Minnesota forecast contains good news and bad news

Katy Read, Star Tribune
·2 min read

If you're one of those people who say it always rains right after you wash your car, please get out the buckets and hose, because Minnesota could use the precipitation.

On second thought, maybe wait until Monday, letting people enjoy what's expected to be an unusually pleasant Easter weekend, with mostly sunny skies and highs in the mid-70s on Sunday.

"You can't really ask for much better mid-spring weekend," said Caleb Grunzke, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen.

Weekend temperatures will be well above the average of about 50 degrees for those dates, although short of the record 80 and 81 degrees set on March 3 and 4 exactly one century ago.

The bad news is that extremely dry conditions have created a moderate to high risk of fires throughout the state. The risk is a bit lower than it was last week, when high winds and gusts of 40 to 45 miles per hour spread wildfires in several parts of the state, including brush fires in Ramsey and Richfield late Friday.

By Saturday, the wind had died down, with gusts of about 10 to 15 mph, Grunzke said.

Still, the fire danger remains high, especially in southern and central Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources' map. Burning restrictions apply throughout the state, ranging from areas requiring a permit to areas where no burning is allowed except campfires, the DNR website says.

Relief may come in the form of rain this week. Rain is in the forecast for Monday with a chance of thunderstorms. Most days next week carry some chance of rain, Grunzke said.

The rain will "help to get some moisture into ground so the vegetation greens up and isn't as dry," he said.

Whether the rain will be heavy enough to eliminate the fire danger has yet to be seen. March brought almost an inch more precipitation than normal, but the past winter and fall were unusually dry, Grunzke said.

"I'd say at least until mid-April it could be drier than normal," he said. "We're not seeing any strong signals for prolonged rainfall events in the long term."

Katy Read • 612-673-4583