Skip to main content

Record rainfalls for some to start early May

Record rainfalls for some to start early May

According to the NOAA National Climatic Data Center over the first 7 days of May, Minnesota weather observers reported 62 new daily rainfall records, an exceptionally large quantity of records for such a short period of time. Some examples of the record amounts of rainfall include:

May 1st: 1.73 inches at St Cloud Airport
May 2nd: 2.05 inches at Windom and 2.10 inches at Elk River
May 3rd: 2.21 inches at Zumbrota and Wabasha
May 4th: 1.70 inches at Amboy
May 5th: 2.41 inches at Winnebago and 2.33 inches at Sherburn
May 6th: 2.78 inches at Marshall, 2.86 inches at Hawley, 3.06 inches at Redwood Falls, 3.50 inches at Hastings, and 3.62 inches at Pipestone

The 3.62 inches of rainfall reported at Pipestone on May 6th was a new state record for the date, beating the 3.48 inches that fell at Minnesota on May 6, 1983.

Many observers now report over 4 inches of rainfall for the month, and some have already totaled over 5 inches. Those over 5 inches include Springfield (5.34"), Hastings (5.18"), and Pipestone (5.90").

The abundant rainfall has alleviated drought across southern and western Minnesota. Earlier this spring up to 33 Minnesota counties were designated to be in severe drought by the U.S. Drought Monitor. In Thursday's release (May 10) of a new drought update, only a small portion of Cook County is left in severe drought. For the most part soils have been recharged with near normal moisture levels, and Minnesota's streams and rivers have risen with the recent abundant rainfall. According to the USGS flows on many southern Minnesota watersheds have risen above the 75th percentile mark.

Still Room at the Minnehaha Creek Watershed Stormwater Adaptation Study Forum, May 15th

Speaking of heavy rainfalls, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District in the Twin Cities Metro Area is hosting a Forum on Tuesday, May 15th from 6:30 pm to 8:45 pm at the St Louis Park Recreation Center. They will be presenting and discussing objectives associated with their stormwater adaptation study. This is in response to changing precipitation patterns across the area which have not only brought greater annual precipitation, but more frequent episodes of intense,thunderstorm produced extreme rainfall events which pose a serious flash flood threat. I will be presenting a climate perspective and many others will offer perspectives on vulnerability of infrastructure, risk management and community response, including options for storm water management and associated costs. Those interested in attending this meeting can contact Leslie Yetka with the Minnehaha Watershed District (email: or phone 952-641-4524. If you want to learn more, go here.

A brief tornado near Kiester, MN

Reports showed that an EF-0 tornado (winds 65-85 mph) touched down on the evening of May 4th (Sunday) near Kiester, MN (Faribault County). It traveled for about four miles, damaging some trees, barns, and farm outbuildings. This was the 4th date so far this year that tornadoes have been reported in Minnesota.

Weekly Weather Potpourri

Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire (elevation 6280 ft) is one of the world's unique climates, noted for extremes of temperature and wind. Their recent monthly climate report for April shows that they recorded ten days during the month with wind speeds of 80 mph or greater, topped by 96 mph on the 23rd. On April 28th they reported a morning low of 4 degrees F with an afternoon high of 14 degrees F and wind speeds that averaged over 60 mph. Don't even ask what the windchill index was!

The National Weather Service in Phoenix, AZ reported a combination of dust storm and thunderstorm on Wednesday afternoon (May 9) this week. Between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm winds gusted between 40 and 60 mph stirring up clouds of dust, which was later washed out of the air by thunderstorms rainfall though it only amounted to 0.03 inches.

With the exceptional early ice-out dates this year, the Minnesota DNR was received numerous questions about the effects on the fishing season, including the Fishing Opener (May 12). They created a press release with remarks from fisheries biologists Mike Duval and Tom Jones.

NASA scientists using a new fire forecast model developed from the MODIS satellite data base have predicted a mild fire season for the Amazon Forest encompassed by parts of Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru. This is the first use of the new fire forecast model which will be further evaluated this year. You can read more about this here.

MPR listener question

On average in Minnesota which month brings the highest frequency of hail?

Answer: For most of Minnesota the peak hail season is centered on June 1st, so May and June are the months mostly likely to bring hail for most of the state. Historically there have been reports of hail in all 12 months of the year, though they are very rare from November through February.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 11th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 66 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 46 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 11th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 88 degrees F in 1900; lowest daily maximum temperature of 40 degrees F in 1914 and 1966; lowest daily minimum temperature of 27 F in 1946; highest daily minimum temperature of 64 F in 1881, 1915, and 1922; record precipitation of 1.55 inches in 1935; record 2.8 inches of snowfall in 1946.
Average dew point for May 11th is 40 degrees F, with a maximum of 66 degrees F in 1922 and a minimum of 14 degrees F in 1946.

All-time state records for May 11th

The state record high temperature for this date is 98 degrees F at Lamberton (Redwood County) in 1987; the state record low temperature for this date is 11 degrees F at Fosston (Polk County) in 1946. State record precipitation for this date is 4.60 inches at Crookston (Polk County) in 1922; and state record snowfall for this date is 3.0 inches at Isle (Mille Lacs County) in 1966.

Term of the Week: UTCI

The current issue of the International Journal of Biometeorology is devoted to the Universal Thermal Comfort Index (UTCI), an international effort by scientists to derive a comfort index related to human physiology and apparel that takes into account temperature, humidity, wind, and radiation factors that combine to effect our thermoregulation. Perhaps with time government weather services around the world will adopt this UTCI and use it in public forecast products. You can read more about it here.

Past Weather Features

Around 8:30 pm on May 11, 1896 an F-2 tornado (winds 113-157 mph) touched down near Worthington, MN. It cut a short half mile long path through town and damaged at least 11 homes, but there were no fatalities and just one injured person was reported.

May 11-13, 1900 brought above normal temperatures to the state of Minnesota with at least 15 communities reporting daytime highs of 90s degrees F or greater.

Strong thunderstorms brought heavy rains to northwestern Minnesota on May 11, 1922. Crookston reported over 4.5 inches of rain, Ada received 2.90 inches, Roseau 1.99 inches, and Hallock 1.75 inches. Some crop fields had to be replanted.

A little past 6:00 pm on May 11, 1937 an F-2 tornado (winds 113-157 mph) traveled 20 miles in the rural landscape between North Mankato and St Peter. It damaged some barns and other farm buildings, but no fatalities or serious injuries were reported from the storm.

May 11, 1946 brought a hard freeze to many parts of Minnesota damaging some agricultural crops, orchards, and gardens. Low temperatures ranged from 16 to 25 degrees F. The cold weather also brought some rare May snowfall over May 11-12. The Twin Cities reported 3 inches, while Bird Island, Elk River, and Moorhead also reported measurable snowfalls.

May 11, 1966 brought measurable snowfall to many central Minnesota communities, including Isle, Moose Lake, and Aitkin. It was very short-lived as temperatures climbed into the 50s F the next day.

Severe weather visited Minnesota on May 11, 1985. Hail and strong winds were reported in western counties, and a brief tornado touchdown near Osakis in Douglas County. Some northern observers reported record-setting rainfalls with 3.95 inches at Georgetown, 2.50 inches at Red Lake, 2.48 inches at Waskish, and 2.22 inches at Big Falls. In some areas roads were washed out by the heavy rain.


Nice spring weekend coming up with near normal temperatures and mostly sunny skies. It should be fine for both the Fishing Opener (Sat) and Mother's Day (Sun). Warming trend begins on Sunday and carries into next week, with mostly above normal temperatures and dry conditions until a chance for rainfall emerges on Thursday.
Print Friendly and PDF