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Commentary produced May 23, 2014


  • Record rains on May 19th
  • New climate data retrieval service
  • Weekly weather potpourri
  • MPR listener question
  • Almanac for May 23rd
  • Past weather 
  • Outlook

 Record rains on May 19th

Heavy thunderstorms brought record rainfall amounts on Monday, May 19th to parts of Minnesota. Artichoke Lake (Big Stone County) and Hibbing-Chisholm (St Louis County) reported a record 1.13 inches, while Hastings Dam (Dakota County) reported a record 1.10 inches. In and around the Twin Cities a number of observers reported new daily rainfall records as well. MSP Airport received 2.25 inches, St Paul Downtown airport received 2.07 inches, Stillwater 1.82 inches, and Farmington 1.67 inches. The University of Minnesota St Paul Campus also received a record 1.81 inches. For some observers this was the second consecutive May 19th that brought record rainfall. MSP had reported a new record amount of 1.16 inches on that date in 2013.

Many areas of the state have now reported over 4 inches of rainfall for the month including, Grand Portage, Floodwood, Hibbing, Embarrass, St Cloud, Lester Prairie, Mora, Chanhassen, and Hastings. Paul Huttner wrote this week in the Updraft blog about the Twin Cities also setting a pace for one of its wettest years in history, with a precipitation total of 13.80 inches so far this year. Other locations that fall into the category of extremely wet years so far include: St Cloud with 13.76 inches, New Hope with 15.04 inches, Caledonia with 14.85 inches, and Forest Lake with 13.84 inches.

 New climate data retrieval service

The Minnesota State Climatology Office now offers a new, simpler climate data retrieval service online. This allows free public access to climate histories from both cooperative observer locations, as well as automated weather stations used by the National Weather Service and the Federal Aviation Administration. You can access this new data service at....

 Weekly weather potpourri

NOAA reported this week that April was the 350th consecutive month with a global average monthly temperature that was at or above 20th Century mean value. The last time a global monthly average temperature was below the 20th Century mean value was February of 1985. So far 2014 is tracking to be the 6th warmest year on record when looking at combined land and ocean temperatures.

Brad Rippey, meteorologist for the USDA commented this week that California is locked in on drought for the summer of 2014 and it will likely be compounded by warmer than normal temperatures as well. The Sierra Nevada snow pack this winter was only about 24 percent of normal, providing much less water than it usually does. Some California crops will go unplanted, including some cotton, rice and vegetables. Farmers may leave fields fallow in some areas and then plant next year.

The NOAA Midwestern Regional Climate Center released the newest version of their newsletter "The Climate Observer" this week. It contains interesting articles about winter impacts on vineyards in Ohio, the forming El Nino in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and an assessment of the unusual spring season. You can read it online at

The NOAA National Hurricane Center was issuing advisories on Tropical Storm Amanda in the Eastern Pacific Ocean this week. It formed about 620 miles southwest of Manzanillo, Mexico this week and is expected to strengthen somewhat over the weekend and into early next week, perhaps reaching Category I hurricane status. This storm is expected to remain out to sea and not threaten the west coast of Mexico.

MPR listener question

"I have been waiting to transplant some vegetable crops from their potted homes on my front porch to the garden outside. Do you think we are now past the threat of frost for the spring?"

Answer: Yes for most of the state except the extreme northeast where they are still reporting some soil frost (St Louis, Lake, and Cook Counties). In fact it looks like most overnight low temperatures will be in the 40s and 50s F to finish out May and start the month of June.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 23rd

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 71 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 50 degrees F (plus or minus 7 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP local records for May 23rd

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 88 degrees F in 1874 and 2010; lowest daily maximum temperature of 52 degrees F in 2001 and 2004; lowest daily minimum temperature is 28 degrees F in 1963; highest daily minimum temperature of 73 F in 2010; record precipitation of 1.56 inches in 1975; and there has been no snow on this date.

Average dew point for May 23rd is 47 degrees F, with a maximum of 69 degrees F in 1991 and a minimum of 22 degrees F in 2009.

All-time state records for May 23rd

The state record high temperature for this date is 97 degrees F at Fergus Falls (Otter Tail County) in 1928. The state record low temperature for this date is 18 degrees F at Sawbill Camp (Cook County) in 1935. State record precipitation for this date is 4.54 inches at Park Rapids (Hubbard County) in 1933; and state record snowfall for this date is 0.7 inches at Fergus Falls (Otter Tail County) in 1924.

Past weather features

May 23, 1924 brought snow to parts of western and northern Minnesota. It was very short-lived as temperatures warmed into the 60s and 70s F.

May 23-25, 1926 brought summer heat to many parts of western and southern Minnesota. Over 10 communities reported daytime highs in the 90s F, but the air was exceptionally dry, so it cooled down in to the 40s and 50s F overnight. It was a warm month overall and most of the crops were planted by the third week of May.

May 23, 1933 brought one of the strongest thunderstorms to occur during the Dust Bowl Era. Heavy rains brought flash flooding to parts of northwestern Minnesota. Ada and Mahnomen received over 2 inches of rain, while Park Rapids received over 4.5 inches.

The last episode of damaging spring frost so late in May occurred over May 21-23, 1963 when overnight temperatures fell into the 20s F on a statewide basis. Temperatures fell as low as 21 degrees F in the Red River Valley, and even in the normally moderate climate of southeastern Minnesota, Preston dropped to just 22 degrees F. Some corn fields were damaged and had to be replanted.


Warmer than normal temperatures for the Memorial Weekend with increasing chances for showers and thunderstorms later on Sunday and Monday. Drier, but continued warm by mid-week.

Further information

For older versions of the "Minnesota WeatherTalk" newsletter go to
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