Monday, December 20, 2010 5:22pm CST

19 degrees    Snowing   Wind W3mph
What would Minnesota be without snow in winter?
But I think even Minnesotans this year are beginning to wonder a little bit.  We are currently in the midst of another snow storm.  Not a huge one.  But enough to bring most areas of the country to a standstill.
A storm a week ago brought down the Metrodome roof and forced the Minnesota Vikings to play a 'home game' in Detroit, Michigan against the New York Giants.  With the Metrodome still undergoing repairs, tonight's Vikings game will be played outdoors in the snow at the University of Minnesota Gopher's football stadium, affectionately called The Bank.  Tonight it is looking more like The Snow Bank!   Over 30,000 to 40,000 cubic yards of snow have been removed from the stadium.  Here is a link to watch a time lapse of the snow removal.
This will be on the 29th anniversary to the day that the Minnesota Vikings will play an outdoor home game in 29 years.  Whereas the Vikings were known for their hardiness in playing in snow and cold and ice, that has not been their signature for 29 years.  But tonight it is a classic matchup between the Vikings and their arch rivals the Chicago Bears.
Already we are at the 5th snowiest December in history.  And with only another 9 inches before the end of the month, we will move into the snowiest December in history.  That is something I think is almost guaranteed.  The storm tonight will be almost enough to put us in that position and we have 11 more days in the month. 
So along with the rest of the country, we seem to be on track to set some winter snowfall and weather records.
Maybe the loons know something by going south each fall.
As you know, you can follow the loons location from their satellite transmitters on the maps at the USGS website.
Let me summarize the movements of the two Minnesota loons with implanted transmitters.  I will try to summarize the movements of the Wisconsin loons as well very soon.
Stumpf Lake Male  (#55482)
July 13        Transmitter surgically implanted
July 16 -->  Stumpf Lake
      22-29   Small lake a couple miles north of Stumpf Lake
      30        Back on Stumpf Lake
August 3-12    To Rice Lake about 20 miles southwest of Stumpf
           12-16  Migrate to west of Green Bay
           19       On Green Bay of Lake Michigan
           22       Last transmission from loon
           26       The loon dies and remains of the loon are recovered near Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
                           (death due to aspergillosis)
Sagatagan Lake Male  (#55480)
July 13        Transmitter surgically implanted
July 21        On Sagatagan Lake
Oct 16        Migrate to Forest Lake, MN
Oct 17        Migrate to Lake Michigan near Racine, WI
Oct 20-Dec 4  Lake Michigan near Waukegan/No. Chicago
Dec 5          In flight over So. Kentucky near Dale Hollow Lake
      6          Off Florida coast SE of Panama City, FL
      8-9       Moving SE
      12-15   50 miles straight west of Tampa/St Petersburg, FL
It is interesting that the Sagatagan Lake loon has moved to the southeast on the Gulf until he is along the Florida coast.  Several of the other loons have done the same thing....gradually moved to the southeast.  One can only wonder if it is due to the oil spill and they are moving away from any smell or taste or presence of oil.  Or if it is totally unrelated to the oil.  Only time and observation will tell.
I want to also let you know about something else.  A week ago I got a letter from the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN.  You may know the town of Wabasha from the movies Grumpy Old Men with Jack Lemmon, Walter Mathau and Ann-Margret.  The National Eagle Center is probably the premiere eagle facility in the country.
Every spring they do a special festival that they call "Soar With The Eagles".
They have asked me if I would come to the festival and do a program on loons.
I will be doing two programs on Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 11:30am and 2:30pm.  For any of you who live within driving distance, it would be fun if you could join us.    Let some of your friends and family  who may not still be reading the blog about this time at the National Eagle Center.  It would be a privilege to meet some of you who have been so faithful in watching the LoonCam.
On Saturday, March 12th, Kevin Kenow, the director of the project to track the loons, from the USGS will also be speaking and updating what has been learned so far from this project.  By then there will be much more data on what has been happening.
So maybe I will have the privilege of meeting you there and talking more about our favorite loons and answering everything you have always wanted to ask.  Although, all of you are so knowledgeable, I will probably be able to learn from you!
And to all of you, Merry Christmas to you and a very Happy New Year.  Or Happy Hanukkah or whatever you celebrate or even if you do not celebrate at all may this be a wonderful time with family and friends.