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Record Rainfalls on May 17th

Record Rainfalls on May 17th:

A nearly all-day “soaker” rainfall on Sunday, May 17th brought 2 to 4 inches of rainfall to many parts of Minnesota. Portions of Goodhue and Wabasha Counties reported over 4 inches of rain. Many long-term climate stations reported new record high daily values of rainfall for May 17th, including:

2.47” at MSP
2.45” at Red Wing Dam
2.42” at Red Wing City
2.35” at Faribault
2.31” at Theilman
2.25” at Zumbrota
2.23” at Albert Lea
2.14” at Windom
2.09” at Jordan
2.03” at Minnesota City
1.98” at Owatonna
1.88” at Winona Dam
1.55” at Lakefield

Many other climate observers reported even higher amounts of rainfall but lack long-term climate records to compare to. Some areas of northern Minnesota were completely left dry and are starting to show larger rainfall deficits this month. For example, Wright in Carlton County has seen less than a third of an inch so far. Much of north-central Minnesota now shows up on the U.S. Drought Monitor as abnormally dry, for the first time since the spring of 2018. We may yet see enough rain over the rest of this month to alleviate some of these dry areas in the state.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

The same storm system that brought record rainfalls to portions of Minnesota last Sunday, also brought record rainfalls to portions of central Michigan, where observers measured 3 to 5 inches of rain. Swollen rivers in Midland County Michigan caused two dams to burst flooding hundreds of homes there. NBC News reported on the aftermath.

On Wednesday this week (May 20) Cyclone Amphan struck portions of India and Bangladesh with winds up to 115 mph and heavy rains. Over 14 million people were left without power, and more than 80 people were killed. The BBC reported extensively on this.

On Sunday and Monday of this week, Tropical Storm Arhtur (the first named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season) lashed portions of coastal North Carolina with strong winds and heavy rainfall in a glancing blow as it headed out to sea. A few areas along the coast received 3-5 inches of rainfall.

From research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison “In almost every region of the world where hurricanes form, their maximum sustained winds are getting stronger. That is according to a new study involving an analysis of nearly 40 years of hurricane satellite imagery.” This is consistent with climate models of a warming world, though precise details are still lacking. Science Daily reported on this study in recent days.

The Emmy Award winning PBS series “American Experience” featured a documentary titled “Mr Tornado” which describes the life and times of meteorologist Ted Fujita of the University of Chicago. He dedicated his professional life to understanding tornadoes and providing better science on these severe storms. Sean Potter wrote an excellent review of this program for the Weather Underground this week.

MPR listener question:

We received about 3.50 inches of rainfall last Sunday (May 17) in Wacouta, just south of Red Wing. That is the largest rainfall in May that I can remember. What is the local record and state record for a one-day rainfall during May?


The record one-day rainfall for the month of May in the Red Wing area is 3.42 inches which fell on May 30, 1942. The statewide one-day May rainfall record is 7.50 inches at Thief River Falls (Pennington County) on May 29, 1949. Historically both St Francis (Anoka County) and Chatfield (Fillmore County) climate stations have reported over 15 inches of rainfall in the month of May. So, indeed, May can delivery huge amounts of rainfall, rivaling just about any other month on the growing season calendar.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 22nd:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 71 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 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 of 32 degrees F in 1917; highest daily minimum temperature of 74 degrees F in 1921; record precipitation of 1.95 inches in 1911. No snowfall has occurred on this date.

Average dew point for May 22nd is 46°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 73°F in 1991; and the minimum dew point on this date is 19°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. The state record precipitation for this date is 5.84 inches at Collegeville (Stearns County) in 1962. Record snowfall for this date is 2.5 inches at Big Falls (Koochiching County) in 2001.

Past Weather Features:

The coldest statewide May 22nd came in 1924 when climate observers in 19 western and northern counties reported a hard freeze with morning temperatures in the 20s F. Frosts were reported as far south as Pipestone and Marshall. The daytime high temperature at Itasca State Park only reach 43°F

The very next year brought the hottest May 22nd in state history as over 40 climate stations reported afternoon high temperatures of 90 degrees F or greater. Portions of Lyon, Martin, and Brown Counties reached 100 degrees F.

Portions of Lake, Itasca, and Koochiching Counties saw snow on May 22, 2001. In fact Big Falls reported 2.5 inches, their largest May snowfall in history/


Warmer than normal temperatures throughout the Memorial weekend, but with daily chances for showers and thunderstorms. Drier on Tuesday. Then cooler temperatures next week with a chance for showers Wednesday and Thursday. A warming trend will start for the end of next week.

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