HydroClim Minnesota for Early May 2015

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: May 7, 2015

What happened in April 2015:

  • April monthly precipitation totals were below historical averages across most of Minnesota, continuing a predominantly dry pattern that originated during the mid-summer of 2014. In many communities, April precipitation totals fell short of average by one-half inch to one and one-half inches. For a few south central and southeast Minnesota counties, April precipitation totals topped five inches, exceeding the long-term average by an inch or more.
  • Average monthly temperatures for April were near, to somewhat above, historical averages for Minnesota. Extremes for April ranged from a high of 85 degrees F at Lamberton and Redwood Falls on the 1st, to a low of 2 degrees F at Camp Norris (Lake of the Woods County) on the 5th. Record high maximum temperatures were reported at many locations on the 1st.

Where we stand now:

  • The U. S. Drought Monitor indicates that Severe Drought conditions exist in northwest and north central Minnesota. Moderate Drought conditions exist over most of the remainder of the state. A few southeast Minnesota counties are free of drought designation. Drought conditions are the result of a dry 2014 autumn, below average snowfall during the 2014-2015 winter, and a dry spring. Precipitation totals since October 1st are five to seven inches below normal for much of Minnesota. The 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 reports that stream discharge values along many of Minnesota's major rivers are well below the historical median due to the lack of spring runoff.
  • Water levels on many Minnesota ponds, wetlands, and lakes are much lower than average due to the lack of spring recharge.
  • In their May 4 report, the Minnesota Agricultural Statistics Service reported that topsoil moisture across 45 percent of Minnesota's landscape was described as Short or Very Short.
  • All Minnesota lakes are now free of ice. Lake ice-out dates were one to two weeks earlier than the historical median in most locations.
  • The potential for wildfires is currently rated by DNR Forestry as Moderate to High in many Minnesota counties. Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.

Future prospects:

  • The May precipitation outlook offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions in most Minnesota counties. The May outlook leans towards below-normal precipitation in far northeast Minnesota. May precipitation normals range from just over two inches in northwest Minnesota to just less than four inches in southeastern counties. The historical probability of measurable precipitation for any given day in May ranges from 25 percent in the northwest to near 40 percent in the southeast.
  • The May temperature outlook indicates equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions across Minnesota. Normal May high temperatures are in the low to mid-60s early in the month, rising to the low to mid-70s at month's end. Normal May low temperatures are in the mid-30s to near 40 to start the month and climb to the mid-40s to low 50s as the month ends.
  • The 90-day precipitation outlook for May through July favors below-normal conditions across northeast Minnesota, and equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions elsewhere. The May through July temperature projection offers equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions statewide.
  • 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

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