Rain, sirens, sun, more rain, then 70s return with May?

Get ready to ride the Minnesota Weather Roller Coaster again.

The good news? It's a free ride, and it's always full of surprises. It even features sound effects, with sirens going off at 1:45 p.m. and 6:55 p.m. today.

Three weather seasons in 10 days? Only in Minnesota.

Our wide variety of weather continues across Minnesota, and there's something in the forecast to please every Minnesotan.

Ice out officially declared on Lake Minnetonka  at 7:30 a.m. today

It's official. What many consider to be the bellwether Twin Cities lake is ice free as of 7:30 a.m today. The Freshwater Society and the Hennepin County Sheriff's Water Patrol declared ice out on Lake Minnetonka in the west metro this morning.

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Here's more from the Freshwater Society.

The Freshwater Society and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Water Patrol declared the ice out for the season as of  7:30 a.m. Thursday, April 24. Open water on the lake is a welcome sign of spring after a winter that has been one of the coldest in more than a century.

Last year, the Freshwater Society declared the ice out on May 2. The Water Patrol made the call a day earlier.

This year, Freshwater and the Water Patrol agreed to make a joint determination and joint announcement of ice-out on the lake.

The ice-out call for 2014 was made after several days of monitoring the ice from shore by the Freshwater Society and five trips into the lake by the Water Patrol. Tom Skramstad, a Freshwater Board member, accompanied a deputy sheriff on boat trips to the last places on the lake where significant ice had been observed.

On Thursday morning, the Freshwater Society and the Water Patrol concluded it was possible to boat through all the bays and channels of the metro area’s biggest lake. They then declared the ice out for the season.

Check out a year-by-year log of past ice-out dates, and a calendar showing the number of time the break-up has occurred on specific dates. View the Minnesota Climatology Working Group’s listing of ice-out dates for other Minnesota lakes this year.

Ice-out on Lake Minnetonka is a sign of spring that scientists, naturalists and lakeshore residents have been tracking since at least 1855. The late Dick Gray, the lead founder of the Freshwater Society, cataloged the early records and made his own records from 1968 through 2013.

Ice-out has been determined by a number of methods — sometimes when a car placed on the ice fell through or when a boat could travel from Excelsior to Wayzata. Read a 2003 column by Mr. Gray about the history of ice-outs on the lake.

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Good soaker

The Doppler is lighting up with bands of rain again today. Most areas have logged about half an inch, with some lucky spots getting closer to the 1 inch mark.

There are several valuable subsets to Doppler radar data that scans the skies over Minnesota. Different algorithms detect precipitation type, rain-snow lines, hail cores and hail size, wind velocities and rotation in severe storms.

The Doppler is even able to come up with reasonably accurate estimates of how much rain has fallen over a given area for the strength of returns over time.

Here's a look at the Doppler's "storm total precipitation" mode shot from this morning. A few areas are approaching or exceeding 1 inch rainfall so far with this soaker.

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Weather Underground

Rain tapers off from west to east as the clearing line moves into the metro late this afternoon and evening. The Twin Cities may even catch a glimpse of sunset tonight. Temps stagger to around 50 degrees later today.

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Metro rain, Arrowhead snow

The moisture hits colder air in northeast Minnesota. Yes weather fans, winter storm warnings are flying in northeast Minnesota on statewide tornado drill day.

Sirens sounding and snow piling up at the same time?

That may reveal more about Minnesota weather than any meteorologist ever could.

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Fab Friday ahead?

The weather across southern Minnesota improves dramatically Friday. Look for more sun, light winds and temps may actually soar into the 60s Friday afternoon in the metro.

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Saturday looks breezy and cooler (but dry) with temps in the 50s.

Next soaker rolls in Sunday

Digging deeper into the forecast, our next wave of April showers rolls in Sunday into Monday as the next low pressure system comes together in the Rockies this weekend.

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This system look warm enough for mostly rain. Even the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts model seems to have cured itself from the bad case of snowy hiccups earlier in the week, and now favors mostly rain with the system early next week. Looks like National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Global Forecast System may win this battle of the models.

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Spring, the sequel by next weekend?

Speaking of the GFS, the latest runs feature a distinct warming trend...a return to spring by the first weekend in May.

Here's the proposed surface map for next Sunday May 4. If it comes even close to verifying, a warm southerly breeze should boost temps back into the 70s across the Upper Midwest.

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Temps in the 70s and the season's first 80 degree readings close by around Monday May 5? That's still a long way out, but keep in mind the medium-range guidance is much better with projecting temperature trends than with pinpointing precipitation one to two weeks out.

After a cool rainy start to next week, at this point it looks like spring could return in a big way by the weekend of May 4-5.

Hang in there Minnesota!