Rare May snowstorm bringing heavy snows from Colorado to Wisconsin

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:42 PM GMT on May 01, 2013

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"Not the typical May forecast." That's the lead-in for today's National Weather Service forecast discussion for Minneapolis, where Winter Storm Achilles is expected to bring 6 - 9" of snow by Thursday morning. Snowfall rates as high as 1 - 3" per hour may occur in snow bands in East Central Minnesota this afternoon, and an 8 - 10" swath of snowfall is expected from South Central Minnesota into East Central Minnesota and West Central Wisconsin. With ratios of snow to liquid water an exceptional 5:1 or even 4:1 (normal is 10:1), the wet, heavy snow will be capable of downing power lines and tree limbs. However, the ground is warm, and accumulation on roads will be less of a problem than for the usual storm of this magnitude. The storm has already brought 7.3" of snow to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and 12 - 14" to locations 10 - 15 miles to the WNW of Cheyenne. Cheyenne's greatest May snowstorm on record was 18.3" on May 5 - 6, 1978. Denver, Colorado is expected to get 3 - 6" of snow from the storm; Boulder, Colorado has already received 8" of snow, Fort Collings got up to 9", and up to 28" has fallen in the Northern Rocky Mountains of Colorado.


Figure 1. Snow plasters trees in Fort Collins, Colorado, on May 1, 2013. Up to 9" of snow has fallen on Fort Collins from the storm. Image credit: wunderphotographer pkkeya.

A historic May snowstorm for some locations
According to the Minnesota Climatology Working Group, the greatest May snowstorm in Minneapolis is 3" on May 20, 1892, so today's winter storm has the potential to be the greatest May snowstorm in city history.

The 1.5" of snow that fell on Sioux Falls, South Dakota this morning was that city's first May snowfall since 1976, the first May snowfall of greater than one inch since 1944, and the 3rd highest May snowfall on record.

On Thursday, after the cold front from Achilles passes through Topeka, Kansas, up to one inch of snow is forecast to fall. May 3, 1907 was the only measurable snowfall at Topeka on record (3.2") during the month of May!


Figure 2. Snow on a Deserted Street in Dawson, Minnesota in Lac Qui Parle County on May 20, 1892. The storm brought Minneapolis its greatest snowfall on record, 3.0". Image courtesy the Minnesota Historical Society.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting bigwes6844:
hey ya at home im back for another active season. im ready to do this


Hi Wes. Welcome back! Don't know if I'm ready or not but the season is approaching anyway. :)
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


I'm so happy for y'all! :)
hey ya at home im back for another active season. im ready to do this
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Quoting AtHomeInTX:


I'm so happy for y'all! :)
hey ya at home im back for another active year
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Quoting SouthCentralTx:
Finally after seeing the past few rounds of storms go around me this past week i'm gonna get a direct hit with some nice rain at 1 am :)






BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
1252 AM CDT THU MAY 2 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN AUSTIN SAN ANTONIO HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
NORTH CENTRAL BEXAR COUNTY...
SOUTHEASTERN BLANCO COUNTY...
COMAL COUNTY...
WESTERN HAYS COUNTY...
SOUTHEASTERN KENDALL COUNTY...

* UNTIL 145 AM CDT.

* AT 1249 AM CDT...NWS METEOROLOGISTS HAVE DETECTED A LINE OF SEVERE
THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60
MPH. THESE STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM
PEDERNALES FALLS STATE PARK TO 7 MILES NORTHWEST OF KENDALIA TO
BERGHEIM...OR ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM 12 MILES SOUTH OF ROUND
MOUNTAIN TO 10 MILES WEST OF BLANCO TO 9 MILES EAST OF BOERNE...AND
MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH.

* SOME LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE GUADALUPE RIVER STATE PARK...
TIMBERWOOD PARK...BULVERDE...HENLY...TWIN SISTERS...PAYTON...SPRING
BRANCH...DRIPPING SPRINGS...FISCHER...CANYON LAKE DAM...
WOODCREEK...WIMBERLEY AND DRIFTWOOD.

VERY HEAVY RAINS OF UP TO ONE INCH CAN ALSO BE EXPECTED.



I'm so happy for y'all! :)
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Finally after seeing the past few rounds of storms go around me this past week i'm gonna get a direct hit with some nice rain at 1 am :)






BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO TX
1252 AM CDT THU MAY 2 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN AUSTIN SAN ANTONIO HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
NORTH CENTRAL BEXAR COUNTY...
SOUTHEASTERN BLANCO COUNTY...
COMAL COUNTY...
WESTERN HAYS COUNTY...
SOUTHEASTERN KENDALL COUNTY...

* UNTIL 145 AM CDT.

* AT 1249 AM CDT...NWS METEOROLOGISTS HAVE DETECTED A LINE OF SEVERE
THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING DAMAGING WINDS IN EXCESS OF 60
MPH. THESE STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM
PEDERNALES FALLS STATE PARK TO 7 MILES NORTHWEST OF KENDALIA TO
BERGHEIM...OR ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM 12 MILES SOUTH OF ROUND
MOUNTAIN TO 10 MILES WEST OF BLANCO TO 9 MILES EAST OF BOERNE...AND
MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH.

* SOME LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE GUADALUPE RIVER STATE PARK...
TIMBERWOOD PARK...BULVERDE...HENLY...TWIN SISTERS...PAYTON...SPRING
BRANCH...DRIPPING SPRINGS...FISCHER...CANYON LAKE DAM...
WOODCREEK...WIMBERLEY AND DRIFTWOOD.

VERY HEAVY RAINS OF UP TO ONE INCH CAN ALSO BE EXPECTED.

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drove home through 3" flooded roads and it's only raining harder.  can't wait to see the maps tomorrow morning.
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WOW!
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Quoting bjwilson:
Getting absolutely drenched here on Dauphin Island, AL. %uFFFDWould be interesting to see the rainfall totals in the morning...

thats a nasty cell!
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These sea surface temps are getting warm early already!
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Getting absolutely drenched here on Dauphin Island, AL.  Would be interesting to see the rainfall totals in the morning...
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Wow, that is less than half the native resolution. Friggin NOMADS.

Do other centers do this as well? Or is this just an NCEP/NOMADS thing


GODAE also distributes NAVGEM data at a scaled up 0.5° grid, which is almost twice as coarse as the native ~40km grid.

CMC makes all of its GEM data available at the native 25km resolution, which is great.

ECMWF also can distribute its data at native resolution but at a ridiculous price.
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754. Skyepony (Mod)
cloudsat of the blob coming off Africa.




ITCZ has come up alot this week on the surface map. Getting close to seeing it all the way across.
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Quoting allancalderini:
2004 was a really bad year for Florida.the states really suffer that year and the next one was worse.If this year takes a pattern as 2004 I would probably not see tc activity.


On the other hand, if it takes one similar to 2005, you'll have your share of action. Remember Wilma, Beta, and Gamma?
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2004 was a really bad year for Florida.the states really suffer that year and the next one was worse.If this year takes a pattern as 2004 I would probably not see tc activity.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Happy birthday, bro. Have a good one.
Thanks Kori!
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Quoting FIUStormChaser:


Certianly looks healthy out in the Gulf.

Did anyone else notice a surface feature asscoiated with the first complex of convection come ashore near Ft.Myers earlier this evening?



I mentioned it earlier :)

It was a neat little meso low.

There appears to be some vorticity still left over northwest of lake Okeechobee that appears to have stalled inland, expect major rainfall tomorrow with a greater chance of heating combine with vorticity and additional cooling aloft and forcing from the upper low. Strengthening east steering flow at the surface means the strongest thunderstorms may end up on the west side of the state tomorrow providing there is heating and instability.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7566
Quoting TomTaylor:
Wow, that is less than half the native resolution. Friggin NOMADS.

Do other centers do this as well? Or is this just an NCEP/NOMADS thing


Happy birthday, bro. Have a good one.
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Quoting Levi32:


You're looking at 0.5° (2.5° extended range) for everything published on the web that I know of except for some of the special products Dr. Maue and I offer. The native grid is ~0.2° (0.625° extended range).

It's important to realize that the GFS is integrated on the T574 grid for all variables. The maps we all look at are interpolated from their original T574 grid to a 0.5° lat-lon grid. I wish NOMADS would just publish all of the data in its native format alongside the standard lat-lon grids.
Wow, that is less than half the native resolution. Friggin NOMADS.

Do other centers do this as well? Or is this just an NCEP/NOMADS thing
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I'm not in the business of trying to predict the mean storm tracks for a given hurricane season, especially this far in advance, but if I had to choose between 2004 and 2005 as analog years, I would go with the former. Then again, the 30-day 500 mb height anomaly has favored a strong ridge over the western Atlantic and a trough over the central plains and upper midwest, which would favor a year closer to 2005 and 2008 where Louisiana to the Florida panhandle takes the brunt of things.

Of course, those who are saying that the east coast is at considerable risk are correct as well. I consider 1996 to be a decent analog.

But again, after the immense failure on my part to successfully delineate specific threat areas to the United States over the last few years (how many times have I said "this is the year"? :P), I'm not particularly confident that 2013 will follow the trend of any particular year.

If things persist this way though, either the Gulf Coast or the East Coast is in for one hell of a ride, but based on the upper air pattern and my select analogs, likely an amalgamation of both.
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Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15938
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After Sandy, the once in 1000 year storm, it makes one take pause as to what is to come this year. Florida has to be under the gun.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54347
Colorado State Universtiy estimates an active 2013 season with nine hurricanes and 18 named storms

Meteorologists Philip Klotzbach and William Gray in Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science anticipate that the 2013 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have enhanced activity compared with the 1981-2010 climatology.

“We anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” they explain in their 10 April 2013 extended range forecast.


“Coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them, and they need to prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much or how little activity is predicted.”

Klotzbach and Gray estimate that 2013 will have about nine hurricanes (median is 6.5), 18 named storms (median is 12), 95 named storm days (median is 60.1), 40 hurricane days (median is 21.3), four major (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes (median is 2.0) and nine major hurricane days (median is 3.9).

The probability of US major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 140% of the long-period average.

They predict Atlantic basin net tropical cyclone (NTC) activity in 2013 to be approximately 175% of the long-term average.

The forecast is based on a new extended-range early April statistical prediction scheme that was developed using 29 years of past data. Analogue predictors are also utilised.

“We anticipate an above-average Atlantic basin hurricane season due to the combination of an anomalously warm tropical Atlantic and a relatively low likelihood of El Niño,” concluded Klotzbach and Gray.
Looks like we could see a very busy year once again. predicting el nino may not be a factor
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54347
What's with all this strong convection associated with the ULL in the deep central Gulf that will swing back to the NE tomorrow?
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Got about five inches on the ground here on the west side of Colorado Springs. If the ground wasn't so warm, I'm sure we'd have double that. It's been snowing hard since 10AM.
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,
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But we'll see plenty of time hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Raining here again in dade.

Link
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I'm gone. Hopefully will get a chance to look in a bit more over the next few days.
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Quoting Levi32:


Well if you mean this, these are not Euro ensembles. This is the average of the ECMWF, UKMET, CFS, and French models. I don't know of a way with the available products online to gauge what the spread in the ECMWF seasonal ensemble members is.



Thats correct levi. Just think the european op for april is wrong.
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The 00z TAFB Surface Analysis has a low dropping to the SE in the GOM.

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730. MTWX
Quoting stormchaser19:
\

Like this??



Ivan was the first hurricane I got to experience firsthand.
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Quoting hurricane23:
Whoa... look at the %ages over the Philippines....
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Quoting hurricane23:


na.. the MDR is going to be really active with a few Cape Verdes traveling into the Carib and just north of the Greater Antilles into the Bahamas threatening Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. continue to think the european is out to lunch some of its ensembles forecasting below normal pressures in western atl.


Well if you mean this, these are not Euro ensembles. This is the average of the ECMWF, UKMET, CFS, and French models. I don't know of a way with the available products online to gauge what the spread in the ECMWF seasonal ensemble members is.

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Quoting stormchaser19:
\

Like this??



Again this is my take but thats correct. That is one of the analogs being used by csu.
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Quoting hurricane23:


na.. the MDR is going to be really active with a few Cape Verdes traveling into the Carib and just north of the Greater Antilles into the Bahamas threatening Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. continue to think the european is out to lunch some of its ensembles forecasting below normal pressures in western atl.
\

Like this??

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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


You think vertical instability being below average at MDR wont be a big factor to be the opposite from that?


na.. the MDR is going to be really active with a few Cape Verdes traveling into the Carib and just north of the Greater Antilles into the Bahamas threatening Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. continue to think the european is out to lunch some of its ensembles forecasting below normal pressures in western atl.
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Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54347
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 173 Comments: 54347
Quoting 1900hurricane:
Trouble.



Not a bow echo or derecho but looks like one.
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Quoting hurricane23:
very active capeverde season expected from this end.
I would not be at all surprised by this.

Is anybody tracking ITCZ location thus far? I notice we haven't seen that early rise to the N as observed last year. It's a lot easier to get storms into the Car / SE CONUS if the ITCZ is relatively further south.
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Quoting hurricane23:
very active capeverde season expected from this end.


You think vertical instability being below average at MDR wont be a big factor to be the opposite from that?
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very active capeverde season expected from this end.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Don't assume. :P

The Bahamas may very well be hit by multiple hurricanes this season...they may not. I debated making them purple for a very high chance of at least one hurricane hit there.
There's a reason we've been considered the "hurricane capital of the ATL".... since this most recent active period began, I think we may have had two or at most three seasons without either a strike or a brush. Any active Caribbean season almost always includes a strike for the Bahamas, either along the SE islands earlier in the season or to the NE later in the season.

I guess I live in the purple zone... lol...
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500mb pattern continues to stress entire southeast at high risk in particular florida. classic US mega years such as 1996, 2004, and 2005.

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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