May 2011 Weather Recap

June 6, 2011
A number of golf courses experienced severe weather during the month of May.

Although summer doesn’t officially begin until the 21st of this month, the state will experience mid-summer temperatures during the first half of this week. Dollar spot has been active for a couple weeks now and brown patch and pythium blight could make an appearance the next couple of days with the temperatures expected to be in the mid-90’s. Let’s take a quick look at the weather the state experienced in May.


Air temperatures during the month of May averaged 60 degrees which is 1.3 degrees cooler than average. The warmest day of the month occurred on May 10th as daytime air temperatures climbed above 90 degrees. The coolest day of the month occurred just four days later as temperatures plummeted to 49 degrees. Soil temperatures slowly rose throughout the month from the mid-60’s and climbed into the low 70’s towards the end of the month

After record rainfalls during the summer of 2010, it appears we could be headed down the same road again this season. May rainfall amounts totaled 5.61 inches or 1.26 inches above normal. Since May 1, central Iowa has received over 10.5 inches of rain from 35 rainfall events. During this same time period last year we had received 9.5 inches of rain from 33 rainfall events.

The month of May also saw a number of severe weather events with strong winds, thunder, and lightning. Turf areas can be a dangerous place to be during thunderstorms because they are generally open areas scattered with individual trees. A lightning bolt will take the shortest route between the cloud and the ground, which means that a golfer standing in the middle of a fairway or huddled under a tree is a prime target for a strike.


One golf course in central Iowa experienced a lightning strike on a putting green.  Remember to remind your crew about lightning safety.

The Golf Course Superintendent Association America of America (GCSAA) publishes a list of lightning safety tips. Take time to review these safety points with your crews as we enter the summer season.

•  Seek shelter at the first sign of a thunderstorm. If the course's warning system sounds, take cover.

•  If possible, get off the golf course or go to a designated lightning shelter.

•  Do not stand under a lone tree. This is where most people are injured or killed.
•  Stay away from water.

•  Stay away from your golf clubs.

•  If your shoes have metal spikes, take them off.

•  Move away from your golf cart.

•  If stranded in the open, go to a low place such as a ravine or valley.