Dear Paul

Expert answers to your most dire questions

Q: My neighbor claims to be “green,” but he just bought a snow blower. Isn’t this thing hurting the ozone?
You’re right. Most snow blowers create noise pollution and emit greenhouse gases, two negatives right off the bat. Your green friend should consider an electric snow blower. Not only are they smaller, and more maneuverable, but they’re whisper-quiet and produce no emissions. Or, better yet, shovel the snow—it’s good for your body, and it doesn’t hurt the Earth.

Q: Our new president makes me want to make some changes of my own. What’s a good fitness routine for the heavily overworked and out-of-shape?
The staggering statistic is still true: 1 in 3 adults in the United States are obese, and 66 percent are overweight, according to the Center for Disease Control. You’re smart to get active, but don’t be misled by slick advertising: There is no silver bullet or magic pill that will melt away pounds. The Mayo Clinic advises 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise such as walking, bicycling, or swimming, but I’m guessing your busy schedule makes it a challenge. Vow to use the stairs, not the elevator, every chance you get; walk briskly over your lunch hour; parking farther away from the office than usual; or jog to the restroom—the strange looks from coworkers will be worth it when you start to slim down.

Q: It’s pretty frickin’ cold out there! Is January really the coldest month in Minnesota?
Yes, January in Minnesota is, without question, the coldest month of the year on average. We often see a brief respite from goose bumps during the first week of the month, known as the much-anticipated “January Thaw.” Historically, the mercury bottoms out the third or fourth week of January, about a month after the Winter Solstice, when the sun is lowest in the southern sky. Look on the bright side: When it gets this cold outside, the crime rate plummets, you don’t have to worry about fashion, and your garbage doesn’t stink! 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