National Climate Report - October 2018
Maps and Graphics
Temperature and Precipitation Ranks
U.S. Percentage Areas
- Climate Highlights — October
October Average Temperature Departures
October Percent of Average Precipitation
- For October, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 53.8°F, 0.3°F below the 20th century average. This ranked near the middle value in the 124-year period of record and was the coolest October since 2013.
- Below-average October temperatures were observed across the Intermountain West, Great Plains and northern New England, while above-average temperatures were confined to the West Coast and Southeast to Mid-Atlantic.
- Alaska had its warmest October on record with a statewide average temperature of 34.5°F, 9.0°F above the long-term average. This surpassed the previous record of 34.0°F in 2013. Both Anchorage and Bethel experienced their warmest September followed by the warmest October on record. The warm temperatures also led to below-average snowfall for interior locations, with Fairbanks receiving only 0.7 inch of snow during the month. This tied with 2013 and was the second lowest October snowfall since 1926 for the city.
- During October, there was a stark contrast between daytime high temperatures, which were cooler than average, and nighttime low temperatures, which were warmer than average, particularly across the central U.S. Much-below-average daytime temperatures stretched from the Southwest, through the Great Plains, and into the Upper Midwest and Northeast. Meanwhile, above-average nighttime temperatures were observed across the West, South and much of the East. However, the Central and Northern Plains observed below-average overnight temperatures.
- The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during October was 64.5°F, 2.3°F below the 20th century average, ranking in the coolest third of the historical record.
- The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during October was 43.1°F, 1.7°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the warmest third of the historical record.
- During October there were 4,871 record warm daily high (1,302) and low (3,569) temperature records, which was slightly higher than the 4,320 record cold daily high (3,139) and low (1,181) temperature records.
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during October was 7.6 percent below the long-term average and ranked near the median value in the 124-year period of record.
- The October precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 3.37 inches, 1.21 inch above average, and marked the sixth wettest on record.
- Above-average precipitation was observed for many locations across the nation, with much-above-average precipitation in the Southwest, Central and Southern Plains, Upper Midwest, and parts of the Southeast and Northeast. Texas had its wettest October on record with 6.86 inches of precipitation, 4.33 inches above average, surpassing the previous record of 6.17 inches in 2002. Several heavy rain events impacted the state during October, causing widespread flooding. Eight additional states had much-above-average October precipitation. Below-average precipitation fell across parts of the West, Ohio Valley and Southeast.
- Much of Hawaii was wetter than average during October with a mid-October rain event causing landslides and washing out roads. More than 6 inches of rain fell on parts of Maui in six hours. The heavy precipitation fell on already saturated ground, making flooding worse. Honolulu and Hilo each had a top 10 wet October.
- According to the October 30 U.S. Drought Monitor report, released on November 1, 22.0 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down from 29.0 percent at the beginning of October. Drought conditions improved dramatically across the Southern Plains and parts of the Central Plains, with more modest improvement across the Southwest, Northwest, Northern Plains, Midwest and Northeast. Drought also improved across Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Drought continued in southeastern Alaska, with persistent below-average precipitation impacting the region.
- Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach, Florida, on October 10th with sustained winds of 155 mph and a central minimum pressure of 919 mb. This was on the top end of Category 4 strength and marked the third most intense hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous U.S. based on central pressure and the fourth most intense based on wind speed. Michael was also the most intense hurricane on record to make landfall along the Florida Panhandle. The storm caused widespread devastation across the Florida Panhandle and further inland across Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. There were at least 45 fatalities blamed on the storm in the U.S.
- Super Typhoon Yutu hit the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean, causing widespread devastation on the islands of Saipan and Tinian. A majority of buildings on the two islands were either damaged or destroyed, including the Saipan International Airport. Yutu made landfall with sustained winds of 180 mph, marking the second strongest tropical cyclone on record to impact any U.S. territory and the strongest on record for the Northern Marianas. Yutu also marked the strongest tropical cyclone anywhere on the global for 2018 to date.
- Climate Highlights — year-to-date (January-October)
Jan-October Average Temperature Departures
Jan-October Percent of Average Precipitation
- For the year-to-date, the contiguous U.S. average temperature was 56.7°F, 1.7°F above average, and ranked as the 10th warmest on record.
- Above-average year-to-date temperatures were observed for much of the nation with record warmth in the Southwest. Arizona and New Mexico each had their warmest January-October on record. Further north, Alaska had its third warmest January-October on record. Near- to below-average temperatures were observed in the Central to Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. Afternoon high temperatures were particularly cooler than average for the north-central U.S.
- The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during January-October was 68.6°F, 1.4°F above the 20th century average, ranking as the 16th highest on record. Above-average maximum temperatures were observed across the West, Southern Plains, and from the Great Lakes to East Coast. Arizona and New Mexico each had record warm maximum temperatures. Below-average maximum temperatures stretched across the Central and Northern Plains.
- The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during January-October was 44.7°F, 2.0°F above the 20th century average, marking the seventh warmest value on record. Much-above-average minimum temperatures were observed across the West, Southern Plains, and large parts of the East. Near-average conditions were observed across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January-October was 17.8 percent above the long-term average and ranked in the warmest third of the historical record.
- For the year-to-date, the contiguous U.S. precipitation total was 28.63 inches, 3.27 inches above average, and was the fifth wettest January-October on record.
- Above-average January-October precipitation stretched across the Great Plains, Upper Midwest and from the Deep South to Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia each had their wettest year-to-date on record. Below-average precipitation fell across parts of the West.
- The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for the year-to-date was 75 percent above average and ranked as the seventh highest value in the 109-year period of record. On the national scale, extremes in warm minimum (fifth highest) and maximum temperatures (13th highest), one-day precipitation totals (record high), and days with precipitation (ninth highest) were much above average.
- On the regional scale, the Northeast (sixth highest), Southeast (ninth highest), Southwest (second highest), and West (fifth highest) each had much-above-average extremes for the year-to-date.
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 Centers for Environmental Information.
- Northeast Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
- The Northeast wrapped up October with an average temperature of 49.9 degrees F (9.9 degrees C), 0.5 degrees F (0.3 degrees C) above normal. Nine of the twelve states had a warmer-than-normal October. For all states, temperatures ranged from 2.2 degrees F (1.2 degrees C) below normal in Maine to 3.2 degrees F (1.8 degrees C) above normal in Delaware, its 11th warmest October on record. In addition, Maryland had its 16th warmest October on record. On October 8, Erie, Pennsylvania, tied its all-time warmest October temperature on record with a high of 89 degrees F (32 degrees C). With low temperatures ranging from 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) to 72 degrees F (22 degrees C) on October 9, Rochester, New York; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Syracuse, New York, set/tied their all-time warmest minimum temperature records for October.
- It was another wetter-than-normal month in the Northeast as the region saw 4.36 inches (110.74 mm) of precipitation in October, 113 percent of normal. Ten states were wetter than normal, with Rhode Island having its 15th wettest October on record and Delaware having its 20th. Precipitation for all states ranged from 93 percent of normal in New Hampshire to 149 percent of normal in Rhode Island.
- The U.S. Drought Monitor released on October 4 showed 5 percent of the Northeast in a moderate or severe drought and 17 percent of the region as abnormally dry. While rainfall during the month allowed dry conditions to slowly ease, streamflow and groundwater levels remained below normal in parts of northern New York and northern New England. The U.S. Drought Monitor released on October 25 showed 2 percent of the Northeast in a moderate or severe drought and 14 percent of the region as abnormally dry.
- On October 2, a rare tornado outbreak occurred in Pennsylvania when 13 tornadoes touched down in the state (four EF-0s, six EF-1s, and three EF-2s). Data from the National Centers for Environmental Information show this was the largest single-day tornado outbreak since June 2, 1998 when more than 20 tornadoes touched down. Pennsylvania averages only 15 tornadoes for an entire year and averages zero tornadoes during October, according to Storm Prediction Center data. From 1950 to 2017, the state had only recorded a total of 13 October tornadoes. The last time the state had an EF-2 tornado in October was more than 25 years ago. The tornadoes downed hundreds of trees and caused structural damage. Golf ball-sized hail also accompanied some of the storms. The same storm system also produced three tornadoes in southeastern New York (an EF-0 and two EF-2s) and two in Connecticut (an EF-0 and an EF-1). Both states average zero tornadoes during October. Prior to these tornadoes, New York had only recorded 10 October tornadoes and Connecticut had only recorded four. In fact, Connecticut hasn't had an October tornado since 1979. From October 11 to 12, the remnants of Hurricane Michael dropped heavy rain on parts of the region, particularly from southern and eastern Maryland into Delaware and the southern half of New Jersey. In the hardest hit areas, rain totals of 5 inches (127 mm) to 8 inches (203 mm) were reported, resulting in flooding. On October 23, four tornadoes touched down in southern New England; an EF-1 in Rhode Island and two EF-1s and an EF-0 in Massachusetts. Both states average zero tornadoes in October. Annually, Rhode Island averages zero tornadoes while Massachusetts averages one. In Rhode Island, there had only been 11 tornadoes reported since 1950, with only one of those being an October tornado. The tornado on the 23rd is the latest tornado in the calendar year for the state. For Massachusetts, there have only been seven other October tornadoes, with the last one occurring in 1970. Severe weather struck again on October 29. An EF-0 tornado touched down in southern Connecticut and an EF-1 tornado touched down in southeastern New York, adding to the October tornado count in those states.
- For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
- October precipitation averaged 3.97 inches (101 mm) across the Midwest. This was 132 percent of normal and ranked as the 12th wettest October in the 124 year record (1895-2018). Wisconsin ranked 4th while both Iowa and Michigan ranked 7th wettest with Minnesota and Missouri also ranking in the teens. Three states (Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio) had below normal precipitation. Reported as a percentage of normal, statewide values ranged from Indiana at 86 percent to Wisconsin at 182 percent. Much of the rain that fell across northern Missouri, Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan fell in the first half of the month.
- October temperatures were also mixed with the regionwide average at 49.9 degrees F (9.9 C) which was 1.2 degrees F (0.7 C) below normal. Five states were below normal while the other four states were above normal. Statewide values ranged from 3.9 degrees F (2.2 C) below normal in Minnesota to 1.3 degrees F (0.7 C) above normal in Ohio. Temperatures in the first half of the month showed a strong contrast with cold in the northwestern half of the region and warmth in the southeastern half. The latter half of the month was cool across most of the region.
- The heavy rains brought major flooding to the Upper Mississippi River and its tributaries in October. Farm fields in the northwestern half of the Midwest were wet, with some having standing water, which significantly delayed harvest in those areas. On the other hand, drought areas continued to show improvement due to the October rains with the Midwest becoming less and less affected over the course of the month.
- Severe weather was reported on 10 days in October with most of the reports coming in the first 9 days of the month. Six of the first nine days in October had up to 30 reports of severe weather. From the 10th to the 31st there were only four days with reports and fewer than a dozen on each of those days. Six days had tornado reports with Iowa having the most reports, largely from the 9th, along with a handful of reports from Missouri. A tornado on the 31st in Kentucky damaged outbuildings near Rineyville, Kentucky (Hardin County).
- The first freeze of the fall spread across much of the southeastern third of the region in the final 10 days of October. Some stations still had not reached freezing and many had yet to have a killing frost of 28 degrees F (-2 C). The timing of the freeze was near normal.
- For further details on the weather and climate events in the Midwest, see the weekly and monthly reports at the Midwest Climate Watch page.
- Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
- Temperatures across the Southeast were warmer than normal in October. The warmest areas were along a band from southern Alabama through the coastal plain of Georgia and northeast into South Carolina, with some stations observing temperatures as much as 6 degrees F (3.3 degrees C) above normal. The areas that were closest to normal were northern counties in Alabama and Georgia and inland areas of the Carolinas and Virginia. In the first ten days of the month, temperatures averaged as much as 14 F (7.8 C) warmer than normal, but colder air dominated the inland areas of the Southeast in the last two weeks of the month, offsetting some of the extremely high temperatures observed earlier in October. Temperatures in Puerto Rico were slightly below normal across the island in October. Many stations reported one of their warmest Octobers on record, including Key West, FL (1871-2018; tied for 1st warmest), Plant City, FL (1892-2018; 1st warmest), Brunswick, GA (1947-2018; 1st warmest), Tampa, FL (1889-2018; 2nd warmest), Orangeburg, SC (1953-2018; 2nd warmest), and Childersburg, AL (1958-2018; 3rd warmest). Key West (1871-2018) reported a monthly average temperature of 83.5 F (28.6 F), which tied for their all-time warmest October with 2007. West Palm Beach, FL (1888-2018) observed a mean temperature of 80.6 F (27.0 C), tied for second warmest October on record and surpassed only by the record of 80.9 F (27.2 C) set in 1911. Alma and Brunswick, GA (both 1948-2018) observed mean temperatures of 72.2 F and 75.1 F (22.3 C and 23.9 C) respectively, which were second only to the warmest October in 1985. Many stations reported temperatures greater than 90 F (32.3 C) well into October; a number of National Weather Service offices noted that these were the latest occurrences of over 90 F in any year for their locations. The highest temperature reached at any station in the Southeast in October was 99 F (37.2 C), observed at Eufaula Wildlife Refuge, AL on October 2, Marion Junction, AL on October 7, and Ponce, PR on October 19. The warmest weather across much of the region occurred on October 5-6, as a strong ridge of high pressure brought clear skies and sinking air to the region. Athens, GA reported a high of 95 F (35 C), and many other stations in Alabama, Georgia, South and North Carolina and Virginia also exceeded 90 F (32.3 C) on October 5-6, except near the coast and in the higher elevations. The warmest temperatures in central Florida occurred in the period from October 16 to 18, ahead of a cold front moving into the region from the northwest. Jacksonville, FL reported a temperature of 94 F (34.4 C) on October 17, and Tampa and Gainesville, FL both reported high temperatures of 93 F (33.9 C) during that period. The lowest temperatures of the month were reported in northern and higher elevation locations of Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia, with numerous stations falling below freezing. Blacksburg and Washington Dulles Airport, VA reached 27 F and 29 F (-2.8 C and -17 C), respectively, on the morning of October 22, as a modified arctic high pressure settled over the region. Asheville, NC reached 32 F (0 C), and Blairsville, GA reached 28 F (-2.2 C) the same morning and the observatory on Mount Mitchell, NC reached 15 F (-9.4 C). Other stations in mountainous areas observed minimum temperatures as low as 21 F (-6.1 C) on the morning of October 22. By comparison, the coldest temperature in Puerto Rico during the month was 55 F (12.8 C), which occurred on October 31 at the Arecibo Observatory.
- Precipitation across the Southeast was highly variable in October. In Puerto Rico, rainfall amounts were generally much lower than normal at most locations, such as Juncos (1931-2018; 22nd driest) with 5.05 inches (128 mm), which was 3.2 inches (81 mm) drier than normal. In spite of the dryness, the Drought Monitor showed a reduction in abnormally dry conditions by the end of the month. A few scattered locations in the Florida peninsula received less than 0.50 inches (xx mm) of rain during the month as high pressure dominated the region. Scattered areas in eastern NC and western AL also received less than 25% of normal rainfall. La Belle, FL (1929-2018; 3rd driest) reported only 0.17 inches (4.3 mm) of rain during October. Port St. Lucie, FL (1902-2018; 5th driest) received 0.90 inches (23 mm) and Sylacauga, AL (1962-2018; tied for 5th driest) received 0.84 inches (21 mm). By comparison, a number of stations in the mountainous areas of western North Carolina and in the Florida Panhandle received over ten inches, mainly from precipitation associated with Hurricane Michael. The highest amounts of rain measured in October occurred along the path of Hurricane Michael, as it made landfall near Mexico Beach, FL on October 10 and moved to the northeast. The highest rainfall in Florida in October was measured at Lynn Haven at 13.58 inches (345 mm); of that, 11.62 inches (295 mm) was observed in a 24-hour period ending on the morning of October 11. The highest rainfall in Georgia was an estimated 11.95 inches (304 mm) east of Fort Gaines, which included 11.11 inches (282 mm) on the morning of the 11th. The observer there noted that the hurricane-force winds blew the rain almost horizontally, suggesting that actual rainfall was greater. The highest rainfall in the Southeast was reported at Black Mountain, NC, where the observer reported 16.21 inches (412 mm) in October, including 12.81 inches (325 mm) from October 10 to 13. Mount Mitchell, NC (1980-2018; 4th wettest) reported 13.04 inches for the month, and Danville, VA (1945-2018; 1st wettest) reported 8.29 inches (211 mm), with 6.00 inches reported on October 11, the wettest one-day rainfall on record. Columbia, SC (1887-2018) reported 4.45 inches (113 mm) on the same date, the 14th wettest one-day period for that station. Rivers along the path of Michael experienced major flooding following the heavy rain, including sites in Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina and Virginia. Water rescues were undertaken in several locations, and four people drowned in Virginia, including a firefighter, as flood waters washed them away. At least 1,200 roads were closed in Virginia due to a combination of high water and downed trees from Hurricane Michael.
- There were 36 severe weather reports across the Southeast in October, which is 77% of the median monthly frequency of 47 reports during 2000-2016. There were no hail reports during October. Nearly all of the severe weather reports were associated with the passage of Hurricane Michael across the region on October 10-12, but West Palm Beach did report a thunderstorm wind gust of 54 mph (24.1 m/s) on October 8, and Key West reported a gust of 56 mph (25.0 m/s) on the same day while the storm was still developing to the south. Widespread damage occurred from Michael, as the center of circulation passed over the Southeast. Fourteen confirmed tornadoes were reported by National Weather Service Forecast Offices in the path of Michael, as it moved northeastward across the region, including 3 in Georgia, 4 in South Carolina and 7 in Virginia. This is about 127% above the October median frequency of 11 tornadoes observed from 2000 to 2016. An EF-1 tornado in Norge, VA caused $1.8 million in damage to 32 homes. Hurricane Michael attained peak winds of 155 mph (69.3 m/s), as it made landfall near Mexico Beach, FL on October 10, becoming the first system to do so in the region as a Category 4 hurricane. A maximum wind gust of 129 mph (57.7 m/s) was measured at Tyndall Air Force Base near the point of landfall. When Michael hit land, it had a central pressure of 919 mb (hPa; 27.14 inHg), the most intense landfalling U. S. Hurricane since Camille in 1969 and the second-most intense hurricane to hit Florida by pressure after the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane. Catastrophic damage occurred along the Florida coast at Mexico Beach and Panama Beach due to the extreme winds and storm surge. The 9 to 14 feet (2.7 to 4.3 m), storm surge wiped out nearly every structure along the coast near the point of landfall. The storm tracked northeast across southwest Georgia as a major hurricane and weakened to a tropical storm early in the morning on October 11 just south of Macon, GA. The highest gust reported in Georgia was 115 mph (51.4 m/s) by a University of Georgia weather station at the Donalsonville airport near the border with Alabama and Florida. Michael then continued over South and North Carolina and parts of Virginia before transitioning to an extra-tropical cyclone off the East Coast. By October 31, an estimated 45 deaths were attributed to Michael in the United States alone, and many people were still unaccounted for. Utility companies estimated that over 3.1 million people were affected by loss of power due to the storm, with a peak outage of 1.6 million customers at 3 AM on October 12. Michael caused an estimated $11.2 billion losses in all, including $6 million in destroyed fighter jets at Tyndall Air Force Base, close to $2 billion in insured losses to buildings and businesses, and up to $6 billion in agricultural losses across the region, including the loss of 4 million acres of timber worth well over $2 billion in Florida and Georgia alone.
- Dry conditions were found in many areas not affected by Hurricane Michael during the month of October. An area of abnormally dry conditions expanded by the end of the month in Georgia and Alabama, as the absence of rain and the warm temperatures increased evaporation rates in the first two weeks. Rainfall from Hurricane Michael reduced dry conditions along the path of the storm but led to tremendous damage to agriculture, including livestock, timber, crops and the infrastructure needed to support agriculture, including storage facilities and barns. Damage to agriculture in Florida, Alabama and Georgia was particularly extensive because the storm hit at peak harvest time for many crops. Georgia was the worst hit, with an estimated $4 billion in agricultural losses. These losses included $1 billion in the loss of pine plantations and another $500 million in losses to pecan production and the loss of many orchards that were flattened by the strong winds. Cotton production in many fields was a complete loss, as the fields had already been defoliated for harvest and were swept clean by the high winds. Losses in Alabama were estimated at $204 million, led by losses in cotton at $108 million. Florida's agricultural losses were estimated at $1 to 2 billion, including the loss of over 3 million acres of timber valued at $1.3 billion and crop losses of $158 million. Cotton along the path of the storm in Florida was considered nearly a total loss. Peanuts fared better than other crops since they were still in the ground in many fields. However, farmers were concerned about loss from over-mature plants, since the peanuts are more likely to separate from the plants when over-ripe. Another concern was the loss of storage for the peanuts, since many peanut facilities were destroyed by Hurricane Michael, leaving a shortage in grading and storage sheds. The total economic impact from the storm is likely to be much higher than the direct costs listed here, since many farmers lost their entire crops and, in some cases, houses and barns, and those farmers may be forced to stop farming after the total loss of their livelihood.
- 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 was cool and wet for the majority of the High Plains. Below-normal temperatures were most evident across the Dakotas, while the wettest areas could be found in Kansas and eastern Colorado. Most of the region had experienced its first fall freeze by the end of the month, ending the growing season. The first snowfall of the season came early for several areas in the eastern part of the region, including Wichita, Kansas, which had its earliest snowfall on record, and areas of eastern North Dakota, where more than a foot of snow fell. These cool and wet conditions relieved drought and improved soil moisture conditions throughout the Dakotas, Kansas, and Colorado. While it did not help crops that were already being harvested, the rains were beneficial for the emerging winter wheat crop in Colorado, and it helped improve streamflow conditions across the state. However, October conditions caused a variety of issues. For instance, harvest was delayed due to excessively wet conditions, and some crop disease issues were reported. Additionally, the first fall freeze came early in parts of Kansas, causing damage to sorghum.
- Overall, corn and soybeans did quite well in the High Plains this season thanks to generally favorable weather conditions. Luckily, the rapid maturation of crops limited freeze damage across the region this year. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has predicted record high corn and soybean yields for Nebraska and South Dakota. However, corn and soybean harvest were both behind due to cool and wet weather in October. According to the October 30th U.S Department of Agriculture Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin, corn harvest was 8-9 percent behind the 5-year average in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. However, soybean harvest was even further behind, with North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska ranging from 14-17 percent behind the 5-year average while Kansas was 28 percent behind. Warmer, drier weather is needed to aid in the drying down of crops and wet soils so that producers can get back into the fields to complete harvest.
- October was cool throughout the High Plains with temperature departures generally ranging from 2.0-5.0 degrees F (1.1-2.8 degrees C) below normal. Departures greater than 5.0 degrees F (2.8 degrees C) below normal could be found across eastern North Dakota. Several locations in the Dakotas broke the top 10 for coldest October on record. The only exception to the cool conditions found in the region was central Colorado, where temperatures were slightly above normal.
- The first half of the month was particularly cold across the Northern Plains, largely contributing to the temperature records previously mentioned. Aberdeen, South Dakota, Fargo, North Dakota, and Grand Forks, North Dakota had their coldest first half of October (October 1-15) on record. It got especially cold in Grand Forks, as the temperature dipped down to a chilly 9.0 degrees F (-12.8 degrees C) on the 12th. This was the earliest single-digit temperature on record for the season in Grand Forks.
- By the end of October, nearly all of the High Plains region had experienced its first fall freeze of the season. For the most part, the freeze occurred near the expected dates based on climatology. However, the freeze came a bit early for parts of Kansas. In fact, more than half the state experienced a hard freeze (28.0 degrees F (-2.2 degrees C)) in mid-October, which was 7-14 days earlier than expected. Damage to sorghum in Kansas was reported due to a number of factors. For instance, wet conditions during the spring delayed planting in some areas, which delayed crop development. Then, wet conditions during the fall delayed harvest, leaving the crop vulnerable to freezing temperatures.
- Most of the High Plains experienced a wet October, with precipitation ranging from 125-300 percent of normal throughout the eastern Dakotas, much of Nebraska and Kansas, and eastern Colorado. The wettest areas included Kansas and eastern Colorado where several locations ranked in the top 5 of wettest Octobers. For instance, Dodge City, Kansas had its wettest October on record, receiving 6.45 inches (164 mm) and crushing the old record of 5.00 inches (127 mm) set in 2008. Not all areas of the region were wet in October, however. It was dry across the western Dakotas, the Nebraska Panhandle, and portions of Wyoming, with some areas receiving less than 50 percent of normal precipitation.
- Eastern parts of the region got an early taste of winter in October, as a couple of storm systems brought accumulating snowfall to areas as far south as southern Kansas. Grand Forks, North Dakota received 6.6 inches (17 cm) of snow out of a system that passed through on the 10th-11th. However, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks, the Grand Forks Air Force Base received an astounding 19.2 inches (49 cm) of snow! On the 14th, a system brought snow to parts of Nebraska and Kansas. While snowfall amounts were not particularly high, it was still enough to break records. The following locations broke the top 10 for snowiest October: Grand Forks, ND (2nd snowiest); Lincoln, NE (3rd snowiest); Wichita, KS (4th snowiest); Topeka, KS (9th snowiest); and Concordia, KS (10th snowiest). It was also quite early for snow in some places. In fact, Wichita, Kansas had its earliest measurable snow on record on the 14th with 0.7 inches (2 cm). Across the region, the snows brought down tree limbs, as many trees still had leaves on them, and it brought an early end to the gardening and growing season.
- The wet conditions resulted in several impacts to agriculture. For instance, heavy rains caused flooding in fields that had not yet been harvested, and wet soils made it difficult for producers to get into the fields. Flooded wheat fields in Kansas had producers contemplating whether they would need to be replanted. The sprouting and shattering of soybeans, as well as soybeans dropping pods, was reported in Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota, and corn mold was reported in Nebraska. However, the abundant rainfall significantly improved drought conditions across the region, and with the growing season ending, excess moisture could soak into the ground and recharge soil moisture.
- Heavy rains in October led to much above normal streamflows in the eastern High Plains. Streamflows were highest across southern South Dakota, eastern Nebraska, and western and central Kansas where October precipitation exceeded 300 percent of normal in some locations. In fact, above-normal precipitation and runoff across Kansas and Missouri prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce releases from Gavins Point Dam and Fort Randall Dam until the water had subsided to avoid contributing to high flows and flooding. Farther west in Colorado, the water year got off to a good start with snowfall in the mountains and soaking rains across the Eastern Plains of Colorado. October precipitation was above normal for most of the state. However, while streamflows did improve slightly, much of western Colorado's streams were still running low for this time of year.
- Heavy rains in October brought improvements in drought conditions across the High Plains region. The area experiencing drought or abnormal dryness (D0-D4) decreased from 48 percent to 37 percent over the course of the month, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
- The greatest improvements occurred across eastern Kansas where some areas saw a 3-category improvement - primarily from extreme drought (D3) to abnormally dry conditions (D0). This area received approximately 200-300 percent of normal precipitation during October, which was very beneficial for recharging soil moisture before the winter season. The small area of exceptional drought (D4) was eliminated, and by the end of the month, only small pockets of moderate drought (D1) remained.
- Colorado also received much-needed relief from drought conditions. Several snows occurred in the mountains to start off the water year with ample precipitation, resulting in the reduction of area in D3 or D4. Meanwhile, heavy rains fell across the Eastern Plains of Colorado, improving conditions in a large area experiencing severe drought (D2). The rainfall greatly benefited recently-planted winter wheat.
- Conditions improved throughout portions of the Dakotas as well, as D2 and D3 were eliminated in South Dakota and North Dakota, respectively. Improvements in soil moisture and ground and surface water conditions were reported.
- For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
- Temperatures for the month of October varied spatially throughout the Southern Region, but generally exhibited a pattern with warmer temperatures in the eastern half of the region and cooler temperatures in the western half of the region. Parts of west-central and extreme western Texas experienced temperatures 4 to 6 degrees F (2.22 to 3.33 degrees C) below normal. Parts of southern, southwestern, western, central, and northern Texas as well as extreme western, western, and southwestern Oklahoma experienced temperatures 2 to 4 degrees F (1.11 to 2.22 degrees C) below normal. Most of Louisiana and Mississippi, parts of eastern and southeastern Texas, southern, western, central, and eastern Tennessee, and parts of southern, eastern, central, and northwestern Arkansas experienced temperatures 2 to 4 degrees F (1.11 to 2.22 degrees C) above normal. Parts of southern Arkansas, northwestern and southeastern Louisiana, and southern and eastern Mississippi experienced temperatures 4 to 6 degrees F (2.22 to 3.33 degrees C) above normal. Parts of southeastern Louisiana experienced temperatures 6 to 8 degrees F (3.33 to 4.44 degrees C) above normal. The statewide monthly average temperatures were as follows: Arkansas—62.50 degrees F (16.94 degrees C), Louisiana—70.70 degrees F (21.50 degrees C), Mississippi—67.30 degrees F (19.61 degrees C), Oklahoma—60.30 degrees F (15.72 degrees C), Tennessee—60.80 degrees F (16.00 degrees C), and Texas—65.40 degrees F (18.56 degrees C). The statewide temperature rankings for October were as follows: Arkansas (forty-eighth warmest), Louisiana (fourteenth warmest), Mississippi (twenty-first warmest), Oklahoma (thirty-fourth coldest), Tennessee (thirtieth warmest), and Texas (forty-first coldest). All state rankings are based on the period spanning 1895-2018.
- Precipitation values for the month of October varied spatially across the Southern Region. Parts of southern Texas and west-central Mississippi received 25 percent or less of normal precipitation. Parts of southern, western, and extreme western Texas, northeastern Arkansas, central and southeastern Louisiana, northeastern and northwestern Tennessee, and central, southwestern, and northern Mississippi received 50 percent or less of normal precipitation. In contrast, parts of eastern and northern Tennessee, southern Mississippi, central, eastern, and northwestern Arkansas, southern, southeastern, and northwestern Louisiana, southeastern, southern, northern, and central Oklahoma, and eastern, southern, northern, and western Texas received 150 percent or more of normal precipitation. Parts of southern and southeastern Louisiana, southern Mississippi, northwestern Arkansas, southern, northern, western, and extreme western Oklahoma, and eastern, southern, western, central, and northern Texas received 200 percent or more of normal precipitation. Parts of western and extreme western Oklahoma as well as central, northern, western, and part of eastern Texas received 300 percent or more of normal precipitation. The state-wide precipitation totals for the month were as follows: Arkansas—5.03 inches (127.76 mm), Louisiana—5.07 inches (128.78 mm), Mississippi—2.46 inches (62.48 mm), Oklahoma—6.64 inches (168.66 mm), Tennessee—3.42 inches (86.87 mm), and Texas—6.86 inches (174.24 mm). The state precipitation rankings for October were as follows: Arkansas (twenty-fifth wettest), Louisiana (twenty-second wettest), Mississippi (fifty-ninth driest), Oklahoma (seventh wettest), Tennessee (forty-seventh wettest), and Texas (first wettest). This was the second consecutive month where Texas recorded its wettest month on record and the third consecutive month where a state in the Southern Region reported a top-10 wettest month. All state rankings are based on the period spanning 1895-2018.
- At the end of October, drought conditions continued to improve across the Southern Region. Extreme drought classifications were no longer present in the region, a change from the beginning of the month. Severe drought classifications were present across extreme western Texas, while moderate drought classifications were present in parts of extreme western and northern Texas as well as northeastern Oklahoma. There were no drought conditions in Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas; however, there were some small patches of abnormally dry conditions.
- In October, there were a total of 231 storm reports across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. There were 62 tornado reports, 20 hail reports, and 149 wind reports. Mississippi tallied the most wind reports (52) while Texas tallied the most tornado (21) and hail (17) reports. Texas tallied the most reports total (78) while Tennessee tallied the least (0).
- On October 4, 2018, a wind gust of 71 mph (114.26 kph) was reported near Plains, Texas.
- On October 5, 2018, a wind gust of 61 mph (98.17 kph) was reported near White River Lake, Texas.
- On October 6, 2018, a wind gust of 73 mph (117.48 kph) was reported in Grove, Oklahoma.
- On October 7, 2018, there were 6 tornado reports, with 4 reports in Oklahoma and 2 reports in Texas. No injuries were reported.
- On October 8, 2018, a wind gust of 72 mph (115.87 kph) was reported near Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. Also, a tornado briefly touched down in an open field near McCamey, Texas.
- On October 9, 2018, several tornadoes were reported across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Cars were overturned and roof and structural damage was reported, but no injuries were reported.
- On October 12, 2018, a wind gust of 69 mph (111.05 kph) was reported near McCamey, Texas.
- On October 13, 2018, there were 8 tornado reports in Texas. Two EF-0 tornadoes were confirmed, one near Brady, Texas and the other near Beckville, Texas. No injuries were reported.
- On October 14, 2018, lemon and baseball sized hail was reported near Hatchel, Texas.
- On October 31, 2018, there were 7 tornado reports and 75 wind reports across Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. One person was killed and two were injured after a tree fell on a car near Port Gibson, Mississippi. A tree fell on a mobile home near Bogalusa, Louisiana, trapping residents inside, while trees were reported to have fallen on a mobile home near Baton Rouge, Louisiana and on a house near New Orleans, Louisiana. A wind gust of 65 mph (104.61 kph) was reported in Biloxi, Mississippi, while a wind gust of 62 mph (99.78 kph) was reported at Eugene Island, Louisiana. A wind report near Garden Ridge, Texas indicated winds were strong enough to snap a large, live oak tree at the trunk.
- For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)
- Much of the Southwest observed well above normal precipitation this month in association with remnant moisture from decaying tropical systems. October temperatures averaged to within a few degrees of normal across the West.
- At the beginning of the month, remnant moisture from former Hurricane Rosa streamed into the Four Corners states, setting precipitation records in some cases. This moisture interacted with an upper level low-pressure system to produce abundant precipitation. Mid-month, similar conditions occurred with remnant moisture from former Hurricane Sergio. Phoenix, Arizona, recorded its wettest October day on record at 2.36 in (60 mm) on October 2nd. Phoenix accumulated 5.35 in (136 mm) of precipitation in October, the wettest October on record and the second wettest month of all time. Records for Phoenix begin in 1933. To the northwest, Grand Junction, Colorado, logged 2.76 in (70 mm) of precipitation, 260% of normal and the fourth wettest October since records began in 1900. Following a fairly dry first half of the month, an atmospheric river impacted the Pacific Northwest during the last week of the month, helping to bring precipitation totals near to slightly above normal in parts of Washington, Idaho, and northern Oregon. Wenatchee, Washington, recorded 1.33 in (34 mm) of precipitation, 235% of normal. This month's precipitation brought widespread improvement of drought conditions to Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah in the US Drought Monitor. Improvements were also seen in small areas of western Washington, central Idaho, and western Montana.
- During the first month of what is typically considered the wet season, precipitation was below 75% of normal across southern Oregon, western Nevada, and much of California. San Francisco, California, reported only 0.21 in (5 mm) of rainfall, 19% of normal. In San Francisco's 170-year record, fourteen Octobers have no measurable rainfall. Further north, Sisters, in central Oregon, reported 0.14 in (4 mm), 13% of normal. Drought conditions persisted, but did not worsen in these areas in the US Drought Monitor.
- Many western locations saw below normal temperatures during the first half of the month followed by above normal temperatures in the latter half of the month, averaging to near normal for October. A few coastal areas of California and Oregon were several degrees above normal. In southern California, Camarillo observed an average temperature of 67.2 F (19.6 C), 4.1 F (2.3 C) above normal and the 5th warmest October since records began in 1952. Scattered locations were several degrees cooler than normal. Ajo, Arizona, recorded an average temperature of 72.1 F (22.3 C), 4.5 F (2.5 C) below normal.
- Unseasonably mild weather was observed across Alaska this month; several locations reported their warmest October on record. Among record-setting locations was Nome, in western Alaska, which observed an average temperature of 38.4 F (3.6 C), 9.7 F (5.4 C) above normal. A record was also set in southeastern Alaska; temperatures in Yakutat averaged to 46.5 F (8.1 C), 5.5 F (13.1 C) above normal. Records for Nome began in 1900 and Yakutat in 1917. Precipitation was variable across the state, with locations in the Southcentral region experiencing above normal precipitation while many Interior locations reported below normal precipitation. Dry conditions continued in Southeastern Alaska; Ketchikan recorded 11.58 in (294 mm), 60% of normal. Below normal precipitation continues to impact hydropower generation in this area. Further south, precipitation was above normal across Hawaii due to several storms impacting the state during the course of the month. On Big Island, Hilo recorded 18.23 in (463 mm), 187% of normal and the 5th wettest October since records began in 1949. On the windward side of Oahu, a station on Waihee Stream observed 14.01 in (356 mm), 204% of normal. Landslides on Maui and Oahu occurred in the later part of the month, causing damage to roads and travel impacts. Recent wet weather has made it difficult for farmers in Hawaii to produce healthy crops.
- October 1-3: Thunderstorms associated with remnants of Hurricane Rosa cause flooding, damage in Arizona: At least two people died in Arizona due to flash flooding associated this storm. Floodwaters threatened the failure of an earthen dam in southern Arizona, which would have inundated the village of Ali Chuk. A 30-ft section of Highway 89 near Cameron, Arizona collapsed, resulting in one death. The collapse prompted the Navajo Nation to declare a state of emergency, as the highway serves several of its communities.
- Early October: Hurricane Walaka impacts Northwestern Hawaiian Islands: Category 5 Hurricane Walaka resulted in the submersion of a small, uninhabited sandy island known as East Island. The area is part of Papah'naumoku'kea Marine National Monument and serves as a refuge for endangered species.
- For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.
Citing This Report
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: National Climate Report for October 2018, published online November 2018, retrieved on December 15, 2018 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/201810.