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Preliminary Climate Summary for May

Preliminary Climate Summary for May:

Most observers reported an average monthly temperature that was 1°F to 3°F above normal. There were a few northern Minnesota communities that reported slightly cooler than normal average temperature for May. Extremes ranged from 92°F at Granite Falls on the 17th and at Marshall on the 18th to just 22°F at White Rock Dam in Traverse County on May 5th.

May brought above normal rainfall to most areas of the state. In fact many observers reported twice the normal rainfall for the month, and over 190 climate stations reported over 6 inches of rain for the month. A dozen climate stations reported over 8 inches of rain for the month. Thunderstorms brought record-setting daily rainfall amounts over May 21-22 to 54 climate stations during the month. Some of these included:

3.78 inches at Milan on the 21st
2.85 inches at Wolf Ridge ELC on the 22nd
2.73 inches at Red Wing Dam on the 22nd
2.71 inches at Rosemount on the 22nd
2.33 inches at MSP on the 21st
2.26 inches at Artichoke Lake on the 21st

Overall, the state average rainfall for May was well over 5 inches (about 5.37 inches), making this the 7th wettest May in history on a statewide basis. When combined with the wet month of April this year the April-May two month total of nearly 8.9 inches as a statewide average marks the 4th wettest in history back to 1895. As a result of this two-month wet period there4 is only 2 percent of the Minnesota landscape left in Moderate Drought according to the US Drought Monitor.

It continued to be a windy spring season in May with most climate stations reporting wind gusts of 30 mph or greater on a third to a half of all days in May. Some days brought wind gusts as high as 50 mph.

Change in broadcast time on MPR:

For those listeners to Minnesota Public Radio’s Morning Edition program on Fridays, there is going to be a broadcast time change for my weekly chats with host Cathy Wurzer. Formerly our chats were broadcast live each Friday, from 6:54am to 6:59 am. But, starting on Friday, June 7th, our weekly weather/climate chats will be broadcast at 6:47am. I hope listener will adjust to this time change. Should you miss the live broadcast, you can often find the audio recording at the MPR Morning Edition web site.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

There is an excellent article by Dr. Heidi Roop, Executive Director of the Minnesota Climate Adaptation Partnership, in the Star Tribune newspaper dated the 30th of May. She describes the new online tool called MN CliMAT which can be used to assess climate conditions and risk associated with continued climate change in Minnesota. It provides enough detail to examine changing climate characteristics down to a 2.5 mile scale.

The Weather Underground reported on the severe storms in Texas this week that knocked out power to over 1 million residential customers, many living in areas that saw afternoon temperatures reach the 90s F. Overall Texas has endured a warm month of May with some areas see multiple 100°F days, and afternoon highs from 110°F to 115°F in 5 counties.

Speaking of heat, the BBC reported on the Heat Wave this week in India were 37 cities reported record-setting high temperatures ranging from 113°F to 126°F. Medical facilities were burdened with heavy patient loads, most suffering from heat-related symptoms such as dehydration.

MPR listener question:

After this very wet month, we were wondering when was the wettest month of May in Minnesota and what were some of the amounts?


The year 1938 brought the wettest month of May, and it is the only time that the statewide average rainfall exceeded 6 inches (6.03 inches to be exact). Some of the higher and record-setting rainfall amounts that month included over 10 inches at Red Wing and Gull Lake, over 9 inches at Hastings and Red Wing, and over 8 inches at a number of other climate stations. Both 1938 and 1939 brought enough surplus precipitation to help the state start recovering from the terrible droughts of the early and mid 1930s.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 31st:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 74 degrees F (plus or minus 9 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 55 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 31st:

MSP records for this date: highest daily maximum temperature of 106 degrees F in 1934; lowest daily maximum temperature of 55 degrees F in 1962; lowest daily minimum temperature of 33 degrees F in 1889; highest daily minimum temperature of 75 degrees F in 1934, and record precipitation of 2.39 inches in 1965. No snowfall has occurred on this date.

Average dew point for May 31st is 50°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 73°F in 1991; and the minimum dew point on this date is 27 degrees F in 2009.

All-time state records for May 31st:

The state record high temperature for this date is 112 degrees F at Maple Plain (Hennepin County) in 1934. The state record low temperature for this date is 19 degrees F at Pokegama Dam (Itasca County) in 1889. The state record precipitation for this date is 4.92 inches at Maple Plain (Hennepin County) in 1888. The state snowfall record is 4.6 inches at Virginia (St Louis County) in 1946.

Past Weather:

Widespread hard freezes and frosts were reported around the state on the morning of May 31 in 1897. Temperatures in the 20s F were widespread, with readings as low as 23°F in Wabasha County. Emerged crops were damaged and had to be replanted.

Scorching heat prevailed on May 31 of 1934 as 55 counties reported temperatures of 100°F or greater, the all-time hottest day in the month of May. Even the nighttime sleeping temperatures were hot as Redwood Falls, Montevideo and Milan never saw the temperature drop below 80°F overnight.

On May 31, 1946 the Cloquet Forestry Station reported snow flurries with temperatures in the 30s F. Many northeastern Minnesota climate stations reported from 1 to 4 inches of snowfall, with 4.6 inches at Virginia.


Mostly sunny to start the weekend, then increasing cloudiness on Sunday with chances for showers and thunderstorms. Chances for rain continue into early Monday, with warmer temperatures. Mostly dry on Tuesday but increasing clouds later in the day with a chance for showers and thunderstorms. Temperatures will track close to normal next week, with daily changes for showers and thunderstorms through Thursday.

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