National Climate Report - October 2012
NCEI added Alaska climate divisions to its nClimDiv dataset on Friday, March 6, 2015, coincident with the release of the February 2015 monthly monitoring report. For more information on this data, please visit the Alaska Climate Divisions FAQ.
Maps and Graphics
Temperature and Precipitation Ranks
U.S. Percentage Areas
Note: GHCN-M Data Notice
An omission in processing a correction algorithm led to some small errors on the Global Historical Climatology Network-Monthly dataset (GHCN-M v3.2.0). This led to small errors in the reported land surface temperatures in the October, November, December and Annual U.S. and global climate reports. On February 14, 2013, NCDC fixed this error in its software, included an additional improvement (described below), and implemented both changes as GHCN-M version 3.2.1. With this update to GHCN-M, the Merged Land and Ocean Surface Temperature dataset also is subsequently revised as MLOST version 3.5.3.
The net result of this new version of GHCN-M reveals very small changes in temperature and ranks. The 2012 U.S. temperature is 0.01°F higher than reported in early January, but still remains approximately 1.0°F warmer than the next warmest year, and approximately 3.25°F warmer than the 20th century average. The U.S. annual time series from version 3.2.1 is almost identical to the series from version 3.2.0 and that the 1895-2012 annual temperature trend remains 0.13°F/decade. The trend for certain calendar months changed more than others (discussed below). For the globe, ranks of individual years changed in some instances by a few positions, but global land temperature trends changed no more than 0.01°C/century for any month since 1880.
NCDC uses two correction processes to remove inhomogeneities associated with factors unrelated to climate such as changes in observer practices, instrumentation, and changes in station location and environment that have occurred through time. The first correction for time of observation changes in the United States was inadvertently disabled during late 2012. That algorithm provides for a physically based correction for observing time changes based on station history information. NCDC also routinely runs a .pairwise correction. algorithm that addresses such issues, but in an indirect manner. It successfully corrected for many of the time of observation issues, which minimized the effect of this processing omission.
The version 3.2.1 release also includes the use of updated data to improve quality control and correction processes of other U.S. stations and neighboring stations in Canada and Mexico.
Compared to analyses released in January 2013, the trend for certain calendar months has changed more than others. This effect is related to the seasonal nature of the reintroduced time-of-observation correction. Trends in U.S. winter temperature are higher while trends in summer temperatures are lower. For the globe, ranks of individual years changed in some instances by a few positions, but global temperature trends changed no more than 0.01°C/century for any month since 1880.
More complete information about this issue is available at this supplemental page.
NCDC will not update the static reports from October through December 2012 and the 2012 U.S and Global annual reports, but will use the current dataset (GHCN-M v. 3.2.1 and MLOST v. 3.5.3) for the January 2013 report and other comparisons to previous months and years.
Supplemental October, January-October, and Sandy Information
- Year-to-date temperature evolution for select U.S. cities
- Divisional temperature departures
- Year-to-date temperature evolution for contiguous U.S.
- Warmest 12-month periods for contiguous U.S.
- October daily temperature extremes
- Post-tropical cyclone Sandy: Precipitation
- Post-tropical cyclone Sandy: Wind and storm surge
- Post-tropical cyclone Sandy: Barometric pressure records
- Climate Highlights — October
- The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during October was 53.9°F, just 0.3°F below the long-term average, ending a 16-month streak of above-average temperatures for the lower 48 that began in June 2011.
- Below-average temperatures stretched from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico during October, with 19 states having monthly temperatures below their 20th century averages. The Southwest and the Northeast were the only two areas of the country with above average temperatures.
- The October nationally-averaged precipitation total of 2.19 inches was slightly above the long-term average.
- Wetter-than-average conditions stretched from the Northwest, through the Northern Plains, into the Midwest and the Northeast. Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington had October precipitation totals among their ten wettest. Below-average precipitation was observed across the Southern Rockies, and Central and Southern Plains. Texas had its ninth driest October on record.
- The October 30, 2012 U.S. Drought Monitor showed 60.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, less than the 64.6 percent at the beginning of October. Drought conditions improved across parts of the Midwest and Northeast, while drought conditions worsened across parts of the Northern Rockies.
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand for October 2012 was near average.
- Climate Highlights — Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy
- Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey on October 29 after it transitioned from a tropical to a post-tropical cyclone. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour and a central minimum pressure of 946 millibars at landfall. This preliminary pressure reading was potentially a record low for the Northeast coast, and is pending further review. Sandy’s large size, with tropical storm force winds extending nearly 500 miles from the center, led to the large-scale flooding, wind damage, mass power outages, and over 100 fatalities along much of the East Coast.
- Sandy brought large storm surge and high water levels to much of the coastal Northeast with New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut particularly hard hit. The 13.88-foot observed water level at The Battery in New York City was an all-time record for the location, smashing the previous record set in 1960 during Hurricane Donna by more than three feet. The Delaware River in Philadelphia also reached a new record high water level of 10.6 feet, surpassing the previous record of 10.5 feet which was set in April 2011 from record rainfall. This new record was due to a combination of heavy precipitation and storm surge.
- Sandy also brought blizzard conditions to the Central and Southern Appalachians, where over a foot of snow fell in six states from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, shattering all time October monthly and single storm snowfall records. Snowfall totals across the highest elevations approached three feet.
- Climate Highlights — Year-to-Date (January-October)
- The January-October period was the warmest first ten months of any year on record for the contiguous United States. The national temperature of 58.4°F was 3.4°F above the 20th century average, and 1.1°F above the previous record warm January-October of 2000. During the 10-month period, 21 states were record warm and an additional 25 states had year-to-date temperatures among their ten warmest. Only Washington had a statewide temperature near average for the period.
- January-October 2012 was the 16th driest such period on record for the contiguous U.S. with a precipitation total 1.9 inches below the average of 24.78 inches.
- Drier-than-average conditions were present from the Southwest, through the Rockies, across the Plains and into the Midwest. Nebraska and Wyoming were both record dry for the period. Nebraska’s statewide precipitation total of 11.92 inches was 9.40 inches below average, while Wyoming’s precipitation of 6.57 inches was 5.20 inches below average.
- The Gulf Coast, parts of the Northeast, and the Pacific Northwest were wetter than average during January-October. Washington’s year-to-date precipitation total was 33.23 inches, 7.36 inches above average, and the fourth wettest January-October on record.
- The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI), an index that tracks the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought and tropical cyclones across the contiguous U.S., was nearly twice the average value during the January-October period, and marked the second highest USCEI value for the period. Extremes in warm daytime temperatures, warm nighttime temperatures, and the spatial extent of drought conditions contributed to the record high USCEI value.
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand for January-October 2012 was much below average and the lowest year-to-date value in the 118-year period of record.
- Climate Highlights — 12-month period (November 2011-October 2012)
- The November 2011-October 2012 period was the warmest such 12-month period on record for the contiguous U.S., with an average temperature of 55.2°F, 3.2°F above the long-term average. This 12-month temperature average was the sixth warmest of any 12-month period on record for the contiguous United States. The seven warmest 12-month periods have all ended during 2012.
Alaska Temperature and Precipitation:
- Alaska had its 40th coolest October since records began in 1918, with a temperature 0.2°F (0.1°C) above the 1971–2000 average.
- Alaska had its 37th coolest August-October since records began in 1918, with a temperature 0.2°F (0.1°C) below the 1971–2000 average.
- Alaska had its 19th coolest January-October since records began in 1918, with a temperature 1.8°F (1.0°C) below the 1971–2000 average.
- Alaska had its 44th driest October since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 1.3 percent below the 1971–2000 average.
- Alaska had its 27th wettest August-October since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 12.2 percent above the 1971–2000 average.
- Alaska had its 25th wettest January-October since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 14.4 percent above 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 Climate Summary page". For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month, please visit NCDC's Records page. For details and graphics on weather events across the U.S. and the globe please visit NCDC's Global Hazards page.
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 Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
- For the fourth month in a row, the Northeast was warmer than normal. October’s average temperature was 51.6 degrees F (10.9 degrees C), which is 2.3 degrees F (1.3 degrees C) above normal. Rhode Island ranked warmest among the states with an average temperature of 55.8 degrees F (13.2 degrees C) making it the 12th warmest October for that state in the past 118 years. West Virginia was the only state cooler than normal with an average temperature of 52.7 degrees F (11.5 degrees C), which is 0.4 degrees F (0.2 degrees C) below average.
- While October started off dry, Sandy brought record rainfall to parts of the Northeast. With a monthly total of 5.49 inches (139.45 mm), October was 143 percent of normal. Delaware received 8.89 inches (225.81 mm) of rain making it the wettest October since 1895. Maryland had its third wettest October with 7.68 inches (195.07 mm) of rain. Dulles, VA, received 4.25 inches (107.95 mm) on the 29th while Baltimore, MD, received 5.51 inches (139.95 mm) on the same day marking their wettest October calendar days on record. Sandy also brought snow to parts of the Northeast. In fact it was the snowiest October on record (since 1948) for Charleston, WV, with 10.1 inches (256.54 mm). Despite receiving rain from Sandy, Connecticut remained slightly drier than normal at 89 percent. While drought conditions improved across most of the Northeast, upstate New York was still experiencing abnormal dryness (D0) according to the US Drought Monitor for October 30, 2012.
- An EF0 tornado touched down in Harford County, MD, on the 19th. The same storm system spawned an EF1 tornado in Lancaster County, PA. The tornado injured 15 people and produced an estimated three to five million dollars in tree and structural damage. At the end of the month, Sandy walloped the Northeast with record flooding. The Battery, NY, set a record high water level of 13.88 feet (4.23 m) smashing the old record of 10.02 feet (3.05 m) set by Hurricane Donna in 1960. The water level at Sandy Hook, NJ, reached 13.3 feet (4.05 m) besting the old record of 10.1 feet (3.08 m) also set by Hurricane Donna. Sandy forced The New York Stock Exchange to close for two consecutive days. The last time it closed for two straight days due to weather was the Blizzard of 1888. According to the Department of Energy website, around 7.9 million people across the Northeast were without power during the height of Sandy. In addition, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD, set new all-time low station pressure records. Philadelphia’s pressure dropped to 953 mb on the 29th while Baltimore’s dropped to 964.4 mb on the same day. On the 30th a severe thunderstorm embedded in an outer band of Sandy produced a microburst with pockets of wind reaching 90 mph (40 m/s) in southeastern Massachusetts. Early damage estimates put the loss from Sandy between 30 to 50 billion dollars according to CNBC’s website.
- For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
- The Midwest regional temperature was slightly below normal in September, breaking a string of 11 straight months above normal from October 2011 to August 2012. For the first time since January 2011, none of the nine Midwest states had an above normal statewide temperature. September temperatures ranged from near normal to 3 degrees F (2 C) above normal near Lake Superior. Temperatures were above normal early in the month but the latter part of the month was cooler than normal. Despite the cool September, statewide year-to-date temperatures rank as the warmest or second warmest in the 118-year history for each Midwest state.
- September precipitation varied drastically from dry in the north to wet in the south. Minnesota recorded its driest September on record (118 years) with many stations recording topped 14 inches (356 mm) at several stations. As a percentage of normal, the totals ranged from less than 10 percent to more than five times normal. Heavy September rains in Ohio (4th wettest) and Kentucky (7th wettest) were in contrast to the drier conditions to the north where Minnesota recorded its driest September and Wisconsin had its 9th driest. June to September was the driest on record in Iowa and May to September was the third driest in Missouri. Year-to-date precipitation totals rank among the top 12 driest years since 1895 in five states: Iowa (4th), Illinois (7th), Missouri (8th), Indiana (12th), and Wisconsin (12th).less than a half inch (13 mm) of rain while precipitation totals in southern Illinois
- Early freezes hit Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa with the most widespread event on the 23rd and 24th. The freeze was weeks ahead of normal with many locations in Iowa recording their earliest freeze since 1983. Early crop maturity helped to limit the damages.
- Drought conditions eased in the southern half of the region but further north there was both expansion and intensification of drought. Overall, the Midwest saw an increase from 82 percent to 91 percent of the region in drought during September but severe drought dropped from 50 to 42 percent and extreme drought dropped from 33 to 15 percent. Missouri saw the biggest improvements going from 97 to just 17 percent areal coverage of extreme drought, though the entire state remained in drought. Minnesota saw the biggest expansion and intensification with drought areas increasing from 38 to 96 percent of the state and extreme drought increasing from 0 to 20 percent. Improvements in the southern parts of the Midwest came too late in the year to help the corn crop.
- Harvest was on pace or ahead of normal for major crops in the Midwest. Corn harvest was ahead of normal across the region. Soybean harvest was near normal in the southeast but well ahead of normal in the northwest.
- For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest, see the weekly summaries in the Midwest Climate Watch page.
- Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
- For the third straight month, mean temperatures were near normal across much of the Southeast region. The greatest departures were found across parts of Alabama, northern sections of Georgia and South Carolina, and western sections of North Carolina and Virginia, where monthly temperatures were between 1 and 2 degrees F (0.5 and 1.1 degrees C) below normal. In contrast, monthly temperatures were between 1 and 2 degrees F (0.5 and 1.1 degrees C) above normal across parts of northern Florida extending northward through eastern sections of the Carolinas and Virginia. Monthly temperatures were also above normal across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A month after tying its warmest September on record, San Juan, PR recorded its fourth warmest October in a record extending back to 1898. The warmest weather occurred during the first week and towards the end of the month in advance of Sandy, with temperatures exceeding 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C) as far north as northern Virginia. The coldest weather of the month occurred following the passage of a cold front on the 8th and in the wake of Sandy over the final four days of the month. In both cases, temperatures failed to reach 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) across parts of Virginia and North Carolina, while subfreezing temperatures were observed across the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachians. Over 400 daily low maximum temperatures were tied or broken during these two periods across the Southeast region.
- Precipitation in October was below average across most of the Southeast. The driest locations were found across central and southern parts of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, where monthly totals were less than 25 percent of normal. Mobile, AL, recorded only 0.19 inches (4.8 mm) for the month, which was 3.5 inches (88.9 mm) below normal, while Macon, GA, recorded only 0.25 inches (6.4 mm) for the month, which was over 2.5 inches (63.5 mm) below normal. In contrast, the wettest locations were found across eastern sections of North Carolina and Virginia, where monthly totals exceeded 200 percent of normal in places. Most of this precipitation came from Sandy, which dropped between 5 and 10 inches (127 and 254 mm) from the 28th to the 31st of the month. Norfolk, VA, recorded its second wettest October with 8.98 inches (228.1 mm) of precipitation (period of record 1874-2012). Sandy’s transitioning to an extratropical circulation produced an early season snowstorm across the Southern Appalachians. Flurries were reported as far south as northern Georgia, while some of the higher elevations of Virginia and North Carolina reported over 10 inches (254 mm) of snowfall. A CoCoRaHS station in western North Carolina (Bakersville 5.4 N) recorded 14.9 inches (378.5 mm) of snowfall from the 29th to the 31st, marking one of the biggest event-total snowfalls on record across the state for the month of October. Precipitation in October was variable across Puerto Rico, with above normal precipitation along the northern half of the island and below normal precipitation along the southern half. Precipitation was generally above normal across the U.S. Virgin Islands, with a large portion tied to the passage of Hurricane Rafael on the 15th of the month.
- There were only 32 reports of severe weather across the Southeast in October, with at least one report on eight of the 31 days. A total of five tornadoes, all EF-0s, were confirmed across the region. Four of these tornadoes occurred on the 1st of the month, three in Columbus County in southeastern North Carolina and one in Coosa County in central Alabama. The fifth tornado occurred on the 15th of the month in a rural section of Jefferson County, AL. All of these tornadoes were weak and short-lived, resulting in some downed and uprooted trees, minor structural damage, and some isolated power outages.
- Sandy affected several southeastern states from the 24th to the 31st of the month. Although the center of circulation remained well off the Southeast Atlantic coast, tropical storm force wind gusts were observed as far inland as central Georgia, resulting in scattered power outages. Strong winds, waves, and high tides contributed to storm surge flooding and beach erosion from south Florida to eastern Virginia. Several coastal roads, including parts of Highway 12 along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, were inundated with up to 2 feet (0.6 m) of water. Sandy was also responsible for the sinking of the HMS Bounty, a reconstructed version of the 18th century Royal Navy merchant vessel upon which the infamous Mutiny on the Bounty took place. All 16 crew members except the Captain were rescued after the ship began taking on water roughly 90 miles (144.8 km) off the coast of North Carolina. One of the rescued members later died from his injuries. Heavy rainfall from Sandy also contributed to inland flooding across the region. In Washington D.C., the combination of flooding and power outages forced the closure of federal buildings and tourist sites, as well as the city transit system, from the 29th to the 30th of the month. Sandy also contributed to strong winds across the Southern Appalachians, with gusts exceeding 70 mph (31.3 m/s) across some of the higher elevations. This resulted in scattered power outages and road closures, including sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- There were relatively few changes to the U.S. Drought Monitor across the Southeast in October. Abnormally dry conditions (D0) expanded across southeastern Georgia, central South Carolina, and south-central North Carolina. There was a slight contraction of moderate (D2) to exceptional (D4) drought across central Georgia, while Sandy helped eliminate drought conditions across eastern and northern sections of Virginia. By the end of the month, approximately 40 percent of the Southeast was classified in drought. The overall dry pattern in October aided in the harvesting of row crops and fall vegetables as well as the planting of winter crops. Pastures were also reported to be in good condition due to the cooler temperatures, though newly planted pastures, particularly fescue and cool season forage, could benefit from some additional rainfall. The continued dry pattern across central Georgia forced some farmers to ship in water for their livestock to offset dropping farm pond levels. Livestock and crop conditions also declined across much of South Carolina due to the lack of rainfall. High winds from Sandy contributed to some cotton damage across eastern North Carolina and delayed the harvesting of several row crops. However, the rain from Sandy provided some much needed moisture for newly planted winter wheat. Several vegetable and tobacco growers in North Carolina reported above average yields for the year, while growers in Virginia reported that peanut and soybean yields have been above average.
- 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)
- October 2012 was actually cooler than normal for the majority of the High Plains Region. Most locations in the Region had average temperatures which were at least 2.0 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) below normal. Above normal average temperatures were limited to southwestern Colorado and portions of southern Wyoming. The cooler weather was not record-breaking although there were a few locations that were able to creep into the top 10 coolest Octobers on record. Garden City, Kansas tied for its 6th coolest October on record with an average temperature of 52.3 degrees F (11.3 degrees C). The record of 48.6 degrees F (9.2 degrees C) occurred just a few years ago in 2009 (period of record 1947-2012). Despite the widespread below normal temperatures this month, 2012 still continued to be one of the warmest on record in many places. For example, the average temperature in Grand Forks, North Dakota was 1.3 degrees F (0.7 degrees C) below normal this month, but this year’s January 1-October 31 time period still ranked as the warmest. The average temperature in Grand Forks for this time period was 48.7 degrees F (9.3 degrees C), which surpassed the 1931 record of 48.1 degrees F (8.9 degrees C) (period of record 1893-2012).
- Ample precipitation was confined to North Dakota and small pockets elsewhere in the High Plains Region this month. Much needed precipitation fell in areas of northern North Dakota, where precipitation totals were over 150 percent of normal. While this precipitation was not record-breaking, it did help alleviate drought conditions there. In addition, many locations across the High Plains Region had their first snowfall of the season this month. Even with the snowfall, a large portion of the High Plains Region continued to have dry conditions this month. Central Nebraska, central South Dakota, southern Kansas, southern and northwestern Colorado, and south-central Wyoming all had precipitation totals which were less than 25 percent of normal. The dry weather helped with the harvesting of row crops in many areas across the Region. The corn harvest was ahead of average in Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The soybean harvest was also well ahead of average in Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. On the downside, dryness continued to affect pasturelands as most of the Region continued to have pasture conditions in the very poor to poor classifications. Dry and windy conditions also took their toll on winter wheat progress. For instance, the lack of precipitation limited winter wheat emergence in parts of South Dakota and some winter wheat had to be reseeded in Nebraska due to wind damage. Although mid-October showers did help with winter wheat emergence, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), more precipitation is needed for improved emergence.
- Slight changes in drought conditions in the High Plains Region occurred over the past month, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Some areas experienced improvements and others had degradation which balanced out to little change over the past month. Nebraska was still the hardest hit state, with nearly 78 percent of the state in exceptional drought conditions (D4) which was up a few percent from the end of last month. South Dakota had the most degradation with a significant increase in D4 that went from 7 to 33 percent coverage over the past month. The most significant improvements occurred in the Red River Valley of North Dakota where precipitation in the middle of the month helped downgrade all extreme drought conditions (D3) to severe drought conditions (D2) in the state. Other areas which had improvements included north central Colorado, eastern Kansas, far southeastern Nebraska, and central North Dakota. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released November 1st, drought conditions were expected to improve across the entire state of North Dakota and northern areas of South Dakota. All other areas of drought in the Region were expected to persist through the end of January 2013.
- Even with the growing season coming to a close, the ongoing drought has continued to have impacts across the Region. The combination of an intense low pressure system to the east and high pressure over the Rockies created very strong northwest winds over the High Plains Region October 17-18. The strongest wind speeds occurred on the 18th when winds were sustained at 35-45 mph (56-72 km/h) for much of the day. Gusts to 50-60 mph (80-97 km/h) were quite common and some peak wind gusts topping 70 mph (113 km/h) were reported as well. The combination of these winds and dry conditions from the ongoing drought caused a large dust storm to form. The dust storm reduced visibilities and many roads were forced to close, including portions of I-80 in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming, I-70 in eastern Colorado, and I-35 in Kansas and Oklahoma. Unfortunately, wildfires also started during this time period and spread rapidly. According to NASS, in Nebraska, buildings, machinery, and even crops were lost in these fires. Impacts ranging from overturned semi-trucks to downed power lines to roof and tree damage were reported all across the wind swept region.
- For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
- October was a slightly cooler than normal month for much of the Southern Region. Slightly warmer than normal temperatures were observed in southern and western Texas. Elsewhere, temperatures averaged between 0 to 4 degrees F (0 to 2.22 degrees C) below expected values. The lowest temperature averages occurred in the central parts of the region where temperatures ranged between 2 to 4 degrees F (1.11 to 2.22 degrees C) below normal. The state average temperature values are as follows: Arkansas reported 58.90 degrees F(14.94 degrees C), Louisiana reported 65.50 degrees F (18.61 degrees C), Mississippi reported 61.50 degrees F (16.39 degrees C), Oklahoma reported 59.50 degrees F (15.28 degrees C), Tennessee reported 56.50 degrees F (13.61 degrees C) and Texas reported 65.70 degrees F(18.72 degrees C). For Mississippi, it was the fifteenth coldest October on record (1895-2012), while for Arkansas, it was their sixteenth coldest October on record (1895-2012). In Tennessee it was their twentieth coldest October on record (1895-2012), and it was the twenty-third and twenty-fourth coldest October on record (1895-2012) for Louisiana and Oklahoma, respectively. Lastly, the state of Texas recorded its forty-third coldest October on record (1895-2012).
- With the exception of Tennessee and northern Mississippi, October was much drier than normal month in the Southern Region. A large portion of the region, including Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and southern Mississippi, received approximately half the normal amount of precipitation or less. Conditions were extremely dry throughout much of northwestern Texas and central Oklahoma, with many stations receiving only 5 to 25 percent of normal precipitation. Texas averaged only 0.83 inches (21.08 mm) of precipitation, making it their ninth driest October on record (1895-2012). The state of Oklahoma averaged 1.28 inches (32.51 mm), which is their twentieth driest October on record (1895-2012). Louisiana experienced its thirty-sixth driest October on record (1895-2012) with a state average precipitation of 1. 83 inches (46.48 mm). Conversely, conditions were wetter than normal in Tennessee. The state averaged 4.03 inches (102.40 mm), making it their twenty-fourth wettest October (1895-2012). Other state average precipitation values include Mississippi, which averaged 3.56 inches (90.42 mm) and Arkansas, which averaged 3.33 inches (84.58 mm).
- Despite widespread dryness in October over much of the Southern Region, drought conditions have not changed significantly over the past month. Slight improvements occurred in western Tennessee and in northern Mississippi. There was also a one category improvement in northern Arkansas, which improved from exceptional drought to severe and extreme drought. Elsewhere, conditions remained relatively unchanged.
- On October 1, 2012, a series of Tornadoes touched down in central Tennessee. No injuries or fatalities were reported. Damage appears to have been primarily to trees and power lines.
- Some hail-induced windshield damage was reported in Hale County, Texas on October 12. Hail size varied from golfball sized and smaller. Two tornadoes were reported but no damage, injuries or fatalities were listed.
- Dozens of wind and hail reports occurred on October 13, 2012. These ranged from northwestern Arkansas, to central Texas. Some tornadoes were reported, but no details were available on the amount damage that occurred.
- October 17, 2012 was the busiest day in the Southern Region for severe weather. Several tornadoes were reported in Mississippi and Arkansas. A few homes were damaged in Bolivar County Mississippi, while power lines and trees were reported down in Monroe County Arkansas. A tornado in Sharkey County, Mississippi damaged several mobile homes and a total of four injuries were reported. A second tornado in Sharkey County resulted in five injuries. The report lists that several homes along highway 14 were damaged. Similar damage, without injury, occurred in Humphreys County Mississippi as well. Several trees were snapped, outbuildings and travel trailed incurred some damage from the storm.
- For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Regional Climate Center)
- Storms began marching across the Pacific Northwest mid-month, providing the first relief from a summer dominated by below normal precipitation and developing drought. Dry conditions persisted throughout the Southwest with the exception of southern Nevada, where a slow moving low-pressure system generated heavy precipitation and thunderstorms.
- A storm system with a tap into subtropical moisture brought substantial precipitation to Washington, northern Oregon, the Idaho Panhandle, and western Montana on the 29th-31st, pushing many of these regions into one of their top 10 wettest Octobers on record. The windward side of the Olympic range in Washington received 7.5 to 9 in (190-230 mm) of rain during the 3-day event. After receiving no measurable precipitation for 84 days (July 21-Oct 12), Wenatchee, Washington recorded 1.56 in (39.6 mm) this month, 354% of normal and Wenatchee’s 3rd wettest October on record. Seattle-Tacoma Airport, Washington recorded its 4th wettest October in a record beginning in 1948 with 6.71 in (170.4 mm), 193% of normal for the month. Further east, Missoula, Montana logged 1.82 in (46.2 mm) total precipitation and 4 in (10.2 cm) snow, making for the 6th wettest and 7th snowiest October in a record that began in 1893. Despite high precipitation totals this month, 60% of Montana remains in moderate to extreme drought.
- Las Vegas, Nevada saw its 9th wettest October in a record beginning in 1888 with a total of 0.73 in (18.5 mm). In just 3 months, August 1-October 31, 2012, Las Vegas received 4.19 in (106.4 mm) of precipitation, equal to the location’s 30-year normal for annual precipitation. In contrast, the first 6 months of 2012 saw only 0.25 in (6.35 mm) in Las Vegas, the 6th driest January-June period on record. The same storm system that brought precipitation to the Las Vegas area also provided rainfall to Colorado’s Front Range, helping to alleviate the persistent drought in this region. A cold front passed through the Front Range late in the month, bringing over 5 in (12.7 cm) of snowfall to Denver, bringing the city’s total to 1.22 in (31.0 mm) of precipitation for October, 119% of normal. Wyoming also received some drought relief this month from the aforementioned storm systems. Normal to slightly above normal precipitation fell in the western and southeastern portions of the state, though at month’s end, 97.8% of Wyoming remained at some level of drought. In the Southwest, Albuquerque, New Mexico recorded only trace precipitation this month, tying the 2nd driest October since official records began in 1933.
- In addition to dry conditions, above normal temperatures dominated the Southwest. Phoenix, Arizona recorded its 8th warmest October at 78.8 F (26.0 C), and Albuquerque, New Mexico noted its 10th warmest at 60.8 F (16 C). Records at Phoenix date back to 1895 and at Albuquerque to 1892. On October 6th, Ely, in northeastern Nevada, saw its second latest autumn freeze in an 89-year record, behind October 13, 1963. On the heels of its warmest August and September on record, Reno, Nevada posted an average October temperature of 58 F (14.4 C), the 5th warmest in a record beginning in 1888.
- Much further north, most of interior and southeast Alaska saw near or below normal temperatures this month. In contrast, the North Slope recorded average monthly temperatures 8-10 F (4-5 C) above normal. Barrow posted an October average of 27.5 F (-2.5 C), 10.3 F (5.7 C) above normal and the warmest since records began in 1949. This warmth is likely associated with the smallest measured summer minimum of polar ice extent, well below the former 2007 record. Out in the Pacific, Lihue, Hawaii set an all-time October high temperature record of 91 F (32.8 C) on October 9th. Lihue also recorded its driest October in a record that began in 1950, receiving only 0.39 in (9.9 mm) of rainfall, 9% of normal. Hilo, Hawaii also had a dry October at a total of 2.91 in (73.9 mm), its 3rd driest on record. All reporting stations in Hawaii received 75% or less of their normal October rainfall, further exacerbating the persistent drought conditions on the lee sides of the Islands.
- Sierra Snowfall: In a 4-day event beginning October 22nd, the Sierra Nevada received its first significant snowfall of the season. The Central Sierra Snow Lab two miles west of Donner Summit reported a maximum snow depth of 29 in (74 cm) on October 25th. This is the highest October snowfall total in the last 8 years at this location. October is typically hit-or-miss as the start to the winter snow season in the Sierra, with many station records for the region showing a mix of zero-snowfall Octobers and totals over 1 ft (30.5 cm).
- For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.
See NCDC's Monthly Records web-page for weather and climate records for the most recent month. For additional national, regional, and statewide data and graphics from 1895-present, for any period, please visit the Climate at a Glance page.
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 Temperature and Precipitation Maps page and the Climate at a Glance page as they become available.