Dear Paul

Expert answers to your most important questions

Who actually picks out the clothes local television folks wear on the air?
At WCCO-TV, we had a consultant who had some genuinely good advice: men should appear in browns, grays and blacks; no shiny buttons; wear a nice, solid-color tie. Women seem to get far more scrutiny, however, usually from female viewers. Don Shelby could go on the air in a plaid suit and there might be two or three calls. But if Amelia Santaniello had a hair out of place, the phones would light up. A previous employer had the bad habit of sharing every dim-witted comment that came in. One day the lead anchorwoman was mortified to see the following comment: “Tell your leading lady that last night’s ensemble made her look like a hooker!”


Why are there so few beaches on the North Shore?
I’m not a geologist, but I speculate that prevailing winds play a role. Winds much of the year blow from the west or northwest on Lake Superior. The resulting waves have pulverized and eroded the southern shoreline for countless millennia, turning volcanic rock into sand. Less pulverizing and less erosion on the North Shore means fewer beaches. It’s the same reason why Lake Michigan’s best beaches can be found on the eastern (downwind) side of the lake.

Why are Minnesotans stoic about cold weather but such babies when it gets hot?
Think of it: We get so much grief from those living elsewhere that we routinely have to defend our decision to live here. And so we rationalize it: The cold makes us stronger, more resourceful, and resilient. It is our rallying cry. But insufferable summer heat is common nationwide. That said, on many July days there is more water in the air in Minnesota than along the Gulf Coast! So we have some right to whine. Besides, the combination of heat and humidity (and the obligation to comment) produces a perfect alibi to leave early on Friday for a rendezvous with our favorite lake. 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