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Preliminary Climate Summary for May 2012

Preliminary Climate Summary for May 2012

In the simplest of terms May was warm and wet. Mean temperatures for the month were 2 to 5 degrees warmer than normal, with several days in the 90s F. The extremes for the month were 97 degrees F at Madison on the 18th, and just 24 degrees F at Brimson and Embarrass on the 16th. Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the nation just twice during the month.

Rainfall during May was abundant and above normal in all areas of the state except the northwest. Many individual climate observers saw their wettest ever May. Some of these included:

Pipestone with 11.06 inches
Windom with 10.83 inches
Lamberton with 9.87 inches
Hawley 6.72 inches
Floodwood 9.14 inches
New Ulm with 12.39 inches
Milaca with 10.46 inches
Sandstone 10.84 inches
Forest Lake with 11.29 inches
Chanhassen with 11.21 inches
Chaska with 10.69 inches

For many observers over half the days of May brought measurable rainfall (16-18 days), and there were many heavy thunderstorms. Overall, taking the average of all rainfall observations in the state it was the 4th wettest May of all time, averaging near 6 inches of rainfall. Only 1938, 1962, and 1908 were wetter on a statewide basis.

Another unusual feature of May was the frequency of strong winds. MSP Airport reported wind gusts over 30 mph on 19 days during the month, and six days with gusts over 40 mph. Some maximum wind gust during the month included: 58 mph at MSP; 62 mph at Alexandria; 69 mph at Rochester; and 74 mph at St Cloud.

Strong, persistent warm temperatures

Since June of 2011, 10 of 11 months have brought warmer than normal temperatures to Minnesota. According to Pete Boulay of the Minnesota State Climatology Office, this is the warmest spring ever (March-May) for some observers, including St Cloud, MSP, and Rochester among others. You can read more about the warm spring here.

In addition because January and February were warmer than normal as well, the first five months of 2012 (Jan-May) tie 1987 for the warmest such period in history. For the Twin Cities nearly 70 percent of all days in 2012 so far have seen above normal temperatures.

Cold May 31st

The month of May ended with some record-setting cold temperatures up north. International Falls tied their record low for May 31st with a reading of 29 degrees F. Grand Marais set a new record low with 28 degrees F, while Crane Lake reported a new record low as well with the same reading. Though not record-setting for the date Embarrass and Silver Bay reported lows of 27 degrees F, the coldest readings in the USA that day.

Weekly Weather Potpourri

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center was monitoring tropical storm Mawar located east of the Philippines this week in the western Pacific Ocean. This system is expected to develop into a typhoon over the weekend producing winds up to 100 mph and wave heights up to 20 feet. It is expected to remain out to sea, but bring heavy rains to parts of southern Japan next week.

The Social Brands 100 list was released this week. It is a ranking of brands (products and services) most commonly referenced and utilized by the social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, and blogs). Among the top ten was the United Kingdom Meteorological Office, the highest ranking service brand was ranked 9th. Just like our National Weather Service they have been striving to garner more public engagement through the use of social media.

NOAA released a new science fact sheet this week, "Atlantic Hurricanes, Climate Variability and Global Warming." You can find copies on the web here.

Mid-summer like temperatures are arriving in some parts of the northern hemisphere this week, as Blythe (CA), Imperial (CA), and Needles (CA) hit 112 degrees F, while Yuma (AZ) and Parker (AZ) hit 113 degrees F and 114 degrees F, respectively. Elsewhere, parts of Iran and Pakistan reached 119 degrees F this week, while Mecca in Saudi Arabia saw the thermometer climb to 122 degrees F, with more hot weather expected into the weekend.

NASA announced this week that it will use its pilot-less research aircraft, "Global Hawks" to fly over hurricanes and make specialized measurements to help better understand the dynamics of their formation, intensification, and dissipation. These aircraft can fly at altitudes of 60,000 ft. You can read more about the use of these aircraft here.

MPR listener question

 With all the rain this month, have most Minnesota rivers risen to normal or above normal flows?

Answer: Yes, indeed. The Mississippi River basin, Minnesota River Basin, and St Croix River Basin have all risen to normal or higher than normal volumes of flow. Even some of the northeastern Minnesota watersheds which had been extremely low, like the Pigeon River, have risen to above normal flow levels. The only section of the state showing some below normal flow levels are some of the smaller watersheds along the Red River Valley, including the Marsh River, Thief River, Wild Rice River, and Roseau River.

Twin Cities Almanac for June 1st

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 73 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 54 degrees F (plus or minus 7 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for June 1st

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 92 degrees F in 1939; lowest daily maximum temperature of 51 degrees F in 1945; lowest daily minimum temperature of 37 F in 1946; highest daily minimum temperature of 72 F in 1939; record precipitation of 2.16 inches in 1944; and a trace of snow was reported at the St Paul downtown airport on this date in 1946.
Average dew point for June 1st is 48 degrees F, with a maximum of 73 degrees F in 1944 and a minimum of 29 degrees F in 1910.

All-time state records for June 1st

The state record high temperature for this date is 104 degrees F at Faribault (Rice County) and at Chaska (Carver County) in 1934; the state record low temperature for this date is 15 degrees F at Bigfork (Itasca County) in 1964. State record precipitation for this date is 7.98 inches at Stillwater (Washington County) in 1965; and Grand Portage (Cook County) still has one inch of snow cover on this date in 1897.

Past Weather Features:

Significant frost damaged both agronomic crops and vegetable crops on June 1, 1897. Nine counties reported morning lows in the 20s F. Farmers reported some damage to wheat, barley, rye and oat crops. Temperatures in the 20s F were observed as far south as Houston and Winona Counties.

June 1, 1934 brought record heat to over two dozen communities in the state. Temperatures broke the century mark (100 F) in 7 communities, and the overnight low at Winona never fell below 79 degrees F. For residents of Faribault June of 1934 brought six days with temperatures over 100 degrees F.

Overnight thunderstorms brought high winds, large hail, and heavy rains on June 1, 1965. Crops near Young America were damaged by large hail and had to be replanted. Lightning caused damage to buildings in Stillwater and Hastings. St Paul downtown received nearly 5 inches of rain, Hastings nearly 6 inches, and Forest Lake 6.50 inches. Flooded roads and highways were reported in many communities. Stillwater reported over 7 inches of rainfall, their most ever in a single day.


Warming up to above normal temperatures over the weekend, with a chance for widely scattered showers on Sunday. Warmer yet on Monday and Tuesday with a chance for showers returning by Wednesday and Thursday next week. Following the trend it looks like warmer than normal temperatures will dominate the first half of June.
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