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)
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)
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)
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)
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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