HydroClim Minnesota for Early May 2016

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 4, 2016 (released one day early)

What happened in April 2016:

  • April monthly precipitation totals were highly variable across Minnesota. Some west central counties reported precipitation totals that were more than two inches above historical averages. Whereas in southeast Minnesota, precipitation totals fell short of average by one to two inches.
  • Average monthly temperatures for April were near historical averages at most Minnesota reporting stations. Cool temperatures to start and end the month were offset by very warm temperatures in mid-April. Extremes for April ranged from a high of 86 degrees F at Wheaton on the 14th, to a low of -12 degrees F near Ely on the 9th.

Where we stand now:

  • The U. S. Drought Monitor map released on May 5 depicts portions of northwest and west central Minnesota as Abnormally Dry. The map shows no other areas in Minnesota in a dryness category. 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 reports that stream discharge values are below historical medians along some reaches of the Red River and its tributaries. Elsewhere in Minnesota, stream flow values are near to above historical medians for the date.
  • The Agricultural Statistics Service reports that topsoil moisture across Minnesota is 1 percent Very Short, 6 percent Short, 80 percent Adequate, and 13 percent Surplus.
  • The potential for wildfires is currently rated by DNR Forestry as ranging from Moderate to Very High across Minnesota. Warm, windy, dry weather this week has enhanced wildfire potential. Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.
  • Nearly all of Minnesota's lakes are free of ice. A few deep lakes in Cook County may still have some ice cover. Warm March temperatures and windy days accelerated lake ice-out, leading to some of the earliest ice-out dates on record in southern Minnesota. Cool April temperatures slowed ice melt on northern Minnesota lakes and led to ice-out dates closer to the historical median.

Future prospects:

  • The May precipitation outlook leans towards below-normal precipitation across 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 tilts towards above-normal conditions throughout 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 indicates equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions in the southwestern two-thirds of Minnesota, and a tilt towards below-normal conditions in northeast counties. The May through July temperature projection favors 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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