National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Through 1970 Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day) was always held on May 30th.  As part of the Uniform Holiday Bill of 1968, Memorial Day was moved from May 30th to the last Monday in May in 1971. It has been held on this date ever since.  Memorial Day can now fall anywhere from May 25th to May 31st. Below are some Memorial Day climate statistics for La Crosse, WI and Rochester, MN.

La Crosse, WI:

The following statistics comprises 147 years of data. From 1873 through 1950, the data came from various locations in downtown La Crosse. Since 1950, the data has been gathered at La Crosse Regional Airport.

Memorial Day in La Crosse, WI
(Period of Record 1873-2019)
Normals
(May 25 - May 31)
Records
Maximum Temperature
76°F - 78°F
Warmest High Temperature
95°F
May 29, 2006
Coldest High Temperature
49°F
May 30, 1897
Minimum Temperature
52°F - 54°F
 
Warmest Low Temperature
75°F
May 29, 2006
Coldest Low Temperature
36°F
May 30, 1873
Average Temperature
64°F - 66°F
 
Warmest Average Temperature
85.0°F
May 29, 2006
Coldest Average Temperature
44.5°F
May 30, 1897
Precipitation
0.11" - 0.12"
Wettest
1.13"
May 27, 2019

 

Temperatures have been above normal during 11 of the last 15 Memorial Days.   It has rained on the last 11 Memorial Days (10 measurable and one trace in the streak).  This is the longest stretch.  The previous record was 5 consecutive from 1983 to 1987 (3 measurable and 2 traces in the streak).

The odds of having any precipitation at all on Memorial Day are 51.7% (76 out of 147).  There has been measurable (0.01" or greater) on 55 Memorial Days (37.4%) and trace amounts (less than 0.01") on 21 Memorial Days (14.3%).

Last year on Memorial Day (May 27th), the high temperature was 64°F, the low temperature was 54°F, and 1.13" of rain fell (wettest Memorial Day).  The average wind speed was 2.8 mph.

Rochester, MN:

The following statistics comprises 105 years of data. From 1887 through 1931, the data came from several cooperative observers in the Rochester area. Since 1932, the data has been gathered at Rochester International Airport. No data was taken on Memorial Day from 1889 to 1891, 1908, and from 1921 to 1928.

Memorial Day in Rochester, MN
(Period of Record 1887-2019)
Normals
(May 25 - May 31)
Records
Maximum Temperature
71°F - 73°F
Warmest High Temperature
96°F
May 30, 1934
Coldest High Temperature
46°F
May 25, 1992
Minimum Temperature
49°F - 51°F
Warmest Low Temperature
72°F
May 29, 2006
Coldest Low Temperature
31°F
May 30, 1930
Average Temperature
60°F - 62°F
 
Warmest Average Temperature
83.5°F
May 29, 2006
Coldest Average Temperature
42.5° F
May 25, 1992
Precipitation
0.12"
Wettest
3.33"
May 27, 2019

 

Temperatures have been above normal during 11 of the last 15 Memorial Days.  Rain has fallen on 6 of the last 7 Memorial Days (6 measurable and 1 trace).

The odds of having any precipitation at all on Memorial Day are 55.7% (59 out of 106).  There has been measurable (0.01" or greater) on 38 Memorial Days (35.8%) and trace amounts (less than 0.01") on 21 Memorial Days (19.8%).

Last year on Memorial Day (May 27th), the high temperature was 63°F, the low temperature was 51°F, and 3.33" of rain fell (wettest Memorial Day.  The average wind speed was 11.9 mph.

Flag

Memorial Day
Weather History

grave site

The following weather events affected southeast Minnesota, northeast Iowa, and western Wisconsin on Memorial Day:

  • In 1941, Decorah, IA (7.70") and Waukon, IA (5.98") had their wettest 24 hour period (from the morning of the May 29th through the Memorial Day). Much of the rain fell in Decorah between 2 PM and 11 PM on 29th. This heavy rain caused Dry Run Creek to overflow at Decorah covering streets and sidewalks with mud, flooding the lower levels of the town and damaging roads and bridges. Damage of a similar but less severe nature occurred at Waukon. In the surrounding countryside, bridges, highways, culverts and railroad roadbeds were damaged, newly planted cornfields eroded, some hay and small grain fields covered with mud and much topsoil washed away. The damage was augmented by continued cool and showery weather which prevailed during the first half of June and prevented drying of fields and replanting of corn and delayed reconstruction of railroads, highways, and bridges. The total damage to tangible property in the northeast counties of Iowa was close to three-quarters of a million dollars, while the erosion loss probably exceeded that figure.
  • In 1942, heavy rains began on May 29th and continued through Memorial Day (May 30th) and May 31st across the northern two-thirds of Wisconsin. These rains caused floods, particularly in the Chippewa River and tributaries and the Black River, that continued into June. Alma, WI received 3.29 inches of rain on Memorial Day.
  • In 1953 (May 30th), Platteville, WI (93) and Genoa, WI (90) had their warmest May temperature.
  • In 1978 (May 29th), an F1 tornado occurred just southwest of Caledonia, MN (Houston County) during the afternoon. According to NCDC’s Storm Data, "at 4:25 PM, Mr. Jim Haig observed a tornado approaching his farm from the south. Some damage occurred to his main barn. In addition, a new steel building was destroyed with its roof thrown 200 feet north of the building site. 2x6 lumber was driven into the ground to 10-inch depth. Also, lumber was impaled in a tree trunk 300 feet from the building. Large and small trees showed signs of being twisted and a very tight circulation." Also on this date, Minnesota City, MN had their wettest May day (4.20") and there was a funnel cloud reported at 2:25 PM in Medford, MN (Olmsted County).
  • In 1991 (May 27th), strong thunderstorms developed during the afternoon over western Olmsted County and produced up to baseball (2.75" in diameter) hail and gusty winds in the vicinity of Rochester. Between 3:15 and 3:45 PM CDT, hail covered the ground in the southwestern portion of Rochester and it still had not melted about 3 hours later. The combination of strong wind and large hail did significant damage to trees and automobiles. These severe thunderstorms moved into northern and central Wisconsin during the late afternoon and evening. Wind damage was reported in Willard (Clark County) at 5:10 PM CDT and a funnel cloud was reported 8 miles northeast of Melrose (Jackson County) 8:58 PM CDT. Also that that evening, thunderstorms produced funnel clouds two miles south of St. Ansgar (8 PM CDT) and two miles west of Osage (825 PM CDT) in Mitchell County Iowa.
  • In 1994 (May 30th), a cold front moved produced strong to severe thunderstorms as across Minnesota and Wisconsin during the afternoon and evening.
     
    • In southeast Minnesota: Quarter size hail was reported in Mapleview (Mower County) and Rochester International Airport (Olmsted County); walnut size hail (1.50") fell 5 miles south of Kasson (Dodge County), and baseball size (2.50") hail was reported in Salem Corners (Olmsted County). Besides the hail, estimated 60 mph winds were reported in Salem Corners (Olmsted County) and numerous funnel clouds were reported in Rochester, Stewartville, Grand Meadow, and Austin.
    • In northeast Iowa: Mitchell, Floyd, and Butler Counties received dime to golf ball size.
    • In Wisconsin: Severe thunderstorms raked west central and northern parts of the state with damaging winds up to 61 mph (Melrose in Jackson County) and hail up to tennis ball size hail, and two tornadoes. A tornado set down just east of Woodville in St. Croix County damaging eight farm dwellings and structures along its one-mile path causing $55,000 damage. Another tornado cut a 12-mile path from just southwest of Crandon to just north of Laona in Forest County causing $1 million damage. It destroyed three mobile homes, damaged or destroyed 25 homes and leveled 600 acres of timber. Three people were injured in a mobile home that was destroyed by the tornado. Widespread hail up to tennis ball size fell over the Rhinelander area damaging hundreds of vehicles as well as roofs and windows. A severe thunderstorm with damaging winds knocked down about 3,000 trees and damaged several homes and cabins seven miles southeast of Seeley (Sawyer County). Wind damage was reported six miles south of Melrose (Buffalo County), Independence (Trempealeau County), and Melrose (Jackson County). A funnel cloud was reported in Nelson (Buffalo County).
  • In 2006 (May 29th), temperatures ranged from the upper 80s to mid-90s.  In many places, this still stands as the warmest Memorial Day.
  • In 2018 (May 28th), temperatures ranged from the upper 80s to upper 90s.  It was the second warmest Memorial Day in both La Crosse, WI (94°F) and Rochester, MN (95°F).
  • In 2019 (May 27th), 7 tornadoes occurred during the afternoon in northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota. 3 were brief touchdowns in Fillmore Co, MN with the other 4 having longer tracks (near Charles City, IA, near Elma, IA, near Saratoga, IA, and the last around Greenleafton, MN).  Besides the tornadoes, between 1 and 3.50" of rain fell across the Upper Mississippi River.  It was the wettest Memorial Day for many locations.  This includes La Crosse (1.13" - previous record was 1.06" on May 30, 1882) and Rochester  (3.33" - previous record was 1.50" on May 30, 1917).   https://www.weather.gov/arx/may2719