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Extension > Mark Seeley's WeatherTalk > May 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

Some record-setting rains this week

Some record-setting rains this week

Widespread rainfall was reported around the state this week, adding to an already wet month. Warm, moist air (dewpoints from 66 F to 70 F) produced strong thunderstorms which brought heavy rainfall to parts of northwestern and southeastern Minnesota overnight from May 29-30. In some cases new daily record amounts were set, including: 2.22 inches at Hokah, 2.59 inches at La Crescent, 2.32 inches at Spring Grove, 2.85 inches at Moorhead, 3.00 inches at Browns Valley, and 3.77 inches at Fargo, ND. As a result of these heavy rains the National Weather Service issued flash flood watches for some areas.

Preliminary climate summary for May 2013

For the 4th consecutive month Minnesota observers reported monthly mean temperatures that were cooler than normal. Most reports ranged from 1 to 3 degrees F cooler than normal for May. Combined with the temperature data for March and April, the overall spring temperatures (March-May) were the third coldest in state history, trailing only 1907, and 1950. Extremes for the month ranged from 103 degrees F at Sherburn (Martin County) and Winnebago (Faribault County) on the 14th to just 15 degrees F at Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County) on the 12th.

Most observers reported above normal precipitation for the month of May, ranging from 4 to 6 inches. In many southern counties monthly precipitation was well above normal, and in some areas record-setting. Those reporting a new record wet May included: Austin (10.98"), Grand Meadow (14.64"), La Crescent (10.91"), Rochester (11.03"), Spring Valley (12.23"), Dodge Center (9.03"), Lanesboro (9.91"), and Theilman (10.58"). Fargo, ND reported its 2nd wettest May in history with 7.06 inches. In addition, many observers reported precipitation on over 22 days during the month.

Combined with the precipitation for March and April, the overall spring season (March-May) was the wettest in history for southeastern Minnesota, saturating soils, and putting streams and rivers near bank full. Statewide this spring is likely to end up among the top ten wettest in history.

The snow storm over the first few days of May established some records in southeastern Minnesota as well. Dodge Center reported a statewide daily record snowfall for May with 15.4 inches on the 2nd. Observer reports for snow totals ranged from 9 inches (Albert Lea) to 17.3 inches (Ellendale) across many areas of southern Minnesota in one of the snowiest Mays in state history.

Winds of 50-60 mph associated with strong thunderstorms over May 19-20 caused some damage in southern Minnesota to trees.

Weekly Weather potpourri


From Omaha.com this week there was a statement from Iowa State Climatologist Harry Hillaker, "the average rainfall of 16.4 inches during the months of March, April, and May is the most (statewide) in 141 years of records." The previous statewide record value for the spring months was 15.5 inches in 1892, while normal is about 10 inches. Rains were pounding Iowa much of this week, preventing farmers from planting and bringing most rivers and streams to bank full, and some to moderate and major flood stage, including the Cedar and Iowa Rivers. Many Iowa observers report over a foot of rain this May.

USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey's comments on drought this week:
-Overall U.S. drought coverage fell 1.73 percentage points to 44.34%, and has decreased during 27 of the last 35 weeks. Drought coverage is down 16.75 percentage points since the beginning of 2013 and down 21.11 points from the record high of 65.45% on September 25, 2012.
- The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category – D4, or exceptional drought – decreased slightly (0.20%) to 4.74%. Compared to a week ago, there were slight increases in D4 coverage noted in Kansas (22%) and Oklahoma (11%). D4 coverage was unchanged or decreased slightly in New Mexico (45%), Texas (16%), Colorado (16%), and Nebraska (4%). More information can be found here.

News from overseas included a story about a tornado that struck near Milan, Italy this week causing some damages and surprising morning commuters. The same storm system produced some late season snows in the Alps. The United Kingdom Meteorological Office reported that country has recorded their coldest spring since 1962 and 5th coldest of all-time.

NOAA unveiled a new look to its "climate.gov" web site this week. It offers more features, a global climate dashboard to view data, and several additional links to other information. If you want to try it out, click here.

Environment Canada has reported two tornadoes in Ontario this May. The average annual number of tornadoes reported in Ontario is 12. Earlier this week they reported severe thunderstorms, but no tornadoes.

MPR listener question

What is the northern most weather reporting station in Minnesota and what is the southern most? How many miles apart are they?

Answer: At 49 degrees 32 minutes north latitude, Flag Island on the Northwest Angle in Lake of the Woods is the most northerly climate station in Minnesota. The most southerly stations are Harmony in Fillmore County and Spring Grove in Houston County. Both are located at 43 degrees and 34 minutes north latitude. The distance from Spring Grove to Flag Island is roughly 500 miles. Obviously, Flag Island is a much colder place on average than either Spring Grove or Harmony, with many more below 0 F readings in the winter.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 31st

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 74 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 54 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 31st

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 106 degrees F in 1934; lowest daily maximum temperature of 55 degrees F in 1962; lowest daily minimum temperature of 33 F in 1889; highest daily minimum temperature of 75 F in 1934; and record precipitation of 2.39 inches in 1965; No snow has been recorded on this date.

Average dew point for May 31st is 50 degrees F, with a maximum of 73 degrees F in 1961 and a minimum of 27 degrees F in 2009.

All-time state records for May 31st

The state record high temperature for this date is 112 degrees F at Maple Plain (Hennepin County) in 1934. The state record low temperature for this date is 19 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1889. State record precipitation for this date is 4.92 inches at Maple Plain (Hennepin County) in 1888; and the state record snowfall for this date is 4.6 inches at Virginia (St Louis County) in 1946.

Past Weather Features:

Widespread frost occurred around the state on May 31, 1889 causing some farmers to replant crops. Temperatures fell into the 20s and low 30s F in many northern and central counties.

Another damaging frost occurred on May 31, 1897 when temperatures fell into the upper 20s and low 30s F. Corn had to be replanted in many spots, though some was left to cut for silage. Morning low temperatures fell to 28 degrees F as far south as Pleasant Mound and Grand Meadow.

May 31, 1934 brought the highest temperature ever recorded in May (112 degrees F at Maple Plain). Afternoon relative humidity that day was just 13 percent, and relative humidity of less than 20 percent was recorded on 15 days that month. Most places received less than an inch of rain during the (some less than 0.20"). Some of the worst dust storms ever recorded in the state occurred, depositing up to 6 inches of soil across many Minnesota roads. Western and northern areas were also plagued with brush, forest and peat fires.
 
May 31, 1946 brought snow to many communities in northeastern Minnesota, including Babbitt, Tower, Two Harbors, and Virginia. A trace of snow was reported as far south as Willmar. The snow was short-lived as temperatures climbed into the 50s F on June 1st.

May 31, 1959 brought thunderstorms to parts of Minnesota. These storms produced heavy rains and strong winds. Lakefield reported an unofficial rainfall of 5.60 inches, but many other areas received 2-3 inches of rainfall which caused some flash flooding. Winds of 50 mph and higher blew down some trees and electrical poles causing power outages in Blue Earth and Hennepin Counties. This storm brought an end to one of the wettest June's in state history, as many southern Minnesota observers reported over 9 inches for the month (10.41 inches at Fairmont)

At 3:30 pm on the afternoon of May 31, 1971 an F-2 tornado (winds 113-157 mph) passed 4 miles southwest of Lakefield, MN (Jackson County). It destroyed a barn and left several dead cattle before dissipating after being on the ground for 2 miles.

Outlook

Cooler than normal temperatures under cloudy skies into the weekend with a chance for rain on Saturday. Mostly dry Sunday and Monday, then a chance for showers Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Warming temperatures towards the end of the week.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Wet week

Wet week

Many Minnesota observers, especially those in southern counties, have reported 6 to 7 consecutive days with rain over the past week. Over the period from May 17 to May 21 a number of observers reported new daily record rainfall amounts. Dozens of daily records were set, too many to list here. But some examples are:
May 17: 1.51" at Sherburn
May 18: 1.87" at Dodge Center, 1.78" at Spring Valley, 1.51" at Long Prairie, and 1.43" at Milaca
May 19: 1.46" at Jordan, 2.07" at Rochester, and 1.31" at Rothsay
May 20: 4.47" at Spring Valley, 4.01" at Thief River Falls, 2.75" at Grand Meadow, 2.21" at Grand Portage, and 2.01" at Roseau
May 21: 1.40" at Wadena and 1.15" at Walker

The wet week was dominated by high dewpoints. Just before 5:00 pm on Sunday, May 19th, the Twin Cities (MSP Airport) reported a dewpoint of 66 degrees F, tying the all-time highest value for the date set in 2004. Other observation sites reported dewpoints in the low to mid 60s F as well, very high values for this time of year.

Wet month

The month of May has brought measurable rainfall on many days. Of the first 24 days of the month many observers report rainfall on 15 or 16 days, a very high frequency. Accumulated rainfall for the month is already record-setting at many southern Minnesota locations, with a week to go in the month. Some of those already reporting record rainfall amounts for the month include:
12.13 inches at Grand Meadow, 9.16 inches at Spring Valley, 9.03 inches at Austin, and 8.63 inches at Rochester. The all-time maximum rainfall for the month of May in Minnesota is 15.79 inches at St Francis (Anoka County) in 2012. If Grand Meadow (Mower County) has a wet last week of May, they may threaten that state record this month.

For southeastern Minnesota counties May of 2013 already ranks as the 5th wettest May in history, averaging nearly 7 inches of rainfall. This number is likely to increase over the next week before the month concludes next Friday.

Wet spring

Since March 1st, the area of the Minnesota landscape designated to be in severe to extreme drought has shrunk from 70 percent to less than 7 percent. This is the result of abundant precipitation. The period since March 1st (meteorological spring) has been one of the wettest in history for many areas of the state. Across southern Minnesota many communities have reported over 12 inches of precipitation since March 1st. Some southeastern observers like Preston, Rochester, Winona, Spring Valley, and Lanesboro have reported over 15 inches, while Grand Meadow has reported nearly 22 inches of precipitation this spring. In fact southeastern Minnesota counties have already reported their wettest spring in history, with one week to go in May. Lakes, rivers, and streams have seen a great deal of recharge. In addition dry soils have been recharged and in some cases saturated so that tile lines have been running this month to discharge the surplus moisture.

The pattern of wetness for the year 2013 is expected to continue into the first week of June, with more frequent and sometimes heavy showers, especially in southern Minnesota.

Weekly Weather potpourri

In its 2013 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued Thursday (May 23), NOAA's Climate Prediction Center forecasted an active or extremely active Atlantic hurricane season this year. For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA's Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). These ranges are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes. You can read more about this outlook here.

The powerful tornado (EF-5) that hit Moore, OK (near Oklahoma City) was the 7th such storm since 1950 to hit that state. The only other state to report 7 EF-5 level tornadoes since 1950 is Alabama. Minnesota has reported just 2 EF-5 tornadoes over the same period (June 13, 1968 at Tracy, and June 16, 1992 at Chandler). Paul Huttner, MPR chief meteorologist posted a good deal of information about the Oklahoma tornado on his Updraft blog this week. You can read more here.

The United Kingdom Meteorological Office reported this week that their country has experienced the coldest meteorological spring (March-May) since 1979, and the 6th coldest of all-time. Cold spells and widespread frosts were evident in many places. You can read more here.

For auto racing fans, the Indianapolis Office of the National Weather Service has posted on their web site the history of environmental conditions for the Indianapolis 500 event, scheduled this year for Sunday, May 26th. This year race day is expected to see temperatures in the 60s F with a chance for showers. The wettest race in history was in 2004 when nearly 4 inches of rain fell. You can read more about the past climate for the race here.

MPR listener questions

Has it ever snowed on Memorial Day in Minnesota?

Answer: Yes, our state climate database shows this has happened at least twice. Memorial Day prior to 1967 was always observed on May 30th, then it became the last Monday in the month of May. On May 30, 1897 it snowed at Bemidji (0.1 inches), and on May 25, 1992 it snowed in New Ulm (1.3 inches). It was also cold on Memorial Day in 1992 with many observers reporting morning lows in the 20s F.

I farm in Redwood County (southwestern Minnesota) where soil moisture values were extremely depleted last fall (2012). How much have conditions improved lately relative to stored soil moisture?

Answer: Stored soil moisture values have improved significantly this month. The University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Center at Lamberton reported a stored soil moisture value of 5.33 inches in the top 5 feet of soil on May 15th. This is the highest measured stored soil moisture there since mid-June of last year. It is still below normal for this time of year, but showing improvement.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 24th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 71 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 51 degrees F (plus or minus 7 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 24th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 95 degrees F in 2010; lowest daily maximum temperature of 49 degrees F in 1893; lowest daily minimum temperature of 32 F in 1925; highest daily minimum temperature of 72 F in 2010; and record precipitation of 1.27 inches in 1937; There was a trace of snow on this date in 1924.

Average dew point for May 24th is 48 degrees F, with a maximum of 71 degrees F in 1989 and a minimum of 20 degrees F in 1934.

All-time state records for May 24th

The state record high temperature for this date is 98 degrees F at Beardsley (Big Stone County) in 1928. The state record low temperature for this date is 18 degrees F at Mora (Kanabec County) in 1988. State record precipitation for this date is 3.60 inches at Long Prairie (Todd County) in 1939; and the state record snowfall for this date is 1.0 inches at Pigeon River Bridge (Cook County) in 1930.

Past Weather Features:

Between 4:00 and 4:30 pm on May 24, 1908 F-2 (winds 113-157 mph) tornadoes touched down in Martin and Blue Earth Counties of southern Minnesota. The first tornado was east of Fairmont and on the ground for 3 miles, destroying a number of farm buildings and a farmhouse. Five people were injured and a horse was killed. The second tornado was on the ground for 20 miles and passed north of Mapleton and over Lake Ballentine, where it became a waterspout for a brief period. It destroyed one home and many farm buildings.

May 24, 1925 was probably the coldest in Minnesota history with over 30 communities reporting frost. It was unexpected as two days before temperatures had soared into the 90s F. On May 22, 1925 Fairmont reported an afternoon high of 100 degrees F, then 36 hours later on the morning of the 24th they reported 33 degrees F. There was frost as far south as Zumbrota (Goodhue County). In many areas morning temperatures fell into the 20s F. Corn fields showed signs of severe frost damage and many fields had to be replanted.

May 24, 1928 brought temperatures in the 90s F to a dozen Minnesota counties, setting daily record highs in many communities. The warm spell was short-lived as the last week of the month brought cooler than normal temperatures in the 50s and 60s F.

May 24-28, 1939 brought a very wet spell of weather to Minnesota. Many observers reported 2 to 5 inches of rainfall, during one of the wettest periods of the Dust Bowl Era.

Of the 113 tornado reports in Minnesota in 2010 (an all-time record number), two occurred on May 24th. A tornado touched down in Marshall County just before 3:00 pm and carved a 4-mile path through the rural countryside without inflicting any damage. Then just before 4:00 pm a second tornado touched down briefly near Halstad in Norman County, again not causing any serious damage. These were the first two tornadoes in the state during the one year that Minnesota reported the most tornadoes in the nation.

Outlook

A mostly cloudy and unsettled Memorial Weekend with temperatures a bit cooler than normal and daily chances for showers and thunderstorms. Showery conditions will prevail well into next week, adding to already high rainfall totals for the month. Temperatures will warm closer to normal by Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cold Mother's Day for some

Cold Mother's Day for some

A strong low pressure system and associated cold front brought high winds for the Fishing Opener (Saturday, May 11), then some record low temperature readings for Mother's Day (Sunday, May 12th). Among those setting record low temperature readings on May 12th were International Falls (22 degrees F tied record low), Lake Kabetogama (23 degrees F), Orr (21 degrees F), Agassiz Refuge (20 degrees F), New York Mills (22 degrees F), and Wells (28 degrees F). Afternoon high temperatures remained cold as well at some northeastern locations including Babbitt (38 F) and Tower (38 F), while elsewhere they reached the more comfortable 50s F. Crane Lake set a new low temperature record on Monday (May 13) with a reading of just 19 degrees F, and Hibbing tied their low temperature record for the date with 21 degrees F. Then, with southeast winds and bright sunshine temperatures warmed into the 50s and 60s F by 6:30 pm that day.

Record hot on Tuesday (May 14)

Very hot, dry air invaded the state on Tuesday, bringing extraordinary temperatures and humidity readings to southern counties. Many climate observers reported daytime highs that broke their own May 14th maximum temperature records, but also broke the statewide maximum temperature for the date (99 degrees F at Milan and Redwood Falls in 1932, and again at Milan in 2001). Blue Earth, Sherburn, St James, Amboy, New Ulm, Fairmont, Mankato, Hutchinson, Owatonna, Waseca, Winnebago, Albert Lea, Austin, and Jackson were among those locations that hit the century mark in temperature, topped by 103 degrees F at Winnebago and Sherburn (Blue Earth too if you count the Mn/DOT automated station there). Hutchinson, MN rose from a low of 48 degrees F at 6:00 am to an afternoon high of 100 degrees F at 2:00 pm (8 hours later). The MSP Airport set a new Twin Cities record high for May 14th of 98 degrees F (old record 95 F set in 1932). Other cities that reported new record highs for May 14th include St Cloud (95 F), Rochester (97 F), Brainerd (93 F), Hibbing (87 F), and Alexandria (93 F tied their record). In addition dewpoints in the 20s and 30s F produced desert-like relative humidity values ranging from 7 to 16 percent, equivalent to the readings in Arizona on Tuesday. More narratives about this recording setting day can be found at both the NWS and MN-State Climatology Office web sites:

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/images/mpx/NewsStory_2013May14.pdf
http://www.climate.umn.edu/doc/journal/hot_140513.htm

The warm, dry air along with moderate winds increased the fire danger around the state, placing many counties in the "very high" risk category and some northeastern counties in the "extreme" risk category. The National Weather Service issued Red Flag warnings

You can keep abreast of the fire danger and read postings about current wild fires in the state at the following web sites:

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html
http://mnics.org/wpress/

Lake ice-out dates

Many central and northern Minnesota lakes only recently lost their ice cover. For some it was the latest ice-out date since 1950, and in a few cases it was record-setting for lateness. The NASA-MODIS satellite "Image of the Day" web site shows the changes in lake ice cover over Minnesota this week in a very effective set of images. You can view this here.

Rochester climate trivia

For the 8th time in history (back to 1886), the month of May has brought to Rochester, MN record-setting daily maximum temperatures that both span extreme cold to extreme hot or vice versa in the same month (that is record cold and record hot daytime maximum temperatures). On May 2nd and 3rd Rochester reported record-setting daytime highs of just 33 degrees F (cold), followed by a record -setting daytime high of 97 degrees F (hot) on May 14th. This range of 64 degrees F between extreme daytime highs for the month is an all-time record for that location in the month of May. Other wide variations in daytime record maximum temperatures at Rochester occurred in the following years.

May 10, 1887 daytime high 89 F
May 31, 1887 daytime high 55 F
May 12, 1914 daytime high 42 F
May 27, 1914 daytime high 93 F
May 8, 1916 daytime high 84 F
May 16, 1916 daytime high 45 F
May 1, 1940 daytime high 36 F
May 12, 1940 daytime high 89 F
May 2, 1959 daytime high 90 F
May 14, 1959 daytime high 46 F
May 1, 1992 daytime high 89 F
May 25, 1992 daytime high 46 F
May 15, 2001 daytime high 89 F
May 23, 2001 daytime high 46 F

It is obvious that in some years the month of May allows Minnesota citizens to wear clothes from their entire wardrobe!

Weekly Weather potpourri

Crane Lake, MN which still has ice cover, reported a low of 27 degrees F on Thursday (May 16) this week. This tied the record low for the date from 1967.

The first named storm of the 2013 Tropical Storm season in the Eastern Pacific Ocean appeared this week. Tropical Storm Alvin was being monitored and tracked by the National Hurricane Center. Alvin is expected to track well out to sea from the west coast of Mexico with winds from 50 to 60 mph producing sea wave heights of 12 feet or more. It is expected to dissipate by early next week.

NOAA's Storm Prediction Center reported at several tornadoes were spotted in north Texas on Wednesday (May 15) this week. The largest (up to a mile wide) was reported in Granbury, southwest of Fort Worth, where six deaths and a number of injuries were reported. Elsewhere many homes were damaged and there were a number of power outages.

May 14 (Tue) brought a record warm overnight low to Las Vegas, NV,,,reported by the NWS Office there as the following....

RECORD EVENT REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LAS VEGAS, NV
840 AM PDT TUE MAY 14 2013
...DAILY RECORD HIGH MINIMUM TEMPERATURE SET AT LAS VEGAS...
THE LOW TEMPERATURE THIS MORNING AT MCCARRAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT -
THE OFFICIAL CLIMATE STATION FOR LAS VEGAS - ONLY FELL TO 80
DEGREES. THIS BROKE THE PREVIOUS DAILY RECORD FOR THE HIGHEST
MINIMUM - OR WARMEST LOW - TEMPERATURE ON RECORD OF 77 SET IN 1997.
THIS ALSO SETS A RECORD FOR THE EARLIEST LAS VEGAS HAS RECORDED A
DAILY LOW TEMPERATURE OF 80 DEGREES. THE PREVIOUS RECORD WAS 80
DEGREES SET ON MAY 19TH 2006.
OFFICIAL RECORDS FOR LAS VEGAS DATE BACK TO JANUARY 1937.

The Quad-City Times newspaper reported this week that Iowa has set a new record for the longest period without a tornado. Iowa has not seen a report of a tornado since May 24, 2012, a period of 360 days. This breaks the old record for absence of tornadoes, May 5, 1955 to April 26, 1956 (355 days). Overall, the USA has seen reduced numbers of tornadoes since April of 2012.

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center offered a web-based briefing this week on the national climate features of April, 2013. They point out that ND reported its coolest April in history, while for SD it was the 2nd coolest. With respect to April's precipitation both Iowa and Michigan reported their wettest April in history, and WI and MI are both reporting the wettest first four months (Jan-Apr) in their climate records. Other Midwestern states, including MN are also reporting one of the wettest first four months of the year as well. You can see more of these NOAA-NCDC highlights here.

The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)-Local Governments for Sustainability recently named Minneapolis as one of the top 20 cities or counties leading in resilience to disruption from energy availability, economic, or climatic events and episodes. Specifically Minneapolis is recognized for its proactive response to Heat Waves and to adapting for more extreme storm water runoff events (intense thunderstorms).

MPR listener question

What are the largest day-to-day temperature swings - both hotter and colder - for the Twin Cities and for Minnesota?

Answer: The largest daily temperature range in the Twin Cities record is from December 26, 1903 when the 24-hour difference in temperature (max-min) was 51 degrees F (high of 34 F and low of -17 F). On Tuesday, May 14th this week, the daily temperature range at MSP was 44 degrees F (high 98 F, low 54 F). On a statewide basis, Lamberton (Redwood County) holds the record with a temperature range of 71 degrees F on April 3, 1982 (high of 78 F, low of 7 F).

Twin Cities Almanac for May 17th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 70 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 49 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 17th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 93 degrees F in 1987; lowest daily maximum temperature of 46 degrees F in 1890; lowest daily minimum temperature of 31 F in 1915; highest daily minimum temperature of 69 F in 1911; and record precipitation of 1.17 inches in 1938; No snow has been recorded on this date.

Average dew point for May 17th is 45 degrees F, with a maximum of 69 degrees F in 1996 and a minimum of 17 degrees F in 2009.

All-time state records for May 17th

The state record high temperature for this date is 100 degrees F at New Ulm (Brown County) and Pipestone (Pipestone County) in 1934. The state record low temperature for this date is 14 degrees F at St Vincent (Kittson County) in 1888. State record precipitation for this date is 4.43 inches at Blue Earth (Faribault County) in 2000; and the state record snowfall for this date is 12.0 inches at St Cloud (Stearns County) in 1890.

Past Weather Features:

May 17, 1934 was the hottest in state history, with over 30 communities reporting daytime highs in the 90s F. The second half of May that year brought many readings of 100 degrees F to the state, along with severe drought and crop failures that required replanting.

Between 6:00 pm on May 17 and 1:30 am on May 18, 1937 a tornado outbreak brought five different storms to Minnesota. The first tornado occurred between North Mankato and St Peter, damaging a number of farm buildings in its path. This F-2 storm (winds 113-157 mph) was on the ground for 20 miles. The other tornadoes, all F-2 intensity, occurred after dark in western counties. They destroyed farms and farm buildings near Canby, Marshall, Tracy, Slayton, and Fulda. Fortunately there were no fatalities and only a few injuries.

May 14-17, 1890 brought four consecutive days with snow to the Duluth area, and 1 to 4 inches across northern Minnesota counties. Temperatures over those days averaged 20-30 degrees F colder than normal. Another episode of mid-May snow occurred on May 17, 1968 when 1 to 3 inches of snowfall occurred across northern Minnesota. It was followed by frost and a 3-day cold spell before temperatures recovered into the 60s and 70s F.

Perhaps one of the coldest third weeks of May occurred in 1983. Over the period from May 15-18, overnight lows dropped into the 20s F as far south as Preston and Zumbrota. Temperatures in the north dropped into the teens F, setting some record lows there. Fortunately crops had just been planted and were not susceptible to frost damage.

May 17-18, 2000 brought heavy thunderstorms to southern Minnesota communities with rainfall amounts ranging from 2 to 5 inches in many places. Lanesboro, Rochester, and Blue Earth reported over 5 inches of rainfall. Hail, strong winds, and flash flooding caused some widespread damages, including urban flooding and a mudslide in Winona County. Some crops were underway for a period to two days following the storm. For many areas the rain was needed following a prolonged dry spell.


Outlook

A wet and stormy period is coming up, already indicated by reports on Friday morning (May 17) of thunderstorm rainfall amounts over 1 inch across southern counties. Sherburn reported a record 1.51 inches on Friday. Thunderstorms and rain showers will dominate the Minnesota landscape this weekend and into Monday and Tuesday of next week. Temperatures will generally be a few degrees warmer than normal, but vary considerable depending on cloud cover. Cooler than normal temperatures by mid-week, then drier weather is expected by Thursday.

Friday, May 10, 2013

More May Records

More May Records

In addition to those recent early May climate records reported in Minnesota WeatherTalk Newsletter last week, some additional climate records were set during the start of May which I overlooked. May 3rd brought additional daily record snowfalls to Zumbro Falls (3.6"), Wabasha (3.9"), Minnesota City (4.0"), Winona Dam (5.0"), Theilman (5.3"), Lanesboro (6.4"), and Grand Meadow (9.0"). The storm total over May 2-3, 2013 of 17.2" at Dodge Center may have been a state record snowfall amount for a two-day may snow storm. The Minnesota State Climatology Office reports only one higher total May snowfall, that of 17.8 inches at Virginia (St Louis County) over the first 8 days of the month in 1954. Besides the snowfall records some new daily precipitation records were set as well, including 1.02" at Spring Valley on the 1st. On May 2nd even more daily precipitation records were set, including 2.12" at Red Wing, 2.06" at Austin, 1.87" at Dodge Center, 1.85" at Owatonna, 1.78" at Theilman, 1.70" at Hastings, and 1.45" at Waseca. On May 3rd La Crescent reported a record daily precipitation amount of 1.24" and Winona a record 1.20". Then on May 4th Spring Valley reported a record daily precipitation value of 0.74 inches. Through the first ten days of May a number of southeastern communities have already exceeded normal precipitation for the month of May, including Grand Meadow (5.43"), Minnesota City (4.99"), Rochester (3.86"), Theilman (4.39"), Wabasha (4.15"), and Winona Dam (4.35").

(A side note: the seasonal snowfall totals for 2012-2013 are now high ranking for several Minnesota climate stations: Island Lake (St Louis County) set a new seasonal snowfall record with 134.2 inches, Isabella (Lake County) set a new seasonal snowfall record with 143.5 inches, Babbitt (St Louis County) set a new seasonal snowfall record with 112.5 inches, and Hibbing-Chisholm Airport set a new seasonal snowfall record with 120.5 inches. Both Duluth (129.4") and Wolf Ridge (124.5") reported their 3rd highest seasonal snowfall totals).

Of further note, some cold temperature records were set during the first few days of May. New record cold daytime maximum temperature records were set on the 2nd of May at Rochester (33 F) and Brainerd (41 F). On May 3rd another cold maximum daily temperature record was set at Rochester (33 F), and on May 4th record cold daily maximum temperatures were reported from Brainerd (41 F) and Hibbing (40 F). These values are about 30 degrees F colder than normal.

Record wet start to 2013

The south-central and southeastern climate divisions of Minnesota are off to a record start in 2013 in terms of precipitation. For south-central Minnesota observers the average total precipitation received through the first 4 months of the year (Jan-Apr) is 11.17 inches, surpassing the previous record wet first four months from 2001 (10.27 inches). For southeastern Minnesota observers the first four months of 2013 show an average precipitation amount of 13.80 inches, surpassing the previous record wet starting four months from 2001 (10.50 inches). These amounts have restored the flow of many watersheds, raised lake levels, and replenished soil moisture. In fact tile lines are reported to be running in some area soils.

The weekly drought update continues to show improvement for much of the Minnesota landscape. Early in the spring up to 84 percent of the landscape was classified to be in severe or extreme drought. As of May 7th that area has shrunk to just 15 percent, as some areas of the state have seen precipitation values for the year exceed normal by 3 to 5 inches. Some southwestern Minnesota counties remain in severe drought.

Weekly Weather potpourri

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center was monitoring two cyclones in the Indian Ocean this week. One is expected to increased in strength and make landfall in Myanmar on Tuesday or Wednesday next week with strong winds, heavy rainfall, and high seas. The other cyclone was spinning in the Southern Indian Ocean well away from any land. It too was expected to strengthen over the weekend, then weaken by the middle of next week.

USDA-NRCS announced this week the release of a new Water Quality Index for agricultural runoff (labeled WQIag) which can be used by crop producers to assess how their management practices affect water quality measures in the runoff from their fields. USDA hopes that crop producers will use this tool to evaluate the effectiveness of their conservation practices (reduced tillage, precision placement of fertilizer, and reduced pesticide applications) on a field by field basis. You can read more about this new tool here.

A note issued from Brad Rippey, USDA meteorologist this week about the condition of pasture lands in the Great Plains:
"We are starting out 2013 in by far the worst shape on record, with respect to U.S. pasture and rangeland conditions. This is on the strength of continuing drought from California to the Great Plains. This part of the country accounts for a disproportionately large percentage of the nation’s rangeland. Of course, we’re coming off a year (2012) when all sorts of pasture/rangeland condition records were set (see attached graph). Previous drought years that were surpassed by the Drought of 2012 – with respect to poor pasture and rangeland conditions – include 2000, 2002, and 2006. You can read more of Brad's detailed analysis of the situation at the USDA blog.

Science teachers may be interested to know that the United Kingdom Meteorological Office has recently updated its Education Page with a U-tube product offering a daily forecast for grade school children (called "Rain or Shine"), as well as more web-based activities that are fun to use in engaging elementary school children about weather. You can learn more at...

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheMetOffice
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/

Environment Canada release its new seasonal climate outlook products this week, examining the period from May through July. Their outlooks tend to favor above normal temperature and below normal precipitation for the southern Manitoba border with Minnesota. But you can examine these in more detail at their web site.

Recent research by scientists from MIT documents the source of cirrus clouds in the high levels of Earth's troposphere. Their work shows that the vast majority of these cloud particles nucleate around mineral dust or metallic aerosols. You can read more about this work here.

MPR listener question

With corn just started to be planted this week around the state, will this be the latest planting season in state history?

Answer: Certainly in the context of the past three decades, this year will be a very late planting season. We have had much of the state corn crop planted by the end of April in many recent years, including last year. In addition it appears there was a good deal of winter injury to alfalfa fields this year, so these will take a while to recover, and perhaps some will be replanted. Certainly the first crop of hay will be cut later than usual this spring.

Historically a combination of wet soils and cool temperatures have prevented farmers from timely planting of crops. Since the mid-20th Century the latest planting seasons in history for corn occurred in 1950, 1953, 1969, and 1979. In all of these years fully half of the state's corn acreage was not planted until the 4th week of May. With modern field equipment and other technologies today's farmers are capable of planting half of the state's corn acreage in a week if the weather affords them the opportunity. So it remains to be seen exactly how late planting will be this year.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 10th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 66 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 45 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 10th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 90 degrees F in 1987; lowest daily maximum temperature of 43 degrees F in 1902; lowest daily minimum temperature of 28 F in 1907; highest daily minimum temperature of 68 F in 1922; and record precipitation of 1.40 inches in 1986; Record snowfall is a trace in 1946 and 1966.

Average dew point for May 10th is 40 degrees F, with a maximum of 70 degrees F in 2011 and a minimum of 14 degrees F in 1981.

All-time state records for May 10th

The state record high temperature for this date is 97 degrees F at Beardsley (Big Stone County) in 1928. The state record low temperature for this date is 11 degrees F at Pine River Dame (Crow Wing County) in 1905 and at Roseau (Roseau County) in 1981. State record precipitation for this date is 4.27 inches at Wheaton (Traverse County) in 1920; and the state record snowfall for this date is 6.0 inches at Pigeon River Bridge (Cook County) in 1927.

Past Weather Features:

A May Heat Wave brought 90 degrees F for three consecutive days (8th-10th) in 1887. Daytime temperatures reached the low to mid 90s F in western and southern counties. The only cool spot in the state was along the north shore of Lake Superior where daytime temperatures remained in the 50s and 60s F. May of 1887 turned out to be one of the warmest in state history.

A rare late spring snow storm passed across the northern parts of the state over May 10, 1902 delivering 1 to nearly 5 inches of snowfall. Duluth reported temperatures in the upper 30s F with 5.5 inches of snowfall.

May 10th, 1953 brought a tornado outbreak to our region, producing at least four well-documented storms in Minnesota between approximately 4:00 pm and 5:30 pm. The first tornado near Starbuck (Pope County) in western Minnesota was on the ground for 20 miles. An F-2 storm (winds 113-157 mph) this tornado destroyed many rural buildings and killed a number of livestock. Another F-2 tornado hit near Hollandale (Freeborn County) destroying a number of homes and killing 8 people. Later about 5:00 pm the same large thunderstorm system produced an F-3 tornado (winds 158-206 mph) that moved 18 miles across the landscape of Olmsted and Winona Counties, passing near St Charles. One person was killed and eleven injured by this storm which also snapped hundreds of trees in Whitewater State Park. The final tornado of the day, another F-3 struck in Fillmore County and damaged many farms near Wycoff and Chatfield, completely destroying one rural school. It was on the ground for 40 miles, killing one person and injuring 5 others.

Strong thunderstorms brought heavy rains, hail, and high winds to the state over May 9-10, 1979. Hail the size of golf balls caused extensive damage in Cokato, while flash floods closed roads and flooded basements in some central and southern Minnesota communities. Two day rainfall totals ranged from 3-4 inches in many areas, and left many agricultural fields underwater.

Two of the coldest May 10ths in state history were in 1966 and 1981. In both cases early morning temperatures fell into the teens and twenties on a statewide basis, causing some frost damage to newly emerged crops. In 1966 temperatures fell into the teens F as far south as Preston and Caledonia, while in 1981 a state record low was set at Roseau with a mid-winter temperature of just 11 degrees F.
The warmest May 10th in state history occurred in 1987 when over 50 Minnesota communities reported daytime highs of 90 degrees F or greater. That May was so warm and dry that crop producers were able to plant corn and soybean crops especially early. First cutting of alfalfa hay was exceptionally early as well.

Outlook

Cooler temperatures over the weekend. Windy on Saturday with a chance for showers in the northeast. Then chance of frost early Sunday morning, warming into the 50s F by afternoon. Stronger warming on Monday and Tuesday as temperatures rise well above normal. There will be a chance for showers late on Tuesday and into Wednesday. 

More May Records

More May Records

In addition to those recent early May climate records reported in Minnesota WeatherTalk Newsletter last week, some additional climate records were set during the start of May which I overlooked. May 3rd brought additional daily record snowfalls to Zumbro Falls (3.6"), Wabasha (3.9"), Minnesota City (4.0"), Winona Dam (5.0"), Theilman (5.3"), Lanesboro (6.4"), and Grand Meadow (9.0"). The storm total over May 2-3, 2013 of 17.2" at Dodge Center may have been a state record snowfall amount for a two-day may snow storm. The Minnesota State Climatology Office reports only one higher total May snowfall, that of 17.8 inches at Virginia (St Louis County) over the first 8 days of the month in 1954. Besides the snowfall records some new daily precipitation records were set as well, including 1.02" at Spring Valley on the 1st. On May 2nd even more daily precipitation records were set, including 2.12" at Red Wing, 2.06" at Austin, 1.87" at Dodge Center, 1.85" at Owatonna, 1.78" at Theilman, 1.70" at Hastings, and 1.45" at Waseca. On May 3rd La Crescent reported a record daily precipitation amount of 1.24" and Winona a record 1.20". Then on May 4th Spring Valley reported a record daily precipitation value of 0.74 inches. Through the first ten days of May a number of southeastern communities have already exceeded normal precipitation for the month of May, including Grand Meadow (5.43"), Minnesota City (4.99"), Rochester (3.86"), Theilman (4.39"), Wabasha (4.15"), and Winona Dam (4.35").

(A side note: the seasonal snowfall totals for 2012-2013 are now high ranking for several Minnesota climate stations: Island Lake (St Louis County) set a new seasonal snowfall record with 134.2 inches, Isabella (Lake County) set a new seasonal snowfall record with 143.5 inches, Babbitt (St Louis County) set a new seasonal snowfall record with 112.5 inches, and Hibbing-Chisholm Airport set a new seasonal snowfall record with 120.5 inches. Both Duluth (129.4") and Wolf Ridge (124.5") reported their 3rd highest seasonal snowfall totals).

Of further note, some cold temperature records were set during the first few days of May. New record cold daytime maximum temperature records were set on the 2nd of May at Rochester (33 F) and Brainerd (41 F). On May 3rd another cold maximum daily temperature record was set at Rochester (33 F), and on May 4th record cold daily maximum temperatures were reported from Brainerd (41 F) and Hibbing (40 F). These values are about 30 degrees F colder than normal.

Record wet start to 2013

The south-central and southeastern climate divisions of Minnesota are off to a record start in 2013 in terms of precipitation. For south-central Minnesota observers the average total precipitation received through the first 4 months of the year (Jan-Apr) is 11.17 inches, surpassing the previous record wet first four months from 2001 (10.27 inches). For southeastern Minnesota observers the first four months of 2013 show an average precipitation amount of 13.80 inches, surpassing the previous record wet starting four months from 2001 (10.50 inches). These amounts have restored the flow of many watersheds, raised lake levels, and replenished soil moisture. In fact tile lines are reported to be running in some area soils.

The weekly drought update continues to show improvement for much of the Minnesota landscape. Early in the spring up to 84 percent of the landscape was classified to be in severe or extreme drought. As of May 7th that area has shrunk to just 15 percent, as some areas of the state have seen precipitation values for the year exceed normal by 3 to 5 inches. Some southwestern Minnesota counties remain in severe drought.

Weekly Weather potpourri

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center was monitoring two cyclones in the Indian Ocean this week. One is expected to increased in strength and make landfall in Myanmar on Tuesday or Wednesday next week with strong winds, heavy rainfall, and high seas. The other cyclone was spinning in the Southern Indian Ocean well away from any land. It too was expected to strengthen over the weekend, then weaken by the middle of next week.

USDA-NRCS announced this week the release of a new Water Quality Index for agricultural runoff (labeled WQIag) which can be used by crop producers to assess how their management practices affect water quality measures in the runoff from their fields. USDA hopes that crop producers will use this tool to evaluate the effectiveness of their conservation practices (reduced tillage, precision placement of fertilizer, and reduced pesticide applications) on a field by field basis. You can read more about this new tool here.

A note issued from Brad Rippey, USDA meteorologist this week about the condition of pasture lands in the Great Plains:

"We are starting out 2013 in by far the worst shape on record, with respect to U.S. pasture and rangeland conditions. This is on the strength of continuing drought from California to the Great Plains. This part of the country accounts for a disproportionately large percentage of the nation’s rangeland. Of course, we’re coming off a year (2012) when all sorts of pasture/rangeland condition records were set (see attached graph). Previous drought years that were surpassed by the Drought of 2012 – with respect to poor pasture and rangeland conditions – include 2000, 2002, and 2006. You can read more of Brad's detailed analysis of the situation at the USDA blog.

Science teachers may be interested to know that the United Kingdom Meteorological Office has recently updated its Education Page with a U-tube product offering a daily forecast for grade school children (called "Rain or Shine"), as well as more web-based activities that are fun to use in engaging elementary school children about weather. You can learn more at...

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheMetOffice
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/

Environment Canada release its new seasonal climate outlook products this week, examining the period from May through July. Their outlooks tend to favor above normal temperature and below normal precipitation for the southern Manitoba border with Minnesota. But you can examine these in more detail at their web site.

Recent research by scientists from MIT documents the source of cirrus clouds in the high levels of Earth's troposphere. Their work shows that the vast majority of these cloud particles nucleate around mineral dust or metallic aerosols. You can read more about this work here.

MPR listener question

With corn just started to be planted this week around the state, will this be the latest planting season in state history?

Answer: Certainly in the context of the past three decades, this year will be a very late planting season. We have had much of the state corn crop planted by the end of April in many recent years, including last year. In addition it appears there was a good deal of winter injury to alfalfa fields this year, so these will take a while to recover, and perhaps some will be replanted. Certainly the first crop of hay will be cut later than usual this spring.

Historically a combination of wet soils and cool temperatures have prevented farmers from timely planting of crops. Since the mid-20th Century the latest planting seasons in history for corn occurred in 1950, 1953, 1969, and 1979. In all of these years fully half of the state's corn acreage was not planted until the 4th week of May. With modern field equipment and other technologies today's farmers are capable of planting half of the state's corn acreage in a week if the weather affords them the opportunity. So it remains to be seen exactly how late planting will be this year.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 10th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 66 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 45 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 10th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 90 degrees F in 1987; lowest daily maximum temperature of 43 degrees F in 1902; lowest daily minimum temperature of 28 F in 1907; highest daily minimum temperature of 68 F in 1922; and record precipitation of 1.40 inches in 1986; Record snowfall is a trace in 1946 and 1966.

Average dew point for May 10th is 40 degrees F, with a maximum of 70 degrees F in 2011 and a minimum of 14 degrees F in 1981.

All-time state records for May 10th

The state record high temperature for this date is 97 degrees F at Beardsley (Big Stone County) in 1928. The state record low temperature for this date is 11 degrees F at Pine River Dame (Crow Wing County) in 1905 and at Roseau (Roseau County) in 1981. State record precipitation for this date is 4.27 inches at Wheaton (Traverse County) in 1920; and the state record snowfall for this date is 6.0 inches at Pigeon River Bridge (Cook County) in 1927.

Past Weather Features:

A May Heat Wave brought 90 degrees F for three consecutive days (8th-10th) in 1887. Daytime temperatures reached the low to mid 90s F in western and southern counties. The only cool spot in the state was along the north shore of Lake Superior where daytime temperatures remained in the 50s and 60s F. May of 1887 turned out to be one of the warmest in state history.
A rare late spring snow storm passed across the northern parts of the state over May 10, 1902 delivering 1 to nearly 5 inches of snowfall. Duluth reported temperatures in the upper 30s F with 5.5 inches of snowfall.

May 10th, 1953 brought a tornado outbreak to our region, producing at least four well-documented storms in Minnesota between approximately 4:00 pm and 5:30 pm. The first tornado near Starbuck (Pope County) in western Minnesota was on the ground for 20 miles. An F-2 storm (winds 113-157 mph) this tornado destroyed many rural buildings and killed a number of livestock. Another F-2 tornado hit near Hollandale (Freeborn County) destroying a number of homes and killing 8 people. Later about 5:00 pm the same large thunderstorm system produced an F-3 tornado (winds 158-206 mph) that moved 18 miles across the landscape of Olmsted and Winona Counties, passing near St Charles. One person was killed and eleven injured by this storm which also snapped hundreds of trees in Whitewater State Park. The final tornado of the day, another F-3 struck in Fillmore County and damaged many farms near Wycoff and Chatfield, completely destroying one rural school. It was on the ground for 40 miles, killing one person and injuring 5 others.

Strong thunderstorms brought heavy rains, hail, and high winds to the state over May 9-10, 1979. Hail the size of golf balls caused extensive damage in Cokato, while flash floods closed roads and flooded basements in some central and southern Minnesota communities. Two day rainfall totals ranged from 3-4 inches in many areas, and left many agricultural fields underwater.

Two of the coldest May 10ths in state history were in 1966 and 1981. In both cases early morning temperatures fell into the teens and twenties on a statewide basis, causing some frost damage to newly emerged crops. In 1966 temperatures fell into the teens F as far south as Preston and Caledonia, while in 1981 a state record low was set at Roseau with a mid-winter temperature of just 11 degrees F.

The warmest May 10th in state history occurred in 1987 when over 50 Minnesota communities reported daytime highs of 90 degrees F or greater. That May was so warm and dry that crop producers were able to plant corn and soybean crops especially early. First cutting of alfalfa hay was exceptionally early as well.

Outlook

Cooler temperatures over the weekend. Windy on Saturday with a chance for showers in the northeast. Then chance of frost early Sunday morning, warming into the 50s F by afternoon. Stronger warming on Monday and Tuesday as temperatures rise well above normal. There will be a chance for showers late on Tuesday and into Wednesday.

Friday, May 3, 2013

April climate summary, many records broken

April climate summary, many records broken

April 2013 was arguably the most anomalous month since March of 2012 when nearly 800 daily climate records were set (mostly for warmth). It was the third consecutive month that delivered colder than normal temperatures to the state. Mean monthly temperatures for April ranged from 6 to 12 degrees F colder than normal. Extremes for the month ranged from -14 degrees F at Embarrass on the 20th and 21st to 85 degrees F at St James on the 29th. On a statewide basis it was the 5th coldest April in state history. Many locations reported record-setting cold maximum temperatures or cold minimum temperatures over the 10th through the 14th and again over the 19th through the 24th. In total, over 240 new daily cold temperature records were set including a -11 degrees F reading at Babbitt and Tower, and -13 degrees F at Brimson on the 20th. The reading at Embarrass (-14 F) on the 21st was not only a new statewide record low for the date, but also the coldest temperature ever measured in Minnesota so late in the spring.

Except for western and northwestern counties, April 2013 delivered above normal precipitation to the state. On a statewide basis it was the 10th wettest April in state history. Many observers reported over 4 inches of precipitation. In the Twin Cities it was the 5th wettest April of all time (5.22 inches), and 2nd wettest at Rochester (6.79 inches). Elsewhere Babbitt reported the wettest ever April (5.36 inches), as did Jordan (6.05 inches), Faribault (6.48 inches), and Zumbro Falls (5.67 inches). Some observers in southeastern counties reported over 7 inches. Spring Grove (Houston County) set a new daily precipitation record on April 10th with 2.71 inches, as did La Crescent with 2.25 inches. Even more significant was the new statewide daily precipitation record set at Caledonia (Houston County) on the 10th as well with 2.80 inches (breaking the old record of 2.40 inches at Bricelyn in 1947). The frequency of precipitation was remarkable as well. Many observers reported measurable precipitation on 21-23 days during the month, and at Waseca they had 11 consecutive days with precipitation from the 5th to the 15th.

With the dominance of colder than normal temperatures much of April's precipitation fell as snow, and it was record setting at many locations. Isabella (Lake County) reported 25 inches of snowfall on April 19th breaking the old statewide record of 24 inches (St Cloud in 1893). Many other observers reported record-setting daily amounts of snowfall on 7th, 11th, 19th, and 23rd. The frequency of snowfall added up to record monthly snowfall totals for many Minnesota observers, including 55.9 inches at Park Lake (Carlton County), 55.6 inches at Island Lake (St Louis County), 50.8 inches at Duluth Airport, 47.0 inches at Babbitt, 46.5 inches at Isabella, 45.5 inches at Two Harbors, and 41 inches at Cloquet. Several other observers reported record monthly totals of snowfall as well, exceeding 20 and 30 inches in most cases (24.4 inches at St Cloud for example was a new April record total). Peak snow depth during the month was over 30 inches in northern parts of the state. With the thaw at the end of the month maple sap flow was going gang busters in northern forests and being collected by maple syrup producers.

May snowfall breaks records too

May 1-2 brought snowfall to many parts of the state, especially southern counties. On Wednesday May 1st up to 2 inches of new snow was reported at New Ulm and Amboy. But the real intense snowfall began Wednesday night and lingered into Thursday (May 2nd) producing record amounts in southeastern Minnesota counties, where amounts of 6 to 14 inches were common. Some record daily amounts included 5.6 inches at Wabasha, 6.2 inches at Theilman, 6.4 inches at Lanesboro and Spring Valley, 7.0 inches at Albert Lea, 7.8 inches at Hastings, 8.4 inches at Zumbrota, 9.0 inches at Waseca and Grand Meadow, 10.0 inches at Austin, Owatonna, and Wells, 10.4 inches at Zumbro Falls, 14.0 inches at Rochester, 15.4 inches at Dodge Center, 17.5 inches at Goodhue, and 18 inches at Blooming Prairie. Many of these measurements were also all-time snowfall amounts for any day in May. The measurement at Dodge Center would be a new daily record snowfall amount for any NWS-COOP station during the month of May in Minnesota, surpassing 12 inches at St Cloud on May 17, 1890, at Windom on May 8, 1938, and at Leonard on May 3, 1954.
 
The storm presented a travel hazard and caused power outages in many places of southeastern Minnesota. There was also widespread reported tree damage. In addition Rochester, Faribault and Red Wing closed schools, giving students and teachers a rare May snow day. Even Friday morning (May 3rd) snow continued to fall in some southeastern Minnesota communities leaving additional measurable amounts including another 1.8 inches at Dodge Center, 3.9 inches at Wabasha, and 5.0 inches at Winona.

Snowfall in the east and southeast Metro area ranged from 3-5 inches, but most of the Metro Area was missed. The largest amount from a single May storm in the Twin Cities climate record (including Fort Snelling) is 3.0 inches which occurred in 1830, 1892, 1935, and 1946. The last year in that list, 1946 was especially notable because on June 1st of that year, Holman field in St Paul reported 38 degrees F with snow flurries from 2:24 am to 2:55 am, just barely into the month of June, but nevertheless the only documented observation of snow in the Twin Cities area during June. June of 1946 also brought snow flurries to Park Rapids, Willmar, and Gull Lake. More on historic May snowfalls can be found here.

With the addition of April and May snowfall amounts, the 2012-2013 snow season totals for some parts of Minnesota now rank among the top five for many communities. Some of these include 96.5 inches at Cloquet, 99.2 inches at Cass Lake, 112.5 inches at Babbitt, 120.5 inches at Chisholm, 124.4 inches at Wolf Ridge (Lake County), 129.4 inches at Duluth, and 143.5 inches at Isabella.

Ice-Out Dates Are Late

In contrast to 2012 (earliest ever ice-out dates for many lakes) many Minnesota lakes are still holding onto ice cover. The Freshwater Society declared ice-out on Lake Minnetonka on Thursday morning (May 2nd) this week, only the 5th time in history the lake has lost ice cover in May. The last time was 1965. Many northern lakes are still holding ice, including the Fish Hook chain of lakes near Park Rapids (Hubbard County) where the Governor's Fishing Opener is to take place May 10-12. Perhaps the warm-up in temperatures next week will assist the ice-out progress on Fish Hook Lake.

Weekly Weather potpourri

High temperatures, low humidity and strong Santa Ana winds were contributing to a higher risk of wildfires in southern California this week, and indeed many fires broke out. The National Weather Service issued Red Flag Warnings, along with forecasts for near record-setting high temperatures in the mid 90s F for the Los Angeles Basin area. Winds on Thursday (May 2nd) afternoon were peaking in the 45 to 55 mph range and afternoon humidity ranged from the single digits to the teens.
 
A paper published recently by scientists from Manchester dissects strong mid-latitude cyclones to diagnose where what generates the strongest winds in the storm. They find that baroclinically strong descending air to the south or southeast of a low pressure system can become a so-called "sting jet" which is a band of strong winds that descends from aloft and reaches the surface bringing gale-force, destructive winds. This was their assessment of the storm structure associated with the famous October 1987 gale in the United Kingdom. You can read more about this paper here.

The EPA and NOAA were promoting Air Quality Awareness week as the summer season approaches and more people spend time outdoors. Their web site offers tips on air pollutant sources, air quality monitoring and forecasts, and how to keep the air in your local community cleaner. If you want to visit their web site go to...

http://www.airquality.noaa.gov/
http://cfpub.epa.gov/airnow/index.cfm?action=airnow.local_state

The Cloud Appreciation Society cloud of the month for April depicts towering castles of cumulonimbus over Brazil, photographed by a pilot. You can view this photo and others at their web site.

MPR listener question

My kids stayed home from school today (Thursday, May 2nd) in the Rochester area. Good thing too because the roads were miserable. I cannot remember ever having a snow day in the month of May. Has this ever happened?

Answer: The only other documented snow day I can find in May occurred in 1954 when many northeastern schools (Itasca, St Louis, Lake, and Cook Counties) closed school for two days as a result of 7-8 consecutive days of snowfall. In that case a foot to a foot and a half of snow accumulated and along with 40 mph winds made travel very difficult there. But my guess is that this may be the first time that southeastern Minnesota schools have closed for snow in May.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 3rd

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 65 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 43 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 3rd

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 93 degrees F in 1949; lowest daily maximum temperature of 35 degrees F in 1954; lowest daily minimum temperature of 18 F in 1967; highest daily minimum temperature of 65 F in 1959; and record precipitation of 1.72 inches in 1912; Record snowfall is 0.2 inches in 1954.

Average dew point for May 3rd is 39 degrees F, with a maximum of 66 degrees F in 1949 and a minimum of 12 degrees F in 2005.

All-time state records for May 3rd

The state record high temperature for this date is 97 degrees F at Bird Island (Renville County) and Willmar (Kandiyohi County) in 1949. The state record low temperature for this date is 6 degrees F at Crookston and Fosston (Polk County) in 1967. State record precipitation for this date is 4.00 inches at Albert Lea (Freeborn County) in 1902; and the state record snowfall for this date is 12.0 inches at Leonard (Clearwater County) in 1954.

Past Weather Features:

May of 1902 started out very stormy with thunderstorms over the first four days of the month. Some record-setting daily rainfalls saturated farm fields and delayed planting. Many southern counties reported over 2 inches of rainfall over May 1-4, while Albert Lea reported 6.10 inches and Blooming Prairie 5.35 inches. For Caledonia, May of 1902 was the wettest ever with 11.13 inches of rainfall for the month.

At 7:00 pm on May 3, 1922 an F-2 tornado (winds 113-157 mph) moved 5 miles across the landscape in Dakota County. Near Northfield two barns were swept away and a home was seriously damaged. In addition a bus was overturned injuring two people.

May 3-4 of 1949 brought an early Heat Wave to Minnesota. It was clearly the warmest May 3rd in state history with over 25 communities reporting afternoon high temperatures in the 90s F. The month remained relatively warm and wet throughout getting crops off to a good start for the growing season.

May of 1954 brought snow to many parts of the state. In fact at Duluth and International Falls snowfall was reported on the first eight days of the month. Snowfall was several inches over May 1-4 and disrupted traffic, caused power outages, and even school closures in northeastern Minnesota where 10 to 18 inches of snow accumulated. Tower reported 10 inches of snowfall on the third.

A Cold Wave ushered in the month of May in 1967 with temperatures averaging 25 to 30 degrees colder than normal over the first three days of the month. Over 80 communities reported overnight lows in the teens F, while severe fell into the single digits. As far south as Luverne (Rock County) the temperature dipped to just 9 degrees F, an all-time record for so late in the spring.

Outlook

Cloudy with a chance for widespread rain and cooler than normal temperatures over the weekend. A warming trend will start on Sunday and carry over into next week bringing more seasonable temperatures to Minnesota. Chance of precipitation again by next Wednesday and Thursday.
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