Sunday Story: The wettest year on record

Just a quick look at our Sunday night forecast. I had mentioned that we might see a light wintry mix but the big question was whether or not temperatures would go below freezing. It’s looking like our low tonight will be about 33-34 degrees. We will still have some drizzle left over and if temps do drop to freezing that could lead to some icy spots in the form of black ice. Hopefully, the temperature will stay just above freezing. Just be cautious on your way to work Monday morning, esp if you notice the temperature being at freezing.

I’ll update tonight’s forecast later today.

By now it’s no secret that 2018 was the wettest year on record for the Cumberland Plateau. I wrote about this for the papers last week and I’ll share that story below. This year is off to a wet start, so we’ll see how we end this year with precip. Keep in mind, January of 2018 was one of the driest Januarys on record. That’s certainly not the case for January 2019. We will just have to wait and see what that means as the year goes along.

The Wettest Year on Record

The year 2018 will go down in the record books as the wettest year on record for the Cumberland Plateau. We have never seen a year this wet since official records started being kept in 1954.

The average rainfall for our area is around 55 inches. By the end of last year, most folks had measured around 80 inches of rainfall!   

Our rainfall totals for 2018 are similar to that of areas along the Gulf Coast. They average around 75-80 inches of rain a year. We collected double the amount of rain that Seattle, Washington picks up in an average year. While the Emerald City is well known for their rainy days, the intensity of that rainfall is so light that they only pick up about 38 inches of rain a year.

We also picked up more rain than most of the Hawaiian Islands normally do. Many of those islands pick up less than 80 inches a year.

As the National Weather Service reported, it’s not surprising that 2018 was also a slightly warmer-than-average year. Warmer air holds more moisture than colder air, which can lead to higher precipitation totals.

Both annual average temperatures and precipitation are calculated based on a 30-year average. Right now, we take those averages from the time period of 1981 to 2010. In a couple of years we will use the time period of 1991-2020.

With evidence mounting that the earth is warming, many scientists think that the trend for higher precipitation totals can be expected in the future. This could mean more wet years ahead.

So, if you thought 2018 was a wet year you were certainly right! Let’s just be glad all this cold winter rain hasn’t been snow. We would be up to our elbows in snow!  


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