In a show of contrasts, a snowbank in the parking lot of Security Bank Minnesota in Albert Lea melts in 100-degree heat Tuesday afternoon. The snow was a reminder of a foot of snow that fell in the city 10 days prior. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune
In a show of contrasts, a snowbank in the parking lot of Security Bank Minnesota in Albert Lea melts in 100-degree heat Tuesday afternoon. The snow was a reminder of a foot of snow that fell in the city 10 days prior. -- Tim Engstrom/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

102-degree temp in Albert Lea shatters records

Published 3:59pm Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Albert Lea hit a high temperature of 102 degrees Tuesday. It is the earliest date that the city has ever recorded a 100-degree air temperature.

That shatters a record of 92 degrees, set in 1932. The normal high for May 14 is 68. It is the second hottest day ever in the month of May. The only other time the temperature ever crossed the 100-degree mark — since record keeping began in 1885 — was on May 31, 1934.

The temperature hitting triple digits is a sharp contrast from 10 days prior, when a snowstorm delivered a foot of heavy snow that toppled trees and power poles throughout the city. May 2 had a high of 39; May 3 a high of 35; May 4 a high of 42.

The forecast high today was in the 90s, not the 100s. But the air temperature in Albert Lea crossed the threshold at 3:13 p.m., according to the automated weather station at the city airport. It lasted until about 5 p.m. It peaked at 102 degrees at 4:13 p.m.

The National Weather Services has issued a red flag warning for much of the states of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and the Dakotas. The warning indicates dangerous fire conditions.

The Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office has suspended all open burning for Tuesday due to strong winds, high temperatures and dry conditions expected throughout the day, according to a news release.

Weather conditions with cooler temperatures and lighter winds are expected to return to the area today. If conditions moderate as expected, open burning will resume. The suspension does not include a restriction on recreational fires.

The overnight low was 57 degrees, at about 5:30 a.m. That represents a temperature swing of 45 degrees in less than 13 hours.

KIMT-TV chief meteorologist Adam Frederick said dry air can heat quicker than moist air, which is why the American West sees wide temperature fluctuations. Hot air during the day escapes at night.

It’s not uncommon in Minnesota during spring and fall, either.

“Spring and fall is when we see the wild temperature swings,” he said.

It often comes with cold air to the north and warm air pushing from the south or the west, trying to fill in.

“It’s why spring is so windy and stormy,” Frederick said.

On Tuesday, west winds delivered warm, dry air. The dew point was 27 degrees, when it usually is in the 40s and 50s. Frederick said the relative humidity was 6 percent.

Warm, dry air replacing cold, dry air doesn’t have the same risks that warm, moist air possesses. Humidity is a hallmark of Minnesota summers. It is largely because of acres and acres of cropland but also because moisture from the Gulf of Mexico at times pushes northward across the central United States, Frederick said. When the warm, moist air replaces cold, dry air, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms become possible.

Austin recorded a high of 99 degrees, setting its all-time maximum temperature for the month of May. The previous had been 94, set in 1988.

 

High temps this month in Albert Lea, in degrees Fahrenheit:

May 1: 53

May 2: 39

May 3: 35

May 4: 42

May 5: 62

May 6: 73

May 7: 75

May 8: 75

May 9: 59

May 10: 64

May 11: 57

May 12: 60

May 13: 77

May 14: 102

These temperatures are based on data from the automated weather station at the Albert Lea Municipal Airport. However, official Albert Lea records are based on observed (not automated) temperatures from the Albert Lea Wastewater Treatment Plant south of the city. Sometimes, the actual observed record varies from the automated data.