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You have probably heard alot about the weather in Minnesota. Don't believe everything you've heard!
The beauty of Minnesota is that there are four seasons (though some are longer than others!).
Spring is generally from mid-March, early April to the end of May. During this time, the snow is melting and things can get quite sloppy. During spring the temperature is usually chilly enough to warrant long pants and a jacket. On occassion however, it can get quite warm during spring.
Summer generally last several months from May to the end of September. Usually, it is a fairly pleasant 80-90 degrees, however recently it has been warmer than usual (in fact, this July has been one of the hottest on record with temperatures approaching 100 degrees the last few days). Summer in Rochester is muggy (which means high humidity). It is also the time when the mosquitos (lovingly called the Minnesota state bird) come out to play. It would be wise to wear bug spray if you will be at a park or out in the woods at all.
Fall is a beautiful season, but it is very short-lived. Generally, it starts around the end of September-early October and sometimes it only last until Halloween (an ice storm on Halloween during the early 90s is still fresh in most minds here). Other times, Fall can last until mid-November, but generally the leaves on the trees are gone by Thanksgiving.
The cold weather can start any time after October and doesn't end until March. This is the weather you've heard about! Snow in Rochester has not been quite as bad in the last few years as in the past. Generally, there are only two or three big snow storms during winter that can drop as much as 10 inches of snow during a few days time. During the winter months, it will generally warm up several times so that the snow melts enough to reveal the brown grass underneath. Do not let this fool you. It can still be bitterly cold. You will probably need a warm wool, down, or fleece jacket, plus a sweater and warm pants if you are going to be walking around. Boots would also be helpful, or at the very least, shoes that are water-proof.
The best time to come to southeast Minnesota is probably fall. During this season, the mosquitos mostly disappear, the humidity is not as bad, and the trees are beautiful. You could spend a good portion of your time during the fall months visiting state parks and staying outdoors. This, of course, is also football season, and you can find tailgaiting parties, bonfires, and neighborhood cookouts almost anywhere around town.