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Persistent rain in May

Persistent rain in May:

Over the calendar period May 15-22, some Minnesota climate observers reported rainfall every day (8 consecutive days), and a large number of them reported rainfall on 7 of the 8 days. In addition, on some individual days the rainfall was slow but persistent, lasting for as much as 12-14 consecutive hours.

Over May 15-22 within the Minnesota daily climate observation network there were 36 new daily rainfall records set. Some examples include: 2.96” at Hokah (Houston County) on May 16; 1.95” at Red Wing Dam (Goodhue County) on May 17; 2.09” at Morris (Stevens County) on May 18; and 1.32” at Milaca (Mille Lacs County) on May 21st.

Total rainfall for the month of May is well above normal in most places, and in some areas is approaching values close to the historically wettest May. Many areas of the state report 4 to 7 inches of rainfall so far this month. This is the 6th time in the past seven years that May has been wetter than normal across the state.

All of the clouds an rain have helped suppress temperatures this month. Most areas have reported a mean monthly temperature that ranges from 1 to 3 degrees cooler than normal. For the Twin Cities this month will break the string of 20 consecutive warmer than normal months.

As a result of all the rain, many streams and rivers associated with the Minnesota River Basin across the southern portion of the state are running near or at flood flow volume, while a majority of those other streams in the southern two-thirds of the state are at high volume flow.

About a quarter of Minnesota’s 7 million acres of soybeans remains to be planted. But farmers will have to wait several days for fields to dry out before finishing planting operations.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

Earlier this week NOAA provided an analysis of April climate anomalies across the USA. On a national scale April 2017 was the 2nd wettest in history and 11th warmest in history. One exception was that Alaska reported its second driest April in history.

Also earlier this week NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center released an outlook for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. They predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 5 to 9 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher). An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

A recent paper by University of Utah scientists provides an explanation of the longer growing seasons in the USA based on changes in prevalent weather patterns as well as increases in average temperatures (climate change).

MPR listener question:

I heard you once say that a long time ago there was an Agricultural Experiment Station along the north shore of Lake Superior. Where was it? I cannot imagine any success for agriculture in that climate.


At one time during the 19thCentury from 1858 to 1875 the University of Minnesota helped to run an agricultural experiment station at Beaver Bay (Lake County). Thanks to early successful family farms like that of Henry Wieland, who raised potatoes, onions, and carrots, some researchers thought the soils might be suitable for other crops (wheat and oats). But after several years of trying and being frosted out, the experiment station was closed.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 26th:

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 52 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 26th:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 96 degrees F in 1978; lowest daily maximum temperature of 45 degrees F in 1906; lowest daily minimum temperature of 34 degrees F in 1992; highest daily minimum temperature of 72°F in 1911; record precipitation of 1.60 inches in 1873. No snowfall has been recorded on this date.

Average dew point for May 26th 21st is 47°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 69°F in 1959; and the minimum dew point on this date is 27°F in 1907.

All-time state records for May 26th:

The all-time state high temperature for today's date is 103 degrees F at Tracy (Lyon County) in 1914; the all-time state low for today's date is 20 degrees F at Cook (St Louis County) in 1961. The all-time state record precipitation for this date is 3.48 inches at Grand Meadow (Mower County) in 1978. The all-time state record snowfall for this date is 2.0 inches at Kelliher (Beltrami County) in 1970.

Past Weather Features:

The warmest May 26th was in 1914 when over 30 Minnesota communities saw afternoons highs climb into the 90s F. After a comfortable morning low of 59 degrees F, New Ulm residents baked in an afternoon temperature of 103 degrees F.

Widespread frosts occurred across the state over May 26-27, 1961. Morning temperatures fell into the 20s F in northern counties and some Red River Valley locations. Morning temperatures around the freezing mark were common across many southern counties. Many farmers reported frost damage to emerged corn fields.

May 26, 1970 brought snow to portions of Lake, St Louis, Itasca, and Koochiching Counties. Some observers reported 1-2 inches of very wet snow.

Perhaps the wettest last week of May occurred in 1978 when between the 26th and 31st many climate observers reported rainfall on every day that produced totals ranging from 2.5 inches to over 6 inches. Widespread field flooding occurred in agricultural areas and many county roads were closed for a time.


Warmer than normal temperatures on Saturday under partly cloudy skies. Increasing cloudiness on Sunday with a chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms, carrying over into Monday. Cooler and drier for Tuesday. Warming trend will start Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

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