Dear Paul

Expert answers to your most dire questions

Q: It seems like every time I want to have a fire in my deck-side fire pit, it’s too windy. Is it my imagination, or has it really been windier recently?
It has seemed a bit breezy in my neighborhood, too. But is that perception or reality? I asked Pete Boulay, of the Minnesota State Climatology Office, who promptly burst my bubble. “If anything, it appears we have been slightly less windy than normal over the past few months.” The number of bad-hair days bottoms out (for everyone but me, it seems) in August, when the average wind speed is only 9.3 mph. Compare that to our windiest month, April, when the wind puffs at 12.3 mph. The greater the contrast in temperature, the stronger the winds have to blow to keep the atmosphere in a state of equilibrium, Boulay says. Don’t give up on that fire pit just yet!

Q: I’m hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year, and my new sister-in-law is a strict vegan. What’s the deal with tofurkey?
It’s best not to ask too many questions about tofurkey. All you need to know is that it’s made from soy, it’s healthy, and, from personal experience, does a fairly good job simulating the taste of turkey. Frankly, I like the real thing, because it makes me just sleepy enough to avoid washing dishes. However, life is all about compromise, and your vegan family member will be touched by this gesture. So give it a shot. Just make sure to cook it thoroughly (3 hours and 15 minutes at 350 degrees in a covered dish).

Q: Paul, I haven’t yet picked a candidate. How should I make my decision?
Honestly, I think a meteorologist should run for the highest office in the land. Just think: Even in a high-pressure situation, they’d never put up a front. But seriously, attempt to ignore negative attack ads and dig into the issues to find out where both candidates stand. Learn where they are at on the policies that matter most to you. Separate out hype from substance. Analyze the facts, but in the end, go with your gut. It’s usually a pretty good guide. Trust me. I’m a weatherman.

Paul Douglas is a meteorologist, inventor, and businessman living in the Twin Cities. Got a tough question? Send it to