Wet Weather in 2018 Makes Record-Breaking History (Credit: The Washington Post, NOAA, WMO, The Weather Channel, GlobalChange.gov, xmACIS2, Live Science)
Image: Credit The Washington Post
Discussion: 2018 has been another active weather year featuring more extreme droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, extreme flooding events, and tornadoes. As 2018 comes to a close, the topic of discussion is how many cities broke their record for total precipitation this calendar year. Many are wondering if the wet weather will continue and for just how long.
Image: NOAA GOES GeoColor satellite image taken on December 15, 2018
Hurricane Florence dumped 24.06” of rain in Wilmington, North Carolina which contributed to its three-digit total precipitation record of 101.45” for 2018. More cities that have already set records include Wilmington, NC at 101.45”, Asheville, NC at 75.00”, Washington, D.C. at 64.78”, Baltimore, MD at 70.05”, Green Bay, WI at 38.68”, and Mason City, IA at 49.98”. Several cities still have a shot of setting a new record before the ringing in the New Year. Pittsburgh, PA currently sits at 56.98”and its record is 57.38”, Raleigh, NC sits at 58.54” and its record is 59.10”, and Jackson, TN sits at 73.49”and its record is 74.76”. All of these stats were collected from xmACIS2on December 28, 2018.
So just what factors contributed to all of the rain in 2018? The Washington Postexplained that, “The extreme rainfall in the Mid-Atlantic has stemmed from a weather pattern unleashing a parade of storms through the region since May. Except for brief pauses in the first half of Julyand this month, it has seldom relented. The jet stream, which is the high-altitude air current along which storms track, has persistently directed moisture-packed storms through the region”. The Weather Channelfurther explained that an upper-level weather pattern has been another driving factor for wetter weather east of the Rockies. Furthermore, the federal government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, released in November 2018, stated that “Extreme precipitation, one of the controlling factors in flood statistics, is observed to have generally increased and is projected to continue to do so across the United States in a warming atmosphere.”
Images: WMO estimated ENSO probabilities for December 2018-February 2019, The Weather Channel Precipitation Forecast adapted from NOAA’s January-March 2019 Precipitation Outlook, NOAA’s January-March 2019 Temperature Outlook
According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), we are going into 2019 with a 75-80% chance for a weak El Niñoby February 2019. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is also predicting a weak El Niño in its 2018-19 Winter Outlook. An El Niño is the warm phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). If ENSO verifies, three-quarters of the U.S. will most likely experience warmer than average, as opposed to colder than average, winter temperatures. Additionally, wet weather will continue to dominate the southern states. So, keep your umbrella handy.
To learn about more historical weather events, click here.
© 2018 Meteorologist Amber Liggett