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 8, 2023
What happened in May 2023:
- There was a wide range in precipitation across the state in May 2023. Totals ranged from less than a half inch over a wide swath of central and northeast Minnesota to eight inches or more over Brown County. One of the higher totals found from a National Weather Service Cooperative observer was 7.17 inches or 2.66 inches above normal at Winnebago in Faribault County. Lamberton had 7.06 inches. A MNgage observer in Brown County measured 10.31 inches. One of the lower precipitation totals found was .47 inches or 2.53 inches below normal at Hallock in Kittson County. The statewide preliminary precipitation total was 2.20 inches or 1.55 inches below normal.
[see: May 2023 Precipitation Total Map | May 2023 Precipitation Departure Map | May 2023 Climate Summary Table | May 2023 Percent of Normal Precipitation Map]
- May 2022 was a relatively quiet month for severe storms, just the opposite from May 2022. There was one large rainfall event of note. From May 10-15, heavy precipitation fell in the southern three tiers of Minnesota counties. The highest totals were concentrated 20-60 miles west of Mankato, with one CoCoRaHS observer east of Comfrey recording 9.16 inches, and several others between Sleepy Eye and St. James reporting 6.5 to nearly eight inches of rain. The St. James Wastewater Treatment Plant recorded 5.84 inches, and the University of Minnesota observer at Lamberton recorded 5.39 inches. In this part of Minnesota, May precipitation for the entire month is generally 4 to 4.5 inches. The heavy and excessive rains produced flooding in Comfrey, caused the Cottonwood River to reach Major Flood stage, and led to a damaging mudslide that closed parts of Minnesota Highway 68 near Courtland.
[see: Major Flooding in Southern Minnesota]
- May 2023 wound up being the 6th warmest May on record statewide with a preliminary average of 59.3 degrees, which is 4.5 degrees warmer than normal. The warmest temperature found so far was 93 degrees on May 24 at Red Wing Dam in southeast Minnesota. The coldest temperature of the month was 18 degrees at the Eveleth Waste Water Treatment Plant on May 3.
[see: Minnesota Climate Trends Tool | May 2023 Climate Summary Table | 2023 May Departure from Normal Temperature Map]
Where we stand now:
- Seasonal precipitation so far (April 1 through June 13) shows that a large area of central and northern Minnesota has below normal precipitation with a portion of west central Minnesota much below normal. Southern Minnesota is a mixture of below to normal to well above normal precipitation with areas of Redwood and Renville County in the 99th percentile.
[see: Weekly Precipitation Maps]
- The U. S. Drought Monitor map released on June 8, shows Abnormally Dry conditions over 72% of the state, with 12% of the state in Moderate Drought . The drought conditions have expanded due to the warm and dry conditions since mid-May. 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 U.S. Geological Survey reports that stream discharge stream flows are normal to below normal statewide with some streams much below normal in east central and northeast Minnesota.
[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 14 was at 928.97 feet with 12 cfs flowing through Gray's Bay Dam. White Bear Lake was 923.21 feet, about ten inches lower than this time last year. The lake level of Lake of the Woods was in the middle of the median range for this time of year. Lake Superior was forecast to be 602.62 feet for June 9, five inches higher than a year ago and nine inches above the median.
[see: 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 12 reported that topsoil moisture across Minnesota is 7 percent Very Short, 34 percent Short, 61 percent Adequate, and 4 percent Surplus. Soil moisture readings at Lamberton on June 1 shows the moisture profile near 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 Moderate over southern, parts of northwest Minnesota, and Aitkin County. Fire danger is High over much of central and north central Minnesota, Duluth and the Brainerd Lakes area. There is Very High fire danger over east central Minnesota and the Arrowhead Region. Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May.
[see: Fire Danger Rating Map]
- The precipitation outlook for June 2023 has a fairly strong tendency for below normal precipitation statewide, especially in the northeast. 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]
- So far though June 13, the month is running much warmer than normal. Looking at the Climate Prediction Center, there is a very strong tendency for above normal temperatures for June 2023 in Minnesota, especially in the northwest. 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 equal chances for above, normal and below normal precipitation. The June through August temperature projection shows a tendency for above normal temperatures in the south, central and along the shore of Lake Superior and equal chances across the rest of the northland.
[see: Climate Prediction Center 90-day Outlook]
From the author:
- When winds blow from the north in late spring and early summer, it can be a time for crisp blue skies and moderating temperatures. Not so in 2023. With large wildfires burning in Canada and multiple days of winds from the north, smoky skies plagued not only Minnesota, but a good portion of the eastern US. This has resulted in some unhealthy air quality. Some of the worst days were May 18 and again on June 14. May 18, 2023 "Smoke Front"
Upcoming dates of note:
- June 15: National Weather Service releases 30/90-day temperature and precipitation outlooks