Fishing Opener Weather Trivia from the MN State Climatology Office
• Minnesota’s Fishing Opener weather is typified by partly cloudy to cloudy skies, morning temperatures in the low 40’s, and afternoon temperatures climbing to near 70. Three out of four years are free of measurable precipitation.
• A trace of snow has been reported in northern Minnesota on at least four of the last 56 fishing openers. On at least three occasions, some lakes were still frozen for the opener.
• Generally there is enough wind to be felt on the face, maybe enough to ‘fly’ a flag. Weather on Minnesota fishing opener dates is highly variable. 56 years of fishing opener weather data are summarized here to offer a glimpse of what is ‘typical’ and what is ‘extreme’.
• Opening day temperatures have started as low as 24 degrees at International Falls (1996, 2004), with freezing temperatures possible even in Minneapolis (31 degrees in 1979). On the warm side, St. Cloud saw 92 degrees in 1987, Minneapolis reported 91 in 1987, and International Falls reached 88 in 1977. The average early morning temperature varies from the high 30’s in the northeast to the high 40’s along the southern border. The average afternoon temperature generally ranges from the mid 60’s along the northern border, to the low 70’s in the extreme south. Along the shore of Lake Superior, highs are held in the mid 50’s.
• Three quarters of past opening days have been free of measurable precipitation. Two thirds of the fishing openers have been free of any precipitation, measurable or not. On those days with measurable rain, the amounts averaged close to a half-inch in the south and a quarter inch in the north. No amounts over one inch were recorded at either St. Cloud or International Falls, while Minneapolis experienced 1.15 in 1962 and 1.64 in 1965.
• Snowfall has generally has been limited to traces. Traces of snow were officially recorded in 1963 and 1993 at International Falls, and in 1968 at St. Cloud. A tenth (.1) of an inch fell at International Falls in 2000.
• Statewide, less than one year in five offers totally clear skies. The average amount of cloudiness lies near that fuzzy boundary between ‘partly cloudy’ and ‘cloudy’, but over half of the dates were classified as cloudy.
• Average daily wind speeds generally range between 8 and 15 miles per hour. This range can is described as ‘wind felt on face …’ to ‘… wind extends light flag’. The predominant wind direction is split fairly evenly between blowing from the northwest, south, and east.
• Fog has been reported on the fishing opener, occurring about one year in ten in the south, about one year in six in the north.
• By early to mid May, Minnesota is entering its thunderstorm season. The possibility of thunderstorms is greatest in the south (about one in seven), less in the north (about one in eleven).
• Damp, mostly-gray Saturday on tap for most of Minnesota. Steadiest rains move east into Wisconsin.
• Stray PM shower/sprinkle possible, but most of the day should be dry.
• Persistent northwest wind blowing at 10-20 mph, light chop on area lakes.
• Temperature hold in the upper 40s (far northern lakes), low 50s for Gull, Pelican and Whitefish Chain, mid 50s Mille Lacs and upper 50s for Twin Cities lakes.
• Sunday, Mother’s Day should be brighter with intervals of sun — less wind expected, temperatures another 5-10 degrees milder.
Here we go: a defining moment for Minnesotans, one of our most cherished traditions….hanging out with (mostly guys) we almost like…groping for leeches, fumbling with lures, trying not to get hooked by the groggy guy casting in the front of the boat — trolling the deep (chilly) waters of Minnesota’s 12,000+ lakes for walleye and northern pike. THIS will be the year I get lucky and come back with more than tall tales, bloodshot eyes and a mild hangover!
The weather is undeniably more fickle for the Fishing Opener than for the Deer Hunting Opener, or even the Minnesota State Fair. May is prime time for thunderstorms, many severe, which can turn a fun outing on the lake into a white-knuckle brush with disaster. I’m happy to report that the atmosphere over Minnesota will be too cool and stable for any thunder & lightning. At most you may encounter a 10 minute shower or sprinkle later in the day. Skies may brighten up from time to time, but clouds will prevail most of the day, a persistent wind blowing from the northwest at 10-20 mph. Temperatures will hold in the upper 40s much of the day north of Gull and the Whitefish Chain, just topping 50 up at Breezy Point, Pequot Lakes and Ely, maybe some low to mid 50s farther south toward Lake Mille Lacs. Governor Pawlenty may enjoy all of 60 degrees on White Bear Lake, but that annoying breeze will make it feel about 10 degrees cooler than the actual air temperature. Truth be told I could be incarcarated (jailed!) for blubbering about wind chill in mid May, so I won’t. A few flurries may mix in with the sprinkles far, far north, near Lake of the Woods, Crookston and International Falls, especially early in the day. But most of us will not see snow, I’m happy to report. It might not be a bad idea to slather on a little sunscreen too — even though we don’t expect bright sun the sun angle is so high in the sky that if you’re not carefuly you may just come back with a bright red glow!
A light rain was falling Friday night as I addressed 900+ graduates at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology. Nobody seemed to mind too much, in fact most graduates and their relatives were milling about outside Northrop Auditorium without umbrellas, thumbing their collective noses at Mother Nature. “Hey, it could be snow. No worries!” one young man shouted, slapping me on the back. Better than a slap across the face. In spite of the crummy economy I gave a message of hope and optimism, encouraging the graduating seniors to consider starting their own company, turning something they love into a profitable business. I told them to be naive optimists; hope for the best a ignore the steady media drumbeat of negative news. I meant what I said: there has never been a better time to start a new company. The Internet has leveled the playing field. Today a “kid” on a laptop, sitting in his underwear in the basement, can write a program that literally changes the world. That’s a big concept to wrap your brain around!
I have some good news for your favorite mom. Right on cue the clouds will part, the sun will make a cameo appearance — robins will chirp and all will be right with the world for Mother’s Day. Count on more sun, less wind, temperatures topping 60 in the Twin Cities region as a bubble of high pressure passes right over Minnesota.
Temperatures mellow next week, coming close to 70 by Tuesday as clouds increase; the next sloppy front shoving more showers and possible storms into town Tuesday night and early Wednesday. We get a (sunny) break Thursday and part of Friday before the next storm arrives just in time for Saturday, May 16 — a few hours of rain a distinct possibility. It’s early (no kidding) but if I had to wager I’d pick next Sunday, the 17th, as the nicer day of the weekend to plan outdoor activities.
I know many schools have prom festivities, college commencements and after-parties later today and Sunday (good timing!) All of us want to get out of the house, give our lawns a trim, poke around in the garden. Today looks like a great errand day (if you’re not escaping to your favorite lake) but tommorrow will restore your faith in a Minnesota spring. Have a good one.