How Do We Rank Compared to Wettest And Driest Areas?

Published 04/09 2014 11:25PM

Updated 04/09 2014 11:28PM

Average Rainfall for Central PA Region

“April showers” is a very familiar phrase, and not just because they wrote a song about it. April tends to be a rainy month in many areas of the continental U.S.

But "rainy" means very different things in different parts of the country, and the graphic above shows just how different. On top, you’ll see the cities in the Lower 48 states with the highest average annual rainfall. Not surprisingly, they're in the Pacific Northwest. Contrast that with the bottom of the graphic that shows the least rainy cities, with their location in the Southwest also not a surprise.

Since we’re talking about averages here, these figures are flagging local climate, not local weather. It may not rain on a particular day in Quillayute, Wash., but Quillayute is a pretty wet place overall. It may pour in Yuma, Ariz. on an particular afternoon, but the climate overall is dry. But in a warming world, these climates are also changing. Rainfall patterns are indeed changing across the continental U.S., as we documented last fall, with overall precipitation up 5 percent compared with 1900. And episodes of extreme downpours are increasing everywhere, compared with what we were seeing back in the middle of the last century - even in areas of the country that are getting drier.

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