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The benefits of extreme cold in Minnesota

Jan 16, 2019 06:54AM ● By Editor
By Paul Huttner of Minnesota Public Radio News - January 15, 2019

My dad used to say our cold Minnesota winters “keep out the riff-raff.”

That wouldn’t win him any PC awards these days. But it’s true in the bigger context I now understand to include critters like invasive insect species that can harm Minnesota’s forests.

Emerald Ash Borer. Image: David Cappaert, Michigan State University

Minnesota’s extreme cold has benefits. My conversations with renowned University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology Director Lee Frelich have taught me that extreme cold in Minnesota is critical to forest health.

Lee says extreme cold is critical for achieving high insect mortality rates. The cold is good news for ash trees who are under attack from the Emerald Ash Borer.

Fig. 1. Location of United States and Canada weather stations used in this study,and ranges of green,white,and black ash in North America according to Little (1971). R.D. DeSantisetal./Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 178–179(2013)120–128 

When temperatures hit -36 to -40 in Minnesota, up to 99-percent of ash borer larvae can die.

Coldest temperatures recorded in largest and smallest diameter logs used in larval COLD HARDINESS OF EMERALD ASH BORER, AGRILUS PLANIPENNIS: A NEW PERSPECTIVE Robert C. Venette1 & Mark Abrahamson2

Extreme cold in Minnesota keeps away other invasive pests too. But climate change in Minnesota is making temperatures like -40 up north and -20 in the Twin Cities less frequent.

Image via Minnesota Rose Gardener.

So when you see extreme cold in the forecast, there are reasons for Minnesotans to celebrate.

To see the original article and read more reporting from Paul Huttner, follow this link to the MPR Updraft weather blog.

About the blogger:  Paul Huttner at [email protected]
Paul Huttner is chief meteorologist for Minnesota Public Radio. Huttner has worked TV and radio stations in Minneapolis, Tucson and Chicago. Paul is a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul and holds a bachelor’s degree in geography with an emphasis in meteorology.
Paul Huttner
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