In June, downpours and chill dampened Minnesotans' spirits, and profits. Then, boom -- on came the heat.
On a recent outbound flight from Minneapolis, a man exclaimed "Whoa! What's that thing?" as the plane ascended above the clouds. "Oh, hey, it's the sun!"
It may be hot out there now, but only last week, Minnesotans were kvetching about seemingly perpetual chill, rain and gray skies. Seems we've gone straight from goosebumps to the kind of spiked temps that breed tornadoes in the time it takes a bead of sweat to hit the dirt.
This summer of extremes is taking a toll. It's left us feeling cheated of our right to a fair June after one of the foulest winters on record.
While June is, historically, Minnesota's wettest month, this year we felt downright waterlogged. Rained-out golf and softball games, canceled barbecues, scuttled beach trips, idled pleasure boats and swamped gardens are on the growing list of weather casualties. It's put a damper on businesses that count on balmy days and not-too-chilly nights.
At Lord Fletcher's, one of the oldest outdoor hangouts for boaters and sun worshipers on Lake Minnetonka, patio waitress Bridget Brehmer has had so many shifts rained out she estimated she's made only about one-fourth the tips she had in June last year.
"I always have a bit of savings built up by now, but this year it's tough to even make the rent," she said. "There's only one indoor shift that no one usually wants, and everyone's begging for it."
As a family of ducks took advantage of a rare sunny moment to bask on Fletcher's dock, a shirtless Ben Schulze of Plymouth steered his cabin cruiser into a berth to break for lunch. "It's been frustrating for all Minnesotans, I think," said Schulze, who takes his boat out regardless of weather. "You wait through a long winter like last one, you really want summer to come."
Farmers and gardeners are behind in the growing cycle. While the rain has produced lush green lawns and foliage, the lack of sun hasn't been good for blooms or vegetables. Jamaica DelMar of north Minneapolis started her veggies from seed in early spring -- too early to know that would be a bad call.
"Half of them have washed away," she said. "I don't have any tomatoes yet, and none of my spinach is showing."
Washout weddings, fairways
The changeable weather presented a torrent of challenges for bride Bethany Kovar's wedding weekend.
The night of the rehearsal dinner, a boat cruise on the St. Croix, it rained. The next day dawned gorgeous and "sun was in the forecast all day long, with only a 10 percent chance of rain," she said. But just before the outdoor ceremony at Camrose Hill Farm in Stillwater, a thunderstorm sent everything into chaos.
Kovar's wedding planner, Anna Selwick, and crew hustled 125 cushioned chairs under the pavilion, only to lug them out again when the skies cleared a half-hour later, then whisked them in again as it began to rain afresh.
Legions of Twin Cities golfers are teed off. At Highland Park public course, Brian Shephard of St. Paul said he usually gets nine holes in every morning but had missed two days that week.
"Even when you can play, the course is so soggy," he said.
Highland's manager, golf pro John Shimpach, said the double whammy of a tough winter and spring has been hard on all golf courses. "Public or private, the weather doesn't discriminate," he said.
After more than 4 inches of rain three weeks into a month that should average half of that, business was down 20 percent, he said. He's watching his budget carefully.
"Casual golfers won't come out and play unless the weather's nice," he said. "You've got fewer golfers, you've got to have fewer workers."
Timing affects attitudes
Minnesota's most cherished season got off to a less-than-ideal start. But is it one for the records? Not necessarily. Statistically, conditions in the Twin Cities haven't been quite as un-Junelike as they seem, said Greg Spoden, a climatologist with the DNR.
We had a couple of record days on opposite ends of the temperature spectrum -- 103 was a record high for June 7, and on June 23, 63 degrees tied the coolest high temperature on record for that day. But total rainfall for the month was only about an inch above the 4-inch norm, nowhere near the soggy 1990 record of 9.82 inches. Despite our feeling that it rained a lot on weekends, only three Saturdays or Sundays in the month had measurable precipitation, Spoden said.
So why did it feel like we were holed up inside watching thundershowers all month? Blame it on Friday.
"It rained three of the four Fridays, setting the tone for the weekends," he said. "Minnesotans like to save their sunny days for the weekends, and when it rains then, it really affects their moods. Our perceptions don't always match the data."
Just as winter darkness triggers sadness, gloomy summer days can also make us blue, said Dr. Charles Schultz, head of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical School and an expert in seasonal-affective disorder. "Boy, it was dark and cloudy and rainy," he said.
"It felt almost like fall, and that has an effect on your brain's levels of melatonin and serotonin, and you feel a lack of energy."
For most of us, the feeling is merely psychological, he said: "After one of the snowiest winters ever, we were waiting to get outside, and then were very let-down and frustrated."
Summer? Try sum-brrr
A shivery June led to soft sales of soft-serve and other summertime treats.
At Target Field, beer sales were flat, hot chocolate and coffee up. Those chilly days also lured fewer people to stand in line for ice cream cones and Blizzards, said Michael Keller, chief marketing officer for Dairy Queen International.
"No doubt, sun and heat help sell ice cream," he said. "Our franchisees track hot days and cool days, and everybody is aware that we've had more cool and rainy days these last few months than many of us as Minnesotans can remember."
Still, Keller, a cold-braving triathlete who led an "ice-out plunge" swimming group at Lake Calhoun this year, is looking ahead with optimism to what remains of summer.
"You know, there are five weekends in July."
Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046