Where 2018 Could Be the Wettest Year on Record

Brian Donegan
Published: November 8, 2018

2018 has been a wet year for the United States, particularly in the central and eastern states, where numerous cities are on pace for the wettest year on record.

A NOAA report released Wednesday said 2018 ranked as the fifth-wettest year for the U.S. through the first 10 months. As a result, at least a dozen cities east of the Rockies were experiencing the wettest recorded year-to-date through Nov. 7, according to data from the Southeast Regional Climate Center.

(MORE: October 2018 Records)

Those cities include Washington D.C.; Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; Charleston, West Virginia; Wilmington, North Carolina; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Louisville, Kentucky; Lexington, Kentucky; Roanoke, Virginia; New Bern, North Carolina; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Mason City, Iowa. A period of record dating back at least 60 years was required to be included in the analysis.

Cities plotted on the map had recorded their wettest year-to-date on record through Nov. 7.
(Data: Southeast Regional Climate Center)

A persistent southward dip in the jet stream over the central and eastern U.S. for much of the spring and summer was one driving factor for this year's wetness.

Washington's Reagan National Airport had received 55.9 inches of precipitation – rain and melted snow – in 2018 through Nov. 7, a whopping 21.6 inches above average through that point in the year.

The nation's capital saw measurable rain – at least 0.01 inches – on 16 of the 30 days in September, the most rainy days ever recorded there in September.

Hurricane Florence also contributed to 2018's excessive rainfall in parts of the Southeast, Appalachians and mid-Atlantic states.

Florence's rain vaulted Wilmington, North Carolina, to its wettest year on record by mid-September, topping the previous record set in 1877, when 83.65 inches of precipitation fell. The city had received an astounding 90.22 inches of precipitation in 2018 through Nov. 7, more than 3 feet above average through that point in the year.

2018 was the second-wettest year-to-date on record through Nov. 7 in more than a dozen cities, which means any of them could easily vault into first place before the end of the year. This includes:

- Pittsburgh
- Milwaukee
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Detroit
- Cleveland
- Richmond, Virginia
- Scranton, Pennsylvania
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- Allentown, Pennsylvania
- Williamsport, Pennsylvania
- Binghamton, New York
- Youngstown, Ohio
- Asheville, North Carolina
- Greensboro, North Carolina
- Elkins, West Virginia
- Martinsburg, West Virginia
- Jackson, Tennessee
- Waterloo, Iowa
- Greenwood, Mississippi

The latest outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center favors above-average precipitation for much of the central and eastern U.S. through at least the end of November, with the highest odds of wetter-than-average conditions in the Ohio Valley and parts of the Northeast.


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