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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Going out to dinner, guys. It is always better to do it between blobs. Later.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
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Quoting LargoFl:
3 lows hitting us in 3 days..is that some kind of record for florida?


It is reminding me of the old days during the Florida rainy season. These things would last for days. I can remember some June months that it rained almost every day.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
Quoting LargoFl:
local met just said we picked up .66 inches of rain today..i can tell you..by my house..he is dead wrong....
Have had 1.14 inches in bradenton in the last 24 hours, according to my vantage pro 2 out in my yard.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Hi Keeper. Do you have the latest Africa image to see how that convection complex is doing?


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well good Night folks..i hear the night crew coming into the blog lol..take care and stay safe out there.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

That CFS forecast would put the region from the Carolinas to New England at greatest risk for storms north of the Caribbean or off the East coast. Reminds me a lot of the Sandy set up.




Looking back at the CFS forecast, for a storm in the GOM it would favor the storm curving up in to the northern or eastern Gulf. If the storm were in the western Caribbean it may try and curve up into the eastern Gulf or just continue straight into central America. Here's the CFS again.

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Most Americans Blame Global Warming for Extreme Weather
Denise Chow, LiveScience Staff Writer
Date: 01 May 2013 Time: 12:51 PM ET

With that I leave you to an interesting night with blob no 2 in Florida. All the best from calm Germany (weatherwise), Barb.

Edit: And I recommend to have a look at the new blog from weatherhistorian (Christopher C. Burt) on:
What are the Hottest and Coldest Inhabited Places in the World?

"Sweat" - "Shiver" ....
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 54 Comments: 5929
It needs to be summer already..
Member Since: July 18, 2010 Posts: 50 Comments: 1889
I think I saw Levi make a post about how the Indian Ocean may get a tropical cyclone or two over the next two weeks. I wouldn't doubt it given the strength of the upcoming MJO pulse.

Looks like it will travel around the world. If we extrapolate some, it'd reach Octants 8 and 1 sometime after May 20. May have to watch for "Andrea" at the time.



Quoting Gearsts:
Is that showing high pressure everywhere?

Mainly centered over northeastern Canada and Alaska.
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18Z GFS is out now
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While everyone in the southeastern US is getting heavy rains, I'm sitting high and dry. Also, it is pretty warm. The high was in the lower 80s today, not far from the record. Boy, it sure felt nice.
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the 18z GFS is now seeing the low, its now showing it going around the penisula of florida

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 15279
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:



That looks pretty unfavorable for a lot of activity.
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10244
Quoting MississippiWx:
Flooding is becoming a serious issue across SE Mississippi. Radar estimates are now in 8-12 inch range.

I was afraid of that..stay safe up there ok.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
they upped this for the next 3 days.................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
Flooding is becoming a serious issue across SE Mississippi. Radar estimates are now in 8-12 inch range.

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10244
alot of flash flood warnings up along the northern gulf coast,hope no flooding up there.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
Quoting FunnelVortex:


The one today wasnt a surface low,

The one forming will proboly be not either.
ok thanks
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
Quoting LargoFl:
3 lows hitting us in 3 days..is that some kind of record for florida?


The one today wasnt a surface low,

The one forming will proboly be not either.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Quoting Jedkins01:


Just checked observations, Clearwater officially has recorded a bit over an inch and based on radar Largo has probably had about a half inch more than that, so you are right you have gotten a lot more than 0.66, not sure where he/she is getting that reading from.
oh thank you thats more like it..everything is soaked here jedkins
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
Quoting StAugustineFL:


Did it go over your house?


Right over us. Didn't even hit our neighbors.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
3 lows hitting us in 3 days..is that some kind of record for florida?
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

Is that showing high pressure everywhere?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1741
ah and here comes that Low out of Miss/Ala that hits us on friday..
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Quoting Gearsts:
Can you post the CFSv2 pattern forecast for September?

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Quoting LargoFl:
local met just said we picked up .66 inches of rain today..i can tell you..by my house..he is dead wrong....


Just checked observations, Clearwater officially has recorded a bit over an inch and based on radar Largo has probably had about a half inch more than that, so you are right you have gotten a lot more than 0.66, not sure where he/she is getting that reading from.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7434
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This is my hurricane landfall probability map for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season (thanks to a friend for outlining the coastline). Given the long range pattern hinted at by models -- I posted the CFSv2's pattern forecast for September this morning, and Levi has posted some from the UKMET and other models over the past few weeks -- and analogues for this season, I believe the coastline from Charleston, SC to New York, NY, and from Slidell, LA to Panama City, FL are at most risk. Same for the Greater Antilles.

The Bahamas have a very high risk of seeing a hurricane strike, and so do the northern Lesser Antilles. Probably a moderate chance for the southern Lesser Antilles. Moderate for Bermuda, the Cape Verde Islands, and the Azores.

As has been stated, regardless of any probabilities given by myself or others, one should be prepared every season.



I actually don't think this year might be a huge threat to the US East Coast unlike the last three seasons. Given there's some similarities between 2004 and 2007 with this hurricane season as I discussed a few days ago, I personally believe as your graph also indicates that the Caribbean islands, Mexico, and the Gulf Coast are the highest risks this year. To be honest, if I had to pick a US state.. I'd go with Florida or Texas this year.

That being said, these predictions and conditions are utterly meaningless if we don't get a storm at the right time with the right conditions. Remember when Isaac looked like it would clock Florida as a Category 2 hurricane? Didn't happen - instead it hit Louisiana just after becoming a Category 1.
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Quoting Jedkins01:


I meant to plus your comment and accidentally hit minus :(


Gah, what a jerk. :-p
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10244
seems like its just sitting over us huh........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
Not to bad!
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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
The first blob is just hanging in there, and may hang on long enough to restrenghten in the Atlantic.

The second blob is what I am keeping my eye on.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Quoting Grothar:


the blob passed over us a little while ago.


Did it go over your house?
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
did ya get outside and stomp in the puddles sorry i mean tap in the puddles


Hi Keeper. Do you have the latest Africa image to see how that convection complex is doing?
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14243
Quoting Jedkins01:


lol well I wasn't quite THAT sick ;)
LOL im glad.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This is my hurricane landfall probability map for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season (thanks to a friend for outlining the coastline). Given the long range pattern hinted at by models -- I posted the CFSv2's pattern forecast for September this morning, and Levi has posted some from the UKMET and other models over the past few weeks -- and analogues for this season, I believe the coastline from Charleston, SC to New York, NY, and from Slidell, LA to Panama City, FL are at most risk. Same for the Greater Antilles.

The Bahamas have a very high risk of seeing a hurricane strike, and so do the northern Lesser Antilles. Probably a moderate chance for the southern Lesser Antilles. Moderate for Bermuda, the Cape Verde Islands, and the Azores.

As has been stated, regardless of any probabilities given by myself or others, one should be prepared every season.

Can you post the CFSv2 pattern forecast for September?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1741
looks heavy over WPB right now..............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
Quoting LargoFl:
lol he has the flu and probably has a high fever and is having delusions..we understand lol


lol well I wasn't quite THAT sick ;)
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7434
Quoting FLWaterFront:


Seems as if the drought monitor is always a bit behind the times.

I dunno, do they have to perform some intricate ground hydrology measurements before the official data can be recorded, or do they just go by recorded rainfall? My guess is the latter, since the amount of rainfall alone does not necessarily determine drought levels.

That color-coded drought monitor always reminds me of the annual flu season outbreak map. By the time the official flu numbers come in from the CDC, they are already hopelessly out of date in real time. But still, the media will report a "major flu outbreak is underway" even though in fact the local epidemic may have ended weeks earlier. Same with drought reports it seems.



lol yeah its probably cause its a pretty lengthy process to cover in order to update which in a way is a good thing since you know it will be more accurate. I would imagine they do it county by county and its possible Pinellas doesn't have an updated assessment quite yet.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7434
...now that it has passed, does it look like a bolb from the back side?
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
This is my hurricane landfall probability map for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season (thanks to a friend for outlining the coastline). Given the long range pattern hinted at by models -- I posted the CFSv2's pattern forecast for September this morning, and Levi has posted some from the UKMET and other models over the past few weeks -- and analogues for this season, I believe the coastline from Charleston, SC to New York, NY, and from Slidell, LA to Panama City, FL are at most risk. Same for the Greater Antilles.

The Bahamas have a very high risk of seeing a hurricane strike, and so do the northern Lesser Antilles. Probably a moderate chance for the southern Lesser Antilles. Moderate for Bermuda, the Cape Verde Islands, and the Azores.

As has been stated, regardless of any probabilities given by myself or others, one should be prepared every season.



In my view Florida in particular based on pattern past few weeks/ months is at most risk this hurricane season.
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Quoting LargoFl:
local met just said we picked up .66 inches of rain today..i can tell you..by my house..he is dead wrong....


It's probably a rain gauge completely removed from your area...
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7434
Quoting Grothar:


the blob passed over us a little while ago.
did ya get outside and stomp in the puddles sorry i mean tap in the puddles
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Black Dog

Rain Song
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521. VR46L
Quoting barbamz:


Yeah I think our fellow bloggers in Florida might have survived or will survive this blob, even Grothar (thunderstroms have passed Lauderdale now), though narrowly. :-)



I think they have all been through alot worse weather , Stuff that I can only imagine ... as everything loses its bite when it crosses the Atlantic !
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6898
local met just said we picked up .66 inches of rain today..i can tell you..by my house..he is dead wrong....
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38411
The second blob is getting bigger.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
Quoting barbamz:


Yeah I think our fellow bloggers in Florida might have survived or will survive this blob, even Grothar (thunderstroms have passed Lauderdale now), though narrowly. :-)


the blob passed over us a little while ago.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117
water starting to warm up on the east coast!
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Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26117

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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.