Warmest May on Record

By Russell Russ

Last year’s title for the May weather article was Nothing Special, that was not the case this year. We all heard how dry this month was, but what snuck up on many of us, including yours truly, was how warm it really was. This month was the warmest May recorded in our 84 years of weather observing here in Norfolk. Sometimes winter feels like hitting us with one more shot in May, but not this year, not even a hint of a parting winter shot.

Had it not been for a few small thunderstorms on a couple of days then it certainly would have been our driest May on record, like it was for many parts of the state. This is very strange since it was reported that this May was the wettest on record for the continental United States. The rest of the country was very wet while the northeast, including Norfolk, were very dry. It all comes down to location.

May’s high temperature of 85 degrees was observed on May 8 and the low temperature of 36 degrees was observed on May 14 and 23. The 85 on May 8 tied 1936 as the record high for this date. We came close to record highs on a few other days as well. With an average monthly temperature of 61.8 degrees, it was 7.1 degrees above normal, the warmest May in the last 84 years and the first time May’s average monthly temperature broke the 60 degree mark. It also broke our string of four consecutive months with colder than average monthly temperatures.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 1.61 inches, 2.76 inches below normal. It was Norfolk’s fourth driest May in the last 84 years. Our top three driest Mays on record are 1993 with 1.06 inches, 1980 with 1.31 inches and 1964 with 1.33 inches. There were three thunderstorms observed this month, but nothing on the severe side. There was no snowfall. May’s average snowfall amount is just 0.4 inch.

For 2015, January through May, our total precipitation amount is just 14.21 inches. This is 6.55 inches below normal. We certainly need some rain to make up our growing rainfall deficit.

What will June’s weather bring us? As Norfolk Now goes to print late in the month, it appears that our rainfall deficit will not be getting any worse. In fact, through the first three weeks of June we were already nearly two inches above normal for monthly rainfall with more rain in the forecast. After an unusually cool start, the temperatures leveled off and became more normal. Temperature-wise it appears that it will be near average for a Norfolk June.