The Alabama Climate Report

Brought to you by the Office of the Alabama

Volume 9, Number 2, May 2018

May’s weather was interesting.  Tropical storm Alberto visited the state on the 28th and 29th dropping enough rain in parts of Alabama to alleviate some minor drought conditions in the southern and eastern areas. In fact, Montgomery received 3.50” of rain over these two days with additional rainfall occurring in the soupy air left in the tropical system’s wake. This brought the monthly rainfall total to 6.14”, 2.60” above the normal for the month and a welcome relief.  As the storm weakened into a tropical depression, the heaviest rainfall transitioned to the system’s northwest side, dousing some areas from Birmingham to Muscle Shoals with 2-4” of rainfall. The official tropical storm/hurricane season begins on 1 June, so Alberto was a few days premature. This is not unusual, however, as the past 3 hurricane seasons have also featured tropical systems that developed prior to the “official” start of the season. 

Temperature wise, the state was a good bit above average from around +3°F at the Gulf to +6 °F at the Tennessee border.   Indeed Huntsville’s May average temperature finished second behind May 1962 as the hottest May by the slimmest of margins.  When you add up all of the daily high temperatures (2696) and daily low temperatures (2019) for the month, May 2018 summed to 4715.  The total in 1962 was 4716.  The average temperature for 2018 then was 76.048 °F while in 1962 it was 76.065 °F.  It doesn’t get any closer than that.  However, at 76.0 F, Muscle Shoals recorded it’s warmest May, surpassing 75.4 °F observed in 1902 and 1962.

Those warm temperatures were influenced by a mid-month heat spell with high temperature records in the mid-90’s set in several cities.  In terms of rainfall, the state averaged slightly less than normal in the NW to much above normal in the SE with Dothan, for example, measuring 11.93 inches, over 8 inches above average.

Every month since October 2010 we, in the State Climatologist’s Office at UAH, have provided you with timely information and stories regarding Alabama’s climate. The person responsible for assembling these reports from the beginning was Phil Gentry, our Director of Communications - indeed he came up with the idea for this monthly state report.  Phil kept up his routine to produce this report and managed many other media activities of the State Climatologist, as well as numerous stories generated by the researchers (The Global Temperature Report for example), faculty and students in the Macintosh HD:Users:christy:Desktop:GentryP.jpegEarth System Science Center and the Department and Atmospheric Science even as he dealt with cancer these past four years.  We are deeply saddened to report that Phil passed away from complications due to cancer on May 15th. As a writer, photographer and self-taught graphics artist, Phil was able to assemble all of the necessary pieces of a story and build a bridge to carry the sometimes egg-headed pontifications of scientists into the realm of useful information for the broad readership we serve today.  Phil leaves a huge gap for us to fill as we continue to provide you as best we can the kind of information you request

- John Christy
The Alabama State Climatologist