May 2001 Saint Cloud Weather Summary

This Month's Daily Statistics

DATE: 1 June 2001

SUBJECT: Third Wettest Spring on Record in Saint Cloud

St. Cloud May 2001 and Spring 2001 Weather Summary

The soggy weather of April continued into May in Saint Cloud. According to the official statistics at the Saint Cloud Municipal Airport, another 4.13 inches of rain fell during May 2001, about an inch above normal. This total, added to the record April rainfall of 8.42 inches, led to the third highest spring (1 March-31 May) rainfall in Saint Cloud history. The 2001 spring total of 13.32 inches only lags behind the spring of 1965 (13.65 inches) and the spring of 1894 (16.02 inches)—see below. 

The rain in May was generated from thunderstorms that developed in both the usual and the unusual ways. Thunderstorms from warm, sticky air at the ground accounted for the .96 inch of rain on the 6th and the 0.93 inch on the 20th. Additionally, Saint Cloud just missed the thunderstorms that developed on the first, which produced a tornado that went through Glenview, near Albert Lea, and the ninth, which produced 6 tornadoes to the south of the Twin Cities area. However, an unusually strong late spring system stalled over the Great Lakes area from the 21st through the 26th. This system produced a pocket of cold air above the ground, so that modest warming produced showers and thunderstorms which dropped .97 inch of rain on the 25th and a total of 1.76 inches during the period. This shows that it’s the temperature difference between the ground and the air at 10,000 to 15,000 feet above the ground which is the key to generating thunderstorms.

Since thunderstorms have been responsible for most of the rainfall, precipitation was not uniform across central Minnesota. Alexandria has actually had slightly below normal rainfall during the past four weeks, while Willmar is slightly above normal. Meanwhile, from Saint Cloud and Little Falls eastward, rainfall has been 1 to 1.75 inches above normal. In most of this area, rainfall since April 1 has been 50-100 percent above normal

The average May temperatures were, contrary to popular opinion, were more than a degree and a half above normal. What most people will remember is the colder weather since the late May storm. However, the first half of the month was marked by above normal temperatures. So, the schizophrenic month of May produced two days with a high of 90 degrees or higher, including the record high of 97 on the 15th. This day was the warmest day since July 30, 1999, when a high of 98 was recorded. It’s also the most May 90-degree days since 1998. On the other hand, both a record cold high and a record cold daily average temperature were set on the 22nd when the temperature never topped 47 and the daytime high was 44. This was the coldest May high since May 13, 1997, when the high was also 47 (and the low was 24). 

The average high temperature for the week of May 12-18 was 80.1 degrees, which is typical of mid-summer. The average high temperature during May 19-27 was 59.8 degrees, which is typical of late April. This goes to prove an oft-quoted saying in meteorology: “Normal isn’t normal!”

Overall, the relatively mild May pulled the average spring temperatures to within a half-degree of normal. High temperatures were below average and low temperatures were above average, which reflects the generally cloudy conditions required to produce the large amount of rainfall in April and May.


MAY 2001 STATISTICS            MAY 2001        NORMAL
Average High                     68.5           68.4
Average Low                      46.6           43.4
Average Temp                     57.6           55.9
Warmest high temperature          97 on the 15th (broke record; see below)
Coldest high temperature          47 on the 22nd(broke record; see below)
Mildest low temperature           59 on the 15th
Coldest low temperature           36 on the 23rd
Daily high mean:                  78 on the 15th (old record: 75 in 1977)
Daily warm high:                  97 on the 15th (old record: 93 in 1926)
Daily cold high:                  47 on the 2nd (old record: 48 in 1987)
Daily cold mean:                  42 on the 22nd (tied record set in 1963)
RAINFALL (in)                    4.13           3.16
Most in 24 hours                  .97 on the 25th
SNOWFALL (in)                     0.0            0.1
Total 2000-2001 season           56.6           45.5
Average High Temperature          52.0           53.7
Average Low Temperature           31.7           31.0
Spring Mean Temperature           41.9           42.3
Total Melted Precip (in)         13.32*          6.92
Total Snowfall (in)                6.6           12.2
*Third highest spring rainfall on record.. see below 



16.02 IN 1894 1.95 IN 1926
13.65 IN 1965 2.08 IN 1934
13.32 IN 2001
3rd wettest on record
2.26 IN 1967
12.92 IN 1912
wettest in 36 yrs
2.41 IN 1900
12.49 IN 1938 2.78 IN 1955
11.95 IN 1903 2.86 IN 1980
11.93 IN 1896 2.93 IN 1987
11.56 IN 1991 3.11 IN 1997
11.47 IN 1950 3.57 IN 1925
11.42 IN 1908 3.60 IN 1910


Historic temperature data provided courtesy of the Saint Cloud National Weather Service Office, and NOAA/NWS
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