U.S. Sweats Out Third-Warmest October On Record

U.S. map of significant climate events that occurred in October 2016 (Image credit: NOAA NCEI)
U.S. map of significant climate events that occurred in October 2016 (Image credit: NOAA NCEI)

The contiguous U.S. experienced its third warmest October in 122-years of recordkeeping, with an average temperature of 57.7°F, which is 3.6°F above the 20th-century average. Forty-seven states were warmer than average. The precipitation total for the month was 0.17-inch above average.

According to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, the average October temperature in the Lower 48 states has warmed by 0.65°F per decade during the last 30 years. Only the month of September has, on average, warmed more per decade.

The year to date (January-October) for the contiguous U.S. was the second warmest on record with an average temperature of 57.8°F — 2.8°F above average.

All Lower 48 states and Alaska observed much above-average temperatures during this period. Total precipitation for the year-to-date period was 1.80 inches above average, making it the twenty-first wettest.

Significant climate events that occurred in October 2016:

  • Drought: The total area of drought increased from 19.4% to 26.8% of the Lower 48, mainly from expansion in the South and Southeast.
  • Hurricane Matthew: The major storm churned dangerously close to the eastern side of Florida, delivering driving rains, damaging winds, and devastating coastal storm surge. As the storm moved northward, it officially made landfall in South Carolina on Oct. 8 as a Category 1, causing widespread flooding in the region.
  • New Mexico experienced record warmth in October, with an average temperature increase of 5.8°F.
  • Alaska had its driest October on record.
  • Pacific Northwest: Idaho, Montana, and Washington each had their wettest October on record, while Oregon experienced its second wettest.
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