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October 2012 Climate Summary

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Source/Author: Natalie Umphlett - High Plains Regional Climate Center 11/05/12

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October 2012 Climate Summary  

For a printable version of the climate summary which includes more figures, data tables, and state summaries, click here

Temperature Summary

October 2012 was actually cooler than normal for the majority of the High Plains Region. Most locations in the Region had average temperatures which were at least 2.0 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) below normal. Above normal average temperatures were limited to southwestern Colorado and portions of southern Wyoming. The cooler weather was not record-breaking although there were a few locations that were able to creep into the top 10 coolest Octobers on record. Garden City, Kansas tied for its 6th coolest October on record with an average temperature of 52.3 degrees F (11.3 degrees C). The record of 48.6 degrees F (9.2 degrees C) occurred just a few years ago in 2009 (period of record 1947-2012).

Despite the widespread below normal temperatures this month, 2012 still continued to be one of the warmest on record in many places. For example, the average temperature in Grand Forks, North Dakota was 1.3 degrees F (0.7 degrees C) below normal this month, but this year’s January 1-October 31 time period still ranked as the warmest. The average temperature in Grand Forks for this time period was 48.7 degrees F (9.3 degrees C), which surpassed the 1931 record of 48.1 degrees F (8.9 degrees C) (period of record 1893-2012).

Precipitation Summary

Ample precipitation was confined to North Dakota and small pockets elsewhere in the High Plains Region this month. Much needed precipitation fell in areas of northern North Dakota, where precipitation totals were over 150 percent of normal. While this precipitation was not record-breaking, it did help alleviate drought conditions there. In addition, many locations across the High Plains Region had their first snowfall of the season this month. Even with the snowfall, a large portion of the High Plains Region continued to have dry conditions this month. Central Nebraska, central South Dakota, southern Kansas, southern and northwestern Colorado, and south-central Wyoming
all had precipitation totals which were less than 25 percent of normal.

The dry weather helped with the harvesting of row crops in many areas across the Region. The corn harvest was ahead of average in Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The soybean harvest was also well ahead of average in Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. On the downside, dryness continued to affect pasturelands as most of the Region continued to have pasture conditions in the very poor to poor classifications. Dry and windy conditions also took their toll on winter wheat progress. For instance, the lack of precipitation limited winter wheat emergence in parts of South Dakota and some winter wheat had to be reseeded in Nebraska due to wind damage. Although mid-October showers did help with winter wheat emergence, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), more precipitation is needed for improved emergence.

Climate Outlook

ENSO-neutral conditions continue and weak El Niño/ENSO-neutral conditions are likely through the winter. For the next three months, the temperature outlook indicates a higher probability of above normal temperatures for the majority of the High Plains Region, except for the eastern half of North Dakota and the far eastern sides of South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. The highest probability for above normal temperatures exists in southwestern Wyoming and northwestern Colorado.The precipitation outlook indicates a higher probability of below normal precipitation in the eatern half of Kansas, eastern Nebraska, eastern South Dakota, and far southeastern North Dakota. Equal chances of above, near, or below normal temperature and precipitation exists for the rest of the High Plains Region.More information about these forecasts can be found here.

Drought Watch

Slight changes in drought conditions in the High Plains Region occurred over the past month, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Some areas experienced improvements and others had degradation which balanced out to little change over the past month. Nebraska was still the hardest hit state, with nearly 78 percent of the state in exceptional drought conditions (D4) which was up a few percent from the end of last month. South Dakota had the most degradation with a significant increase in D4 that went from 7 to 33 percent coverage over the past month. The most significant improvements occurred in the Red River Valley of North Dakota where precipitation in the middle of the month helped downgrade all extreme drought conditions (D3) to severe drought conditions (D2) in the state. Other areas which had improvements included north central Colorado, eastern Kansas, far southeastern Nebraska, and central North Dakota. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released November 1st, drought conditions were expected to improve across the entire state of North Dakota and northern areas of South Dakota. All other areas of drought in the Region were expected to persist through the end of January 2013.

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