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 FLWeatherFreak91:
I think he is demonstrating humorous sarcasm. Lol. Are you drinking largo?
lol..its one habit i didnt seem to pick up in my lifetime..if i drank..oh 3 six packs in my entire lifetime thats alot...probably not even that much..somehow i never picked up liking the taste whatever...wish i did that with cigs too..didnt lol.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Sorry...........I woke up in a "Led Zeppelin" mood.........Black Dog
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5863
Quoting VR46L:



LMAO


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. :-)
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 54 Comments: 5932
Quoting LargoFl:
lol he has the flu and probably has a high fever and is having delusions..we understand lol
I think he is demonstrating humorous sarcasm. Lol. Are you drinking largo?
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looks like we dont get back to normal til sat afternoon...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
... Cough cough sigh...
lol he has the flu and probably has a high fever and is having delusions..we understand lol
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Largo............Just a bit of info.......The "No Float" mulch actually "Does Float"
lol i just bought 3 bags of it saturday grrrrr lol
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Quoting LargoFl:
jedkins you serious?
... Cough cough sigh...
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wow check out friday..............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Quoting LargoFl:
..gee its POURING rain here now,no wind to speak of, just rain coming straight down, i have a river flowing down my street lol.
Largo............Just a bit of info.......The "No Float" mulch actually "Does Float"
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5863
504. VR46L
Quoting Jedkins01:
Watch out guys, it looks like hurricane May 1st is forming an eye wall with hot towers, its trying to go for major status before it plows into Ft. Myers....



LMAO
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6898
See everyone tomorrow...........

493. TropicalAnalystwx13 5:37 PM EDT on May 01, 2013

According to this map, I may need to move to Brownsville, TX or Maine this Summer........ :)
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Quoting PedleyCA:


Covered that for you....
Dammit Jim
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Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Distant rumbing over the ocean...Seems to have calmed down a bit
..gee its POURING rain here now,no wind to speak of, just rain coming straight down, i have a river flowing down my street lol.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Quoting PedleyCA:
Nice temps up there Keeper, I got 82 presently.




forecasts for tomorrow now say we may reach near 75 with a little humidex to boot in the ottata vally region its even warmer than us now and there to our east

Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier Int'l Airport
Date: 4:00 PM EDT Wednesday 1 May 2013
Condition:Mainly Sunny
Pressure:30.4 inches
Tendency:falling
Visibility:15 miles
Temperature:76.1°F
Dewpoint:45.3°F
Humidity:33%
Wind:SSW 12 mph
Humidex: 76
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Quoting Jedkins01:


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


Covered that for you....
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5809
Quoting Jedkins01:
Watch out guys, it looks like hurricane May 1st is forming an eye wall with hot towers, its trying to go for major status before it plows into Ft. Myers....
jedkins you serious?
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Distant rumbing over the ocean...Seems to have calmed down a bit
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 5863
wow Local met on the weather said we got hit with the first low today..tomorrow we get hit with the 2nd low in the gulf tomorrow..and...we get hit fri-sat..with the THIRD low..thats now in miss/ala...geez.............he also said pinellas county..where i live is 5 inches below normal so far thats why we are in the red...now maybe with all this rain that ranking will lessen i hope.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Quoting MississippiWx:
This is a really neat animation from the MCS/MCV that developed over the Gulf last night and moved into FL this morning and afternoon. It shows the lightning flashes caught on visible and the hi-res IR image of the complex. Very neat.

Scott Bachmeier ‏@CIMSS_Satellite 12m

Gulf of Mexico MCS: VIIRS IR & Day/Night Band show cloud-top gravity waves, bright lightning-illuminated cloud tops:
Link


I meant to plus your comment and accidentally hit minus :(
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Hope the spirits won't be dammpened for Sunfest.......Woot Woot, Ala Julie Roberts
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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.

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492. VR46L
Quoting MississippiWx:
This is a really neat animation from the MCS/MCV that developed over the Gulf last night and moved into FL this morning and afternoon. It shows the lightning flashes caught on visible and the hi-res IR image of the complex. Very neat.

Scott Bachmeier ‏@CIMSS_Satellite 12m

Gulf of Mexico MCS: VIIRS IR & Day/Night Band show cloud-top gravity waves, bright lightning-illuminated cloud tops:
Link


Very Cool Link !!
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6898
Nice temps up there Keeper, I got 82 presently.
Member Since: February 29, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 5809
Watch out guys, it looks like hurricane May 1st is forming an eye wall with hot towers, its trying to go for major status before it plows into Ft. Myers....
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7440
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
This is a really neat animation from the MCS/MCV that developed over the Gulf last night and moved into FL this morning and afternoon. It shows the lightning flashes caught on visible and the hi-res IR image of the complex. Very neat.

Scott Bachmeier ‏@CIMSS_Satellite 12m

Gulf of Mexico MCS: VIIRS IR & Day/Night Band show cloud-top gravity waves, bright lightning-illuminated cloud tops:
Link
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 17 Comments: 10247
Quoting Jedkins01:



I don't know why they still have Pinellas in the same color while Hillsborough improved significantly when much of Pinellas officially recorded the same amount as much of Hillsborough: 1 to 3 inches. I know my house which is between Largo and Clearwater back home recorded 1.24. Another inch today to add to that.


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.
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Quoting dabirds:


Hope you're right. StL 10 day had 4 days w/ t-storms, 4 days of rain, 2 sun. We need the opposite and about a tenth of those totals at most.

Hit 83, little less on dew point (52) & winds still S to SE 5-10 w/ 20 gusts.



Well I could be wrong obviously, its just a pattern I've observed with QPF maps.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7440


Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport
Date: 5:00 PM EDT Wednesday
1 May 2013
Condition:Sunny
Pressure:30.3 inches
Tendency:falling
Visibility:15 miles
Temperature:71.9°F
Dewpoint:54.5°F
Humidity:56%
Wind:SSE 8 mph
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Well we know the rainfall is tropical like again when the radar estimate over Tampa international airport says they've had a "trace" of rain but Tampa international has reported more than a half inch in reality, LOL.
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SevereStudios‏@severestudios11 min
Golfball size hail falling in Kiowa County, OK near Roosevelt
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Quoting seminolesfan:
I do understand what you are getting at... No profound statements to make on that point. :)

The lack of surface heating absolutely played a role.
Keep in mind though; There is a reason the climatological rainy season starts when it does for Central FL(including Tampa). The band of westerlies HAS to move N of the area to allow the meso-thermodynamics of seabreeze collision to occur on a regular basis. Our rainy season is much more about balancing smaller scale features to force convection than large level forcings. Ya know what I mean?


Yeah I know what you mean and what you say is true, my point though was that its weird how there has been frequently some outcome in the sounding preventing precip potential repeatedly despite different patterns. However, I'm really referring to past events which started out looking promising but ended in rainfall completely dissipating. Today though was expected given the lack of surface heating. Still a decent day of showers and thunderstorms and beneficial rain. The region is really far from the actual low center so forcing from the upper low is limited so convection is driven mainly by heating.


Keep in mind though, yes its the dry season but a drought is still a drought. Technically, 2 to 3 inches of rain per month which is generally the dry season average for much of Florida is not that dry of an average for many other places. Yes Florida is a different climate with different soil so it needs more rain than maybe other places that do just fine and green with those averages. However, my point is that its not that plenty of potent squall lines and heavy rain haven't nailed the area in the past during the drier season, they just aren't quite as common.

It is definitely true though that the westerlies need to leave before we enter the true rainy season. This isn't the rainy season quite yet because we are still being heavily influenced by mid latitude systems, and as I said we can still get and do get heavy rain events outside of the rain season.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7440
Not a good start for the first night of Sunfest here in West Palm beach..
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Quoting Jedkins01:


and I doubt widespread 3 to 4 inches will be falling in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.


Hope you're right. StL 10 day had 4 days w/ t-storms, 4 days of rain, 2 sun. We need the opposite and about a tenth of those totals at most.

Hit 83, little less on dew point (52) & winds still S to SE 5-10 w/ 20 gusts.
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Quoting VR46L:
Quite surprisingly Dry air is building as the second blob expands ....


Gulf Of Mexico vap_images/goes






Tis the continental air meeting the very moist and unstable air in the gulf! Can be considered a frontal boundary there.
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Quoting Jedkins01:


it looks like there is a flow of mud coming from the street across the driveway and partially engulfing the cars in the driveway. Sinkholes will cause homes to collapse in holes but won't partially collpase them and then fill them with flood water and mud.

That's the nature of vort lobes rotating around the circulation of upper lows. One begins to lose its punch, the next stronger.


Well, looking at the trench, I guess I'll have to reclassify it as an "Erosion Hole". ;)

Added: There must be something serious happening under that home as I see no exit for the water!!!
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Mississippi is gonna be crankin'...
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For all those who confide in the new streaming Lauderdale webcams: Another big cruiser is going to leave the harbour during heavy weather (cam 1, outdoor audio with thunder is on):
http://portevergladeswebcam.com/
Member Since: October 25, 2008 Posts: 54 Comments: 5932


Loop
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Re: #453 -- too funny! Look at the tiny "dry slot" and hole in the Low over Cape Coral and Pine Island.... No worries; even WE received rain today --- Woo-hoo!!!!!
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Quoting LargoFl:
so far no wind to speak of but..alot of booming going on and steady rain here jedkins..so far its the GOOD rain..the soaking in kind..which we need alot of.


Yeah for sure. I'll be returning back to my Pinellas home from FSU on Friday, it will be nice to return back to improving conditions since my last visit on Spring Break in March when it was horribly dry.
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Quoting Jedkins01:


Its not why they fall apart with the given circumstances that is strange, its why the given circumstances keep occurring repeatedly that is weird. I hope you understand what I'm getting at by saying so?

Actually though, the sounding being that way makes sense today given some of what happened. There was thick cloud cover from early on in the day so its likely warm air advection ended up being slightly stronger above the surface due to a lack of surface heating which probably led to that sounding being the way it is.
I do understand what you are getting at... No profound statements to make on that point. :)

The lack of surface heating absolutely played a role.
Keep in mind though; There is a reason the climatological rainy season starts when it does for Central FL(including Tampa). The band of westerlies HAS to move far enough N of the area to allow the meso-thermodynamics of seabreeze collision to occur on a regular basis. Our rainy season is much more about balancing smaller scale features to force convection than large level forcings. Ya know what I mean?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
471. VR46L
Quite surprisingly Dry air is building as the second blob expands ....


Gulf Of Mexico vap_images/goes




Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6898
Quoting LargoFl:
yeah my birdbath outside is now half full, guess we got an inch or so..maybe more...


Observations around Pinellas indicate anywhere from a half inch to over an inch depending on location so far. However the rain isn't done yet.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7440
From yesterday's San Juan Discussion : BEST MOISTURE CONVERGENCE AND AXIS OF HEAVIEST RAINFALL ARE STILL FCST
OVER THE LEEWARD ISLANDS WHERE SIGNIFICANT MULTI-DAY TOTALS ARE
LIKELY.


One or maybe two quick passing showers.... I really don't see more happening in my area.



And I don't like it.
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Quoting ChillinInTheKeys:


I think I'd classify that as a sinkhole.



it looks like there is a flow of mud coming from the street across the driveway and partially engulfing the cars in the driveway. Sinkholes will cause homes to collapse in holes but won't partially collpase them and then fill them with flood water and mud.
Quoting VR46L:
Has anyone noticed How the secondary blob has expanded really quickly



That's the nature of vort lobes rotating around the circulation of upper lows. One begins to lose its punch, the next stronger.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7440
Quoting Jedkins01:


Well a lot of Pinellas did get heavy rain yesterday and is getting decent rains today. More than likely it may be that Pinellas was just worse off to start than Hillsborough.
yeah my birdbath outside is now half full, guess we got an inch or so..maybe more...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38474
Quoting LargoFl:
I am with you on that jedkins, my next door neighbor has his rain gauge and here by me he said it came out to be just a touch over 2 inches...i guess its WHERE the rain gauges are located huh..a sprinkle on my side of the street and pouring on the other side.


Well a lot of Pinellas did get heavy rain yesterday and is getting decent rains today. More than likely it may be that Pinellas was just worse off to start than Hillsborough.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7440

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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.