This month expected to be wettest May in Chicago since start of city records in 1870

Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Weather News

CHICAGO -- It's no surprise May has been a waterlogged mess in Chicago, with severe thunderstorm alerts almost daily and weeks of flooded streets and swollen rivers.

But if you're wondering if the area has actually received more rain than usual this month or whether your vitamin D-deprived brain is playing tricks on you, it's the former. The National Weather Service said Wednesday that 2019 is expected to break a record for the wettest May since 1870, when meteorologists began keeping records in Chicago.

With 8.03 inches of precipitation measured at O'Hare International Airport from May 1 through the light showers that fell Wednesday morning, Charles Mott, a meteorologist with the weather service, said 2019 is expected to break the record of 8.21 inches total precipitation from May 1 to May 31, as early as later Wednesday.

"Later on today into Thursday morning, the record will be set for the month of May in terms of total precipitation for the month," Mott said.

Meteorologists didn't have to dig into ancient history to find the current record-holder for wettest May -- it was set last year, in 2018, Mott said.

Before that, the wettest May on record was in 1945, he said.

Rain in the forecast for Wednesday night and through midday Thursday should be more than enough to give this year the edge over the previous one, Mott said.

The forecast calls for a round of thunderstorms to reach the Chicago area late Wednesday into Thursday, and meteorologists again expect heavy rainfall from the system. Conditions are favorable for the storms to be "strong to severe," according to the weather service.

If more than 0.18 inches of rain falls by Thursday afternoon, 2019 will not likely break the record, even though there still is another day in the month to go. That's because Friday, the last day of May, is one of the first days in about a week without a significant chance of rain. It also could warm up to a high of about 80, officials said.

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