A record-shattering May snowstorm swept across the north-central U.S. on Thursday, causing travel headaches, canceling schools, and knocking out power to tens of thousands of winter-weary residents.
The National Weather Service reported that the storm will likely set the all-time record for biggest May snowfall in three states: Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. As much as 18 inches fell on parts of southeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin.
Omaha, Mason City, Iowa, and Rochester, Minn., were all clobbered by their biggest May snowfall on record, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. In many cases in the major cities in the Plains, weather records date back to the 1800s.
Snowflakes were reported Thursday afternoon as far south as Tulsa, the latest that snow has ever been seen there, according to the weather service. The average high temperature on May 2 in Tulsa is 76 degrees.
Earlier in the week, the storm dumped 28.2 inches of snow near Buckhorn Mountain, Colo., the top snow total from the storm, the weather service reported.
Students in more than 30 school districts enjoyed a rare snow day in May, while utility crews in Minnesota went to work early Thursday to restore power to more than 29,000 Xcel Energy customers.
Bobbi Howe's daughters, 10-year-old Emma and 7-year-old Averie, stayed home in the southeastern Minnesota city of Owatonna, where 15.5 inches of snow made it hard for the family to open their front door. "It's not cool," Emma said, adding that she was tired of winter and would rather be at school. "I don't like the snow right now."
Damage totals are being assessed after the roof on a former auto dealership in West Concord, Minn., collapsed Thursday morning, KARE-TV reported. At least half of the building's roof caved in, and roof panels and walls sagged under the weight of what the weather service said was more than a foot of heavy, wet spring snow.
In Denver, the city tied a record low temperature of 19 degrees early Thursday, just days after the city basked in an afternoon high temperature of 80 degrees.
On Wednesday, Denver native Chris Lujan said he has never worn a top coat, scarf and hat on May 1st before. Greg Notz just put his hood up and wasn't fazed. "I expect this. Yup. It's better than living where it's warm and dry and nice all the time. At least we get a variety," he said.
In Dodge City, Kan., the temperature Thursday morning fell to 32 degrees after recording a high of 91 degrees on Tuesday. And in southeastern Wyoming, Thursday morning wind chills approached 10 degrees below zero.
The Weather Channel named it Winter Storm Achilles as part of its new winter-storm naming system. The winter has been so full of storms that the Weather Channel has had to start a second alphabetical list of Latin and Greek names, as the first list ended with Zeus, according to Weather Channel spokeswoman Maureen Marshall.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Doyle Rice, USA TODAY