MAY 2016


1-6: A late-season blizzard continued early in the week.  Subsequently, another storm crossed the nation’s mid-section and the central Gulf Coast region.  Mild and mostly dry weather prevailed across the northern Plains and the Northwest.  General warmth prevailed from the Pacific Coast to the northern Plains, with weekly temperatures averaging as much as 10°F above normal in California and the Desert Southwest.  On May 4, triple-digit temperatures were reported as far north as California’s San Joaquin Valley.  Farther east, however, temperatures averaged at least 5F below normal from the central and southern Plains into the Mississippi Valley and portions of the Great Lakes region.  In advance of an approaching cold front, early-week heat and humidity soared across the eastern U.S.  The last day of April featured daily-record highs in Tampa, FL (95F), and Morgantown, WV (88F).  The late-month heat capped the warmest April on record in dozens of locations, including Savannah, GA (71.0F; previously, 70.6F in 1908); Wilmington, DE (58.8F; previously, 58.6F in 1915); and Pittsburgh, PA (57.3F; previously, 57.2F in 1878).  In contrast, daily-record lows for April 30 in Colorado dipped to 19F in Rifle and 25°F in Grand Junction.  Later, however, a marked warming trend commenced along the Pacific Coast and spread eastward.  By May 3, highs soared to daily-record levels in California locations such as King City (98F), Stockton (96F), and Sacramento (95F).  The following day in California, record-setting highs for May 4 soared to 104F in Bakersfield and 101F in Hanford.  On May 4-5, Thermal, CA, posted consecutive daily-record highs (105 and 107F, respectively).  On May 5, heat made an eastward push, resulting in record-setting highs in Phoenix, AZ (108F), and Havre, MT (91F).  By May 6, daily-record highs of 89F in Williston, ND, and 88F in Rapid City, SD, contrasted with daily-record lows of 41F in Tuscaloosa, AL, and 44F in Hattiesburg, MS.


7-13: Most other areas of the country received only light precipitation. Warmth across the northern and central Plains and the western Midwest boosted weekly temperatures as much as 5 to 10F above normal.  In contrast, persistently cool weather prevailed from the lower Great Lakes region into the Northeast, holding weekly temperatures as much as 10F below normal.  Elsewhere, a few showers dotted the lower Southeast, where most areas would benefit from a soaking rain to reduce irrigation demands and ease stress on pastures and rain-fed crops.


14-20: In the lower Midwest, several days of warm, dry weather provided a brief fieldwork window.  In fact, weekly temperatures generally averaged 5 to 10F above normal from the middle Mississippi Valley to the Atlantic Seaboard.  From May 17-19, a short-lived heat wave along the Atlantic Seaboard pushed temperatures to 90F or higher.  In contrast, a late-week cool spell resulted in some patchy freezes across the northwestern half of the Plains.  Temperatures averaged at least 5F below normal across large sections of the northern High Plains and the West. Cool weather dominated the West for much of the week.  Pocatello, ID, posted a daily-record low (27F) on May 14, followed by consecutive records (29 and 22F, respectively) on May 17-18.  Other Western daily-record lows included 22F (on May 14) in Klamath Falls, OR; 29F (on May 15) in Goldendale, WA; and 36F (on May 19) in Kingman, AZ.  On May 17-18, Montague, CA, registered consecutive daily-record lows (29 and 30F, respectively).  Late in the week, cool air settled across the Plains, resulting in record-setting lows for May 20 in Texas locations such as Dalhart (34F) and Amarillo (38F).  In Kansas, Garden City notched consecutive daily-record lows (38 and 37F, respectively) on May 20-21.  Farther east, a surge of warmth across the Midwest led to record-setting highs for May 15 in Iowa communities such as Ottumwa and Des Moines (both 91F).  From May 16-18, Tampa, FL, tallied a trio of daily-record highs (96, 98, and 97°F).  Tampa also tied its May record of 98°F, originally set on May 26, 1975, and came within 1°F of its all-time record of 99°F, established on June 5, 1985.  A much broader area of the eastern U.S. also experienced record-setting warmth, mainly from May 17-19.  On the 18th, monthly record highs were tied at New York’s LaGuardia Airport (97°F) and Burlington, VT (93F).  In Maine, daily-record highs for May 18 soared to 91F in Houlton and 90F in Caribou.  It was Houlton’s first 90-degree reading since August 8, 2015, and Caribou’s first since July 2, 2014.  Consecutive daily-record highs occurred on May 17-18 in New England locations such as Boston, MA (92 and 95F), and Hartford, CT (94 and 96F).  Farther west, late-week warmth arrived in coastal California, where consecutive daily-record highs occurred on May 19-20 in Los Angeles/LAX (81 and 87F) and Chula Vista (84 and 88F).


21-27: In addition, cool conditions dominated the nation’s mid-section, with weekly temperatures averaging at least 5°F below normal across a broad area centered across the upper Midwest. Patchy freezes continued to affect portions of the northern Plains, especially from May 21-24.  Most areas west of the Rockies experienced a full week of dry weather, promoting a rapid fieldwork pace.  In the Far West, very warm weather not only favored crop development but also melted high-elevation snowpack and left some rivers running high. Western warmth peaked during the first half of the week, when Thermal, CA, posted consecutive daily-record highs (110 and 109F, respectively) on May 23-24.  Elsewhere in California, May 22-23 featured consecutive daily-record highs in locations such as Redding (102 and 101F) and Modesto (100 and 101F).  Other triple-digit, daily record highs in California on the 23rd included 102F in Hanford and 100F in downtown Sacramento.  In contrast, cool air settled across the nation’s midsection.  Laramie, WY, collected a daily-record low of 26F on May 22.  Two days later, record-setting lows for May 24 dipped to 30F in Nebraska locations such as Sidney and North Platte.  Other daily-record lows on the 24th dipped to 35F in Garden City, KS, and 40F in Dalhart, TX.  However, heat quickly returned across the southern Plains, where San Angelo, TX, followed a daily-record low (46F) on May 24 with a daily-record high (104F) on May 26.  On May 25, daily-record highs in Texas soared to 106F in Childress and 102F in Lubbock.

Jim G. Munley, jr.

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