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Contiguous U.S. had cooler than average October with near-average precipitation; Alaska had its warmest October on record


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National Overview:

Supplemental October 2013 Information


  • Climate Highlights — October
  • The average temperature for the contiguous United States during October was 53.6°F, 0.6°F below the 20thcentury average, making it the 37th coolest October on record.
  • Below-average temperatures dominated west of the Mississippi River. Oregon had its 11th coolest October, with a monthly temperature of 46.3°F, 3.0°F below average. No state had October temperatures that ranked among the ten coolest.
  • Above-average temperatures were observed across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Delaware tied its tenth warmest October with a monthly temperature 3.5°F above average. Near-average temperatures were reported across much of the Midwest and the Southeast.
  • The Alaska statewide average temperature during October was 8.8°F above the 1971-2000 average marking its warmest October on record in the 95-year period of record. The previous record warm October occurred in 1925, when the temperature was 7.7°F above average. Locally, the Fairbanks average October temperature of 36.1°F was 11.9°F above normal. In addition to the above-average temperatures, many low elevation locations received much-below-average snowfall.
  • The October national precipitation total was 2.23 inches, 0.12 inch above the 20th century average.
  • The near-average October precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. masked both wet and dry extremes. The East and West Coasts were drier than average during October. California and Oregon both had their 11th driest October. Rhode Island and Massachusetts had their fourth driest and ninth driest Octobers on record, respectively.
  • Much of the central U.S. was wetter than average, stretching from the Southern Plains, into the Northern Plains and Midwest. Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming each had a top ten wet October.
  • The Alaska statewide average precipitation during October was 74.5 percent above the 1971-2000 average and marked the third wettest October in the 95-year period of record for the state. The weather pattern that brought the above-average temperatures to the state also brought an abundance of precipitation, mainly in the form of rain, causing minor flooding. Valdez received 17.83 inches of rain during October, 8.69 inches above average, and the wettest October on record for the location.
  • An early-season blizzard hit northeastern Wyoming and western South Dakota on October 3rd–5th, dropping up to three feet of snow with winds in excess of 70 mph. Rapid City, South Dakota received 23.1 inches of snow, breaking several October snowfall records for the city. An estimated 20,000 head of cattle died during the event in South Dakota, approximately 15 to 20 percent of the state's entire cattle population. The storm was rated a Category 3 (Major) on the Regional Snowfall Index.
  • According to analysis by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the October snow cover extent across the contiguous U.S. was the fifth largest in the 46-year period of record at 132,000 square miles, more than 60,000 square miles above average. Conversely, the Alaska snow cover extent was 53,000 square miles below average, and the ninth smallest October snow cover extent on record.
  • According to the October 29thU.S. Drought Monitor report, 34.7 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down 6.5 percent compared to the beginning of the month and down 26.4 percent since the beginning of the year. Drought improved for parts of the Central Rockies and Great Plains, while drought conditions developed across parts of the Northeast.
  • On a local basis during October, there were slightly more (1.2 times as many) record cold daily highs (698) and lows (407) as record warm daily highs (242) and lows (689).
  • Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI) , the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during October was eight percent below average and the 58th lowest in the 1895-2013 period of record.
  • Climate Highlights — year-to-date (January-October)
  • The year-to-date contiguous U.S. temperature was 55.7°F, 0.7°F above the 20th century average, and the 32nd warmest January-October on record. Above-average temperatures were observed in both the West and the Northeast. California had its 12th warmest January-October. New Hampshire and Vermont had their ninth and tenth warmest year-to-date period, respectively. Below-average temperatures stretched from the Upper Midwest, through the Ohio River Valley, and into the Southeast.
  • When comparing the national temperature departure from average for the January-October period as calculated by NCDC's operational dataset (USHCN) to the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN), the USHCN temperature anomaly was 0.05°F less than the USCRN anomaly value. The USHCN-based temperature was 0.16°F below the 1981-2010 average and the USCRN-based temperature was 0.11°F below the 1981-2010 average. For more information on this temperature comparison, please visit our National Temperature Index page.
  • The year-to-date contiguous U.S. precipitation total of 27.01 inches was 2.23 inches above the 20th century average and the 14th wettest January-October on record. Most locations, from the Rockies to the East Coast, were wetter-than-average during January-October, while the Far West was drier than average.
  • Record and near-record wet conditions during the first 10 months of 2013 were observed across the Northern Plains, the Midwest, and the Southeast. South Dakota, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia each had a top ten wet January-October. North Dakota and Michigan both had the wettest January-October on record. The North Dakota precipitation total of 23.41 inches was 7.13 inches above average, and the Michigan precipitation total of 33.66 inches was 6.95 inches above average.
  • California had a record dry January-October with 5.90 inches of precipitation, 10.36 inches below average. The previous record dry year-to-date period for the state occurred in 2002, when the 10-month precipitation total was 7.19 inches.
  • The components of the U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) that examine extremes in 1-day precipitation totals and the spatial extent of drought ranked as the 12th and 14th highest on record for January-October, respectively. When combining all components of the USCEI, the index was slightly below average. The USCEI is an index that tracks the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, tropical cyclones, and drought across the contiguous United States.
  • Based on REDTI, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January-October was seven percent below average and the 50th lowest in the 1895-2013 period of record.


Alaska Temperature and Precipitation:

  • Alaska
  • had its warmest October since records began in 1918, with a temperature 8.8°F (4.9°C) above the 1971–2000 average.
  • Alaska
  • had its 4th warmest August-October since records began in 1918, with a temperature 3.6°F (2.0°C) above the 1971–2000 average.
  • Alaska
  • had its 15th warmest January-October since records began in 1918, with a temperature 1.8°F (1.0°C) above the 1971–2000 average.
  • Alaska
  • had its 3rd wettest October since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 74.9 percent above the 1971–2000 average.
  • Alaska
  • had its 3rd wettest August-October since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 38.6 percent above the 1971–2000 average.
  • Alaska
  • had its 10th wettest January-October since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 21.9 percent above the 1971–2000 average.

    For additional details about recent temperatures and precipitation across the U.S., see the Regional Highlights section below and visit the /Climate Summary page"

    . For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month, please visit NCDC's Records page.