When the National Weather Service posts records for events such as the May 2 snowstorm, maybe it needs a new category - BEYOND BELIEF!
When a weather record is set, it's normally by a degree or two, an extra half inch of rain, or it's just a bit more nippy. The Thursday storm, however, blew away, annihilated, obliterated, smashed the records for one-day and monthly snow in May in Rochester.
The records had been 1.2 inches May 5, 1944, and 2 inches total in all of May 1944. The new record is 14 inches. The final monthly total is not yet known because a bit of snow fell overnight. That 14 inches in one day ties May 2, 2013, for the fourth heaviest one-day snowfall in Rochester's recorded history.
In fact, snow had only been recorded about 6 times in any May in Rochester and when you add up all of them, they don't come close to Thursday.
Furthermore, the 15.4 inches officially recorded at 7 a.m. today by a weather observer in Dodge Center easily beats the former state daily May snowfall record for the whole state. It had been 12 inches set May 17, 1890, in St. Cloud. Some places recorded more, such as 17.5 inches in Goodhue, but the service only recognizes records from official weather stations.
The snowfall brings the Rochester seasonal total to 73.5 inches, which is fifth in the top seasons; today's snow could push this season into third. The record is 84.7 inches set in 1996-97.
All of these gee-whiz statistics, however, probably meant nothing to those who had to live through the mess, try to shovel or snowblow it, rake their roofs, try to push stuck cars out of drifts or just look at at after seeing green begin to pop up last weekend in lawns and flower beds.
It was a major headache. No travel was advised and the Minnesota Department of Transportation listed driving in much of the region this morning as difficult or fair. U.S. 52 near Cannon Falls was closed for a while early Thursday because of jackknifed semi trucks.
Emergency dispatchers in the region reported cars in ditches and other problems, such as getting stuck in the middle of the road but there were no serious problems.
Schools closed throughout the region as did many community events and some schools closed or opened late today.
About 25,000 Xcel Energy Minnesota customers, mostly in Red Wing, Faribault and Northfield, lost power when the heavy wet snow knocked branches down onto lines, and about another 35,000 across the Mississippi River in Wisconsin were also affected, according to Patti Nystuen, an Xcel spokesperson.
"We had the vast majority up by 11 o'clock last night," she said. About 2,000 customers scattered in southeast Minnesota still didn't have power but it was expected to be up soon, she said.
People's Energy Cooperative reported this morning that its crews are continuing to to repair electrical system damage caused by wet, heavy snow that brought down overhead power lines and tree limbs and knocked out power to more than 900 customers. Dangerous driving made it harder to reach downed lines, said President and CEO Elaine J. Garry.
That number fell to about 300 by mid-morning and was dropping. More line crews and tree contractors were brought in to help and the cooperative anticipates everyone will have power by the end of today. The cooperative has members in Olmsted, Dodge, Fillmore, Mower, Wabasha and Winona counties.
Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services said freezing rain, sleet, up to 13 inches of snow and strong winds left about 800 customers without power. That fell to 394 by mid-morning today.
The 100-mile Garage Sale continued, despite the snow. It's a massive sale in and around 15 communities on both sides of the Mississippi River from Red Wing to Winona. It will run through Saturday.
Just because the snow is over doesn't mean were out of the snowy woods.
The forecast of the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis., calls for a chance of a wintry mix today with snow before noon then rain tonight with up an a half inch possible. Rain should continue Saturday with a high of 49, so much of the snow could begin melting.
The chance for rain drops Sunday when the high will be near 61.
Spring should return Monday with sunny skies and a high near 66.