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Early Memorial Day makes this summer the longest possible

FARGO - It's going to be a long summer. The longest possible, actually. Memorial Day, the last Monday in May and the unofficial start to summer in the northland, falls on the earliest day that it can on the calendar this year. The unofficial seas...

Rossman Elementary School teacher Mindy Nielsen watches over fifth-graders as they build projects in the sand in Detroit Lakes, Minn. on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Carrie Snyder / The Forum
Sydney Freeman, 10, digs in the sand on the beach in Detroit Lakes, Minn. on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Carrie Snyder / Forum New Service

 

 

FARGO - It's going to be a long summer. The longest possible, actually.

Memorial Day, the last Monday in May and the unofficial start to summer in the northland, falls on the earliest day that it can on the calendar this year. The unofficial season-ending holiday bookend to summer, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, falls as late as it can.

It's a welcome quirk to the calendar in a region where summer days are especially cherished. With the clear skies and rising temps in recent days, people have been starting the long summer by shucking their coats and offering up their pale, winter pasty skin to the sun.

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At Fargo's Dike West, skateboarders are grinding and flipping the days away.

"I plan on skating and traveling as much as possible. Get it while the weather will let it," said 19-year-old Tanner Wika of Fargo.

Anthony "A.J." Dauphinais said the park might turn into his daytime home this summer.

"The more skateboarding the better," the Moorhead man said. "Every single day. Every single night. I've been here since 9 o'clock this morning and I plan to be here until 9 o'clock tonight."

In Detroit Lakes, Minn., fifth-graders from Rossman Elementary School were getting some practice on Wednesday for midsummer beach time.

About 70 students bustled about the shore of Detroit Lake, carving U.S. land-form maps into the sand, scooping with shovels and hands, forming hills and mountains, and hauling buckets of water up from the lake to create miniature rivers.

As Sydney Freeman concentrated on creating her version of Seattle's Space Needle, she said she looks forward to a trip to Canada, hanging out with friends and swimming.

But lots of boating time may not float with everyone in the family, she said.

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"We have our own boat, but we don't use it. My mom is afraid of going into it," the 10-year-old said. "She's afraid it might have a hole in it."

One of the teachers overseeing the students was Mindy Nielsen.

The 48-year-old Detroit Lakes woman said her summer will start busy, with a high school graduation and state track meet. But she plans to put her feet up, too.

"I'm going to be at my cabin as much as I can be there," said Nielsen, who was happy to hear that the gap between summer's bookend holidays was wider than usual.

"I won't ever complain about a little extra time in the sun. I enjoy it," Nielsen said.

This past winter was wacky, with months alternating between colder-than-average and warmer-than-average. That was followed by a warm, dry spring that recently dove back into a brief cold and wet period that included snow for some areas..

At the Zorbaz bar and restaurant in Detroit Lakes, co-owner Tate Jensen is hoping the longer perceived summer offers up higher actual sales.

He looks forward to seeing big crowds and his 100-plus employees busy.

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"It was a great spring. I think people are ready to get down to the lakes," Jensen said.

At the marina for J&K Marine on Detroit Lake, it was the calm before the crowds on Wednesday.

Manager Chris Denardo was making final preparations for this weekend.

"I've been too busy to even take a shower the last two days," Denardo said.

July and August are always busy with pontoon and boat rentals from Twin Cities residents, he said. Late May and June business is more weather dependent.

Rentals for Memorial Day weekend are almost exclusively from people living in the Fargo-Moorhead area "who bounce on over if it's nice out," he said.

"If we get warm weather right away, that's the key," Denardo said.

Resort owners say the extra week between Memorial Day and Labor Day is a huge bonus.

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"It's going to give us one extra week of summer. And it gives us an extra week of scheduling," said Kim Larson, one of the owners of the Loon's Nest Resort.

"It works out great for us. We're going to enjoy it. We have a short season, so the ability to have an extra week really helps," Larson said.

Back in Fargo, Jim Moe, a salesman at Legendary Motorsports on Main Avenue, said sales of motorcycles and personal watercraft took off with the warm, mild temperatures that held for most of this spring.

It's gotten motorcycle riders out putting their knees into the breeze, he said.

"As a motorcycle enthusiast, I am living the dream, brother," Moe said.

He said a nice, long summer would be payback for getting short-changed by Mother Nature last year.

"With the short summer we had last year, we earned it. That's why we live here," Moe said.

While the length between Memorial Day and Labor Day will be long, summer weather might be hard to come by in the short term. Adnan Akyuz, North Dakota's state climatologist, said the region could be in for a cool, wet start to summer.

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Winter warmth and snowfall is often tied to changes in water temperatures in the Pacific off the coasts of Central and South America. Those El Nino and El Nina effects don't have a strong effect on summer weather, Akyuz said.

But a phenomenon called persistence does.

It's been cool and wet the last couple weeks, and the region quickly got enough moisture that rivers, lakes and streams are running high and soil moisture is fully recharged. That can create a cycle that reinforces itself, he said. The sun's energy evaporates the water, putting it into the atmosphere and returning it in the form of more rain, Akyuz said.

The result could be less-than-joyful for sun worshippers.

"It will probably be cooler and wetter than normal" for the next four to six weeks, Akyuz said.

But Aaron White, a meteorologist for WDAY-TV in Fargo, said the area will be in a mild weather pattern the next couple weeks.

Friday and much of Saturday should be dry with temperatures in the 70s, White said. Clouds will move in Saturday evening, and there will be a chance of showers Sunday and Monday and high temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Lows will be in the 50s, he said.

White said hopes for a dry summer will rely on the jet stream retreating north.

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If the jet stream stays active for this part of the country, White said the region can expect the weather to alternate between mild and cool and wet.

 

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling 701-241-5583.
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