Dear Paul

Expert answers to your most pressing questions

If the Redoubt volcano in Alaska has a major eruption, will there be any weather consequences for Minnesota?
Major volcanic eruptions eject millions of tons of ash and dust into the stratosphere, where it often spreads out into a thin veil of debris, cooling the earth by a couple of degrees. When Mexico’s El Chichon volcano erupted in April 1982, it gave way to a summer cooling trend worldwide, followed by an unusually harsh winter. Air travel is the other area that can sometimes be affected by an eruption—jet engines do not mix well with ash. That said, volcanoes are among the natural disasters Minnesotans don’t have to lose sleep over.


Summer is just around the corner. My friends say that August has the warmest summer temperatures. I say July. Who’s right?
You’re right. Congratulations! (You win nothing, by the way.) The warmest temperatures of the year historically come in July, roughly three to five weeks after the summer solstice, June 21. (We see the same lag in the winter.) I checked National Weather Service records to be sure. The month of July has an average daily high of 83.3 degrees, compared to 80.4 degrees in August. I get all hot and sweaty just thinking about it—we’ve earned a hot front or two this year!


I was thinking about getting my mom flowers for Mother’s Day, but I heard a lot of chemicals are used to grow and preserve commercial flowers. Am I hurting the environment with my lame gift?
Pesticides and other toxic chemicals sprayed on flowers can have harmful effects on farm workers, wildlife, and even ground water. Before you place your order it wouldn’t hurt to find out where and how those ripe, ruby-red roses were grown. Organic flowers cost a little more, but if you want peace of mind, search out flowers that were grown sans chemicals. Trust me, I’m a weatherman.

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