Although flakes continued to fly in the usual spots out in the Mountain West, winter was effectively behind us back here in the Northeast by the time the calendar flipped to May. And as allergy sufferers such as myself know, spring was in full form as the sudden warm up resulted in a rapid explosion of pollen. Summer-like weather had gradually taken over as both nature greened and the days became noticeably longer.
Seasonable spring conditions held on from the first week into the beginning of the second week of May thanks to a series of cold fronts keeping tropical air at bay. Nights continued to cool off into the 40s, if not 30s across the interior Northeast, while temperatures didn’t budge much above the 60s or lower 70s during the day. Indeed, a complex frontal system between the 7th and 8th actually prevented highs from breaking the 60 mark, while drenching the Mid-Atlantic with 0.50-1.50” of rain. High pressure then kept things quiet through the middle of the month.
Warmer weather finally made a comeback for the remainder of May and it was certainly unseasonable at times. New England peaked in the 80s on the 14th, breaking daily records in Boston, MA and Hartford, CT which warmed to 86 and 85 degrees, respectively. This culminated in a severe outbreak by the 16th, with multiple storms across PA, NY, VT, and NH causing lots of wind damage and even a brief tornado in Claremont, NH. Further south, locally large hail fell including up to 2” sized hail in Linkwood, MD and Sycamore, DE, enough to create roof damage to a few homes!
Hail piles on May 16th left over from a thunderstorm north of Bath, PA. Via Meteorologist Simon Wachholz
Rapid fire systems continued after this event, including a smaller round of severe weather on the 20th which resulted in a short-lived EF-0 tornado in Aberdeen, NJ. Very unusual warmth followed the next day, causing many places to exceed 90 degrees. Several I-95 cities broke daily records, including Albany, NY and Scranton, PA both at hitting 90 degrees. Even Trenton, NJ broke a monthly record at 92 degrees! While heavy rain cooled some off on the 22nd, minor flooding occurred around Washington, D.C. as up to 1.50” was recorded at Reagan National Airport. This was thanks to a cold front that also brought wind damage across the region, knocking numerous trees and power lines down.
Tree damage near Fort Indiantown, PA from May 22nd. Via meteorologist Kevin Winters.
One last major outbreak of severe weather occurred on the 27th, causing numerous tornadoes between Pennsylvania and Virginia. Out of the 10 reported, Quarryville, PA witnessed an EF-1 tornado that afternoon, which unfortunately injured 3 people. Not long after that on the 28th, torrential downpours occurred in the Mid-Atlantic with locally 3”+ of rain from Bergen County in northeast NJ into Rockland and Westchester Counties in NY. The month then closed out with yet another abnormal surge of heat on the 31st – Scranton and Albany once again broke records at 92 degrees and areas toward the coast broke monthly records, such as Westhampton, NY at 93 degrees!
Save for a few, May ended up 1-3 degrees above normal across most cities. Precipitation, however, was more lopsided as the heaviest rainfall was focused mainly on New York and points south into the Mid-Atlantic. While great for washing the pollen away, Boston received half its usual amount of rain while Washington, D.C. collected 6.36”, making it their 10th wettest May on record.