In the space of 24 hours this weekend, a tale of two Minnesota seasons emerged.
Winter and spring collided on Sunday, with the aftermath of Saturday’s snowstorm collapsing roofs even as a sudden thaw under sunny skies opened up teeth-jarring potholes on the roadways.
Most of the Twin Cities metro area didn’t see the foot of snow initially predicted, instead getting from 4 to 7 inches. But in other parts of the state, and in western Wisconsin and eastern North Dakota, much heavier, wet snow caused a number of alarming structure problems.
Most dramatically, a 50-by-75-foot section of the roof over the kitchen area at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Moorhead, Minn., fell in about noon Sunday. Only two people were in the church at the time, and they got out safely, authorities said.
Moorhead’s Deputy Fire Chief Benton Hicks told KFGO Radio that it was a “miracle” no one was hurt when the roof section fell “flat to the ground.”
On the church’s Facebook page, director of music and worship Bonnie Lee wrote, “A Sunday morning miracle! Praise God! This morning the roof over the parish center collapsed on our beautiful church. As terrible as it was, no one was hurt. Why? Because of the storm, we had canceled mass and all activities for Sunday. Canceling mass is almost unheard of … but we knew people would have a lot of digging out to do, so the masses were canceled, the pancake breakfast was canceled, the youth meetings were canceled. Thank God! There would’ve been countless people in the parish center this morning.”
In Winona, Minn., the ceiling above the pool at a Holiday Inn Express fell in. In Plainview, Minn., a roof came down on a man’s collection of classic cars. And in Eau Claire, Wis., the roof at a Holiday gas station caved in, as did that of the fire station in White Lake, Wis.
Little snow is expected in the next few days, which will feature mild temperatures and lots of rain. But spring comes with its own challenges.
As Sunday’s balmy weather melted some of Saturday’s snowfall, blocked storm sewers led to street flooding, leading authorities to ask residents to makes sure their storm sewer grates are free of snow and debris.
Street flooding “is something we’re concerned about,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Brent Hewett. “Right now we’re just worried more about local and urban flooding with snow blocking sewers,” although river and stream flooding will be a major problem later in the month.
Sunshine and clear skies on Monday will give way to fog and rain starting Tuesday and lasting through Thursday night. Temperatures will remain in the 30s and low 40s midweek, typical for this time of year.
Some snow is expected Thursday night, though it isn’t likely to stay on the ground, with a dry weekend to follow. High temperatures will hover near the freezing mark from Friday until Sunday, with lows in the upper teens — 5 to 10 degrees cooler than average.
For once, being average — or even a bit below it — might be an advantage.
“We haven’t looked at average probably since late January, before that initial very cold snap,” Hewett said. “It will definitely feel like spring.”
Though winter is loosening its grip, the weekend’s snowstorm was nothing to scoff at. Minneapolis and St. Paul both called snow emergencies beginning at 9 p.m. Sunday.
St. Paul’s seventh such emergency, just like the others, puts parking restrictions in place to allow plows to clear the snow from streets.
The city recently invoked winter parking restriction rules, which for the time being limit parking on many streets to just one side. However, those restrictions were suspended once the snow emergency began at 9 p.m. Sunday. The one-side restrictions pick up again at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Minneapolis announced the same later Sunday morning and also froze its winter parking restrictions.
Roads outside the metro remained in rough shape much of Sunday but eased through the day.
“The sun, which is our great friend, came out in full force and is helping to melt things,” said MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht. By Monday morning’s commute, roads should be in good shape, he said.
As winter draws to a close, Gutknecht said, Minnesota’s notorious pothole season bumps in. “That has to do with cracks on the road, water gets down in the cracks … and it starts to break things up,” he said. “So I know we’re seeing more potholes.”
MnDOT urged motorists to report the craters and torn-up spots so crews can put an asphalt mix in them and provide at least a temporary fix.
What if a pothole damages your vehicle? Compensation is available in some cases, and the process for filing for it is posted on MnDOT’s website.
For those weary of winter, spring’s eventual arrival is welcome despite puddles and potholes.
“I’d be hard-pressed to complain about the weather getting warmer,” Gutknecht said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.