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Significant Drought Reduction, Followed by Cold Temperatures

Significant Drought Reduction:

May 17-18 brought significant rainfall to many areas of the state.  Many observers reported amounts ranging from 0.50 inches up to 1.50 inches.  A number of observers reported newly daily record rainfall amounts.  Some of the record amounts on May 17th included: 1.45 inches at Brainerd, 2.33 inches at Montevideo, 2.19 inches at Moorhead, 1.58 inches at Pine River Dam, 1.76 inches at Winnebago, 1.75 inches at Cass Lake, 2.75 inches at Collegeville, 2.48 inches at Vesta, 3.22 inches at Morris, 2.33 inches at Hancock, and 3.65 inches at Lake Wilson.  Then more climate stations received record setting daily rainfall on May 18th, including: 2.10 inches at Hallock, 1.95 inches at Warren, 1.56 inches at Hancock, and 1.91 inches at Ottertail. 

May total rainfall is significantly above normal now for several Minnesota climate stations, including:
6.21" at Moorhead
5.07" at Georgetown
5.98" at Artichoke Lake
6.48" at Cass Lake
5.32" at Park Rapids
5.00" at Pokegama Dam
4.53" at Kabetogama
6.72" at Morris
6.61" at Montevideo
5.61" at Ottertail
5.22" at Collegeville
5.92" at Kimball
5.19" at St Cloud
6.34" at Lake Wilson

As a result of the wetter than normal May for many climate stations, the overall extent of drought in the state has diminished considerably.  Severe drought which encompassed nearly 35 percent of the state landscape last week has completely disappeared, while the area of the state in moderate drought declined from 92 percent of the state landscape to just 50 percent this week.  These figures can be viewed at the Drought Monitor.

Cold Temperatures Prevail May 18-20:


Following the wet weather, cool air invaded the state bringing frosts to many areas.  May 18 saw some record cold daytime high temperatures prevail at a number of Minnesota climate stations, including 46°F at Waseca, 47°F at St Cloud, 40F at Alexandria, and 41F at Roseau.

May 19 and 20 brought frost to many areas of the state, and in some cases injury to emerged crops. Many climate stations reported morning lows in the upper 20s to lower 30s F.  Thorhult (Beltrami County) reported a new record low of 26°F, Rosemount a record low of 29°F, and Collegeville reported a record low of 31°F.

May 20th brought some additional frosty temperatures to some locations and some new record setting low temperatures including 23°F at Isabella (tied record low from 1986), 25°F at Crane Lake (tied record from 1967), 27°F at Kabetogama, 25F at Orr, 40°F at Minnesota City, and 44°F at La Crescent.

Farmers and crop consultants were assessing frost damage to crops, mostly scattered field damage to soybeans and sugarbeets that had been planted early.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

MPR's Tom Weber ("100 Things to Do in the Twin Cities Before You Die") and I ("Minnesota Weather Almanac: Second Edition) will be at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Maple Grove, MN next Thursday, May 28th at 6 pm for a book signing and chat.  It should be fun and I encourage you to attend.

I will also be at the Valley Bookstore in Stillwater, MN on Saturday, May 30th at 2pm to talk about "Minnesota Weather Almanac."  Need a Father's Day gift, drop by and pick up a signed copy!

The BBC reported on Tuesday, May 19th widespread thunderstorms brought rain, hail, high wind, and lightning to many parts of Western Europe.  In fact the lightning detection network across Europe reported over 200,000 lightning strikes that day, an incredibly large number.

This week Minnesota State Climatologist Greg Spoden pointed out a new climate tool that is available from the Midwest Climate Center.  It is a mapped depiction of the hours below freezing temperature from the network of climate stations across the USA.  For gardening and farming this may be useful to assess potential injury to plants as a result of either brief or long periods of sub-freezing temperatures.  For example this week, some climate stations in northeastern Minnesota (St Louis County) reported 10-12 hours below freezing, while counties in southwestern Minnesota reported less than 2 hours below sub-freezing levels. 

This week brought some very heavy rainfall to portions of Oklahoma and Texas.  Many areas reported over 5 inches of rain and some even higher.  Blanchard, OK reported 7.24 inches and near Lufkin, TX an observer reported 8.41 inches.  Oklahoma City has reported nearly 14 inches of rainfall so far in May.  Widespread flash flooding occurred in many areas and you can read more at the NOAA-NWS Norman, OK web site or at NOAA Climate.GOV.

For the first time since it was completed in 1913, the Los Angeles Aqueduct from Owens Valley California is dry and not transporting any water to the Los Angeles metro area, as a result of the severe, prolonged drought there.  The aqueduct is dammed at Owens Lake to conserve water for that area of California.  They will not let any water flow to Los Angeles until at least November.

The AGU's online version of EOS published an interesting article this week by Christina Reed about research showing how the redistribution of ocean heat into the Indian Ocean has affected the pace of climate change in recent years. 

MPR Listener Question:

We are having a neighborhood cook-out on Memorial Day next Monday and putting up a large tent because the National Weather Service is forecasting a chance for showers and thunderstorms.  One of our new neighbors in Bloomington asked how often it rains on Memorial Day.  Thought you might have the answer.


In Twin Cities climate history back to 1891, the records show rainfall has been measured about one third of the time.  Granted for many decades Memorial Day was fixed on May 30th, but since 1971 it has been the last Monday in May.  On Memorial Day of 1977 it rained 1.09 inches in the Twin Cities washing out scores of picnics and cook-outs.  One of the more shocking weather events on Memorial Day took place on May 25, 1992 at New Ulm when it snowed 1.3 inches.....Brrrr.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 22nd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 72 degrees F (plus or minus 10 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 22nd:

MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 99 degrees F in 1925; lowest daily maximum temperature of 42 degrees F in 1882: lowest daily minimum temperature is 32 degrees F in 1917; highest daily minimum temperature of 74 F in 1921; record precipitation of 1.20 inches 1936; and no snowfall has been recorded on this date.

Average dew point for May 22nd is 46 degrees F, with a maximum of 73 degrees F in 1991 and a minimum of 19 degrees F in 1924.

All-time state records for May 22nd:

The state record high temperature for this date is 100 degrees F at Fairmont (Martin County) in 1925. The state record low temperature for this date is 19 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) in 2006.  State record precipitation for this date is 5.84 inches at Collegeville (Stearns County) in 1962; and the state record snowfall for this date is 2.5 inches at Big Falls (Koochiching County) in 2001.  

Past Weather Features:

At Le Sueur, Delano, and Pine River Dam measurable snowfall was reported on May 22, 1888.  That May proved to be one of the coldest in state history.

A cold snap brought frosts to many parts of western and northern Minnesota on May 22, 1924.  The temperature fell to 21 degrees F at Angus in the Red River Valley and to 28 degrees F at Pipestone.  There was widespread frost damage to emerging crops.

One year later, by far the hottest May 22nd in state history occurred in 1925. On that date over 40 Minnesota communities saw the thermometer reach or surpass 90° F,  and three southern Minnesota communities reached 100°F.

Thunderstorms and persistent rain brought a halt to the planting season over May 22-25, 1946.  Many observers reported 2-4 inches of rainfall, saturating soils and flooding some county roads. Five consecutive dry days, including Memorial Day, allowed farmers to finish planting by the end of the month.

May 22, 2001 brought snow to northern Minnesota, including the communities of Big Falls, Roseau, International Falls, and Little Fork.  It was short-lived as temperatures warmed into the 50s and 60s F the very next day.


The weekend will start with a spell of fine spring weather with increasing cloudiness later on Saturday and a chance for showers and thunderstorms later on Sunday, carrying over into Monday.  Temperatures will remain near seasonal normals well into next week.





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