State of The Climate - October 2012

Finally... we break the a 16 month streak with cooler October temperatures


It's been a long time coming but our streak of above average temperatures cam to an end last month. The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during October was 53.9°F, just 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. On top of that, 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. 

Here are some highlights. The complete summary can be read here

  • The October nationally-averaged precipitation total of 2.19 inches was slightly above the long-term average.
  • The October 30, 2012 U.S. Drought Monitor showed 60.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, less than the 64.6 percent at the beginning of October. Drought conditions improved across parts of the Midwest and Northeast, while drought conditions worsened across parts of the Northern Rockies.
  • The January-October period was the warmest first ten months of any year on record for the contiguous United States. The national temperature of 58.4°F was 3.4°F above the 20th century average, and 1.1°F above the previous record warm January-October of 2000. During the 10-month period, 21 states were record warm and an additional 25 states had year-to-date temperatures among their ten warmest. Only Washington had a statewide temperature near average for the period.
  • The November 2011-October 2012 period was the warmest such 12-month period on record for the contiguous U.S., with an average temperature of 55.2°F, 3.2°F above the long-term average. This 12-month temperature average was the sixth warmest of any 12-month period on record for the contiguous United States. The seven warmest 12-month periods have all ended during 2012.


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