Monthlong deluge sets record for wettest May in Chicago history

Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas and Javonte Anderson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Weather News

CHICAGO -- It's official: It's been the wettest month of May in recorded history in Chicago. And although the city will get a bit of a respite from the rain Friday, forecasters say this summer is expected to be colder and wetter than usual.

With 8.25 inches of precipitation measured at O'Hare International Airport from May 1 through 7 a.m. Thursday, Amy Seeley, a meteorologist with the weather service, said May's rainfall surpassed the city's previous record of 8.21 inches, set just last year.

Before that, the wettest May since records began in 1871 was in 1945, according to the weather service.

It also has been the second-wettest spring on record, with 16.36 inches of rain so far, behind only the 17.51 inches in 1983, according to the weather service.

It's a pattern that may well stretch throughout the summer, said Dave Samuhel, a senior meteorologist with

"You're probably still going to be pretty active in terms of precipitation here going forward," Samuhel said. "It's going to be a little bit cooler than average and a little wetter than average from June to August."

He said Chicago typically gets about 4 inches of rain per month in the summer, for a total of about 12 inches of rain in June, July and August. This year, it's likely the total precipitation for summer will be closer to 13 or 14 inches.

Just as the amount of rain isn't dramatically more than a typical Chicago summer, it may also be a bit cooler than usual, but not by much, he said.

"Even though we're predicting cooler weather, you'll still have plenty of 80- and even 90-degree days. But as thunderstorms persist, you'll also get 60- and 70-degree days. Those cooler days probably outweigh those heatwave days, but it doesn't mean you might not still have a heatwave," Samuhel said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Lee Carlaw cited work from the Climate Prediction Center when he agreed with Samuhel's assessment of the summer overview.

"It would be possible to continue this wetter than normal pattern into the summer," he said. "The chances are pointing toward an increase in precipitation above normal."

Friday should see a pause in the almost-unceasing rain, according to the weather service. It also could warm up to a high in the mid-80s inland and cooler by Lake Michigan, officials said.

A chance of showers and thunderstorms returns early Saturday with some of them possibly becoming severe but Sunday and Monday are expected to be sunny with a high close to 70 degrees, according to the weather service.

Then, Carlaw said, "it does look like the precipitation comes back next week."

(c)2019 Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.



blog comments powered by Disqus

Social Connections


Ask Shagg Master Strokes: Golf Tips Daddy Daze Nick Anderson Rugrats Curtis