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 7, 2019
What happened in May 2019:
- May 2019 continued the cool and wet pattern of 2019. The preliminary statewide average precipitation total for May was 5.21 inches, 1.84 inches above normal. The wettest locations were in southern Minnesota, with Rochester finishing with 9.42 inches, 5.79 above normal and the second wettest May on record for Rochester.
[see: May 2019 Precipitation Total Map | May 2019 Precipitation Departure Map | May 2019 Climate Summary Table | May 2019 Percent of Normal Precipitation Map]
- There were a couple of significant weather events in May 2019. First was a rain and snow event that affected much of the state on May 8-9. Most noteworthy was heavy snow in Duluth. 10.9 inches fell and set the record for Duluth’s largest snowstorm in May.[see: Record May Snow and Soaking Rains, May 8-9, 2019]
- More rain and snow fell on May 18-20, dropping as much as two inches of precipitation in east central Minnesota. [see: More Rain (and Snow), May 18-20, 2019]
- The first tornado of 2019 for Minnesota touched down in Norman County on May 24. Tornadoes also touched down on Memorial Day in southeast Minnesota. [see:First Minnesota Tornadoes of 2019, May 24 and 27]
- The preliminary statewide average temperature was 51.5 degrees or 4.5 degrees below normal. This was over nine degrees cooler than May 2018. A warm-up toward the end of the month moderated departures a bit. The warmest temperatures of the month came on the final day, with 92 degrees reported at Argyle, Granite Falls, and Georgetown in northwest and west central Minnesota. The coldest minimum temperatures were on May 7, with 18 degrees reported at Camp Norris and Brimson in north central and northeast Minnesota.
[see: Minnesota Climate Trends Tool | May 2019 Climate Summary Table | 2019 May Departure from Normal Temperature Map]
Where we stand now:
- Seasonal precipitation so far (April 1 through June 4) shows that the state is split between normal to slightly below normal precipitation in the north, to well above normal in the central and south. In fact, some locales saw one of their top five wettest starts to spring.
[see: Weekly Precipitation Maps]
- The U. S. Drought Monitor map released on June 6, shows Abnormally Dry conditions over 7.9% of the state. These abnormally dry conditions were confined to northwest Minnesota. The last time there was almost complete statewide coverage in the Moderate drought category was May 2015, and the last time there was substantial coverage (80% or greater) of the Severe drought category was in 2013. The U.S. Drought Monitor index is a blend of science and subjectivity where drought categories (Moderate, Severe etc.) are based on several indicators.
[see: Drought Conditions Overview]
- The wet conditions of 2019 so far are reflected in high water levels in lakes in streams. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that stream discharge values are generally much above normal to high across central and southern Minnesota, with normal streamflows in the north. The Mississippi River in early June was at the moderate flooding level in St. Paul and was still in minor flood state on June 6. The Minnesota River at Montevideo was also at moderate flood stage on June 1 and by June 6 was slowly receding to minor flood level.
[see: USGS Stream Flow Conditions]
- Water levels on most Minnesota lakes vary depending on lake and location in the state. The level on Lake Minnetonka on June 6 was at 930.09 feet with 321 cfs flowing through Gray's Bay Dam and over the spillway. White Bear Lake was 925.35 feet on June 6, about two feet higher than this time last year and at the highest level since June 2003. This is also 6.51 feet higher than the record low of January 10, 2013. Water has been flowing out of White Bear Lake at the outlet since late April. Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake are within the median band. Lake Superior was forecast to be 603.08 feet for May 31, a foot higher than a year ago and three inches above the highest monthly average of record for May.
[see: Mille Lacs Lake Water Level | Lake Minnetonka Water Level | White Bear Lake Water Level | Lake of the Woods Control Board Basin Data | Corps of Engineers Great Lakes Water Levels]
- The Agricultural Statistics Service on June 3 reported that topsoil moisture across Minnesota is 0 percent Very Short, 3 percent Short, 55 percent Adequate, and 44 percent Surplus. Soil moisture readings at Lamberton on June 1 show the moisture profile above historical averages.
[see: Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Progress and Condition | U. of M. Southwest Research & Outreach Center (Lamberton)]
- The potential for wildfires is currently rated by DNR Forestry as Low across central and southern Minnesota, with Moderate and High fire danger rating in the northwest. Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.
[see: Fire Danger Rating Map]
- It took seven weeks for lake ice out to progress across Minnesota in 2019. There were enough mild spells in an otherwise cool spring that prevented lake ice out from being as late as 2018. In general, lake ice out in 2019 lagged behind historical medians by about a week, with some exceptions. The first lake to lose its ice in 2019 was Pepin on March 28, assisted by barge traffic. The last lake ice out was Greenwood Lake in Cook County on May 20. The fishing opener was on May 11 and while most lakes in the state were free of ice, parts of Lake and all of Cook County had lake ice that didn’t allow boat traffic but was also not stable enough for ice fishing either.
[see: Lake Ice Out: 2019]
- According to the Climate Prediction Center, the June precipitation outlook leans towards equal chances for below, above and normal precipitation across Minnesota, except in the northwest where there is a slightly higher chance for below than normal precipitation. June precipitation normals range from just over three inches in northwest Minnesota to about five inches in southeastern counties.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook | June Precipitation Normal Map]
- There is a tendency for above normal temperatures in northern and northwest Minnesota for June, with equal chances for above, normal and below normal temperatures across the rest of the state. 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.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 30-day Outlook | June Temperature Normal Map]
- The 90-day precipitation outlook for June through August indicates a slight tilt toward above normal precipitation totals over central and southern Minnesota with equal chances of below-normal, near-normal, or above-normal conditions over northern Minnesota. The June through August temperature projection favors a tendency for cooler than normal temperatures this summer statewide.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 90-day Outlook]
From the author:
- The wet and cool spring badly delayed planting of crops. 56% of the corn was planted in Minnesota by May 19, the latest since 1979. The University of Minnesota Extension has a podcast on spring planting and crop conditions [see: Minnesota Crop News]
Upcoming dates of note:
- June 20: National Weather Service releases 30/90-day temperature and precipitation outlooks