Since 1884, Omaha has recorded only six days of accumulating snow in May — and two of them occurred eight years ago. The first snowfall ever recorded on May 2 in Omaha happened in 2013.
Omaha received 1.9 inches of snow on May 1 and 1.2 inches on May 2. The storm total of 3.1 inches also set a monthly record for Omaha. The previous record for May snow in Omaha was 2 inches, which fell on May 9, 1945.
Lincoln reported 2.75 inches, just short of its record of 3 inches set on May 3, 1967.
The historic May snow fell primarily along a line from southeast Nebraska to Lake Superior, cutting diagonally across Iowa and Minnesota, where the heaviest snow fell. In most of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, snow totaled from 1 to 4.5 inches. Similar amounts fell in southeast South Dakota.
May snows are unusual because seasonal changes typically overwhelm the ability of snow to accumulate, said Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. The warm ground, marginal temperatures and greater intensity of the sun all make it harder for snow to persist, he said.
The snow resulted from a powerful cold front rushing headlong into the central U.S. just as warm air flowed up from the Gulf of Mexico.
Based on records through midday May 2, 2013, the snow followed a distinct pattern common to rare May snows: along a tight line where atmospheric and surface conditions proved “just right.”