National Climate Report - May 2003

Maps and Graphics:

Current Month Most Recent 3 Months Most Recent 6 Months
Most Recent 12 Months US Percent Area Very Wet/Dry/Warm/Cold

Monthly Drought Indices
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National Overview:

Conditions were generally wetter than average in the East and drier than average across much of the South and High Plains states for May 2003. Rainfall was heavy across the Southeast and eastern Midwest as a series of storms impacted the regions early in the month. Parts of the South and Southwest were warmer than average for the month, while states in the Mid Atlantic region and Northeast were generally cooler than average for May.

Several outbreaks of severe weather occurred across parts of the Midwest stretching into the Tennessee Valley in the first 10 days of May. An incredible 84 tornadoes were reported on May 4 and 5 and at least 38 people in Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee were killed as a result of the storms. Further storms during May 6-10 led to a federal disaster declaration covering the entire state of Oklahoma and a total of 42 people died in the first 10 days of May from the severe weather. From May 1-May 10, 412 tornadoes occurred, breaking the record for the most tornadoes ever to have occurred during a ten-day period. More details and graphics on this unusual outbreak can be found on NCDC's Global Hazards page.

Snow cover generally retreated northward across Canada during May. Some further heavy snow fell in parts of Colorado, but overall across the U.S., very little snowfall activity occurred. For monthly totals and a seasonal summary see NCDC's Snow Summary page.

Hurricane season in the eastern North Pacific officially begins on May 1st, and the first tropical storm of 2003 (Andres) formed on May 20th. Maximum windspeeds reached 40 knots (46 mph) and Andres never threatened land. It weakened back to a tropical depression on the 25th. The Atlantic season does not officially begin until June 1st, though some pre-season activity was recorded in April leading to the first named storm of the season for the Atlantic. See the East Pacific hurricane page and the Atlantic Hurricane page for further details.

La Nina conditions continued to develop across the tropical Pacific indicating that associated climate impacts will likely be felt in many areas of the world, including the United States, by the fall. It is not yet clear how strong the La Nina event will be, but to see the latest NOAA advisory and typical impacts of a La Nina episode for the U.S., go to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
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Monthly and Seasonal Highlights:


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It should be emphasized that all of the temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data. The ranks will change when the final data are processed.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: National Climate Report for May 2003, published online June 2003, retrieved on May 20, 2019 from