Most Extreme U.S. Spring Weather on Record, Dr. Jeff Masters Reports

Departure of temperature from average for May 2011. Image credit: NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

I had a post on some of Dr. Jeff Masters’ recent comments on the ridiculous extreme weather we’ve been seeing this year just about one week ago, but he just published a new analysis on these issues that I thought was worth covering as well.

The key, general points are as follows:

  • the United State has been experiencing its most extreme spring on record when it comes to precipitation;
  • May was the world’s 10th-warmest May on record (according to NOAA);
  • global ocean temperatures were the 11th-warmest on record and global land temps the 6th-warmest;
  • May Arctic sea ice hit its 3rd-lowest extent on record.

Of course, with this heat and tremendous precipitation, the U.S. saw some pretty crazy, billion-dollar disasters as well, such as:

  • The greatest flood in recorded history to the Lower Mississippi River
  • An astonishingly deadly tornado season
  • The worst drought in Texas history
  • The worst fire season in recorded history

There has not been a spring this extreme for combined wet and dry extremes in the U.S. since record keeping began over a century ago.

Dr. Jeff Masters writes:

during the spring period of March, April, and May 2011, 46% of the U.S. had abnormally (top 10%) wet or dry conditions–the greatest such area during the 102-year period of record. On average, just 21% of the country has exceptionally wet conditions or exceptionally dry conditions during spring. In addition, heavy 1-day precipitation events–the kind that cause the worst flooding–were also at an all-time high in the spring of 2011.

A highly extreme precipitation pattern was also observed over the British Isles during spring 2011. England suffered its driest spring in over a century during May, with late May soils the driest on record over large parts of eastern and central England. In contrast, Scotland had its wettest spring on record.

New Zealand had its warmest May since records began there in 1909, whereas Australia saw its coolest March-May since their records began in 1950.

Our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, has a detailed summary of May 2011 global weather extremes.

Pretty wicked.

Read more form Jeff about May Arctic sea ice extent, La Niña, and drought and fires in the Southwest here: Globe has 10th warmest May on record; critical fire conditions for Arizona.

Of course, we cover a lot of these stories nearly every day. Here are some of our stories on these recent events:

  1. Arizona Wildfire Keeps Spreading as Michele Bachmann & GOP “Debaters” Claim Climate Change isn’t Happening
  2. Diverting the Mississippi to Revive Wetlands
  3. Arizona Wildfires Have Burned Down 30 Homes, Forced 10,000 to Evacuate, & Now Headed for New Mexico {VIDEO & PICTURES}
  4. Tornadoes, Climate Change, Floods, Droughts Linked? No, Of Course Not… {Video}

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