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Warm Start to May, But Way Behind on Planting

Warm Start to May, But Way Behind on Planting:

So far temperatures are averaging above normal for the month of May. Over the first ten days average daily temperature is 1 to 3 degrees F above normal in the north, and 5 to 8 degrees F above normal in southern counties. On May 7th it was as warm as 89 degrees F at Crookston, Wheaton, and Granite Falls. Except for the far north, few places have reported a frost in May. For the Twin Cities it is the warmest first ten days of May (ave temp about 64°F) since the year 2000. As a result of the warmth, more lakes are expected to lose ice before the Fishing Opener on Saturday, but some in the far north will obviously still have ice.

Thunderstorms have brought heavy rains to southern parts of the state. Already places like Caledonia, Houston, Harmony, and Lanesboro have seen over 4 inches for the month. At least 16 daily rainfall records have been tied or broken within the Minnesota climate network, including 2.23” at Harmony on the 2nd, 1.94” at Caledonia on the 4th, and 1.43” at Grand Meadow on the 4th.

Because of wet soils, only recently have farmers been making progress on planting corn around the state, mostly in western and central counties. Many southern counties remain too wet. For the week ending on May 6th only 9 percent of the corn was planted. Hopefully a mostly dry next week will allow for a great deal of corn planting.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

NOAA features an article by Rebecca Lindsey this week about the signature warmth of the year 2016 in the Arctic region, where some daily temperature departures were 30 to 40 degrees F warmer than normal. She documents how this unprecedented warmth is definitely a signature of climate change, and describes the evidence.

Earlier this week the BBC reported the warmest early May Bank Holiday in the modern record for the United Kingdom, with temperatures soaring into the 80s F, and many citizens flocking to the beaches. Temperatures were averaging a good 15-20 degrees F warmer than normal over the first weekend of the month.

The Yale Climate Connections this week features an interview by Amy Brady with Richard Powers, author of “The Overstory.” He talks about the legacy of the battle to preserve the majestic northwest woods and forests and how people from different walks of life commonly value such features.

MPR listener question:

My goodness ( I usually use stronger language, but in case this gets on the radio) here near Caledonia we have already received nearly 5 inches of rain this month, keeping me out of my fields. I just hope to get planted by Memorial Day. Can you tell me the record amount of rainfall for the month of May here?


The record May rainfall at Caledonia (Houston County) is 11.63 inches in 2004. It rained on 21 days that month. That broke an old record of 11.13 inches of rain during May of 1902. BTW in 2013 the month of May brought 14.64 inches of rain to Grand Meadow (Mower County) just a little west of you. This is a state record.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 11th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 68 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 47 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 11th: MSP weather records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 88 degrees F in 1900; lowest daily maximum temperature of 40 degrees F in 1914 and 1966; lowest daily minimum temperature of 27 F in 1946; highest daily minimum temperature of 64 F in 1881, 1915 and 1922; record precipitation of 1.55 inches in 1935 (2.10 inches in the Pioneer records of 1882); and 2.8 inches of snowfall was recorded on this date in 1946.

Average dew point for May 11th is 40 degrees F, with a maximum of 66 degrees F in 1922 and a minimum of 14 degrees F in 1946.

All-time state records for May 11th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 104 degrees F at Blue Earth (Faribault County) in 2011. The state record low temperature for this date is 11 degrees F at Fosston (Polk County) in 1946; state record precipitation for this date is 4.60 inches at Crookston (Polk County) in 1922; and state record snowfall for this date is 3.0 inches at Isle (Mille Lacs County County) in 1966 and at Tower (St Louis County) in 2008.

Past Weather Features:

The coldest May 11th in state history was in 1946 when 30 climate stations reported a morning low temperature in the teens. The high temperature at Warroad never rose above 32 degrees F that day.

A rare May snow storm slowed the pace of corn planting on May 11, 1966. Many parts of southern and central Minnesota reported 1 to 3 inches of snow. Fortunately it was very short-lived, and corn planting resumed in two days.

On a statewide basis, May 11, 1987 was the warmest in state history with over 30 climate stations reporting afternoon highs of 90 degrees F or higher. Afternoon relative humidity values ranged from the teens into the 20s F making for a high risk fire danger as well.


Generally cloudy and cooler than normal with a chance for showers in the south on Saturday. Partly cloudy and warmer on Sunday, with a return of above normal temperatures. Sunny and warmer yet on Monday, then a chance for showers later on Tuesday. Then generally dry much of the rest of next week.

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