October 2019 was rather cool across the contiguous U.S., ending as the coldest October in a decade. The nation’s soggy streak also continued, with a record-wet year to date. Tragically, dry, windy weather in the West helped spark several destructive wildfires in California, some of which continue to burn.
Here are more highlights from NOAA’s latest monthly U.S. climate report:
Climate by the numbers
The average temperature for October across the contiguous U.S. was 52.3 degrees F (1.8 degrees below the 20th-century average), making it the coolest October since 2009. It ranked in the lowest third of the 125-year record.
Alaska had an average October temperature that ranked in the warmest third of the historical record. Below-average temperatures were present from the High Plains to the Pacific Coast, while above-average temperatures blanketed the eastern third of the country.
The average precipitation last month across the contiguous U.S. was 3.14 inches (0.98 of an inch above average) and ranked as the eighth wettest October on record.
Above-average precipitation fell across much of the eastern half of the country, with record precipitation occurring across portions of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley. Below-average precipitation fell across parts of the West as well as in the central and southern Plains.
Year to date | January through October 2019
The average U.S. temperature for the year to date (January through October) was 55.5 degrees F, (0.5 of a degree above the 20th-century average), ranking in the warmest third of the record.
The contiguous U.S. had its wettest year to date on record. Above- to much-above-average precipitation dominated much of the country with record-wet conditions occurring in South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan.
Notable climate events
Fires blaze across California: Large and lethal wildfires scorched parts of Northern and Southern California during October and some remained active at the beginning of November.
A busy month, tropics-wise: Post-tropical cyclones Nestor and Olga impacted the Gulf Coast with heavy rain, winds, and tornadoes. Subtropical Storm Melissa churned off the East Coast, bringing winds and coastal flooding from Virginia to New York.
Drought improved slightly: By the end of October, approximately 18% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down from 19% at the beginning of the month.
Resources > Access NOAA’s latest climate report