October Recap and Stats – Wildfires and Warmth
October typically ushers in those crisp, sunny days of fall. But last month was no ordinary October, as warm and wet conditions dampened peak leaf viewing across many parts of the Midwest and New England and fires devastated parts of Northern California and the West.
Here’s how things shook out in terms of the climate record:
Climate by the numbers
October’s nationally averaged temperature was 55.7 degrees F, 1.6 degrees above average, which placed it among the warmest third of the historical record. Record warmth spanned New England with much-above-average temperatures stretching into the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic. Below-average temperatures were observed in the Northwest and Northern Rockies. The precipitation total for the month was 2.53 inches, 0.37 of an inch above average.
The year to date
The year to date (January–October 2017) average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was the third warmest on record at 57.5 degrees F, 2.5 degrees above average,. Every state across the contiguous U.S. had an above-average temperature for the first 10 months of the year. The year-to-date precipitation was the second wettest on record for this period at 28.93 inches, 3.57 inches above average.
More notable climate events include:
Hurricane Nate made double Gulf Coast landfall: On October 7, Nate made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana and a second landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi, as a Category 1 hurricane. Nate brought heavy rains to the central Gulf Coast and Southern Appalachians.
Tropical Storm Philippe saturated Florida and the East Coast: On October 29, Philippe made landfall near the Everglades National Park in Florida with sustained winds of 45 mph. The remnants of Philippe interacted with a storm off the East Coast and brought heavy rain, hurricane-force winds and battering waves to the Northeast.
Northern California endured catastrophic wildfires: A hot and windy weather pattern during the second week of October caused several wildfires to grow out of control very quickly in N. California. More than 40 people died, and thousands of homes and business were destroyed — it was the deadliest week in California wildfire history, according to state officials.
Drought eased in the North and expanded in the South: Drought spread in parts of the South while beneficial rains helped alleviate drought in northern areas of the U.S . As of October 31, the contiguous U.S. drought footprint (total area) was 12 percent, down 2.4 percent from the start of the month.
Edited for WeatherNation by Meteorologist Mace Michaels