National Climate Report - October 2008

Maps and Graphics:

October Most Recent 3 Months Most Recent 6 Months
Most Recent 12 Months Year-to-Date US Percent Area Very Wet/Dry/Warm/Cold
Annual Summary for 2007

PLEASE NOTE: All temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data.  The ranks will change when the final data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages.  As final data become available, the most up-to-date statistics and graphics will be available on the Climate Monitoring Products page and the U.S. Climate at a Glance Web site.

For graphics covering periods other than those mentioned above or for tables of national, regional, and statewide data from 1895—present, for October, last 3 months or other periods, please go to the Climate at a Glance page.

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National Overview:

Temperature Highlights
  • For the contiguous United States, the average temperature for October was 54.5°F (12.5°C), which was 0.3°F (0.2°C) below the 20th century mean, and ranked as the 44th coolest October on record, based on preliminary data.
  • On the regional level, much of the U.S. experienced near normal temperatures during October. The West region had above average temperatures and the South, Southest and Northest experienced below average temperatures.
  • Using the Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI - an index developed at NOAA to relate energy usage to climate), the nation's residential energy demand during October was approximately 4.3% above average consumption and ranked as the 31st highest in 114 years.
Precipitation Highlights
  • This was the 51st driest October in the 1895—2008 record. An average of 2.1 inches (52 mm) of precipitation fell across the contiguous U.S. this month, which is 0.1 inch (2 mm) below average.
Other Items of Note
  • ENSO-neutral conditions were present in the equatorial Pacific Ocean during the month of October as equatorial sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies were near-average across much of the Pacific Ocean. A small area off the coast of South America and in parts of the east-central Pacific did contain negative SST anomalies. Based upon recent trends and models, the CPC is forecasting ENSO-neutral conditions to continue through the Northern Hemisphere winter into early 2009. These conditions increase the probability of above normal temperatures for much of the western and midwestern U.S. The conditions also increase the chances of above normal precipitation for the Southwest. For additional information on ENSO conditions, please visit the NCDC ENSO Monitoring page and the latest NOAA ENSO Advisory.
  • Alaska had its 4th coolest October since records began in 1918, with a temperature 5.8°F (3.2°C) below the 1971—2000 average.

  • Alaska had its 14th coolest August—October on record, with a temperature 1.8°F (1.0°C) below the 1971—2000 average.

  • Alaska had its 42nd coolest January—October on record, with a temperature 0.7°F (0.4°C) below the 1971—2000 average.

For additional details about recent temperatures and precipitation across the U.S., see the Regional Highlights section below and visit the October Climate Summary page. For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month of October, please visit NCDC's Extremes page. For details and graphics on weather events across the U.S. and the globe please visit NCDC's Global Hazards page.

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Regional Highlights:

These regional summaries were provided by the six Regional Climate Centers and reflect conditions in their respective regions. These six regions differ spatially from the nine climatic regions of the National Climatic Data Center.

Northeast | Midwest | Southeast | High Plains | Southern | Western

Northeast Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Temperatures in the Northeast averaged a bit cooler than normal in October. The region's average of 48.1°F (8.9°C) was 1.0 °F (0.6°C) below normal. This was 7.7 degrees F (4.3°C) cooler than last October, which was the 2nd warmest October since 1895. Maine was the only state that averaged above normal, but it was only 0.2 degrees F (0.1°C) above the 30-year mean. The remaining states had temperature departures that ranged from 0.3 °F (0.2°C) below normal in New Hampshire to 1.7 degrees F (0.9°C) below normal in Maryland.

  • Precipitation totals from a few weather systems during the last week of October boosted the state averages in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York to near or above normal levels, while the rest of the region was on the dry side. West Virginia and Maryland were the driest states, with only 44% and 47% of the normal October rainfall, respectively. New York, at 128% of normal and Vermont, with 137% of normal, were the wettest states. Overall, the Northeast averaged 3.18 inches (81 mm) of precipitation, which was 91% of normal.

  • Drought conditions worsened in southern West Virginia, according to the U. S. Drought Monitor issued at the end of October. Moderate drought conditions expanded farther north, to the middle of the state, while the southern tip of the state was in the severe drought category. The northern part of West Virginia and far western Pennsylvania were 'abnormally dry', as was much of Delaware, parts of eastern Maryland and southern New Jersey. Dry conditions in South Jersey resulted in a fire that burned over 2000 acres within the Wharton State Forest from the 21st to the 25th.

  • A week before Election Day, an unusually strong low pressure system disrupted the World Series, presidential politics, and everyday routines for Northeast residents. What turned out to be the last game of the series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays was called due to rain on the 27th and didn't resume until conditions improved on the 29th. Presidential candidate John McCain cancelled a rally in Quakertown, PA due to nasty weather conditions. Heavy rainfall and high winds disrupted travel throughout the New York metropolitan area, but it was the wind-driven, wet snow that fell on northwestern New Jersey, northeastern Pennsylvania, northern Vermont, and the Catskills, Mohawk Valley and Adirondack Mountains of New York that left over 100,000 residents without power. Snow totals ranged from a few inches to over a foot (305 mm), mainly depending on elevation. Even sea level locations saw snow from this event - Atlantic City reported a trace of snow on the 28th - the first time snow was observed on this date since records began there in 1903. About 50 miles (80K) to the north, 1.5 inches (38 mm) of snow whitened New Brunswick, NJ, tying their record, originally set in 1962, for the most snowfall in October.

For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
  • Temperatures were near normal across most of the Midwest during October. It was slightly cooler than normal from Missouri into northern Illinois and across parts of Michigan, where average daily temperatures ranged from 1°F to 2°F (0.9°C to1.1°C) below normal. Areas of Indiana, Kentucky, Wisconsin and Minnesota ended the month with temperatures near to 1°F (0.9°C) above normal. Average high temperatures ranged from 1°F (0.9°C) above normal over parts of Indiana to 2°F to 3°F (1.1°C to 1.7°C) below normal across Missouri. Average low temperatures were 1°F to 2°F (0.9°C to 1.1°C) above normal across northern Minnesota and below average over much of the rest of the region.

  • Precipitation was near to above average across most of the western half of the Midwest, while eastern portions of the region saw only 50% to 75% of normal precipitation. Rainfall was heaviest this month in extreme western parts of Iowa and Minnesota, where as much as 300% of normal rainfall was reported. Some areas of the Midwest also saw their first snowfall of the winter season during October. Parts of northern and northwestern Minnesota, and northern Wisconsin received up to an inch of snow, with isolated totals of more than two inches across upper Michigan.

  • The growing season came to an end across the Midwest during the last week of October as cold air plunged south from Canada. On October 28 and 29 subfreezing temperatures were recorded throughout the region, with low temperatures dropping into the upper 20s as far south as the Ohio River.

    Severe weather was very limited across the region, with two reports of wind damage on October 15 in northern Indiana.
For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest during October, see the weekly summaries in the MRCC Midwest Climate Watch page.

Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Average temperatures for October 2008 were slightly below normal over most of the region. A narrow area from southeastern AL to extreme SE NC displayed temperatures 2-4°F below normal. A high pressure persisted north or northeast of the region on many days allowing relatively cool and dry air to move southward across the region. On the 27th of the month, a strong cold front passed rapidly across the area in conjunction with the development of a strong cyclone northeast of the region. Strong northwesterly winds occurred in response to the tight pressure gradient associated with this system and a strong high pressure in the southern Great Plains. The resultant cold advection and nocturnal radiational cooling provided numerous daily record low temperatures across southern portions of the area. Both Tallahassee and Jacksonville, FL recorded all time record low temperatures of 29 and 33°F (-2 and 1°C), respectively, for the month of October. Interestingly, minimum temperatures were relatively warmer much farther to the north in portions of VA as persistent windy conditions during the nocturnal hours kept the surface air well mixed. Temperatures were cold enough at Beech Mountain for the resort to test its new snowmaking equipment.

  • Monthly precipitation totals were below normal across VA, NC, extreme northern SC, northeast GA, and Puerto Rico with many locations reporting less than half of the normal precipitation. In contrast, large portions of GA and SC as well as eastern AL displayed above normal precipitation with many locations recording totals exceeding 150% of normal. Much of this rain was associated with the movement of two cyclonic systems across the region on the 9th to 11th and the 24th to 25th of the month. The second system produced exceptional totals in coastal GA and SC with Charleston, SC recording 6.57 inches (167mm) of rain. This rainfall contributed substantially to the monthly totals of 11.10 inches and 9.29 inches (282 and 236mm) at Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA, respectively, which rank as the 2nd and 4th wettest Octobers on record. Florida displayed much variability in monthly precipitation totals with Key West reporting over 12 inches (305mm) and Mayport, FL, immediately east of Jacksonville, reporting only 0.55 inches (14mm). Strong northwesterly flow produced orographic snowfall across higher elevations of the southern Appalachians during the late month cold air outbreak. Mount Mitchell NC and Burkes Garden, VA reported 4 inches and 2 inches (50 and 25mm) of snow, respectively, between the 27th and 29th of the month.

  • There was little change in the drought lingering across portions of the region during the month. Exceptional drought continued to plague northwestern South Carolina, while extreme drought conditions continued to affect western NC and northern GA. Moderate drought conditions affected areas farther south including central GA and extreme NE AL as well as northeastern NC. There were 17 preliminary tornado reports across portions of GA and FL between the 7th and 9th of the month. An unusual high wind event affected central portions of SC on the 24th of the month. Reported wind gusts of 80 - 113 km/h (50-70 mph) resulted in widespread damage across the region, including the cities of Columbia, Aiken, Newberry, and Lancaster.
For more information, please go to the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

High Plains Region: (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)
  • Temperatures were cooler than normal across the region for much of October 2008. Examples of the cool locations include Manhattan Municipal Airport, KS and Hutchinson, KS. Manhattan Municipal Airport had an average temperature of 55.4°F (13.0°C) which was the 3rd coolest October on record. Hutchinson, KS had an average monthly temperature of 56.7°F (13.7°C) which was the 4th coolest October on record. The highest temperature in the region was 94°F (34.4°C) and occurred on October 5th in Deerfield, KS. The lowest temperature in the region was -1°F (-18.3°C) and occurred on October 23rd in Encampment 5NE, WY.

  • With the only exceptions being portions of Wyoming and Colorado, October 2008 was wet with most of the region receiving ample precipitation. The precipitation was welcomed as it helped alleviate drought conditions in a number of locations. According to the Drought Monitor, drought conditions have improved in South Dakota, western North Dakota, and across the Colorado-Kansas border.

  • Extremes in monthly precipitation across the region include La Junta Municipal Airport in Colorado which received 3.38 inches (86 mm) of precipitation or 537% of normal, Lenora, KS which received 7.67 inches (195 mm) of precipitation or 619% of normal, and Minden, NE which received 11.64 inches (296 mm) of precipitation or 761% of normal. This was the wettest October on record for Minden whose previous October total precipitation record of 7.34 inches (186 mm) was set back in 1897. Another wet location was Kearney, NE which also recorded its all-time wettest October on record with 9.36 inches (238 mm). The total precipitation for the year for Kearney is currently 35.63 inches (905 mm) and this already ranks as the 4th wettest year ever recorded, even with two months remaining in the year.

  • The High Plains region is reporting more heavy precipitation this month with several daily and monthly precipitation records broken. This excessive precipitation also contributed to minor flooding in north-central Kansas.
For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
  • In the month of September, average temperatures in the Southern Region were generally near normal to slightly below normal. Areas of slightly below normal temperatures included southwestern Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. Temperatures there averaged approximately 2-5°F (1-3°C) below the monthly normal. Similar values were also observed in the east-central portion of Texas.

  • With the exception of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, precipitation for the month of October was generally below the expected monthly values. In the northwestern corner of the Southern region, precipitation totals varied from 150-400% of normal. In Oklahoma, there was a sharp precipitation gradient, with monthly totals decreasing rapidly over the central portions of the state. In eastern Oklahoma, precipitation totals were as low as 5-25% of normal, but generally between 25 and 50% of normal. Similar anomalies were also observed in southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, and in particular, south east Texas where serious drought conditions have persisted from the previous month. Northern Mississippi and western Tennessee recorded near normal precipitation values for the month as did the south central counties of Arkansas.

  • Drought conditions in the Southern Region changed little September. Extreme drought conditions were observed in central Texas, and in eastern Tennessee. Central Tennessee was in a state of severe drought during October, as was a small area in south central Texas. Abnormally dry conditions were observed in southern Louisiana, where precipitation had been quite scarce since the tropical cyclone activity associated with Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. Moderate drought was also present in eastern Oklahoma.

  • The month of October was a quiet one in terms of severe weather in the Southern Region. Over the course of the month, there was only one reported tornado. It occurred on the 6th of the month in Montabella, Texas. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Regional Climate Center)

Not available at time at this time. For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.

See NCDC's Monthly Extremes web-page for weather and climate records for the month of October. For additional national, regional, and statewide data and graphics from 1895-present, for October, the last 3 months or other periods, please visit the Climate at a Glance page.

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PLEASE NOTE: All of the temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data.  The ranks will change when the final data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages.  Graphics based on final data are provided on the Climate Monitoring Products page and the Climate at a Glance page as they become available.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: National Climate Report for October 2008, published online November 2008, retrieved on January 19, 2018 from