Ag Weather Forum

Wide Variety in October Conditions

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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Very warm west, very cool central and very warm east describes the October 2020 U.S. temperature trend. (NOAA graphic)

The month of October brought some big differences and contrasts in conditions across the contiguous United States. Here are details from the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) report.

Above-average temperatures dominated the U.S. West in October 2020, as well as the central Gulf Coast and the East Coast. California ranked warmest on record for October while Arizona and Florida both ranked third warmest. Below-average temperatures were observed from the Northern Rockies to the Great Lakes and southward to the Southern Plains. North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Oklahoma ranked among their 10 coldest Octobers on record.

Below-average precipitation was observed across much of the western U.S., the Deep South, central and northern Plains as well as across portions of the Southeast. California ranked second driest on record for October. Nevada and Utah both ranked sixth-driest October on record. Above-average precipitation occurred across portions of the northern Rockies, Great Lakes, middle and lower Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley, Northeast and parts of the Southeast. Record daily and monthly snowfall were reported across portions of the West and Plains during the last week of October.


-- The average contiguous U.S. temperature was 54.4 degrees Fahrenheit, 0.3 degrees F above the 20th-century average. This ranked in the middle third of the 126-year period of record.

-- For the year-to-date, the contiguous U.S. average temperature was 57.0 degrees F, 2.1 degrees F above average, and tied with 2006 for seventh warmest in the historical record.

-- The October precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.16 inches, exactly average, and ranked in the middle third of the historical record.

-- For the year-to-date, the contiguous U.S. precipitation total was 26.30 inches, 0.94 inch above average, and ranked in the wettest third of the January-to-October record.

-- With the formation of Tropical Storm Eta on Nov. 1, 28 named tropical systems have formed during 2020, which ties 2005 for the record number of storms in a single season.

-- More than three dozen large wildfires continued to burn across the West at month's end. Over 8.5 million acres have burned so far this year, which exceeds the 10-year average.

The full report is available at this link:…

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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