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May certainly wasn't the warmest month on record across the United States, but it was definitely the wettest. In fact, according to a new report by NOAA, it was the wettest month ever recorded, in 121 years since record keeping began.

U.S. breaks this all-time weather record for May

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Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 7:09 AM - May certainly wasn't the warmest month on record across the United States, but it was definitely the wettest. In fact, according to NOAA, it was the wettest month ever recorded, in 121 years since record keeping began.

NOAA - the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - released their May 2015 National Outlook this week, comparing temperatures, precipitation and unusual events to previous months and years in the record books.

While the records show that the month of May was pretty average when it comes to temperature, it broke national records for precipitation.


Credit: NOAA/NCDC

According to the report:

  • Wetter than average conditions were widespread across the central United States. Fifteen states from the Great Basin to Mississippi River had precipitation totals that were much above average. Colorado, Oklahoma, and Texas were each record wet for the month. In fact, Oklahoma and Texas each had their wettest month of any month on record with precipitation totals more than twice the long-term average.
  • The heavy rains in the central U.S. were accompanied by severe weather with over 400 preliminary tornado reports, the most since April 2011. The flooding rains and severe weather resulted in dozens of fatalities and widespread property damage.
  • The May precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 4.36 inches, 1.45 inches above average. This was the wettest May on record, and the wettest month of any month, in the 121-years of record keeping.

Based on records from NOAA's National Center for Environmental Information (NCEI), an average of 276 tornadoes are reported across the United States in the month of May. In April 2011 - which included the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded - a total of 875 preliminary reports were logged, 758 of which were confirmed.

This record-setting precipitation across parts of the country occurred while much of California continues to suffer under severe drought conditions, and even regions of the eastern US were drier than normal.

Several other notable anomalies and events, both for May and for Spring 2015:


Credit: NOAA/NCDC

Sources: NOAA State of the Climate | NOAA NCDC | NOAA NCEI | NOAA Storm Prediction Center

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