University of Minnesota Extension
Menu Menu

Extension > Minnesota WeatherTalk > May 2017

Friday, May 26, 2017

Persistent rain in May

Persistent rain in May:

Over the calendar period May 15-22, some Minnesota climate observers reported rainfall every day (8 consecutive days), and a large number of them reported rainfall on 7 of the 8 days. In addition, on some individual days the rainfall was slow but persistent, lasting for as much as 12-14 consecutive hours.

Over May 15-22 within the Minnesota daily climate observation network there were 36 new daily rainfall records set. Some examples include: 2.96” at Hokah (Houston County) on May 16; 1.95” at Red Wing Dam (Goodhue County) on May 17; 2.09” at Morris (Stevens County) on May 18; and 1.32” at Milaca (Mille Lacs County) on May 21st.

Total rainfall for the month of May is well above normal in most places, and in some areas is approaching values close to the historically wettest May. Many areas of the state report 4 to 7 inches of rainfall so far this month. This is the 6th time in the past seven years that May has been wetter than normal across the state.

All of the clouds an rain have helped suppress temperatures this month. Most areas have reported a mean monthly temperature that ranges from 1 to 3 degrees cooler than normal. For the Twin Cities this month will break the string of 20 consecutive warmer than normal months.

As a result of all the rain, many streams and rivers associated with the Minnesota River Basin across the southern portion of the state are running near or at flood flow volume, while a majority of those other streams in the southern two-thirds of the state are at high volume flow.

About a quarter of Minnesota’s 7 million acres of soybeans remains to be planted. But farmers will have to wait several days for fields to dry out before finishing planting operations.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Earlier this week NOAA provided an analysis of April climate anomalies across the USA. On a national scale April 2017 was the 2nd wettest in history and 11th warmest in history. One exception was that Alaska reported its second driest April in history.

Also earlier this week NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released an outlook for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. They predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

A recent paper by University of Utah scientists provides an explanation of the longer growing seasons in the USA based on changes in prevalent weather patterns as well as increases in average temperatures (climate change).

MPR listener question:

I heard you once say that a long time ago there was an Agricultural Experiment Station along the north shore of Lake Superior. Where was it? I cannot imagine any success for agriculture in that climate.


At one time during the 19thCentury from 1858 to 1875 the University of Minnesota helped to run an agricultural experiment station at Beaver Bay (Lake County). Thanks to early successful family farms like that of Henry Wieland, who raised potatoes, onions, and carrots, some researchers thought the soils might be suitable for other crops (wheat and oats). But after several years of trying and being frosted out, the experiment station was closed.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 26th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 72 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 52 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 26th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 96 degrees F in 1978; lowest daily maximum temperature of 45 degrees F in 1906; lowest daily minimum temperature of 34 degrees F in 1992; highest daily minimum temperature of 72°F in 1911; record precipitation of 1.60 inches in 1873. No snowfall has been recorded on this date.

Average dew point for May 26th 21st is 47°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 69°F in 1959; and the minimum dew point on this date is 27°F in 1907.

All-time state records for May 26th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 103 degrees F at Tracy (Lyon County) in 1914; the all-time state low for today's date is 20 degrees F at Cook (St Louis County) in 1961. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 3.48 inches at Grand Meadow (Mower County) in 1978. The all-time state record snowfall for this date is 2.0 inches at Kelliher (Beltrami County) in 1970.

Past Weather Features:

The warmest May 26th was in 1914 when over 30 Minnesota communities saw afternoons highs climb into the 90s F. After a comfortable morning low of 59 degrees F, New Ulm residents baked in an afternoon temperature of 103 degrees F.

Widespread frosts occurred across the state over May 26-27, 1961. Morning temperatures fell into the 20s F in northern counties and some Red River Valley locations. Morning temperatures around the freezing mark were common across many southern counties. Many farmers reported frost damage to emerged corn fields.

May 26, 1970 brought snow to portions of Lake, St Louis, Itasca, and Koochiching Counties. Some observers reported 1-2 inches of very wet snow.

Perhaps the wettest last week of May occurred in 1978 when between the 26th and 31st many climate observers reported rainfall on every day that produced totals ranging from 2.5 inches to over 6 inches. Widespread field flooding occurred in agricultural areas and many county roads were closed for a time.


Warmer than normal temperatures on Saturday under partly cloudy skies. Increasing cloudiness on Sunday with a chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms, carrying over into Monday. Cooler and drier for Tuesday. Warming trend will start Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Stormy Week

Stormy Week:

Monday through Wednesday of this week (May 15-17) brought severe weather to the region, including strong thunderstorms, large hail, flash flooding, and tornadoes. The tornadoes occurred in western Wisconsin (Polk, Barron, and Rusk Counties) on May 16th, with the most damage coming from an EF-2 storm (winds 111-135 mph) that passed through Chetek, WI destroying a mobile home park, injuring over 20 people, and causing one death. On the same date large hail was reported from many eastern Minnesota communities, including 2.5 inch diameter hail near Northfield. On May 17th two short-live tornadoes were reported in southeastern Minnesota, one near Plainview and one near Elgin. Both caused some minor damage. A summary can be found at the NOAA-NWS-La Crosse, WI web site.

Many climate observers reported new daily record rainfall amounts this week. Some examples include:
May 15; 4.94" at Altura (Winona County), 3.43" at Elgin (Olmsted County), 2.96" at Hokah (Houston County)2.25" at Owatonna (Steele County), 2.00" at La Crescent (Winona County), and 1.70" at Rosemount (Dakota County)
May 16: 1.95" at Red Wing Dam, and 1.40" at Duluth
May 17: 2.55" at Jordan (Scott County), 2.45" at Dawson (Lac Qui Parle County), 1.95" at Minnesota City (Winona County), and 1.90" at Montevideo (Lac Qui Parle County)

Many other observers reported total amounts of rainfall this week that exceeded 3 inches. The heavy rains brought a halt to planting of crops around the state, although corn planting is close to being finished, and soybean planting is more than half done. Over 40 climate stations in Minnesota have already seen about normal May rainfall amounts, and that is just for the first 18 days of the month.

Weather Potpourri:

Speaking of tornadoes, a recent study by researchers at Florida State University documents the relationship between total storm energy (calculated using total path area and average wind speed) and human casualties. This study incorporated the analysis of 872 tornadoes between 2007 and 2015.

NOAA referenced a new tool this week that schools can use to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. It is called "12 Steps to a Sustainable School" and worth a look.

The World Meteorological Organization announced this week an assessment of world weather records that produced the highest mortality associated with tropical storms, lightning, tornadoes, and hailstorms.

A recent study in Environmental Research Journal documents that Heat Index values between 90 and 100 degrees F or greater have serious detrimental health effects on many residents of New England. This study has provoked the National Weather Service to reconsider forecast thresholds for issuing Heat Advisories in many New England states. The authors encourage more regional studies to tailor advisories to the various tolerances that communities have for stress.

MPR listener question:

My 5th grader wants to know how much a cloud weighs. Can you help?


Yes, a number of years ago NOAA's Thomas Schlatter wrote about this in Weatherwise magazine. So I will use his example.

He estimated the liquid water content of a cumulus cloud to be about 0.2 grams/cubic meter and then estimated the cloud volume to be about 1 cubic km (approximately one quarter of a cubic mile), which is a relatively small cumulus cloud. A computation of the mass of water contained in this cloud yields 200,000 kilograms or 441,000 pounds of water, enough to fill a large residential swimming pool. Most of these water droplets in the cloud are so small, that minor updrafts are sufficient to keep them suspended in the air for long periods of time.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 19th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 70 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 50 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 19th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 97 degrees F in 2009; lowest daily maximum temperature of 43 degrees F in 1971; lowest daily minimum temperature of 33 degrees F in 1961; highest daily minimum temperature of 66 F in 1877; record precipitation of 2.25 inches in 2014. Record snowfall on this date is 0.2 inches in 1971.

Average dew point for May 19th 21st is 45°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 66°F in 2004; and the minimum dew point on this date is 11°F in 1926.

All-time state records for May 19th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 104 degrees F at Redwood Falls (Redwood County) in 1934; the all-time state low for today's date is 16 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) in 2002. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 4.17 inches at St Francis (Anoka County) in 1996. The all-time state record snowfall for this date is 8.6 inches at Grand Rapids (Itasca County) in 1971.

Past Weather Features:

On May 19, 1924 a hard freeze came to portions of northern and western Minnesota damaging newly emerged crops. Temperatures fell below freezing as far south as Fairmount, and in the north along the Canadian border temperatures fell into the teens F.

The warmest May 19th in state history was in 1934 when over 30 climate stations reported daytime high temperatures of 90 degrees F or higher. Ten western Minnesota communities reached 100 degrees F or higher.

An almost winter-like storm brought snow to the state over May 19-20, 1971. Many climate observers reported 1 to 4 inches, while some parts of the Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota reported 6 to 8 inches of snow. Temperatures rose into the 60s F the next day, rapidly melting all of the snow.

May 19, 2009 brought highly variable weather conditions to Minnesota. At 4pm in the afternoon it was 100 degrees F at Milan and Madison in the western part of the state and just 45 degrees F at Isabella in the northeast.


Cloudy with showers on Saturday. Cooler than normal temperatures. Still a chance for showers on Sunday, but slightly warmer temperatures. Warmer yet on Monday with near normal temperatures. Chance for showers and thunderstorms later in the day. Drier weather next Tuesday through Thursday, with cooler than normal temperatures.


Friday, May 12, 2017

National Adaptation Forum in St Paul

National Adaptation Forum in St Paul:

The St Paul River Center hosted the National Adaptation Forum this week, with well over 1000 people from 49 states attending. There were many panel discussions and presentations about climate adaptation related to transportation, energy, water, agriculture, public health, natural resource management, architecture, and extreme weather, as well as city and rural infrastructure. It was my privilege to give out awards for outstanding examples of leadership in climate adaptation advocacy and practice: Among our Minnesota award winners were:

Dr. Olivia LeDee, from the DNR-Fish and Wildlife Division
University of Minnesota-Morris Sustainability Office for institutional leadership
Climate Generation for their work in greater Minnesota in finding and showcasing community solutions
Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate for being proactive about the health risks of climate change and educating health care providers
Murphy Warehouse for moving towards renewable energy resources and encouraging sustainable behaviors from their employees and clients

Paul Douglas and I also co-chaired a session on "faith-based" climate adaptation which was well received and emphasized how common stewardship of our resources and care of each other is a common covenant across all religions.

Fishing Opener:

The Governor's Fishing Opener scheduled for this Saturday in the Greater St Cloud area looks to have perfect weather conditions with a morning low in the upper 40s F and afternoon highs in the 70s under bright sunshine and with very light winds. In fact most of the state should see pleasant weather for fishing. This will probably be one of the most pleasant Fishing Openers in history, which dates back to 1948. You can read more about Fishing Opener weather history at the DNR-State Climatology Office.

Rapid Progress in Planting:

The USDA reported that as of May 7th Minnesota farmers had planted over a third of the corn acreage in this state, and some of the soybean acreage. Since that time, we have recorded a string of warm, sunny days that have dramatically accelerated the pace of planting around the state. Since May 7th, temperatures have been averaging 3 to 6 degrees F warmer than normal, precipitation has been relatively light and farmers have been putting in 12 to 16 hour work days. I suspect by next week over two-thirds of the corn crop will be planted and a significant fraction of soybeans will be in the ground as well. Soil temperatures are now ranging in the 50s and 60s F, suitable for rapid germination of both corn and soybean crops.

Anniversary for Balloon Measurement of the Atmosphere:

This past Tuesday (May 9th) marked the 155th anniversary of the famous balloon ascents of British scientists James Glaisher and Henry Coxwell. They made 18 ascents in a gas filled balloon, the first of which was on May 9, 1862. They were the first to carry meteorological instruments aloft to make measurements of the character of the atmosphere. They established that nocturnal inversions were common and that lapse rate (change in temperature with altitude) can vary dramatically. They read their instruments on night ascents by wearing miner's lamps (the balloon was filled with highly combustible hydrogen!). In one famous ascent to an altitude of 30,000 ft, Glaisher lost consciousness and Coxwell, who was groggy and had numb, frozen hands, still found a way to pull the valve-cord hard enough with his teeth so that enough gas was released to allow them to descend back to Earth.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

I just returned from a trip to Nova Scotia with my wife Cindy last weekend. While visiting there we toured Cape Breton, known for its beautiful scenery. We learned that the native (or First Nation) Canadians called Cape Breton "Unama'ki" which means Land of Fog. It was foggy everyday there, lesson learned. Best time to visit is June to October.

NOAA and Environment Canada offered a summary of the recent floods across portions of Ontario and Quebec this week. Some areas have had twice normal spring precipitation so far this year.

The US Geological Survey reported this week that 39 glaciers in Montana have shrunk dramatically since 1966, by an average of 39 percent, and individually by as much as as 85 percent. Many of the glaciers studied are in Glacier National Park.

MPR listener question:

We have received over 2 inches of rain so far this month here in Pipestone County, so our planting season has been somewhat delayed. What are some of the record amounts for rainfall during the month of May in southwestern Minnesota?


Monthly record rainfall values in southwestern Minnesota communities include 8.05 inches at Marshall and 11.06 inches at Pipestone om May of 2012. Worthington received 10.92 inches of rain during May of 1903. Single day rainfall records in southwestern Minnesota include 4.23 inches at Pipestone (May 25, 1953) and 6.03 inches at Marshall (May 15, 1986). And of course these events brought flash flooding. I might add that it looks like this May will be wetter than normal the rest of the way, but not record-setting values.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 12th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 68 degrees F (plus or minus 12 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 48 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 12th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 90 degrees F in 1900 and 1961; lowest daily maximum temperature of 40 degrees F in 1888; lowest daily minimum temperature of 28 degrees F in 1946; highest daily minimum temperature of 62 F in 1887, 1896, and 1944; record precipitation of 1.52 inches in 1906. Record snowfall on this date is 0.2 inches in 1946.

Average dew point for May 12th 21st is 40°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 67°F in 1983; and the minimum dew point on this date is 10°F in 1989.

All-time state records for May 12th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 98 degrees F at Hallock (Kittson County) in 1900; the all-time state low for today's date is 11 degrees F at Hallock (Kittson County) in 1946. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 4.48 inches at Warroad (Roseau County) in 2004. The all-time state record snowfall for this date is 2.5 inches at Babbitt (St Louis County) in 1953.

Past Weather Features:

On May 12, 1895 north shore locations along Lake Superior were receiving 1 to 2 inches of snow.

The warmest May 12 in state history was in 1900 when over 30 climate stations reported an afternoon high temperature of 90 degrees F or higher.

Morning low of 26 degrees F, afternoon high of 96 degrees F, where else but Minnesota. That was on the Morris climate observer's report on May 12, 1922.

The coldest May 12 in state history was in 1946. Morning lows across northern Minnesota were in the teens F, while most of the rest of the state saw temperatures in the 20s F. Only Winona escaped frost that morning.

A strong low pressure system brought very heavy rains to northern Minnesota over May 11-12, 2004. Many areas received over 2 inches, while Roseau and Warroad received over 4 inches.


Sunny and warm over the weekend, with daytime highs well above normal. Increasing cloudiness on Monday with a chance for showers and thunderstorms. Chance for showers and thunderstorms on Tuesday and Wednesday as well. Cooler by Thursday and Friday.
  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy