A monthly electronic newsletter summarizing Minnesota's climate conditions and the resulting impact on water resources. Distributed on the first Thursday of the month.
State Climatology Office - DNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources, St. Paul
distributed: June 6, 2013
What happened in May 2013:
- May precipitation totals were well above historical averages in many Minnesota counties, especially in southeast Minnesota. For many southeast Minnesota communities, monthly precipitation totals topped the long-term average by more than four inches, and in some cases, by more than eight inches. Many of these communities easily set new all-time high records for May precipitation. By contrast, a few areas of southwest Minnesota and north central Minnesota reported somewhat below-average precipitation totals.
- The persistently cloudy, cool, and wet weather during May hampered many outdoor activities. Field working conditions for agriculture were often poor, leading to planting delays that may impact crop yield potential later in the season. The most notable weather event of the month was a historic May snowstorm that deposited over one foot of snow on portions of southeast and south central Minnesota on May 1 through May 3. A 24-hour snowfall measurement of 15.4 inches at Dodge Center on the morning of May 2 was the largest one-day May snow total ever recorded in Minnesota. In nearby Ellendale, the storm total of 17.3 inches became the state record for the largest May snowfall recorded in a three-day period.
- May average monthly temperatures in Minnesota were one to three degrees below the historical average. It was Minnesota's fourth consecutive month of below-average monthly temperatures. Extremes for the month ranged from a high of 103 degrees on the 14th at Sherburn (Martin County) and Winnebago (Faribault County), to a low of 15 degrees at Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County) on the 12th. The difference between the highest temperature of the month and the lowest temperature of the month was an astounding 88 degrees. Numerous high temperature records were set during a brief heat wave on May 14. A number of low temperature records were set in the first few days of May, especially during the southeast Minnesota snow days.
Where we stand now:
- Year-to-date and season-to-date precipitation totals top historical averages in many Minnesota counties. A pocket of relative dryness remains entrenched in southwest Minnesota. Elsewhere however, spring precipitation totals were ample to excessive. For example, April-plus-May precipitation totals in some southeast Minnesota counties were in excess of 16 inches, topping the historical average by 10 or more inches. For much of southeast Minnesota, precipitation totals for the meteorological spring (March through May) approached, or broke, all-time highs for the season.
- The U. S. Drought Monitor, released on June 6, places a small portion southwest Minnesota in the Severe Drought category. Only three percent of Minnesota's landscape is now in Severe Drought, a substantial improvement over early April when 67 percent of Minnesota was experiencing Extreme or Severe drought. The U. S. Drought Monitor index is a blend of science and subjectivity where drought categories (Moderate, Severe, etc) are based on several indicators.
- The U.S. Geological Survey and the Minnesota DNR report that stream discharge values are well above historical medians at nearly all gauging locations.
- Water levels on Minnesota lakes are responding upward to spring's heavy precipitation after being very low in late 2012. Lake Superior's water level is nine inches higher than its level in early May and four inches higher than last year at this time.
- In their June 3 report, the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service reported that topsoil moisture was 0% Very Short, 2% Short, 63% Adequate, and 35% Surplus across Minnesota. Subsoil moisture was said to be 11% Very Short or Short. Soil moisture measurements made at University of Minnesota Research and Outreach Centers indicated adequate to surplus conditions in southern Minnesota.
- Lakes in the northern Minnesota were finally ice free by the third week in May. Lake ice out dates were generally ten days later than the historical median across southern Minnesota and up to three weeks later than the historical median in northern Minnesota. For some central Minnesota lakes, lake ice out dates in 2013 were the latest in the historical record. Many larger northern Minnesota lakes were ice covered for the iconic fishing opener on May 11.
- The potential for wildfires is currently rated by DNR Forestry as Low throughout Minnesota.
- The June precipitation outlook indicates equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions throughout Minnesota. June is historically the wettest month of the year with precipitation normals ranging from three and one half inches in western Minnesota, to over four and one half inches in many central and eastern Minnesota counties. The historical probability of measurable precipitation for any given day in June ranges from 33 percent in the northwest to near 40 percent in eastern Minnesota.
- The June temperature outlook projects equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions across Minnesota. Normal June high temperatures are in the low to mid 70s early in the month, rising to around 80 by month's end. Normal June low temperatures are in the low 50s to start the month, and rise to around 60 as the month ends.
- The 90-day precipitation outlook for June through August offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions everywhere in Minnesota. The June through August temperature projection also projects equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions.
- The National Weather Service produces long-range probabilistic river stage and discharge outlooks for the Red River, Minnesota River, and Mississippi River basins. These products address both high flow and low flow probabilities.
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Greg Spoden, DNR Climatologist