Midwest Weekly Highlights - May 1-10, 2009
Temperatures across the region were seasonable. The region experienced a mix of above and below average days but few daily records. The records were either record low maximum or record high minimum temperatures. On average, the first ten days of May ranged from 5°F below normal in northwest Minnesota to 4°F above normal in northeast Ohio (Figure 1). Areas with average temperature departures above 3°F were located in eastern Wisconsin, southern and eastern Ohio, and extreme southeastern Kentucky.
May precipitation to date has been focused on the southern parts of the midwest. Rainfall totals reached 300% of normal in southern Kentucky. Totals reached 200% of normal in the southern half of Missouri, most of Kentucky, and the extreme southern edges of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. Small areas of southeastern Wisconsin and west central Michigan also exceeded 200% (Figure 2).
Drought conditions in southeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin persisted (Figure 3). At the other extreme, wet soils in Illinois and Indiana continued to hamper the spring planting of corn. Planting of Illinois corn is typically 84% complete by the first week of May, but is only 10% done this year. Indiana corn planting is at 11% compared to the normal of 70%. Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan are also behind schedule. Farmers in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have taken advantage of drier weather to get their corn in the ground.
Five deaths in the region were blamed on the May 8 weather. Tornadoes were responsible for three deaths, the first such deaths of the season. Two additional deaths were attributed to a severe thunderstorm.
An EF2 tornado moved across Webster and Dallas counties just outside Charity, Missouri causing one fatality. The 400-yard wide tornado carved an intermittent path for 4 miles. Near Kirksville, Kentucky (Madison County), two people were killed when their mobile home was picked up and thrown by an EF3 tornado.
A severe thunderstorm one mile south of Poplar Bluffs, Missouri (Butler County) killed two people when a tree was blown onto their SUV causing a fire.
Other Severe Weather
A wide swath of severe weather tore across the southern midwest on May 7 and 8. Winds and tornadoes left a path of destruction across southern Missouri, southern Illinois, and Kentucky. Hundreds of damage reports were logged with power outages, trees and power poles snapped, overturned vehicles, damaged and destroyed homes and buildings, and flying debris too numerous to list.
Preliminary numbers from the Storm Prediction Center indicated that 27 tornadoes occurred in the Midwest in May, including 19 in Missouri. Winds were clocked at 90 mph in Missouri and over 100 mph in Illinois. Power outages affected hundreds of thousands of customers and many remained without power through May 10 (30,000 in Missouri and 40,000 in Illinois). Detailed reports on the severe weather were made available by NWS offices in the area (Springfield MO, Paducah KY, and Louisville KY).
Large hail was also reported across the area this week with every state except Indiana seeing at least 1" hail stones. Missouri was hardest hit with baseball size hail (2.75") on May 1, 7, and 8. Iowa reported baseball size hail on May 6, hail up to 1.25" on May 7, and 1" hail on May 8. Illinois saw large hail on May 7 (2") and May 8 (1.75"). Kentucky also had large hail on those days with 1.75" hail on May 7 and 2" hail on May 8. Further to the north, Ohio had 1" hail on May 1; Minnesota had 1.50" hail on May 5 and 1" hail on May 6; Wisconsin also had 1" hail on May 5; and Michigan had 1.75" hail on May 7.
Southeast Kentucky received heavy rains of 2 to 6 inches on May 7 and 8 which caused flash flooding. The hardest hit areas were in Owsley, Breathitt, Floyd and Pike counties. May rainfall in the area has already exceeded 6 inches at several stations with Boonesville (Owsley County) already at 8.39 inches. The Jackson, Kentucky NWS office posted more information and pictures of the flooding.
The Red River flooding continues to abate with gauges reporting moderate to minor flooding as of May 10. The length of the 2009 flood has set records at both Fargo and Grand Forks for consecutive days at or above moderate flooding. The work of cleaning up thousands of sand bags continues in Moorhead, Minnesota where sand is being saved for later use on icy roads.
Numerous gauges in Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky reported moderate flooding (Figure 4). Along the Illinois River, major flooding was reported at 2 gauges.