DRY CONDITIONS RETURN IN THE EAST, RECORD WETNESS IN PARTS OF THE WEST, ABOVE AVERAGE TEMPERATURES IN THE SOUTH, NOAA REPORTS
Nov. 16 — Last month, the contiguous United States experienced
its eighth wettest October on record, with wetter-than-average
conditions across much of the nation, except the East Coast, according
to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's
National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Overall, NOAA
reported, temperatures and precipitation were above average across
the country in October. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department
According to NOAA scientists, the average temperature for the
contiguous United States for October (based on preliminary data)
was 56.3 ° F (13.5 ° C), which was 1.5 ° F (0.8 ° C)
above the 1895-2003 mean, and the 16th warmest October on record.
The mean temperature in 18 states was significantly above average,
with 7 southern states averaging much warmer than the long-term
mean, including Louisiana , which had its third warmest October
since at least 1895. Alaska , which experienced a record warm summer,
was warmer than average in October, with a statewide temperature
of 5.5 ° F (3.1 ° C) above the 1971-2000 mean.
After a parade of tropical systems brought record, or near-record,
wetness for most East Coast states in September, October was drier
than average for many of those same states. Louisville , Ky. ,
had its longest dry stretch (39 days) on record. By contrast, record
wet conditions were widespread across parts of the far West. Nevada
had its wettest October on record and California had its second
The first major Pacific storm of the fall season hit California
on October 19. Santa Ana received 3.15 inches of rain on October
20, more rain in one day than the previous October monthly record
of 1.89 inches set in 1957. Rainfall amounts of 1-4 inches were
common along much of California ’s coastline and also into
the Sierra Nevada Mountains , where the precipitation fell as snow.
A second large storm during the last week of October brought more
rain and snow to California , allowing ski slopes to open early
in parts of the Sierra Nevada . Wet conditions during October,
resulting in part from Tropical Storm Matthew, also prevailed in
the Mississippi Valley following a dry September.
Snowfall disrupted travel in Colorado and parts of the Rockies
in October with areas of the Front Range receiving more than a
foot of snow from October 31 to November 1. More than 2 inches
of snow were recorded in Denver and approximately 4 inches in Boulder
The precipitation in the West helped alleviate drought conditions
that have persisted for six years in some locations. While the
recent rain and snow will not eliminate the long-term drought in
the region, it will help improve conditions, according to NOAA
scientists. At the end of October, 18.4 percent of the western
U.S. was in moderate-to-extreme drought, compared with 59.3 percent
for September and 80.1 percent for last year at this time, based
on a widely used measure of drought, the Palmer Drought Index.
The average global temperature anomaly for combined land and
ocean surfaces during October 2004 (based on preliminary data)
was 1.15 ° F (0.64 ° C) above the 1880-2003 long-term mean.
This was the second warmest September since 1880 (the beginning
of reliable instrumental records). Land surface temperatures ranked
record warm for October and were anomalously warm throughout much
of the globe, with notably cooler-than-average conditions in central
Canada and northeastern Russia , while the global ocean surface
temperature was the third warmest on record for October.
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of space-based oceanographic, meteorological, and climate data.
It operates the nation’s environmental satellites, which
are used for ocean and weather observation and forecasting, climate
monitoring, and other environmental applications. Some of the oceanographic
applications include sea-surface temperature for hurricane and
weather forecasting and sea-surface heights for El Niño
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national
safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related
events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s
coastal and marine resources.
John Leslie, (301) 457-5005
Related Web sites:
NOAA’s National Climatic Data
Center : http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov