Instant Spring: 70s arrive; Sunday thunder threat? Maple sap boon

Suddenly Spring

It’s amazing what sunshine and 70s will do for Minnesotans after a long winter.

People are pouring into the streets and parks this weekend. The sound of rakes scratching away a winter’s worth of gunk on newly exposed matted lawns has replaced the sound of shovels scraping icy walkways.

Was that a leaf blower I heard today?

Our spring fling continues this weekend. Look for more neighbors emerging from 6 months of hibernation this weekend.

The 70s will hold this weekend in Minnesota. I won’t be shocked to see a few local bank and backyard thermometers in southern Minnesota. and maybe even the metro touch the 80F mark by Sunday afternoon.

Nice.

With all that warmth can a the season’s 1st thunder threat be far behind? Of course not.

Look for a few stray thunderstorms to billow in the afternoon sky Sunday, with a bigger outbreak looking more likely by Tuesday.

From snow to thunder in a week?

Welcome to Minnesota. Land of 10,000 weather extremes.

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Instant June:

It’s almost too good to be true…and too fast. Our latest version of weather whiplash comes courtesy of the season’s 1st real warm front.

Why not get the season’s 1st 60F and 70F out of the way all at once? No easy, gradual spring warm up here. Go big or go home.

We hit 71F at MSP Airport Friday. Let me type that again…We hit 71F at MSP Airport Friday. Ah…That felt good.

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We’ll bask in more 70s this weekend in southern Minnesota…with 60s up north. Temps may come dangerously, blissfully close to 80F in southwest Minnesota Sunday.

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Sunday Thunder Threat?

There are 2 seasonal transitions in Minnesota.

1) Winter and Road Construction.

2) Winter and Severe Weather Season.

You knew it wouldn’t be long.

A weak cool front will cut into our balmy Sunday air mass as it drifts lazily southeast Sunday afternoon.

With temps in the upper 70s, and strong April sunshine there will be just enough instability to fire off a few thunderstorms Sunday afternoon & evening. It looks like the best chance will be from the metro north. Don’t be surprised if you see some strange looking towering cumulus clouds in the afternoon and evening sky Sunday.

Moisture looks limited, but there is about a 40% chance a few scattered T-Storms will rumble through eastern Minnesota including the metro Sunday afternoon and evening.

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With limited moisture I’m not too concerned about severe weather…but winds will twist enough with height that I can’t rule out a strong storm or two.

SPC has not “risked” Minnesota, but is recognizing the potential for “general” T-Storms.

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On Tuesday, a stronger more potent cold front approaches Minnesota from the west.This looks like the better more organized threat for strong storms and potentially the 1st big severe weather outbreak of the season in Minnesota.

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Temps should stay mild…at or near the 70 degree mark into Tuesday.

Next Week: Colder days ahead?

Breaking this too you very…very gently. But the trend I identified a few days back regarding a potential cool down late next week still looks likely.

Models still disagree on the magnitude of the cool off, but the Euro is gung ho on spinning a deep “cut-off” low over Minnesota by next Thursday.

If that happens, temps will plunge…and the “S-Word” could creep back into the forecast next Thursday.

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Stay tuned…and enjoy the 70s this weekend. They’ll be back.

Maple Sap 2013: A good year!

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One of the best things about the Weather Lab is that we have the best group of neighbors on the planet.

It’s a certainly a unique delight to have cool neighbors who make the most of what Minnesota’s weather has to offer like Howie & Wendy Bennis.

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Photos Paul Huttner – MPR News

Howie & Wendy run the local “Sugar Shack” in Deephaven. On spring days, you can see faint wisps of smoke drifting from the roof vent,and smell the sweet maple nectar on the boil.

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Our instant summer last March virtually shut down maple syrup production. By contrast, our nice slow warm up this year means 2013 was a pretty good year for sappers, and the sweet nectar has been flowing strong.

I asked Wendy about how this year’s weather affected maple sap production.

(My questions in bold, her answers in italics)

Hey Wendy & Howie:

I’d like to put together a blog with some of the photos I took at sugar shack…and looking for any “stats” you have about this season.

Thanks for anything you can send along!

Paul

-How much total syrup? About 80 gallons.

-Sugar content? Usually is higher at start of the season, so a bit over 3% and now running at about 2%. About 2,900 gallons of sap collected

-Best year since??? Is a good year, for sure, especially compared to last year, but not necessarily our best year.

-Still running? Collected the last sap of the season today – pulling the taps tomorrow.

-Any other interesting notes about this season? For only having about 150 taps out (compared to a typical 250 – 300), we are very happy with the volume produced. And we’re pretty much all sold out!

We recently had the pleasure of a visit to the shack, and thought I’d share a few photos of the remarkable process of turning raw maple sap into delicious liquid gold.

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Hangin’ at the Sugar Shack

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From tree to bucket

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Howie tends the raw product

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Sap boiler at work

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On the boil up close

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Finished product – sweet amber nectar

Pancakes anyone?

Paul Huttner

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