Erie is getting wetter! 

Pennsylvania has already been getting wetter. Between 2000 and 2020, Pennsylvania has experienced an increase in annual precipitation of approximately 4.6 inches compared to the 1971-2000 period. Annual average precipitation is projected to continue to increase. Pennsylvania will likely experience a small (8%) increase in annual precipitation by mid-century and slightly greater (12%) increase by end of century. (2021 DEP Climate Impacts Assessment). 

Extreme rainfall events are also projected to increase in magnitude, frequency, and intensity, making coastal and inland flooding one of Erie's greatest hazards. 

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On November 5, 2017, the day was approximately 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average and unseasonably humid. A storm system moving east resulted in three inches of rainfall in a three hour period, causing flash flooding the City of Erie and North East Township and a tornado touching down in Millcreek. A home on East 30th Street collapsed, killing two residents and leaving six feet of water in the home. Over 5,500 residents were left without power. 

Total Annual Precipitation graph

On average, Erie is getting wetter

There is interannual variability in precipitation totals, with some years exhibiting very high totals and others exhibiting much lower totals.

10 year running average of annual precipitation graph

Precipitation patterns are hard to predict

While the running average shows the overall trend of precipitation totals in Erie, the individual years show that there can be anomalously high or low precipitation totals.

While the general trend is an increase in precipitation, it is still possible to have yearly totals that seem outside of this trend due to this variability.

Percent change in total precipitation by season graph

Precipitation changes are seasonal 

Looking solely at the annual changes in precipitation does not tell the whole story, making it important to also examine seasonal trends. Each season exhibits an increase in total precipitation since 1951, with winter and fall showing the greatest increases, and spring and summer showing the smallest increases.

Days with precipitation totals above two inches graph

Heavy rain events are more common

Along with an overall increase in annual precipitation, there has been a slight increase in extreme precipitation events. In general, Erie doesn't experience precipitation events with totals above 2 inches very often. However, it is possible for the area to experience events with precipitation totals that are above 2 or even 3 inches, especially in the future, as extreme precipitation events are projected to increase in frequency.

Impacts of Changing Precipitation Patterns

Heavy downpours are increasing map
Mosquito silhouette