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Soggy Spring A Record Breaker

Mildewy residents of three Southeastern states won't be surprised to learn they had the wettest spring on record.

March through May topped the record books for Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday.

Above-normal rainfall was recorded from New York to Florida, in fact, and also along the West Coast and in some Midwestern states.

But the wealth wasn't shared with everyone. Texas recorded its second driest March-May, the agency said.

"The increased storminess in the East this spring is linked to the jet stream and a stubborn circulation pattern with a ridge of high pressure over the western United States," said Jim Laver, director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

"The jet stream's position helped bring up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and led to record statewide average rainfall in Virginia and the Carolinas," he explained. The jet stream is a powerful ribbon of air in the upper troposphere — the weather-causing region of the Earth's atmosphere characterized by rising and falling air pockets — that is strong enough to steer storm activity.

South Carolina recorded 19.2 inches of rain from March through May compared with a normal 11.3 inches. North Carolina had 18.7 inches, while normal is 11.8 inches. And Virginia was dampened by 16.8 inches of rain, topping a normal 11.0 inches for the period.

Joining Texas in the drier-than-normal category were New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Wyoming and Maine.

The Climate Prediction Center's summer outlook calls for areas near the southeast Atlantic Coast to see above-normal precipitation.

Warmer-than-normal temperatures are expected in much of the Southwest. Below-normal rainfall is likely in the Pacific Northwest and the Great Basin region with an increased chance for above-normal precipitation in parts of the Southwest.

"The good news with this outlook is drought conditions may improve slightly in southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico due to the monsoon season," said Laver. "Unfortunately, many western areas including Utah, Nevada, and parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming are likely to see a continuation of drought, which has lasted several years."

Nationally, March-May was the 21st-warmest in the 109-year record. The preliminary national average temperature was about 53 degrees Fahrenheit, which was 1.3 degrees above the long-term mean. The Northeast was cooler than average.