While Cedar Rapids reported a balmy high temperature of 88 degrees Tuesday afternoon, parts of northwest Iowa had snow this morning. A cold front is sweeping over the state, which state climatologist Harry Hillaker notes, makes for an odd start to the month of May.
“It’s not super unusual,” Hillaker says. “If you look in the record books over the past 125 years, we’ve had 59 Mays, almost half the time, where somebody in Iowa had at least reported snow flurries during the month. The most recent time was two years ago, May 3rd in Lansing, in far northeast Iowa, just a trace of snow.”
Iowa has seen snow in only five of the past 20 Mays. Hillaker says you’d have to go back to the Big Band Era to approach the deepest snowfall for the month. “The record for May, which is one of those hard-to-believe-but-true stories, was set May 28th, 1947, which was the biggest May snowfall ever in Iowa and also the latest ever in Iowa,” Hillaker says.
“Le Mars had the state’s high total for that event with 10 inches of snow.” The drought that’s plagued Iowa and much of the country for more than a year may finally be ending, at least for the Hawkeye State. Hillaker says the just-concluded month was the wettest April ever.
“There’s definitely been a substantial improvement as far as drought conditions go over much of Iowa,” Hillaker say. “For the state as a whole, this was our wettest April on record, 2013, the wettest April in 141 years of data, mainly because of very wet conditions over the eastern two-thirds of the state.”
The driest spots in the state are the northwest and southwest corners, which had rainfall about average for April. The rainfall total for the month statewide averages out to around 6.63 inches, beating the previous rainfall record set in 1999.
That six-plus inches is almost twice the norm for the month.
By Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars