A January thaw gave Minnesota the luster of spring on Friday, when the high temperature at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport barreled through the old record of 41 to reach 47.
The old record was set in 2007.
Minnesotans who otherwise might be hibernating were out in abundance as bright sun hung above the Stone Arch Bridge in downtown Minneapolis late Friday afternoon.
Runners wore shorts, people loitered on the bridge and dogs appeared happy to be getting extra long walks.
Jon Douville and Amy Mau were walking toward the bridge near Main Street when they suddenly stopped.
It was the first time in weeks the pair had played Pokémon Go outdoors. During the winter, they usually resort to the skyways.
"I'm pretty happy," Douville said about the mild weather.
"Yeah, but it's going to get cold again," Mau chimed in.
Andrew and Sonney Wilson of Garnavillo, Iowa, were in town celebrating their five-year anniversary. It was their first time on the historic bridge, and they couldn't stop taking photos of themselves with the Minneapolis skyline as a backdrop.
"What happened to the cold?" Sonney Wilson asked. "I had to take my coat off."
The couple, who are living in Arizona for a time, say they miss the snow. They miss skiing and "just playing in it," Sonney said.
"I don't mind the cold, but I just want to see snow," Andrew Wilson said.
The mild weather, which occurs in a southern Minnesota landscape largely devoid of snow, will continue on Saturday, which is expected to be mostly sunny with a metro-area high around 40, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen. Sunday will be a little cooler, with a high near 33 and more clouds. Precipitation may return Sunday night with rain, snow and freezing rain before 3 a.m., then rain, possibly mixed with snow, between 3 and 5 a.m., then rain after 5 a.m. A low around 31 will account for that wintry mix.
North of the metro, that brew may include more snow, with an inch or more accumulating Sunday night into early Monday, the Weather Service said.
"Up and down temperatures are expected through midweek," the Weather Service said — a forecast that's become representative of this strange winter.
High drama on the ice
The unusually warm weather further increased the danger of going out on Minnesota lakes and rivers, and the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) escalated its warnings to people to stay off the ice.
"The DNR does not measure ice thickness on Minnesota lakes," the agency said on its website. "Your safety is your responsibility. Check ice thickness at least every 150 feet."
As if to illustrate that danger, a dramatic rescue played out Friday afternoon on Lake Pepin, a wide spot in the Mississippi River. According to the Goodhue County Sheriff's Department, a snowmobiler who had ventured out on the ice off Long Point in Old Frontenac plunged through just after 2 p.m.
"The victim was halfway between the beach and the navigation channel, approximately 100 yards from the point," Sgt. Scott Powers said in a news release. "The snowmobiler was still holding onto the ice and was semiconscious when pulled into the airboat by deputies."
One of the deputies trying to make his way to the snowmobiler also fell through the ice and had to be rescued, Powers said.
The 61-year-old snowmobiler was flown to a hospital. His condition was unknown Friday evening.
A crowd of rescuers was involved, including sheriff's deputies, DNR conservation officers, Lake City firefighters and ambulance crews and a Mayo One helicopter crew.
On New Year's weekend, an Apple Valley couple died when their snowmobile went through the ice on Webb Lake in northwestern Wisconsin. Timothy and Kimberly O'Brien, 57 and 56, were returning to their cabin when they hit a spot of open ice. Authorities say they may have become lost, and thus ended up in open water that they couldn't see in the darkness.