Spoiler alert: Climate change is still happening

So NOAA is out with its monthly update of climatic conditions in the contiguous United States. The latest report covers the month of May. Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • The average temperature for the contiguous US during May was 61.0°F, making it 0.9°F above the monthly average for the 20th century. May was the 339th consecutive month in which the average temperature in the contiguous US was higher than the 20th century average. If you were born after February 1985 (as I was), you have never known a climate not altered by the hand of man.
May 2013 was the 40th warmest May since we began keeping records 120 years ago (courtesy of the NOAA National Climatic Data Center).

May 2013 was the 40th warmest May since we began keeping records 119 years ago (courtesy of the NOAA National Climatic Data Center).

  • May was warmer than average in the Northeast and the West, but it was considerably cooler than average in the South. Florida and Georgia had their 11th and 12th coolest Mays on record, respectively. California had the warmest average temperature, relative to other May records, of any state; it was its 18th warmest May.
While temperatures were higher than average in the Northeast, Great Lakes, and West, they were significantly cooler in the Southeast (courtesy of NOAA NCDC).

While temperatures were higher than average in the Northeast, Great Lakes, and West, they were significantly cooler in the Southeast (courtesy of NOAA NCDC).

  • As you could probably tell by looking outside, May was extremely wet. It wast the 17th wettest May on record; the total precipitation average (3.34 inches) was 0.47 inches about the 20th century average. May was particularly damp in the Midwest and Great Plains, where Iowa had its wettest May on record, and North Dakota had its second wettest May.
May continued our above average precipitation trend for 2013. Total precipitation has only increased during the first third of June (courtesy of NOAA NCDC).

May continued our above average precipitation trend for 2013. Total precipitation has only increased during the first third of June (courtesy of NOAA NCDC).

  • Despite the above average rainfall (and snowfall, for that matter), much of the country west of the Mississippi River continues to experience at least moderate drought. While the total land area under drought fell by 2.8% during May, 44.1% of the US (including Alaska & Hawaii) remains in drought conditions. This prolonged drought is contributing to historic wildfires in Colorado and California.
While the total land area experiencing drought fell in May, nearly half of the country is still experiencing drought conditions (courtesy of US Drought Monitor).

While the total land area experiencing drought fell in May, nearly half of the country is still experiencing drought conditions (courtesy of US Drought Monitor).

The moral of the story: it may not be as insanely hot as last year, but climate change is here to stay, folks.