In the amount of time it has taken for the leaves to fall off our trees, and then spring back to life, the world as we know it has changed. The U.S. is now almost entirely drought free for the first time since modern drought keeping records began back in 2000. This is thanks to the wettest 12-month period on record for the Lower 48, dating all the way back to 1895.
Much of our drought busting happened over the 3 month winter season where storm after storm pushed moisture into the parched Southwest triggering one of the quickest drought recovery periods in recent memory. When December started, nearly 40% of the country was considered to be in at least minor drought. Just 4 months later now, and we’re drought free.
In the last 12 months, May 2018 –April 2019, the Lower 48 has seen an average of 36.2” of rain. That’s more than 6 inches above the annual average. The heavy precipitation hasn’t been totally uniform with some parts of the inner mountain west and the Pacific Northwest below average. But just about every other location has seen copious amounts of moisture from Hurricane Florence setting rainfall records in the Carolinas, to the wettest years on record in DC, Baltimore, and many other parts of the Mid Atlantic and Great Lakes. And then of course the nearly record wet winter for California and the more recent heavy rains in the central and southern Plains.
While this is certainly good news for the U.S. over the long term, aiding with drinking water shortages as many lakes and reservoirs have refilled, it’s not so great for some recently dealing with historic river flooding in many portions of the Plains over the last couple of months. If this pattern persists, flooding may be a common theme in the coming months for many water logged areas in the central and eastern U.S.