Terry’s Take: Historic May storm blows away snowfall records
An unprecedented spring snowstorm impacted the central United States from May 1 to May 3, dropping record-breaking amounts of snow up and down the western Mississippi River Valley. Some locations across the southern United States saw their first ever May snowfall and cities in Kansas and Missouri saw their highest snowfall totals in 106 years. Meanwhile, noteworthy May single day and storm total records for the states of Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin were shattered by this event. South central Iowa up through southeast Minnesota and western Wisconsin bore the brunt of the snowfall with 10+ inch reports not uncommon. Warm road temperatures across Iowa helped to initially melt the falling snow, but conditions quickly deteriorated across the regions where heavier snow fell. This led to numerous accidents and spin outs. Sporadic power outages also occurred as snow-coated tree branches broke and took out power lines.
May snowfall and temperature records across Iowa fell like dominoes during this historic event. Below is a listing of central Iowa and statewide records that were surpassed. Previous records are listed in italics.
- Highest May Storm Total Snowfall: 13.0″ in Osage
(10.0″ in Le Mars on 5/28/1947)
- Biggest Iowa Snowstorm based on Average Statewide Snowfall: 3.3″ **
(1.2″ on 5/28/1947)
- Latest Spring Storm to produce more than a Foot of Snowfall: 5/1/2013 to 5/3/2013
(4/20/1918 and 4/20/1992)
Records for Des Moines
- 5/2 Daily Snowfall Record: 3.4″ (T in 1976)
- 5/3 Daily Snowfall Record: 3.5″ (1.2″ in 1907)
- Monthly (May) Maximum One Day Snowfall: 3.5″ on 5/3/2013 (1.2″ set on 5/3/1907)
- Total May Snowfall: 6.9″ (1.3″ in 1907)
- Latest Snowfall of 3.5″: 5/3/2013 (4/29/1907)
Interesting Fact: Snow was continuously reported at the Des Moines Airport from 6:34am on May 2 to 2:48pm on May 3, or for an uninterrupted 31 hours and 14 minutes!
- 5/2 Record Low Maximum Temperature: 41 (47 in 1953)
- 5/3 Record Low Maximum Temperature: 35 (41 in 1967)
- Monthly (May) Record Low Maximum Temperature: 35 on 5/3/2013 (39 on 5/5/1944)
Interesting Fact: The average temperature at Des Moines on May 3 was 34.5 degrees, tying it with May 5, 1944 for the coldest May day on record. That day in 1944 was also the last time Des Moines had measurable snowfall in May (0.2″).
While no snow was reported in the Quad Cities, nearly 3 inches of cold rain did fall. Other parts of the region saw 2-4 inch rains. Had this been all snow, amounts on the order of 18-36″ would have been common. We must be living right!