November 15th, 2006 09:25 EST
For the Second Consecutive Month, Temperatures Colder Than Average
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.
U.S. Temperature Highlights
The October 2006 temperature for the contiguous United States (based on preliminary data) was 0.9 degrees F (0.5 degrees C) below the 20th century average of 54.8 degrees F (12.7 degrees C). After a record warm January through August period, this was the second consecutive month of below average temperatures.
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. 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.
It was 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.
U.S. Precipitation Highlights
Above, to much-above-average precipitation occurred across most of the East Coast, eastern Great Lakes, Mississippi Valley and the Southwest in October. Nationally, precipitation ranked 12th wettest in the 112-year record.
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. 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.
Global land- and ocean-surface temperatures brought the fourth warmest October and tied the fifth warmest year-to-date period since records began in 1880. October land surface temperatures were third warmest, while ocean surface temperatures were fourth warmest in the 127-year record. An El Niño episode began in September and continued to intensify throughout October as ocean temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific continued to warm.
In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. Starting with the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.