October 2019 – A Month Of Extremes

Temperature

For October, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 52.3°F, 1.8°F below the 20th-century average. This ranked in the lowest third of the 125-year period of record and was the coolest October since 2009. Below-average temperatures were observed from the High Plains to the Pacific Coast, while above-average temperatures blanketed the eastern third of the contiguous U.S. Parts of southern Florida were record warm.

Temperature Departure from Normal
Green/Blue = Colder than Normal  Brown = Milder than Normal

Precipitation

The October precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 3.14 inches, 0.98 inch above average, and ranked as the eighth wettest October in the historical record. Above-average precipitation fell across much of the eastern half of the contiguous U.S., 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 the central and southern Plains.

Extremes

  • Subtropical Storm Melissa formed from a slow-moving East Coast nor’easter on October 11 with sustained winds of 65 mph. Impacts from Melissa included coastal flooding from Virginia to New York. Less than a week later, a mid-latitude cyclone, moving across the central and eastern United States, developed into a “Bomb Cyclone” (a storm whose central pressure drops by at least 24 millibars in 24 hours or less). This storm packed wind gusts up to 90 mph in southern New England on October 17 and leftover 500,000 residents without power. New October low-pressure records were reported for various locations across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Precipitation accumulations from this storm system measured between two and four inches across portions of New England.

  • Post-Tropical Cyclone Nestor made landfall on October 19 near Apalachicola, FL, with top sustained winds of 45 mph. The system brought between three and five inches of rainfall as well as tornadoes to the Florida Panhandle. Beneficial rains from the remnants of Nestor fell across parts of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, which had been impacted by severe drought conditions.

  • Tropical Storm Olga merged with a cold front in the Gulf of Mexico on October 25 and made landfall as a post-tropical storm along the central Louisiana coast early the next morning. Many residents lost power across Louisiana as winds exceeded 70 mph, while tornadoes and wind damage impacted both Mississippi and Alabama.

  • Several large and dangerous wildfires impacted parts of north-central and southern California during October and remained active at the beginning of November. The Kincade Fire, located in north-central California, burned through nearly 78,000 acres and destroyed almost 350 structures by the end of October. The Tick, Saddleridge, and Getty fires in southern California consumed more than 14,000 acres as well as 60 structures. The Easy Fire, also located in southern California, consumed more than 1,700 acres by the end of October. These large and dangerous fires were fanned by powerful winds, with some gusts topping 100 mph in the Sierra Nevada range. Across southern California, unusually strong Santa Ana winds made it difficult for fire crews to keep these fires from spreading. 

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