OWATONNA — Mollie Gfrerer was in the minority, even among Minnesotans.
Most Steele Countians who woke up to some ice on their windshield and even a dusting of snow on their cars Thursday morning, then responded to an Owatonna People’s Press Facebook posting thoughts about the early taste of winter, most of which bore a similar refrain.
“I am not liking this!” wrote Luann Anderson, posting a photo of a slight layer of snow on her deck. “Too early.”
Sarah Escamilla tried to warn her son, who was the first one out the door Thursday morning, not to jinx things by saying that it was “time for snow.” Then, she said, he pointed out that he was wrong.
For Cori Johnson, who lives in southeastern Owatonna, the winter weather came as a surprise.
“My oldest son woke up and yelled there was snow on the vehicles,” she wrote. “I thought he was messing with me at first. I was a little surprised as we didn’t have much of a spring this year. Now it seems like we won’t get much of an autumn either. Didn’t slow us down though.”
Becky Johnson called it “gross,” a “winter coat and mittens kinda day,” she wrote.
Or there was Heather Anderson who kept her reaction to the early onset of winter-like weather short and to the point. “No!!!!!!” she wrote.
But Mollie Gfrerer had a different reaction.
“Love it” she wrote. “Winter is my favorite season. I think I get more excited than my kids when it snows!”
She acknowledged that she is in the minority when she says “it’s never too early” for snow.
“My dad cringes at my love for winter.”
Farmers and freezing weather
For Jodi Starks of rural Steele County, the taste of winter weather that gripped the area overnight Wednesday and on Thursday morning was more than the inconvenience of brushing snow or scraping ice off the windshield.
“Not good!” she wrote on the People’s Press Facebook page. “We have many acres of corn and soybeans that need to be harvested.”
The winter-like weather will mean loss of yields, and, if they can’t get the crops off the fields, it will mean they can’t spread manure and they will be unable to complete tillage, “which is much more beneficial to do in the fall rather than in spring,” she said.
“Soybeans are the most susceptible to damage if not picked quickly enough,” she said.
The beans can sprout or the pods can open and the beans can fall to the ground or mold. For the corn, the ears or even the whole plants can fall or get stock rot.
“Once we can get back in the fields, it’ll be non-stop,” she said. “Non-farmers will need to be extra patient with us. We probably will have to park on roads to unload into semis as the fields will be too wet. Safety is a concern.”
Sunny skies and warmer, drier weather would benefit the farmers who are wanting to get back into their fields but have been unable to, she said.
“Warmer would be nice,” said Starks. “More pleasant for us to work in, nicer weather than frigid cold and windy.”
She may have to wait, at least a couple of days.
On Thursday morning, the National Weather Service in Chanhassen issued a freeze warning for much of southern Minnesota, including Steele County and the city of Owatonna, from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. Friday.
“A freeze warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or highly likely,” the weather service said in its statement. “These conditions will kill crops and other sensitive vegetation.”
Temperatures were expected to drop into the upper 20s to near 30, cold enough that “outdoor plants will be damaged or killed if not protected,” the weather service warned.
The clouds will decrease some on Friday with skies becoming partly sunny on Saturday and most sunny on Sunday night, according to the weather service’s forecast for Steele County. Still, temperatures at night will be cold, dipping to near the freezing mark or below every night for the next week.