REPORTS U.S. COOLER AND WETTER THAN AVERAGE IN OCTOBER;
Nov. 15, 2006 — For the second consecutive month, temperatures across the continental United States were cooler-than-average, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Drought conditions improved in some areas, but large parts of the nation remained in moderate to extreme drought. October ranked as the 12th wettest October when compared with historical precipitation records for the month. (Click NOAA image for larger view of October 2006 statewide temperature rankings. Please credit “NOAA.”)
The combination of a cooler-than-average September and October dropped the year-to-date national temperature from record warmest to third warmest for the January through October 2006 period. The record warmest January through October occurred in 1934. (Click NOAA image for larger view of October 2006 statewide precipitation rankings. Please credit “NOAA.”)
Temperatures in October 2006 were below average across 24 states, concentrated from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Lakes and into the Northeast, while above-average temperatures occurred in only Texas and New Hampshire.
the sixth warmest October on record in Alaska, with temperatures 6.8
degrees F (3.8 degrees C) above the 1971-2000 average. Despite the October
warmth, January through October was the coolest such year-to-date period
since 1999 for Alaska.
October precipitation in Maine was second wettest on record with 7.83 inches, Louisiana third wettest with 10.38 inches of precipitation. Fourteen states ranked among their top ten wettest Octobers on record.
The January through October period was the second driest on record for Florida and eighth driest for Georgia, resulting in an expansion of drought conditions in those states.
Wetter-than-average conditions across the Southwest and parts of the South during October allowed for some improvement in drought in these regions. However, severe-to-extreme drought remained across parts of Arizona, Oklahoma to South Texas, areas of the northern High Plains, the northern Rockies and northern Minnesota.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, nearly 30 percent of the continental U.S. was in moderate to exceptional drought by the end of October, a decrease of approximately three percent since the end of September. (Click NOAA image for larger view of January-October 2006 statewide temperature rankings. Please credit “NOAA.”)
Drier-than-average conditions across the far West contributed to the continuation of a very active wildfire season. By early November, more than 9.4 million acres, mostly in the continental U.S., had burned since the beginning of the year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. This exceeds the previous record for an entire year, set in 2005 when 8.7 million acres burned, much of it in Alaska. A major U.S. incident during October was the Esperanza fire in southern California, which consumed more than 40,000 acres and claimed five lives.
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