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'Freakish' weather affects outdoor activities

If the winter freeze can hold off for a few more days, Kevin Weber plans to continue his head start tilling his corn and soybean fields near Red Wing. He typically reserves the task for springtime, but a stretch of unusually warm weather has allowed him to break ground now and save some work once the ground thaws.

Although the chance to till this late in the year is unusual, Weber said it's not unheard of.

"I can recall the neighbor being in the field on the 10th of December, but that's pretty freakish," he said. "It's also just as freakish to be frozen out on the 14th of November, too, which happened about three years ago."

Benefits of the warm weather have also extended to Mississippi National Golf Links, which officially closed its course Tuesday — about a month later than usual.

"Normally it gets colder earlier, so the course would probably be closed by early November," said Nathan Gale, golf pro at the course. "It brings in more money if we're open longer."

For the city's Parks Department, the warmer weather brings with it a mixture of opportunities and disadvantages.

Patrick Ramaker, city superintendent of buildings and grounds, said crews have been able to wrap projects like bench slabs at Levy Park and trail maintenance. Winter activities, however, will have to wait.

"It's a shame because we're in the middle here where it's cool but it's not frozen enough for the ice rink," Ramaker said. "Obviously, with no snow, that's going to put all the cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking all on hold."

The city typically closes the driveway to Memorial Park for safety reasons once cooler weather sets in, but Ramaker said the city will consider opening the gates for the day if temperatures climb above 40 degrees.

National Weather Service forecasts in Red Wing anticipate a high temperature of 39 degrees over the weekend with a possibility of snow as soon as Saturday night.

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