Unseasonably warm weather changes landscape for farmers, falls

Unseasonably warm weather is changing the landscape of Minnesota as we approach a new year.

The Mississippi River was frozen at the top in Minneapolis about a month ago. But now, it’s all water and about a foot higher than last week, mostly because of the Christmas Day rains that are changing a lot of outlooks.

In an average Minnesota December, water splashes through a maze of icicles at Minnehaha Falls.

"I love this in the winter because it's usually like an ice palace all the way around," said Minneapolis resident Roberta Cullen.

But Cullen gets no ice in 2023. This December, the water’s roaring over the edge at 40 cubic feet per second with nothing to slow it down.

"I miss the ice," Cullen said. "I miss the snow. I miss the frosty freeze."

We’re on pace for the warmest December on record, melting almost all the ice and the snow Cullen misses already.

Its winter in Minnesota but it feels more like fall, as unusual warmth lingers into late December. (FOX 9)

"The snow cover keeps the good soil in place and protects," Cullen said.

"It is helpful to have a good frost to help with pests," said Minnesota Farm Bureau vice president Carolyn Olson.

She says most farmers are fine waiting for a late winter, especially after seeing fields absorb a couple of inches of rain on Christmas.

"I think probably the biggest impact will be we have moisture in the soil, which we haven't had the last couple of springs," Olson said. "We've been really concerned about planting into dry soil."

Three years of drought have Olson cheering any precipitation, but she says — for farmers, at least for now, rain is better than snow.

"To have this much rain and have it come as gently as what we hope the rains come in July, it was a gift," she said.

But even farmers do want a layer of snow pretty soon, to protect fields from pests and extreme temperatures.