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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...

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.


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. 
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