May 2020 is now Chicago's wettest on record in 150 years of official rainfall observations, U.S.

May 2020 is now Chicago's wettest on record in 150 years of official rainfall observations, U.S.

Following a week of continuous heavy rainfall, Chicago set a record on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, for the city's wettest May in history. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), 2.79 mm (0.11 inches) of rainfall was recorded overnight at the O'Hare Airport, pushing the city's May precipitation to 210.8 mm (8.3 inches)-- this surpassed the previous record of 209.55 (8.25 inches) set in 2019. 

"May 2020 is now the wettest on record in 150 years of official rainfall observations here-- and the month isn't over," said American meteorologist Tom Skilling. "We'll be adding to the month's rainfall total."

The new record also marks three consecutive years of record-setting rainfall in the month of May. The third wettest May on record is now May 2018 with 208.53 mm (8.21 inches) of rain.

Two other rainfall records were smashed in the previous week. Last Thursday, May 14, more than 88.9 mm (3.5 inches) was recorded in the city, making it the single wettest May day since 1871. On Sunday, May 17, the city recorded another 79 mm (3.11 inches), marking its fifth wettest day in May.

On Monday, May 18, heavy rain led to major flooding in the area-- the Chicago River burst, inundating the Riverwalk in some spots.

Roadways were also submerged, including Lower Wacker Drive, where the water levels were so high that the Chicago Fire Department had to use boats to rescue stranded people.

"Portions of the Des Plains, Fox, and Illinois rivers will remain above flood stage through tonight," NWS said in its Hazardous Weather Outlook on Thursday, May 21.

"There will be periodic thunderstorm chances for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and possibly well into next week."

Featured image credit: Lenny Martens

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