Forget April showers, this May was wettest in US records

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Forget April showers, this May was wettest in US records
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 16: American Pharoah #1 ridden by Victor Espinoza crosses the finish line to win the 140th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on May 16, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Rain falls over burnt trees at the top Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, taken on May 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MAY 25: The sky looks ominous after days of heavy rain on May 25, 2015 in Austin, Texas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott toured the damage zone where one person is confirmed dead and at least 12 others missing in flooding along the Rio Blanco, which reports say rose as much as 40 feet in places, caused by more than 10 inches of rain over a four-day period. The governor earlier declared a state of emergency in 24 Texas counties. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
File - In this May 29, 2015 file photo, North and south bound Loop 12 at Interstate 30 is shutdown due to high water on the roadway, in Dallas. Floodwaters submerged Texas highways and threatened more homes Friday after another round of heavy rain added to the damage inflicted by storms. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade, File)
HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA - MAY 14: A pattern of rain drops gather on a car window as a beach-goer stands on a lifeguard tower Newport Beach amid intermittent showers blanketing Southern California Thursday, May 14, 2015. (Photo By Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
File - In this May 30, 2015 file photo, a motorist stops to help another driver stranded in high water in Dallas. Parts of Texas were finally beginning to rebuild on Sunday from weeks of rain and flooding that have made the state a place of extremes: severe drought conditions earlier in the year that have given way to unprecedented rainfall in some areas. (AP Photo/Rex C. Curry, File)
Mary Miley, of Atlanta, runs for cover during a brief rain shower as she arrives for the MomoCon convention, Sunday, May 31, 2015, in Atlanta. The convention draws fans of Japanese animation, known also as anime, as well as American animation, comics, video and tabletop gaming. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
SANTA CLARITA, CA - MAY 14: Oscar Clark of the United States riding for Hincapie Racing Team drives the peloton in the rain late in the race to defend the overall race leader jersey for his teammate Toms Skujins of Latvia riding for Hincapie Racing Team during stage five of the 2015 Amgen Tour of California from Santa Barbara to Santa Clarita on May 14, 2015 in Santa Clarita, California. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Tulane pitcher Jordan Gross reacts after completing a playful challenge of curling some sandbags, after being challenged by UNC Wilmington players during a rain delay before a game at the NCAA college baseball tournament regional in Baton Rouge, La., Sunday, May 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Houston Astros fans make their way across the street as they leave the stadium while rain falls after the Astros beat the Chicago White Sox 4-3 in a baseball game Saturday, May 30, 2015, in Houston. Heavy afternoon storms rolled through the Houston area. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Fans sit under umbrellas and the tarp covers the field at Busch Stadium as rain delays the start of a baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers, Saturday, May 30, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst)
James Jakes of England, center, slides into Tony Kanaan of Brazil on the first turn during the first race of the IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix auto racing doubleheader Saturday, May 30, 2015, in Detroit. Colombian Carlos Munoz won the rain shortened race. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
The grounds crew pulls a tarp over the field during a rain delay in the first inning of a game between LSU and Lehigh at the Baton Rouge Regional of the NCAA college baseball tournament in Baton Rouge, La., Friday, May 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gabby Aviles carries her daughter Audrey through floodwaters outside their apartment in Houston, Tuesday, May 26, 2015. Heavy rains overnight caused flooding in the Houston area. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Fans wait above the visitors' dugout during a rain delay before a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins, Tuesday, May 26, 2015, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
A bicyclist rides through a rainstorm with hail in Denver on Saturday, May 23, 2015. Forecasters predict another rainy day for the Mile High City as another in a series of storms sweeps over the central plains. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A traffic cone blocks entry to a boat ramp and flooded parking lot at Little Rock Yacht Club Marina near Little Rock, Ark., Friday, May 22, 2015. Downpours have made the Arkansas River unsafe for recreation heading into the Memorial Day weekend, when even more rain is projected to fall across the state. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
Army honor guards remove the plastic cover, shielding from the rain, from the casket containing the remains of missing soldier from Korean War U.S. Army Cpl. Francis D. Knobel, Thursday, May 21, 2015, during a burial services at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Pam Anderson of Fort Worth, Texas, tries to stay dry in the rain while watching the first round of the Colonial golf tournament, Thursday, May 21, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Rain falls as car line up for inspections before qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series auto race at the Iowa Speedway, Saturday, May 16, 2015, in Newton, Iowa. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AUSTIN, TX - MAY 25: Amy Lohr and Marian McCoy stand in the flooding at Shoal Creek after days of heavy rain on May 25, 2015 in Austin, Texas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott toured the damage zone where one person is confirmed dead and at least 12 others missing in flooding along the Rio Blanco, which reports say rose as much as 40 feet in places, caused by more than 10 inches of rain over a four-day period. The governor earlier declared a state of emergency in 24 Texas counties. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
The scoring pylon is lit along the main straight as rain closed the tract for the day on the first day of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Saturday, May 16, 2015. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Storm clouds are reflected in a pool of water along a walkway overlooking the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, May 15, 2015. A second round of rain from a rare spring storm swept into drought-stricken Southern California on Friday, along with heavy winds and snow in the mountains before heading inland, where other states were also feeling weird late-season weather. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Rain drops fall on a car parked outside a building, Friday, May 15, 2015, in Buena Park, Calif. A second round of rain from a rare spring storm swept into drought-stricken Southern California on Friday, along with heavy winds, snow in the mountains and the possibility of hail and lightning. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Members of the Los Angeles Dodgers grounds crew stand in a downpour after covering the field with tarp during a rain delay in the sixth inning of a baseball game between the Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies, Thursday, May 14, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
A vehicle makes its way through deep water following heavy rain in Moore, Okla., Wednesday, May 6, 2015. Forecasters declared a tornado emergency for Moore. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
METHUEN, MA - MAY 28: A strong line of thunder storms moved through Methuen late this afternoon, causing this man to dash to his car through the rain in the parking lot at Home Depot. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - MAY 28: A man waits out a heavy rainstorm Thursday afternoon, May 28, 2015, underneath the overhang of the Nickelodeon Theater. (Photo by Gabe Souza/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MAY 25: David Lopez waits to cross the street as rain falls on May 25, 2015 in Austin, Texas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott toured the damage zone where one person is confirmed dead and at least 12 others missing in flooding along the Rio Blanco, which reports say rose as much as 40 feet in places, caused by more than 10 inches of rain over a four-day period. The governor earlier declared a state of emergency in 24 Texas counties. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Feeling soggy? Last month was the wettest on record for the contiguous United States, according to federal meteorologists.

On average 4.36 inches of rain and snow — mostly rain — fell over the Lower 48 in May, sloshing past October 2009 which had been the wettest month in U.S. records with 4.29 inches. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration records go back to 1895.

NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch calculated that comes to more than 200 trillion gallons of water in May.

Crouch said the record was triggered by a stalled pattern of storms that dumped massive amounts of rain in the central U.S., especially in Texas and Oklahoma, which had their rainiest months.

Oklahoma and Texas had been in a five-year drought and it was washed away in just one month, Crouch said: "It's like one disaster ending a catastrophe."

Colorado had its rainiest May on record. Arkansas, Nebraska and Utah had their second wettest month on record. Fourteen states had one of their 10 rainiest Mays on record, all of them west of the Mississippi River and east of California.

Still, parts of the Northeast were unusually dry. It was the second driest May for Massachusetts and the third driest May for Rhode Island and New Jersey.

Last month was 1.45 inches wetter than 20th-century average for May. It was only the seventh time the entire contiguous United States averaged four inches of rain or more.

The global climate phenomenon El Nino, which starts with a warming in the central Pacific and changes weather worldwide for a year or so, is usually associated with such heavy rainfall, Crouch said. He added that it is too early to say if it triggered the record moisture. Also, more heavy downpours are expected as the world warms, but Crouch said there's no way to connect climate change to a single, soggy month.

May's average temperature in the U.S. was 60.8 degrees, which is slightly warmer than the 20th-century average. However, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island had their warmest Mays on record.

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Online:

NOAA: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/summary-info/national/201505

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Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears

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