A surprise May snow storm left 18 inches across parts Minnesota, leaving weary residents to trade in their grills for snow blowers.
The spring snow fell across the Upper Midwest, striking southeastern Minnesota, west-central Wisconsin and northern Iowa the hardest. In Blooming Prairie, Minnesota, residents saw 18 inches of May snow while in nearby Owatonna they had 15 inches.
The surprise storm will likely go down as the biggest one-day May snowfall in Minnesota’s history. The previous record was 12 inches, set on three different occasions.
“The northernmost areas have seen snow in May before, but not of this magnitude,” said Jim Keeney, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
Neighboring states got it bad as well. In Wisconsin, Ashland had more than 16 inches before the May storm finally moved over Lake Superior. The storm even stretched as far as the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle, where trace amounts of snow were reported.
The May snow is also being blamed for at least one death. A semi on Interstate 94 hit a slippery patch and rolled into the path of a second semi, killing the driver of the first truck. The other driver suffered injuries not said to be life-threatening.
The 18 inches of May snow caused damage elsewhere, collapsing roofs and snapping branches. Tens of thousands of people across Minnesota and Wisconsin were also left without power, and dozens of school districts canceled classes.
The snow storm was also a burden on local police and emergency workers.
“We are getting pounded with a bunch of snow,” said Gwen Rosengarten, a dispatcher for sheriff’s department in Bayfield County, Wisconsin.
While the May snow left 18 inches elsewhere in the Minnesota, the Twin Cities were spared. At Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport only a trace of snow was reported on Wednesday. It has been 37 years since the Twin Cities saw more than an inch of snow accumulate in May.