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NOAA image of May 2003 precipitation.June 24, 2003 ó Parts of the East Coast, including Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, experienced their wettest spring on record, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center. By contrast, Texas endured its second-driest spring in the 109-year record. Regionally, spring 2003 was the ninth driest in the South, while the Southeast had its fourth-wettest spring.

Meanwhile, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, issued its U.S. Seasonal and Drought Outlook forecast for July through September. For the summer months, areas near the southeast Atlantic Coast are likely to see above-normal precipitation. Above-normal temperatures are expected in much of the Southwest. Below-normal rainfall is likely in the Pacific Northwest and the Great Basin region with an increased chance for above-normal precipitation in parts of the Southwest.

“The good news with this outlook is drought conditions may improve slightly in southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico due to the monsoon season,” said Jim Laver, CPC director. “Unfortunately, many western areas including Utah, Nevada, and parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming are likely to see a continuation of drought, which has lasted several years.”

Reasons For The Heavy Spring Rain
“The increased storminess in the East this spring is linked to the jet stream and a stubborn circulation pattern with a ridge of high pressure over the western United States,” Laver said. “The jet stream’s position helped bring up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and led to record statewide average rainfall in Virginia and the Carolinas.”

The jet stream is a powerful ribbon of air in the upper troposphere that is strong enough to steer storm activity.

The 2003 spring ranked as the twenty-first warmest March - May period in the 109-year record for the nation, according to NOAA. The preliminary national average temperature was about 53 degrees Fahrenheit, which was 1.3 degrees above the long-term mean. The Northeast was cooler than average, with Massachusetts and Maine ranking twenty-fourth and twelfth coolest on record respectively.

Florida, Colorado and New Mexico were much warmer than average for the March - May period, respectively ranking fifth, sixth and tenth warmest on record. NOAA also reports that much of the United States was wetter than average, ranking as the thirty-fourth wettest spring on record.

NOAA Satellites and Information is the nation’s primary source of space-based and surface-based meteorological and climate data. The NCDC is a part of NOAA Satellites and Information.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center is one of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, which is part of the NOAA National Weather Service. The CPC predicts and monitors El Niño/La Niña and produces the nation’s official long-range outlooks and medium-range climate outlooks.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nationís coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Relevant Web Sites
Climate of 2003 — May in Historical Perspective

U.S. Seasonal and Drought Outlook

NOAA Climate Prediction Center

NOAA National Climatic Data Center

Media Contact:
Carmeyia Gillis, NOAA Climate Prediction Center, (301) 763-8000, ext. 7163 or John Leslie, NOAA Satellites and Information, (301) 457-5005