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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Calls Past Year Wettest Ever in the U.S.

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 4 days ago Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder
a small house surrounded by water: The Associated Press © The Associated Press The Associated Press

After record flooding engulfed several states this spring, it may come as no surprise that the past year has been the wettest on record in the U.S.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in its monthly climate report that May 2018 through April 2019 were the 12 wettest months on record since 1895.

It is "extremely wet over a large portion of the contiguous U.S.," Karin Gleason, a climate scientist for NOAA, said on a call with reporters.

Precipitation across the lower 48 during the past 12 months averaged more than 36 inches, which is more than 6 inches above the 20th century average, according to NOAA.

Flooding in the Midwest this year claimed lives and caused billions of dollars in damages. In March NOAA predicted that nearly two-thirds of the continental U.S. would face increased flood risks through May.

The snowmelt and heavy rains that caused the flooding also brought in record-low drought numbers, according to NOAA. Only 2.3% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought in late April, which is the lowest in the 20-year history of NOAA's drought monitor.

"The buildup to the wetness we've seen this spring has been very impressive over the past year," said Brad Rippey, a meteorologist for the Department of Agriculture.

Farmers are having to delay planting crops due to wet soil conditions.

The amount of corn planted by May 12 was the third-lowest recorded since the agency started monitoring corn planting progress, according to Rippey. Illinois, Indiana and South Dakota are particularly behind on planting, according to USDA.

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