Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Crazy Start to May

Here it is, the last month of spring, when most are anxiously await the unofficial start of summer  in four weeks.  However, winter is hanging on by its fingernails in the central and western U.S. and the cool spring continues over much of the country.

Snow today in Fort Collins, CO.
Photo by Zach Schwalbe
Winter weather in May is not unusual in the Rockies, but it is in the central Plains and Midwest. Cold air remains entrenched over the northern U.S.  The lowest temperature in the nation this morning was 9°F at Denton Montana. Even late this afternoon, temperatures were in the 30s from Wyoming and Colorado, across Nebraska and northeast through Minnesota.  Heavy, wet snow began last night and continued falling in the Front Range much of the day, and this afternoon began spreading across Nebraska. By late afternoon several inches of snow were on the ground in Grand Island in central Nebraska. By this evening snow was falling from eastern Nebraska through northwestern Iowa northeast to Minneapolis. Two days ago temperatures were in the mid 80s in the southeastern half of Nebraska and in the low 80s as far north as Minneapolis!

Surface map at 4:00 p.m. CDT May 1

South and east of the low pressure center and ahead of the very strong cold front, severe storms developed in Oklahoma and Texas with a number of reports of quarter to golf ball size hail. Note the huge temperature gradient across new Mexico and the panhandle of Texas. At the time of this map (6:00 p.m. CDT) temperatures ranged from 39°F at Clayton, NM in the northeast corner of the state to 91°F at Carlsbad in the southeast corner of New Mexico.  Winds behind the cold front were north at 20-30 mph gusting to 45 mph.

Surface temperatures at 6:00 p.m. CDT May 1
The high temperature in the nation today was 101°F at Dryden, Texas (just inside the 95 degree contour on the map). Most of the southeastern half of the country enjoyed warm spring temperatures this first day of May. Much of this same area enjoyed sunny weather as well, with the exception of portions of the Gulf coast and Florida where showers and thunderstorms occurred.

The weather will be turning cooler and wetter in the Midwest and east over the next several days, but that's another story.

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