U.S. temperature and precipitation in October were near average
Sandy breaks records in East while severe drought continues in West
The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during October was 53.9°F, 0.3°F below the long-term average, ending a 16-month streak of above-average temperatures for the lower 48 that began in June 2011.
The October nationally averaged precipitation total of 2.19 inches was slightly above the long-term average. The Northwest, Midwest, and Northeast were wetter than average, while below-average precipitation was observed across the Southern Rockies and the Central and Southern Plains. As of October 30, 60.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing drought conditions with the most severe conditions in the Great Plains.
Note: The October Monthly Climate Report for the United States has several pages of supplemental information and data regarding some of the exceptional events from the month and season.
Post-Tropical Cyclone Sandy
- Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, N.J. on October 29 after it transitioned from a tropical to a post-tropical cyclone. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 80 miles per hour and a central minimum pressure of 946 millibars at landfall. This preliminary pressure reading was potentially a record low for the Northeast coast, and is pending further review. Sandy's large size, with tropical storm force winds extending nearly 500 miles from the center, led to more than 100 fatalities, large-scale flooding, wind damage, and mass power outages in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
Precipitation associated with Sandy (preliminary)
- Sandy brought large storm surge and high water levels to much of the coastal Northeast with New Jersey, New York and Connecticut particularly hard hit. The 13.88-foot observed water level at The Battery in New York City was an all-time record for the location, smashing the previous record set in 1960 during Hurricane Donna by more than three feet. The Delaware River in Philadelphia also reached a new record high water level of 10.6 feet, surpassing the previous record of 10.5 feet which was set in April 2011 from record rainfall. This new record was due to a combination of heavy precipitation and storm surge.
- Sandy also brought blizzard conditions to the Central and Southern Appalachians, where over a foot of snow fell in six states from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, shattering all-time October monthly and single storm snowfall records. Snowfall totals across the highest elevations approached three feet.
U.S. climate highlights: October
Below-average temperatures stretched from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico during October with 19 states having monthly temperatures below their 20th century averages. The Southwest and the Northeast were the only two areas of the country with above average temperatures.
October 2012 Statewide Temperature (top) and Precipitation (bottom) ranks
- Wetter-than-average conditions stretched from the Northwest, through the Northern Plains, into the Midwest and the Northeast. Washington, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Maine had October precipitation totals among their ten wettest. Below-average precipitation was observed across the Southern Rockies and Central and Southern Plains. Texas had its ninth driest October on record.
- The U.S. Drought Monitor from October 30th, 2012 showed 60.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, smaller than the 64.6 percent at the beginning of October. Drought conditions improved slightly across parts of the Midwest and Central Plains, while drought conditions worsened across the Northern Rockies.
U.S. climate highlights: year-to-date (January-October)