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May 2015: America’s Wettest Month Ever Recorded

lamar flooding

With catastrophic floods across the south and record-setting rainfall over a wide swath of the nation’s heartland as well, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed a gaudy stat on Monday: this May was the rainiest month in the country’s recorded history.

An average of 4.36″ of rain fell across the contiguous U.S., 1.45″ above the May average, making it the rainiest month overall in 121 years of record keeping, NOAA said Monday.

Three different states – Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas – saw their rainiest months on record, and Texas saw its wettest meteorological spring (March through May) on record. The rainfall across the south caused over 30 fatalities and widespread damage across Texas and Oklahoma in particular, but it also all but eliminated the multi-year drought that hampered much of the southern plains. In fact, nationwide drought figures dropped by over 10 percent during the soggy spring, with late April drought monitor figures falling from 37.4 percent to 24.6 percent as of last week’s update.

Some possible links to El Nino – the warming of sea-surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean – are being blamed for the record amount of rainfall. The added warm air, coupled with a near-stagnant trough of low pressure that tapped into the unusually warm and unstable airmass, helped produce the record rains across the south, along with plenty of severe weather and tornadoes.

NOAA’s three-month climate outlook keeps many of the flood-stricken areas wet and cool through the summer, potentially exacerbating existing flood concerns.

Meteorologist Chris Bianchi – Cover photo: Jim Mischler, Facebook

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