The Washington Post

Shocking cold and snow in central U.S., first May snow on record in Arkansas

Snow cover Friday morning (NOAA)

The third day of a brutal snap of wintry weather – in May – is shattering records in the central U.S.  After the biggest snows ever observed in the month of May in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin Thursday, Arkansas experienced its first May snowflakes in history today.

The National Weather Service in Little Rock broke the news about the historic flakes with a tweet noting snow and/or sleet had been reported at 3 airports in the northwest part of the state.

Northwest Arkansas wasn’t the only location experiencing a historic snowfall. Kansas City experienced its first accumulating May snow (0.5 inches) since 1907 and as much as 6 inches fell in Missouri. Thursday afternoon’s Royals home game was called off due to a wintry mix of precipitation that changed to snow in the evening.


Here are some other notable snowfall records from the central U.S. from Thursday and today:

* Tulsa, Oklahoma experienced its latest spring snow on record
* Rochester, Minnesota’s 14.0 inches of snow Thursday was more than 3 times the combined total of all May snow (4.3 inches) since 1886 and its 4th snowiest day on record in any month.
* Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s 8.7 inches and Des Moines Iowa’s 3.4 inches Thursday were the greatest May snow totals on record for those cities.

The cold, some 30-40 degrees below normal in some locations, has also been impressive. A few stats:

* Dallas, Texas dropped to 39 this morning, its coldest temperature on record so late in the season.
* In Little Rock, Arkansas, the temperature fell to 40 degrees, tying its lowest May reading ever recorded.
* Galveston (50), Lubbock, (27) and Midland, Texas (33) set all-time record May lows this morning.
* Yesterday’s high of 41 on Kansas City was its coldest May day on record
* Pierre, South Dakota dropped to 21 this morning, setting a new all-time May low


The snow is forecast to taper off today in the region says the National Weather Service, which called the May storm “unprecedented”.

However, many areas may still experience a record cold Friday afternoon and night.

Writes the National Weather Service in Little Rock:


And the National Weather Service in Kansas City says:

Well forecast high temperatures for Friday May 3rd are only in the 30s. This will again break the monthly record for Kansas City.

Houston, Texas, after tying a daily record low of 47 this morning this afternoon, could challenge its coldest May temperature on record tonight of 44.

When will normal to above normal temperatures finally return to the central U.S.? Probably not until early-to-mid next week.

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
Show Comments
Most Read
National Airport

Right Now

Washington, D.C., Snow Tracker

Current Snow Total
Record Most Snow
Record Least Snow
(1997-98, 1972-73)
Last Winter's Snow Total

D.C. Area Almanac

Avg. High
Avg. Low
Rec. High
Rec. Low
Next Story
A. Camden Walker · May 3, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.