February heat wave thaws campus

T-shirts, shorts, sandals, sunglasses and even a few Frisbees were seen around campus Thursday. The items definitely aren’t the norm on campus during February, normally one of the coldest months of the year.

The official high temperature for Thursday in the Twin Cities reached 46 degrees, only 5 degrees short of a record from 1934. The average high temperature for Feb. 3 in the Twin Cities is 25 degrees.

This is the time of year when people often need to wear boots. Instead, University student Moria Fredrickson wore sandals.

“The weather is awesome,” she said. “I’m wearing my flip-flops and taking advantage of this opportunity, because I’m sure it won’t last long.”

While many around campus enjoyed the day, others warned another winter blast could be on the way.

Between the melting snow banks, students such as Sean Barnett were playing Frisbee.

“It’s amazing. It feels like springtime, but I know it’s just a tease,” he said. “But it’s also nice to get out and release some of the cabin fever that’s been building up.”

Mark Seeley, University climatologist and meteorologist, offered reasoning behind the unofficial heat wave.

“It’s a little surprising,” Seeley said. But with a loss of snow cover, “the sun heats the ground more than it would if we had more snow on the ground,” he said.

The snow has even continued melting overnight, because the temperatures are above freezing, he said.

Local weather forecasters are predicting more warm weather this week. Next week, Seeley said, he expects a rainier and colder pattern, perhaps even including snow.

“It will take another dose of snow to get us really cold again,” he said.

Thursday’s weather clearly warmed the spirits of many.

“(The weather) makes me really happy,” said University student Justin Hyde, who wore a T-shirt and carried his in-line skates.

“It’s a lot more motivating to go outside,” he said. “I Rollerblade anyway in the snow, but it’s much faster when you don’t have to go through the ice.”

Many people walking outside carried their jackets, but not Tran Huynh. She had on her mittens and jacket.

“I just didn’t know where to put them, but I would be fine without them,” Huynh said.

Emily Johnson, a graduate student who’s experiencing her first Minnesota winter, strolled around campus without a jacket.

“I never thought that I would think 50-degree weather was fabulous,” she said.

Today’s high temperature is expected to be 48 degrees, according to www.weather.com.