According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) latest US climate report, extreme weather events were the order of the day through October as the nation saw raging wildfires, record hurricane activity and record snowfall in some parts. Temperature and precipitation, however, ranked very close to average across the contiguous USA last month.
Highlights of the report include the average October temperature across the contiguous US being 54.4°F (12.4°C), 0.3°F (0.1°C) above the 20th century average, placing the month in the middle third of the climate record. Standouts included California, which had its hottest October on record, as well as Arizona and Florida, where each ranked third hottest.
The average precipitation was 2.16in (54.87mm), exactly in line with long term average for the month, placing October in the middle third of the historical record. Some places, however, were quite dry. Below-average precipitation fell across much of the Western USA, the Deep South, central and northern Plains as well as across portions of the Southeast, while California had its second driest October on record.
The average contiguous US temperature for the year to date (YTD) was 57°F (13.9°C), 2.1°F (0.6°C) above the 20th-century average. This year tied with 2006 as the seventh-warmest YTD on record. Arizona, Florida and New Mexico ranked as warmest on record for the 10-month period, while there were no notable regions reporting below-average temperatures.
The YTD US precipitation total was 26.30in (668mm), 0.94in (23.9mm) above average, and ranked in the wettest third of the record. So far this year, Tennessee has had its wettest YTD; North Carolina, its second wettest.
Historic tropical activity in the Atlantic also reached an all-time high. Through October 31, 11 named Atlantic tropical cyclones made landfall in the USA this hurricane season, breaking the previous record of nine landfalls in 1916. In October alone, Hurricanes Delta and Zeta both struck Louisiana just a few weeks apart.
Record snowfall also occurred in some places; heavy snow was reported across parts of the West and Plains last month. It was the snowiest October on record for many areas, including Great Falls, Montana; Minneapolis-St. Paul and St. Cloud, Minnesota; Spokane, Washington; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Amarillo, Texas; and Wichita, Kansas.