Deep May snow in Duluth, Minn., late on May 8. (Joe Moore, @wxjoe/Twitter)

A May snowstorm pasted parts of the upper Midwest on Wednesday, dropping as much as 11 inches of snow.

A swath of heavy, wet snow spread from the Minnesota border with South Dakota to the northern Great Lakes. The epicenter was around Duluth, in northern Minnesota, where 10.9 inches of snowfall set multiple records for May.

The responsible storm is the same one that spawned severe weather and flooding in parts of the southern United States. This wintry storm happening in the heart of spring encountered just enough cold air to manufacture heavy snowfall.


Analysis showing band of snowfall over Minnesota from winter storm on May 8-9. (PivotalWeather.com)

Temperatures rose to near 40 degrees in Duluth on Wednesday morning, but as precipitation began across the region, temperatures fell back to near-freezing.

Ultimately, it snowed hard enough for the flakes to stick. There was also thundersnow around the region, intensifying the snowfall.

The heaviest snowfall fell Wednesday evening and night around Duluth, which helped it pile up more quickly. At this time of year, snow falling during the day has a hard time accumulating because of the strength of the May sun poking through.

The area affected by heavy snow was somewhat small, as one might expect at this time of year. Places that received the most snow generally saw the bulk of it falling at night and/or were located at higher elevations with lower temperatures.


Snowfall records broken by this event in Duluth. (National Weather Service)

By the time the flakes stopped accumulating Thursday morning, at least 10.9 inches of dense, wet snow were recorded for the city of Duluth. That was enough for a daily snowfall record and a record for the entire month of May.

The 8.3 inches of snow posted in Duluth on Wednesday crushed the previous 24-hour May snowfall record of 5.5 inches, set on May 10 in 1902.

Considering additional snowfall Thursday morning, the preliminary storm total of 10.9 inches easily topped the previous May multiday snowstorm record of 8.1 inches, recorded over the course of a week in early May 1954.

Other hefty snow totals across the region include 10 inches in nearby Cloquet, Minn.; 9.9 inches in Maple, Wis.; 9.5 inches in Moquah, Minn.; and eight inches in Bennett, Wis. Totals in excess of six inches were largely clustered in and around the region where Wisconsin, Minnesota and Lake Superior intersect.

Even if the amounts were exceptional, May snowfall in this region is not too unusual.

In the 20 Mays preceding this one, seven had accumulating snow in Duluth, and another seven featured some flakes falling. The last time Duluth saw a notable snow in May came in 2010, when 4.5 inches fell on the 7th and into the 8th.

The storm is expected to depart the region Thursday afternoon, with temperatures forecast to quickly rebound into the 50s to around 60 in the days ahead. Soon enough, this bout of winter in spring will be only a memory.