Stories tagged MN

Aug
21
2010

Tornadoes, Jan1 - Aug20, 2010
Tornadoes, Jan1 - Aug20, 2010Courtesy NOAA

Tornado alley moves to Minnesota

As of Aug 20, Minnesota has had 123 tornadoes. Texas is number two with only 87. Minnesota has never been number one in tornadoes before.

State tornadoe records for the past decade

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  • 2009 Texas 125 tornadoes
  • 2008 Kansas 185 tornadoes
  • 2007 Texas 198 tornadoes
  • 2006 Illinois 123 tornadoes
  • 2005 Kansas 136 tornadoes
  • 2004 Texas 178 tornadoes
  • 2003 Texas 155 tornadoes
  • 2002 Texas 172 tornadoes
  • 2001 Texas 137 tornadoes
  • 2000 Texas 146 tornadoes

Learn more about MN tornadoes 2010

Minnesota Tornadoes 2010: We're #1! Minnesota Public Radio
Minnesota Tornado History and Statistics University of Minnesota

Jun
21
2009

Use local firewood: Transporting firewood endangers ash trees
Use local firewood: Transporting firewood endangers ash treesCourtesy RoguePoet

Will ash trees follow the fate of elm trees?

About 30 years ago my neighbor's kid won a college scholarship for his sketch of the dead elm trees in front of my house marked with big red X's. Now I fear for the the giant ash trees across the street in Como Park.

Apparently the emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) has been damaging our ash trees for years. The EAB were officially discovered in St. Paul's Hampdem Park mid May, 2009.

Minnesota has the second highest number of ash trees in the nation after Maine. Many of them were planted to replace trees lost to Dutch elm disease a generation ago.

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Where can I find information about the emerald ash borer?

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) website has excellent information. Another, multinational website with the lastest information about EAB is emeraldashborer.info. I also recommend the University of Minnesota Extension website page which answers questions about ash trees and emerald ash borer beetles.

Frequently asked questions are below (click on them to get answers)

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What is Saint Paul doing for its ash trees?

Park director Mike Hahm says Parks and Recreation will do everything we can to protect our tree canopy. Saint Paul has been preparing for this for some time. For over 5 years, we have been increasing the diversity of the tree species in Saint Paul and have not replaced or replanted Ash trees. A Pioneer Press article titled Protecting ash trees could cost St. Paul $2.8 million annually explains:

"Hahm plans to start a campaign of removing affected ash trees at a rate of 3,000 a year and replacing them with other trees the following spring. In St. Paul's St. Anthony neighborhood, 67 trees already have been cut down. Hahm said he plans to apply immediately for nearly $2.8 million in state and federal money to fight the infestation."

This link will take you to the St Paul website page on emerald ash borer info.

Saber tooth cat skull
Saber tooth cat skullCourtesy kevinzim
A prehistoric stag moose antler and a saber-tooth cat skull found in a cave near Farmington may be the most significant paleontological discoveries in the Upper Midwest in years.

Chris Widga, assistant curator of geology for the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, stated that radiocarbon dating on the cat skull has shown that it is about 22,500 years old, placing the cat in Minnesota at a time when glaciers still covered parts of the Upper Midwest.

Source: StarTribune.

Mar
06
2007

Minnesota's Renewable Energy Standard (RES) set high.

High standard set by Minnesota: MN State Government
High standard set by Minnesota: MN State Government
Minnesota passed legislation (S.F. 4) that requires Minnesota's largest utility, Xcel Energy, to secure 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, while other utilities’ target is 20 percent by 2025. The state average of 25 percent renewable energy by 2020 is the most aggressive in the nation.

"I just think this is a landmark moment for our state," Pawlenty told about 150 lawmakers, environmentalists, utility representatives and academics at the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota.
The legislation is expected to produce thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in new investments over the next couple of decades. (Feb 22/07) Pioneer Press

Renewable Energy Standard wins by a landslide

Minnesota's Senate voted 61-4 and the House of Representatives voted 123-10 which shows the overwhelming support for mandating renewable energy production.

"Right now, Minnesota imports more electricity than any other state. We need to keep more of our money at home," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Aaron Peterson, DFL-Appleton.

It has been estimated that, when implemented, the use of renewable energy under the bill will save consumers and businesses as much as $500 million a year. StarTribune

Renewable energy cost worries refuted

Passage of the RES was aided by the results of a recent study released by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The study found that utilities could use wind power to generate up to 25 percent of their energy mix without a significant impact on energy costs. (gov. news release)

Sep
04
2006

Albino or not?: Is this an ablino squirrel or just a white variety of a regular squirrel. Check out the eyes to find out.
Albino or not?: Is this an ablino squirrel or just a white variety of a regular squirrel. Check out the eyes to find out.
Have I been working too hard lately, or was that a white squirrel I just saw?

The past couple weeks I’ve seen more white squirrels than I’ve ever see before and I was all excited that I was finding rare albino versions of the animal. After poking around on the Internet, however, I’ve discovered there’s a lot more to this than meets my eyes.

Thanks to information I found on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website, just because an animal is white (when it normally isn’t that color) doesn’t mean that it’s an albino. Conversely, an albino animal doesn’t have to be totally white, either.

The answers can all be found in the animal’s genes. Animals that have strong white coloration lack the genetics to produce the pigment melanin.

An albino member of a species inherits genes that interrupt the making of melanin. But other members of the same species may have other factors that block melanin production, making the animal look all white. The key difference can be found in the eyes.

An albino will have pink or light blue eyes, shades that are very uncommon to the animal. A white, non-albino will have eyes that are usual color of its species, usually black. From what I’ve seen lately, the white squirrels I’ve been seeing have black eyes. The estimated rate of albinism in squirrels is estimated at one in 100,000.

Of course, there are some other all white mammals. They’re called leucistic. Polar bears are leucistic year round, while snowshoe hares have a leucistic phase in the white, giving them good cover in the winter snows.

Getting back to the white squirrels, there are a number of towns across North America that celebrate their white furry critter. For instance, in Olney, Illinois, protects and fosters their growth. They’ve had laws on the books to protect the white rodents since 1902 and had a population that grew to 1,000 at one time. Today, there are about 200. Olney, along with towns in North Carolina, California, Texas and Ontario, use the white squirrels as tourist attractions.

The book is still out on if albinism is a detriment to survival. On first thought, being all-white would be a huge disadvantage to being spotted by a predator, you might think. But through more study naturalists have come to believe predators may not recognize a white-version of their prey as food. In studying albino birds, researchers have found that the white-feathered creatures have a hard time finding a mate -- another reason why the albino genes become so rare.