Skip to main content

Warm days in May

Warm days in May

May 18th (last Friday) brought a warm day to the state with many observers reporting daytime highs in the 90s F, the warmest May 18th since 1998. Madison topped the list with a record-setting 97 degrees F. Other climate stations setting new temperature records on May 18th included: 95 degrees F at Browns Valley; 93 degrees F at Moorhead; 92 degrees F at Park Rapids; and 94 degrees F at Wheaton.

May 22-23 brought more record high temperatures to the region just ahead of heavy thunderstorms. Fargo, ND set a record on the 22nd with 93 degrees F. Then more record highs were set on Wednesday, May 23rd, including 92 degrees F at Amboy, 89 degrees F at MSP and Austin, and 87 degrees F at Lakefield (tied 2010). Strong south winds ushered in very moist air across the state on the 23rd. Between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm the dewpoint at MSP Airport rose from 51 degrees F to a sticky 65 degrees F.

Heavy rains on May 23-24

Strong winds, hail, and very heavy thunderstorm rainfall visited the state over May 23-24 this week. Wind gusts to 75 mph were reported from New Ulm, and 71 mph at New Prague. Some western and southern counties reported half to one inch diameter hail as well.

The real story was in the number of reports of heavy rainfall, with many observers reporting 2 to over 5 inches. Those reporting record-setting rainfalls included: 4.77 inches at Buffalo; 3.46 inches at Gaylord; 3.81 inches at Glencoe; 2.58 inches at MSP Airport; 2.89 inches at Two Harbors; 3.64 inches at Waconia; 3.01 inches at Andover; 3.50 inches at Elk River; 2.12 inches at Floodwood; 2.87 inches at Forest Lake; 2.88 inches at New Ulm; 2.76 inches at Lakefield; 2.90 inches at Windom; and 3.50 inches at St Francis. Many other observers reported record-setting amounts of rainfall as well, adding to already above normal amounts for May. It was one of the heaviest doses of 24 hour rainfall ever measured in the state during the month of May, the amount of 4.77 inches at Buffalo (Wright County) breaking the all-time state record rainfall for May 24th (formerly 3.60 at Long Prairie in 1939).

Monthly total rainfall for May now exceeds 7 inches at many locations around the state including: Buffalo, Chaska, MSP, Hastings, Hutchinson, New Ulm, Milaca, Mora, Springfield, Jordan, Andover, Forest Lake, Chanhassen, Lakefield, Pipestone, Windom, Lamberton, and Rockford. The 8.18 inches at MSP airport marks the 2nd wettest all-time May (record is 10.33 inches in 1906) and wettest since 1965. The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Chanhassen has reported 9.22 inches of rainfall so far in May. This total is getting close to the state record rainfall for May of 11.70 inches at Winnebago back in 1908. So, with more rainfall forecast for the last week of the month, the record amount for May may be surpassed.

With one week to go in the month, May of 2012 on a statewide basis already ranks among the ten wettest dozen in state history. It is likely that these rainfall totals will be added to by the end of the month.

Weekly Weather Potpourri

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a near-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season given the present atmospheric and oceanic measurements and patterns. This means 9-15 named storms with 4 to 8 of those strong enough to reach hurricane status. Further, 1 to 3 of these storms may reach major hurricane status (category 3 or higher). You can read more here.

Two major storms were operating in tropical waters this week. Typhoon Sanvu was spinning south of Japan in the western Pacific Ocean. It was producing wave heights over 30 feet with winds up to 90 mph and higher gusts. Sanvu is expected to weaken over the weekend as it pulls away from Japan to the east. It is not expected to make landfall. Hurricane Bud, the second named storm of the hurricane season, was off the west coast of Mexico in the Eastern Pacific Ocean with winds close to 110 mph and sea waves near 30 feet. It is expected to weaken towards the weekend, before making landfall. Bud will likely bring 6 to 10 inch rains to some coastal communities in Mexico.

Dr. Rick Knabb, former hurricane expert with The Weather Channel, was named last week as the new Director of the NOAA National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL. He replaces the retiring director Bill Read. Dr. Knabb returns to NOAA where he previously served as Deputy Director of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Hawaii. You can read more about him here.

The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Indianapolis has provided a climatology for the Indianapolis 500 Motor Race which takes place this Sunday (May 27th). The warmest race day was in 1937 with 92 degrees F, while the coldest race day was 1992 with just 58 degrees F. You can find more detail about historical weather for the race here.

The National Weather Service has declared Friday, 25 May 2012, as Heat Awareness Day across the nation. For more information, including safety measures for children in motor vehicles and too much outdoor exposure when Heat Index Values are over 100 degrees you can consult the National Weather Service's webpage here.

MPR listener question

Two listeners wrote with a question about winds: High winds have limited the use of herbicides so far this crop season. Have wind speeds been higher than usual this month and for the spring season so far?

Answer: As a reminder to readers, at most climate stations in Minnesota April and May are two of the windiest months of the year based on historical mean values of wind speed. Using the MSP Airport measurements for frame of reference, mean wind speeds during March, April, and May have been near average or slightly below average this year. However, that is deceiving relative to the frequency of high wind gusts, which have been highly unusual in frequency. Listed below are the number of days with wind gusts greater than 30 mph, 40 mph, and 50 mph for the months of March, April, and May (so far) from MSP International Airport, along with the peak wind gust speed in parentheses:

March: 9 days with wind gusts of 30 mph or greater; 4 days with wind gusts of 40 mph or greater (peak 47 mph)
April: 14 days with wind gusts of 30 mph or greater; 2 days with wind gusts of 40 mph or greater (peak 44 mph)
May: 16 days with wind gusts of 30 mph or greater; 6 days with wind gusts of 40 mph; 2 days with wind gusts of 50 mph (peak 58 mph)

Normally these months bring wind gusts greater than 30 mph on only 5 or 6 days. Further very strong wind gusts have been reported this May at other locations around the state, including: 58 mph at Redwood Falls; 54 mph at Duluth; 46 mph at St Cloud and Rochester; and 45 mph at Mankato.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 25th

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 72 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 51 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 25th

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 94 degrees F in 1978; lowest daily maximum temperature of 48 degrees F in 1904; lowest daily minimum temperature of 33 F in 1901; highest daily minimum temperature of 70 F in 1914; record precipitation of 1.76 inches in 1916; no snowfall on this date.  

Average dew point for May 25th is 47 degrees F, with a maximum of 72 degrees F in 1916 and a minimum of 23 degrees F in 1934.

All-time state records for May 25th

The state record high temperature for this date is 100 degrees F at Luverne (Rock County) in 1967; the state record low temperature for this date is 19 degrees F at Tower (St Louis County) in 1983. State record precipitation for this date is 4.32 inches at St James (Watonwan County) in 1953; and state record snowfall for this date is 4.0 inches at Baudette (Lake of the Woods County) in 1970.

Past Weather Features:

May 24-25, 1953 brought strong thunderstorms to southern Minnesota. Heavy rains flooded farm fields and roads, and many creeks and drainage ditches filled with runoff water. Some of the rainfall amounts included: 4.32 inches at St James; 4.28 inches at Pipestone; 3.52 inches at Windom; 3.34 inches at Comfrey; and 2.87 inches at Winnebago.

May 25-26, 1967 brought a heat wave to southern Minnesota as 24 communities reported afternoon highs in the 90s F. A strong cold front dropped temperatures into the 60s and 70s F on May 27th.

May 25, 1970 brought a late spring snow storm to north-central Minnesota where Baudette reported 4 inches, Big Falls reported 2.0 inches, and International Falls received 0.3 inches. The snow was followed by cold Canadian high pressure keeping daytime temperatures down into the 40s and 50s F over May 25-28.

May 25, 1983 brought a late spring hard freeze to northern counties as over 30 communities reported morning lows in the 20s F. In the Red River Valley some crops had to be replanted.

Word of the Week: ACE

This acronym stands for Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index which is used by the United Kingdom Meteorological Office to estimate the seasonal number of tropical storms in the North Atlantic. Using the ACE index the UK Met Office predicts 7-13 named storms for the 2012 season (June through November), with a most likely value of 10. This is slightly less than the seasonal average of 12.


An unsettled weekend weather wise with mostly cloudy skies and roller coaster temperature pattern. Showers and thunderstorms are likely each day, with a warm and sultry day on Sunday as temperatures reach the 90s F in some locations. Cooler temperatures by Monday and cooler yet on Tuesday but drier. Chances for showers return on Wednesday and Thursday next week to conclude the wet May.
Print Friendly and PDF