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October 2013 Climate Summary

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Source/Author: Natalie Umphlett - High Plains Regional Climate Center 11/05/13

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October 2013 Climate Summary  

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

Temperature Summary

Overall, October 2013 was a cool, wet month for most of the High Plains Region. Precipitation received over the first half of the month combined with cooler conditions slowed crop drydown and impacted harvest progress. Producers welcomed drier weather at the end of the month as many were able to resume harvest activities. But, even with drier weather, some producers were still battling muddy fields. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, harvest efforts in some areas of North Dakota will not resume until the ground is frozen solid.

By the end of the month, temperature departures indicated that all but a few locations were below normal. The areas with the largest departures included north-central Wyoming and western South Dakota where temperatures were 4.0-6.0 degrees F (2.2-3.3 degrees C) below normal. A few locations in these cooler areas managed to sneak into the top 10 coolest Octobers on record. Rapid City, South Dakota had an average temperature of 42.6 degrees F (5.9 degrees C). At 5.1 degrees F (2.8 degrees C) below normal, this was the 4th coolest October on record (period of record 1942-2013). The 2009 record firmly held at 38.7 degrees F (3.7 degrees C). Casper, Wyoming was also on the cool side this month with an average temperature of 41.5 degrees F (5.3 degrees C) which ranked as the 7th coolest. The record of 37.0 degrees F (2.8 degrees C) was also set in 2009 (period of record 1940-2013).

Precipitation Summary

For a second month in a row, heavy precipitation was the big story for the High Plains Region. Precipitation totals over 200 percent of normal were common across Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and northern and eastern Nebraska. Some locations even topped 300 percent of normal, including eastern Wyoming, southern portions of North Dakota, western and central South Dakota, and northern portions of the panhandle of Nebraska. While much of the Region was drenched, some areas actually did miss out on the heavy rain and snow and received less than 50 percent of normal precipitation. Those areas included central and southeastern Colorado, southwestern Nebraska, and a few pockets of Kansas. Just like last month, numerous records were set this October including daily, monthly, and even some all-time records. The Dakotas had numerous locations rank in the top 10 wettest Octobers on record. One example of a new precipitation record comes from Bismarck, North Dakota which had an October total of 4.73 inches (120 mm). This total was 378 percent of normal and just beat out the old record of 4.30 inches (109 mm) set in 1982 (period of record 1874-2013). Just south, a station near the border of the Dakotas had its wettest and snowiest October on record. Those records were set by Lemmon, South Dakota which received 23.5 inches (60 cm) of snow and 7.06 inches (179 mm) of liquid precipitation. Even with a couple more months to go, 2013 is already the wettest year on record (period of record 1909-2013)! So far this year, Lemmon has received 33.18 inches (843 mm) of precipitation. Lemmon’s old annual precipitation record was set recently, in 2010, with 25.56 inches (649 mm).

The most notable storm of October occurred during the first weekend when an intense system brought a wide range of weather. While South Dakota got pummeled with snow, in some cases several feet worth, eastern portions of the Region dealt with large hail, high winds, and tornadoes. The most violent ripped through Wayne, Nebraska and was rated as an EF-4. Tornadoes are fairly rare for Nebraska during the month of October and tornadoes of that magnitude are exceedingly rare even on the national scale. According to the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the last time a tornado that strong occurred in October was October 3, 1979 in Connecticut.

To learn more about the cold side of the storm and the impacts of the blizzard, please see page the full report.

Climate Outlook

ENSO-neutral conditions were still present at the end of October and are likely to continue into the spring of 2014. For the next three months, the temperature outlook indicates a higher probability of above normal temperatures in Kansas, Colorado, southern Nebraska, and the far southwest corner of Wyoming. Equal chances of above, near, or below normal temperatures exist for the rest of the Region. Meanwhile, the precipitation outlook indicates a higher probability of above normal precipitation n only one area of the Region which includes Wyoming and a very small portion of western South Dakota. Equal chances of bove, near, or below normal precipitation exist for the rest of the Region. The seasonal outlooks combine the effects of longterm trends, soil moisture, and when applicable, the El Niño Southern Oscillation cycle (ENSO). More information about these forecasts can be found here.

Drought Watch

The U.S. Drought Monitor showed improvements in drought conditions over the past month for each state in the Region. At the end of September, approximately 49 percent of the Region was in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought, but by the
end of the month this was down to about 22 percent. Heavy precipitation fell this month and a large area stretching from eastern Wyoming through central South Dakota and southern North Dakota received over 300 percent of normal precipitation. In terms of improvements, Wyoming was the big winner this month - eliminating all of its extreme drought (D3) and nearly all of its severe drought (D2). Significant improvements were also made in the Dakotas where drought conditions have been eliminated. Only some abnormally dry (D0) spots remained. Unfortunately, some areas in eastern Colorado, western Kansas, and southwestern Nebraska missed out on the heavy precipitation and had little to no change in drought conditions. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released October 17th, current drought conditions should persist across Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado through January 2014. Improvements are expected in Wyoming.

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