Posted at 7:15 AM on November 14, 2007
by Paul Huttner
It's called Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it's very real for many in these northern climates.
As many as 1 in 10 of us will get SAD in the Upper Midwest. SAD is caused by a reduction in daylight according to medical experts. It can trigger depressive moods, and is more common in women than men.
The lux is the standard measure of light. If you stand one foot from a candle you're getting 11 lux. On a summer day outside you'll get as much as 80,000 lux. On a cloudy winter day, there are only about 3,000 lux. In your home at night, only a few hundred in most rooms. It's easy to see why we're affected seasonally.
So how to we stay happy during the SAD season?
According to Dr. David Adson at the Uof M Psychiatry Department exercise and light exposure are the keys. Even being outside during the day for an hour in the winter can greatly increase your light exposure. Regular exercise and activity also helps. Don't be a total couch potato; get out there and your chances improve. Also, cutting back on alcohol can be a big boost.
For the skinny on SAD, check out our Jet Streaming podcast this week and hear all the details on how to stay happy from Dr. Adson.
For me, November is my toughest month. Here's a trick I use to keep looking ahead to brighter days. Our earliest sunset time of the year in the Twin Cities is 4:31pm from December 6th through December 15th. Because of a quirk in earth's orbit, the sunset actually starts getting later starting on December 16th, a full week before the winter solstice, when daylight starts increasing again.
I watch those sunsets and use that marker to notice that the light is coming back, and it helps me stay positive.
It also helps to know that our average percentage of sunshine actually increases as we move into January and February!
So don't worry, be happy.
Posted at 1:19 PM on November 14, 2007
by Craig Edwards
When General Jack Kelly was at the helm of the National Weather Service his slogan for the world’s premier forecasting agency was the No Surprise Weather Service. A very lofty brand indeed! If you don’t aim high, mediocrity is easy to accept.
At the very least our goal at the Twin Cities office was to minimize the impact of any surprise. Meteorological expertise shared by sage veterans, blending with enhanced technology and youthful exuberance of new forecasters moved us steadily towards the No Surprise Weather Service in the last decade.
Hopefully few were surprised by the change in air mass and the gale force winds across Minnesota today. Forecasters had heralded the arrival of strong northwest winds with the hoisting of wind advisories on Tuesday afternoon.
Advisories, warnings and weather headlines issued by NOAA, effectively communicated, put the onus on individuals and public safety officials to use good judgment in dealing the challenges of harsh or hazardous weather. Heeding advice maximizes safety.
This week the National Weather Service joins with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to spread the word on winter hazards. Educational and safety information is available on their website.
Winter Hazard Awareness week