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Make. It. Stop.
Generally one of the brightest and most pleasant seasons of the year in New England has been a gray, wet, damp, dank, drizzly, soaking, mess. It’s rained every Tuesday since early September except for two of them. It’s rained on weekends. Little bitty stingin’ rain… and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night.
Okay that last part may have been in Forrest Gump. But the rest is definitely true. There’s been so much of it, we’ve now set some new records in the area.
Now the wettest fall on record at Blue Hill Observatory. Graphic: WBZ-TV
Our best local climate site is Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, which has been keeping records since 1885. It’s not quite as long as Boston but the site has never moved (unlike Boston’s) plus it is always measured and quality controlled by humans on-site. And they’ve been stacking up the raindrops all year long.
Wettest November on record at Blue Hill Observatory. Graphic: WBZ-TV
Both the fall season (September-October-November) and the month of November itself are now the wettest ever recorded at BHO. Providence and Worcester are sitting at their 2nd wettest fall, with Boston in the 4-spot. November was also Boston’s wettest month since June of 2013.
Interestingly, the two wettest November’s on record in Boston were 1876 and 1877 (this year is the 3rd wettest). What the heck was going on then? There appears to have been a raging strong multi-year El Nino event underway that lead to extreme northern U.S. winter warmth and rainfall. You can find an interesting read on what may have been going on here.
Days with measurable rainfall (>0.01″) this fall season. Graphic: WBZ-TV
It’s not just the amount of rain, but the frequency of it. We haven’t really had a ‘signature’ rain event during this stretch. There was a heavy rainmaker in late September across the South Coast of New England but it wasn’t as impressive at these other climate sites and didn’t produce major flooding locally (the more significant river flooding was found in Connecticut). Most of the wettest falls on record had a major 4″+ rain event mixed in that lead to significant and widespread river flooding. We’ve had some minor issues but this has been more of a steady slog of wet systems producing 0.5-2″ at a time.
Frequency of midday overcast skies in Boston. Source: http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu
When it’s not raining, it’s cloudy. We can look back at all the observations at Logan Airport since 1951 and check the % of time there have been overcast skies in the middle of the day. Through Tuesday, it’s been overcast at noon 67% of the days this month. We’re right at record levels and each month this fall has been much cloudier than average. The gloom is real.
Rainfall for 2018 through Tuesday, 11/27. Graphic: WBZ-TV
We’re starting to creep up the leader board as one of the wettest overall years as well. Boston has now topped 50″ of rain (or liquid equivalent of snow) and is standing in 17th place with over a month to go. If we even just end up with typical rain/snow equivalent in December, we would end up in the Top 10. Being an El Nino year with an active stretch continuing, there’s a chance we could climb even higher than that (although I don’t think we have any shot at # 1, which would require 15″ of additional rain between now and New Year’s).
Percent of normal precipitation over the past 3 years. Source: Northeast Regional Climate Center
Nature has a way of balancing out and we’ve done a number on that huge deficit built up during the drought years of 2015 and 2016. There’s still a shortage in portions of New England but it’s certainly not a big issue at this point. Reservoirs are full and the water table is up. And it doesn’t really look like things will be slowing down all that much in the weeks to come.