Minnesota weather anything but average, or even predictable at times
Thursday, March 02, 2017 9:41 AM
Early last week, we got our first report of a robin when Les Hyland of Spring Valley called in to say he spotted one of the first signs of spring in the form of a bird. Other bird enthusiasts commented on the large number of geese flying north so early in the year.
Al Batt, who writes the “For the Birds” column in the Bluff Country Reader noted that a cardinal was singing in his yard Monday. The next day, he saw red-winged blackbirds, considered by many birders to be a more reliable indicator of spring than robins, and eastern bluebirds.
Wednesday, people were outside in shorts as temperatures climbed to nearly 60. Nearly all the winter snow was finally gone. A golf course was open in Rochester.
However, all week people were warned that winter wasn’t completely gone as a winter storm watch was posted for much of Minnesota, particularly in the Twin Cities. The watch turned into a blizzard warning for southeastern Minnesota and schools were closed Friday. Many businesses and public buildings such as libraries also closed and activities were canceled as some places got hit with more than a foot of snow.
The storm didn’t turn out to be a blizzard as winds weren’t as strong as expected. It also missed its mark as the strongest concentration of snow — 10 to 20 inches — was originally expected to be in the Twin Cities, which mostly escaped the storm altogether.
In an unusual move, the National Weather Service posted an apology to residents of the Twin Cities on Facebook and Twitter: “The precise location of this snow band was not certain, but our recognition of the incoming weather pattern and the weather models all pointed to a significant snowfall event for today.”
Even as late as Thursday, the model was still showing the heaviest snow band impacting the Twin Cities metro area, the service stated. Instead, it moved about 50 to 100 miles to the southeast.
Even more remarkable, the service noted, is the tiny transition zone from heavy snowfall to absolutely zero snowfall.
That narrow transition was noted here as the Spring Valley area received about eight inches of snow by Friday morning while the Mabel area got less than two inches. These cities in the same county usually have similar weather. Another unusual component was constant thunder and lightning throughout Thursday night and into Friday morning while the snow was piling up.
At the time this week’s edition is being printed, there is a forecast for rain, something that has been all too common this winter.
Of course, it’s a pretty sure bet that we will experience more of the snow before spring really does come. The bigger mystery is if we will experience some more spring-like weather before the real spring comes.
Although Minnesota has averages that are determined from years of records, our weather is anything but average on a day-to-day basis. Our wacky Minnesota weather is becoming even more extreme, particularly with the frequent warm spurts and large precipitation events — school-closing snow and flood-causing rain — that have become so common in recent years.
Still, even if our weather is becoming more mild on average, we can’t count on anything. As Sam Clemens, our photographer for Chatfield sports, noted, the weather during the early part of last week, when she was indoors shooting basketball and wrestling, will likely be nicer than game conditions for the outdoor spring sports throughout April and, perhaps, even into the beginning of May.