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Flooding in Beaumont, TX during Tropical Storm Imelda Photo: USA Today
Cities in Alaska and the Southeastern U.S. saw some of the greatest extremes in weather in 2019 — with Utqiagvik, formerly known as Barrow, coming in at 9.3 degrees warmer than average and Bozeman, Montana was 5.3 degrees colder than average, while Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas was the wettest with 25.02 inches more rain than average and of U.S. cities, Tallahassee, Florida, had a 20-inch rainfall deficit. The Weather Channel and the Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC) of the National Weather Service teamed up to look at major reporting stations in the U.S. with at least a 60-year period of records to determine whether the warmest, coolest, wettest and driest in 2019 as compared to average conditions.
Why This Matters: There were some big extremes in 2019 — with an impressive list and geographic spread of U.S. cities seeing record-breaking weather.
Record warmth for Alaska is one of the biggest stories of the year — it looks as if the average statewide temperature was at or above freezing for the year — a first.
The Warmest: Besides Alaska, these Southeastern cities saw large temperature spikes — Hatteras, North Carolina was +3.9 degrees, Meridian, Mississippi was +3.8 degrees, Charlotte, North Carolina was +3.7 degrees, and Atlanta, Georgia was +3.6 degrees warmer.
The Coldest: The northern plains had the coldest extremes, with Bozeman, Montana at 5.3 degrees colder, Rapid City, South Dakota at 4.1 degrees colder, and Pierre, South Dakota at 3.7 degrees colder.
The Wettest: Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas near Houston was the wettest in 2019 due to Tropical Storm Imelda, and it was the wettest in 2017 as well when it was hit by Hurricane Harvey. But cities near the Mississippi River also set records with Rochester, Minnesota at an additional 22.14 inches of rain, Fort Fort Smith, Arkansas with an additional 22.04 inches, Tupelo, Mississippi with an additional 21.98 inches, and Paducah, Kentucky with an additional 21.19 inches of rain.
The Driest: Much of the U.S. experienced droughts during 2019, and it was most acute in areas that are usually the wettest — in Alaska’s southeast and along the windward slope of the Big Island of Hawaii. Similarly, the Pacific Northwest, also known for being wet had an especially dry year with Hoquiam, Washington near Seattle getting 22.37 inches less rain, and Quillayute, Washington getting 18.62 fewer.
Temperature Anomalies for 2019 Map: NOAA/ESRL Physical Sciences Division via Weather.com
This year has seen many bad records broken when it comes to climate-driven severe weather. We are now several letters into the Greek alphabet for storm names having reached this point (23 so far) for only the second time since storm names began.
Why This Matters: The number of storms is not just a fun fact — it is devastating for tens of thousands of people.
Hurricane Sally, now a category 2 storm (winds at 110 mph) has slowed and intensified in the last 24 hours, with landfall now shifting to the east (fortunately away from New Orleans), but crawling toward the Eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida Panhandle coastline with its high winds whipping the shore, the storm surge and huge rainfall amounts are expected to last for the next 36 hours.
Why This Matters: As President Trump denies the science, which he literally did today in California, the Gulf Coast gets ready for rainfall totals measured in feet not inches.
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