Sometimes our memories trick us with weather recollection. But in this case, if you feel like it’s rained a lot this year, you’re right.
On Thursday, the District picked up 1.15 inches of rain (plus melted snow). The 21 days of one inch or more precipitation tied 1878 for the most such days on record. Considering the next most cases of so many heavy rain events was 19 in 1932, very few people have seen a year so wet.
Thursday’s precipitation output in Washington was also enough to push its 2018 rainfall amount to the fourth wettest in recorded history. Through Thursday, 58.33 inches have fallen this year. With six weeks left in 2018, only three years stand in the way of this becoming Washington’s all-time wettest year: 1878 (60.09 inches), 2003 (60.83 inches) and 1889 (61.33) inches.
Looking ahead, Washington averages more than 4.5 inches of additional precipitation (rain plus melted snow). So unless we witness a drier than normal final six week of 2018, the record is ours.
Baltimore has already accomplished this feat. Despite fewer one-inch rain days there — 17 compared to D.C.'s 21 — its rainiest days have been rainier than Washington’s.
Baltimore’s 2018 rainfall tally is now up to 63.01 inches. That’s good enough to surpass the previous wettest year of 2003, when 62.66 inches fell in 365 days. With 45 days still to go, 2018 could put quite some distance between the other historically wet years in Baltimore.
When it comes to unusual distance between records, the last four months of precipitation in Washington also paints a stark picture. After a record dry start to July, the second half of the month was record wet. And the rains have kept coming.
With 33.35 inches falling in Washington from mid-July to mid-November, the rain during this period is unlike anything in Washington’s recorded past. The No. 2 spot is more than half a foot behind.
Signs are few that this wet pattern will ease.
El Niño winters tend to be wet in our region. In fact, 2003, one of the other wettest years on records, coincided with the end of an El Niño event. In this case our heavy precipitation is leading into an El Niño. It’s hard to comprehend that our spate of historically wet weather may only be beginning.