Coming off a downright balmy weekend for a place like Minnesota in February, it shouldn’t be a surprise that record-high temperatures were reached Sunday in the Twin Cities.
Shortly after 1 p.m., the temperature was 59 degrees, topping the record of 57 set for this date in 1981, according to the National Weather Service. The average high for Feb. 19: a touch below freezing at 30.
Crystal broke away from the pack about 3 p.m., reaching 68 degrees, according to the Weather Service.
Midafternoon temperatures hit 61 in Blaine and 59 in Eden Prairie. Just to the north of the Twin Cities, it was 61 in Princeton and Cambridge. The southwestern section of the state was even warmer, with Marshall reporting 65 and Tracy 64.
Even the northern city of Grand Rapids climbed to 53 degrees, the Weather Service reported.
Another record high of 60 is expected Monday, but this time with some moisture.
The warm weather has uncovered a smelly but apparently photogenic mess, though, at the dam where Minnehaha Creek meets Lake Minnetonka.
Dozens of people were lured to a section of Grays Bay on Sunday to gawk at a fish kill involving hundreds of fish.
That’s not unusual, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District said, and it’s being monitored. Spokeswoman Telly Mamayek said that because the dam was open later than usual last year, more fish congregated in the area.
When the water froze quickly, it depleted the oxygen in the shallow water and killed the fish. Now that the ice has melted earlier than normal, the decaying carcasses can be seen.
“It’s just the cycle of life there,” said Mamayek.
She added that people should not touch the dead fish.
She said the dam usually reopens in mid-April once all of the ice is gone. When water levels rise, the fish will be carried downstream.
Spring, then snow?
More hints of spring are ahead this week in the metro area, with records under threat for the next three days. Highs through Wednesday are forecast to be in the upper 50s.
The only blip is a strong chance of rain Monday, when many government workers and others have the day off for Presidents’ Day.
The long-range forecast for Friday shows something much more akin to winter in Minnesota, at least for the lower third of the state and parts farther south.
The Weather Service said a forecast updated Sunday afternoon points to “high probabilities for greater than 10 inches of snow in 12 hours over the southern third of Minnesota into Wisconsin.”
Even though there is “still plenty of time for the storm track to shift ... confidence is increasing for a significant storm,” it cautioned.
“It’s not a guarantee yet,” said meteorologist Alexandra Keclik.
A key factor, Friday’s forecast notes, is how low the temperatures will go. At this point, the Weather Service is calling for a high of near 33 in the metro on a gusty Friday, with an 80 percent chance of snow during the day, then falling to 50 percent in the evening.