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NOAA's Oct. 2001 temperature index.November 21, 2001 — October 2001 was the warmest October on record globally, scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., said today. NOAA scientists calculated last month's climate conditions using the world's largest weather database. (Click NOAA image to see climate data for October 2001.)

The preliminary globally averaged temperature was 58.2 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6 C). This was 1.0 F (0.6 C) above the 1880-2000 long-term mean, the warmest October on record. October global temperatures have been above average 23 of the past 25 years.

The year-to-date global temperature was 0.9 F (0.5 C) above average, the second warmest January-October period since global surface temperature records began in 1880. Global temperatures have risen over the past 100 years by 1.0 F (0.6 C). The rise in temperature has been more rapid during the past 25 years, a rate approximately three times greater than the century-scale trend.

The previous October global temperature record occurred in 1997 during the most recent El Niño. For much of the past three years, La Niña conditions have been predominant, with colder-than-normal sea surface temperatures in much of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. La Niña has now yielded to neutral conditions. The absence of cold equatorial waters in the central and eastern Pacific is a contributing factor to higher temperatures in the tropics, hence a higher global temperature average than those recorded during the past three years. Land and ocean temperatures in the tropics (20 N to 20 S) were 0.7 F (0.4 C) above average, the fifth warmest October on record.

Monthly temperatures were above average across much of Europe and northern portions of Africa as well as across eastern Asia, with monthly departures of more than 7 F (3.9 C) above the long-term mean in Algeria. According to the United Kingdom Met Office, the mean Central England Temperature for October was 55.9 F (13.3 C). This exceeded the previous October record of 55.4 F (13.0 C) set in 1969. The CET database dates back to 1659.

Lower-than-average temperatures were reported throughout parts of eastern Europe, western Asia and throughout much of Australia. In Australia, October average maximum temperatures were the lowest since 1976, and minimum temperatures were fourth lowest on record since October 1950, according to the Australia Bureau of Meteorology.

Temperatures in the United States for October ranked 38th highest in the U.S. 1895-to-present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature for the forty-eight contiguous states was 55.4 F (13.0 C) or 0.7 F (0.4 C) above the long-term mean. Regionally, temperatures were above average in the Northeast and Southwest, and lower than average across the South, Southeast and Alaska.

Nevada, which experienced its third warmest October in the U.S. 1895-to-present record, has experienced above-normal temperatures throughout much of 2001. The most recent three and six month periods are the warmest on record for Nevada. Temperatures have been above average for many of the western states throughout the summer months and into the fall.

October precipitation in the United States (2.01 inches, 51.1 mm) was near the long-term mean. Regionally, precipitation was above average throughout much of the central Great Lakes and the lower Mississippi River.

A strong cold front brought widespread severe weather Oct. 24, with heavy rains, hail and wind damage to parts of the Midwest. Wind gusts of 90 mph were reported in South Bend, Ind., and estimated to be as high as 120 mph in parts of Clinton County, Mich., near Lansing. Rainfall totals for this event included 2.24 inches (56.9 mm) in Grand Rapids, Mich., and 1.52 inches (38.6 mm) in Indianapolis, Ind.

Drier-than-normal conditions prevailed throughout the East Coast and portions of the Southern Plains and West. Eight states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina) were much drier than normal in October. As a result of the continued below average precipitation, drought conditions amplified east of the Appalachians and northward to New England as well as in portions of the Southwest.

Relevant Web Sites
Climate of 2001: October in Historical Perspective

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center

NOAA's Climate Data At-A-Glance

Media Contact:
Patricia Viets, NOAA, (301) 457-5005