Minnesota takes welcome breath of spring

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 30, 2014 - 11:05 PM

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Sunday was a long-overdue reward for many winter-weary people soaking up the sun as they hiked, biked, walked dogs and played with kids.

“It was a gift,” said Molly King, of St. Louis Park, after a 3-mile hike with her husband around Theodore Wirth Park in Golden Valley. “It feels like a vacation. It feels so much easier.”

The mercury’s first trip to 60 degrees since October provided a welcome, if brief, respite from one of the longest, coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory. More snow and cold are predicted during the week ahead, but on Sunday, people took full advantage of the balmy weather, despite ubiquitous puddles that kept joggers hopping, walkers detouring and little kids like Oliver Olson jumping into the melt pools.

As he walked with his grandma along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis near St. Anthony Falls, Oliver, 4, squashed melting snow with his boots. He added: “I like getting rid of it.”

Sunday’s weak sun and higher temperatures melted off about 2 inches of snow, said the local office of the National Weather Service.

Although March has been about 8 degrees cooler than normal, almost all 21 inches of snow that was on the ground on March 1 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport has melted away, National Weather Service meteorologist Lisa Schmit said. The total snowfall in the metro area so far this winter is 62.8 inches, 11 inches above average, but March saw fewer than half the usual 10 inches of snow.

‘You’ve got to get outside’

At the Calhoun Beach BP gas station, a steady stream of carwash customers showed up to rinse the salt and grime from their cars, said assistant manager Erick Yanes. “Everybody is happy with the weather,” he said.

Nearby, Lake Calhoun was ringed with bikers, joggers and walkers, some in shorts and T-shirts. Most were trying to stay on dry parts of the bike trail, since large areas of the walking trail remained submerged in snow. A skate sailing craft zipped across the still-frozen lake.

Molly Hey and her big dog Hubert set out for a walk around Calhoun, but the trail was so packed with spring revelers that she found it easier to walk along the road.

“I am so excited to have this kind of weather,” said Hey, 31, who lives in the Uptown neighborhood and bikes year-round.

She met two girlfriends for lunch at Lucia’s sunny, sidewalk cafe in Uptown, a block from the intersection of Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street S., which was crammed with car and pedestrian traffic.

Joe Colwell and Marcela took the bike trail from St. Louis Park to Lake of the Isles and also stopped for lunch in Uptown.

“When we saw it was going to be 60 degrees today, we’re like, ‘You’ve got to get outside,’ ” said Colwell, 26. “We are packing in as much as we can because you don’t know when you will get another nice day.”

This week will be iffy.

Although Monday’s high is forecast at 56, snow, sleet or rain could fall later Monday and into Tuesday, Schmit said.

She said a “plowable” 2 to 5 inches could descend late Thursday and into Friday. Nighttime lows will be in the 20s much of the week.

However, the snow won’t stay long, because temps are expected to head back into the 40s during the weekend.

Back at Lake Calhoun, Randy and Tammy Moore, of Excelsior, enjoyed the shot of sunshine, celebrating a beautiful spring day for their daughter Izabel’s 5th birthday.

“We asked her what she wanted to do, and she wanted to have pancakes and go to the park,” said Tammy Moore. “She’d been asking to go to the park, and this is our first time this year.”

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658

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