Baton Rouge saw more rain by mid-August than it typically sees in a whole year. And with four months left to go, 2021 is shaping up to be one for the record books. 

The National Weather Service calculates averages for the capital region by looking at the past 30 years of rainfall recorded by a gauge at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport. By that measure, Baton Rouge sees just about 62 inches of rain in a normal year. 

An overnight storm Wednesday topped the annual average, bringing the city's total rainfall so far in 2021 to 62.4 inches. 

By this time last year, Baton Rouge clocked about 44.25 inches and ended 2020 with a cumulative 67.91.

This year's on track to overtop that high-water mark.

"We've had other wet years," State Climatologist Barry Keim said, "but it's a little unusual that it's this far ahead."

It's a notable milestone for what began as a relatively dry year.

Rainfall totals lagged behind the 30-year average through March, Keim said. But they caught up in April and have kept climbing since. 

An unusually high number of weather fronts are driving the shift deep into summer, he explained, and well beyond Baton Rouge. Those fronts, which destabilize the atmosphere, form clouds and create rain, have covered large portions of the U.S.

"Generally, those fronts don't make it as far south as Louisiana," he said. 

Even accounting for climate change, Keim added, 2021 has defied expectations.

By more than one measure, he said, "it's an odd anomaly we're having this year."

081321 BR rainfall chart

A year of rain: So far in 2021, Baton Rouge has already exceeded the amount of rain it typically sees in an entire year. A typical annual rainfall total is 61.94 inches, but that number was exceeded this year on Aug. 12 with 62.40 inches.


Email Ellyn Couvillion at ecouvillion@theadvocate.com.