The year 2022 had a notable dry stretch that began in the summer for a large part of the area. For 20 consecutive weeks, beginning late-June and continuing through mid-November, some part of our viewing area was outlined in the US Drought Monitor as being “abnormally dry.” That classification is the precursor to a drought. The rainfall deficits from the summer and fall position us to end 2022 in a way we haven’t ended a year since 2014 years: Drier than normal.
It is important to note that the official climate reporting station for the Youngstown area is the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna, Trumbull County. All rainfall stats presented are based off records kept at that location. While there are some areas that experienced rainfall events that missed the airport, the Vienna location is the point of record for our area.
2022 Rainfall in the Youngstown Area
The year began rather wet overall. January came in very close to normal, just shy of the normal value by 0.06 inch. But that turned around in February and March. We had plenty of water as winter ended and spring began. You may recall the weeks of snow on the ground January into February. We ended February 1.94 inches above normal in rainfall, coming in at 4.46 inches liquid precipitation for the month. March was also an above-normal month, with a total of 4.22 inches of liquid, above the normal by 1.01 inches. April wasn’t as wet — we received 2.94 inches of rainfall, which is 0.81 inches below normal. But the monthly surplus returned in May with another 4.26 inches of rain, above normal by 0.54 inches.
Of the first five months of the year, three of them had above normal precipitation. But the pattern changed as summer began. June started a stretch of five consecutive months with below normal precipitation. The rain deficit each of the months June through October was greater than 1 inch. Deficits for those months totaled 6.36 inches. That dry stretch resulted in 20 consecutive weeks in which at least some part of Trumbull, Mahoning, Columbiana or Mercer counties were considered abnormally dry on the U.S. Drought Monitor.
That stretch broke in November, the first month since May where the precipitation total was above normal. November ended 1.44 inches above normal with 4.40 inches of liquid precipitation. That said, the majority of that precipitation fell on one day as the remnants of Hurricane Nicole moved through the region. We received 2.31 inches of rainfall on Nov. 11, 2022. That was our wettest day of the whole year, with an amount that totaled more than all of August and all of October. Normal rainfall for the month of November is 2.96 inches. Without that heavy rain on Nov. 11, we’d have ended the month below normal, too.
Below is a look at total rainfall for each of the last 11 months at the airport in Trumbull County and how far above or below normal each month ended. We will dive deeper into the total stats for the year and where things stand for December a little later in the article.
Two notable exceptions to summer-fall dry stretch
There were two notable events that didn’t impact the airport and are not reflected in the overall totals for the 2022 calendar year. First was a flash flooding event that occurred on Aug. 5. That event impacted Lawrence County and parts of Mercer County. Radar estimated of greater than 5 inches of rain were detected over parts of those counties. Flash flood warnings were also issued for Mercer and Lawrence counties.
Below are two articles from the WKBN archives about the flooding:
The other notable event hit Mahoning County hard during Labor Day weekend. Torrential rains occurred and a brief tornado near the Southern Park Mall on Sunday, Sept. 4. The event caused widespread flooding across Mahoning County, including flowing flood waters at the Canfield Fair grounds while the fair was underway. Rainfall of 0.51 inch was recorded at the airport on Sept. 4, but radar estimates of greater than 4 inches of rain occurred across Mahoning County. A flash flood warning was issued for Mahoning County and a confirmed EF-0 tornado occurred.
Below are a few articles from the WKBN archives about the flooding:
Where do rainfall totals stand December 2022 and the year as a whole?
As of Dec. 14, we are sitting at just 0.58 inch of liquid precipitation for December at the airport in Trumbull County. The normal value by this point in the month is 1.43 inches, which puts us 0.85 inch below normal and just under half the month behind us. The normal total liquid precipitation for December is 3.17 inches, so we would need another 2.59 inches over the next 17 days to reach normal for the month.
But to make it to normal for the entire year, we need almost double that! As of Dec. 14, total rainfall for the year at the airport is at 36.30 inches. The normal total by this point in the year is 39.45 inches, which means we currently sit at a deficit of 3.15 inches. But by the end of the day on Dec. 31, 2022, the normal rainfall total will have climbed to 41.19 inches. This means we would need to receive 4.89 inches of liquid precipitation over the last 17 days of 2022 to reach normal. We would need 4.90 inches of rain to go above for the year. The chances of receiving that much rainfall over 17 days without the influence of a tropical system or torrential rains from summer convection are quite unlikely. That means a high likelihood we end 2022 with below-normal rainfall at the airport.
When did we last end a calendar year with below normal precipitation?
As stated above, if we don’t receive 4.90 inches of rain over the next 17 days, this will be the first year since 2014 we end with below-normal precipitation. That year ended with 39.27 inches of rainfall — 1.92 inches below normal. We are currently 2.97 inches below that total.
We have had some very wet years the last five years. In fact, the second wettest year on record for our area occurred 5 years ago. Rainfall in 2018 totaled 50.97 inches, ending 9.78 inches above normal and the second wettest on record since 1896. The wettest on record occurred in 2011, with 54.01 inches of rainfall at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
Of the last 10 years, the driest was 2013, with 39.13 inches. That is 2.06 inches below normal. We are currently 2.83 inches below where we ended 2013. As it stands right now, the last year ending drier than we are currently is 2009, during which we only amassed 35.21 inches of rain. In 2010, the total was 38.80 inches.
So, what does this all mean for how we end the year?
If we remain below 4.9 inches of rain, then it will be the first year of the last nine to end below normal in rainfall. If we only receive less than or equal to 2.5 inches of liquid precipitation over the next 17 days, this will end up being our driest year of the last 14 years. If we receive between 2.51 – 2.82 inches of rain over the next 17 days, we’d end as our driest year in 13 years. If we were to get 2.83 – 2.96 inches over the next 17 days, we’d end the year as our driest in 10 years. If liquid precipitation over the next 17 days were to total between 2.97 – 4.69 inches, we’d end the year as our driest in 9 years.
What years are the wettest and driest on record in the Youngstown area?
Below is a breakdown of the top ten wettest and top ten driest years on record, since 1896, in the Youngstown area. While this year has been drier so far than the last several, we are far from setting any dry-weather records. Lets start with the top ten driest years on record.
As you can see, we are nowhere near a top 10 dry year. In fact, we are currently 6.77 inches above the 10th driest year on record.
As for 10 wettest years on record, three of them have occurred in the last 10 years. Below is the list of the 10 wettest.
It is extremely unlikely we find ourselves in the top 10 list for wettest months on record by the end of the year. We would need greater than 9.8 inches of rain over the next 17 days to do so. There have only been eight months on record to receive greater than 9 inches of rainfall in our area. All except for one occurred between May through August. One was in November, happening in 1985, when 9.11 inches of rain was recorded.
You can keep up-to-date on the final days of the year and whether or not you need to plan for rain or snow by checking the latest Youngstown Area 7-day Forecast.