Region Sets Records In Rainfall, Warmth
The sun came out by noon, but the record had already fallen.
A rain storm Friday made 2018 Scranton’s wettest year on record, surging past 60 inches of precipitation since Jan. 1, AccuWeather senior metrologist Tom Kines said.
“Some people will say it’s climate change and maybe that’s right,” Kines said. “It seems like every front in the summer, every low pressure area this fall and winter ... every system has reached its maximum potential.”
Friday, the first day of winter, also became the hottest Dec. 21 on record here as temperatures hovered in the lower 60s, Kines said. The previous record set in 1953 saw temperatures only as high at 57 degrees.
“This air is coming right from the Gulf of Mexico,” Kines said. “It’s pushed all the way up and will continue north.”
By 9 a.m., approximately 60.17 inches of precipitation had fallen. The previous precipitation record was an even 60 inches in 2011, when a pair of tropical storms — Irene and Lee — accounted for more than 10 percent of the annual total.
Almost half of the year-to-date precipitation — just under 30 inches — fell during the four-month period from July through October.
That was led by 10.59 inches of rain in August, which made the month the second wettest August and the fourth wettest month overall since local record-keeping began in 1901.
The area’s average annual precipitation is 38.26 inches, a mark exceeded this year at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport by end of August.
The incessant rain has wreaked havoc on those who work outdoors. For the state Department of Transportation, who have long drawn the casual ire of drivers for lane closures and bumpy roads, the rain put a damper on work schedules.
Crews can’t work on the interstate when the roads are slick, so it puts them behind schedule on existing projects while washouts and new potholes create additional work, PennDOT spokesman James May said.
For example, PennDOT noticed last month that four or five feet of dirt used to help support a bridge on Route 502 near Moosic had washed away. That alone made the bridge unsafe and PennDOT began a new project to shore up the bridge’s stability.
“This year, with the amount of rain we’ve gotten, it’s created a lot of extra work,” May said.
Kines said he expects a few weak systems to pass through next week, potentially leaving a coating of snow on the ground for Christmas morning.
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