The contiguous U.S. average temperature during October was 56.1°F, 2.0°F above average, ranking 18th warmest in the 129-year record.
Generally, temperatures were above average across much of the contiguous U.S., with below-normal temperatures in parts of the central and northern Plains.
For the month of October, Maine ranked second warmest on record for October while Vermont and New Hampshire each ranked third warmest on record. An additional six states ranked in their top-10 warmest October on record.
The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during October was 68.2°F, 1.4°F above the 20th century average, ranking in the warmest third for daytime temperatures in the historical record. Maximum temperatures were near to above average across much of the contiguous U.S., while below-average temperatures were observed in the northern parts of the Rockies and Plains, and in a small part of the southern Plains. Maryland and Maine each ranked sixth warmest October for daytime temperatures. Three additional states ranked among their top-10 warmest October for daytime temperatures.
The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during October was 44.0°F, 2.6°F above the 20th century average, ranking 13th warmest October for overnight temperatures on record. Minimum temperatures were above average across much of the contiguous U.S. while below-normal temperatures were observed in the northern and central parts of the Rockies and Plains. Maine ranked warmest on record for October while New Hampshire and Vermont each ranked second warmest October on record. An additional 7 states experienced a top-10 warmest October for nighttime temperatures.
The Alaska statewide October temperature was 27.8°F, 2.3°F above the long-term average, ranking in the middle third of the 99-year period of record for the state. Temperatures were near average across most of the state with above-normal temperatures observed in parts of the Northwest, Southwest, the Aleutians and the Panhandle.
Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during October was 34 percent of average and the 8th-lowest value in the 129-year period of record.
The October precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.14 inches, 0.05 inch below average, ranking in the middle third of the 129-year record.
Precipitation was below average from the Lower Mississippi Valley to parts of the Mid-Atlantic and in parts of the Northwest, Southwest, central Plains and Southeast. Precipitation was above average from the northern Rockies to the Great Lakes and in parts of the southern Plains, Southeast and Northeast.
No state ranked in their top-10 wettest October on record for this period. Conversely, North Carolina had the 10th driest October on record.
Across the state of Alaska, the average monthly precipitation was 4.06 inches, ranking in the middle third of the historical record. Precipitation was above average in parts of the North Slope, West Coast, eastern Interior and a small part of the northern Panhandle. Below-normal precipitation was observed in the Southwest, including the Aleutians, south-central Alaska and in southern parts of the Panhandle during the month.
According to the October 31 U.S. Drought Monitor, about 36.5% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down about 3.6% from the beginning of October. Drought conditions expanded or intensified across much of the Southeast and Tennessee Valley as well as in parts of the Southwest, Mid-Atlantic and Hawaii this month. Drought contracted or was reduced in intensity across much of the Plains and Great Lakes and in portions of the Northern Tier and Puerto Rico.
Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters
One new billion-dollar weather and climate disaster was confirmed during October after Southern hail storms brought severe weather to parts of the southern Plains on September 23–24.
There have been 25 confirmed weather and climate disaster events this year, each with losses exceeding $1 billion. These disasters consisted of 19 severe storm events, two flooding events, one tropical cyclone, one winter storm, one wildfire and one drought and heatwave event. For this year-to-date period, the first 10 months of 2023 rank highest for disaster count, ahead of those of 2020 which saw 19 disasters. The total cost of the 2023 events exceeds $73.8 billion, and they have resulted in 464 direct and indirect fatalities.
Since these billion-dollar disaster records began in 1980, the U.S. has sustained 373 separate weather and climate disasters where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (based on the CPI adjustment to 2023) per event. The total cost of these 373 events exceeds $2.645 trillion.
Other Notable Events
Persistent heat brought record-breaking temperatures to portions of the U.S. during October:
- A total of 317 counties each had their warmest January-October on record while an additional 1498 counties ranked in the top-10 warmest for the year-to-date period.
- During early October, record warmth impacted parts of the Northeast. On October 4, the Burlington Airport in Vermont reached 86°F and set a new all-time October record high temperature—breaking a long-standing record high temperature of 82 set back in 1891.
- Above-normal temperatures persisted across much of Puerto Rico during the month of October. San Juan International Airport reported a monthly average temperature of 85.4°F, making it the hottest October on record and the fifth-warmest month on record.
- Warm temperatures and lack of rainfall during 2023 resulted in expansion of drought coverage and intensity across parts of the Mississippi Valley, leading to record low water levels along parts of the Mississippi River that caused barges to run aground and created saltwater intrusion concerns in southern Louisiana.
Heavy precipitation and snow brought one of the wettest water years—October to September—on record for the state of California, causing the state's reservoirs to rise to 128% of their historical average.
Drought expanded in coverage and intensity across the islands of Hawaii during October. On October 24, drought covered 94.8% of the state—the greatest extent of drought in the 2000-2023 period of record for the U.S. Drought Monitor.
For the January-October period, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 56.9°F, 1.9°F above average, ranking 11th warmest on record for this period.
Temperatures were above average from parts of the Southwest to the East Coast and along much of the Northern Tier, with near- to below-average temperatures in parts of the northern Plains to the West Coast.
Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida ranked warmest on record while Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland each ranked second warmest for the January–October period. An additional 18 states had a top-10 warmest year-to-date period. No state experienced a top-10 coldest event for this 10-month period.
The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature during January-October was 68.9°F, 1.7°F above the 20th century average, ranking 14th warmest in the historical record. Above-average temperatures were observed across much of the eastern contiguous U.S., the southern Plains and in portions of the Southwest and along the Northern Tier. Near- to below-average temperatures were observed from the northern Plains to the West Coast. Louisiana and Florida ranked warmest on record, while Texas, Mississippi and Maryland each ranked second warmest for daytime temperatures during the January-October period. An additional 17 states ranked among their top-10 warmest for daytime temperatures during this period. No state experienced a top-10 coldest January-October on record for this 10-month period.
The contiguous U.S. average minimum (nighttime) temperature during this 10-month period was 44.9°F, 2.2°F above the 20th century average, ranking 8th warmest in the historical record. Above-average nighttime temperatures were observed across much of the contiguous U.S. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island each ranked warmest on record, while Maine and Connecticut each ranked second warmest on record for nighttime temperatures. An additional 22 states experienced a top-10 warmest event for nighttime temperatures during the January-October period. Near- to below-average nighttime temperatures were observed in parts of the central Plains to the West Coast.
The Alaska January-October temperature was 31.5°F, 1.9°F above the long-term average, ranking in the warmest third of the historical record for the state. Much of the state was above normal for the 10-month period while temperatures were near average across the western, south-central and interior parts of the state.
Based on REDTI, the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January-October was 38 percent of average and was the seventh-lowest value on record.
The January-October precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 25.50 inches, 0.14 inch above average, ranking in the middle third of the 129-year record.
Precipitation was near to above average across much of the Northeast, from California to the western Plains, as well as in parts of the southern Plains, Great Lakes and Southeast. Wyoming and Massachusetts each ranked fourth wettest January-October period on record while Nevada, Maine and Connecticut each ranked fifth wettest for this year-to-date period. Two additional states ranked among their top-10 wettest for this period.
Conversely, precipitation was below average along parts of the Northwest, Southwest, upper and central Mississippi Valley, Mid-Atlantic and along the Gulf of Mexico during the January–October period. Maryland ranked seventh driest, while Washington ranked 10th driest for this 10-month period.
The January-October precipitation ranked 15th wettest in the 99-year record for Alaska, with above-average precipitation observed across much of the state. Near-normal precipitation was observed along parts of the Gulf of Alaska, while parts of the Aleutians experienced below-average precipitation during this period.
The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) for the year-to-date period was 34 percent above average, ranking in the upper third of the 114-year period of record. Extremes in warm maximum temperatures and warm minimum temperatures were the major contributors to this elevated CEI value. The USCEI is an index that tracks extremes (occurring in the upper or lower 10 percent of the record) in temperature, precipitation and drought across the contiguous United States.
On the regional scale, the Ohio Valley and West were above average while the Northeast, Southeast and South ranked much-above average for this year-to-date period. Each of these regions experienced elevated extremes in warm maximum temperatures and warm minimum temperatures. The Northeast also experienced extremes in the number of days with precipitation and wet PDSI values, while the South also experienced extremes in 1-day precipitation and dry PDSI values.
According to the October 30 One-Month Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, above-normal monthly average temperatures in November are favored for much of the western U.S., along the Gulf Coast states and much of Alaska, with the greatest odds for parts southwestern U.S. and northern Alaska. Below-normal temperatures are forecast for parts of the Northeast this month. Portions of the Northwest, Southeast and northern Alaska are favored to see above-normal monthly total precipitation while below-normal precipitation is most likely to occur from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the Great Lakes and in parts Southwest Alaska. Drought improvement or removal is forecast along parts of the Pacific Northwest coast and in parts of the Midwest, southern Plains and Puerto Rico, while persistence is more likely across the Northern Tier, Southwest, Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic and Hawaii. Drought development is likely in parts of the Southeast.
According to the One-Month Outlook issued on November 1 from the National Interagency Fire Center, Hawaii and parts of the Lower Mississippi Valley have above-normal significant wildland fire potential during November, while parts of eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas are expected to have below-normal potential for the month.
These regional summaries were provided by the six Regional Climate Centers and reflect conditions in their respective regions. These six regions differ spatially from the nine climatic regions of the National Centers for Environmental Information.
Northeast (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
October was a warm, dry month but also featured the season’s first snowfall for a few locations.
The Northeast had its seventh warmest October since records began in 1895 with an average temperature of 54.1 degrees F, 3.9 degrees F above normal. October average temperatures for the 12 Northeast states ranged from 1.9 degrees F above normal in West Virginia to 6.4 degrees F above normal in Maine. October 2023 was among the 15 warmest Octobers for eleven of the states: Maine, second warmest; New Hampshire and Vermont, third warmest; Massachusetts, fifth warmest; Connecticut and Rhode Island, sixth warmest; New York and New Jersey, ninth warmest; Maryland, 12th warmest; Delaware, 14th warmest; and Pennsylvania, 15th warmest. On October 4, Syracuse, New York, and Burlington, Vermont, experienced their warmest high temperatures for October on record with highs of 89 degrees F and 86 degrees F, respectively.
The Northeast saw 3.50 inches of precipitation during October, which was 83 percent of normal. October precipitation for the 12 Northeast states ranged from 36 percent of normal in Delaware to 108 percent of normal in Vermont, with ten states being drier than normal. This October ranked as Delaware’s 15th driest on record and Maryland’s 18th driest.
The U.S. Drought Monitor from October 3 showed less than 1 percent of the Northeast in severe drought, two percent in moderate drought, and 15 percent as abnormally dry. Beneficial precipitation in western portions of New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia chipped away at drought and abnormal dryness. However, areas such as central New York, eastern Pennsylvania, western New Jersey, northern Delaware, and southern and eastern Maryland experienced a dry October, with increasing precipitation deficits driving an expansion of abnormal dryness. Improving conditions in some areas counterbalanced deteriorating conditions in other areas, the U.S. Drought Monitor from October 31 also showing less than 1 percent of the Northeast in severe drought, two percent in moderate drought, and 15 percent as abnormally dry. At times during October, USGS 7-day average streamflow and/or groundwater levels were below normal or lower in western and central New York and an area from eastern West Virginia through Maryland and southern Pennsylvania into southern New Jersey, with a couple of gauges reporting record low flows or levels. Daily drought monitoring was reinstated along the Potomac River upstream from Washington, D.C. In Pennsylvania, more than a dozen water suppliers asked customers to voluntarily conserve water and a few implemented mandatory restrictions. For instance, Lock Haven declared a drought emergency and had mandatory water restrictions in place.
Smoke from wildfires burning in Canada returned to the Northeast in late September and lingered into early October, producing hazy skies and, in some locations, reduced air quality. Temperatures during the first week of October were unusually mild, with highs in the 70s and 80s and lows in the 50s and 60s. The high and/or low temperatures at several sites ranked among their 10 warmest for October, in a few spots on two or more days. In fact, on October 4, Syracuse, New York, and Burlington, Vermont, experienced their warmest high temperatures for October on record with highs of 89 degrees F and 86 degrees F, respectively. On October 7, a strong cold front swept across the Northeast, producing up to 5 inches of rain in parts of northern and eastern New York that led to reports of localized flash flooding. The system dropped 2.80 inches of rain on Burlington, Vermont, on October 7, making it the site’s third wettest October day since its records began in 1884. The next day, the frontal system interacted with the remnants of Tropical Storm Phillipe, bringing 4 to 6 inches of rain to parts of coastal and eastern Maine where a few roads sustained flooding damage. Additionally, wind gusts of 30 to 55 mph resulted in some downed trees and power outages in that state. A few sites saw their first measurable snow on October 30 or 31. While snowfall totals were a few inches or less, it was enough to make this October one of the 20 snowiest on record for Erie, Pennsylvania; Caribou, Maine; and Buffalo, New York.
For more information, please visit the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
Midwest Region (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
The average October temperature for the Midwest was 53.7 degrees F (12 degrees C), which was 2.3 degrees F (1.3 degrees C) above the 1991-2020 normal. Temperatures ranged from about 1-4 degrees F (0.6-2.2 degrees C) above normal across the entire region with no specific spatial pattern to the warmth. Preliminary statewide average temperatures ranged from 1.5 degrees F (0.8 degrees C) above normal in Kentucky to 2.9 degrees F (1.6 degrees C) above normal in Wisconsin. The month was characterized by dramatic temperature swings from week to week, as is typical for this time of year. October started with record and near-record warmth, especially across the upper Midwest. High temperatures averaged 15-25 degrees F (8.3-14 degrees C) above normal from October 1-4 for most of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Excessive warmth even prompted the cancelation of the Twin Cities Marathon on October 1. Temperatures oscillated below and above normal through mid-month before ending the month with record and near-record cold across the lower Midwest. A strong cold front traversed the region October 27-29, causing daily high temperatures to drop by about 30 degrees F (17 degrees C). Numerous locations, particularly across the lower Midwest, had a top five coldest Halloween (October 31) on record, with high temperatures 15-20 degrees F (8.3-11 degrees C) below normal. Despite the late-month cold snap, a handful of long-running stations in central and northern Michigan and northeast Ohio had monthly minimum temperatures among the top 10 warmest on record.
October precipitation totaled 3.49 inches (89 mm) for the Midwest, which was 0.39 inches (10 mm) above normal, or 113 percent of normal. Moisture was quite variable across the region. Precipitation totaled 125-300 percent of normal along an axis stretching from the Iowa-Minnesota border eastward to northwest Ohio. Conversely, totals were 25-75 percent of normal for much of the lower Midwest. Preliminary statewide precipitation totals ranged from 0.84 inches (21 mm) below normal in Kentucky to 1.35 inches (34 mm) above normal in Wisconsin. Preliminary rankings indicate Wisconsin had the 10th wettest October on record. The first widespread snowfall of the season occurred on Halloween (October 31) across the upper Midwest, with totals ranging from less than 1 inch (2.5 cm) to as much as 11 inches (27.9 cm).
Increased moisture helped reduce the severity and extent of dryness and drought throughout the Midwest in October. The month concluded with about 65 percent of the region affected by dryness or drought; a 21 percent improvement compared to the beginning of October. Portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana had 2-3 class improvements on the US Drought Monitor map over the month. Drought was the most severe in eastern Iowa and west-central Missouri. Drought remained widespread along and west of the Mississippi River and sporadic to the east. About 42 percent of the region had no dryness or drought by month’s end.
For further details on the weather and climate events in the Midwest, see the weekly and monthly reports at the Midwest Climate Watch page.
Southeast (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
Mean temperatures were variable across the Southeast in October. Temperatures were 1 to 2 degrees F (0.5 to 1.1 degrees C) below average across much of Florida, southern Alabama, and central and eastern portions of Georgia and the Carolinas. In contrast, temperatures were 1 to 3 degrees F (0.5 to 1.6 degrees C) above average across the interior of the region and in South Florida, with some locations in northern Virginia as much as 4 degrees F (2.2 degrees C) above average. Miami, FL tied its fourth warmest October on record (since 1895). It also tied its warmest minimum temperature for any month of 84 degrees F (28.9 degrees C) on the morning of the 12th, and tied the October maximum temperature record of 95 degrees F (35 degrees C) on the 13th. Heat index values in Miami have also been noteworthy this year. Through the end of October, Miami has recorded 179 hours with a heat index of at least 105 degrees F (40.6 degrees C), breaking the previous record of 49 hours set back in 2020 (since 1948). It has also recorded 13 hours with a heat index exceeding 110 degrees F (43.3 degrees C), breaking the previous record of three hours set back in 2017. In the Caribbean, temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees F (1.1 to 1.6 degrees C) above average across Puerto Rico and near average across the U.S. Virgin Islands. San Juan, PR recorded its warmest October on record (since 1898). During the first week of the month, heat index values reached 110 degrees F (43.3 degrees C) at San Juan and on the island of Saint Thomas. The first freeze of the season was observed across western portions of North Carolina and Virginia and the higher elevations of South Carolina and Georgia following a cold front on the 7th of the month. Mean temperatures across the region, except for Florida, were 5 to 15 degrees F (2.8 to 8.3 degrees C) below average through the 10th. Another cold front moved through the region beginning on the 15th of the month. Most locations were 5 to 10 degrees F (2.8 to 5.6 degrees C) below average through the 19th, while some locations in central Florida were up to 15 degrees F (8.3 degrees C) below average. More cool weather was observed on the mornings of the 23rd through the 25th, with subfreezing temperatures recorded across central portions of North Carolina and Virginia as well as northern portions of Georgia and South Carolina. Warm weather returned to the region towards the end of the month. From the 27th through the 30th, mean temperatures were between 10 to 15 degrees F (5.6 to 8.3 degrees C) above average across the southern tier of the region, except for Florida, and as much as 20 degrees F (11.2 degrees C) above average across portions of North Carolina and Virginia, where maximum temperatures approached 90 degrees F (32.2 degrees C).
Monthly precipitation was below average across much of the Southeast in October. The driest locations were found across northern portions of Alabama and Georgia, western and eastern portions of North Carolina, and northern Virginia, where many locations recorded less than an inch and, in some cases, less than half an inch of precipitation for the month (less than 25 percent of normal). Several locations ended long streaks of consecutive dry days during the month. On the 6th, Charlotte, NC, Athens, GA, and Atlanta, GA ended streaks of 18 consecutive days without measurable precipitation, while Montgomery, AL and Greenville-Spartanburg, SC ended streaks of 24 consecutive days on the 10th and 11th, respectively. In contrast, precipitation was above average across central portions of Georgia and South Carolina, and isolated portions of Florida. Much of this precipitation fell between the 11th and 13th of the month as a low pressure system tracked across northern Florida and up the East Coast. Precipitation totals were generally between 3 and 5 inches (76 and 127 mm), while some locations across the Florida Panhandle recorded over 8 inches (203 mm). Perry, FL, which sustained significant damage from Hurricane Idalia back in August, recorded 10.85 inches (276 mm) on the 12th, making it the second wettest day on record (since 1897). The first snowfall of the season was observed on the 16th and 17th of the month. Measurable amounts were largely confined to the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachians (above 4,000 feet), with the highest amount of 2.5 inches (64 mm) observed at Mount Mitchell, NC. Trace amounts were also observed across parts of southwestern Virginia. In the Caribbean, precipitation was below average across the western part of Puerto Rico (as little as 50 percent of normal) and above average across the eastern part of the island, including San Juan, which recorded 9.73 inches (247 mm) for the month. Of this, 5.20 inches (132 mm) fell on the 27th, making it the wettest October day on record (since 1898). Precipitation was also above average across the U.S. Virgin Islands. Several stations recorded 5 to 10 inches (127 to 254 mm) of precipitation, including Cyril King Airport on Saint Thomas, which recorded 8.69 inches (221 mm) for the month. Much of this precipitation came from tropical systems. Tropical Storm Philippe dropped 2 to 4 inches (51 to 102 mm) of precipitation across Saint Thomas and Saint Croix between the 3rd and 5th of the month. A few gauges on Saint John, including Cruz Bay and Trunk Bay, recorded over 8 inches (203 mm) from this event. Philippe also dropped over 5 inches (127 mm) of precipitation across eastern portions of Puerto Rico. A trough of low pressure combined with rain bands from Hurricane Tammy dropped another 2 to 4 inches (51 to 102 mm) of precipitation across Puerto Rico and up to an inch across the Virgin Islands from the 18th through the 23rd of the month.
Drought conditions continued to worsen across the Southeast in October. Extreme (D3) drought emerged across northern portions of Alabama and Georgia and expanded across southern Georgia and the western Panhandle of Florida. Severe (D2) drought expanded across northern Virginia and southern Georgia, and emerged across central Alabama, northern portions of Georgia and South Carolina, and western portions of North Carolina. Moderate (D1) drought also expanded in these areas, as well as across central and southern portions of North Carolina and Virginia, where abnormal dryness (D0) expanded to the east. A small area of extreme (D3) to moderate (D1) drought persisted along the West Coast of Florida, while the rest of the Peninsula remained drought-free. Small areas of abnormal dryness (D0) were eliminated across central Georgia and the eastern Panhandle of Florida due to heavy precipitation in the middle of the month. Overall, about 70 percent of the region was abnormally dry or in drought by the end of October. In the Caribbean, drought conditions improved in October. Moderate (D1) drought was eliminated across eastern Puerto Rico and contracted across the northwest part of the island. Drought was eliminated on Saint John, while conditions on Saint Thomas and Saint Croix improved from exceptional (D4) drought at the beginning of the month to severe (D2) drought at the end of the month.
The cool and dry weather pattern in October continued to negatively affect agriculture in the Southeast. The dry ground made it difficult to harvest peanuts and plant winter grains and forage, while cooler temperatures slowed the maturity of several crops. Cotton and peanut yields are expected to be below average across parts of southern Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. The unseasonably warm and dry conditions over the summer and early fall led to reduced quantity and size of pumpkins and apples. The lack of precipitation led to more insects and increased disease pressures, including citrus greening in Florida. Hay supplies were also negatively affected by the dry weather. Many farmers were only able to complete up to two cuttings due to the lack of regrowth, which was also stunted due to cooler temperatures over the past several weeks. Cattle were being fed supplemental hay and calves were being sold early due to water shortages. On the other hand, the dry weather helped some farmers wrap up the harvest of corn and make strong progress on the harvest of early-planted cotton and soybeans. In Puerto Rico, recent precipitation delayed some planting, but was largely beneficial for many crops, particularly pastures. Some pond recharge was noted across the U.S. Virgin Islands and field conditions were improving on Saint John. However, the precipitation on Saint Croix was not able to penetrate the soil. Hay shortages persisted and significant losses to livestock and poultry continued to be reported.
There were 30 reports of severe weather across the Southeast in October, which is below the median frequency of 44 (68 percent of normal). There were seven confirmed tornadoes (4 EF-0s, 3 EF-2s), which is below the median frequency of 10 (70 percent of normal). All of these occurred in Florida during the late evening of the 11th and early morning hours of the 12th as a low pressure system tracked across the northern part of the state. Mostly minor damage was reported from the EF-0 tornadoes, which occurred in Sarasota, Pinellas, and Pasco counties. The three EF-2 tornadoes, which occurred in Pinellas, Citrus, and Flagler counties, all caused significant roof damage, including some that completely collapsed. There were also reports of flipped vehicles, snapped trees, downed power lines, and damage to fences and sheds. No fatalities or injuries were reported. There were 19 wind reports in October, which is below the median frequency of 32 (59 percent of normal). Most of these occurred on the 11th and 12th as part of the severe weather outbreak in Florida, with some additional reports on the 20th across Georgia and the Carolinas. There were five hail reports, which is above the median frequency of two (250 percent of normal). The largest hailstones recorded were ping pong ball-sized (1.5 inches or 38 mm) in Liberty County, GA and York and Cherokee counties in South Carolina on the 20th of the month. Smoke originating from wildfires in Canada resulted in air quality alerts for fine particles from the 2nd through the 4th of the month. Code Yellow alerts were observed across coastal sections of Georgia and South Carolina, while Code Orange alerts were observed across much of Florida.
2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season
The Atlantic basin saw seven named storms in September, three of which affected the Southeast region. The circulation associated with Hurricane Lee brought high surf with waves up to 15 feet (4.6 m) and dangerous rip currents to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands on the 11th and 12th of the month. On the morning of the 23rd, Tropical Storm Ophelia made landfall in Emerald Isle, NC with winds of 70 mph (31.3 m/s). It gradually weakened as it tracked inland along the I-95 corridor through eastern North Carolina, becoming a tropical depression after crossing into Virginia later that evening. Wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph (13.4 to 22.4 m/s) were reported across central and eastern portions of North Carolina and Virginia. A few gusts exceeded 70 mph (31.3 m/s) near Wilmington, NC and along the Outer Banks, where storm surge ranged from 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.2 m). Five people were rescued from a boat anchored in Lookout Bight as it was battered by rough surf and high winds. Water levels rose over 3 feet (0.9 m) across parts of the James River, with moderate to major tidal flooding observed in Jamestown and the city of Hopewell in eastern Virginia. Storm surge flooding was also observed on the Neuse and Pamlico rivers in eastern North Carolina, which resulted in significant flooding in the towns of New Bern and Washington. Further inland, flash flooding from heavy rainfall was observed in Greenville, NC and Richmond, VA, resulting in several road closures. Tens of thousands of power outages were reported across North Carolina and Virginia. At the end of the month, the circulation associated with Tropical Storm Philippe brought high surf and dangerous rip currents to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
For more information, please visit the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
High Plains (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)
This October wrapped all seasons into a month in the High Plains. Scorching summerlike warmth and severe weather began the month, while the month ended with subzero temperatures and snow. An unusual and impactful severe weather outbreak in Kansas and Nebraska occurred on the 3rd. Supported by temperatures reaching near or above 90 degrees F (32.2 degrees C), thunderstorms exploded across the central portions of both states. Two EF-1 tornadoes touched down causing minor damage, while winds up to 86 miles per hour (138 km/h) and 3-inch hail (7.62 cm) damaged vehicles and homes. The first snowstorms of the year swept across parts of the region along with arctic temperatures. Several inches of snow fell in North Dakota on the 26th, limiting travel across the state. A more significant storm impacted Colorado on the 29th, with over 100 flights canceled and 700 delays at the Denver International Airport. Impacts stretched all the way into Nebraska, where two people, unfortunately, perished due to the snow and ice along Interstate 80.
The overall trend of warmer temperatures continued into yet another month. A late shot of cold air provided some much-needed relief; however, parts of the region were up to 6 to 9 degrees F (3.3 to 5 degrees C) above normal in October. The month began extremely warm, with much of the region well above 90 degrees F (32.2 degrees C). Western Kansas and southwestern Nebraska were scalding hot, reaching up to 98 degrees F (36.7 degrees C) in places. Numerous daily records were set, with some locations close to their all-time highs for October. Temperatures hovered slightly above normal until a blast of arctic air pushed through the region late in the month, leading to the first hard freeze of the year for many. Subzero temperatures were recorded in Wyoming and North Dakota, while single-digit lows reached all the way to Kansas and Nebraska. Combined with gusty winds, the region experienced a shock to an otherwise mild fall season.
October brought precipitation to much of the northern part of the region, while the southern portions received isolated but plentiful amounts. Snow finally began falling at lower elevations, with the first winter storm of this season occurring near the end of the month. Northern Nebraska was a big beneficiary, with several locations ranking in the top 10 wettest Octobers. Norfolk recorded 6.62 inches (16.82 cm) to rank 2nd, while to the west, Chadron observed 2.62 inches (6.66 cm) to rank 3rd. Drought conditions improved significantly across these areas as a result. Impressive one-day precipitation amounts occurred on two separate occasions in Kansas and Nebraska. Several rounds of heavy showers on the 12th dropped 7.39 inches (18.77 cm) on an observer outside of Ewing, Nebraska, and set a record for the highest single-day precipitation total for the state of Nebraska in the month of October. Slow-moving thunderstorms on the 25th produced a staggering 9.35 inches (23.75 cm) precipitation outside of Osage City, Kansas to rank 2nd highest single-day amount in October. Several nearby observers near Emporia reported over 7.50 inches (19.05 cm) precipitation, while a large swath from Wichita to Kansas observed over 3 inches (7.62 cm). Winter made an early appearance, with the first snowstorm impacting the northern part of the region on the 26th. Western North Dakota experienced several inches of snow, with Minot recording 11 inches (27.94 cm) and Bismarck recording 8.5 inches (21.59 cm) on the higher end. Another round of snow occurred several days later on the 29th in Colorado, with over 10 inches (25.4 cm) reported in parts of Colorado Springs and Denver.
Improvements to drought conditions were the major story this month. The heavy bouts of rain led to large-scale improvements in several states. Overall, abnormally dry to exceptional drought (D0-D4) was reduced by over 5 percent in the High Plains. Nebraska experienced the most significant changes, with up to 3 classes of improvement. Moderate to exceptional drought (D1-D4) was over 20 percent, with conditions nearly erased from the northern part of the state. Kansas also greatly benefited, with extreme drought (D3) reduced by 13 percent and D4 completely eliminated for the first time in well over a year. Parts of the Dakotas observed up to 2 classes of improvement in response to above-normal precipitation.
For more information, please visit the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
South (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
Wet conditions in the west led to flooding and damage to homes, while very dry conditions in the east led to deterioration of drought conditions.
Temperatures across the Southern Region during October were typically one to four degrees F above normal. The largest concentration of above normal temperatures was across Arkansas, northern Mississippi, and western Tennessee where the majority of stations were two to five degrees F above normal. Slightly below normal to near-normal temperatures were common along the Gulf Coast of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Statewide averages were well above their median values for October with Texas (20th warmest, out of 129 years) leading the way followed by: the Southern Region (26th warmest), Arkansas (27th warmest), Mississippi (29th warmest), Tennessee (29th warmest), Louisiana (31st warmest), and Oklahoma (41st warmest). This represented a continuation of summer heat for parts of the region: both Texas and Louisiana had their warmest August-October on record. The warmest recorded temperature in the region was 105 F at Falcon Dam, Texas on October 5th. The coldest recorded temperature in the region was 14 F at two locations: near Goodwell, Oklahoma on October 30th and at Guadalupe Peak, Texas also on October 30th. Five long-term stations set records for highest maximum temperature for October: Nixon, Texas (99 F, October 1st), Pine Bluff Grider Field, Arkansas (97 F, October 1st), Austin Bergstrom International Airport, Texas (100 F, October 1st), Falcon Dam, Texas (105 F, October 5th), and Town Bluff Dam, Texas (96 F, October 1st). One station set a record for lowest minimum temperature for October: Antlers, Oklahoma (19 F, October 31st).
Precipitation in the Southern Region during October was well above normal across much of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, except for portions of the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles and far west Texas. Well below normal precipitation was observed across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. State totals were well below their median values for Tennessee (12th driest, out of 129 years), Mississippi (13th driest), and Louisiana (25th driest). State totals were above their median values for Texas (32nd wettest), Arkansas (33rd wettest), Oklahoma (34th wettest), and the Southern Region as a whole (52nd wettest). Four stations exceeded 17 inches of precipitation for the month of October, all in Texas: Rosser (18.76 inches), near Glenrose (18.5 inches), near Walnut Spring, Texas (17.94), and Ferris (17.07). Three stations had single-day accumulations exceeding ten inches, all in Texas, consisting of three CoCoRaHS stations: near Texarkana (10.76 inches, October 5th), near Terrell (10.59 inches, October 28th), and near New Boston (10.08 inches, October 5th). Six long-term stations set single-day accumulation records for October: Marshall, Arkansas (5.95 inches, October 30th), McGee Creek Dam, Oklahoma (4.53 inches, October 22nd), New Boston, Texas (7.78 inches, October 5th), Forth Worth Meacham Field, Texas (4.92 inches, October 25th), Rosser, Texas (8.10 inches, October 28th), and Gilbert, Arkansas (4.95 inches, October 29th).
During October the Southern Region saw improvement in drought conditions across the western portions of the region, particularly the reduction of extreme or exceptional drought from central Texas north through southern Oklahoma. Drought conditions in the eastern portions of the region worsened during August, including the emergence of extreme drought in Tennessee and northern Mississippi, and exceptional drought in northern Mississippi. Extreme or exceptional drought, according to the US Drought Monitor, did see reductions in total area being affected within the region, with extreme drought decreasing from 19 percent on October 3rd to 12 percent on October 31st and exceptional drought decreasing from 14 percent to ten percent over the same time period. The USDA Crop Progress Report for October 29th reported that the cotton crops in Texas and Oklahoma were only reporting ten and three percent of crops to be in Good to Excellent condition, while Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee fared much better with 48 percent, 45 percent, 74 percent, and 83 percent being rated as Good to Excellent respectively. Heavy rains on October 28th across the Dallas-Ft. Worth area led to flash flooding, resulting in the deaths of two people in Kaufman County and the flooding of several homes. Increased flows on the Mississippi River during October appears to have prevented a saltwater wedge traveling up the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico from reaching New Orleans, Louisiana, but communities downstream have had their water systems badly affected by the saltwater intrusion.
October saw a moderation of temperatures across much of the Southern Region, compared with earlier in the year, however temperatures were still well above normal. Moisture being transported into the region from Hurricane Otis in October 25th-27th led to heavy rains across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. This led to reports of street flooding and severe weather across this swath of the region. Overall, October was a quiet month for severe weather for much of the region. There were seven reported tornadoes in the Southern Region during October, affecting Texas and Oklahoma. All tornadoes were rated EF-0 and no injuries or fatalities were reported with these storms. On October 26th an EF-0 tornado did cut a south to north swath across San Antonio, Texas with little reported damage. There were 36 reports of hail during October in the Southern Region, with the largest reported hail being 3.0 inches near Reese Center, Texas on October 4th. There were 66 severe wind reports during October for the Southern Region with the fastest being 85 mph near Frederick, Oklahoma on October 4th.
For more information, please visit the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
West (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)
The western United States generally saw below normal precipitation and above normal temperatures in October. One exception was central and eastern Montana where cool and wet conditions persisted for the month with an anomalous early season snowfall event for some locations near the end of the month. Dry and warm conditions drove expanded drought across parts of the Southwest; some drought improvements occurred in the Pacific Northwest due to the onset of a more consistent stormy and wet pattern.
Temperatures were 1-3 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, or greater, throughout Arizona, New Mexico, most of Utah, parts of coastal California, and most of the Pacific Northwest. Many locations were in the top five warmest Octobers on record including Phoenix, Arizona (third warmest, mean temperature of 81.9 degrees Fahrenheit, and 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal), Las Cruces, New Mexico (third warmest, mean temperature of 67.4 degrees Fahrenheit, and 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal), and San Francisco, California airport (third warmest, mean temperature of 66.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal). In contrast, central and eastern Montana saw temperatures 1-3 degrees Fahrenheit below normal. Notably, Miles City, Montana saw its 10th coldest October since 1937 with a mean temperature of 43.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3.0 degrees Fahrenheit below normal).
Precipitation was well below normal (less than 50 percent) across most of California, Arizona, western New Mexico, southern Utah, the Washington Cascades, and the Idaho Panhandle. Central and eastern Montana saw above normal precipitation and snowfall. Most of southern California saw no measurable precipitation in October (this has occurred numerous times in the past) with departures roughly 0.25-0.5 inches below normal. The Cascade Range in northern Washington was particularly dry with many of the mountain SNOTEL stations measuring 30-40 percent of normal precipitation for the month and departures more than five inches below normal. Much of central and eastern Montana saw a top ten wettest October on record and well above normal snowfall due to the cold temperatures. Great Falls, Montana recorded 1.81 inches of precipitation (169 percent of normal) and 10.2 inches of snowfall (five inches above normal) for the seventh wettest and eighth snowiest October on record. Glasgow, in northeast Montana, received 14 inches of snowfall on October 24-26 making it the snowiest October on record; the normal October snowfall in Glasgow is 1.4 inches.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor at the end of October, 31 percent of the West was in drought. Areas of extreme (D3) and exceptional (D4) drought are found in Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. One class drought degradations occurred in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah with drought improvements in Oregon, Washington, and Montana.
It was a warm month for the Panhandle, Aleutian Peninsula, and North Slope with temperatures 1-4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Across central Alaska temperatures were slightly below normal (1-2 degrees Fahrenheit). The consistent warming trend along the North Slope continued where Utqiagvik had its fourth warmest October on record with a mean temperature of 26.0 degrees Fahrenheit (4.8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal). Cold Bay, on the Peninsula, logged a mean temperature of 44.3 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Fahrenheit above normal) marking the third warmest October on record. Precipitation anomalies were mixed across the state but southwest Alaska, including the Kenai Peninsula and Aleutian Peninsula, was dry with anomalies generally 2-5 inches below normal. Kenai saw its driest October on record with just 0.5 inches of precipitation (20 percent of normal) and Cold Bay had its sixth driest with 2.25 inches of precipitation (46 percent of normal).
October was an extremely dry month for all of Hawaii with most of the long-term climate stations receiving 70 percent of normal precipitation or less. The largest relative departures were found on the Big Island and Oahu where most stations received less than 25 percent of normal precipitation. Hilo saw its driest October on record with 1.36 inches of precipitation (13 percent of normal) which shattered the previous record low of 2.40 inches set in 1962. Dryness in October led to a few more areas of drought expansion in the U.S. Drought Monitor. At the end of October 100 percent of Hawaii was at least abnormally dry (D0) and 93 percent of the state was at least in moderate drought (D1). Water restrictions and increased fire danger have resulted from the increased drought conditions.
Drought triggers stage 2 water shortage in Maui, Hawaii: Upcountry, part of Maui County, has recently moved to a stage 2 water shortage due to worsening drought conditions. Daily water demand is exceeding supply by 20 percent and restrictions have been put in place to reduce use. The restrictions include irrigation, watering lawns, washing vehicles, and other nonessential activities. Shortage restrictions will remain in place until conditions change.
For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.