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Good Question ‘Reply All': Birds, Colds & Calendars

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
Heather Brown loves to put her innate curiosity to work to answer yo...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for Heather Brown to dig into the Good Question mailbag to answer some of your best queries. And it looks like, despite it being so late in the season, people still have many questions about winter.

Christy from Bloomington asked: “How do you get an accurate measurement of snow with blowing wind?”

According to Lisa Schmit, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, snow is officially measured at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and at Chanhassen. Without wind, meteorologists use a ruler to measure the new snowfall from the top of a clean whiteboard. But when there’s wind, they use a 4-inch metal cylinder to capture the snow. The snow is then melted down to a liquid to account for any uneven snow accumulation inside the cylinder.

“We know it’s about a 10-to-inch ratio of snow to water, so we just work backwards,” she said.

Zed asked: “Why don’t our eyeballs freeze in the winter?”

According to ophthalmologists, this is very unlikely to ever happen. Our eyes have a system of blood vessels that continuously pumps blood through and around the eyeballs. Our eyelids also act as a natural protectant to keep our eyes moist.

Val from Anoka saw robins in her tree earlier this month, so she wanted to know: “Why are the birds showing up so early?”

According to bird expert Sharon Stitler, it’s all normal. These “winter robins” tend to be found in areas with buckthorn berries and live in central and southern Minnesota throughout the winter.

“The robins we see in winter are from further north. The ones that we see on our lawns in summer, hang out in the southern U.S.,” she said.

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