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Outlook: Rapidly greening lawns

Around this time every year I catch my breath, cross my fingers, light a candle, hope and pray that — after all the winter weather atrocities that have taken place in the skies over Minnesota — my lawn will turn green again. Call me crazy but after 30+ subzero nights and sustained cold capable of generating ice so thick a Suburban can drive across the lake outside my window much of January and February, I’d call spring green-up in Minnesota a minor miracle. We all develop our own coping skills to get us through the winter months, daydreaming of spring break, pondering the new boat, dock or wakeboard…. trying to remember what the musty old cabin smells like on a rainy June afternoon. Those warm weather fantasies sustain us much of the year and the pressure is on.

Between the Fishing Opener/Mother’s Day and Labor Day there are what, maybe 13-14 weekends? Each one is precious, irreplaceable. Why else would we all jam onto I-94 and crawl along at 5 mph to reach our own little slice of heaven? I tell my family and friends out east that in Minnesota everyone has their own lake. They look at me like I have a Doppler growing out of my forehead before I go on to explain that most everyone I know does have a special place they like to evacuate to, a lake, a pond, a river or creek.

Growing up I was accustomed to driving hours in thick traffic, trying to make my way to the “shore”, only to show up and have my Zen-Water-Moment interrupted by thousands of (loud), agitated, sand-kicking invaders. Many years we couldn’t even venture into the water because of jelly fish, shark threats or even worse, syringes floating up on shore. Now there’s a postcard! Suffice to say it took me a few years to figure out why grown adults would pile into minivans and drive 2-4 hours to their cabins. I get it now. Having that kind of a retreat, with June sunsets dragging on until 10 pm, light in the northwestern sky as late as midnight (!) and a star-studded Milky Way stretched overhead during the wee hours of the morning, well, now I understand why most of us experience a serious case of cabin-fever.

Sunday’s rain brushed far southern and eastern Minnesota (.70″ reported in the Twin Cities) but precious little rain fell over central Minnesota. St. Cloud has only picked up .25″ of rain in April (closer to 1.75″ should have fallen). But fear not: we’re sliding into a wetter pattern, there’s little doubt of that. A major severe storm outbreak is taking place over the southern Plains, with Kansas, Oklahoma and north Texas hardest hit: I think you’ll be hearing news reports shortly about a major tornado outbreak. 1-3″ of rain will soak Iowa and Wisconsin, a flood watch is posted for far southeastern Minnesota, around Rochester, where 1-2″ of rain may fall Sunday night. Clouds and a few spotty showers linger Monday, but Tuesday looks memorable. If the sun stays out most of the day (likely) then we should come close to 60 degrees. Soak up the blue sky because the next storm will shove rain (and a few embedded storms) back into town Wednesday and Thursday.

Not that any of us are living for the weekend, but if you’re interested, the early word on next weekend is encouraging, I’m cautiously optimistic it will be nicer, sunnier, and drier than this weekend was. Saturday appears to be the better of the 2 days. A fast-moving jet stream may guide more showers into Minnesota late Sunday, with the best chance of a little rain north of Brainerd.

Look at the bright side: no snow in sight, no ice, nothing severe (unless you live near La Crosse). Weather will not be “newsworthy” anytime soon, and I’m perfectly ok with that. The fire risk has eased, along with drought conditions plaguing southeastern Minnesota. And if you listen carefully you can almost hear your lawn greening up. I know, break the tablet in half, Paul. I shouldn’t have had that second cold beverage. I’ll continue to monitor the Doppler and break into the Internet if conditions warrant.

Weather Headlines

• .70-1.00″ of rain reported at MSP Sunday, high of only 50 degrees (12 degrees cooler than average).

• If you’re keeping score 45″ of snow has fallen during the winter season of ’08-09, about 10″ less than average, continuing a trend we’ve seen much of the last 20 years.

• Statistical odds of another “plowable” snowfall of 2″+? Probably less than 1 in 10.

• Gray Monday, another shower or two can’t be ruled out, but the steadiest rains are over.

• Wet snow reported Sunday over far northern MN, from near Crookston to International Falls.

• Flash Flood Watch posted for extreme southeastern MN, including Rochester and Winona area, through the morning hours today.

• Much wetter pattern for the Twin Cities (and all of Minnesota) the next 1-2 weeks.

• Nicest day in sight: Tuesday, sunshine, near 60.

• More rain/T-storms Wednesday/Thursday.

• Odds favor better weather for next weekend, although a shower/T-shower can’t
be ruled out by late in the day Sunday.

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