Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Floodwater from the Mississippi River rises around a home on June 1 in West Alton, Missouri. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Unrelenting rains catapulted May to the second-wettest month on record in the U.S., leaving vast tracts of farmlands flooded across the nation's midsection, and jeopardizing this year's corn crop.

The big picture: The May precipitation total for the Lower 48 states was 4.41 inches, which was 1.5 inches above average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The past 12 months have been the wettest such period on record for the Lower 48 since such records began in 1895, with rains especially concentrated in the Midwest, Plains and Northeast.

  • Rainfall during this period was 37.68 inches, which was 7.73 inches above average for the period, the previous all-time 12-month record was 36.2 inches, set this April.

Context: A combination of heavy rainfall and spring snowmelt has led to record flooding along numerous rivers in the Midwest and Plains, rivaling or exceeding the great floods of the past century, including 1927 and 1993.

Hydroclimate extremes, including droughts and heavy precipitation events, as well as sharp whiplash-like swings between the two, are expected to become more common and severe as the climate continues to warm due to human activities.

  • Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri ranked the wettest May on record, NOAA found, while 7 other states ranked in their top 5 wettest for the month.
  • Already, a statistically robust uptick in heavy precipitation events has been observed in many of the Lower 48 states.
  • This is related to the fact that a warmer atmosphere with warmer oceans can carry more water vapor, which gets wrung out as heavy precipitation during storm events.
  • However, no climate attribution study has been conducted on the heavy rains in May or the past year, limiting how far scientists can go in tying these events to climate change.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.

The perils of organizing underground

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Researchers see one bright spot as far-right extremists turn to private and encrypted online platforms: Friction.

Between the lines: For fringe organizers, those platforms may provide more security than open social networks, but they make it harder to recruit new members.

Resurrecting Martin Luther King's office

King points to Selma, Alabama on a map at his Southern Christian Leadership Conference office in Atlanta in January 1965. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Contributor

Efforts to save the office where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., planned some of the most important moments of the civil rights movement are hitting roadblocks amid a political stalemate.

Why it matters: The U.S. Park Service needs to OK agreements so a developer restoring the historic Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Atlanta — which once housed King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference — can tap into private funding and begin work.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!