Children waded into cool water at local lakes. Families cradled soupy ice cream cones at busy shops. Pool patrons shouldered towels and bags in long lines at stuffed-to-the-gills water parks.
And by Monday evening, Memorial Day revelers in some parts of the Twin Cities looked almost hopefully at darkening skies, with the threat of storms offering some measure of relief.
But for much of the day, the heat persisted. Record-breaking, swimming-through-the-air, walking-in-slow-motion heat.
A dome of hot air hanging over much of the central part of the country broke Dust Bowl-era records in the Twin Cities on Monday, pushing many residents to retreat indoors or head to the water to dodge the triple-digit temperatures.
Monday marked the earliest date in recorded history that the Twin Cities reached 100 degrees, and only the second time the metro area has cracked the triple-digit threshold in May.
The previous records trace back to 1934, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). The Twin Cities also logged a record-high temperature both for May 28 and for Memorial Day, creeping above the 98-degree record set in 1934.
“There are quite a few records we broke,” said Eric Ahasic, an NWS meteorologist in Chanhassen.
As sizzling temps and swampy humidity hung over much of the state, weather officials issued an excessive heat warning for the seven-county metro area that extended into Monday evening.
Meteorologists warned that “heat illnesses are likely,” with children, the elderly and those active outdoors especially at risk.
Temperatures came down rapidly Monday evening when severe storms crashed into parts of the metro, but the storms also disrupted outdoor holiday plans.
While the sun shone during the blistering afternoon, patrons lined up at Conny’s Creamy Cone in St. Paul to order popular flavors like tutti-frutti and peanut butter, rushing to eat the soft-serve treat before it turned to goo.
“Some people still take a lot of joy in eating the ice cream as it’s melting, too,” said Destyn Land, who works at Conny’s.
Throughout the weekend, people crowded into water parks and around lakes.
Places like North Commons Water Park in Minneapolis quickly reached capacity in the Monday sun, with hopefuls waiting in line to get into the 400-person park.
“We’re open. We’re rocking. Come on down,” said Richelle Royals, who works at North Commons.
Earlier Monday, when the mercury climbed to 90 degrees, the Twin Cities broke a record for the longest streak of 90-degree days in May. The metro area now has cracked the 90-degree threshold five days in a row, according to the NWS.
And Tuesday’s temperatures could make that six straight, Ahasic said.
All this heat so early in the year has meteorologists keeping an eye out for drought.
“There is some correlation between very warm Mays and bad drought years,” Ahasic said. “It’s something we will have to watch out for as we get deeper in the summer.”
Relief is in sight, Ahasic said: That sweltering dome of air will soon slide off to the east, pushing temperatures down to the 80s for much of this week — still about 10 degrees above normal for this time of year.