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May 2023 was the driest on record...now May 2024 will go down as the 2nd wettest

Plus, other facts about May and its rainfall
Posted at 4:11 PM, Jun 02, 2024

On June 1, 2023, residents of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa looked out over brown grass. We had just gone through the driest May on record, with just 0.17" of rain measured for the entire month. The drought was as bad as it had been since 2012, with the exceptional (5/5) category as far east as Gretna. We were a region that desperately needed rain, and although June would provide it, it was a long way to recover from the drought.

Flash forward to June 1, 2024. Now, residents of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa are looking out over green grass. We had just gone through the second wettest May on record, with 11.14" of rain measured for the entire month. The drought was as good as it had been since 2022, with the moderate (2/5) category confined to southeast Nebraska. We were in a region with tons of rain and were looking for a reprieve into June.

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A look at the daily rainfall amounts at Eppley Airfield during May 2024.

The above descriptions could not be more different, but it is true. Omaha Eppley Airfield saw a record-breaking 11.14" of rain, officially placing May 2024 as the second wettest May on record, only 0.15" behind #1, May 1883. What is most frustrating is that we could have gotten the record had the storms on Thursday not fallen apart before reaching Eppley Airfield. Parts of the Omaha metro received over 2" of rain that afternoon, but Eppley only 0.35".

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Rainfall statistics for May 2024 in Omaha.

Still, the near-foot rain we saw this month is quite impressive. Not only is it the second wettest May on record, but May 2024 is now the 8th wettest month on record (the record is September 1965 with 13.75" of rain). We saw so much rain that we received about the same amount of precipitation Omaha would get from the beginning of the year to June 1 in May alone!

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2nd Wettest May on record, missed it by 0.15".

Here are a select few totals from the region to show 1.) Some cities did receive their wettest May on record, and 2.) Not everybody saw the big rainfall totals.

Fremont - 12.34" (1st, data goes back to 1897)
Tekamah - 11.17" (2nd, data goes back to 1895)
Falls City - 11.94" (2nd, data goes back to 1912)
Audubon, IA - 10.59" (3rd, data goes back to 1893)
Clarinda, IA - 9.18" (8th, data goes back to 1893)
Corning, IA - 9.16" (7th, data goes back to 1893)
Carroll, IA - 8.00" (11th, data goes back to 1893)
Shenandoah, IA - 6.79" (19th, data goes back to 1935)
Columbus - 6.53" (14th, data goes back to 1894)
Red Oak, IA - 6.58" (25th, data goes back to 1925)
Norfolk - 6.20" (19th, data goes back to 1893)
Nebraska City - 5.43" (28th, data goes back to 1933)
York - 4.97" (34th, data goes back to 1893)
Lincoln - 4.78" (41st, data goes back to 1888)
Crete - 3.05" (86th, data goes back to 1894)

If there is one great benefit to the rainfall we saw this month, is that we effectively eliminated the drought that has plagued our area since 2022. Before our recent rain spell, the drought was slowly eroding from the rainfall seen in March and early April. By mid-April, almost all of the KMTV region was in some kind of drought.

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Current drought monitor as of April 16, 2024.

Now, on June 1, all but southeast Nebraska is in some kind of drought. It is important to note that the "abnormally dry" (1/5) category is not a drought, but it signifies either a region starting to become dry or is recovering from a drought. This means that the drought is effectively been eliminated from the Omaha metro. A moderate drought remains over southeast Nebraska.

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Drought update from May 28, 2023.

Could we expect the active weather pattern to continue into June? The long-range signals do not show a significant bias either toward a wet or dry June, meaning we could expect a more typical month for rain. It is important to note that June is our third wettest month, so we can expect more wet weather through the month.

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A glance at June weather for Omaha

Along with the rainfall, June is historically a month of severe weather for Nebraska and Iowa too. June is the month with the most recorded tornadoes in the two states. In a region already severe weather weary from this year, this is not encouraging news. Stay with KMTV for the day-by-day forecast to be prepared for any potential severe weather.