Warm weekend followed by slippery roads, more snow on the way

February 6, 2019

Rochester experienced the biggest three-day temperature swing since 1951. From Thursday through Saturday, the temperature rose 68 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis.

Don’t thank Punxatawney Phil quite yet.

Cooler weather is forecast to return after the near record warm-up.

The warm-up was welcome to some people who finally had a chance to get outside without fear of imminent frostbite

Meredie Sexton brought her daughter Amelia, 4, outside for sledding Saturday and out and about downtown Rochester on Sunday.

“She was cooped up for more than 48 hours,” Sexton said.

Jen Everett took her dog, Ozzie, outside for a stroll along the Zumbro River on Sunday.

“He didn’t want to be out at all last week,” she said. “It’s nice to finally get him out and run off some pent-up energy.”

The warm-up also caused foggy conditions that might have contributed to some minor car crashes Sunday evening, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

This morning, the state patrol noted that, due to an overnight dip in temperatures, roads across Southeast Minnesota were either covered or partially covered with ice. There were also fog advisories for Goodhue, Wabasha and Winona counties. The conditions led to some area schools being closed.

The chill winds and temperatures will continue through the remainder of the week, according to the NWS. One to 2 inches of snow are expected Tuesday with freezing rain and snow continuing Wednesday afternoon through Thursday.

With planned activities across the region this past weekend, the brief warm-up didn’t come at a convenient time. As temperatures rose above freezing Saturday, a planned outdoor curling tournament at Little Thistle Brewing was moved up and shortened.

The Bonspiel, Frost Froth and Flannel curling tournament, a part of the month-long series of Winterfest activities, was slated to continue through Sunday. However, play wrapped up Saturday midday as ice conditions deteriorated.

“It was a little bit too balmy on Saturday afternoon,” said Katie Zupancic Wymer, Curling Club of Rochester board member.

“It’s really hard to throw a rock when there’s water on the ice,” said Duane Hebert, club vice president.

The Bonspiel was the first competitive event hosted at the Little Thistle outdoor curling rink. The rink, smaller than regulation, has hosted curling demonstrations. The first team events drew a crowd, said Steve Finnie, Little Thistle owner.

“It was a great turnout,” Finnie said. “We had two incredibly great days.”

Six teams signed up for the tournament — five from Rochester and one from Owatonna.

The club rigged lights onto the rink to continue play into the night Friday. Competition continued into the night Friday under ambient lights from the brewery and a couple of work lights.

“Being out there under the winter sky was an extremely Minnesota experience,” Wymer said.

“It was just great to see people out there playing on it,” Finnie said.

The tournament also gave people a chance to see competitive curling up close.

With more seasonal temperatures forecast for later this week, the ice might refreeze to allow for more demonstrations this season, Hebert said.

This was the first year curling was held outside Little Thistle. warm weather early on kept competition off the ice. The extreme cold wasn’t helpful either, said Hebert.

“When it gets to be about 10, 15 below, the ice will crack,” he said.

A cool-down without extreme temperatures would be welcome, club members said.

“We only have a few more weeks to do this outside,” Hebert said.

The club holds events at the Rochester Recreation Center. The club is working to raise funds for a permanent home for year-round events.

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