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Cities with the most rainfall in 2019

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Todd Diemer // Shutterstock

Cities with the most rainfall in 2019

While scientists can’t definitively link single events to climate change, they have largely predicted that as the planet warms, it will also experience more extreme rainfall events. This is because the warming of the atmosphere makes it so that air can hold more moisture and evaporate water faster, which leads to heavier precipitation.

Sure enough, 2019 has supported the hypothesis. While 2018 brought intense rains in the continental U.S., downpours hardly let up in 2019, and recent months have accounted for the lowest rates of drought in the 21st century across the country. Much of the Midwest logged two to three times the normal levels of precipitation this past year, with rivers there and in the Southeast swelling under the combination of rain and melting snow, submerging towns and farms in the process. The soil in these agriculture-heavy regions was made unsuitable for planting due to excessive flooding, which also destroyed existing crops and what had already been planted previously. The flooding also destroyed entire homes and was responsible for several deaths in areas where the rainfall was particularly extreme.

By the end of October 2019, the continental U.S. logged its wettest year on record with an average of 30.28 inches of rain across the country. At 4.92 inches of rain above average, most of the record-setting totals have hit the Midwest. Cities in Tennessee, Illinois, Florida, and North Carolina have seen high rainfall levels this year, with 20 cities in these states among the top 50 with the most rainfall.

In the U.S., floods have already been the most common natural disaster for some time. Now, increased rates of extreme rainfall coupled with things like urbanization—which often disrupts natural drainage systems—are contributing to even higher flood frequency in areas like the Midwest, the Gulf Coast, and the northeast coast.

To prevent flooding, several cities have levees flanking nearby bodies of water, floodwalls, water pumps, and sandbags to distribute to residents. The issue, though, is that many of the country’s levees are over 50 years old, making them largely unreliable as far as curbing the effects of excessive rainfall. Too often, aging stormwater drainage systems also need improvements, and can’t handle heavy rain. Solutions that focus on green infrastructure, such as restored wetlands with natural stormwater-catching mechanisms, can help soak up runoff or overflowing rivers, but development along the water in many cities has paved over these natural sponges with impermeable materials that can make it hard for such solutions to be implemented. Out of the 50 wettest cities this year, nearly all of them experienced floods that put their various mitigation strategies to the ultimate test.

To determine the U.S. cities that have received the most rainfall in 2019, Stacker consulted data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Centers for Environmental Information, Climate at a Glance: City Time Series. The dataset includes precipitation data for 207 U.S. cities. Using this report, Stacker ranked the top 50 cities according to their 2019 precipitation for January through October (representing the most recent data available) and looked at how this period ranks against January–October rainfall in previous years.

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PhotoZeal // Shutterstock

#50. Greensboro, North Carolina


- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 44.73 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 8.64 inches (30-year average: 36.09 inches)
- Rank (1928-2019): #11 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

Ten flood-prone creeks and rivers run through Greensboro, and the city’s excess precipitation this year has brought flooding and property damage to people in the flood zones. At the end of July, two months’ worth of rain fell over Greensboro in the course of fewer than four hours, bringing the water levels of one of these creeks from two feet to 19 feet.

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Maria Dryfhaut // Shutterstock

#49. Grand Rapids, Michigan

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 44.75 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 12.51 inches (30-year average: 32.24 inches)
- Rank (1963-2019): #2 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 1986

Grand Rapids received over a foot more rain in 2019 than in an average year. Fortunately, however, Grand Rapids has floodwalls in place along the river to help prevent flooding, and since 2013, the city has worked to fortify its floodwalls and update its response plan to ensure better preparedness in the event of a serious flood like the one it saw back in April 2013. Those efforts proved valuable as far as the city’s response when another disastrous flood struck in 2018, but the excessive rainfall in 2019 has luckily not resulted in a flood of that magnitude again.

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Jameslwoodward // Wikimedia Commons

#48. Blue Hill, Massachusetts

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 44.81 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 1.08 inches (30-year average: 43.73 inches)
- Rank (1895-2019): #36 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

Massachusetts’ Blue Hill Observatory is used to rain, and 2019 hasn't deviated too much from recent annual totals. However, precipitation has been steadily increasing at a rate of about 0.6 inches per decade since the observatory began taking weather measurements in the late 19th century.

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Pixabay

#47. Bangor, Maine

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 44.85 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 10.71 inches (30-year average: 34.14 inches)
- Rank (1953-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2005

It has been an unusually wet year for Bangor, with several episodes of heavy rain this year, at least one of which resulted in minor flooding. According to the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, if emissions continue at current levels, Bangor will probably see further increases in precipitation. By 2080, Bangor's summers could get 27.6% wetter (not to mention, about seven degrees hotter).

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The National Guard // Flickr

#46. Birmingham, Alabama

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 44.94 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 0.52 inches (30-year average: 44.42 inches)
- Rank (1930-2019): #46 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2017

During one particularly intense deluge in August, more than four inches of rain fell within 45 minutes in two places in Birmingham. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has since conducted a flood risk management study of Valley Creek, a river tributary prone to flooding in the Birmingham metropolitan area, with the goal of reducing the likelihood of future floods.

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Jay Yuan // Shutterstock

#45. Worcester, Massachusetts

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 45.15 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 5.08 inches (30-year average: 40.07 inches)
- Rank (1948-2019): #15 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

As climate change continues, the city of Worcester predicts that it will see further increases in extreme precipitation and flooding. In the city's latest vulnerability assessment, improvements to stormwater infrastructure and higher protection of water resources are among the biggest recommendations.

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Katherine Johnson // Flickr

#44. Springfield, Illinois

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 45.24 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 13.6 inches (30-year average: 31.64 inches)
- Rank (1901-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2008

Several rain storms this year have caused flooding in Springfield, with some instances resulting in as much as four feet of water accumulation. To help address the threat of climate change, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a law in August 2019 that would allow the state to take more action to combat climate change. Earlier in the year he had also joined other governors as part of the U.S. Climate Alliance, which unites states dedicated to furthering the goals of the Paris Agreement.

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Bruce Goerlitz Photos // Shutterstock

#43. Scranton, Pennsylvania

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 45.28 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 12.79 inches (30-year average: 32.49 inches)
- Rank (1949-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

The heavier-than-usual rains in Scranton, which have been coming down for a few years now, haven't been great news for farmers, as the higher levels of precipitation can wash away nutrients in the soil and leave crops to rot. For other residents of the city, the rains are eroding the ground that surrounds the foundations of their homes, threatening the very ground they live on. While the Department of Public Works has some short-term fixes in the works, like diverting storm runoff near homes, predictions of continued heavy rainfall in coming years could call for more extreme measures, including resident relocation.

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Norbert Tóth // Unsplash

#42. Topeka, Kansas

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 45.31 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 12.03 inches (30-year average: 33.28 inches)
- Rank (1946-2019): #5 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2005

Topeka's total 2019 rainfall had already topped its yearly average by the time August arrived, which marks a stark difference from 2018, when drought parched the entire state of Kansas. Climate change projections predict that while summers in Kansas will become hotter and drier overall, rainfall, when it occurs, will intensify, causing a higher risk of flooding.

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Serge Skiba // Shutterstock

#41. Charlotte, North Carolina

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 45.36 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 10.11 inches (30-year average: 35.25 inches)
- Rank (1939-2019): #6 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

Charlotte had a wet start to the year, logging over eight inches of rain—and a week-long period of downpour—by February 22 alone. According to Climate Central data, Charlotte has experienced an 86% increase in heavy rainfall since 1950. As a result, the city has received funding from Michael Bloomberg's American Cities Climate Challenge to prepare for a future of heavier downpours and other consequences of climate change.

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Alan Light // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Moline, Illinois

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 45.57 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 12.23 inches (30-year average: 33.34 inches)
- Rank (1943-2019): #6 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2009

This past May, the Quad Cities recorded their rainiest period since 1933, with 22 days of at least 0.01 inches of rain. The floods that struck the Midwest this spring didn't spare Moline, which lies along the Mississippi River, and the region experienced about 40 continuous days of flooding.

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Jason Patrick Ross // Shutterstock

#39. Rockford, Illinois

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 45.89 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 14.22 inches (30-year average: 31.67 inches)
- Rank (1951-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 1973

Rockford broke several rainfall records this year: in June alone, the city received triple the amount of rain it normally does, breaking its previous rainfall record for the same month. It also had five days with more than an inch of rain and two days with two or more inches. Local officials fought floods throughout the year by ordering evacuations when necessary, setting up shelters for evacuees, putting sandbag levees in place, and imposing no-wake restrictions on the nearby Rock River to prevent boats from making waves.

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Tina Guttierez // Shutterstock

#38. Cincinnati, Ohio

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 46.03 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 10.3 inches (30-year average: 35.73 inches)
- Rank (1948-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2011

In the first half of the year, Cincinnati was projected to log its third-wettest year, and it hasn’t slowed its roll. In 2019, Cincinnati has seen some of the highest rainfall in all of Ohio. Thankfully, the city’s Barrier Dam and floodwall system, which was constructed back in 1948, helps prevent flooding.

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Marin Keesler // Flickr

#37. Chicago, Illinois

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 46.16 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 14.64 inches (30-year average: 31.52 inches)
- Rank (1958-2019): #1 wettest year
- Wettest year since:

Chicago saw its wettest calendar year on record in 2019. The city’s old sewer system isn't built for heavy rain, and flooding isn't uncommon. Most of the flood damage—some of which has been on par with that of a hurricane over the past 10 years—occurs in low-income, predominantly African-American neighborhoods. The city of Chicago is also gradually sinking, and with the Midwest climate only getting wetter, the Windy City will see a pretty serious re-definement in its floodplains.

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Pixabay

#36. Peoria, Illinois

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 46.54 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 15.58 inches (30-year average: 30.96 inches)
- Rank (1943-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2009

A number of cities had a wet start to the year, and Peoria was one of them, logging roughly 62% of its annual average by June. Peoria lies along the Illinois River, and the city has experienced several notable floods this year, including a series of flash floods that hit in September. To prepare for floods from heavy rains, residents have used methods like sandbagging—barricading their homes with sand-filled bags to divert moving water and minimize flood damage—while the city has worked to clear and seal vulnerable buildings and dismantle electrical outlets.

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Pixabay

#35. Des Moines, Iowa

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 46.77 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 14.25 inches (30-year average: 32.52 inches)
- Rank (1945-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2010

Des Moines has topped its average annual rainfall by over 14 inches so far, which has slowed down local farmers. Because of a cool, rainy spring that left many fields flooded, many farmers fell behind their planting schedules by more than a week.

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Michael Pendergrass // Wikimedia Commons

#34. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 47.31 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): -1.51 inches (30-year average: 48.82 inches)
- Rank (1895-2019): #53 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

Although Cape Hatteras received nearly four feet of rain this year, that's not unusual. In fact, this year was a bit drier than average. While Cape Hatteras is used to the rain and stormy weather, the 2016 Hurricane Matthew tore through the region and caused nearly $5 billion in statewide damages. In response, North Carolina has developed a resilient redevelopment plan for Cape Hatteras and the other areas in the county.

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Cbaile19 // Wikimedia Commons

#33. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 47.33 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 15.21 inches (30-year average: 32.12 inches)
- Rank (1948-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

Last year marked Pittsburgh's wettest year on record so far, with 57.83 inches of rain, but there's still time for 2019 to catch up. The past two years brought a much higher level of rainfall than usual in the city which meteorologists have attributed to the natural, ocean-warming cycle, El Niño, and climate change effects. Specifically, a warm, moisture-absorbing atmosphere and an unstable jet stream may be contributing to the especially rainy period.

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Pixabay

#32. Johnson City, Tennessee

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 48.23 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 13.68 inches (30-year average: 34.55 inches)
- Rank (1937-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2003

Flooding had not been a problem for Johnson City in a few years—not since the city spent $30 million on flood mitigation projects and built two parks that help soak up excess water and direct it into storm drains. Still, 2018 and 2019 have both been particularly wet years, challenging the city's flood preparedness.

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A Syn // Flickr

#31. St. Louis, Missouri

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 48.6 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 14.41 inches (30-year average: 34.19 inches)
- Rank (1940-2019): #2 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2008

For about three months this spring, the Mississippi River was at flood stage around St. Louis and beyond, which meant that for that time, water was straining the levees. In some places, levees weren't enough to keep the river at bay, and water quickly filled homes, flooded businesses, and encroached on the iconic St. Louis Arch.

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formulanone // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Huntsville, Alabama

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 49.18 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 5.57 inches (30-year average: 43.61 inches)
- Rank (1958-2019): #17 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2009

Huntsville typically experiences high amounts of rainfall each year, which demands up-to-date flood protections. The city received a $16 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) last April to improve flood infrastructure in the historic Five Points neighborhood. Huntsville officials worry this won’t be enough, but FEMA has not yet responded to these concerns.

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Cold417 // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Springfield, Missouri

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 49.89 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 11.64 inches (30-year average: 38.25 inches)
- Rank (1940-2019): #5 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2008

So far, Springfield has logged over two feet of rain this year, but more rain and flood warnings are in the forecast. Like other cities in the Midwest, the heavy rains this spring led to flooding, especially in May, when floods and flash floods caused the closing of almost 280 roads and the evacuation of several campgrounds.

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Pom' // Flickr

#28. Asheville, North Carolina

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 50.39 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 11.89 inches (30-year average: 38.5 inches)
- Rank (1946-2019): #8 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

In April, flash floods coursed through Asheville roads like rivers. To combat what's becoming an increasingly common issue, the city has installed new piping to improve stormwater drainage and partnered with the Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate floods throughout the region.

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TommyBrison // Shutterstock

#27. Kansas City, Missouri

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 50.56 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 15.39 inches (30-year average: 35.17 inches)
- Rank (1972-2019): #2 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2001

Kansas City had the wettest year on record as of June, with the city’s year-to-date rainfall coming in at just a few inches short of its annual average by the end of the month. Although it measures up as the second wettest year in Kansas City history it likely won't overtake the top spot in 1961, when the city saw 60.25 inches of rainfall. As far as flooding, Kansas City lies along the Missouri River, where a levee system protects the city from rising water levels during rain storms. However, many of these levees failed after heavy rains hit and caused serious flooding along the river earlier this year. As recently as last month, these levees remained in a state of disrepair.

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Laura D'Alessandro // Flickr

#26. West Palm Beach, Florida

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 50.78 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): -3.43 inches (30-year average: 54.21 inches)
- Rank (1938-2019): #48 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

Although this year proved a bit drier than usual, West Palm Beach still experienced severe storms and flooding. Hurricane Dorian exacerbated effects of king tides—a seasonal cycle of exceptionally high tides—bringing waters up to the seawall and flooding seaside restaurants. To address flooding from both downpours and high tides, the city routinely checks for and removes blockages in the canal which is good news since West Palm Beach can expect more severe precipitation as the climate changes.

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Pixabay

#25. Rochester, Minnesota

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 51.13 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 21.22 inches (30-year average: 29.91 inches)
- Rank (1908-2019): #1 wettest year
- Wettest year since: -

On September 19, Rochester broke the record for its rainiest year. With nearly two feet above the annual average (which itself is just 29 inches), the Rochester Fire Department has had to work closely with the city’s emergency management offices this year in order to address rain-related problems, like flooding of homes and businesses. The particularly wet year is part of a trend in Rochester of more intense downpours—a trend that will likely continue with climate change.

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Lwayman // Shutterstock

#24. Dubuque, Iowa

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 51.36 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 19.27 inches (30-year average: 32.09 inches)
- Rank (1951-2019): #2 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 1965

Precipitation totals have been on the rise in Iowa since 1948, when weather stations in the region began measuring atmospheric conditions with weather balloons. Iowa meteorologists state that the increase in heavy rain events across the state, including in Dubuque, are probably associated with climate change. In the wettest year for the city in over five decades, a notable September rainstorm brought serious floods that wreaked havoc on the city, including lifting and moving manhole covers and dumpsters down submerged streets.

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Bill Jacobus // Flickr

#23. Houston, Texas

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 52.15 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 5.94 inches (30-year average: 46.21 inches)
- Rank (1930-2019): #19 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2017

Hurricane Harvey dumped 60 inches of rain over Houston in 2017. This year, Texas lawmakers passed Senate Bill 7 to shore up flood defense funding, but this doesn't mean much locally: Houston officials say that the city is no better prepared for floods now than in 2017, and for many low-income residents, this means that their homes are still waiting on repairs from Harvey’s aftermath.

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Alex Dukhanov // Unsplash

#22. Evansville, Indiana

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 52.35 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 15.12 inches (30-year average: 37.23 inches)
- Rank (1948-2019): #5 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2011

Evansville floods readily because of its low elevation and location near the Ohio River, and heavy rains in recent years have highlighted the city’s vulnerability. For decades, Evansville's sewer system had gone without necessary upgrades, making flooding an even bigger issue, although upgrades are now underway.

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David Ratledge // Shutterstock

#21. Knoxville, Tennessee


- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 53.24 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 13.91 inches (30-year average: 39.33 inches)
- Rank (1910-2019): #4 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2013

Since 1980, Knoxville's annual rainfall has increased by 2.72 inches each decade, and the city has seen increasingly more frequent downpours. Climatologists predict that this trend will continue in Knoxville, as in other areas, as the climate continues to warm. Seasonal floods this year highlighted a need to improve flood protection efforts and upgrade sewer pumps.

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Hannah Domsic // Unsplash

#20. Allentown, Pennsylvania

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 53.67 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 15.37 inches (30-year average: 38.3 inches)
- Rank (1922-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2011

Several floods gripped Allentown this year, which accounted for the city’s third wettest in history. Like Knoxville, the Middle Atlantic region has also been trending toward wetter weather, thanks to warming global temperatures.

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Shot Stalker // Shutterstock

#19. Chattanooga, Tennessee

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 53.68 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 11.08 inches (30-year average: 42.6 inches)
- Rank (1938-2019): #13 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2013

Last year was the wettest year for the larger Tennessee Valley region, which received 67.1 inches of rainfall in 2018. For Chattanooga, though, increased rainfall still hasn’t topped the city’s previous record, which it set back in 2013. Nevertheless, the city is used to rain, and it used to be the region's most flood-prone city, averaging over what would today equate to $31 million a year in flood damage before the completion of the Tennessee River's Chickamauga Dam in 1940. Although the dam hasn’t made the city entirely immune to flooding, it has kept Chattanooga largely above water during the past two years of especially heavy rain.

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Nagal Photography // Shutterstock

#18. Nashville, Tennessee

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 53.9 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 15.2 inches (30-year average: 38.7 inches)
- Rank (1948-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 1979

Nashville ended the 2018-19 winter season with major floods during its wettest February on record, with 13.47 inches of rain. The Cumberland River snakes through the city, creating a flood risk for nearby properties, but even those areas outside the floodplain have been flooding more frequently. This could be because before 2014, Nashville did not require builders to include protections from stormwater, like rain gardens and permeable driveways.

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Oakley Originals // Flickr

#16. Tulsa, Oklahoma (tie)

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 53.91 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 18.28 inches (30-year average: 35.63 inches)
- Rank (1938-2019): #3 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 1973

Tulsa, a city in northeast Oklahoma that sits on the Arkansas River, saw its worst floods in over 30 years this May, as the river swelled against levees from record-setting rains and increased flow rates. Upstream from the city, the Keystone Dam released water into the Arkansas River at more than twice the rate of Niagara Falls to keep the reservoir behind it from overflowing—but the result was flooding in downstream areas instead, like Tulsa. City, county, and state officials, as well as volunteers, addressed the emergency by sandbagging, spraying for mosquitoes that breed in standing water, setting up shelters, and protecting food and water supplies.

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Katy Warner // Flickr

#16. Daytona Beach, Florida (tie)

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 53.91 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 9.3 inches (30-year average: 44.61 inches)
- Rank (1937-2019): #17 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

Daytona Beach's Midtown neighborhood lies along the Nova Canal, which is prone to flood-causing blockages. After an exceptionally wet October, the canal overflowed and flooded nearby streets. This isn't unusual after heavy rains, and the Florida Department of Transportation needs to clean the canal regularly by removing vegetation to prevent blockages.

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Fort Myers // Flickr

#15. Fort Myers, Florida

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 54.08 inches
- Divergence from a 30-year average (1981-2010): 2.09 inches (30-year average: 51.99 inches)
- Rank (1895-2019): #34 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2017

Fort Myers, which receives an average of over four feet of rain each year, has had a little more rain than normal, but flooding from heavy storms and Hurricane Irma in 2017 have prompted Lee County to take action. The county has since removed waterway impediments and conducted a flood assessment of the region. This fall, it began discussions for developing more long-term flood mitigation solutions.

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Joseph Sohm // Shutterstock

#14. Little Rock, Arkansas

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 54.67 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 15.17 inches (30-year average: 39.5 inches)
- Rank (1938-2019): #10 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

This year proved to be a wetter year than Little Rock is accustomed to, with some of the more severe rains falling in late spring. The Arkansas River forms the northeastern border of the city, and heavy spring rains from upstream as well as local precipitation resulted in record-breaking water levels for the river's Little Rock stretch. Early in June, the Arkansas River reached seven feet above flood stage at 29.51 feet, higher than it’s been in over 60 years.

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Sanjiv Nayik // Unsplash

#13. Monroe, Louisiana

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 55.57 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 12.04 inches (30-year average: 43.53 inches)
- Rank (1930-2019): #9 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2016

Rainy days and floods aren't unusual for Monroe, and the city has a system of levees and floodwalls to protect it if the Ouachita River, which runs along the city’s western border, exceeds flood stage. But in 2016, heavy rains flooded thousands of homes and displaced families, a traumatic experience for children. Recently, Grambling State University, located about half an hour from Monroe, drew attention to how floods affect children when students from the School of Social Work started meeting with Monroe youth to give them an outlet to process the trauma surrounding losing their homes to flooding.

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Florida Fish and Wildlife // Flickr

#12. Tampa, Florida

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 55.73 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 13.47 inches (30-year average: 42.26 inches)
- Rank (1939-2019): #10 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2015

By August 2019, Tampa had already topped its total average annual rainfall, receiving about 30 inches of that total over the summer alone. Soil was soaked by rain until it couldn't absorb more water, and rivers and canals rose to above-average levels. August was especially wet and the city was kept busy pumping water out of ponds and clearing debris to prevent stormwater flow blockages.

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Caroline Grondin // Unsplash

#11. Jackson, Tennessee

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 56.74 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 14.51 inches (30-year average: 42.23 inches)
- Rank (1948-2019): #5 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

Out of the 50 states, Tennessee had the fourth-most major flood disasters in the past decade. In addition to periodic floods in Jackson this year, in July, heavy rains caused the ground to cave in, forming sinkholes.

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Miriam Soliman // Unsplash

#10. Jackson, Mississippi

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 56.94 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 12.74 inches (30-year average: 44.2 inches)
- Rank (1963-2019): #10 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

In Mississippi’s capital, flash floods aren't abnormal during heavy rains. The Pearl River forms Jackson's eastern border, and because development has extended into the floodplain, high waters threaten people and property. The city has made no major improvements to its flood protection systems in decades, but to reduce flood risk, some in Jackson are pushing to create a lake to help with flood control, as the manmade lake would give water a place to go during storms.

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GTD7 // Shutterstock

#9. Mobile, Alabama

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 57.59 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 1.65 inches (30-year average: 55.94 inches)
- Rank (1948-2019): #37 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2017

Though not an exceptional year in rainfall for Mobile, the city suffered episodes of torrential rain. In an extreme rainfall event in mid-September, between seven to 10 inches of rain fell on Mobile in less than 24 hours, causing flash floods to overtake parts of the city and sewers to overflow. Southern Alabama weather stations report that extreme rainfall events—days with at least three inches of rain—have been on the rise in the region.

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Mark Avarette // Wikimedia Commons

#8. Miami, Florida

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 59.14 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 2.49 inches (30-year average: 56.65 inches)
- Rank (1895-2019): #31 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2017

Miami fights floods from two primary sources: high tides and heavy rains. Currently, water pumps and raised roads help prevent flooding. Southern Florida is warming faster than the rest of the state, according to the EPA. The warmer climate means that the atmosphere will hold more moisture and bring even more rain to Miami.

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#7. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 59.21 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 8.27 inches (30-year average: 50.94 inches)
- Rank (1895-2019): #20 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2016

In August, researchers at Louisiana State University revealed that after analyzing rainfall totals in the state over several decades, it’s clear that today's rains bring more rainfall faster than in the 1960s, causing unexpected flash floods. This year, Baton Rouge endured several such episodes of fast, intense rain, with a September storm dumping over seven inches of water in under two hours over part of the city.

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Bart Everson // Wikimedia Commons

#6. New Orleans, Louisiana

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 59.43 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 6.61 inches (30-year average: 52.82 inches)
- Rank (1948-2019): #22 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2017

After hurricane Katrina, the Army Corps of Engineers undertook a $14-billion project constructing levees and floodwalls to protect New Orleans, but repairs were already necessary in April, less than a year after the construction had finished. Recent bouts of heavy rain haven’t helped. Over the past few years, residents have reported seeing flood waters in areas that used to stay dry during storms. In July, a thunderstorm dumped over an inch of rain each hour for six hours, surprising residents and business owners by flooding streets usually safe from floodwaters.

You may also like: How climate change has affected each state

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Ernest Brillo // Unsplash

#5. Fort Smith, Arkansas

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 61.76 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 23.77 inches (30-year average: 37.99 inches)
- Rank (1945-2019): #1 wettest year
- Wettest year since:

With over five feet of rain as of the end of October, 2019 ranks as Fort Smith's wettest year on record. At the end of May, the Arkansas River swelled under heavy rains, but an old levee system near Fort Smith kept some water away. Still, the precipitation caused flooding, even damaging homes that were in a 500-year floodplain, an area with a 0.2% chance of experiencing major floods in a given year.

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Mitodru Ghosh // Unsplash

#4. Paducah, Kentucky

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 62.62 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 22.42 inches (30-year average: 40.2 inches)
- Rank (1949-2019): #2 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 1950

By May, Paducah, which sits along the Ohio river, was already 14 inches above the normal rainfall average, following a few major floods that struck the city in February. Floodgates and pumps normally protect the city from high water levels.

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James Kirkikis // Shutterstock

#2. Memphis, Tennessee (tie)

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 65.23 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 22.79 inches (30-year average: 42.44 inches)
- Rank (1940-2019): #2 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 1997

With over five feet of rain and nearly two feet above average rainfall so far, Memphis has logged its second-wettest year in history. Pumps, floodwalls, floodgates, reservoirs, 20 miles of levees along the Mississippi River, and a stormwater sewer system separate from the sanitary sewage system all operate in Memphis to protect the city from flood hazards. Despite these efforts, this unusually wet year has still resulted in several city-wide floods.

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traveler jordan //Shutterstock

#2. Tupelo, Mississippi (tie)

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 65.23 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): 20.93 inches (30-year average: 44.3 inches)
- Rank (1962-2019): #2 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 1975

During the heavy Mississippi rains in February, 15.5 inches fell in Tupelo, flooding roads and resulting in the wettest February on record. As a result, Tupelo saw major road closures throughout the city, as well as the opening of all of its storm shelters.

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Francesco Carucci // Shutterstock

#1. Hilo, Hawaii

- 2019 precipitation (Jan. to Oct.): 79.37 inches
- Divergence from 30-year average (1981-2010): -20.29 inches (30-year average: 99.66 inches)
- Rank (1949-2019): #51 wettest year
- Wettest year since: 2018

At nearly 80 inches of rain this year, Hilo has had a relatively dry year, especially compared to 2018, when the city received over 160 inches of rain. In Hawaii as a whole, flash floods happen nearly 10 times per year because of heavy rains and the islands' terrain: Steep slopes and shallow soils mean that the ground can't hold much water, and runoff quickly streams down mountains and hillsides, collecting at the bottom.

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