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NATIONAL STORM SUMMARY
1-6: A late-season blizzard continued early in the week flattened winter wheat to livestock mortality. Subsequently, another storm crossed the nation’s mid-section, triggering heavy rain and flash flooding in the central Gulf Coast region, and prolonging lowland flooding and fieldwork delays in the mid-South and lower Midwest. In fact, many areas from the Mississippi Valley eastward received weekly rainfall totaling at least an inch, with substantially higher amounts (2 to 4 inches or more) recorded from Missouri into the Northeast and along the central Gulf Coast. Multiple freezes on the central High Plains, mainly from April 30 – May 2, and again on May 4, brought another threat of heavy snow. In southwestern Kansas, late-April snowfall totaled 15.0 inches near Ulysses and 12.0 inches in Lakin. The storm singlehandedly tied Lakin’s April snowfall record, which had been 12.0 inches in 1900, 1907, and 2007. Dodge City, KS, received just 2.5 inches of snow, but reported 3.15 inches of liquid, along with a peak northerly wind gust to 51 mph, during the April 28-30 event. Elsewhere, late-April peak gusts included 59 mph in Amarillo, TX, and 58 mph in Garden City, KS. The official snow observation site in Garden City received 9.0 inches of snow on April 29-30, setting an April snowfall record in that location (previously, 8.0 inches in 2007—all of which fell during a mid-month storm). Dalhart, TX, reported an April 30 snowfall of 9.0 inches, along with a peak gust to 49 mph. Including an inch that fell on April 4, Dalhart attained an April record snowfall of 10.0 inches, surpassing 5.0 inches in 1955 and 1993. Farther east, torrential rainfall continued across parts of the South through April 30, when daily-record totals included 4.42 inches in Hattiesburg, MS; 2.89 inches in New Orleans, LA; and 2.77 inches in Paducah, KY. Subsequently, record-setting crests were observed in several river basins in Missouri and Arkansas. In Missouri, the Current River crested 17.20 feet above flood stage (on April 30) in Van Buren and 20.13 feet above flood stage (on May 1) in Doniphan. Those crests surpassed March 1904 high-water marks by 8.20 and 6.33 feet, respectively. Elsewhere in Missouri, the Gasconade River crested in early May at record-setting levels in locations such as Jerome (18.93 feet above flood stage) and Rich Fountain (17.45 feet above flood stage)—2 to 3 feet above the high-water marks established on December 30, 2015. Similarly, the Meramec River near Eureka, MO, crested 27.11 feet above flood stage on May 2, less than an inch above the record crest set on December 30, 2015. And, the Black River at Pocahontas, AR, crested at 11.95 feet above flood stage on May 2, toppling the April 2011 high-water mark by 0.48 foot. Elsewhere, snow ended on May 1 across the upper Midwest, while heavy showers swept into the East. In South Dakota, daily-record snowfall totals for May 1 included 2.2 inches in Sioux Falls and 1.6 inches in Watertown. Meanwhile in New York, record-setting rainfall totals for May 1 reached 1.86 inches in Massena and 1.53 inches in Watertown. Later, drenching rains returned to parts of the South. In Louisiana, record-setting rainfall totals for May 3 climbed to 6.41 inches in Lafayette; 5.49 inches in Lake Charles, and 4.93 inches in New Iberia. Heavy rain in the mid-South led to daily-record totals for May 3 in Hot Springs, AR (2.90 inches), and Vichy-Rolla, MO (2.47 inches). Vichy-Rolla measured 14.24 inches of rain during the 5-week period from April 2 – May 6, while West Plains, MO, collected 20.82 inches. During the second half of the week, rain swept east of the Mississippi River, where daily-record amounts for May 4 totaled 2.43 inches in Tallahassee, FL, and 2.35 inches in Fort Wayne, IN. On May 5, daily-record totals topped 3 inches in locations such as Newark, NJ (3.05 inches), and New York’s Central Park (3.02 inches), and surpassed 2 inches in Providence, RI (2.29 inches), and Martinsburg, WV (2.01 inches). Late in the week, showers overspread parts of the West, where daily-record amounts included 0.61 inch (on May 5) in Lewiston, ID, and 0.57 inch (on May 6) in Reno, NV.
7-13: Stormy weather continued across the central Plains, mid-South, and parts of the Midwest, perpetuating fieldwork delays and prolonging lowland flooding. Heavy rain eventually spread across portions of the northern Atlantic States, helping to erase the final vestiges of last year’s drought. A late freeze affected the Great Lakes. Daily-record lows for May 8 included 28F in South Bend, IN, and 30F in Cincinnati, OH. The following day, record-setting lows for May 9 dipped to 30F in Wheeling, WV, and 36F in Baltimore, MD. In contrast, warmth quickly returned to the Deep South. The temperature in Vero Beach, FL, rebounded from a daily record low of 50F on May 7 to a daily-record high of 93F on May 13. Other daily-record highs in Florida included 96F (on May 11) in Jacksonville and 95F (on May 12) in Melbourne. In neighboring Georgia, daily-record highs soared to 96F (on May 11) on St. Simons Island and 95F (on May 10) in Savannah. Heat extended westward into southern Texas, where record-setting highs for May 12 climbed to 104F in McAllen and 98°F in Brownsville. Meanwhile, the week began and ended on a cool note in the West. On May 7-8, Lancaster, CA, opened the week with consecutive daily-record lows (37 and 36F, respectively). Later, daily-record lows on May 13 fell to 20F in Baker City, OR, and 41F in Redding, CA. The early-week Western cool spell was accompanied by the passage of a “cut-off” storm—largely separated from the steering influence of the jet stream. On May 7, Palomar Mountain, CA, was blanketed by a 6-inch snowfall. Elsewhere in southern California, daily-record rainfall totals for the 7th included 0.90 inch in El Cajon; 0.84 inch in Chula Vista; and 0.83 inch in Escondido. The storm later produced out-of-season precipitation in Arizona, where record-setting totals for May 9 included 0.40 inch in Prescott and 0.29 inch in Winslow. Yuma, AZ, netted rainfall totaling 0.14 inch from May 8-10, marking its first measurable precipitation since March 22. Farther east, the Mississippi River crest (10.18 feet above flood stage) passed Thebes, IL, on May 6. This represented the ninth-highest water level on record in Thebes, with higher crests occurring in 1844, 1973, 1993, 1995, 2002, 2011, 2013, and 2016. During the second half of the week, heavy rain returned to areas from the central Plains into the mid-South and lower Midwest. Daily-record rainfall totals for May 11 included 1.90 inches in Medicine Lodge, KS, and 1.33 inches in Batesville, AR. From May 8-11, rainfall in Goodland, KS, totaled 2.78 inches. Heavy rain later swept into the middle and northern Atlantic States, where recordbreaking totals for May 13 reached 1.79 inches in Philadelphia, PA, and Newark, NJ. Mount Washington, NH, New England’s highest peak, received 33.3 inches of snow from May 13-15. Elsewhere, mid- to late-week showers in the Northwest resulted in daily-record amounts in locations such as Astoria, OR (1.35 inches on May 12); North Bend, OR (1.11 inches on May 13); and Hoquiam, WA (0.86 inch on May 11).
14-20: Soaking rainfall returned across much of the Midwest, stalling most fieldwork. Some of the heaviest rain, 2 to 4 inches or more, fell in upper Midwestern States. Late-season snow (locally 1 to 3 feet) blanketed the northern and central Rockies and environs. Showers dotted the Northwest, but cool, mostly dry weather covered the Southwest. In California, a late-week warming trend promoted fieldwork and crop development. Elsewhere, heavy showers and locally severe thunderstorms dotted the central and southern Plains on May 16 and 18-19, causing flash flooding and resulting in local wind, hail, and tornado damage. High winds and isolated tornadoes also struck the upper Midwest, primarily on May 16-17. However, rain mostly bypassed the southern Atlantic region, parts of which remained stricken by drought. The week began with lingering heavy rain in New England, where Bangor, ME, collected a daily-record sum (1.99 inches) for May 14. Meanwhile, torrential rain developed across the upper Midwest. On May 15-16 in Minnesota, 24-hour rainfall totals reached 4.94 inches near Altura (Winona County) and 3.43 inches near Elgin (Olmsted County). Amid a Texas-to-Wisconsin severe weather outbreak on May 16, a tornado near Chetek (Barron County), WI, resulted in one fatality—the first tornado-related death in that state since August 19, 2011. On May 17, another round of strong Midwestern thunderstorms brought heavy rain and high winds, including a peak gust to 70 mph in Waterloo, IA. Daily-record rainfall totals for May 17 included 2.18 inches in Rhinelander, WI; 1.98 inches in Valentine, NE; and 1.81 inches in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. Meanwhile, heavy rain and snow developed across the northern and central Rockies and northern Intermountain West. Record-setting precipitation totals for May 17 included 2.40 inches in Livingston, MT, and 1.96 inches in Buffalo, WY. Wisdom, MT, received 9.0 inches of snow in a 24-hour period on May 16-17. On May 18-19, Cheyenne, WY, was blanketed with 14.3 inches of snow, while totals ranged from 1 to 3 feet at several locations in the central Rockies. Late in the week, heavy precipitation gradually shifted eastward. Record-setting totals for May 19 reached 2.00 inches in Columbia, MO, and 1.96 inches in Quincy, IL. At week’s end, torrential rain developed in parts of Alabama, where daily-record amounts for May 20 totaled 8.15 inches in Montgomery; 4.37 inches in Mobile; and 2.65 inches in Birmingham. For Montgomery, it was the wettest May day on record (previously, 5.23 inches on May 9, 1978), and the wettest day during any time of year since September 26, 1953, when 8.72 inches fell.
21-27: Rainfall slackened across major Midwest, but cool weather and occasional showers maintained a sluggish fieldwork pace. Some of the most significant Midwestern rain, locally 1 to 2 inches, fell from Missouri into the lower Great Lakes region. Farther south, drenching rains eased or eradicated most of the remaining Southeastern drought concerns, except across Florida’s peninsula. Much of central and southern Florida’s rain— totaling less than an inch in most locations—fell on May 24, and was followed by a return of hot, dry weather. Multiple disturbances led to several rounds of wet weather, especially across the South and East. On May 21, daily-record rainfall totals climbed to 4.08 inches in Laredo, TX; 2.42 inches in Athens, GA; and 2.24 inches in Asheville, NC. During the first half of the week, daily-record totals topped 2 inches in many other locations, including Savannah, GA (6.61 inches on May 22); Greensboro, NC (2.26 inches on May 23); Hattiesburg, MS (2.18 inches on May 23); and Gainesville, FL (2.02 inches on May 24). The barrage of showers continued during the second half of the week, with daily-record amounts reaching 2.39 inches (on May 27) in Lake Charles, LA; 2.29 inches (on May 25) in Philadelphia, PA; and 1.56 inches (on May 27) in Springfield, MO. Farther north, mostly dry but sometimes windy weather prevailed on the northern Plains. In Havre, MT, May 24 was the second-windiest day on record, with an average wind speed of 28.8 mph. Havre’s windiest day on record was May 4, 2010, with an average speed of 33.0 mph. Elsewhere in Montana, daily average wind speeds on the 24th included 31.2 mph (highest daily value in May since 2002) in Cut Bank and 27.5 mph (highest in May since 1989) in Great Falls.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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