National Climate Report - Annual 2019
Issued 14 January 2020: Unless otherwise noted, temperature and precipitation rankings refer to a 125-year period of record (1895-2019), and long-term average refers to the 20th century (1901-2000) value. Data for 2019 should be considered preliminary. The most up-to-date temperature and precipitation data is available through Climate at a Glance.
Temperature and Precipitation Analysis
Based on preliminary analysis, the average annual temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 52.7°F, 0.7°F above the 20th century average. This ranked in the warmest third of the 125-year record and was the coldest year since 2014. Below-average temperatures, particularly daytime temperatures, were observed across the northern Plains, while above-average to record-warm overnight temperatures dominated across the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic.
Parts of the West, South, and much of the Southeast, Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast experienced above- to much-above-average temperatures during 2019. Georgia and North Carolina ranked record warmest while Florida, South Carolina and Virginia each had their second warmest year on record. Below-average temperatures were observed across the northern Plains with South Dakota ranking 12th coldest for the January-December period.
The nationally averaged maximum temperature (daytime highs) was near average for 2019 at 64.1°F, 0.1°F above average, ranking as the middle third of the 125-year record and the coolest daytime high temperatures for any year since 1997. Parts of the Northern Rockies and Plains and western Great Lakes were below-average for the year with South Dakota tying with 1996 as second coldest. Only the daytime temperatures of 1951 were colder. Much of the South, Southeast, Mid Atlantic and parts of the Northeast were above-to much-above average during 2019.
The nationally averaged minimum temperature (overnight lows) during 2019 was 41.2°F, 1.2°F above average and ranked in the warmest third of the 125-year record. Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina each ranked warmest on record with eleven additional states' minimum temperatures ranking among their warmest 10 years on record.
Influenced by warm ocean temperatures, many locations across Hawaii experienced a near-record- to record-warm year in 2019. Kahului and Lihue were record warm, while Honolulu tied with 1995 for warmest year on record.
The contiguous U.S. average annual precipitation was 34.78 inches, which is 4.84 inches above the long-term average, the second wettest year on record and 0.18 inch less than the total for the wettest year set in 1973*. Record precipitation fell across the northern Plains, Great Lakes and portions of the central Plains. Ten of the last twelve 12-month periods were record wet with the top seven all-time wettest 12-month periods occurring during 2019.
Above-average annual precipitation was observed across much of the nation. North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan each had their wettest year on record during 2019, with much of the central U.S., Northeast and parts of the West experiencing above- to much-above-average precipitation. Below-average precipitation fell across the state of Washington, which had its ninth driest year on record. It was also dry to much drier than average across parts of southern Texas and the Gulf of Mexico coast.
According to the December 31 U.S. Drought Monitor, released on January 2, approximately 11 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought. In April, the drought footprint across the contiguous U.S. was the lowest in the 20-year USDM history at 2.3 percent coverage. By the end of 2019, drought was entrenched across the Southwest, Texas, the Pacific Northwest and across portions of the Alaskan Panhandle, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. During March, California was drought-free for the first time since December 2011.
Alaska Annual Summary
Despite a more seasonable December across much of the state, Alaska had its warmest year on record with a statewide average temperature of 32.2°F, 6.2°F above the long-term average and the first annual average temperature on record at or warmer than freezing (32°F). This surpassed the previous record of 31.9°F in 2016. Four of the last six years across Alaska have been record warm for the state. Utqiaġvik, Kotzebue, King Salmon, Fairbanks, Bethel, Anchorage, Northway, McGrath, Kodiak and Cold Bay each experienced their warmest year on record. Record to near-record warmth occurred across northern and central parts of the state with the most mild, yet above-average, temperatures confined to the western Aleutians and eastern Panhandle. Bettles had its second highest annual snowfall with 140 inches for the year. In July, Anchorage reported its first 90°F temperature on record.
Precipitation received across Alaska during 2019 was variable by region with the northeastern, northern, western and southwestern portions of the state receiving above average precipitation. Much of the Northeast Gulf and Panhandle regions experienced below average precipitation for the year, which contributed to extreme drought conditions, especially during the summer and into the autumn months. Precipitation received across the Panhandle during October helped to eliminate the severe and extreme drought which had been in place for much of the year.
Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters
In 2019, there were 14 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States: three inland flooding events, eight severe storm events, two tropical cyclone events (Dorian and Imelda) and one wildfire event.
- 2019 experienced an above-average year of costs ($45.0 billion) as the 40-year (1980-2019) annual cost average is $43.9 billion (inflation-adjusted).
- The combined cost of the Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi river flooding ($20.0 billion) was almost half of the U.S. cost total in 2019.
- The U.S. inland flooding in 2019 is another year of multiple billion-dollar inland floods. This continues a trend of an increasing number of billion-dollar inland flood events during the 2010s.
- The total cost of U.S. billion-dollar disasters over the last five years (2015-2019) exceeds $525 billion, with a five-year annual cost average of $106.3 billion (CPI-adjusted), both of which are records.
- The U.S. billion-dollar disaster damage costs over the last decade (2010-2019) were also historically large — exceeding $800 billion from 119 separate billion-dollar events.
- Even after adjusting for inflation, the U.S. experienced more than twice the number of billion-dollar disasters during the 2010s (119) when compared to the 2000s (59).
- The U.S. has sustained 258 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2020). The total, direct cost of these 258 events exceeds $1.75 trillion. The total direct losses over the last decade (2010-2019) were historically large and frequent: $802.0 billion in damage from 119 separate billion-dollar events.
Other Notable Extremes
- During mid-March, a "bomb cyclone" developed in the central U.S. bringing snow, blizzard conditions, heavy rainfall and above-freezing temperatures across parts of the interior U.S., which already had significant snowpack on the ground from the winter of 2018-2019. This resulted in widespread flash flooding due to the combination of new rainfall, rapidly melting snow and frozen ground. A state of emergency was declared for parts of Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin as the Missouri, Platte and Mississippi rivers breached their banks. Flooding continued well into July along the Missouri, Mississippi, Platte and Arkansas rivers due to ongoing heavy rainfall. Many crops were adversely impacted by these wet conditions during 2019.
- Several large-scale flooding events impacted the nation during 2019 including the rainfall associated with Tropical Storm Imelda in September across southeast Texas and southwestern Louisiana. More than 40 inches of rain fell in Jefferson County, Texas, over a five-day period. Slow-moving Hurricane Barry brought flash flooding to Louisiana and Arkansas in July. Dierks, Arkansas, reported 16.59 inches of rainfall, which is a new record for rain from a tropical cyclone across the state.
- Hurricane Dorian made landfall at Hatteras, North Carolina, on September 6 as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds estimated near 90 mph. The storm grazed the East Coast from central Florida to the Outer Banks and continued on a path that eventually made landfall in Nova Scotia with 100 mph sustained winds. Earlier in the month, Dorian slammed the Bahamas with Category 5 winds. Dorian's 185-mph landfalling wind speed in the Bahamas ties with the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 as the strongest landfalling Atlantic hurricane on record.
- Several large and dangerous wildfires impacted parts of north-central and southern California during October and November. The Kincade Fire, located in Sonoma County, California, burned through nearly 78,000 acres and destroyed approximately 350 structures. The Tick, Saddle Ridge and Getty fires in southern California consumed more than 14,000 acres as well as 60 structures. The Easy Fire, also located in southern California, consumed more than 1,800 acres by the beginning of November. These large and dangerous fires were fanned by powerful winds, with some gusts topping 100 mph in the Sierra Nevada range. Across southern California, unusually strong Santa Ana winds made it difficult for fire crews to keep these fires from spreading. For 2019, wildfire activity across the U.S. was below average with 4.6 million acres consumed — the sixth lowest area consumed and the second fewest number of fires in the last 20 years. Wildfires across Alaska consumed 2.68 million acres in 2019, ranking sixth highest in the past 50 years.
- The 2019 Hurricane Season was above normal, particularly in terms of the number of named storms (18 with winds ≥ 39 mph) and accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) about 25 percent above the 1981-2010 mean. Many of the storms were weak, short-lived, and higher-latitude than normal: Only eight of the 18 storms lasted more than 72 hours, and seven of them lasted 24 hours or less. Meanwhile, the two Category 5 storms (Dorian and Lorenzo) were each exceptionally long-lived. These two storms accounted for more than 60 percent of 2019's ACE, or about 75 percent of the ACE observed in an average season. Dorian's winds were among the strongest of any Atlantic hurricane in history before it made landfall in the Bahamas as a Category 5 storm and stalled for more than 24 hours. Lorenzo, on the other hand, was noteworthy for being the farthest east Category 5 storm in history.
- The Northern Tier of the U.S. received above-average snowfall during the 2018-2019 snow season. In Caribou, Maine, it was the snowiest January on record (59.8 inches). Caribou also broke another record for the most consecutive days with at least one inch of snow on the ground (163 days from November 10, 2018-April 21, 2019). Record snowfall and cold temperatures occurred from Washington state to Wisconsin in February with Eau Claire, Wisconsin, reporting its all-time snowiest month (53.7 inches).
- 2019 was a top-5 year across the contiguous U.S. with over 1,500 tornadoes reported. The most active day in 2019 for tornadoes was May 27 with over 77 confirmed tornadoes from Colorado to Ohio. There were 70 confirmed tornadoes during a March 3 outbreak across Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. March 3 was also the deadliest day in 2019 for tornadoes with 23 fatalities in Alabama from one EF-4 tornado. There were no EF-5 tornadoes reported during 2019.
- The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for 2019 was 14 percent above average and ranked in the upper third of the 110-year record. Warm extremes across the Southeast, cold extremes in the central U.S. and wet conditions throughout the year from the central U.S. to the East Coast contributed to this elevated USCEI value. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (falling in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation, drought and landfalling tropical cyclones across the contiguous U.S.
For additional details regarding these highlights, please see the following pages:
*Temperature and precipitation values and ranks are based on preliminary data. Additional data received and processed after the release of this summary may result in small differences for annual values and ranks.
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 fifth year in a row, the Northeast's annual average temperature was warmer than normal. In fact, 2019 ranked as the region's 20th warmest year on record with an average temperature of 47.7 degrees F (8.7 degrees C), 0.5 degrees F (0.3 degrees C) above normal. State departures ranged from 0.6 degrees F (0.3 degrees C) below normal in Maine and Vermont to 2.1 degrees F (1.2 degrees C) above normal in Delaware. For eight states, 2019 ranked among the 20 hottest years on record: Delaware, third warmest; Maryland and West Virginia, fourth warmest; New Jersey, 10th warmest; Pennsylvania, 16th warmest; Connecticut, 17th warmest; Rhode Island, 18th warmest; Massachusetts, 19th warmest. In addition, 2019 was the warmest year on record for Elkins, West Virginia. July featured record-setting heat at sites across the Northeast. July 2019 became the all-time hottest month on record for Boston, Massachusetts; Hartford, Connecticut; and Portland, Maine. Both maximum and minimum temperatures were extremely warm. Hartford and Bridgeport, Connecticut, had their highest average maximum temperature for any month on record. In addition, Hartford had 19 days with a maximum temperature of 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) or higher in July, the site's most for any month on record. Boston and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, had their highest average minimum temperature for any month on record. Also, Boston and Scranton, Pennsylvania, had their greatest number of days with a minimum temperature of 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) or higher for any month on record at 17 days and 10 days, respectively. Boston tied its all-time highest minimum temperature on record (since 1872) with a low of 83 degrees F (28 degrees C) on July 21. Additionally, the low of 78 degrees F (26 degrees C) in Providence, Rhode Island, on the 21st tied as the highest minimum temperature for July on record (since 1904). Maximum temperatures were particularly hot in West Virginia during September. West Virginia's mean maximum temperature for September was 7.9 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) above normal, its hottest on record. Beckley had its warmest September on record, while Elkins had its highest average maximum temperature for September. Both locations did not have a colder-than-normal day during the month. In addition, Elkins and Huntington each had their greatest number of September days with a high of at least 80 degrees F (27 degrees C). The start of October also featured record-setting heat. On October 1, five major climate sites (Erie and Harrisburg in Pennsylvania and Huntington, Beckley, and Elkins in West Virginia) had their hottest October day on record, with maximum temperatures up to 95 degrees F (35 degrees C). It was the first time on record that Beckley and Elkins recorded a maximum temperature of at least 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) during the month of October. Minimum temperatures ranked as the hottest on record for October in Erie and Beckley. The following day, on October 2, maximum temperatures approached 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) in some locations, with ten major climate sites having their hottest October day on record. Then on October 3, Huntington, Beckley, and Elkins tied their record high temperatures for the month of October which were just set two days prior on October 1. It was also the latest day in the calendar year that Beckley and Elkins recorded a high of at least 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). Both sites recorded two days with a maximum temperature of at least 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) in October for the first time on record. For Huntington, Beckley, and Elkins, October 1- 3 of 2019 rank as the three hottest October days on record. In the early morning hours of November 1, the temperature in Caribou, Maine, reached 68 degrees F (20 degrees C), tying the site's hottest November temperature on record. On November 17, Caribou had its earliest below-zero temperature with a low of -1 degree F (-18 degrees C). The following day, on November 18, Caribou had a low of 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C), and those back-to-back days were the earliest consecutive days of 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C) or colder on record.
- The Northeast had its 11th wettest year on record with 49.34 inches (125.32 cm) of precipitation, which was 111 percent of normal. Only Delaware and Maryland were drier than normal with 95 percent of normal and 98 percent of normal precipitation, respectively. For the remaining states, precipitation ranged from 105 percent of normal in New Hampshire to 117 percent of normal in Pennsylvania. 2019 ranked among the 20 wettest years on record for seven states: Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, seventh wettest; New York, ninth wettest; Vermont, 12th wettest; Maine, 15th wettest; Massachusetts, 16th wettest; New Jersey, 17th wettest. Dulles Airport, Virginia, received 2.69 inches (68.3 mm) of rain on March 21, making it the site's wettest March day on record (since 1960). Eleven major climate sites had their greatest number of April days with measurable precipitation. Of those sites, Islip, New York, had the most with 22 days. Islip also had three days with a trace of rain, leaving only five April days without any precipitation. It was also persistently wet during May. Hartford, Connecticut, and Islip and Kennedy Airport, New York, set/tied their greatest number of consecutive days with measurable precipitation. For instance, Islip's streak was 18 days long, from April 20 to May 7. In addition, seven major climate sites had their greatest number of May days with measurable precipitation. For Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Kennedy Airport it was the greatest number for any month on record with 21 days. The number of wet days piled up in April and May so that Providence, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; and Islip, New York, had their greatest number of spring days with measurable precipitation. September was extremely dry in many parts of the Northeast, particularly West Virginia. The state had its driest September on record at 20 percent of normal precipitation. September 2019 became the all-time driest month on record for Beckley, West Virginia, and the driest September on record for Huntington, West Virginia. There was only one day with measurable precipitation [0.01 inches (0.25 mm)] during September in Huntington, with the site having its longest streak of days with less than or equal to 0.01 inches (0.25 mm) of precipitation at 38 days from August 28 through October 5, 2019. In addition, Islip, New York, also had its driest September on record. October was a wet month for the Northeast, with Burlington, Vermont, having its wettest October on record. Kennedy Airport, New York, had its wettest December on record.
- The U.S. Drought Monitor from January 1, 2019, showed 3 percent of the Northeast as abnormally dry. Above-normal precipitation allowed abnormally dry conditions to ease in northern New York in early January and in northern Vermont and northern Maine later in the month. The January 22 U.S. Drought Monitor showed the Northeast was free of drought and abnormal dryness for the first time since June 6, 2017. Abnormal dryness was introduced by mid-April in western New York and central West Virginia due to below-normal precipitation and low streamflow. The U.S. Drought Monitor released on April 11 showed 3 percent of the Northeast as abnormally dry. Enough precipitation fell during the following two weeks that by the end of April the region was once again free of abnormal dryness. In mid-July, short-term precipitation deficits led to declining streamflow and soil moisture and the introduction of abnormal dryness in a small area in northwestern Connecticut, southwestern Massachusetts, and eastern New York. The U.S. Drought Monitor released on July 18 showed 1 percent of the Northeast as abnormally dry. The following week, these areas received enough rain to ease abnormal dryness. In early August, abnormal dryness was introduced in parts of New York, New England, and West Virginia, totaling 3 percent of the Northeast according to the U.S. Drought Monitor released on August 8. During the month, abnormal dryness was introduced in Maryland and lingered or expanded elsewhere, with the U.S. Drought Monitor released on August 29 showing 14 percent of the Northeast as abnormally dry. There was brief improvement in early September, but conditions deteriorated rapidly. Below-normal precipitation, above-normal temperatures in southern areas, declining streamflow, and stressed vegetation led to the expansion of abnormal dryness and introduction of moderate drought in the region as September progressed. By month's end, every Northeast state had areas of dryness, with moderate drought in West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The U.S. Drought Monitor released on September 26 showed 7 percent of the region was in a moderate drought and 43 percent was abnormally dry. During the first half of October, a few locations saw improvement but for a majority of the Northeast conditions deteriorated, with the expansion of moderate drought and abnormal dryness, as well as the introduction of severe drought in parts of Maryland and Delaware. Drought conditions peaked in mid-October, with the U.S. Drought Monitor released on October 17 showing 12 percent of the region in a moderate or severe drought and 39 percent of the region as abnormally dry. Several rounds of rain from mid- to late October allowed conditions to improve so that by month's end the Northeast was once again free of drought. However, 30 percent of the region remained abnormally dry. While conditions continued to improve during November, pockets of abnormal dryness lingered in Maryland, Delaware, southern Pennsylvania, and southern New Jersey through the month. The U.S. Drought Monitor released on November 27 showed 2 percent of the region as abnormally dry. During December, conditions continued to improve for most areas; however, a small area of abnormal dryness lingered in eastern Maryland and southern Delaware through month's end. The U.S. Drought Monitor released on December 26 showed less than 1 percent of the Northeast was abnormally dry. There were several impacts from the drought in September and October. Streamflow was unusually low in many drought-affected areas of West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. Due to the drought, some West Virginia farmers fed hay to livestock earlier than usual because of poor pasture conditions and hauled in water for livestock because of dried-up water supplies. For the week ending October 6, the USDA crop report indicated topsoil moisture was rated short or very short for all of Delaware and 97 percent of Maryland, while subsoil moisture was rated short or very short for all of Delaware and 94 percent of Maryland. While the dry conditions contributed to lower soybean yields in parts of those states, particularly in fields that were not irrigated, it also allowed for a quick corn harvest, especially in Maryland. For example, 72 percent of Maryland's corn had been harvested for grain (week ending October 6) compared to the five-year average of 39 percent. For the week ending October 13, the USDA crop report indicated that half of Delaware's pastures were in poor condition. The dry conditions affected fall foliage in drought areas, contributing to muted colors in some areas and, in several cases, causing leaves to turn brown and drop before changing color. The fall fire season started earlier than usual, with several areas enacting burn bans. For instance, West Virginia had a statewide burn ban in effect from mid-September through early October. A State of Emergency was also in place in West Virginia from early October through early November. The state's drought plan was to be implemented and residents were asked to conserve water. As of October 15, the salt line on the Delaware River was 11 miles farther upstream than usual for October due to little rain and less runoff flowing downstream.
- 2019 was an interesting year for the Northeast in terms of tornadoes. It kicked off on January 8 with Mercer County, Pennsylvania, having its first January tornado on record (since 1950) with an EF-1 that snapped and uprooted trees. April was an unusually active month for tornadoes. From April 14 to 15, thirteen tornadoes touched down: nine in Pennsylvania (two EF-2s, three EF-1s, and four EF-0s), two in Delaware (EF-2 and EF-1), and one each in New York (EF-1) and Maryland (EF-0). These were the first April tornadoes in Delaware in over 25 years. This tornado outbreak was also unusual because many of the tornadoes occurred in the early morning. A few days later on April 19, five tornadoes (two EF-2s and three EF-1s) moved through south-central Pennsylvania, with Fulton County having its first April tornado. Hundreds of trees were snapped or downed, and numerous homes and buildings were damaged. On April 26, an EF-1 tornado touched down in Maryland. During April, Pennsylvania saw 14 tornadoes, seven times the state's April (1989-2013) average of two and the greatest number of April tornadoes since records began in 1950. May was another unusually active month for tornadoes. Pennsylvania had 16 tornadoes, more than five times the May average of three and more than the state typically sees annually (15). There were also three tornadoes in Maryland and one in New Jersey, which was above average for both states. Pennsylvania's spring tornado count was 30, which was six times greater than the spring average and double the state's annual average. The Northeast averages 10 tornadoes in June, making it the second most active month behind July. However, the region saw only seven tornadoes this June: three in Pennsylvania, two in New Jersey, and one each in Maryland and West Virginia. The January through June tornado count in Pennsylvania was 34, making it one of the most active years for tornadoes on record. Despite frequent thunderstorms in July, there were only five tornadoes, well below the Northeast's average of 13. Two tornadoes, an EF-0 on July 6 and an EF-1 on July 11, caused tree and roof damage in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. On July 23, three EF-1 tornadoes touched down on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, uprooting and snapping more than 150 trees and damaging buildings. There have only been three other tornadoes reported on Cape Cod (Barnstable County), Massachusetts, since records began in 1950, according to NCEI's storm database. August averages five tornadoes but this August there were seven: three EF-0s in New Jersey on August 7, an EF-1 in eastern Maine on August 12, and three EF-1 tornadoes, two in eastern New York and one in southern Vermont, on August 21. On October 2, an EF-0 tornado touched down in Newport County, Rhode Island, making it the county's first tornado on record (since 1950). From October 31 to November 1, a line of severe thunderstorms associated with a powerful storm system produced two tornadoes, an EF-2 in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and an EF-1 in Morris County, New Jersey. Data from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center showed Pennsylvania's 2019 tornado count of 35 made it the second most active year for tornadoes on record behind 1998 which had 59. In addition, with nine tornadoes in New Jersey, 2019 tied as the second most active year for tornadoes in the state since 1950. During the year, severe thunderstorms also produced damaging straight-line winds, flooding rains, and the largest hailstone to fall in West Virginia during April. The storms damaged homes and other buildings, downed numerous trees, led to closed roads, disrupted transportation, and caused power outages.
- Several flash flooding events occurred in the Northeast in 2019. During June, there were several instances of flash flooding due to wet antecedent conditions, near- to above-normal streamflow, saturated soil, and heavy rainfall. One notable period was from June 18 to 21 when some areas, particularly parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, received as much as 3 to 7 inches (76 to 178 mm) of rain. From June 19 to 20, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, had its greatest two-day rainfall total for any June on record with 4.63 inches (117.60 mm). Around 4 inches (102 mm) of that, more than the site averages during all of June, fell within a three-hour period. In response, waterways rose quickly. Preliminary data indicated the North Branch Rancocas Creek at Pemberton, New Jersey, had its second highest crest on record at 4.45 feet (1.36 m). The record crest was 4.91 feet (1.50 m) after Hurricane Irene on August 29, 2011. As water submerged roads and entered homes, there were evacuations and water rescues. Another significant flash flood event happened from June 29 to 30 in western Maryland and eastern West Virginia when some areas received up to 5 inches (127 mm) of rain in just a few hours. Bayard, West Virginia, recorded 4.71 inches (119.63 mm) of rain on June 30, making it their second wettest day on record behind September 19, 2003 with 5.15 inches (130.81 mm). The Baltimore-Washington National Weather Service (NWS) issued a rare Flash Flood Emergency for Bayard. A few miles downstream, preliminary data indicated the North Branch of the Potomac River at Steyer, West Virginia, rose nearly 8 feet (2.4 m) in two hours and reached major flood stage. Storm reports from West Virginia indicated there were evacuations and water rescues, some homes were pushed from their foundations, and roads were closed due to high water, mudslides, or damage. There were several flash flood events once again during July. Extreme rainfall led to significant flash flooding in portions of Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia on July 8. Washington National, D.C., received 3.30 inches (83.82 mm) of rain, nearly a July's worth, in an hour. This event exceeded the 100-year return period, meaning rainfall of that magnitude has a 1 percent chance of occurring in a given year. The greatest 24-hour rain totals across the three-state area approached 5 inches (127 mm). Waterways rose quickly in response to the deluge. For instance, preliminary data shows Seneca Creek at Dawsonville, Maryland, rose more than five feet (1.5 m) in an hour. A rare Flash Flood Emergency was issued by the National Weather Service for Washington, D.C., and a portion of northern Virginia. Another notable event happened on July 11 when downpours caused flash flooding in parts of the region, particularly Pennsylvania and Maryland. CoCoRaHS reports indicated as much as 2.50 inches (63.50 mm) of rain fell in an hour in some areas of Pennsylvania, with the greatest 24-hour totals across the region ranging from 3 to 6 inches (76 to 152 mm). Waterways responded rapidly. For example, a National Weather Service storm report indicated Whitemarsh Run in White Marsh, Maryland, rose over six feet (1.8 m) in an hour. Rising waters prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Flash Flood Emergency for portions of Berks and Montgomery counties in southeastern Pennsylvania. The flooding events throughout July led to numerous roads closures, water entering homes and other buildings, stuck vehicles, and water rescues. From October 31 to November 1, a powerful storm system produced as much as 5 inches (130 mm) of rain, causing several areas to experience flash flooding. Record-high water levels were reached at four stream gauges in New York and one in Vermont. A rare Flash Flood Emergency was declared for Frankfort, New York. In nearby Whitesboro, New York, more than a dozen homes were condemned. And in New Hartford, New York, multiuse trail sustained an estimated $1.5 million in damage. Storm reports from New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Maryland indicated numerous roads were flooded, including portions of major interstates, and there were some water rescues and evacuations.
- Two major wind events occurred in 2019 in the Northeast. On February 24 and 25, wind gusts of up to 88 mph (39 m/s) caused damage across the region. The National Weather Service noted that the Pittsburgh International Airport in Pennsylvania had a wind gust of 61 mph (27 m/s), which was the site's highest non-thunderstorm-related wind gust since the airport was built in 1952. Numerous trees, branches, and wires were downed, leading to road closures and more than 450,000 power outages across the region. Roofs, shingles, and siding were blown off buildings, and poles and signs were knocked down. In some areas, schools were closed. Significant blowing and drifting of snow, with some drifts as high as 10 feet (3 m), made numerous roads impassable in northern Maine. Near Buffalo, New York, lake ice was shoved on shore close to several houses, leading to voluntary evacuations. Lake ice also breached the ice boom at the mouth of the Niagara River, allowing ice to flow down the river and causing some ice jam flooding. Wind-whipped waves contributed to some flooding along Lake Ontario's shoreline. In addition, lake-effect snow and strong winds created blizzard conditions east of Lake Ontario. From October 16 to 17, a rapidly strengthening coastal storm brought strong winds and heavy rain to the region. The storm was so intense that it set new sea level pressure records for the month of October at Boston, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Concord, New Hampshire; and Portland, Maine. The highest wind gusts of 70 mph (30 m/s) or greater occurred in New England, with Provincetown, Massachusetts, recording a gust of 90 mph (40 m/s) on October 17. The powerful winds downed trees, branches, and powerlines. More than 500,000 customers lost power in the Northeast, with the majority (around 200,000 each) in Massachusetts and Maine. Some Maine customers were without power for several days. Buildings and vehicles were damaged by falling limbs, and numerous roads were blocked by debris causing schools to close. The greatest storm rain totals of at least 4 inches (100 mm) occurred in eastern New York, northern New Jersey, and southern New England, with southeastern Connecticut seeing up to 6.15 inches (156.21 mm) of rain. Coastal areas experienced high water levels and generally minor or moderate tidal flooding. However, preliminary data indicated two locations along Maryland's Eastern Shore (Chesapeake Bay coastline) just exceeded the major flooding threshold.
- Caribou, Maine, recorded its snowiest January on record with 59.8 inches (151.9 cm) of snow. This was just 0.1 inches (0.25 cm) short of tying its all-time snowiest month, December 1972 with 59.9 inches (152.1 cm). Caribou also had its snowiest October to February period on record with 147 inches (373 cm) of snow. Several climate sites, including Central Park, NY, set/tied their greatest number of consecutive days with measurable snowfall (at least 0.1 in.) from February 28-March 4. Caribou, Maine, had a record 163 consecutive days with at least 1 inch (3 cm) of snow on the ground from November 10, 2018 through April 21, 2019. A significant storm moved through the region from December 1 to 3. The greatest storm snow totals of 24 inches (61 cm) or more occurred in eastern New York and New England, with a maximum of 36 inches (91 cm) in southern New Hampshire. Snowfall rates of 2 inches (5 cm) per hour were observed in several locations. Albany, New York, reported snow for 39 consecutive hours. When it was over, the site had amassed 22.6 inches (57.4 cm) of snow, ranking among the five largest snowstorms for December and as one of the ten all-time largest snowstorms on record. The storm also produced freezing rain, with ice accumulations of up to 0.40 inches (1 cm) in western Maryland, central Pennsylvania, and the western half of New York. Post-Thanksgiving travel was severely impacted. There were hundreds of vehicle accidents, including several large crashes. For instance, in western Maryland, a pileup involving more than 25 vehicles shut down Interstate 68 for four hours. In central New York, icy road conditions contributed to a crash involving at least 10 vehicles on Interstate 81 and caused a section of Interstate 86 to be closed. Air travel was also hampered. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and thousands were delayed, in some cases for more than three hours. In Buffalo, New York, a plane slid off a taxiway after landing. The storm also resulted in power outages and school closures in the region.
- Water levels on Lakes Erie and Ontario and the St. Lawrence River were at or above normal in 2019. In fact, Lake Erie experienced five consecutive months with record-high monthly water levels from May through September 2019, with June setting the record for all-time highest monthly mean water level. Lake Ontario also had its all-time highest monthly mean water level in June. High water levels eroded shorelines, caused problems for boaters, and submerged beaches, docks, and boat launches. Shoreline flooding forced the closure of several businesses and roads, and water also entered some lakeshore properties. A survey from the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council indicated that high water levels along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River led to an estimated 31 percent loss for tourism-related businesses in 2019.
- 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 set a record for the wettest year in history (1895-2019) for the second straight year. The old record from 1993 was topped by a mere 0.33 inches (8 mm) in 2018. That record was easily topped in 2019 with 46.09 inches (1171 mm) which was 3.03 inches (77 mm) above the 2018 total. New statewide records were recorded across the upper Midwest in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Further west, the Dakotas also set new records in 2019 for calendar year precipitation. The six other states in the region ranked among the top-10 wettest in their respective histories as well. There were 13 straight months that set new 12-month records for the region, starting in December of 2018 and continuing to December of 2019. The record Midwest 12-month precipitation total (regardless of time of year) was set with the total of 48.01 inches (1219 mm) from August 2018 to July 2019. More than 120 stations in the region set new annual precipitation records (minimum of 30 years of records) and 30 of those stations had at least 100 years of records. Minneapolis (149 years), Rochester (100 years), and Saint Cloud (125 years) all set new records in Minnesota. In Wisconsin, Green Bay (133 years) and Racine (118 years) set new records. Michigan saw records fall in Grand Rapids (124 years) and Muskegon (118 years). Aurora, Illinois (121 years) and Columbus, Indiana (119 years) also set new records.
- Annual averaged temperature was 48.1 degrees F (8.9 C) for the Midwest which was 0.5 degrees F (0.3 C) below the 1981-2000 normal. Temperatures ranged from about 3 degrees F (2 C) below normal in the northwestern Midwest to about 2 degrees F (1 C) above normal in the southeastern Midwest. Statewide, Minnesota averaged 2.2 degrees F (1.2 C) below normal which ranked as its 37th coolest calendar year (1895 to 2019). Kentucky was 1.6 degrees F (0.9 C) above normal, ranked 9th warmest, and Ohio was 1.2 degrees F (0.7 C) above normal, ranked 12th warmest. September was the 3rd warmest on record for the region with six of the nine states in the region ranking among their top-5 warmest, including Missouri and Ohio which set new records. Kentucky had 3 months (February, September, and December) ranked among the warmest 10 percent and one month (November) ranked among the coolest 10 percent of that month's history (125 years). Lexington, Kentucky recorded its warmest year (131-year history) slightly topping 1921.
- The Midwest was free of drought during more of 2019 than any other year since the US Drought Monitor began in 2000. There were 40 of the 53 weeks in 2019 with no drought depicted across the entire Midwest. In the 19 years (2000-2018) leading up to 2019, there were a total of 108 weeks without drought across the region. No previous calendar year had more than 21 such weeks (2004) and the next highest total in any 53-week stretch had 35 such weeks (June 2004 to May 2005). The year began with 32 straight weeks having no drought in the Midwest, easily topping the old record of 14 straight weeks set in early 2016. The last eight weeks of 2019 were also free of drought in the region which was the 5th longest such streak in the 20-year record. Entering 2019, there had only been two weeks (May 21st, 2002 and May 2nd, 2017) where the entire Midwest had no areas designated as abnormally dry. During 2019, there were 15 such weeks with 12 straight from February 26th to May 14th and three more weeks from December 3rd to 17th. Minnesota and Wisconsin were not touched by drought throughout all of 2019.
- Despite the relative lack of drought overall, an intense flash drought developed in September and October particularly in Kentucky. As of the October 1st US Drought Monitor, more than 90 percent of Kentucky was in drought. This was the first of three straight weeks with extreme drought (D3) in the state. The very warm (2nd warmest in 125 years) September and the record dry month in September led to rapid development of drought. Crops and surface water supplies were hard hit across the state. Contrary to the dryness in Kentucky in September, the upper Midwest was very wet with Iowa (ranked 12th), Minnesota (3rd), Wisconsin (3rd), and Michigan (7th) all ranking among the wettest 10 percent of their Septembers on record (125 years). October ranked 5th wettest for the Midwest with all nine states among the wettest 20 percent of their histories, including Kentucky which ranked 4th wettest. The October rains reduced the areas of drought in the region considerably and drought was gone from the region by the November 12th release of the US Drought Monitor.
- The wet conditions in the region, especially in the upper Midwest, affected agriculture. The growing season got off to a late start due to wet conditions in the winter of 2018-2019 (3rd wettest since 1895) and spring of 2019 (5th wettest). Summer conditions saw the wetness shift to the southern Midwest with Missouri, Kentucky, and Ohio ranking among the wettest 10 percent of their summers. Fall wetness (10th wettest) further complicated the harvest with Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan particularly affected with very wet conditions. Wisconsin and Minnesota had record wet falls (1895-2019) while Michigan ranked 2nd and Iowa 6th wettest. After a late planting season, then near average temperatures in summer, crops matured late, and wet fall conditions made it tough to complete harvest.
- There were three deadly tornadoes in the Midwest in 2019, each causing one death. Two struck on May 22nd, an EF-2 tornado near Adair, Iowa and an EF-3 tornado near Barton, Missouri. The other fatality was from an EF-3 tornado that struck near Mercer, Ohio on May 27th.
- Flooding was notable in the Midwest due to both the high flood stages and long-lived nature of the events. Rock Island, Illinois on the Mississippi River set a record flood stage, topping the old 1993 record value. Major flooding along the upper Mississippi River lasted more than a month and set records for duration at multiple locations. Flooding struck on the Missouri, Ohio, Mississippi, and many tributaries. March flooding damages in Iowa alone topped 1.6 billion dollars.
- For further details on the weather and climate events in the Midwest, see the weekly and monthly summaries in the Midwest Climate Watch page.
Southeast Region (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
- Temperatures across the Southeast and Puerto Rico were exceptionally warmer than normal in 2019. The majority of the region was 1 to 4 degrees F (0.6 to 2.2 degrees C) warmer than normal. Annual mean temperatures were at least 2 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) above average for approximately 50 percent of the 204 long-term (records of 50 years or longer) stations across the region. Thirty-five of the long-term stations observed or tied their warmest annual mean temperature on record, including Norfolk, VA (1874-2019), Asheville, NC (1876-2019) Atlanta, GA (1878-2019), and Key West, FL (1872-2019). There were fifteen long term stations that observed or tied their warmest annual maximum temperature on record, and thirty-three long term stations that observed or tied their warmest annual minimum temperature on record. Many stations experienced their warmest winter (DJF) day on record in February, including Montgomery, AL (1872-2019) at 86 degrees F (30 degrees C), and Gainesville, FL (1890-2019) at 91 degrees F (32.7 degrees C). The coldest reported temperature in Atlanta GA during the month was 34 degrees F (1.1 degrees C), setting a monthly record for the warmest daily minimum temperature. It was the first time since 1957 that Atlanta, GA experienced its lowest February minimum temperature above 32 degrees F (0 degrees C). On March 4th, the temperature in Atlanta, GA reached 30 degrees F (-1.1 degrees C), ending a 32 consecutive day streak of minimum temperatures above 32 degrees F (0 degrees C). This was the 5th, longest streak (from December to March) with minimum temperatures above freezing. Temperatures in April were also above normal, and maximum daytime temperatures reached 90 degrees F (32.2 degrees C) in parts of North Carolina, including Concord, NC (1891-2019) and New Bern, NC (1948-2019). Typically this isn't seen until the first week of May. Florida observed its warmest May on record, North Carolina and Georgia observed their second warmest May on record, Virginia observed its third warmest May on record, and the Southeast as a whole, observed its second warmest May on record. Many stations reported breaking or tying their highest all-time maximum monthly May temperature, including Savannah, GA (1871-2019), and Gainesville, FL (1890-2019) at 102 degrees F (39 degrees C). June, July, and August were all near average temperature-wise for the Southeast. Several stations across the region observed their highest count of September days with a maximum temperature at or above 90 degrees F (32.2 degrees C), including Montgomery, AL (1872-2019; 30 days), and Pensacola, FL (1879-2019; 26 days). Florida observed its second warmest October on record, while South Carolina and Georgia observed their third warmest October. A few stations reported their maximum daytime temperature for the entire year in October as well, including Raleigh, NC (1887-2019; 100 degrees F (38 degrees C)), and Athens, GA (1857-2019; 100 degrees F (38 degrees C)).
- Annual precipitation was variable across the Southeast for 2019, with some areas receiving up to 130 percent of normal and other areas receiving only 70 percent of normal precipitation. The driest locations were found in the Panhandle of Florida, southern Alabama, central Georgia and South Carolina, the southeastern coast of North Carolina, central Virginia, and Puerto Rico. Annual precipitation totals ranged from 9 to more than 20 inches (229 to 508 mm) below average in some of these areas. The lowest annual precipitation for any station (excluding CoCoRaHS) across the region was recorded in Alma, GA (1938-2019), which observed its fifth driest year on record with only 34.2 inches (869 mm) of precipitation. In contrast, the wettest locations were found across northwestern Alabama, western Florida, northern Georgia, western North Carolina, and western Virginia. Annual precipitation totals ranged from 12 to more than 24 inches (305 to 610 mm) above average in these areas. The highest precipitation total for any station (excluding CoCoRaHS) was recorded in Highlands, NC (1879-2019), which observed its fourth wettest year on record with 110 inches (2794 mm) of precipitation. A number of heavy rainfall events were observed across the region throughout the year. In February, a low pressure system that caused severe weather in Alabama and Georgia also brought heavy rains to parts of western North Carolina, resulting in minor flooding and mudslides near the North Carolina, Tennessee border. As a result, Brevard (1902-2019), Cullowhee (1909-2019), and Waynesville (1894-2019) in western NC each recorded their second wettest February on record. In April, most of the maximum one-day precipitation totals across the region occurred during a severe weather outbreak when a low pressure system and associated cold front pushed through the area. The heavy rainfall resulted in numerous road closures due to flooding in Asheville. Indeed, Asheville, NC (1869-2019) observed its wettest April day on record with 8.97 inches (228 mm) of precipitation. Because of the close proximity of the Bermuda high pressure system, most of the region remained dry during the month of May. In June, parts of western North Carolina and central Georgia saw over 3 inches (76 mm) of rain in a single day, due to the approach of a slow-moving upper level system coupled with a stationary frontal zone. Flash flooding resulted in three fatalities in the foothills of North Carolina after high flood waters caused a car to hydroplane off the road and into a tree. In July, Washington Area, DC (1871-2019) observed its seventh wettest July day on record with 3.44 inches (87 mm) of precipitation. Most of the precipitation (2.79 inches (70 mm)) fell in a single hour. Several CoCoRaHS stations in the area measured even higher amounts including, MCLEAN 2.3 SE at 6.94 inches (176 mm), and VIENNA 0.8 S at 5.19 inches (132 mm). The heavy rains overwhelmed the city's drainage system and flooded many roads. More than a dozen water rescues were performed. Hurricane Dorian brought over 4 inches (102 mm) of rain to St. Thomas, USVI (1953-2019) in August. A very dry air mas was in place from the beginning of September to the middle of October, which lead to a flash drought across the region. A few long-term stations had no measurable precipitation on any day in September, including Pensacola, FL (1879-2019), Gainesville, GA (1891-2019), and Marion, AL (1950-2019). The moisture from tropical storms Nestor and Olga provided beneficial rains to the region towards the end of October. A plume of moisture from Tropical Storm Olga moved northward from the Gulf into southern Alabama. As a result, Tuscaloosa, AL (1948-2019) observed a new maximum daily precipitation record for October at 6.5 inches (165 mm) of rain. A snowstorm hit parts of Northern Virginia in January, as a strong low pressure system developed along the East Coast. Washington Reagan (1871-2019) received 10.3 inches (262 mm) from the storm and Washington Dulles (1962-2019) received 10.6 inches (269 mm). Most government offices in the vicinity of Washington DC that were not affected by the government shutdown were closed due to the treacherous driving conditions. Mount Mitchell, NC (1980-2019) only recorded 3.0 inches (76.2 mm) of snow in February making it the second-lowest February snowfall since 1980. A rare snowfall took place in April, along the western edge of a low pressure system that tracked up the East Coast. Charlotte (1878-2019) measured 0.1 inches (2.54 mm) of snow, making it the seventh measurable snowfall on record for the month of April.
- Three tropical systems (Hurricane Dorian, Tropical Storm Nestor, and Tropical Storm Olga) brought high winds, inland flooding, storm surge, and tornadoes to portions of the Southeast region, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hurricane Dorian was the fourth named storm, second hurricane, and first major hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. Dorian formed on August 24th from a tropical wave in the Central Atlantic and became a hurricane on August 28th. The hurricane impacted St. Thomas, USVI as a category 1 storm, with over 4 inches (102 mm) of rain, and winds reported to be a little over 80 mph (36 m/s). Although several power outages were reported, there were no reports of significant injuries or fatalities. There was one reported fatality in Puerto Rico, where an 80-year-old man fell off a ladder while preparing for the storm. Dorian became a category 5 storm on September 1st, with maximum sustained winds of 185 mph (83 m/s), making landfall in Elbow Cay, Bahamas. Then making another landfall on Grand Bahama Island several hours later. It is the strongest known tropical system to impact the Bahamas. The hurricane impacted the Carolinas and Virginia as a category 1 storm, making landfall in Cape Hatteras, NC on September 6th, with sustained winds of 90 mph (40 m/s). There were 36 tornadoes reported with the hurricane, 33 taking place in North Carolina and 3 in South Carolina. Most of these tornadoes were ranked EF-0 and resulted in some minor damage to buildings and downed trees. The most damaging tornado occurred in Emerald Isle, NC and was rated an EF-2 with winds of 115 mph (51 m/s). The strongest reported winds occurred in North Carolina, with the Cedar Island Ferry Terminal reporting a wind gust of 110 mph (49 m/s), Fort Macon reporting 85 mph (38 m/s) and Beaufort reporting 82 mph (37 m/s). Two fatalities occurred in NC due to falls off ladders in preparation for the storm. Another fatality occurred after the storm when a man clearing a fallen tree with a chainsaw sustained injuries. More than 160,000 people lost power in SC, and more than 190,000 people lost power in NC. Flooding from the storm washed out many roads, and several people on Ocracoke Island were trapped by flooding from the 4 to 7 foot storm surge, requiring rescue by boats and being airlifted off the island. Tropical Storm Nestor originated from a broad area of low pressure over the western Caribbean. Although disorganized, it had sufficiently strong circulation to be classified as a tropical storm on October 18th near the Florida Panhandle. Nestor rapidly lost its tropical characteristics and became an extratropical cyclone, making landfall in St. Vincent Island, FL on October 19th, with winds of 45 mph (20 m/s). While Nestor brought beneficial rains to the Southeast region, it unfortunately spawned numerous tornadoes. The strongest tornado was rated EF-2 with winds of 120 mph (54 m/s) and occurred in Polk County, FL. This tornado damaged around 50 homes and lifted a camper onto a residence. No injuries were reported. Tropical Storm Olga formed on October 25th in the Gulf of Mexico. A mere six hours after being named, Olga merged with a cold front and became post-tropical with maximum sustained winds near 50 mph (22 m/s). The tropical moisture from Olga provided another round of beneficial rain in October that eased drought conditions in the Southeast region.
- There were 4,732 severe weather reports across the Southeast region during the year, which is about 160 percent of the median annual frequency of 2,871 reports during 2000-2018. Over half (2,470 of 4,732) of these reports were observed during April, May, and June. The fewest number of reports occurred in Florida (433; 9 percent of total), while the greatest number was recorded in Virginia (1221; 26 percent of total). Strong thunderstorm winds accounted for nearly 87 percent (4,113 of 4,732) of the severe weather reports. On June 20th, thunderstorm wind gusts estimated at 80 mph (35 m/s) caused a fatality due to a falling tree in Columbia, SC. On July 6th, a 50 mph (22 m/s) wind gust in Lauderdale, AL resulted in one fatality and two injuries, when a tree fell on three kayakers. On July 22nd, strong winds knocked down a tree during a training exercise at Fort Pickett, VA, killing one soldier and injuring two others. Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina reported the highest non-convective wind gust for the year at 122 mph (55 m/s) on February 24th, as the center of an intense low pressure system responsible for the severe weather moved across the Great Lakes. There were 338 reports of hail for the year, which is about 69 percent of the median annual frequency of 492 reports during 2000-2018. Thunderstorms on March 25th - 27th produced hen egg (2.00 inches mm) and golf ball (1.75 inches mm) sized hail in Brevard County Florida. This is the second consecutive March with hail 2.0 inches (50.8 mm) in size or greater. Hail of this size has only been observed on 28 of the prior 67 years (from 1950- 2017). A total of 234 tornadoes were confirmed across the Southeast for the year, which is 170 percent of the average value of 145 from 2000-2018. All but three of the tornadoes were rated EF-2 or lower. The strongest of these tornadoes occurred during a severe weather outbreak on March 3rd, and was ranked an EF-4 with winds reaching 170 mph (76 m/s) through Alabama in the counties of Macon and Lee. This tornado continued its 68.8 mile track through Muscogee, Harris and Talbot counties in Georgia, but lost some strength as it ranked EF-3. Multiple homes were damaged, and trees and power lines were brought down. This is the first EF-4 tornado recorded in the United States within the past two years. Another EF-3 tornado went through Leon and Jefferson counties in Florida with a track length of 6.5 miles, during that same outbreak. On April 19th, a low pressure system intensified and a line of thunderstorms with embedded supercells tracked northeast through the region. Virginia reported 19 tornadoes, making it the most active tornado day in Virginia in over 14 years. The strongest tornado, rated EF-3, damaged three structures and ten outbuildings in Franklin County VA. North Carolina reported 17 tornadoes with this outbreak, the strongest rated EF-2, which moved near Hillsborough, NC, damaging structures and downing trees. This tornado had a maximum wind speed of 115 mph (51 m/s) and traveled over 12 miles. The line of thunderstorms stalled out temporarily over Georgia, upstate South Carolina, and western North Carolina, producing flash flooding that washed out roads across the area. There were numerous power outages associated with this event, and North Carolina topped the list with over 70,000. Hundreds of flights were cancelled due to the severe weather, and thousands were delayed. Eight lightning fatalities were reported across the Southeast for the year. Two lightning fatalities were reported in June: lightning struck a motorcyclist driving along interstate 95 in Ormond Beach, Florida on June 9th, and on June 16th a 59-year old man was struck by lightning north of Mobile, Alabama. Three lighting fatalities were reported in July (2 in FL, 1 in SC), two in August (1 in AL, 1 in NC), and one in September (1 in VA).
- The only areas of the Southeast that experienced dry conditions in January were the southern half of the Florida peninsula and parts of Puerto Rico. Drier conditions during March and April caused drought conditions to expand across the region in coverage. Abnormally dry (D0) conditions covered 27 percent of the Southeast in an area stretching from extreme southeastern North Carolina through much of South Carolina, south central Georgia, southeastern Alabama, and portions of Florida. Moderate drought (D1) conditions covered about 3 percent of the region from the coastal South Carolina through small sections of Georgia and a small part of southeastern Alabama. Drought conditions improved slightly for Puerto Rico. Drought conditions expanded across the region for the month of May, due to the above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. Moderate drought (D1) covered about 12 percent of the Southeast (up from 9 percent at the beginning of the month), in an area stretching from the coastal Carolinas, down through the eastern part of Georgia and small parts of central Georgia and Alabama. Abnormally dry (D0) conditions covered the coastal area of North Carolina southward through most of South Carolina, and Georgia, central Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. Drought conditions changed very little in Puerto Rico, with around 15 percent in moderate drought (D1), and 44 percent in abnormally dry (D0) conditions. With the growing drought wildfire concerns increased. The Yellow Bluff Fire began on May 22nd near Jacksonville, FL and grew to 600 acres, shutting down parts of Interstate 95 in both directions. Another fire broke out near Aiken, SC on May 28th and shut down parts of Interstate 20. Drought conditions changed little throughout June, July, and August. By the end of August, severe drought (D2) still covered small areas in Alabama and South Carolina that did not experience localized thunderstorms that are common during the summer. Moderate drought (D1), ringed by an area of dry conditions (D0), covered parts of southeastern North Carolina, central South Carolina, central Georgia, northern Florida, and central and southern Alabama. Dry conditions (D0) also developed in parts of Virginia. Little change was observed in Puerto Rico as well, with severe drought (D2) covering the southern area, ringed by moderate drought (D1) and dry conditions (D0). Drought conditions increased throughout the month of September and the beginning of October due to extreme dryness and warmer than average temperatures for most of the region, leading to the development of a flash drought across the region. Pockets of extreme drought (D3) developed in central Alabama, Georgia, and western South Carolina. Severe drought (D2) covered parts of Alabama, northern Florida, and areas in central South Carolina. Moderate drought (D1), ringed by an area of dry conditions (D0), expanded through western North Carolina, western South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, northern Florida, and much of Alabama. By the end of October, however, rains from Tropical Storms Nestor and Olga provided some relief, especially in parts of central and southern Georgia, which saw the biggest drought improvement. Overall drought conditions improved for the month of November, with no areas of extreme drought (D3). Puerto Rico reported no drought conditions for the month of November. Drought conditions continued to improve for the month of December, with no areas of severe drought (D2). By the end of the month, drought conditions were gone from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama. Wet soil was a problem for agriculture in January and February. The dry March was a welcomed relief; however, a hailstorm that hit Florida on March 26th damaged many young watermelon plants, delaying, and in some cases destroying much of this year's crop. The above average rainfall that occurred in parts of North Carolina during April caused problems for wheat farmers, who had issues with pests, especially mites. The severe weather outbreak on April 19th caused some damage to several fruit and vegetable crops across north-central Florida. The lack of precipitation and higher temperatures at the end of May increased water usage of plants, and dryland crops saw some impacts with some early corn crops already being affected. Agricultural and livestock production was satisfactory across much of the Southeast in June, July, and August due to the relative absence of extreme weather. However, summer grasses suffered from the flash drought that developed in September and October. Livestock farmers were forced to feed their limited winter supply early and drought conditions prevented them from planting cool season annual forages. As a result, many cattle were sold. Pine trees in Alabama were dying from beetle damage due to the drought conditions, as well. Rainfall by the end of October provided a boost to cool season pastures. The early November freeze in Moore County, NC damaged some of the planted strawberries. Farmers were worried that there would not be enough hay due to the autumn drought, which caused some to feed early, and by December hay was in short supply. The warm weather toward the end of December allowed vegetable growers to prepare the fields for spring plantings.
- 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)
- 2019 will be remembered as an historic year for flooding in the High Plains region. Starting with the mid-March "bomb cyclone" event, portions of the mainstem of the Missouri River were in flood stage for most of the year. Numerous heavy precipitation events throughout the spring, summer, and autumn contributed to the long-term flooding. Even in autumn, which is usually a quiet time of the year in terms of river flooding, heavy precipitation and saturated soils caused streamflows to be much above normal to high across portions of the Missouri River and the Souris-Red-Rainy Basins. In September, runoff from the James, Vermillion, and Big Sioux Rivers in eastern South Dakota was 16 times higher than average. Some locations recorded their highest streamflow on record during this time, beating records which had all previously occurred in the spring or summer months. Ultimately, according to the Missouri Basin River Forecast Center, 6 locations set new records for the longest stretch of time above flood stage, including Nebraska City, NE (270 days), Brownville, NE (271 days), Rulo, NE (272 days), St. Joseph, MO (268 days), Napoleon, MO (271 days), and Waverly, MO (272 days). At the end of the year, the region was not completely flood-free, as some locations along the James River in South Dakota were still above flood stage.
- The prolonged, extremely wet conditions resulted in a wide range of impacts over the course of the year. At the beginning and end of the growing season, many producers found it difficult or impossible to get into the fields due to muddy conditions. The excessive moisture also increased the demand for propane for crop drying needs in autumn. Meanwhile, flooding damaged or destroyed numerous bridges, roads, and levees in many areas. Wet conditions were even a factor in a collapse in the Goshen/Gering-Fort Laramie irrigation canal, which provides irrigation to over 100,000 acres of crops in Nebraska and Wyoming. These events have had a significant economic impact in the region, with losses in excess of $3 billion. As the impacts of 2019's conditions continue to be realized, this figure will surely rise.
- For the second year in a row, average annual temperatures were below normal across portions of the north-central U.S. This included much of the High Plains region, where temperatures were generally 2.0-6.0 degrees F (1.1-3.3 degrees C) below normal in North Dakota, South Dakota, and portions of Wyoming and Nebraska. Temperatures were within 2.0 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) of normal elsewhere in the region. 2019 started off on the warm side. But, at the end of January, a bitterly cold airmass brought some of the lowest temperatures in years to the region. Much-below-normal temperatures were in place through a large part of the spring, with temperatures moderating over the summer. Autumn was characterized by extreme temperature swings, with September ranking in the top 10 warmest and October ranking in the top 10 coldest for many states in the region. The year ended on a relatively warm note.
The following locations had notable temperature records during 2019:
- North Platte, Nebraska: Lowest March temperature on record at -25.0 degrees F (-31.7 degrees C), March 4 (period of record 1874-2020)
- John Martin Dam, Colorado: Highest all-time temperature for the state of Colorado at 115.0 degrees F (46.1 degrees C), July 20 (period of record 1941-2020)
- Pueblo, Colorado: Highest September temperature on record at 102.0 degrees F (38.9 degrees C), September 2 and 5 (period of record 1888-2020)
- Denver, Colorado: Latest 100.0 degrees F (37.8 degrees C) day on record, September 2 (period of record 1872-2020)
- Casper, Wyoming: Lowest October temperature on record at -9.0 degrees F (-22.8 degrees C), October 29 and 30 (period of record 1939-2020)
- Daniel Fish Hatchery, Wyoming: Lowest October temperature on record for the state of Wyoming at -34.0 degrees F (-36.7 degrees C), October 30 (period of record 1989-2020)
- It was an extremely wet year for much of the High Plains region, especially across portions of central North Dakota, southern South Dakota, central Nebraska, and eastern Kansas. Over 75 locations had their wettest year on record, which resulted in widespread flooding that significantly impacted sectors such as agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and transportation. Although no area of the region was consistently dry, precipitation deficits during the latter half of the year caused some areas of Colorado, Kansas, and Wyoming to end the year below normal.
- Rocky Mountain snowpack was near normal for most of the 2018-19 season (July-June). Upper Missouri Basin snowpack peaked in April at just above normal above Fort Peck Reservoir and between Fort Peck and Garrison Reservoirs. Plains snowpack, however, was quite high during the 2018-19 snow season, with many locations ranking in the top 10 snowiest seasons on record. This snowpack contributed to the devastating flooding that occurred in the spring.
- Interestingly, all six states in the High Plains region had locations that ranked in the top 10 snowiest seasons on record, including: Lincoln, NE (snowiest), Mobridge, SD (snowiest), Redbird, WY (2nd snowiest), Concordia, KS (3rd snowiest), Alamosa, CO (4th snowiest), and Grand Forks, ND (5th snowiest). Several early-season snows kicked off the 2019-20 snowpack season, with many locations in the region having their top 10 snowiest autumn on record. Mountain snowpack was largely near to above normal in Colorado and Wyoming at the time of this writing.
- Although the extreme rain, snow, and flooding was the big story this year, it is worth mentioning that 2019 was the busiest severe weather season since 2011, with just over 4,000 tornado, high wind, and large hail reports in the High Plains region, according to the Storm Prediction Center. Several noteworthy events occurred this year, from record-breaking hail in Colorado in August (see page 4 for more details) to three EF-3 tornadoes touching down in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in September. On June 15th, a rare anticyclonic tornado touched down briefly in eastern South Dakota, near the town of Estelline, causing minimal damage. According to the Aberdeen National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, only 1 percent of tornadoes in the Northern Hemisphere are anticyclonic (rotating in a clockwise direction).
The following locations had notable precipitation records during 2019:
- Cheyenne, Wyoming: 4th highest (tie) 1-day total snowfall of 14.0 inches (36 cm) for any month, March 13 (period of record 1883-2020)
- Kearney 4 NE, Nebraska: Highest 1-day total precipitation of 5.04 inches (128 mm) for the month of July; 2nd highest 1-day total precipitation in any month, July 9 (period of record 1894-2020)
- Grand Forks, North Dakota: Highest 1-day total precipitation of 3.81 inches (97 mm) for the month of September; 6th highest 1-day total precipitation in any month, September 20 (period of record 1893-2020)
- Boulder, Colorado: 3rd highest 1-day total snowfall of 20.7 inches (53 cm) in any month, November 26 (period of record 1893-2020)
- According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, there were many changes in drought conditions in the High Plains region over the course of the year. At the beginning of 2019, 18 percent of the High Plains region was experiencing moderate to exceptional drought (D1-D4), with most of Colorado, southern Wyoming, and northern North Dakota being impacted. At the time, Colorado was the hardest hit state in the region, with 66 percent of the state in D1-D4, of which 11 percent was D4. Ample snow and heavy rainfall caused drought conditions to improve, however. In fact, for the first time since June 2009, the High Plains region was free of drought (as of the May 28th U.S. Drought Monitor map). This was only the second time in the history of the U.S. Drought Monitor that the High Plains region was completely free of drought. This drought-free status did not last long, though, as drought redeveloped and expanded across northern North Dakota in early June. This was the third summer in a row that portions of northern North Dakota had experienced drought. As these conditions improved in the late summer and early fall, drought developed and expanded across southern Kansas and southern and western Colorado. Ultimately, 2019 ended with 12 percent of the region in D1-D4, down 6 percent from the start of the year.
- Due to the extremely wet conditions this year, individual states in the region experienced long stretches without drought. This was the first time in the history of the U.S. Drought Monitor that Nebraska and South Dakota were drought-free for an entire calendar year.
- Back-to-Back Wet Years: It was a wet year for much of the High Plains, with several locations in Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota having their wettest or near-wettest year on record. For some, this was a continuation of wet conditions. In Sioux Falls, SD, 2018 and 2019 now rank as the top two wettest years on record. This prolonged wetness led to historic flooding and, ultimately, it was the 2nd highest runoff ever recorded in the Upper Missouri Basin, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 2011 and 2018 rank as highest and 3rd highest, respectively.
- Historic Flooding in NE, IA, and SD: In mid-March, historic flooding occurred along the Platte and Missouri Rivers and their tributaries, which was due to a combination of frozen soils, ice jams, heavy rainfall, and rapid snowmelt. This flooding was triggered by a "bomb cyclone" that set numerous precipitation, snowfall, wind gust, and pressure records across the region. Preliminary estimates indicate that damage from the flooding exceeds $3 billion.
- October Blizzard Impacts in ND and SD: A large storm system brought heavy rain, snow, and blizzard conditions to the Dakotas in mid-October. Due to the timing of the storm, there were numerous impacts, including widespread tree damage, power outages, flooding, and unharvested crops. In North Dakota, a statewide flood emergency was declared due to the flooding caused by rain and snowmelt.
- Drought Development in CO and KS: Although much of the region was impacted by extremely wet conditions this year, drought conditions developed and expanded during the fall across southern Kansas and western and southern Colorado where precipitation deficits mounted. Dry conditions in Kansas have caused winter wheat emergence and development to lag.
- Unfavorable Conditions for Growing Season: Cool, wet weather throughout the growing season created unfavorable conditions for planting, harvesting, and overall crop development this year. In the spring, planting and emergence were significantly delayed due to cool, wet conditions. Millions of acres were not planted, particularly in South Dakota. Once planted, crops were slow to mature as these conditions continued into the summer. Although the fall started warm, harvest conditions were largely problematic, especially in northern areas where fields were either covered in snow, muddy, or completely inundated.
- New Statewide Records for CO: Two new records were set for the state of Colorado this year - one for maximum temperature (July 20th, 115.0 degrees F/46.1 degrees C, John Martin Dam) and one for hail (August 13th, 4.83 inches/12 cm in diameter, Bethune). It is rare for multiple statewide records to be set in one year. For more information, see: State Climate Extremes Committee.
- For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
Southern Region (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
- Report not available at time of publishing.
- For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
Western Region (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)
- Calendar Year 2019 brought an end to California drought with flooding and well above normal snowpack, an underperforming North American Monsoon and intensification of drought conditions in the Four Corners region, harsh winter and spring conditions in the Inland Northwest, and a less active than normal wildfire season in the western continental US.
- Temperatures in 2019 averaged a few degrees above normal along much of the West Coast and New Mexico. Seattle, Washington reported its 7th highest (in a 75-year record) annual temperature at 54.1 F (12.3 C), 1.5 F (0.8 C) above normal. Further south, Sacramento, California, logged an average temperature of 64.3 F (17.9 C), 1.6 F (0.9 C) above normal and the 11th highest since records began in 1877. In southern New Mexico, Truth or Consequences reported its 5th warmest year since records began in 1950 at 62.7 F (17.5 C), 2.2 F (1.2 C) above normal. In contrast, well below normal temperatures were observed across Montana and much of Wyoming with many locations experiencing one of their bottom-10 coldest years. Bozeman, Montana, reported its 9th lowest annual average temperature of 40.0 F (4.4 C), 5.2 F (2.9 C) below normal. Records for Bozeman began in 1941. Further east in Montana, Miles City logged its 7th lowest annual temperature since records began in 1937 at 43.3 F (6.3 C), 2.7 F (1.5 C) below normal.
- Precipitation was near to well above normal in a broad swath extending from California northeastward across Montana. An active storm track from January through May favored different parts of the West throughout this period. February was notably wet across the West, with the exception of western Washington and Wyoming. September was much wetter than normal across the northern tier of the West, as was November across the Desert Southwest. Many locations in the swath of above normal calendar year precipitation observed one of their top-20 wettest years on record. In southern California, San Diego reported its 11th wettest year at 15.28 in (388 mm), 148% of normal. In northern California, Sacramento received 26.26 in (667 mm), 130% of normal its 14th wettest year since records began in 1977. Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada, both reported their 6th wettest years on record at 11.14 in (283 mm, 151% of normal) and 6.87 in (174 mm, 164% of normal), respectively. Records for Reno began in 1937 and Las Vegas in 1948. In northeastern Montana, Glasgow recorded 17.71 in (449 mm) for the year, 151% of normal and the 6th wettest on record. In south central Montana, Livingston observed 18.07 in (459 mm), 122% of normal and the 10th wettest on record. Records for both Livingston and Glasgow began in 1948. Below normal precipitation was observed in the far northwest and southeast parts of the region. Portland, Oregon, recorded 26.67 in (677 mm), 74% of normal and the 4th driest year since records began in 1938. Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, reported 9.01 in (229 mm), 77% of normal.
- On April 1 (the typical peak date for snowpack), well above normal snowpack was recorded in the southern half of the region. According to NRCS, the California region was 170% of median, the Great Basin 154%, the Upper Colorado 132%, and the Lower Colorado 175%. The Pacific Northwest region was near median at 101%. The beginning of the 2019-2020 winter season had a good start in the southern portion of the West. At the end of 2019 the California region reported 97% of median, the Great Basin at 120%, the Upper Colorado118% and the Lower Colorado 195%. The Pacific Northwest region trailed behind the rest of the West at only 63% of median.
- The combination of above normal precipitation and below normal temperatures, notably in February and March, made for a harsh winter in the Inland Northwest. In late March, spring snowmelt and ice jams on major rivers severely impacted several roads across Montana, including the closure of Interstate 90. Damage to water treatment facilities left several Montana communities without clean drinking water for several weeks. Cool and wet conditions in late March and early April caused excessive soil moisture and erosion, and delayed crop planting in Idaho.
- Drought conditions improved for much of the West this year, with 18% of the region experiencing drought conditions at the end of the year compared with 53% at the beginning of the year. California became drought-free in the US Drought Monitor (USDM) on March 12 for first time in eight years. The May 28th USDM release was the first time since the inception of the USDM in 2000 that Colorado was free of all drought designations. The Four Corners area began 2019 in severe to exceptional drought but saw some improvement due to late winter and spring precipitation. Poor performance of the Southwest Monsoon left many areas (like the Four Corners) that typically receive Monsoon precipitation drier than normal for the summer season, resulting in a subsequent increase in areal extent and severity of drought conditions by October that persisted through the end of the year. Drought conditions improved in the Pacific Northwest over the course of the year, only to be reintroduced in western Washington and Oregon as well as parts of Idaho in late 2019 after a dry autumn.
- The 2019 wildfire season was less active than normal in terms of both large incidents and acres burned, and much less severe than in recent years. Several factors contributed to this. Temperatures were cooler than average in June and July, and the heat events that occurred in August were not extreme or long in duration. The large snowpack melted slowly, and the fine fuel green-up and curing cycle was also slower than is typical. A lack of significant wind events during the core summer months also prevented rapid fire growth. Ample spring moisture created a dense grass crop that was of concern, but the previously described factors moderated fire activity. October did bring severe fire weather and impactful events to California, described below.
- Record-breaking annual average temperatures were reported at many observation sites across Alaska. Records were set at Anchorage (42.6 F/5.9 C, 5.6 F/3.1 C above normal, records began in 1952), Fairbanks (32.6 F/0.3C, 5 F/2.8 C above normal, records began in 1929), Utquiagvik (20.9 F/-6.2C, 9.2 F/5.1 C above normal, reliable records began in 1920), Bethel (36.8 F/2.7 C, 6.2 F/3.4 C above normal, records began in 1923). Dry conditions in southeastern Alaska (this year ~70-90% of normal) resulted in persistent drought conditions. With reduced water resources for hydropower generation, some communities became reliant on generators to supply power. In contrast, precipitation was above normal in other parts of the state. Utquiagvik recorded its wettest year on record with 10.11 in (258 mm), 223% of normal. Nome reported its 3rd wettest year since records began in 1900 with 26.69 in (678 mm), 159% of normal. Precipitation totaled 16.4 in (417 mm) at Fairbanks, 152% of normal and the 9th wettest on record. Low sea ice extent in the Bering and Arctic Seas was a notable concern with respect to Alaska climate in 2019, contributing to anomalously warm temperatures and above normal precipitation. At the end of March, sea ice in the Bering Sea reached its second lowest maximum extent since satellite records began in 1979 and began rapidly retreating under anomalously warm conditions. Arctic sea ice reached its lowest extent (1.6 million square mi/4.15 million square km) on September 18, which tied 2007 and 2016 for the second lowest minimum extent in the satellite record.
- Warmer than normal sea surface temperatures were present in the region surrounding the Hawaiian Islands during the latter half of 2019. This contributed to above normal, and in several cases, record-breaking land-based temperature observations. Kahului, Maui (78.4 F/25.8 C, 2.6 F/1.4 C above normal, records began in 1954) and Lihue, Kauai (77.6 F/25.3 C, 1.8 F/1 C above normal, records began in 1950) set all-time annual average temperature records. Honolulu, Oahu (79.3 F/26.3 C, 1.6 F/0.9 C above normal, records began in 1940) tied with 1995 for warmest year on record. Hilo, Big Island, reported its second highest temperature on record (76.0 F/24.4 C, 2.1 F/1.2 C above normal, records began in 1949). Precipitation was generally near to slightly below normal across the state. Some of the below normal locations were Molokai, which received 17.47 in (444 mm) of precipitation, 71% of normal; Hilo, 100.82 in (2561 mm), 80% of normal and Kahului, 12.86 in (327 mm), 72% of normal. Roughly 5% of the state was experiencing drought conditions at the beginning of 2019, increasing to approximately 18% by the end of the year. The worst conditions at the end of 2019 were observed on the leeward sides of islands in Maui County and the far northern portion of the Big Island.
Significant Events for Calendar Year 2019
- February 9: Blizzard in Washington's Yakima Valley: An unexpected blizzard killed approximately 1,800 dairy cows in Washington's Lower Yakima Valley. Sustained winds of 30- to 50 mph (48-80 kph), gusting to 80 mph (129 kph), accompanied a snowstorm totaling upwards of 18-24 in (46-61 cm) of snowfall. The Washington State Daily Federation estimates $3.2 million in damages.
- February 14: Heavy rain and flooding in southern California: A strong atmospheric river event produced heavy rainfall, triggered numerous mudslides, and caused severe flooding in the counties of San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, among several others. Palomar, in southern California, received 10.10 in (255 mm) on February 14th, marking the wettest day on record since observations began in 1901.
- February snowfall records: Snowfall records were set at many western locations in February. Bozeman, Montana, reported 27.1 in (69 cm) for the snowiest month since records began in 1941. Seattle, Washington recorded 20.2 in (50.3 cm), its snowiest February and 4th snowiest month in the station's 75-year record.
- February 25-28: Major flooding in northern California: Heavy rains during a persistent atmospheric river event resulted in major flooding along the Russian River in Sonoma County. The river crested at 45.31 ft (13.8 m), the highest level observed since 1995, and stranded more than 4,500 residents of Guerneville, CA. Santa Rosa recorded its all-time record wettest day on February 26, receiving 5.66 in (144 mm) of precipitation. Santa Rosa also recorded its second wettest February in a 117-year record at 17.09 in (485 mm), 284% of normal.
- June-July: Wildfires in Alaska: Excessive summer heat and below normal precipitation created conditions favorable for large wildland fires in many areas of the state. During the summer season, wildfires burned ~2.59 million acres across the state, the 6th highest summer total in the past 50 years. Wildfires across Alaska created air quality impacts in the Fairbanks and Anchorage areas and threatened some neighborhoods, prompting evacuations.
- Mid-to-late October: Persistent fire weather and wildfires in California: Back-to-back Santa Ana and Diablo wind events combined with dry vegetation produced conditions favorable for multiple impactful wildfires across the state. The Saddle Ridge Fire near Sylmar in southern California was ignited on October 10 and burned 8,799 acres (3560 ha), damaged or destroyed 107 structures, and was associated with one fatality. The Tick Fire, in southern California, was ignited on October 24 and burned 4615 acres (1869 ha) and damaged or destroyed 49 structures. In northern California, the Kincade Fire began on October 23 and burned nearly 78,000 acres (31,565 ha) and destroyed 374 structures. The wildfires produced poor air quality for communities near and downwind of the wildfire locations. As a preventative measure against wildfires sparked by power lines, utility companies implemented power shutoffs that affected millions of people in California during the fire weather events. These shutoffs were more widespread and prolonged than in previous years and resulted in economic impacts and public discontent.
- November 26-28: Strong winter storm impacts Thanksgiving travel in California: Strong winds, heavy rain, and mountain snow caused major travel delays throughout the state during some of the busiest travel days of the year. From the Grapevine on I-5 in southern California to I-80 in the Sierra Nevada, heavy snow caused many delays and several closures of the roads occurred during the storm event.
- For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.