Thursday, May 28, 2015

When It Rain It Pours

We are having an eighth straight day of rain here in Bozeman. While I doubt that is a record it is certainly the longest stretch of precipitation in the three years I've resided in the Treasure State. That, plus the eight days of snow we had in April, will go a long way towards making up for a below normal winter snowpack. 

Meanwhile, to the south, to say the rainfall in Texas and Oklahoma has been drought busting is to put it mildly. Portions of neighboring Colorado, Kansas, Arkansas and nearby Nebaraska have been inundated as well.

Here is the scoop on the record setting month as reported by the Weather Channel.

In Pursuit of May Rainfall Records 

    From Colorado and Nebraska to Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas, several cities have already seen one of their wettest Mays on record. Here's a look at where things stand right now.
    Amarillo, Texas – 9.26 inches of rain has fallen through May 27, making it the second-wettest May on record. The all-time record is 9.81 inches in May 1951.
    Austin (Camp Mabry), Texas – Extremely heavy rainfall Monday dumped 5.20 inches of rain at Camp Mabry, lifting Austin to its wettest May on record. The rain tally is 16.72 inches of rain through May 27, making it by far the wettest May on record, topping the old record of 14.10 inches in May 1895. It's also the third wettest month on record. September 1921, with 20.78 inches, leads the pack for the city's wettest month.
    Corpus Christi, Texas – Rainfall in May 2015 is 13.41 inches through May 27, which is well beyond the previous May record of 10.44 inches that was set in 1941. A total of 4.56 inches fell on Thursday to clinch the record. Amazingly, just nine days prior, exactly 4.56 inches of rain also fell in the city. May 12 and May 21 are now tied as the third-wettest May days in the city's weather records.
    According to senior meteorologist Nick Wiltgen, May 2015 now exceeds Corpus Christi's total rainfall for the entire drought-parched year of 2011, which was only 12.06 inches.
    Houston, Texas – 13.59 inches of rain has fallen through May 27 at Bush Intercontinental Airport on the city's north side, pushing it to fifth place among the city's wettest Mays. The record wet May there is 15.87 inches in 1907. 
    Lubbock, Texas – 8.41 inches of rain has fallen through May 26, making it Lubbock's second-wettest May on record. The total would have to rise to 12.69 inches to claim the title for the wettest May. According to the National Weather Service, the last time it rained 8 inches or more in a month in Lubbock was September 2008 with 8.70 inches.
    Wichita Falls, Texas – May 2015 became the wettest month on record in this northern Texas city early Friday afternoon, May 22, when the city's month-to-date total reached 13.33 inches as of 1:11 p.m. CDT. That broke the record for May and for any month on the calendar, both set in May 1982 with 13.22 inches. Through May 27, the May total has reached 14.53 inches.
    According to the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma, May 2015's rainfall in Wichita Falls exceed that from the previous six Mays combined - 13.41 inches.
    Oklahoma City – Oklahoma's capital reached a month-to-date total of 14.53 inches at 5:56 p.m. CDT Saturday, breaking its all-time May rainfall record of 14.52 inches in 2013. Only 21 minutes later, the city broke its June 1989 record of 14.66 inches to become the wettest month in Oklahoma City history. An extremely heavy downpour followed with more than 2 inches of rain.
    Oklahoma City's new all-time record monthly rainfall total cracked the 19-inch mark Wednesday, reaching 19.12 inches through May 27. This is more than the average precipitation over a five-month period from March through July (18.68 inches).
    Tulsa, Oklahoma – The city's May total is 12.09 inches through May 27, making it the second-wettest May on record. The record of 18.00 inches in May 1943 will be a tough one to beat.
    Fort Smith, Arkansas – This western Arkansas city has now recorded its wettest month in history with 18.34 inches of rain through May 27. This broke the previous record of 15.02 inches in June 1945. Several days ago, Fort Smith surpassed its May record of 13.67 inches from 1943.
    Wichita, Kansas – The largest city in Kansas topped the 10-inch mark Saturday thanks to heavy rainfall. Through May 27, the city's month-to-date total was 11.69 inches, making it the second-wettest May on record. The standing record for May is 13.14 inches in 2008.
    Lincoln, Nebraska – 10.83 inches of rain has fallen through May 27, ranking as the wettest May in the Nebraska capital, topping the previous wettest May record of 10.72 inches set in 1903.
    Valentine, Nebraska – 7.07 inches of rain has fallen through May 27, ranking as the third-wettest May. The current record wettest May of 8.96 inches was set in 1962.
    Colorado Springs, Colorado – 7.66 inches of rain at Colorado Springs Municipal Airport through May 27 ranks as the second-wettest May on record. The wettest May was in 1935 when 8.10 inches was recorded. Interestingly, several co-operative and volunteer observation sites only a few miles west of the airport have picked up 10 to 12 inches of rain this month.
    Of the first 27 days of May, 21 have had measurable precipitation (.01 inch or greater) at the Colorado Springs airport; that is an all-time record. Five other days have had a trace of precipitation, and only one has been completely dry.
    Pueblo, Colorado – A total of 5.17 inches of rain has fallen through May 27, making it the second wettest May on record. The wettest May was in 1957 when 5.43 inches was measured.
    Every day since May 5 – that's 23 straight days as of this writing – has brought at least 4 inches of rainfall to at least one location in the state of Texas, according to CoCoRaHS, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. At least 100 of the volunteer network's 1,699 reporting sites in Texas have recorded at least 10 inches of rain this month. The wettest of all has been Pottsboro, near Lake Texoma along the Oklahoma-Texas border with a total of 22.70 inches through May 27.
    Oklahoma has also taken a drenching this month, with month-to-date totals topping 10 inches across much of the southern half of the state. One CoCoRaHS site northeast of Norman has reported 25.88 inches of rain since May 1 
    Among other states in the May rainy zone, top month-to-date totals by state include 19.75 inches near Uniontown in northwest Arkansas; 16.59 inches near Ruston in northern Louisiana; 13.73 inches in the Ivywild neighborhood of Colorado Springs, Colorado; 12.85 inches near Fairbury in southeast Nebraska; 14.33 inches southeast of Topeka, Kansas; and 12.87 inches in Plattsburgh, Missouri near Kansas City.

    The totals are prodigious. They would make Noah and his two-by-two legions proud. Here is the full size Texas and Oklahoma 30-day precipitation map. 

    Texas: Current 30-Day Observed Precipitation
     Valid at 5/27/2015 1200 UTC - Created 5/28/15 17:48 UTC
    White areas have received over 20 inches of rainfall. Purple and magenta are in the 15 to 20 and 10 to 15 inch ranges, respectively. The reds and oranges are in the 5 to 10 inch range.

    And more is on the way.
    Since May 1, portions of Texas and Oklahoma have seen over 20 inches of rain, toppling records and rapidly filling previously dry reservoirs. But while all that rainfall has easily quenched the extreme, multi-year drought conditions, it has also caused deadly, widespread flooding. In short, Texas and Oklahoma really need a break.
    Unfortunately, they will have to wait just a few more days for the relief as the saturated states remain under a very wet forecast through Saturday. Much of May’s incredible precipitation has been due to the confluence of extreme tropical moisture pushing north into the states from the Gulf of Mexico and a series of upper-level disturbances that have provided the force to wring out all that moisture in the form of torrential rain.
    The kind of storms that have taken shape over the southern Plains in the past few weeks are what we call mesoscale convective systems — or “MCS” for short — and they tend to produce extreme rainfall totals over a large area, sweeping across multiple states over many hours. These systems often develop in the late evening and persist well into the dark of night, making the flooding that much more dangerous.
    Texas had been running a multi-year drought. Here is the drought map as of September 13, 2011, a little more than three and one-half years ago.

    A full 100 percent of the state was in some level of drought. Here is the Lone Star state drought map as of Tuesday this week (May 26, 2015).

    Now only 5.4 percent of the state is in a moderate drought (the lowest drought) category. Another 12.5 percent is still considered abnormally dry, which is hard to figure since most of that territory is in regions that have received rains of biblical proportions. Federal government agencies (sponsors of the drought data) are slow on the uptake, and institutionally bias virtually all data they put out to justify their growth, power and continued existence.


    Similarly, Oklahoma is dry no more.

    Here is the September 13, 2011 drought map.

    And here is the current drought (or I should say non-drought) map.

    Oklahoma has transitioned from 100 percent drought to 97.2 percent non-drought.


    As for drought stricken California, when you see data like these you know there is hope. Meantime, Californians should learn to live, as they do, in an arid region, with limited and highly variable water resources. Get your act together Golden State. 

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