Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Saturday: 7 June 2014

The Month of May  -  @ 08:42:09
It's The Month of May, Number 100 in a series. For us, May was just about average in overall temperatures, but a bit wetter than usual.


Here are the usual temperature anomalies products, at the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. Displayed are the mean temperature anomalies, not the absolute temperatures.

Click on the image for the high and low anomaly graphic on a new page:

Overall anomalies in temperature became even further reduced in May, with somewhat warmer than usual temperatures dominating. It was still considerably hotter in locations in the southwest, especially southern California, but the most extreme anomalies were fairly localized. The upper midwest was only slightly cooler than normal, as was the southern borders of the US as far east as Louisiana. But again, the extremes were much less widespread than in April and even in March.

Most of the eastern states were a bit warmer in May, continuing that trend from April.

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center's precipitation plots are no longer being updated here. Last month's alternative is also not being updated here. *Now* the closest I can find to the old familiar anomaly map is accessible from here. It's still much less flexible but at least looks a little more like a precipitation map should.

It's hard to compare the rainfall anomaly map in April with that in May, but it looks like much drier weather continued in the West (excluding the coastal northwest). Most of the eastern US was only slightly drier or slightly wetter than usual, except along the northern Gulf Coast which continued a rainy trend.

For the Athens, GA area:

Below is my usual daily rain/temperature plot visualizing the changes in temperatures and precipitation. The spiky lines are temperatures recorded roughly ten times a day, and the lighter blue columns are Wolfskin rainfall measurements. The black line is the 30-year average daily temperature, which is steadily moving upward as expected.

Most of May displayed even warm days except for one near-week long period midmonth. This period was dominated by cold rainy weather that accounted for about half our rain for the month. A later heavy rainfall period on May 25 did not result in particularly cool temperatures.

Here in the Athens area, we were somewhat above normal for the average temperature in May. The Athens area mean temperature during May was a little more than 2 degF above the average 70F. We didn't break any record highs or lows, but did come within a degree of matching the cold record of 42F on May 17, almost identically with the cold event April 16.

We had 9 days more than 1 standard deviation above normal highs (average is 4.7 such days). We had 5 nights with temperatures more than 1 standard deviation below normal lows (average is 5.7 nights). By these criteria, temperatures in May tended warmer.

The monthly histogram below shows the breakdown of high and low temperature range counts from May 1948 on. The error bars are just plus/minus one standard deviation, which I arbitrarily set as the limits outside of which are "significantly" anomalous.

As was also true in April, only the high temperature range of >90F showed barely significant deviation above normal events in that temperature range. We had three extra days in that temperature range.

Below is the monthly accumulation of rain in Athens, GA. The river of peach is the long term standard deviation of all the daily black dots in the last 15 years, and the red line is the daily cumulative average. We're the green line this year, and for almost half the month it cradled that surplus of blue above the one standard deviation mark.

Athens had one significant period of precitation in May, which contributed most of the surplus that we ended the month with. Out here in Wolfskin we had an extra period of rain that Athens did not experience. The average May rainfall is 3.00", and we had 3.46" in Athens and 4.10" out here in Wolfskin. We're still a bit below average for this time of the year, but April and May did help.

Prognosticator stuff:

What is the prognosticator telling us (as of June 6)?

It's a little hard to describe the temperature and precipitation patterns for the Western US, so you should look at them yourself. Things do look like they're going to switch around over the next three months for many locations that have experienced unrelenting drought and high temperatures to date. Southern California will continue with high temperatures, though, but precipitation will return to normal. This is somewhat at variance with the drought montior also found at the above link.

In the east and southeast, we're scheduled for more rain over the next few weeks. We'll trend into a more normal rainfall expectation in July and August. Temperatures will be higher than normal for the next couple of weeks, and then cool off for the end of July and beginning of August, picking up again after that. The eastern US does not seem to be in danger of drought over the next three months.

ENSO stuff:

The folks at CPC have a version of PDF or HTML that is much different from their previous presentations, but at least it's there and the link isn't broken.

As of June 2, ENSO neutral conditions continue, but the chances of an El Niño developing are now at 70% by the end of summer, and 80% overall. The planet has remained ENSO neutral now for 24 months. The last time we had such a lengthy period without an El Niño or La Niña must at this point have been in the 1990s.

An El Niño will probably shake things up for the winter here in the US. Overall it will also release a lot of heat stored in the oceans into the atmosphere, so expect to see global average temperature anomalizes increase over the next year.

NOAA's Monthly State of the Climate product for April is available.

Summarizing from what I see on the map: The West and Alaska continued with abnormally warm temperatures. Heavy rain in the East, with nearly two feet of rain in two days along the northern Gulf Coast. Tornado outbreak in the Midwest and Southeast.

Here is the final annual State of the Climate report for 2013 regionally, nationally, and globally. It's pretty US-centric, but there are comments for climate globally too.

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