Wettest Winter on Record in U.S.

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The U.S. has just observed the wettest meteorological winter in the 1895-2019 period of record. Partially to blame is historic warmer than normal oceans.

Wettest Winter on Record in U.S.

Nationally, the meteorological winter 2018-19 season ranked wettest in recorded history (1895-2019) for the U.S. The winter season ranked 38th warmest. The DEC/JAN/FEB 2018-19 meteorological winter was warmest in the Southeast U.S. where near record warmth was observed (Fig. 1). The entire South and East was warmer than normal. Only South Dakota observed a colder than normal winter season.

The Central and East U.S. were much wetter than normal with Tennessee ranking wettest in history (Fig. 2). NOAA indicates in the 124-year climatology the just-finished winter is the wettest on record. A few western states observed normal precipitation during the winter season otherwise 43 of the 48 lower 48 contiguous U.S. states were wetter than normal.

The leading contributor to the historic wet pattern is a record warm surface of the global oceans (Fig. 3). Also contributing to the general climate pattern is a top 5 most constricted polar ice cap on record.

Fig. 1: NOAA state ranks of temperature anomalies based on 1895-2019 climatology for meteorological winter 2018-19.

Fig. 2: NOAA state ranks of precipitation anomalies based on 1895-2019 climatology for meteorological winter 2018-19.

Fig. 3: Warmest ocean surface on record contributed to the wettest winter on record in the U.S.