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MAY-JUNE-JULY STORMS SET RAINFALL RECORDS IN SOUTHEAST U.S.

NOAA image of USA national precipitation ranking for June 2003.August 4, 2003 ó While residents of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi are certainly no strangers to torrential rains and floods that can occur anytime of the year, their patience has been sorely tested with the record rainfall and flooding that has made this one of the wettest May-July periods in history, according to the NOAA National Weather Service Southern Region. (Click NOAA image for larger view of USA national precipitation ranking for June 2003.)

The following May-June-July records are all based on preliminary data. During the May 1 - July 31 period, Alabama’s largest city, Birmingham, recorded a total of 29.59 inches of rain making it the wettest since record keeping began there in 1890. This year’s rainfall has more than doubled the area’s average rainfall (13.70 inches) for that period.

With 39.65 inches, Mobile also set a new record for the period. Again, the total was more than twice the average (17.65 inches), since record keeping began there 123 years ago. The Alabama/Georgia border city of Columbus, Ga., recorded 22.93 inches which makes the May-July period the wettest on record (since 1948) for that city.

Atlanta experienced its 3rd wettest May-July since record keeping started in 1878 with a total of 22.62 inches of rain. Meridian, in eastern Mississippi, also experienced its third wettest May-July with 24.96 inches. Huntsville, Ala. Followed with 21.16 inches for its fifth wettest May-July on record.

Ken Graham, meteorologist in charge of WFO Birmingham, recalls a particularly busy day last May. “Nearly 10 inches of rain fell in just a few hours across northern portions of the Birmingham metro area resulting in historic flooding. The Five Mile Creek in northern Jefferson County rose above the river gauge by nearly eight feet. The same day, the eastern Alabama town of Wadley was almost isolated by the flooded Tallapoosa River.”

In Atlanta, Ga., NOAA National Weather Service weather forecast office hydrologist Jim Noel said, “Peachtree Creek in the Atlanta metro area has topped its banks at least four times since May, flooding out apartments, homes and roads forcing hundreds of people from their apartments”

During that three month period, NOAA National Weather Service Forecast Offices in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia issued nearly 350 flash flood warnings. At the same time, 421 separate flood events were forecast by the NOAA Southeast River Forecast Center, which serves portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.

“These preliminary records are impressive and further proof that the NOAA National Weather Service Southern Region is home to some of the most active weather in the world, but we should keep them in perspective,” said Bill Proenza, director of the NOAA National Weather Service Southern Region. “While, in geologic terms, 125 years is only a blink of the eye, our weather records do reflect the periods of heaviest rainfall in living memory. It is imperative that we continue to monitor and study climatological patterns to help us fulfill our primary mission of saving lives and property and enhancing the nation’s economy.”

What do meteorologists predict the future will hold for this area? “The three-month outlook for August, September and October calls for near normal temperatures and a five to 10 percent chance of above average rainfall across all of Georgia and southern Alabama”, says Victor Murphy, climate services manager, at the NOAA National Weather Service Southern Region.

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
NOAA National Weather Service Southern Region

Climate of 2003 — June in Historical Perspective

U.S. Climate Monitoring National Overview

Media Contact:
Ron Trumbla, NOAA National Weather Service Southern Region, (817) 978-1111 ext. 140