It’s been a rather wet May so far across much of the East, specifically the Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, and Florida. This heavy rain has lead to numerous reports of flooding and washed out roads. Florida has been hit the hardest in terms of rainfall amounts, but it’s all relative, as rainfall totals of over four inches is rarely ever seen farther north.
In Florida, the onslaught of rain began late-week during the week of May 7th. Portions of the Sunshine State, which hasn’t been too sunny as of late, was in a moderate to severe drought. The next drought update will be released this Thursday, and it will likely show a further alleviation of the drought due to the persistence of heavy rain.
Dozens of climate-recording locations in Florida have recorded a top five wettest May-to-date on record. This includes Miami, where they received 8.44 inches of rain so far, which is 5.25 inches above the month-to-date average of 3.19 inches. This city remains in a moderate drought overall. Miami has also recorded the most days measuring at least half an inch of rainfall at eight days.
Farther north, Fort Lauderdale is one of the most impressive cities in terms of rainfall. Before this onslaught of rain began, they recorded 1.18 inches of rain (May 1st through May 9th). They then received an additional 10.25 inches of rainfall between then and May 21st, which now brings the month-to-date average at 8.73 inches above normal, therefore making it the wettest May-to-date on record.
Other cities in Florida that have recorded a top five wettest start to May includes Naples, Punta Gorda, Key West, Melbourne, Lakeland, Orlando, and Daytona Beach. One city near Melbourne even recorded 17.25 inches of rain in just a matter of a few days.
A wet pattern over the past several days has led to torrential rainfall amounts, with localized totals up to 12-17″ along the Treasure Coast! Additional heavy rainfall and flooding concerns will continue into the upcoming holiday weekend across east central Florida. pic.twitter.com/KPq9uP3lXG
— NWS Melbourne (@NWSMelbourne) May 22, 2018
Much of the Southeast has been wetter than normal, but nowhere close to breaking records. It’s not until you get toward to the Appalachian Mountains where rainfall rates are enhanced, allowing for very heavy and record breaking rainfall. In Fletcher, North Carolina at the Asheville Airport, rainfall has been measured to 9.69 inches, which is 7.3 inches above average. That makes it the wettest start to May in history. The very saturated soil has allowed for numerous trees to fall down not because of the wind but the highly-saturated ground in the western Carolinas.
It’s also been very wet in the Mid-Atlantic. There were numerous flooding issues last week, and there were more popped up on Tuesday due to heavy thunderstorms slowing down near and east of Washington, DC. Cities like the nation’s capital, Richmond, Salisbury, and Winchester have all recorded a top five wettest May-to-date on record. In Washington, DC, it’s been the fourth wettest May so far, racking up 6.14 inches, which is above the average of 3.5 inches. Rainfall has been even more substantial and impressive to the south in Richmond. On Friday, numerous schools were closed due to the flooding, and more rain has already fallen this week. 8.84 inches of rain has fallen in the capital city of Virginia. That is over half a foot above average, and more rain is on the way before the month comes to an end.
Back toward the Great Lakes, ten different locations have recorded their wettest beginning to May. It’s been the wettest May-to-date since 1958 in Chicago, when record-keeping began. 7.31 inches of rain has been recorded, which is 4.8 inches above normal in the city. Other cities that have seen the wettest beginning to May include Detroit, South Bend, Muskegon, Toldeo, and Cleveland.
This May has been a wet one across the East, while portions of the West Coast experience a record-driest start to May. The below map depicts the above-average rainfall the past 30 days up and down and East Coast and into the Great Lakes, while the western Gulf Coast states and much of the West experience below-average precipitation.