Top 10 wettest summer in reach for D.C.; Wettest on record for Southeast cities

While the District remains in the throes of a wet summer, parts of the Southeast have received historic rainfall. Two weeks remain in the season, but the interior Carolinas are already posting the wettest June 1 – August 31 period on record.

Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport in Greer, S.C. logged 27.21” of rainfall through Sunday, surpassing the previous record high total of 25.61” set in the summer of 2003. The year to date total of 50.85” ranks second to only 2003, when a little over 52” had been tallied through August 18. That year, 2003, wound up as the wettest year on record (it was also Reagan National Airport’s wettest year in recorded history).

Asheville Regional Airport in Fletcher, N.C., is also experiencing its rainiest summer on record. The 28.03” measured through Sunday is nearly 2” greater than the previous record-high rainfall amount from the summer of 2005. This year, with its rainfall total of 57.15”, already ranks as the eighth wettest on record. Asheville would have to receive less than 8 additional inches of precipitation through December to eclipse the record high amount set in 1973, and only a little more than 5 inches to move into second place (ahead of 2009).

Off to the southwest, Atlanta’s airport (Hartsfield-Jackson) has received 21.63”, the third-highest summer total on record, behind only 2005 (the highest) and 1994 (second-highest). Georgia’s capital city lies at its wettest mark (just shy of 50”) up to this point in the year. Finally, Birmingham, with a similar seasonal tally of 21.48”, is only 1.4” away from posting its second-wettest summer on record (first place belongs to 1950, when 24.16” were measured there).


90-day rainfall anomalies (marking how much above or below normal the amounts have been). Wide swaths of the Carolinas and Georgia have received 8” or more above the normal amount of rain since late May, while the upstate portions of these states have seen over a foot or more above the average amount (High Plains Regional Climate Center).

Washington, D.C., by the way, stands at 15.54” for the summer (as measured at Reagan National Airport). If the season were to end today, this tally would rank 16th wettest on record. The airport would need to pick up just 1.31 additional inches through the end of August in order to move into the top 10, tying 1958’s mark of 16.85”. Seemingly unreachable is the record-high amount of 20.5” set in the summer of 1933, though a possible influx of tropical moisture could make it close.

Of course, our neighbors to the northeast can also attest to a record amount of rainfall. By August 1, Philadelphia had already set a new record for the most rain in any summer since 1872 (the city logged 27.59” through Sunday).

Torrential rains fell in New England in June, with three different cities posting their second-wettest month on record, and one other, Boston, logging its third wettest.


(US National Weather Service Boston, Mass. Facebook page)

Areas closer to center of the U.S. have also seen a surfeit of rain. Recent rains in Kansas – amounting to more than 16” over just the last two months in eastern parts of the state – have eradicated the extreme drought conditions from earlier this year.


These maps show a marked reversal in drought conditions from last summer, when vegetation stress across most areas of Kansas was rated as very poor; for the equivalent period (July 31-August 13) this summer, vegetation was rated as good (Kansas Applied Remote Sensing via NWS Wichita, Kan.).

Northern and western Arkansas endured 10-15” of rain within the period starting mid-July and ending last week, according to the NWS office serving Little Rock. Meteorologists there report that these amounts were the first or second highest on record for the same period.

30-day rainfall totals across Arkansas ending August 14. Note the amounts greater than 10” throughout the northern and western parts of the state (NWS Little Rock, Ark.)
30-day rainfall totals across Arkansas ending August 14. Note the amounts greater than 10” throughout the northern and western parts of the state (NWS Little Rock, Ark.)
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Matt Rogers · August 20, 2013