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Historic May storm brings snow and record cold temperatures to the Great Lakes

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In the Midwest, the unofficial start to summer with barbecues seems a little far-fetched as people are still shoveling and having to clear snow off their grills before they even think about using them.

Another late-season storm is bringing wintry conditions this week to parts of the Midwest and Ohio Valley. Heavy snow, torrential rain, gusty winds and possible record cold high temperatures will make for a pretty miserable start to the week weather-wise.

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service office in Marquette, Michigan, are describing the event as “a historic late spring snowstorm the likes of which we have not seen here in Upper Michigan since May of 1990.”

Parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula have already seen up to 18 inches of snow and another two feet are possible through Tuesday.

“Given the late-season event, surface temperatures hovering around freezing will lead to a very heavy, wet snow, which may result in downed trees and powerlines,” the Weather Prediction Center said.

Along with heavy snow, winds will be gusting up to 50 mph across the Upper Midwest, which will add to the danger of falling trees.

The reason is a strong area of low pressure, which has stalled out over the Great Lakes region. It is bringing strong effects, felt for a longer duration, simply because the storm is not moving.

“Several locations (are) potentially approaching May monthly low-pressure records,” the prediction center mentioned in its forecast discussion.

As barometric pressure drops, it can be an indication of how strong a storm is. In this case, the pressure over the Great Lakes is equivalent to a strong tropical storm or low-end Category 1 hurricane.

The steady stream of strong winds will cause incredible wave heights across portions of the Great Lakes as well.

“The strong north winds will cause waves to build into the 15 to 20 feet range along the shores of Lake Superior today into tonight resulting in possible lakeshore flooding for portions of eastern Marquette and Alger counties,” the weather service office in Marquette said.

Flood watches are in effect across the region for not only the lakeshore flooding, but the additional river rise expected from snowmelt.

Temperatures across the Midwest, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley are running 10 to 20 degrees below normal early this week and more than 60 cold temperature records could be broken.

Here are a few cities expected to break records for cold high temperatures. All will experience temperatures more typical for early March:

Dayton, Ohio, is forecast to reach only 46 Monday afternoon, which will shatter the old record low high by 4 degrees. Fort Wayne, Indiana, could come close to breaking a low high temperature record, with a high expected to top out at only 42 degrees. The Tri-Cities of eastern Tennessee could also break a record low high temperature. They are forecast to only reach 56 degrees today.

The system will finally push out by midweek, moving into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast by Wednesday. I know many of you in the Northeast are tired of rain, after the miserable and dreary weekend, but this week is unfortunately going to remain unsettled. Rain and normal temperatures will settle in.

“Below-average temperatures will spill into the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, with nighttime lows dipping into the low 40s across nearly the entirety of the I-95 urban corridor,” the prediction center said.

Some of the higher elevations like the Pocono Plateau could even see a little snow.

“If some wet flakes do mix in, no impacts are expected (besides asking yourself “isn’t it May?”),” the weather service office in New York City pointed out in its forecast discussion.

For the rest of the Northeast, the precipitation type will be all rain, on top of what has already been a soaking weekend.

Yesterday Portland, Maine set a new daily rainfall record after picking up 2.5 inches of rain. Central Park in New York City also broke a daily rainfall record on Saturday after recording 2.46 inches of rain.

Much of the late-season misery should be pushed out by the second half of the week, nudging temperatures warmer and closer to where they should be this time of year, just in time for the weekend.

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