Monday rain puts a slight damper on winter activities in Minnesota

Rain doesn’t mix with the usual events and festivals Minnesotans like to enjoy in January, but organizers say it’s just a temporary rough patch.

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival, a Minnesota tradition, is ahead. But preparations have been delayed a bit by Mother Nature.

"The grounds, as you can see, very wet, very slushy, so really not ideal right now," Bill O'Hearn, a volunteer with the Saint Paul Winter Carnival Vulcans. "It's going to be challenging when that refreezes, too, because we have to get equipment through there. We have to walk through there."

The snow piles that will get turned into sculptures are currently covered with tarps to keep them from melting.

Over the weekend, O'Hearn and other volunteers also began building the snow maze at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.

"That was going really well. We had ideal weather for it until today," he said.

But Sunday's sun and Monday's rain mean they're joking about naming the maze "Eileen" after the leaning shape it's taken.

The rain also meant a wet day out on the slopes at Hyland Hills Ski Area in Bloomington.

"Today has been a little different than what we usually expect for a MLK Jr. Day at a ski hill in Minnesota," said Andrew Berns, operations supervisor at Hyland Hills Ski Area.

This school holiday normally brings in bigger business, but there were still plenty of parent drop-offs.

"We do still have lessons going on. We still have people coming out and learning to ski. We only have about a three-and-a-half months season, four months season. So people will take advantage of it whenever they can," Berns said.

Mother Nature has also brought some good surprises this winter. Berns said with just a few exceptions, it’s been a "fantastic" skiing season so far. He expects the upcoming weekend to be a good one to ski.

This is also the first year in a while the Winter Carnival volunteers haven’t had to make their own snow because of what's already on the ground.

"So there'll be challenges, but you know what? We'll be fine. We'll make it work. We always do," O’Hearn said.

The Vulcan Snow Park Snow Stomp is Sat. Jan 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Saint Paul Winter Carnival has various events from Jan. 26 through Feb. 5, including the Vulcan Snow Park at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds from Jan. 27 through Feb. 5.