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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916. txag91met
4:00 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting RitaEvac:
Since last Saturday for Houston/Galveston


I live on the northside of Houston, and I am still watering my yard...only 1/2" fell.
Member Since: January 30, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 750
915. Jedkins01
3:05 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7834
914. pcola57
1:44 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Good Morning All..
63 degrees with 97%rh and dew at 62..
Winds 4mph from the North..
Cloudy with .19" so far today..
.06 for yesterday..
Not much at all considering Mississippi and Alabama's rains the last 2 days..

Beach looks gloomy again..
The Santa Rosa comissioners yesterday passed an ordinance for recycling bins for the beach..
They are sooo behind the times..

Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6881
912. OrchidGrower
1:38 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Wow ... I had to hit the roads for a bit yesterday evening, and I saw some incredibly black, low clouds here in coastal Lee County. No thunder, just rich, black clouds and one greenish looking patch out towards Pine Island.

This morning the froggies are singin' in the rain here in the Cape!

I know this isn't the start of the true rainy season in the sense that Jedkins pointed out last night - to whit: It's not afternoon thundershowers being driven onto SW FL by the Bermuda High ...but, it sure is freakin' awesome!
Member Since: September 24, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 394
910. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
1:37 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
JeffMasters has created a new entry.
909. WxLogic
1:36 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting stoormfury:
Is the convection that just came off the African coast the 1st tropical wave?


Based on NHC... they don't believe so, but should help bring the ITCZ up in LAT some more.

Member Since: August 14, 2008 Posts: 4 Comments: 5030
908. ChaseyChasinStorms
1:34 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Good morning all!!! Hurricane Season is getting close. I'm excited!!! Can't believe all this late snow in the Dakotas and Colorado!
Member Since: September 9, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 113
907. LargoFl
1:30 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
906. LargoFl
1:29 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting FLWeatherFreak91:
my area in NW Hills. (Keystone-Odessa) got around .3" yesterday
..thats good news..im guessing for my area between 1-2 inches total..everything is soaking wet here now which is good news....pinellas is in the severe drought category,hopefully by sunday we will be out of it.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
905. stoormfury
1:28 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Is the convection that just came off the African coast the 1st tropical wave?
Member Since: August 22, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 2720
904. FLWeatherFreak91
1:24 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting LargoFl:
cant seem to find a rainfall totals for my city..maybe when jedkins comes online he has one..
my area in NW Hills. (Keystone-Odessa) got around .3" yesterday
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3631
903. LargoFl
1:23 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
902. FLWeatherFreak91
1:23 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting LargoFl:
cant seem to find a rainfall totals for my city..maybe when jedkins comes online he has one..
just look at one of the hundreds of PWSs in your county closest to you
Member Since: December 1, 2006 Posts: 2 Comments: 3631
901. LargoFl
1:20 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
cant seem to find a rainfall totals for my city..maybe when jedkins comes online he has one..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
900. LargoFl
1:18 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
899. MrBoujangles
1:15 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting RitaEvac:
Since last Saturday for Houston/Galveston


Look at that beautiful, possible, rain enhancement downwind of the city.
Member Since: May 10, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 20
898. FtMyersgal
1:13 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting LargoFl:
yes we got some great rain up here also, all this is supposed to continue thru saturday..suns breaking thru the clouds here..didnt want to see that happen here..storms might get bad this afternoon and evening..


That's my forcast too Largo. Supposed to be clearing by Sunday. Right now the rains here are gentle rain. Nothing like yesterday and evening. We will see these rains off and on all day today.
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1219
897. LargoFl
1:07 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
896. RitaEvac
1:07 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting SouthernIllinois:

That oughta make ya happy, Rita? No?


Very....but can use more :/
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
895. farupnorth
1:04 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
When this eases some 30-40 knots something may get a chance ;)



Member Since: August 4, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 140
893. LargoFl
1:00 PM GMT on May 02, 2013

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST
FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.

...THUNDERSTORM IMPACT...
SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP TODAY...SOME OF
WHICH COULD BECOME STRONG THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING. THE MAIN
HAZARDS FROM THE STRONGEST STORMS THAT DEVELOP WILL BE DAMAGING
STRAIGHT LINE WINDS...LARGE HAIL...FREQUENT LIGHTNING AND HEAVY
RAINFALL.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
892. RitaEvac
1:00 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Since last Saturday for Houston/Galveston

Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
891. LargoFl
12:59 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting FtMyersgal:
My Tuesday rainfall total was .61", Wednesday 2.72" and it's raining now in Fort Myers.
yes we got some great rain up here also, all this is supposed to continue thru saturday..suns breaking thru the clouds here..didnt want to see that happen here..storms might get bad this afternoon and evening..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
889. RitaEvac
12:58 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Curious as to how much rain fell in Central TX last night, as the NWS clears the radar estimates for whatever reason so fast
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9648
888. CaribBoy
12:58 PM GMT on May 02, 2013


The rain does NOT like us. All of it is east of the N Leewards. As expected, we had two quick showers...

... and the GFS is no longer as aggressive for the next few days.

SUMMARY : this is another bust so far.
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6426
887. LargoFl
12:57 PM GMT on May 02, 2013

THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTHWEST
FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.

...THUNDERSTORM IMPACT...
SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO DEVELOP TODAY...SOME OF
WHICH COULD BECOME STRONG THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING. THE MAIN
HAZARDS FROM THE STRONGEST STORMS THAT DEVELOP WILL BE DAMAGING
STRAIGHT LINE WINDS...LARGE HAIL...FREQUENT LIGHTNING AND HEAVY
RAINFALL.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
886. FtMyersgal
12:57 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
My Tuesday rainfall total was .61", Wednesday 2.72" and it's raining now in Fort Myers.
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1219
885. SFLWeatherman
12:55 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
blob of S fl now not big but good rain coming for S FL now
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4957
884. SFLWeatherman
12:55 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4957
883. LargoFl
12:55 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
...FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM EDT THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH
SATURDAY MORNING...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN JACKSONVILLE HAS ISSUED A

* FLOOD WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF NORTHEAST FLORIDA AND SOUTHEAST
GEORGIA.

* FROM 2 PM EDT THIS AFTERNOON THROUGH SATURDAY MORNING

* HEAVY RAINFALL WILL DEVELOP IN THE WATCH AREA THIS AFTERNOON
CONTINUING THROUGH TONIGHT. RAINFALL TOTALS OF 2 TO 3 INCHES
WILL BE LIKELY...WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS. THIS RAINFALL MAY
CAUSE RIVERS...STREAMS AND CREEKS TO GO OVER THEIR BANKS. POOR
DRAINAGE AREAS WILL ALSO BE SUSCEPTIBLE TO FLOODING.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A FLOOD WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR FLOODING BASED ON
CURRENT FORECASTS.

YOU SHOULD MONITOR LATER FORECASTS AND BE ALERT FOR POSSIBLE
FLOOD WARNINGS. THOSE LIVING IN AREAS PRONE TO FLOODING SHOULD BE
PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION SHOULD FLOODING DEVELOP.

&&

$$
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
882. SFLWeatherman
12:55 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4957
881. weathermanwannabe
12:54 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Good Morning All. Pretty amazing to still see all that moisture around Florida and that the frontal/baroclinic nature of the convection, fueled by the large ULL/Tutt cell, has reached all the way down to Cuba and the Western Caribbean.

Here is the current position of the Tutt cell draped across the central Gulf, where things are quiet, and you can overlay the convective bursts to the leading East edge of the ULL.

Link

If sheer was not as strong as it is right now, development of the blob South of the Yucatan might have been an issue with water temps down there well above 80.
Member Since: August 8, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 9330
880. FunnelVortex
12:53 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting rmbjoe1954:


More favorable conditions? Is there any surface rotation?


Not yet anyways.
Member Since: October 20, 2012 Posts: 7 Comments: 2873
879. Slamguitar
12:52 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Good morning! I wish my whole day would be cloud free, but eventually the storms will roll in this evening. Absolutely beautiful out now though! Already 62F.

Member Since: July 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1183
878. LargoFl
12:52 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
my guess is Flooding is the big story today and tomorrow...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
877. SFLWeatherman
12:51 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4957
876. LargoFl
12:50 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MOBILE HAS ISSUED A

* FLOOD WARNING FOR...
SOUTHERN MOBILE COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST ALABAMA...

* UNTIL 300 PM CDT THURSDAY

* A LONG DURATION OF HEAVY RAINFALL HAS OCCURRED SINCE WEDNESDAY OVER
SOUTHERN MOBILE COUNTY...INCLUDING LOCATIONS NEAR BAYOU LE BATRE AND
DAUPHIN ISLAND...AND HAS CAUSED A GENERAL INUNDATION FLOODING OF LOW
LYING AREAS AS WELL AS A RISE IN SMALLER LOCAL CREEKS. RADAR ESTIMATES
THAT MANY LOCATIONS WITHIN THE WARNING HAVE RECEIVED 6 TO 10 INCHES OF
RAINFALL. THIS WILL CAUSE FLOODING OF LOW LYING AND POOR DRAINAGE AREAS.
SHOULD SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WITH HEAVY RAIN RE-DEVELOP...THE RISK
OF FLASH FLOODING WILL INCREASE. ALL INTERESTED PARTIES SHOULD TAKE
NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS IMMEDIATELY.

* LOCATIONS IMPACTED INCLUDE...
DAUPHIN ISLAND... CODEN...
BELLE FONTAINE... BAYOU LA BATRE...

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

GENERAL INUNDATION FLOODING IS EXPECTED AS SMALLER CREEKS OVERFLOW
WHILE TRYING TO DISCHARGE INTO AREA RIVERS. SLOW STEADY RISES IN
WATER CAN BE EXPECTED ALONG SMALL CREEKS AND RIVERS.

&&
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
875. SFLWeatherman
12:49 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Big rain off W FL now!
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4957
874. SFLWeatherman
12:48 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Member Since: May 23, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 4957
873. LargoFl
12:48 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Mississippi...........
THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR
THE BIG BLACK RIVER AT WEST
* UNTIL LATE SUNDAY NIGHT.
* AT 8:45 PM WEDNESDAY THE STAGE WAS 15.6 FEET AND RISING.
* MINOR FLOODING IS OCCURRING AND MINOR FLOODING IS FORECAST.
* FLOOD STAGE IS 15 FEET.
* FORECAST...THE RIVER WILL CONTINUE RISING TO NEAR 18 FEET BY
EARLY FRIDAY MORNING.
* IMPACT...AT 17 FEET...SEVERAL THOUSAND ACRES OF AGRICULTURAL AND
LOWLAND BECOME INUNDATED.

&&
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
872. LargoFl
12:45 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Mississippi rivers are all flooding, bad news over there for those folks and its still raining.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
871. rmbjoe1954
12:44 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Quoting FunnelVortex:
\

That blob formed behind yesterday's blob and moved south. Into more favorable conditions...


More favorable conditions? Is there any surface rotation?
Member Since: June 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1422
870. VR46L
12:43 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
goes13.vis.Pensacola

Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6950
869. LargoFl
12:43 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
they dont need anymore rain up here,guy said last nite they expected 8-12 inches..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993
868. VR46L
12:42 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
.goes13.vis NOLA




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867. PensacolaDoug
12:42 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Cluster due south of Dauphin Island appears to have a little rotation on radar.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 591
866. LargoFl
12:41 PM GMT on May 02, 2013
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 40993

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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.