Matt Reinartz is among the winter weary who woke up Tuesday to an April snowstorm and said: “Enough is enough.”
The daylong snowfall slowed commutes, sent hundreds of cars skidding and forced folks back into their boots and winter down. But mostly the 8-plus inches of new snow and temperatures that barely eked above 30 broke the spirits of those yearning for spring and the 50-degree temperatures that are normal for this time of year.
“I woke up and said, ‘Not again,’ ” said Reinartz, who found respite in the gardens at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, where he works.
He wanted to drink in the color of tulips, feel a bit of spring warmth and smell the earth.
As the storm hung over the state, Minnesotans groused and shuddered on social media, at bus stops and in line for a hot cup of coffee. Underneath it all was a subtle boast of being Minnesota tough.
By early evening Tuesday, the snowstorm made April the eighth snowiest on record in the state.
“We can survive this to get to the beautiful weather in the summer. … That’s why we live here,” said Sean Aronson, spokesman for the St. Paul Saints. “You just have to grind through it.”
And adjust, said Lee Swenson, director of baseball at the University of Minnesota. Winter weather forced the Gophers’ two-game road series on Tuesday and Wednesday in St. Louis to be canceled. And the weekend series against Penn State that was scheduled on the Gopher’s home turf at Siebert Field was moved to Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind.
The Gophers started their baseball season in mid-February, traveling to warmer climes for games and hosting 13 home games at U.S. Bank Stadium. “It’s always sunny and 70 in the dome,” Swenson said. “It’s utopia.”
The stadium is now closed for the baseball season. “We should be outdoors, but it’s a crappy spring for everybody,” Swenson said.
Cold air? Don’t care
The onslaught of winter weather isn’t likely to deter the Twins at their opener on Thursday.
“Lots of questions + angst about weather impact on this weekend’s @Twins @Mariners series at Target Field,” Twins President Dave St. Peter tweeted. “Am I missing something? Aren’t we supposed to be the #Bold North?”
The Twins also tweeted: “Cold Air? Don’t care.”
Despite the sting of the late-season storm, winter in the Twin Cities hasn’t been all that awful, at least according to the Winter Misery Index that climatologists use to measure the severity of winter. Taking into account snowfall and temperatures, this season registers only as moderate.
“We’re smack dab in the middle,” said Eric Ahasic, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
And snow in April isn’t all that unusual. “Typically, we get a little over two inches,” he said. “This is a normal winter.”
And, yet, winter is wearing out its welcome for a lot of people, including Ahasic, an Illinois transplant.
“I like winter when it’s supposed to be winter,” he said. He wants snow on Christmas and accepts that a Minnesota winter will linger through March.
“We should be getting more spring than winter this time of year, and we’re certainly not doing it,” Ahasic said. “It’s bleak and it’s going to be bleaker.”
Lows Friday and Saturday night will plunge into the single digits, flirting with record-low temperatures.
Broken by winter
Those kind of temperatures along with this week’s storm may seem jarring because the past several winters have been “comparatively tame,” said Minnesota state climatologist Kenny Blumenfeld.
“For better or worse, people get used to that — wearing light jackets in February and March and having the snow off the ground by Presidents’ Day.”
And for some, winter can take a psychological toll. “I just had someone call the office to say she was done,” Blumenfeld said. “She wanted us to know that this winter is breaking her. … We try to be empathetic.”
This season’s wintry weather, however, was a boon for those who embrace winter recreation and for those who make a living from it, Blumenfeld said.
“The last several years were tough,” he said. The snow was sparse, the season was short and the ice on the lakes came late. Ski resorts took a hit along with snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and ice fishing, he added.
“Those are important things for our economy,” Blumenfeld said. “These people are happy to have their identity and viable businesses back.”
Blumenfeld looked out his window Tuesday morning and found the snowfall soothing.
“I’ll put on my boots and go for a walk and bike through this stuff,” he said. “I try to embrace it.”
But for those who don’t, hope is near. The sun is strengthening. “We’re holding onto the last strands of winter, but the sun will eventually win out,” Blumenfeld said. “We’re going to turn the corner at some point. … We appreciate spring much more after a long, hard winter.”
Even businessman and cold-weather fan Eric Dayton will welcome a change of seasons.
“You can love winter and still be excited for spring,” he said. “You experience each season fully and then you get to the end of that one and look forward to the next.
“The transition is part of the rhythm of our lives here.”