I still heard a Black-capped Chickadee singing the spring mating song.

Friday was a beautiful snowy day.

Saturday there was a prediction of Northern Lights in the evening. They were a little delayed in arriving but that didn't really matter as it was cloudy in Minnesota anyhow. We've had bad luck seeing the aurora lately due to clouds.

The week ahead:

There was another large cornonal mass ejection (CME) from the surface of the sun on Monday??? It was also directed toward the earth. The material is expected to hit the earth on Tuesday the 24th and there is an elevated chance for aurora on Tuesday night. They may even be visible from Mid-latitude states such as Minnesota. The evening sky forecast at this point looks fairly good for clear skies on Tuesday night so we might be in luck this time around. Best estimates at this point are for up to 30% cloud cover rolling in around sunset but things will improve slightly as the evening goes on. Predictions show clear skies by 11:00 pm.


Minnesota Birdnerd said...

Kirk- Have we really gained over nine hours of sunlight since the solstice?

Kirk said...

Ha ha ha. Oh my, typing too fast. I also said that we've gained 9 hours since the "wiener" solstice. Not sure what a wiener solstice is. The 9 hour thing was supposed to be how much daylight we're getting now. I'm about to fix it.