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Climate of 2005 - October in Historical Perspective

National Climatic Data Center
15 November 2005

Contents of this Report:

Selected Global Significant Events for October 2005
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Major Highlights


From Maine to Delaware, the northeast U.S. experienced its wettest October on record, thanks to several powerful, rain-producing storms. Meanwhile, the global surface temperature was warmest on record for the month and the average U.S. temperature was warmer than normal, ranking it the seventeenth warmest October on record out of 111 years, according to scientists at the NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

US Temperature:
NOAA reported the average temperature for the contiguous United States for October (based on preliminary data) was 1.4°F (0.8°C) above the mean for 1895-2004. Thirty-two states were warmer than average with one state (New Hampshire) ranking much warmer than the long-term mean. Statewide temperatures for the most recent three-month period (August - October) were above or much above average for each of the lower 48 states, with New Jersey and Rhode Island having a record warm August-October. October temperatures across Alaska were also above average and for the August-October period, with respective statewide temperatures of 3.1°F (1.7°C) and 2.5°F (1.4°C) above the 1971-2000 mean, ranking 26th for October and ninth warmest for August-October since 1918.

US Precipitation:
Precipitation was near average for the U.S. during October, with unusually dry conditions for much of the Lower Mississippi Valley contrasting extreme wetness for the Northeast. Many Climate Reference Network stations in the Lower Mississippi region reported less than an inch of monthly rainfall, including the stations of Newton, Miss., (0.03 in); Lafayette, La., (0.50 inch) and Monroe, La., (0.45 inch). North Little Rock (Ark.) Airport also set a new record for 32 consecutive days with no measurable rainfall. Severe drought remained across portions of the southern Great Plains, southern Great Lakes and the Northwest.

However, nine states in the Northeast had their wettest October on record. Monthly totals reached more than 14 inches for several northeastern stations, including Old Town, Maine (14.30 inches). Some areas, such as Kingston, R.I., Durham, N.H. and Millbrook, N.Y., received more than 17 inches of rain, more than three times their monthly averages.

Several storms contributed to the extreme monthly totals, including torrential rains between the October 7-12, partly as a result of moisture from the remnants of Tropical Storm Tammy, and additional heavy rain fell from another system between October 14 -16.

During the last week of the month, a Nor'easter that also drew moisture from Hurricane Wilma produced additional precipitation. The Nor'easter also produced the first significant snowfall for much of the region. Snow fell from West Virginia and Maryland to Maine with as much as a foot recorded in parts of Maryland. Mount Washington, N.H., recorded winds of exceeding 100 mph with that storm and additional snowfall that brought the monthly total to 78.9 inches, which shattered the old record of 39.8 inches in October 2000.

A record-breaking tropical cyclone season had occurred by early November, with a total of 23 named storms, 13 of which became hurricanes, seven were classified as major. For October 2005, four hurricanes and two tropical storms formed tying a record last set in 1950 for the greatest number of named storms for October. In addition, Hurricane Wilma became the third Category 5 hurricane of the season, setting a new record for the most Category 5 storms in the Atlantic Basin in a single season.

Tropical Storm Tammy made landfall in northeastern Florida on October 5, with maximum sustained winds of 50 mph and localized rainfall totals of 3-5 inches. Based on central pressure measurements, Hurricane Wilma was the most intense hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic Basin and first made landfall near Cancun, Mexico at Category 4 strength, before turning to the Northeast and moving toward Florida. Wilma eventually made landfall as a Category 3 storm near Cape Romano, Fla., on October 24.

The average global temperature anomaly for combined land and ocean surfaces for October (based on preliminary data) was 1.22°F (0.68°C) above the 1880-2004 long-term mean. This was the warmest such month since 1880 (the beginning of reliable instrumental records). Land surface temperatures were also warmest on record for October with warmer than average conditions across many areas of the Globe, including Canada, Scandinavia, Russia, the U.S., Brazil and northern Africa. Ocean temperatures were 4th highest on record. Neutral ENSO conditions remain in the tropical Pacific at month's end.

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Climate Monitoring / Climate of 2005 / October / Help