Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.
By: Christopher C. Burt , 8:14 PM GMT on November 12, 2013
October 2013 Global Weather Extremes Summary
October featured Severe Cyclone Phailin striking the eastern coast of India, an extremely intense extra-tropical storm (named ‘Christian’) in northwestern Europe, and an extraordinary early season snowstorm (and tornado outbreak) affecting the north-central portion of the U.S. Unusually warm weather occurred again in Australia, where tremendous wild fires raged, and was also notable in Germany, Poland, and Japan where deadly typhoon-related landslides also occurred.
Below are some of the month’s highlights.
The most notable weather event (or I should say ‘events’) was the wild weather that occurred during the weekend of October 4-6 across the nation: an historic blizzard in Wyoming and South Dakota, a tornado outbreak in Nebraska and Iowa, a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, and high winds with wild fires in coastal California. Probably the most remarkable extreme that occurred was the amazing snowfall totals in the Black Hills region of South Dakota where up to 58” (147 cm) of snow accumulated over a 24 to 36-hour period.
Some four feet of snow buried the town of Summerset, South Dakota on October 4th (pictured above). Snowdrifts up to 20’ (6 meters) buried the NWS office in Rapid City, trapping the weather forecasters inside for two days. Photo by Misty Mandas.
Meanwhile a tornado outbreak spawned 16 twisters in eastern Nebraska and Iowa with one EF-4 monster striking the community of Wayne, Nebraska on the evening of October 4th.
Tornado damage in Wayne, Nebraska following the EF-4 tornado that coursed over the town. Remarkably there were no fatalities caused by the tornado in Wayne, or, for that matter, any of the other tornado touchdowns elsewhere in the region. Photo from Nebraska State Patrol.
For a complete wrap-up of all the weekend’s extremes see this blog I posted on the subject.
Nationwide, the month was cooler than normal with about normal precipitation, although South Dakota saw its 2nd wettest October on record thanks, in large part, to the severe storm that covered the state on October 4-5. Also, there were surprising precipitation extremes over small areas. For instance, Harrisburg, PA had its wettest October on record with 11.04” (280 mm) whereas Bridgeport, CT, just two hundred miles away, saw its driest October on record with a 0.32” (8 mm) total. Alaska recorded its warmest October on record (since 1918) with a statewide average temperature some 8.8°F (4.9°C) above normal. Temperatures climbed to 62°F (16.7°C) at Delta Junction (in the interior near Fairbanks) on October 28th, by far the warmest ever measured there so late in the season and smashing its previous record high for that day by 15°F (8.3°C).
State-by-state precipitation (top) and temperature (bottom) rankings for the contiguous U.S. this past October. Maps from NCDC/NOAA.
The coldest temperature measured in the northern hemisphere during October was -48.7°C (-55.6°F) at Summit GEO, Greenland on October 8th and also at Summit Camp on October 28th.
SOUTH AMERICA and CENTRAL AMERICA
I am unaware of any significant extreme weather events in South or Central America during the month.
The big story weather-wise in Europe was severe extra-tropical storm Christian (also known as the St. Jude’s Day storm) that roared ashore over England and northwestern Europe on October 27-28. Record high wind gusts were measured for Denmark with 192.6 kmh (120 mph) at Kegnaes and unofficially to 191 kmh (119 mph) at Borkum and Helgoland in Germany. The official maximum wind gust for Germany was 172 kmh (107 mph) at St. Peter-Ording. The storm resulted in $2.4 billion in damages and at least 16 fatalities from the U.K. to Germany and Denmark. A complete summary of the storm may be found here.
The synoptic map for Western Europe when Christian was at its strongest on the morning of October 28th. Its central pressure had fallen to 966 mb at this time. Map from the German national weather agency, DWD.
Prior to the big storm, very warm temperatures were measured in Germany and Poland among other countries. In Poland the reading of 25.9°C (78.6°F) at Makow Podhalanski on October 27th was the warmest ever measured so late in the season for the nation. A site in Germany, Bad Mergentheim-Neunkirchen, also measured 25.9°C that week. Frankfurt’s 23.8°C (74.8°F) on October 22nd was that city’s record for warmest so late in the season as well.
At the beginning of the month a cold wave enveloped portions of Eastern Europe with snow falling at low elevations in the Ukraine and Romania on October 1-3 and followed by record cold temperatures as low as -14.0°C (6.8°F) in the Tatra Mountains of the Ukraine. For Romania it was coldest so early in the season since 1929.
In the U.K. temperatures averaged 1.7°C (3.1°F) above normal for the month and rainfall was 127% of normal. The warmest temperature measured was 23.0°C (73.4°F) at Skegness, Lincolnshire on October 8th and the coldest -3.6°C (25.5°F) at Dalwhinnie, Highland on October 12th. The greatest 24-hour rainfall measured was 66.4 mm (2.61”) at Benmore, Aryll on October 1-2. The big St. Jude’s Day storm brought a wind gust to 99 mph (158 kmh) to Needles Old Battery on the Isle of Wight on October 28th.
Unusually hot weather prevailed in North Africa at the end of October with temperatures as high as 39°C (102°F) recorded. West Africa also had some anomalously hot weather with 44°C (111.2°F) recorded at Matam, Senegal on October 19th and 20th.
A barrage of tropical storms affected Eastern Asia and India during the month. Cyclone Phailin threatened to devastate the Indian State of Odisha (formerly Orissa) with 160 mph sustained winds just prior to coming ashore on October 12th. Fortunately, the greatest mass evacuation tot take place in India for the past 23 years (some 550,000 people) averted what could have been a devastating tragedy and only 45 lives were lost (compared to some 10,000 when a cyclone hit the same region in 1999). Phailin’s central pressure was estimated to have bottomed out at 918 mb (27.11”) by the JTWC when the storm was at its strongest over the Bay of Bengal on October 11th, one of the lowest such readings ever for any storm in the bay.
The circulation of Cyclone Phailin almost completely encompassed the entire Bay of Bengal at one point several days prior to its landfall in India. Image from EUROMET.
Later in the month, torrential rains in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh States caused flooding the killed 39 on October 25-26. The tech-hub city of Hyderabad was especially hard hit. A site in Odisha State, Kalingapatam, measured 1,080 mm (42.52”) of rainfall over the three-day period of October 23-25.
Other notable tropical storms were Typhoons Fitow, which grazed Hong Kong but struck Guangdong Province hard killing 10 there, and Typhoon Wipha which brought devastating flash floods to the Japanese Island of Oshima on October 16th. 824 mm (32.44”) of rain fell over the course of a single day (the third greatest such total in Japanese records) and a mudslide killed 31 with and additional 13 missing.
An aerial view of the deadly landslide on Oshima Island that resulted in the deaths of at least 35 following torrential rainfall unleashed by Typhoon Wipha as it passed off the coast of Japan on October 16th. Photo JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images.
Very cold air followed the typhoon and 11 cm (4.3”) of snow fell at Obihiro on Hokkaido Island, its greatest October snowfall since 1892. This was especially unusual since just prior to Typhoon Wipha the hottest temperature ever measured in Japan during the month of October was recorded at Itoigawa on October 9th with a 35.1°C (95.2°F) reading.
Meanwhile, air pollution in China reached critical levels. In the Manchurian industrial city of Harbin (Heilongjiang Province) the smog became so bad that the airport was forced to close and schools were shut down. Visibility fell to 100-150 feet on October 21st. The PM-25 level reached an astounding 1000 ppm, three times the hazardous level of 300 ppm and 40 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization.
A traffic cop in Harbin takes his life in his hands while working a busy intersection in Harbin where visibility was reduced to just 30-40 meters on several days in late October. Photographer not identified/AFP and Getty Images.
The hottest temperature measured in the world during this past October was 45.0°C (113.0°F) at Makah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia on October 1st.
The worst wild fires since the disaster of 2009 ravaged the Blue Mountain district west of Sydney during the middle of October. Some 200,000 acres burned and hundreds of homes were lost. For more on this fire event and Australian wild fire history see this blog entry from last October.
An ominous plume of smoke darkens the skies above Sydney on October 17th. Photo by Cassie Trotter/Getty Images.
Sydney reached 37.3°C (99.1°F) on October 10th, its 3rd hottest reading on record for the month and especially anomalous for occurring so early. Overall, it was Sydney’s 2nd warmest October on record. For the nation as a whole it was another very warm month, much above normal, averaging 1.41°C (2.5°F) above average nationwide and also drier than normal with just 49% of average precipitation. The hottest temperature measured, and the warmest such for the southern hemisphere for October, was 44.8°C (112.6°F) at Fitzroy Crossing, Western Australia on October 18th and the coldest -8.7°C (16.3°F) at Perisher Valley, New South Wales on October 18th (interesting how both the hottest and coldest temperature readings for Australia during October occurred on the same day!) The greatest calendar day precipitation was 109 mm (4.29”) at Narembeen, Western Australia on October 20th. There was an amazing drop of temperature at Eyre, Western Australia where it cooled down from 42.4°C (108.3°F) on October 8th to -5.0°C (23.0°F) by October 14th, a new record low for Western Australia for the month of October.
Temperature (top) and precipitation (bottom) deciles for Australia during the month of October. Maps courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Stronger than average westerlies brought torrential rainfall to portions of the South Island during October. Milford Sound recorded its 2nd wettest October on record with a 1,295 mm (50.98”) total. Of this, 247 mm (9.72”) fell on the calendar day of October 21st, the greatest such measured in New Zealand for the month. A foehn wind event in the lee of the South Island Alps resulted in the warmest temperature measured in the country during October with a 28.9°C (84°F) reading at Christchurch on October 24th. The coldest temperature was -4.9°C (23.2°F) at Takahe Valley, South Island on October 27th.
The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during October was –68.9°C (-92.0°F) recorded at Vostok on October 11th.
KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data and Jeremy Budd and NIWA for New Zealand data.
Christopher C. Burt
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