May was second-wettest month on record in the U.S.

The month also had the highest recorded levels of carbon dioxide, a gas linked to higher global temperatures and other effects of climate change.
Image: Floodwater from the Mississippi River covers the Crystal City High School football field on May 30, 2019 in Crystal City, Missouri
Floodwater from the Mississippi River covers the Crystal City High School football field on May 30 in Missouri.Scott Olson / Getty Images file

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By Ben Kesslen

May was the second-wettest month in the contiguous U.S. on record and had the highest recorded levels of carbon dioxide, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced.

In a month that saw severe flooding devastate parts of the Midwest, a total of 4.41 inches of rain fell, about 1.5 inches above average. That is the second-highest rainfall total in at least 125 years, since recording began in 1895, the NOAA said Thursday,

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In the 12 months from June 2018 to May 2019, the amount of rain shattered all previous records — and was 7.73 inches above average, the agency reported.

May was the wettest month ever for Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas — some of the states where recent floods have inundated cities and disrupted day-to-day life.

While temperatures remained average overall in the contiguous U.S. in May, extremes were seen on both sides, the NOAA said. The Southeast was hit with particularly hot temperatures, while the Southwest and the northern Plains had colder weather.

In Alaska, the average May temperature was 42.9 degrees Fahrenheit, 5.1 degrees above the long-term mean and making it the sixth-warmest May on record for the state.

On Tuesday, the NOAA also announced it recorded the highest carbon-dioxide levels in its history. C02 levels tend to be highest during May, and this year’s part per million (ppm) count, at 414.7, broke records.

Annual increases measured at an observatory in Hawaii initially averaged carbon-dioxide increases of about 0.7 ppm per year, which rose to about 1.6 ppm per year in the 1980s and 1.5 ppm per year in the 1990s,” the NOAA said. “The growth rate rose to 2.2 ppm per year during the last decade.”

Higher levels of carbon dioxide are linked to hotter global temperatures and other effects of climate change, such as rising seas and unusual weather patterns.