By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The calendar says it’s fall but that’s not what it feels like when we step outside. These balmy temperatures are leaving some plants confused.

We wanted to know: Why are some spring flowers blooming? And when will we finally get some frost? Good Question.

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Colors pop year-round at the arboretum, but some aren’t exactly on schedule.

Are some plants confused right now?

“That’s an interesting way to put it,” said Julie Weisenhorn, extension education in horticulture at the University of Minnesota. She was standing next to White Light Azaleas released by the UMN.

“Ordinarily we would see it blooming before it even leafs out in the spring. And here we are in October and we see some of the White Lights Azaleas blooming and the question of course is why,” she said.

First to blame is the stress from the drought and then the above average temperatures over the past few weeks.

“Azaleas in the south will re-bloom in the fall. In Minnesota, they don’t. We don’t normally have warm enough weather to prompt them to bloom,” said Weisenhorn.

Even lilacs are popping through their buds. When they re-bloom, it’s usually after a cold spell in September. That hasn’t exactly happened, adding to the mystery. Some flowers, like roses, are bred to re-bloom several times a year.

“I guess it’s just a chance to enjoy the blooms one more time before winter,” said Weisenhorn.

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A season that although is approaching, feels so far away.

“October right now, the first three days were 11 degrees above normal,” said Pete Boulay, Minnesota DNR Climatologist.

Should most of Minnesota have seen a frost by now?

“Typically this time of year, like around the Twin Cities, the 50/50 day is right around October 10,” said Boulay. “As you go farther north it does get to last week of September, beginning of October. You go really far north, even mid-September.”

If we hit October 26 in the Twin Cities without a frost, we’re in rare air.

“90% of the time by about October 26 in the Twin Cities, we see 32 degrees,” Boulay said.

Then there are some years where frost doesn’t arrive until almost Thanksgiving. In 2016, the Twin Cities didn’t experience its first fall freeze until November 18, when the temperature reading at MSP Airport was 32 degrees. That was a record for the latest first frost in the area.

In 2021, every month since February has averaged above normal temperatures, a trend that hasn’t wavered.

However, October is notorious for sudden changes in the seasons. October of 2020 started with two days in the 80s. On the 20th of that month, nearly 8 inches of snow fell in the Twin Cities.

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“Enjoy it while it lasts because you know eventually the other shoe will drop,” said Boulay.

Jeff Wagner