Baltimore region says farewell to wettest year on record: 71.82 inches of precipitation

A rainy New Year’s Eve brought Baltimore’s record precipitation total for 2018 to nearly 72 inches — almost twice as much as an average year.

There was 71.82 inches of precipitation during the calendar year at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, the region’s point of record. That was more than 9 inches above the total for 2003, Baltimore’s second-wettest year on record.


And in some areas, 2018 was even wetter. More than 80 inches fell in Catonsville and Thurmont, according to the National Weather Service.

On average, about 42 inches of rain and the liquid equivalent of any frozen precipitation falls across the region.


Baltimore was one of dozens of cities across the eastern United States to set records for their wettest years, amid repeated weather patterns that sent Gulf of Mexico moisture streaming up the East Coast.

Those cities included Washington; State College and Lancaster, Pa.; Wheeling and Charleston, W.Va.; Jackson and Lexington, Ky; Lynchburg, Va; and Asheville, Raleigh and Wilmington, N.C., according to Pittsburgh broke its annual precipitation record with just hours to spare in the year.

“An abnormally strong Bermuda high pressure system prevented cold fronts from diving southward out of Canada and into the eastern United States as is typically the case every couple of weeks from July through September,” AccuWeather meteorologist Kyle Elliott said. “As a result, storm systems basically came to a standstill for days on end in the eastern half of the nation.”

Hurricane season was also a factor as both Florence and Michael, the two strongest tropical cyclones of 2018, moved through the southeastern U.S.

Baltimore’s weather record book goes back to 1871.

And 2019 is expected to begin with more wet weather. Rain is likely overnight Wednesday into Thursday, and again Friday and into Saturday.

The new year brought unusually mild temperatures Tuesday, with a high of 61 degrees in the morning at BWI, about 20 degrees above normal for this time of year. Temperatures are forecast in the 30s and 40s, slightly above normal, for the rest of the week.