Last year a number of area farmers had to delay their corn planting by as much as two weeks because of the cold, wet spring, which followed a winter of heavy snow.
This spring farmers may end up worrying about not getting enough moisture because of the dry 2011 fall, followed by a winter of very little snow. “We could use moisture,” said David Trunk of Princeton, who has farmed his whole life.
University of Minnesota (U of M) Extension Educator Dan Martens in Benton County quoted U of M climatologist Mark Seely to answer a question about what could happen for area farmers this spring. Ground that didn’t have much moisture this past fall, which includes this area, could be “stressed” if the moisture that arrives now is just average, is was what Seely said, Martens pointed out.
Princeton Fire Chief Jim Roxbury and Central Minnesota Region Fire Manager Mark Wurdeman are also concerned for other reasons about what the unusual stretch of warm weather this March could portend.
“This is the spring to be smart with fires,” Wurdeman said on Monday from his DNR office in Cambridge. “Otherwise it will be dangerous.”
Anyone wanting to burn brush must get a fire permit, and then follow the permit rules of burning in the evening and putting it out by 8 a.m., Wurdeman said. “You can’t just sprinkle it,” he added, explaining that putting out a fire requires stirring it up while soaking the fuel, otherwise the water just runs over the top.
Fire Chief Roxbury has been concerned enough about potential dry conditions this spring that he just purchased a six- wheel-drive UTV to better access uneven terrain during wildfires.
Temperatures set all time record highs in the Twin Cities this past weekend, with 66 degrees recorded at the airport, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Above-normal temperatures were also predicted into this week as this was written on Tuesday.
While a day or so of abnormally high temps is not unusual, a stretch of that is unusual, said meteorologist Byron Paulson at the NWS office in Chanhassen on Tuesday. Dry conditions are also predicted this week, he added. The reason for the lack of moisture this week, he said, is because the country’s midsection has a “ridge of warm air” located between two “low-pressure troughs,” one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast.
But such early warm temps could cause problems, Paulson added. He explained that plants and trees “can’t help responding” to the warmth and will bud out. The danger of budding out early, he said, is that they can be caught by a jab of freezing weather later before temperatures stabilize, he said. (Two years ago that resulted in fewer apples in some Princeton orchards.)
But many who do not have to worry about tending crops or fighting fires, have embraced the nearly ended coldest season. “I love this winter,” said Autumn Lachelt on Monday, who is a clerk at the Princeton Holiday stationstore. “There was hardly any snow and there were warmer temperatures. It made me more active.”
Dave McCardell, who takes food orders at Taco John’s in Princeton, also gave thumbs up to this winter when he was asked about it. He notes that he lived more than 20 years in California and so came from a milder climate. “I’m just saying I enjoyed it,” he said about this Minnesota winter that will end next Tuesday. But McCardell added: “I think we will pay a price somewhere along the way,” and suggested that the lack of winter snow “could have a major effect on our water resources.”