September was the warmest ever recorded in Minnesota, and the trend is carrying over well into October, with residents embracing the unusually long, slow fade into fall.
The metro area didn’t match the state as a whole last month but still had its fourth-warmest September on record, according to Dan Effertz, a National Weather Service forecaster.
Effertz noted that “on average, we usually see our first frost here in the metro” by now.
Instead, Twin Cities temperatures are expected to reach the low to mid-70s on Saturday and vault into the 80s Sunday, readings more customary to the beginning of September.
The September heat streak can partially be explained by a higher than usual jet stream, the fast-flowing high-level air current that governs much of the weather in the Great Lakes region. Rick Hiltbrand, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the jet stream’s position last month brought higher pressure and drier weather to Minnesota.
It also meant milder overnight temperatures that pushed September over into the record books.
“We didn’t have a lot of cold nights,” said Pete Boulay, climatologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “People did not even have to turn on the furnace.”
The warmth has been popular with people and animals.
Animals at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul have been basking in the sun, catching all the rays they can, said Matt Reinartz, the zoo’s marketing and public relations manager.
For the zebras and giraffes, which have usually retreated inside by now, it’s a special treat. Once temperatures drop into the 40s at night, the animals are taken inside.
Some businesses are benefiting too. Food trucks, for example, are staying busy. “We will stay out as long as people keep coming,” said Haley Fritz, owner of the O’Cheeze truck.
Minnesota farmers also have been taking advantage. They harvested more than a third of their soybean and sugar beet crops during the 6.4 days suitable for fieldwork for the week of Oct. 4, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture. That week was the season’s best for fieldwork so far. The soybean harvest is about 69 percent complete, said state statistician Dan Loftus.
“We’ve had really some ideal harvest conditions in the last 10 days and two weeks,” he said.
Loftus said farmers hope the mild weather continues as they begin corn harvesting. That would allow crops to dry.
More fall-like conditions are predicted for Monday. Still, the weather service foresees the Twin Cities high to still be around 60.