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Spring and Planting Season Arrives

Spring and Planting Season Arrives:

After a top 20 wet and cool April across Minnesota, the first week of May is trending warmer and drier than normal, providing a huge opportunity for farmers to catch up on their planting, with many of them working 16 to 20 hour days. What little precipitation has occurred this month has been primarily in the non-agricultural areas of far northern Minnesota (Note Ely had over an inch of snow on May 1st).

After gale winds to start the month, winds have calmed, skies have cleared and temperatures have climbed to above seasonal normals. Wednesday brought widespread temperatures in the 60s and 79s F statewide, with the higher readings in the Red River Valley. Red Flag warning were also issued for most of Minnesota with near-record low (single digits to teens) relative humidity readings and high fire danger. Then on Thursday afternoon temperatures in the 70s F were more widespread with many southern and western Minnesota climate stations reaching 80°F. After some weekend rains, the temperatures are expected to be above normal for much of the next two weeks, promoting rapid flowering and leafing out of many tree and shrub species. Farmers are planting into warm soils now, with many soil temperatures at seeding depth ranging from the low 50s to low 60s F. These conditions will promote rapid germinating and seedling growth. Perhaps the overall planting season won’t be as late as it was last spring.

With spring kicking into full gear this week, we might anticipate the onset of the pollen and mold season. For many citizens this means taking shots or medication to mitigate their allergies:. Here are some ideas for limiting exposure to pollen and molds: (1) staying indoors, especially during the 5 am to 10 am time period when pollen counts tend to be the highest of the day; (2) shower and change clothes soon after being outdoors to avoid prolonged contact; (3) dry your clothes in the clothes dryer rather than hanging them outside where they can accumulate a variety of pollen and mold spores.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin features an interesting article describing an dendrochronology (tree ring) study in the Pacific Northwest that documents temperatures there over the last 1000 years. The study finds that the year 2021 was the hottest of record. Recall that many areas of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia set all-time high temperature records in the summer of 2021 ranging from 104°F to 121°F. It was also a terrible year for wildfires.

For those that suffer from allergies to pollen the BBC features a short video describing the upcoming pollen season, and the time course of various pollens in the air.

According to the Weather Underground the forecast looks to be dry and pleasant Saturday’s 149th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. With light winds it is expected that the track will be very fast.

A recent article in Geophysical Research Letters show that the rapid retreat of Arctic sea ice has opened more ocean for new trans-Arctic shipping routes. However, the projected routes may be too optimistic in terms of savings in shipping costs from shortened trans-Arctic distances because they have not considered the increased sea fog frequency (SFF) in areas of retreating sea ice. Scientists show that delays due to sea fog can be 1–4 days, about 23%–27% along the Northwest Passage and 4%–11% along the Northern Sea Route than previous estimated.

MPR listener question:

Now that the weather pattern seems to have turned the corner into spring, do you think for transplanting plants that have been started indoors it is still too early to move them outside?


For southern and central areas of Minnesota I think it should be safe after this weekend. It seems for frost-sensitive plants, the overnight temperatures will be remaining in the 40s and low 50s F for the remainder of the month. Across the northern third of the state, it would be best to hold off until the end of the 3rd week of the month.  You can find spring frost/freeze probability tables at the DNR State Climatology web site.  You can also find a wealth of other gardening advice at the University of Minnesota Master Gardening web site Yard and Garden.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 5th:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 65 degrees F (plus or minus 11 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 46 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 5th:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 89 degrees F in 2000; lowest daily maximum temperature of 39 degrees F in 1944; lowest daily minimum temperature of 27 degrees F in 1989; highest daily minimum temperature of 67 degrees F in 2000; record precipitation of 1.84 inches in 1991. Record snowfall is 0.3 inches also in 1991.

Average dew point for May 5th is 39°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 68°F in 1959; and the minimum dew point on this date is 8 degrees F in 1929.

All-time state records for May 5th:

The state record high temperature for this date is 97 degrees F at Crookston and Angus (Polk County) in 1926. The state record low temperature for this date is 10 degrees F at Canby (Yellow Medicine County) in 1951. The state record precipitation for this date is 4.38 inches at Two Harbors (Lake County) in 1950. Record snowfall is 4.6 inches at Virginia (St Louis County) in 1931.

Past Weather:

Very cold morning on May 5, 1907 brought frost to most areas of the state. Much of northern Minnesota reported morning low temperatures in the 20s F, with a few spots in Cass and St Louis Counties only in the teens. The high temperature for the day was only 38°F at the Black Duck Ranger Station in Beltrami County.

May 5, 1926 brought instant summer to many parts of Minnesota. Most climate stations reported afternoon high temperatures from 85°F to 95°F. The high temperature reached 97°F at Crookston and Angus, while it only reached 46°F on the shores of Lake Superior at Grand Marais.

Thunderstorms brought 2 to 4 inches of rainfall to many parts of Minnesota on May 5, 1950. Some roads on the Iron Range were flooded and impassable for a time and farmers were delayed a week or two in the planting of crops because of wet fields.


Somewhat cooler temperatures with a chance for rain showers this weekend lasting through early Sunday. Then warmer temperatures for Monday through Thursday of next week. Some chance daily for afternoon thundershowers, as precipitation will be spotty.

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