Historic snow and cold strike Rockies and Upper Midwest

Even though it is now May, the brutal, never-ending winter of 2012-13 obstinately refuses to relent, and has dumped heaps of snow from Denver to southern Minnesota. Single-day record May snowfalls have likely fallen in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

The late spring blast of winter has also produced record cold in the region.

On Tuesday, more than a foot of snow fell in parts of the Rockies in Colorado and Wyoming. Denver received 5 inches, Boulder 12.1 inches, Cheyenne 15 inches and Ft. Collins 16 inches.  The 12.1 inches in Boulder was a record for the date, and the biggest May snow there since 1978 says Matt Kelsch, Boulder’s cooperative weather observer.

 

In the wake of the snow, the Mile High City’s temperature plummeted to a record low of 19 this morning. Boulder tanked to 17, both a daily and monthly record low says Kelsch. In Laramie, Wyoming, the mercury dipped to 7 degrees, its coldest May temperature on record.

To the northeast of the Rockies, plowable snow fell through Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and into southern Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin


Snowfall reports in northern Iowa, southeast Minnesota, and northwest Wisconsin (NWS)

Here are a few totals (fuller list here) reported by the National Weather Service:

Garden City, KS 3 inches
Omaha, Nebraska 3.3 inches
Britt, Iowa 11 inches
Mason City, Iowa 5 inches
Rochester, MN 8 inches
Hayward, Wisconsin 15 inches
Owatonna, MN 15.5 inches

The Britt, Iowa total may represent the state’s biggest May snowfall on record. Omaha’s 3 inches total is its heaviest on record during May.

In Minnesota, Rochester’s 8 inches smashes its May record of just 2 inches, and the Owatonna total of 15.5 inches – if confirmed – would best Minnesota’s state record for largest 1-,2- and 3-day snow total.

The Hayward, Wisconsin total may have also topped Wisconsin’s state record snowfall for May.

The weight of the heavy, wet snow on trees downed limbs and knocked out power to more than 26,000 customers in southeast Minnesota reports the Minnesota Public Radio weather blog, Updraft.

Minneapolis missed out on accumulating snowfall, which fell just to its east.

“Had the storm veered 50-70 miles farther west much of the metro would have woken up to a cool foot of snow,” writes Star Tribune meteorologist Paul Douglas. “I’m feeling unusually lucky this morning.”

The cold and snow are hardly done with this region. Writes the Weather Prediction Center:

MOISTURE AHEAD OF THE UPPER-LEVEL TROUGH WILL CONTINUE TO PRODUCE SNOW ACROSS THE CENTRAL PLAINS AND THE UPPER MIDWEST TODAY. A NARROW BAND OF ACCUMULATING SNOWFALL IS EXPECTED FROM EASTERN KANSAS NORTHWARD INTO THE UPPER MIDWEST… . . .

TOTAL STORM ACCUMULATIONS BETWEEN 2 TO 6 INCHES IS EXPECTED FOR PARTS OF THE CENTRAL PLAINS INTO THE UPPER MIDWEST WITH A NARROW HEAVIER BAND OF 6 TO 12 INCHES ACROSS NORTH CENTRAL IOWA AND NORTHEASTWARD INTO THE WESTERN EDGE OF THE MICHIGAN UPPER PENINSULA.


(National Weather Service)

At the moment, it’s snowing in Topeka in May for the first time since May 3, 1907.

Kansas City also is forecast to get its first measurable snow in May since 1907.

Temperatures Friday are forecast by the GFS model to be 30 to 40 degrees below normal from northern Louisiana into southern Iowa.


Temperature difference from average forecast midday Friday from GFS model (WeatherBell.com)

Unseasonably cold and sometimes snowy conditions have been the dominant weather player over the U.S. over the past 30 days. There have been more than 3.5 times the number of cold weather records compared to warm weather records.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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Jason Samenow · May 2, 2013

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