Rare May snowstorm pounds Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota

MILWAUKEE Fri May 3, 2013 4:52am IST

A bed of tulips is covered with fresh snow in downtown Golden, Colorado May 1, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A bed of tulips is covered with fresh snow in downtown Golden, Colorado May 1, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - An unseasonable winter storm system dropped more than a foot (30 cm) of snow across the central Plains and the upper Midwest on Thursday, closing roads and causing power outages in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The system has resulted in about 18 inches (46 cm) of snow falling in parts of northwest Wisconsin and more than 15 inches (38 cm) in southern Minnesota, according to the National Weather Service reported.

"The northernmost areas have seen snow in May before, but not of this magnitude," said Jim Keeney, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

Temperatures fell close to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 1 degree Celsius), making for a heavy, wet snow, causing downed trees, power outages and road closures. The snowfall will likely break seasonal records in portions of Wisconsin and Minnesota, Keeney predicted.

"We are getting pounded with a bunch of snow," said Gwen Rosengarten, a dispatcher for sheriff's department in Bayfield County, Wisconsin where about a foot of snow has fallen.

Rosengarten said traveling was difficult as many roads throughout the area remain slick and covered by snow.

More than half of the 54,000 Wisconsin and Minnesota customers who experienced power outages due to the storm had their services restored by Thursday afternoon, according to Xcel Energy (XEL.N).

Because of the weather and hazardous road conditions, however, some customers may have to wait until the end of day Friday to have their power back, the power company added.

The National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings from southeast Minnesota to northwest Wisconsin and weather advisories for eastern Colorado and the upper Midwest that will continue throughout Thursday.

Total snow accumulation was expected to be 10 to 20 inches (25-50 cm) in the Rockies with up to 6 inches (15 cm) in the Denver area, the National Weather Service said. Between 2 and 6 inches (5-15 cm) of snow was predicted for portions of the central plains and the upper Midwest.

Trace amounts of snow in the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma were reported on Thursday morning, but there was little or no accumulation because the ground was too warm, said Tabatha Seymore, observing program leader at the National Weather Service in Amarillo.

Weather service records show the latest that measurable snow has fallen in Amarillo occurred on May 7, 1917.

Southeast of the system, more than 10 inches (25 cm) of rain fell in parts of south Mississippi and Alabama on Wednesday into Thursday, resulting in numerous rescues and evacuations as rising floodwaters encroached on homes and stranded cars in southeast Mississippi.

Local news outlets reported that more than 50 people were in south Mississippi shelters due to flooding as of Thursday morning.

Police rescued a woman stranded in her car who was transporting her young son to the hospital for lightening strike injuries on Wednesday night. The boy, local news channels said, had non life-threatening injuries.

On Thursday, a traffic stop in Vancleave, Mississippi turned into a rescue when the car of a woman pulled over for speeding slid over an embankment into high water, according to the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

She and her three children were pulled from the rising waters and transported by ambulance to a local hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Wisconsin, Steve Olafson in Oklahoma and Kaija Wilkinson in Alabama; Editing by Scott Malone, Chizu Nomiyama and Marguerita Choy)

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