The balmy — by Minnesota standards — start to December kept right on rolling Thursday as temperatures rose into the 50s in the Twin Cities and even well into the 60s in the southwestern part of the state.
And Friday is looking to be another day of unseasonable warmth, albeit a tad cooler, the National Weather Service said.
"Not very often can we say this in December, but ... crack a window," the Weather Service wrote in a social media posting.
December is off to a warmer-than-normal start in the Twin Cities as highs have been above freezing every day this month, including Wednesday's peak of 47. With the sun out Thursday, the temperature soared even higher but topped out 4 degrees short of the daily record of 54 set in 1939.
Once Thursday afternoon arrived, the Weather Service was reporting a Twin Cities-best 55 degrees in Lakeville and Eden Prairie, and a statewide warmest of 64 in the southwestern Minnesota city of Madison. Even Moorhead got into the back-to-the-50s groove, with an early afternoon reading of 59.
Ely, nestled on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, made it to 48 before the looming sunset nudged the mercury in retreat.
The scene was bustling midday Thursday at sunbathed Guidant John Rose MN Oval in Roseville, where 110,000 square feet of ice for pleasure, speed and hockey skaters alike has been refrigerated for the past four weeks.
"I've been selling tickets all morning," ticket seller Nancy Suter said. "They've been selling like hotcakes."
Skaters slapped hockey pucks and glided across the outdoor rink in shorts and shirts Thursday. Nick Pearson, head of the Midway Speedskating Club, will help welcome more than 100 speedskaters from across the country for the America's Cup competition this weekend. Pearson says the warmth should not be an issue.
"It's more the sun than it is the temperature. That sun can be really brutal on the ice, and it's been holding up great so far, so I'm not overly concerned," Pearson said. "But you get those warm days, and you've just got to deal with it."
Eric Franke welcomed the warmup. Franke is visiting from Hawaii, where there is one ice rink which, Franke said, is less-equipped than Minnesota's facilities.
"You don't have to bundle up too hard," Franke said, encouraging others to enjoy the weather. "Get out on the ice. You've got to have the experience, especially while the weather is sunny and relatively warm."
Friday will still feel more like April than December. Highs are expected to reach the upper 40s and possibly 50. The record high for a Dec. 8 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the official weather reporting station for the metro area, is 50 in 1990.
No arctic fronts are in sight, but a weekend cool down could mean light snow Saturday. It shouldn't be much — less than an inch likely — but "just enough to cause slick roads," the Weather Service said.
Behind the snow, highs Sunday and into the middle of next week are forecast to drop into the 30s, with lows in the upper teens and 20s.
Nate Birr, chief operations officer for the Buck Hill ski resort in Burnsville, said the warmer weather halted snowmaking for the past week.
Birr said making snow is ideal when temperatures are below 30 degrees, but all the trails are open — and he said the temperatures are perfect to snowboard and ski in comfort.
"From a skier or snowboarder's perspective, it should be an unbelievable weekend," he said. "It's still really good snow quality. The temps are nice. ... You can be outside on the deck having a drink, having a beer, hanging out and actually enjoying the weather."
Chase Jurgensen grew up watching his father ski at Buck Hill. At 39, Jurgensen is excited to continue that tradition with his 6-year-old son, Parks. Although the weather is unexpected, Jurgensen believes it's ideal for reacclimating to winter sports.
"You never know what you're going to get [in] early December, but this is a huge surprise," he said. "The fact that we are getting this great weather, you've got to take advantage of it when you get it and get out and enjoy the sun while you ski. It's perfect."
At the Rosedale Center, Derrick Davis said the unseasonable weather made shopping easier for him and his niece. Davis moved here from Virginia in 2018, and advised people to take advantage of the sun.
"Nobody wants to battle the cold," Davis said. "Buckle down, because [winter] is inevitable. It's coming, it's just a matter of time."