ACON - VA/NC/SC
The Atlantic Coast Observer Network:
Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina
...BELOW NORMAL TEMPERATURES AT MOST STATIONS...
The upper trough, ever-present since mid-winter, continued to bring cooler than normal temps across our region in May. Your individual reports indicate an unusually high number of days with precipitation, too, as generally slow moving lows moved along the edge of the trough. Check those impressive totals with a good number of stations throughout the region reporting over 10" of rain, rather unusual totals for the month of May. Joyce Winfree noted conditions were simply too wet for farmers to get into the fields. Interestingly, the heavier rains bypassed Florence, SC where only 2.22" of rain fell. Coastal areas continued under the influence of an onshore flow enhancing local cloudiness. With this pattern continuing through May, many sites noted an increase in relative humidity levels as well as cloud cover percentages. The lower portions of our region did see milder temps although they were, for the most part, near or below normal. Severe weather - of the convective nature - was limited to the lower southern portions as the season's changed but heavy rains did cause problems in the mountains of Virginia and NC.
TEMPERATURE / WINDS/ ELEMENTS
PRECIPITATION / BAROMETRIC PRESSURE
Annandale - Lowell reports: " As you probably suspected May had more days of measurable rain and was the cloudiest and dampest May on record in the last 23 years. But it was even more than this; it was the second cloudiest and had more days of rain than ANY of the months in the last 23 years . May averages about 11.8 days with rain but this year we had 23 days. The most ever recorded for May was 16 and for ANY previous month 19 days in June 1998. Only November 1986 was cloudier by only 0.04 units. May's average maximum temperature (68.0°F) was - 7.3°F below the average due to the clouds and was the lowest on record in the last 23-years. May's highest temperature was only 83°F on May 11th which was the LOWEST monthly maximum every recorded for May; the previous record was 86°F in 1990. The highest temperature in May was two degrees less than the highest temperature in April. May had only 3 days with temperatures of =>80°F a new 23 year record; the previous record was 5 days in 1997 and for comparison the maximum is 20 days. May 17th was a record cold day with a daily maximum temperature of only 51°F, a new 23-year record LOW maximum record for the date. It also tied the old record of 51°F for the LOWEST maximum temperature ever recorded in May. The old records were set 5-2-1995, 5-7-1996 but never this late into the month of May!! The average minimum temperature (53.9°F) was only minus 0.2°F below the average as clouds tend to make it warmer at night. But May mean temperature of 60.9°F was still the coolest May on record here. The May rainfall had a +2.87" departure and the wettest since 1989 when 9.38 " was recorded the 23-year record. May's average temperature range was only 14.1°F and was minus 3.6°F below the previous record for the last 23 years. The average daily minimum relative humidity was +10% above the previous 23 year record for May (VERY damp). The maximum gust of 33 mph from the west on the 13th at 1341 was the strongest wind gust recorded for May. The minimum barometer of 29.36" on May 31st was the lowest for May since 1985 when 29.33 " was recorded. SPRING SEASON- The mean spring temperature was 53.7°F which was the lowest since 1997 and ranked sixth place from the coolest in the last 23 years. The total precipitation was 14.84" which was the wettest since 1998 and ranked sixth place from being the wettest in the last 23 years. There were 14 daily records set! May DAILY Records Tied or Broken (23-Years of records): May had 4 daily LOW maximum 23-year temperature records: 5, 17, 18, 23; May had 1 daily HIGH minimum 23-year temperature record: 11; May had 6 daily LOW range 23-year temperature records: 9, 17, 18, 22, 23, 31; May had 3 daily HIGH 23-year precipitation records: 7, 26, 31; [ - +]
Arlington - NWS WBC reports: " ...RECORDS... ON THE 26TH...1.49" OF RAIN FELL WHICH BROKE THE RAINFALL RECORD FOR THE DAY OF 1.11 SET IN 1928. MAY WAS A WET DREARY SPRING MONTH FOR WASHINGTON...LEAVING MANY TO QUESTION IF THE SUN WAS STILL AROUND. CLOUDY DAYS WERE PREVALENT. COOL TEMPERATURES WERE COMMON...AND RAINFALL WAS PLENTIFUL. FIRST OF ALL WITH TEMPERATURES...DAYTIME HIGH TEMPERATURES IN MAY 2003 WERE FAR BELOW NORMAL. THE AVERAGE OF OUR DAILY HIGH TEMPERATURES WAS MORE THAN 7° BELOW NORMAL...A SUBSTANTIAL DEPARTURE. HOWEVER...THE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE FOR THE ENTIRE MONTH WAS MERELY 4° COLDER THAN NORMAL. THIS WAS DUE TO THE FACT THAT DAILY LOW TEMPERATURES WERE NOT THAT FAR OFF THE NORMAL. THAT COMBINATION IS COMMON WITH COOL AND CLOUDY WEATHER WHICH WE CERTAINLY HAD IN MAY. STILL...MAY 2003 WILL END UP AS THE 11TH COLDEST MAY IN THE MORE THAN 130 YEARS OF RECORDS FOR WASHINGTON. THE ONLY OTHER POST-DEPRESSION ERA MAY THAT WAS COLDER WAS 1967...WHICH CAME IN A SHADE COOLER AT 60.0° ON AVERAGE. MAY A YEAR AGO WAS THREE AND A HALF DEGREE WARMER THAN THIS YEAR. THERE WERE ONLY FOUR DAYS THAT BROKE 80° IN MAY... INTERESTINGLY THE SAME NUMBER AS APRIL. AND APRIL ACTUALLY PRODUCED THE WARMEST DAY OF THE TWO MONTHS...82 WAS THE MAX FOR MAY...85 FOR APRIL. THERE HAS STILL BEEN NO 90° DAYS THIS YEAR AS WE HEAD INTO JUNE. DOES THAT MEAN ANYTHING FOR THE UPCOMING SUMMER? NOT REALLY... THE LAST TWO YEARS TO NOT HIT 90 HEADING INTO JUNE...WERE 2001 AND 1993. OUR 2001 SUMMER ENDED UP COOL WITH A VERY LOW NUMBER OF 90 PLUS DAYS...SIXTEEN. HOWEVER...1993 WAS ONE OF OUR HOTTEST SUMMERS EVER...COMPLETE WITH FIFTY-ONE 90° DAYS. ON THE PRECIPITATION FRONT...THIS WAS THE SIXTH WETTEST MAY IN TERMS OF TOTAL RAINFALL. IN FACT...AT MORE THAN SEVEN INCHES OF RAIN...IT WAS WETTEST SINGLE MONTH IN MORE THAN THREE YEARS...SINCE SEPTEMBER 1999. AND THAT MONTH THAT WEATHERED A TROPICAL STORM NAMED FLOYD. MAY 2003 WAS REMARKABLE IN THE PERSISTENT NATURE OF THE RAIN. NEARLY EVERY DAY HAD IT. TWENTY FIVE DAYS HAD AT LEAST A FEW RAINDROPS... LEAVING ONLY SIX COMPLETELY DRY. THERE WERE TWENTY DAYS WITH MEASURABLE RAINFALL AND THAT TIES THE RECORD FOR ANY MONTH IN WASHINGTON/S RECORD...THE LAST TIME BEING NEARLY A CENTURY AGO IN JULY 1904. FURTHERMORE...HALF OF THE DAYS IN MAY HAD A GOOD SOAKING OF A TENTH OF AN INCH OR MORE OF RAIN. CLOUD COVER WAS SOMETHING ELSE THAT WAS OMNIPRESENT. IN PARTICULAR... THE LAST HALF OF THE MONTH WAS NEARLY ALWAYS OVERCAST OR MOSTLY CLOUDY. DURING THE LAST HALF OF MAY THERE WERE ONLY TWO PARTLY SUNNY DAYS...THE 19TH AND THE 30TH. THE LAST DAY THAT WAS SUNNY ALL DAY...APRIL 28TH. ALL THIS CLOUD COVER KEPT EVERY DAY FROM THE 13TH ON...EITHER COOLER THAN NORMAL OR MUCH COOLER THAN NORMAL. THE REASON FOR ALL THIS? A DIP IN THE JET STREAM OVER THE EASTERN STATES KEPT COOL TEMPERATURES AND SLOW MOVING STORMS OVER THE REGION. THOSE STORMS DREW DAMP AIR OFF A CHILLY ATLANTIC THAT HOVERED NEAR 50° DURING THE MONTH. THAT MARITIME INFLUENCE WAS A BIG FACTOR IN OUR GLOOMY MAY. MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND WAS A CASE STUDY OF THIS...AND A BIG REASON WHY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKENDS HAVE A HISTORY OF FEATURING BAD WEATHER. THIS PAST MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND...VERY SLOW MOVING LOW PRESSURE DRAWING EAST WINDS OFF THE OCEAN KEPT FRIDAY IN THE 50S...SATURDAY AND SUNDAY IN THE MID 60S...AND LEFT NEARLY 2" OF RAIN THAT WEEKEND ALONE...WITH RAIN EVERY DAY AND 1.5" ON MEMORIAL DAY ALONE. Rainfall for the month was 3.24" above normal while average temps were 3.9° below normal. The average wind speed was 7.8 mph. [ - + ]
Ashburn - Gary reports: " Well, in summary, it didn't rain every day. Almost. A large, bright yellow orb was reported in the sky on a couple of days, though I can't say I saw it myself. May 2003 set a new monthly rainfall record for my station by quite a bit. The 7.59" received this month beat the previous record of 6.56" inches set in August 2001 by 1.13" and was a full 3.29" above normal. Rainfall for 2003 is running above average to date. I did not weigh the grass clippings from my infrequent but frenetic lawn mowing efforts, but suffice to say, a lot of grass (and other green things) grew in May! I'm glad that I installed my new "extreme conditions" temperature/humidity sensor and wireless transmitter kit before the deluge started; hopefully this retrofit will mitigate the corrosion of components I had experienced with my earlier Vantage Pro configuration. Incidentally, May continued as the fifth month in a row to have measurable precipitation on the first day of the month. Temperatures were a bit cooler than usual at 1.6ø below normal. The average daily high temperature was 69.1ø, and the average daily low was 52.4ø. This was the least windy month on record. Though the high wind gust was a fairly respectable 26 mph, the average daily wind speed was a paltry 0.8 mph, and the wind run of a mere 565.38 miles was by far the lowest on record, with the 660 miles in October 2002 being the previous low. May's wind run was less than half that of May 2002. The average humidity for the month was 82%, quite high, and the average dew point was 54°. Unsurprisingly, fire weather conditions during May were quite low, with the 1PM Chandler Burning Index averaging 2.7, and the 4PM CBI averaging 4.4 (compare to 12.4 and 17.7 in April), all well within the Low fire danger adjective area. " - [ - + ]
Blacksburg - NWS Blacksburg reports the monthly mean temp was normal while rainfall was 2.11" above normal. The average winds speed was 5.1 MPH. The average sky cover was 70% while the average relative humidity was 75%. [ +/- + ]
Bridgewater - " The precipitation for the month was 1.52" above normal. The total for the year is 6.49" above normal. Last year at the end of May, we only had 12.85" of precipitation. The temperature for May was slightly below normal. We have had only three thunderstorms so far in 2003. We have not had a strong thunderstorm all year. This is unusual with all of the rain we have had. All the big storms have stayed north and east of Bridgewater. With all the rain, it has been difficult to get gardens planted. The farmers are having a rough time in getting crops planted. What a contrast from last year! " - report from Clayton [ - + ]
Centreville - " With 21 days of recorded precipitation for May, it doesn't take much for me to understand how the average temperature had to struggle to get to just 0.3° over the statistical average of 62.1° for the month. Along with five days in the 80's for the month, 84.4° was tops on May 11th and during the first week, three days registered in the 80's for highs. That sorta' tells you how temperatures for the rest of the month shaped-up. A low temperature of 44.8° entered the logbook on May 19th, and a comparatively timid 6° separated the recorded monthly average low of 55.8° from the record book low average of 49.8°. It was nice to spend a few days visiting in Florida for Mother's Day, but as my luck would have it, I had to pick a pilot who wanted to practice taxing in the rain for two hours before eventually heading south. While enjoying great weather in the Sunshine State I noticed that Centreville was experiencing the longest stretch of rain-free days for the entire month. The day after returning, the skies opened-up and produced the greatest rain accumulations for the month with 1.61" recorded on May 15th. The washout of that Thursday was then coupled with 0.76" on Friday, and culminated in 2.37" in about 18 hours for 29% of the May precipitation total. After two more weeks of on again, on again rain, it was time to drain the rice paddies and make note that 8.21" had accumulated or, 185% of our normal monthly amount of 4.42". There appears to be a promising harvest in sight with rain totaling more than eight inches over historical averages so far. " - notes from Paul [ - + ]
Charlottesville - The monthly average temperature was 4.2° below normal while rainfall was 2.21" above normal. The average wind speed was 4.2 mph. [ - + ]
Dulles - The mean temp was 2.6° below normal. The monthly rainfall was 4.49" above normal. Average wind speed, 5.8 mph. - from NWS WBC [ - + ]
Falls Church - " May 2003 was a cooler than average month and also a little over 3" wetter than normal. Over half the month consisted of cloudy, damp rainy days. There were no 90° days this month and we were lucky if we made it to 70° for high. A few days highs were only in the 50s. There were 8 days that contained dense fog in the morning which I found to be quite unusual for this time of year. Most of my AM fog has been reported during the mid-fall especially in November. A storm system on the 11th brought strong winds and I had a peak gust of 35 mph. " - notes from Erica [ - + ]
Herndon Bob reports: " My average max temp was 6.6° below the Dulles "normal" and the average min was 3.1° above. Total precip was 4.25" above the Dulles "normal" but still 2.26" below my May 1988 observation. Dulles is about 4 miles WSW and its normal is the 1971-2000 average. This was a cool, wet, pleasant month with more than enough precip. " - [ - + ]
Herndon - " The monthly temperature was 3.1° below average, precipitation was 4.23" above average (double the normal average!). We had thunder on the 7th-11th, 15th, 24th and on the 31st. We had dense fog on the 7th and 25th. Record rainfall of 1.09" fell on the 21st. The numbers speak for themselves. May was very wet! " - notes from Russ [ + - ]
Lexintgton - Scott sends these note: "Well, we were in the same boat (Noah's Ark?) as everyone else in May. Mean temp in Lexington was 3.7° below normal. Of note, we failed to record a temperature of 80° or higher after May 11th! Normal precipitation is 3.56"...WREL recorded a whopping 7.55"; well over twice the monthly average. Even with all the rain, there were no severe storms in May...so it turned out to be a cloudy, cool, rainy and boring month! - [ - + ]
Louisa - Joe reports May was a wet month with over 7" of precip. For the year, his sites is 11" above average! - [ M + ]
Lynchburg - Rainfall for the month was 4.08" above normal while the mean temp was 1.8° below normal. The average wind speed was 4.7 MPH. The average average relative humidity was 79%. - from NWS Blacksburg [ - + ]
New Market - Joyce notes: "With all the rain and so many partly cloudy, mostly cloudy days, it was a long and dreary month. Too wet to get into the fields. My hay is around 5' high and very thick. I have never seen it this tall since we moved here in 1981." - [ - + ]
Newport News Gary notes: " A wet cool month. More like early April than May."
Norfolk - NWS AKQ noted the average temperature in Norfolk was 0.6° below normal. The month's rainfall was 0.92" above normal. The average wind speed was 9.0 mph. - [ - + ]
Norfolk - The Fred Heutte Center, in Historic Ghent, noted a mean barometer reading of 29.968". The mean relative humidity was 84%. The average wind speed was 3.0 mph from a dominant SW direction.
Portsmouth - A cool (-2.3°) and wet month (140%) here. A remarkably high number of days with measurable precip, 20 or 64.25%. Lots of moisture moving in from SW and S apparently having few mechanisms in the upper flow to move it out. Rather ill-defined weather pattern in the transition to late spring. Surprisingly, still no days reaching 90°, a rarity in the database to 1976. New records for the month included: 5TH TEMPERATURE MINIMUM 43° [PREVIOUSLY 45° 1982]; 17TH TEMPERATURE MINIMUM MAXIMUM 60° [PREVIOUSLY 62° 1983]; 18TH TEMPERATURE MINIMUM MAXIMUM 55° [PREVIOUSLY 66° 1994]; 23RD PRECIPITATION 1.23" [PREVIOUSLY 1.05" 1982]; 23RD TEMPERATURE MINIMUM MAXIMUM 61° [PREVIOUSLY 68° 1990]; 25TH TEMPERATURE TIED MINIMUM MAXIMUM 70° [PREVIOUSLY 1988]; 27TH TEMPERATURE TIED MINIMUM MAXIMUM 67° [PREVIOUSLY 1997]; 31ST WIND GUST MAXIMUM 26 MPH [PREVIOUSLY 25 MPH 1993]. Winds averaged 2.6 MPH from a dominant SE direction. The average barometric pressure was 29.962". The average relative humidity was 82.3% and the average sky cover was 57.3%. For the year-to-date, the temperature average dropped- thanks to May's cooler temps - further below normal (-1.1°) while rainfall was 127% of the norm up 3% from April. [ - + ]
Richmond - NWS AKQ reported the mean temp at RIC was 1.9° below normal. Rainfall was 4.63" above normal. The average wind speed was 7.2 mph. [ - + ]
Mechanicsville - Glenn notes: " A lot of rain for the month: 10.62" Also had dime size hail on the 31st from a strong t-storm. Has anybody seen the sun?"
Roanoke - Wendell reports: " Wettest May on record at 10.16". Temperatures were 1.4° below normal. Only 4 completely clear days for all of May. Rainfall was 5.82" above normal." - [ - + ]
Roanoke - NWS Blacksburg reports that the Roanoke airport monthly mean temp was 1.6" below normal. Rainfall was 5.89" above normal and established a new May rainfall record. The average wind speed was 6.2 mph. [ - + ]
Woodstock - " Cold and wet. Precip exactly the same as last year, a tie for 4th wettest, and also the 4th coldest May in 18 years. " - notes from Lauck [ - + ]
Asheville - from NWS GSP: The monthly mean temp was 0.8° above normal and the rainfall was 3.94" above normal. The average wind speed was 5.1 mph. [ + + ]
Charlotte - NWS GSP reports the mean temp here was 2.6° below normal and precip was 7.03" above normal. The average wind speed was 5.9 mph. - [ - + ]
Elizabeth City - The Elizabeth City Coast Guard Station [ECG] reported an average wind speed of 9.4 mph. The mean temp was -1.4° below normal while rainfall was 1.04" above normal. - from NWS AKQ [ - + ]
Fayetteville - NWS RDU reports the average wind speed was 7.7 mph.
Cape Hatteras - The average temperature in May 2003 was 68.0°. This was 0.6° warmer than the 1895-2003 average, the 43rd warmest May on record (1895-2003). 11.65" of precipitation fell in May. This was 7.98" more than the 1895-2003 average, the 2nd wettest such month on record (1895-2003). - from NCDC [ + + ]
Greensboro - NWS RDU notes a mean temp here that was 1.5° below normal. Rainfall was 2.90" above normal. The average wind speed was 7.5 mph. - [ - + ]
Hickory - The average wind speed was 5.5 mph. The average monthly temperature 2.1° below normal while rainfall was 2.47" above normal - from NWS GSP [ - + ]
Lumberton - The average wind speed was 7.0 mph. The average monthly temperature was 1.4° above normal while rainfall was 2.36" above normal - from NWS ILM [ + + ]
Raleigh - NWS RAH reported the monthly average temp was 0.7° below normal while rainfall was 0.49" above normal. The average relative humidity was 78% while the average sky cover was 60%. A record low max temperature was set on the 5th with 58° [previously 59° in 1992] - [ - + ]
Raleigh - Bob reports: " As has been the trend this winter and spring, there were a couple cold air damming episodes, which resulted periods of cool, cloudy days. For the third month in a row, precipitation was above normal. The year to date total of 23.30" is 5.20" above normal. The average daily temperature was 1.2° below normal. " - [ - + ]
Roxboro - Merriell reports: " May was slightly cooler than normal and much wetter. More than twice the normal rainfall (3.81") was recorded."
Wilmington - From NWS ILM: The average temp was 0.6° below normal while rainfall was a 3.04" above normal. The average wind speed was 8.2 mph. RECORD DAILY RAINFALL SET ON THE 23RD. PREVIOUS RECORD 1.62" SET IN 1887. [ - + ]
Anderson - NWS GSP reports the monthly mean temp was 1.5° below normal. Rainfall was 1.09" above normal. The average wind speed was 6.2 mph. - [ - + ]
Charleston - NWS CHS reports the monthly mean temp was 1.8° above normal. Rainfall was 1.12" above normal. The average wind speed was 8.5 mph. - [ + + ]
Columbia - NWS CAE reports that the mean temp here was 0.3° below normal. Rainfall was a 2.32" above normal. The average wind speed was 7.0 mph. Average relative humidity was 76% while the average sky cover was 70%. [ - + ]
Florence - The mean temp here was 2.0° below normal while rainfall totals were 0.52" above normal. The average wind speed was 7.3 mph. - from NWS ILM [ + + ]
Greenville-Spartanburg - The monthly mean temperature was 0.2° below normal while rainfall was 3.06" above normal. The average wind speed was 7.4 mph. - from NWS GSP [ - + ]
North Myrtle Beach - The mean temp was 0.2° above normal while rainfall was 0.97" above normal. The average wind speed was 7.3 mph. A record high temperature was set on the 10th with 87° [previous record 84° set in 1952 and tied in 2002]. - from NWS ILM [ + + ]
Orangeburg - NWS CAE reports the average wind speed was 6.2 mph. The average relative humidity was 76% while the average sky cover was 40%.
Tri-Cities - The year-to-date rainfall of 23.61" is 5.23" above normal. - from NWS MRX [ + + ]
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