National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Historic Snowfall for the Ozarks - May 3rd, 2013

National Weather Service, Springfield, MO

Event Summary

An unprecedented early May snowfall occurred across southeastern Kansas and the western Missouri Ozarks on May 3rd and early on May 4th, 2013.  This snow occurred as a large upper level area of low pressure slowly moved east across the region.  Lift, moisture, and cold air associated with this low resulted in a prolonged period of light to moderate snow, along with record low temperatures.


While snow was observed over much of the region, the heaviest amounts generally occurred between U.S. 65 and I-49 in Missouri, where 2-4” of snow fell over the course of two days. Along with the snow, high temperatures on Friday, May 3rd generally remained in the mid to upper 30s, with low temperatures around the freezing mark.  These cold temperatures broke daily record cold high temperatures.  In addition, several sites saw the coldest recorded temperatures for the month of May.

Event Pictures

Event Reports

Here is a selection of two day storm total snowfall amounts from some of our Cooperative Observers.  Please note that because some snow melted during the daytime hours on Friday, May 3rd, these storm total snow amounts may be greater than the amount of snow seen on the ground at any one time.


Springfield NWS Office (official City of Springfield observation)—1.4 inches

Appleton City, MO—3.0 inches

Ash Grove, MO—4.5 inches

Buffalo, MO—0.5 inches

Cole Camp, MO—3.4 inches

Carthage, MO—4.0 inches

Lockwood, MO—3.0 inches

Climatological Perspective

Snow across the Missouri Ozarks this late in the season is nearly unprecedented.   Since record keeping began in Springfield, MO in 1888, this is only the second time that measurable snowfall (0.1 inch or greater) has fallen in the month of May.  The only previous instance was on May 2, 1929, when 6.1 inches of snow fell.  So, while May 3rd, 2013’s 1.4 inches does not break the record for most May snowfall, it does set a new record for the latest observed measurable snow.   The latest that a trace of snow has been observed in Springfield was May 6th, 1944.


Along with the snow, the cold temperatures that occurred on May 3rd, 2013 are also record-setting.   For May 3rd, new daily record cold high temperatures were observed:





City                                    High Temperature     Previous Record High/Year


Springfield                                  36                                    48 / 1954

Joplin                                          43                                    51 / 1978

West Plains                                40                                    53 / 1978

Rolla/Vichy                                38                                    50 / 1954


Along with daily temperature records, May 3rd, 2013 also set new records for coldest high temperatures on record for the entire month of May.  Here are the previous monthly cold high temperatures: 


Springfield                                 43 (5/4/1935)
Joplin                                         46 (5/16/1945)
West Plains                                47 (5/2/2011)
Rolla/Vichy                                47 (5/1/1995 and 5/4/1978)