Freak weather: Record snowfall in the Midwest with more than 15 inches in parts of Minnesota and near 90 degree temps in California along with raging wildfires
- Records broken, power out, roads blocked
- May snow storm dumps more than 15 inches across Midwest
- Minnesota’s Interstate had to be closed for several hours overnight
- Many schools and colleges are closed and 15,000 residents without power
- 2,000 miles away: record-breaking heat today and tomorrow in Northern California
- Southern California under red flag warnings for fire danger due to heat, wind and low humidity
By JAMES DANIEL
PUBLISHED: 10:26 EST, 2 May 2013 | UPDATED: 16:37 EST, 2 May 2013
The calendar may say May, but it still looks like winter in parts of the Midwest and Rockies where residents are digging out from more than a foot of snow.
The National Weather Service says 15.5 inches total landed in Owatonna, Minnesota.
Schools are closed in many of Minnesota cities and even the states main Interstate was shut overnight because of downed power lines.
It could be the heaviest May snowfall in the states’ recorded history.
Yet, across the other side of the country, California is getting an early taste of summer with a blast of heat producing record-setting temperatures.
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In the mid-section of the country, the winter weather system is still packing a punch as it crosses the country with Iowa next in the firing line.
The storm is so large that even southern states including Alabama and Tennessee are likely to be hit with wet snow before the weekend.
Some students and schoolchildren in Minnesota and Wisconsin are enjoying an unseasonably late ‘snow day’ as the spring snow storm dumped more than 14 inches of snow in other parts of the state.
Bobbi Howe’s two daughters had to stay home in the southeastern Minnesota city of Owatonna, where 15.5 inches of snow made it hard for the family to open their front door.
More than 16 inches of snow fell on Ashland in far northwestern Wisconsin. The Wisconsin State Patrol says that was a factor in a fatal crash between two semis on Interstate 94 near Menomonie.
Meanwhile, across the other side of the country, California is expected to get an early taste of summer today with a blast of heat that could produce some record-setting temperatures.
The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for parts of the Bay Area, including Santa Clara County and other inland areas, forecasting temperatures in some areas reaching the low 90s.
‘We’re going to get close in a lot of places,’ said Diana Henderson, a forecaster with the weather service. ‘Quite possible there could be one or two records broken today.’
Mountain View is expected to see a high of 90 today and in San Jose, a high of 89 is expected.
Christine Riley, a meteorologist with the weather service’s San Francisco Bay Area station said high pressure building over the area in conjunction with warming offshore winds is responsible for the higher temperatures.
Daytime highs are expected to hover in the 80s and 90s inland, which for many cities will amount to a 20-degree jump from normal temperatures for this time of year, Riley said.
Forecasters expect two weeks of higher-than-average temperatures before the numbers settle down in the 60s and 70s.
‘These temperatures are well above normal, but we see this year to year,’ Riley said. ‘We’ll get a week or two of really warm temperatures, then it will normalize out.’
Near Los Angeles a fast-moving wildfire broke out in the largely undeveloped foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains.
At least 425 firefighters were working to gain control of the fast-moving fire, which has destroyed one home and is 35 per cent contained, said Jody Hagemann, spokeswoman for the county fire department.
Six helicopters and six air tankers were making water drops.
Winds of 29mph were driving the fire and if they continued, the fire could reach communities in Cherry Valley and Beaumont.
Much of Southern California was under red flag warnings for fire danger due to heat, wind and low humidity levels.
In Northern California, firefighters were battling fires fueled by gusty winds in wine country north of San Francisco.
Back in the Midwest, the snow was just as heavy in parts of Wisconsin, with in the west of the state Baldwin reporting 14.7 inches.
More than 16 inches of snow fell on Ashland in far northwestern Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin State Patrol says that was a factor in a fatal crash between two semis on Interstate 94 near Menomonie.
Utility crews are scrambling to restore power to more than 15,000 Xcel Energy customers.
The heavy, wet spring snow has snapped tree branches, dropping them onto power lines.
The storm is still going strong today and could reach even more unlikely locations over the Plains, Midwest and the South before it’s all over.
Omaha, Nebraska, Mason City, Iowa, and Rochester, Minnesota are just a few of the cities that have been whacked by the wintry weather and their biggest May snowfall on record.
In many cases in the major cities in the Plains, those records date back to the 1800s.
The National Weather Service is reporting 14 inches of snow in Ellsworth, Wisconsin, 15.5 inches of snow at Owatonna, Minnesota, 13 inches in Red Wing and 14.7 inches in Baldwin, Wisconsin.
The Twin Cities were supposed to be in the bulls-eye but escaped unscathed when the storm tracked farther east than forecast.
However, the eastern and southeastern suburbs did see some slushy accumulation ranging from 3 to 4 inches.
Although Minneapolis/St. Paul managed to avoid the heaviest snow, just 50 miles southeast of the Twin Cities received between 6 and 12 inches of snow last night.
That snow has been described as being like ‘heavy and wet, like concrete.’ As it was plastered onto trees, it caused many to topple.
As much as 14 inches fell in parts of southeastern Minnesota with Omaha, Nebraska picking up between 3 and 6 inches of snow.
In some cases the snow fell on locations that were in the 80s just a couple of days earlier, including Denver and Amarillo, Texas.
Wichita, Kansas, Kansas City, Missori and Des Moines, Iowa are next in line to feel the storms fury.
As the storm continues to spin slowly to the east there is even a chance of snow reaching the southern states of Tennessee, northern Alabama and northern Mississippi early next week.
The storm will mean more rain for the already flooded Mississippi Valley.
Downpours could put a damper on activities in Louisville for Derby Day.
There is a chance of muddy track conditions if downpours manage to swing through right before the Kentucky Derby.
Although there have been some snowstorms before in May in the region, it is rare.
Record books refer to 1907 as a terrible year for a late winter storm and there were a number of years during the mid-1940s but there hasn’t been anything like this in recent memory.
According to National Weather Service records for May, until this storm in 2013, there has never been more than 2.0 inches of snow in Omaha, Nebraska.
Until this week, the heaviest May snowfall on record for Des Moines, Iowa, was in during 1907, when 1.2 inches fell.