'Average' May? Wild temperature swings continue into June

May temperatures and rainfall highly variable across Minnesota

“Average” weather is a relative concept in Minnesota.

Minnesota sits near the center of North America. Our central continental location and the lack of nearby mountains mean air masses sweep freely across the state. The only thing between Minnesota and the Arctic Circle is a barbed wire fence at the Canadian border.

With no nearby ocean to modify air masses, our weather patterns change at the mercy of restless winds. Lake Superior modifies climate near the North Shore, but temperatures often swing wildly either side of average in most of Minnesota. Contrasting air masses sweep freely overhead from all directions.

Air masses
Air masses
Texas A & M University

That’s why our weather patterns this week have been typical of the extremes we often see.

The 80s and humid with severe thunderstorms on Tuesday. Chilly October-like breezes by Friday.

Par for the weather course.

‘Average’ May?

It’s interesting to look at temperatures and rainfall this May across Minnesota. Temperatures ran very close to average in the Twin Cities. (minus 0.2 degrees)

But take a look at the daily swings in temperatures in the Twin Cities this month. You can see how our “average” May temperature is composed of wild swings between colder and warmer air masses.

May temperatures at MSP Airport
May temperatures at MSP Airport
NOAA

Rainfall, too?

You could make the case that overall rainfall in Minnesota in May was near average. But it was really a case of the haves and the have not’s. Dry central and north. Wet down south. All weather is local as they say.

30-day precipitation
Thirty-day precipitation
Midwest Regional Climate Center

Cool weekend

Campers in the BWCA wake up to temperatures in the 30s this weekend. Highs Saturday feel more like October than late May.

Forecast high temperatures Saturday
Forecast high temperatures Saturday
NOAA

Winds ease off a bit Saturday. It will be cool, but with plenty of sun and light winds, it will feel much nicer on the lakes and the trails.

Wind forecast Saturday
Wind forecast Saturday
NOAA

Heat and humidity appear set to return next week as June arrives. More on that later today in Updraft, and on my 4:48 p.m. and 5:48 p.m. weather chats on MPR News.

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