Forecasters say that what’s in store over the next few days in the Twin Cities for the Memorial Day weekend — long considered the unofficial start of summer around these parts — is indicative of what they envision all season long.
The metro area’s run of colder than average weather for every month so far this year is showing no signs of letting up, National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Joe Calderone said Wednesday, and the looming chill is expected to come with more than the usual amount of rain.
“Overall, our climate in June through August looks below normal” for temperature and above normal for precipitation, said Calderone, speaking as a chilly and wet day unfolded outside his Chanhassen office.
For lovers of a lazy, hazy summer day, Calderone did hold out that “we still might have occasional bouts of heat.”
And while the enough-already snowfalls were good for sales of shovels, snowblowers and mukluks, at least one hardware store is wary of what a cool and wet summer will do to customer traffic.
“They don’t come in,” is how Jerry Williams, service manager at Frattalone’s in Blaine, summed up the impact where he works. Lawn mowers, grills and lawn furniture are on Williams’ list of what’s most likely to languish on the sales floor in the absence of toasty temps and clear skies.
“Our gardening section has also felt it,” Williams said. “We did OK in the beginning [of the planting season], but it has slowed down again quite a bit.”
Summer’s expected lack of typical sizzle comes soon after February unleashed 39 inches of snow on the Twin Cities, a record for that month in the metro area.
Williams’ store, therefore, will have to count on the indoor doings of customers to keep business humming, he said, areas such as plumping, electrical and paint. “We’ll try and keep our stock up on everything,” Williams added, “regardless of demand, and hope for the best.”
The overwhelming snow and looming underwhelming warmth have not cooled Calderone, who moved to Minnesota from Long Island eight years ago, to his surroundings.
“I like it a lot better out here,” Calderone said, while acknowledging that he misses the beaches back where he’s from and New York City during Christmastime, but, “There’s a lot to like around here, the lakes.”
Public pools, beaches
More than cooler weather, heavier than normal rain is what’s likely to dampen lake and pool use in Minneapolis, said Park and Recreation Board spokeswoman Dawn Sommers.
“We’ll definitely see some impact at our pools and beaches if it’s really wet,” said Sommers.
For now, Sommers added, her agency’s dozens of wading pools and two water parks are scheduled to open on time starting Saturday.
Also starting Saturday, beaches at Wirth Park and Lake Nokomis will be staffed with lifeguards, while others will take up their posts at other city beaches soon after.
“We anticipate a busy summer regardless of the weather,” Sommers said. “Minneapolitans won’t let cool temps stop them from enjoying the parks, concerts, trails, lakes, outdoor movies, etc. We know how to layer and how to have fun.”
Recreational sports schedules could be subject to more rainouts in the coming months, but cooler weather should also mean fewer cancellations out of concern for heat stroke, Sommers said.
Calling off youth competitions is more common for younger athletes, but adults “are very competitive and are disappointed when we cancel their games. Adults can monitor themselves better about not getting heat stroke.”
Looking at the metaphorical weather trees rather than the longer view forecast forest for the Twin Cities, the holiday weekend does have its wet and cool moments but also offers hope to anyone pining to get in a little boating when not firing up the barbecue grill.
This week’s steady rounds of rain are expected to continue until midday Friday. However, “the Saturday and Sunday portion is looking really good,” Calderone of the NWS in the Twin Cities said, pointing to mostly sunny skies and highs in the lower 70s.
And other than some scattered showers late Sunday into early Monday, “during the day portion [of Memorial Day] we’re also looking pretty good,” he said, despite a high temperature anticipated to fall short of 70.
Tomatoes tell the tale
The next three months for the northern half of Minnesota also is projected to experience cooler than normal weather, according to meteorologist Ryan Knutsvig, whose NWS office in Grand Forks keeps an eye on the sky points east of North Dakota.
In the short term, Knutsvig said, “Memorial Day has usually been a safe time to start planting around here, but we’re going to have to watch that this year.”
For anglers, “depends” is the answer to how chilly conditions affect the ability to land a catch, according to Henry Drewes, a state Department of Natural Resources regional fisheries manager in Bemidji.
“You get pluses and minuses,” Drewes said. “Walleye fishing lasts longer when you have these protracted cool late springs and summers. Other species, it gets a little trickier.”
Bluegills, crappie and bass sometimes don’t move into the shallows and spawn in colder weather, Drewes said. “And muskie fishing on those cold summers can be tougher.”
The proverbial canary in the coal mine for Drewes? Tomatoes.
“Our coldest summers on record were 1992 and 1993,” he said. “In Bemidji, we didn’t even have red tomatoes. That’s kind of our cold benchmark for cold summers.”
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482