May 2-4, 2013: Snow Event

Strong upper-level highs over the Pacific Northwest and the northwest Atlantic funneled cold Canadian air southward into the Southern Plains on May 2, 2013.  The cold front associated with this cold air moved through eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas on May 2, with precipitation occurring along and behind the front. 

The unusually cold temperatures for May allowed for sleet and snow to mix in with the rain across northeast OK during the afternoon and evening hours of May 2.  Snowflakes were first observed at the NWS Tulsa office at 1:40pm CDT, making May 2, 2013 the latest observed snow in Tulsa since records began in 1900.  The previous latest observed snow in Tulsa was on April 18, 1953.  This also marks the first time snow has fallen in Tulsa in the month of May.  As the precipitation continued to move east overnight, heavier snow developed over far northeast Oklahoma, the higher elevations of southeast Oklahoma, and northwest Arkansas, where snowfall totals of 1" to 2" were common by the morning of May 3.  The highest totals of 3"-5" occurred in Adair County, OK and Benton County, AR.  This is the first time snow has fallen in the state of Arkansas during the month of May.  Ironically, this latest snow on record follows the hottest year (2012) on record across eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas.

Additional snow occurred primarily over northwest Arkansas during the early morning hours of May 4 as precipitation wrapped around the upper-level low that was still near the Arkansas-Missouri state line.  Overall, the snowfall on the 4th was much lighter than the previous night, though the higher elevations did receive near 2" of additional snow.  May 4, 2013 will go down in the record books as the latest snowfall in Arkansas.


Storm Total Snowfall


Records Broken during this Event:

Tulsa: Record Date Previous Record
Daily Snowfall Trace May 2, 2013 0.0"
Latest Snowfall Trace May 2, 2013 Trace on April 18, 1953
Highest May Snowfall Trace May 2, 2013 Never snowed in May before
Daily Low Mean Temperature 45°F May 2, 2013 47°F in 2011
       
Fort Smith:      
Daily Low Min Temperature 37°F May 3, 2013 37°F in 2011
Daily Low Mean Temperature 48.0°F May 3, 2013 49.0°F in 1954
Daily Low Max Temperature 49°F May 4, 2013 52°F in 1935
Daily Low Mean Temperature 45.5°F May 4, 2013 46.5°F in 1907
       
Fayetteville:      
Daily Snowfall 0.5" May 3, 2013 0.0"
Latest Measureable Snow 0.5" May 3, 2013 1.0" on April 12, 1957
Latest Snowfall 0.5" May 3, 2013 Trace on April 18, 1953
Highest May Snowfall 0.5" May 3, 2013 Never snowed in May before
Daily Low Max Temperature 47°F May 3, 2013 51°F in 1954
Daily Low Mean Temperature 39.5°F May 3, 2013 43.0°F in 1954
Daily Low Max Temperature 44°F May 4, 2013 51°F in 1978
Daily Low Mean Temperature 38.5°F May 4, 2013 45.5°F in 1954
       
Arkansas:      
Latest Snowfall   May 4, 2013
(24-hr snowfall accumulation of 1.00" reported at 7am May 5, 2013 by NWS COOP observer WINA4 for snowfall that occurred on May 4, 2013)
Trace on April 30, 1903 (at the Fayetteville Experimental Station (Washington County), in Gravette (Benton County) and in Harrison (Boone County))


  Click on image for larger view in a new window.

snowfall total snowfall total
Snowfall May 2-3, 2013 Snowfall May 2-3, 2013  Snowfall May 3-4, 2013 Snowfall May 2-4, 2013
Fayetteville snow bentoville snow Springdale snow Weddington snow
Photo by Brenten Stevens in Fayetteville, AR.  Courtesy of 5News/KFSM Photo by Dave and Mary Bristow in Bentonville, AR. Courtesy of 5News/KFSM Photo by Melissa Jones in Springdale, AR. Courtesy of 5News/KFSM Photo by Rick Tollett in Lake Weddington, AR. Courtesy of 5News/KFSM
snow fall Decatur decatur snowfall UA snow minimum temperatures
Photo by Rita Randall, near Decatur, AR.  This picture was taken about an hour after the 5" snowfall was measured by the CoCoRaHS observer at this location.  Photo by Rita Randall, near Decatur, AR.  This picture was taken about an hour after the 5" snowfall was measured by the CoCoRaHS observer at this location. Photo by Taylor Farrell at the University of Arkansas campus. Courtesy of 5News/KFSM  Low temperatures on the morning of May 3, 2013
  radar on may 2, 2013 radar image of snow  
  Radar mosaic and surface observations at 1:42 pm CDT May 2, 2013, when snow was observed at the NWS Tulsa office. Radar mosaic and surface observations at 3 am CDT May 3, 2013.  


Is the Ground Too Warm for Snow to Stick?

Leading up to this event, high temperaures on April 29, April 30, and May 1, 2013 were all in the 80s across eastern Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas.  Likewise, 5cm soil temperatures had warmed into the 70s to low 80s across the area. There is almost always a warm ground discussion before snow in this part of the world.  However, as seen on May 3, snow of sufficient intensity at night will accumulate despite ground temperatures well above freezing.  With these conditions, the snow will not affect the roads too much, and 100% of the snow will not stick, but some will.  In the below images of the Westville, OK mesonet soil temperature plots, there is the 40°F temperature drop at the 5 cm layer below bare ground.

 westville soil temperature  westville soil temperature

 


...PRELIMINARY SNOW ACCUMULATION SUMMARY MAY 03 2013...

...REPORTS SORTED BY AMOUNTS...

IN OKLAHOMA...

3.00 INCHES OF SNOW AT WESTVILLE IN ADAIR COUNTY
1.50 INCHES OF SNOW 1 MILES NORTH OF STILWELL IN ADAIR COUNTY
1.50 INCHES OF SNOW 6 MILES WEST OF WEST SILOAM SPRINGS IN DELAWARE COUNTY
1.00 INCH OF SNOW 4 MILES NORTH OF MUSE IN LE FLORE COUNTY
0.50 INCH OF SNOW 1 MILES NORTHWEST OF BUNCH IN ADAIR COUNTY
0.20 INCH OF SNOW AT COLCORD IN DELAWARE COUNTY
0.10 INCH OF SNOW 2 MILES SOUTH OF COLLINSVILLE IN TULSA COUNTY
0.00 INCH OF SNOW 3 MILES EAST OF SAPULPA IN CREEK COUNTY
0.00 INCH OF SNOW 3 MILES NORTHWEST OF BROKEN ARROW IN TULSA COUNTY
0.00 INCH OF SNOW AT GROVE IN DELAWARE COUNTY
0.00 INCH OF SNOW 3 MILES EAST-NORTHEAST OF TULSA IN TULSA COUNTY
0.00 INCH OF SNOW 2 MILES SOUTHWEST OF BROKEN ARROW IN TULSA COUNTY

IN ARKANSAS...

5.00 INCHES OF SNOW 3 MILES EAST-SOUTHEAST OF DECATUR IN BENTON COUNTY
3.50 INCHES OF SNOW AT GRAVETTE IN BENTON COUNTY
3.00 INCHES OF SNOW AT SILOAM SPRINGS IN BENTON COUNTY
3.00 INCHES OF SNOW 4 MILES NORTH OF MAYSVILLE IN BENTON COUNTY
3.00 INCHES OF SNOW AT DECATUR IN BENTON COUNTY
3.00 INCHES OF SNOW AT GENTRY IN BENTON COUNTY
2.50 INCHES OF SNOW AT BELLA VISTA IN BENTON COUNTY
2.00 INCHES OF SNOW 3 MILES NORTH OF SILOAM SPRINGS IN BENTON COUNTY
2.00 INCHES OF SNOW AT LOWELL IN BENTON COUNTY
2.00 INCHES OF SNOW AT CAVE SPRINGS IN BENTON COUNTY
2.00 INCHES OF SNOW 1 MILES NORTHEAST OF PRAIRIE GROVE IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
1.75 INCHES OF SNOW AT BEAVER LAKE IN BENTON COUNTY
1.50 INCHES OF SNOW AT GATEWAY IN BENTON COUNTY
1.50 INCHES OF SNOW AT GARFIELD IN BENTON COUNTY
1.50 INCHES OF SNOW 2 MILES NORTH-NORTHEAST OF BELLA VISTA IN BENTON COUNTY
1.50 INCHES OF SNOW AT PEA RIDGE IN BENTON COUNTY
1.50 INCHES OF SNOW AT BEAVER IN CARROLL COUNTY
1.25 INCHES OF SNOW 1 MILES SOUTH OF BEAVER IN CARROLL COUNTY
1.00 INCH OF SNOW AT ROGERS IN BENTON COUNTY
1.00 INCH OF SNOW 10 MILES NORTHEAST OF HINDSVILLE IN MADISON COUNTY
1.00 INCH OF SNOW 7 MILES NORTHEAST OF WINSLOW IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
1.00 INCH OF SNOW AT CENTERTON IN BENTON COUNTY
1.00 INCH OF SNOW AT SPRINGDALE IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
1.00 INCH OF SNOW AT ELM SPRINGS IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
1.00 INCH OF SNOW AT BENTONVILLE IN BENTON COUNTY
1.00 INCH OF SNOW 1 MILES WEST-SOUTHWEST OF FARMINGTON IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
0.80 INCH OF SNOW AT FAYETTEVILLE IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
0.80 INCH OF SNOW 2 MILES SOUTHEAST OF GOSHEN IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
0.75 INCH OF SNOW AT EUREKA SPRINGS IN CARROLL COUNTY
0.50 INCH OF SNOW AT ELKINS IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
0.50 INCH OF SNOW AT HIGHFILL IN BENTON COUNTY
0.40 INCH OF SNOW AT BUSCH IN CARROLL COUNTY
0.20 INCH OF SNOW 2 MILES SOUTH OF KINGSTON IN MADISON COUNTY
0.10 INCH OF SNOW 5 MILES EAST OF MULBERRY IN FRANKLIN COUNTY

 

...PRELIMINARY SNOW ACCUMULATION SUMMARY MAY 04 2013...

...REPORTS SORTED BY AMOUNTS...

IN ARKANSAS...

1.90 INCHES OF SNOW 7 MILES NORTHEAST OF WINSLOW IN WASHINGTON COUNTY
0.40 INCH OF SNOW 2 MILES SOUTH OF KINGSTON IN MADISON COUNTY

 

Updated: May 6, 2013


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