See more of the story

It's not official yet, but it sure feels like it: Winter's nearly dead.

Though the Twin Cities were seeing flurries Thursday, the weekend forecast calls for the arrival of unseasonably mild temperatures and sunny skies — a one-two combination likely to knock out whatever snow remains on the ground as well as much of the remaining ice cover on area lakes.

Spring is so close you can feel it, said Rose Neilan, who took an afternoon walk Wednesday in bright sun across the Stone Arch Bridge with her friend Marilynn Johnson.

"We're always waiting for it," she said of the warm weather.

Wait no more. Meteorological spring — March 1 through May 31 — arrived in force this week, promising to draw legions of Minnesotans out to bike paths, lakesides and patios with temperatures climbing into the low 60s by Sunday.

Slightly cooler temps will follow, but current forecasts show 40s and 50s for much of next week.

"We've been talking about it," said Johnson.

It's still too soon to say winter's completely done, said National Weather Service meteorologist Caleb Grunzke. Even though it looks like warmer days are here for the next week or so, "I wouldn't say that we're not going to have any more snow after this," he said.

Snow melt has rivers rising quickly in some portions of Minnesota, with ice jams causing trouble in southern Minnesota. Flooding appears likely, though it's not ongoing just yet, Grunzke said.

But as temperatures rose this week, people across Minneapolis seemed ready for spring.

Students at Washburn High School in south Minneapolis made snowballs with their bare hands during recess Wednesday. A window washer cleaned a Nicollet Avenue storefront wearing shorts, as did a man out for a jog — and looked pretty happy about it.

If most people are pining for spring, at least one person was still taking in winter. Artist Scott Lloyd Anderson stepped out onto what remains of Lake Harriet's ice cover on Wednesday afternoon to set up an easel and paint a scene of winter's last gasp. Drawn onto the lake for the perspective, he studied a dock frozen in ice, its stake poles jutting into the cloudy late winter sky.

"I've been painting like my hair's on fire the past day and a half," said Anderson, who lives in the Kingfield neighborhood. He's drawn to open water and reawakened streams across the city, he said. And at the very least, it's more comfortable than painting in a polar vortex on the Gunflint Trail, which Anderson also has done.

So far, this spring looks to be less dramatic than last year's, when winter's wrath brought an April 10 blizzard bearing heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain.

"It's much more fun when it's sunny out," said Anderson, pointing to shadows beneath overturned boats near the frozen dock. "Those shadows are aglow!"

Matt McKinney • 612-673-7329