Corn Belt turns ‘Snow Belt’ in rare May snowstorm

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What early spring? As it turns out, famed forecaster Punxatawney Phil was wrong this year – very wrong.

During a month better known for grilling and shorts weather, a spring-time winter storm fueled by a powerful cold front is setting up to produce rare weather conditions across much of the western Corn Belt – snow.

The National Weather Service forecast up to two feet of snow in the Rockies with several inches of snow expected in a band that stretches from Texas to Wisconsin, according to NBC News. 

Snow is only half of the equation. In parts of Texas, the front is expected to bring wild temperature swings. On Tuesday, the mercury in Amarillo reached a balmy 97 degrees. Less than 48 hours later, on Thursday morning, meteorologists anticipate a 67-degree drop.

“By tomorrow morning we have … Amarillo at 30 and probably snowing,” Weather Channel meteorologist Kevin Roth said.

Read, “Heavy snow belts Rockies and Plains; Texas city to see 67-degree temperature drop.”

 Just how rare is this May snowstorm? looked at other notable May snowstorms:

  • Amarillo recorded than 7 inches of snow on May 6, 1917, and on May 2, 2005 the city saw nearly 5 inches of snow.   
  • Minneapolis, Minn., has seen just six snow days in May since 1975, the top being May 11, 1946 when 2.8 inches fell.
  • Chicago has only had two one inch snow events in May since 1884.
  • Omaha, Neb., has recorded four days with measurement snow in May since 1881.
  • Des Moines, Iowa, had two separate snows in 1907 on May 4 and May 15. It also snowed on May 3, 1917.
  • Kansas City, Mo., reported one measurement snow in May on May 3, 1907 when 1.7 inches fell on the city.

Click here for other May snow facts.

"It is very difficult to get a major snowstorm in the lower elevations of the U.S. in May," said Weather Channel meteorologist Nick Wiltgen. "Even on May 1 you're only seven weeks away from the summer solstice, and with that comes strong sun and long days adding heat to the atmosphere. 

Read more from Wundergrround.

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Chuck Schwartau    
Goodhue, MN  |  May, 06, 2013 at 10:14 AM

We're about 50 miles SE of Minneapolis/St Paul and had 20" fall on Thursday. Snow was so wet it was blue in color. Mostly melted by Monday, but still some lingering around.

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