October 2018 Records: Wettest on Record in Texas, Warmest October in Alaska

Linda Lam
Published: November 7, 2018

October 2018 was the wettest October on record in Texas and the warmest in Alaska, according to a NOAA report released Wednesday.

October was the sixth-wettest on record for the United States and, through 10 months, 2018 now ranks as the fifth-wettest since records began.

Many areas from the Southwest and southern Plains to parts of the central Plains and Great Lakes saw far-above-average precipitation last month.

Darker green areas saw far-wetter-than-average conditions in October 2018.
(NOAA/NCEI)

This was the second consecutive wettest month on record in Texas, which experienced more than two and a half times its average October precipitation, resulting in deadly flooding.

Cities that set records for wettest October include Dallas (16.36 inches), Abilene, Texas (12.09), San Angelo, Texas (11.37), Dodge City, Kansas (6.45), and Phoenix (5.35), according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center.

Interestingly, the heavy rainfall events in Texas were not due to tropical systems; rather, they were the result of a jet stream pattern that left an upper-level low over the Southwest, allowing plentiful moisture to surge into the state.

(MORE: Historic Texas Flooding)

Heavy rainfall in Hawaii allowed drought conditions to be erased in mid-October but also caused flooding and landslides.

Parts of the East also experienced above-average precipitation for the month. Three states have had the wettest year-to-date on record – Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The only areas that saw far-drier-than-average conditions last month were portions of Florida.

Drier-than-average areas were also seen in parts of California, western Oregon, northwestern Washington and an area from southeastern Missouri into southwestern Ohio. A few locations in Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska also saw less precipitation than average in October.

Temperature Rankings

Much of the interior U.S. experienced cooler-than-average temperatures in October, with above-average temperatures in the mid-Atlantic, Southeast and West Coast. As a result, the average October temperature for the Lower 48 states was near average.

However, the average temperature for the January-through-October period, 56.7 degrees, was the 10th-warmest on record. The January-through-October period has been the warmest on record in Arizona and New Mexico.

Areas of the central U.S. saw colder-than-average temperatures in October and far-below-average conditions were recorded from the northern Plains into northern Michigan, as well as in northern Maine.

Areas in red saw well-above-average temperatures, while darker blue areas experienced colder-than-average temperatures in October 2018.
(NOAA/NCEI)

As mentioned, warmer-than-average temperatures prevailed in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, and some areas of Florida recorded the warmest October on record. Key West set a new October record high with an average temperature of 83.6 degrees.

Areas near the West Coast also had above-average conditions in October, and this warmth extended into Alaska, which set a new October record high at 9 degrees above average.

The warmer-than-average temperatures also led to below-average snowfall in interior Alaska. Fairbanks only received 0.7 inches of snowfall – more than 10 inches below average.

There was quite a contrast in the difference between high temperatures and low temperatures in October.

High temperatures were much below average from the Southwest into the Plains, Upper Midwest and Northeast, and well above average in the Southeast. Low temperatures were above average across the East, South and West Coast and cooler than average in the Upper Midwest and the northern and central Plains.


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