October 2018: Earth's 2nd Warmest October on Record

November 20, 2018, 1:48 AM EST

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Above: The deadliest weather-related disaster of October 2018 was Cyclone Titli, which made landfall as a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds near the border of the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha on October 11, killing at least 85 people and injuring hundreds more. The cyclone’s storm surge, high winds, and torrential rain were blamed for $920 million in damage. Above: Indian women carry coconuts next to fallen palm trees after heavy winds brought by Cyclone Titli struck the area in Barua village in Andhra Pradesh on October 11, 2018. Image credit: Kumar/AFP/Getty Images.

October 2018 was the planet's second-warmest October since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Tuesday. The only warmer October came in 2015. NASA also rated October 2018 as the second-warmest October on record behind 2015. Minor differences in rankings between NASA and NOAA can arise because of how they handle data-sparse regions such as the Arctic, where few surface weather stations exist.

Global ocean temperatures during October 2018 were the second warmest on record, and land temperatures were also the second warmest on record, according to NOAA. Satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the 9th and 4th warmest in the 40-year record, respectively, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and RSS.

The year-to-date period of January – October now ranks as the fourth warmest on record, and it is increasingly likely that the five warmest years on record globally will be 2014 through 2018. If an El Niño event develops this winter, as predicted, 2019 will have a very good chance of giving us six straight years that are each among the top six warmest years on record, barring a massive climate-cooling volcanic eruption in the tropics.

Departure of temperature from average
Figure 1. Departure of temperature from average for Octobers from 1880 to 2018. The five warmest Octobers for the globe since record keeping began in 1880 have all occurred in the past five years. Image credit: National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).
Departure of temperature from average
Figure 2. Regional departures from average temperature for October 2018. The most notable warm temperature departures from average were observed across central and eastern Russia and Alaska, where temperatures were 5.0°C (9.0°F) above average or higher. Record warm temperatures were observed in these areas, but also in the Barents Sea, the Bering Strait, the waters along the eastern coast of the contiguous U.S., and across parts of Africa, the southern Atlantic Ocean, and northern Australia. Asia and Europe had their third highest October temperature on record. No land or ocean areas experienced record cold October temperatures. Image credit: National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

Four billion-dollar weather disasters in October 2018

Four billion-dollar weather-related disasters hit the Earth last month, according to the October 2018 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon: Hurricane Michael in the U.S. ($15+ billion), Typhoon Trami in Asia ($1+ billion), drought in China ($3.55 billion), and a extratropical storm that brought severe weather to Italy ($3.7 billion). In addition, damage claims from five other disasters earlier in the year topped the $1 billion mark by the end of October, giving the planet 35 billion-dollar weather disasters so far in 2018. This already ranks as the fourth highest yearly total since 1990, according to Aon, with two months to go in the year:

  1. Hurricane Michael, Southeast U.S., 10/10 – 10/12, $15+ billion, 45 killed
  2. Hurricane Florence, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic U.S., 9/14 – 9/19, $10+ billion, 53 killed
  3. Drought, Northern and Central Europe, 5/1 – 8/31, $7.5 billion, 0 killed
  4. Flooding, Japan, 7/5 – 7/8, $7 billion, 230 killed
  5. Flooding, North China, 7/1 – 9/30, $5.75 billion, 50 killed
  6. Flooding, India, 8/7 – 8/20, $5.5 billion, 500 killed
  7. Typhoon Rumbia, 8/16 – 8/18, $4.3 billion, 22 killed
  8. Drought, Argentina and Uruguay, 1/1 – 3/31, $3.9 billion, 0 killed
  9. Severe Weather, Italy, 10/28 – 11/04, $3.7 billion, 29 killed
  10. Drought, China, 6/1 – 10/31, $3.55 billion, 0 killed
  11. Winter Weather, China, 4/2 – 4/18, $3.4 billion, 0 killed
  12. Winter Storm Friederike, Western & Central Europe, 1/18, $2.75 billion, 13 killed
  13. Severe Weather, Rockies, Plains, Midwest, Northeast U.S., 6/17 – 6/21, $2.4 billion, 3 killed
  14. Winter Storm Riley, Eastern U.S., 3/1 – 3/3, $2.3 billion, 9 killed
  15. Typhoon Mangkhut, China, Hong Kong, Philippines, 9/15 – 9/18, $2+ billion, 102 killed
  16. Typhoon Jebi, Japan, 9/4 – 9/5, $2+ billion, 17 killed
  17. Drought, U.S., 1/1 – 9/30, $2 billion, 0 killed
  18. Flooding, South China, Vietnam, 5/7 – 7/10, $2 billion, 38 killed
  19. Wildfire, California (U.S.), 8/1 – 8/31, $1.8 billion, 14 killed
  20. Flooding, China, 5/7 – 7/10, $1.75 billion, 108 killed
  21. Winter Weather, Europe, 2/23 – 3/2, $1.6 billion, 88 killed
  22. Severe Weather, Plains, Southeast, Northeast U.S., 3/18 – 3/21, $1.5 billion, 0 killed
  23. Severe Weather, Rockies, Plains, Midwest, Northeast U.S., 5/12 – 5/16, $1.45 billion, 5 killed
  24. Winter Weather, China, 1/24 – 1/29, $1.45 billion, 2 killed
  25. Severe Weather, 4/28 – 5/5 Plains, Midwest U.S., $1.4 billion, 0 killed
  26. Severe Weather, 7/19 – 7/22, Plains, Midwest, Southeast U.S., $1.3 billion, 18 killed
  27. Winter Storms Eleanor & Carmen, Western & Central Europe, 1/1 – 1/4, $1.3 billion, 7 killed
  28. Severe Weather, Plains, Midwest, Southeast, Northeast U.S., 4/13 – 4/17, $1.3 billion, 6 killed
  29. Drought, South Africa, 1/1 – 5/31, $1.2 billion, 0 killed
  30. Drought, Australia, 1/1 – 8/1, $1.2 billion, 0 killed
  31. Severe Weather, 6/3 – 6/7, Plains, Midwest, Southeast U.S., $1.1 billion, 0 killed
  32. Winter Storm Grayson, Central & Eastern U.S., 1/3 – 1/5, $1.1 billion, 22 killed
  33. Drought, India, 6/1 – 10/1, $1.1 billion, 0 killed
  34. California wildfires, 7/24 – 8/1, $1 billion, 6 killed
  35. Typhoon Trami, Japan, 9/28 – 10/2, $1 billion, 4 killed
Hurricane Michael damage
October Billion-Dollar Disaster 1. Hurricane Michael roared ashore in Florida’s Panhandle as a top-end Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds on October 10, 2018, pushing a storm surge of 15+ feet to the coast. Michael killed 45 people and did damage in excess of $15 billion, including $2.3 billion in damage to the Florida and Georgia timber industries and $2 billion in agricultural damage to Georgia. Public and private insurers--including the National Flood Insurance Program and the USDA’s crop insurance program—were expected to make more than $8 billion in payouts. Above: Bela (left) and Jaques Sebastiao begin the process of cleaning up their home after it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael, on October 17, 2018 in Mexico Beach, Florida. Image credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
Venice flood
October Billion-Dollar Disaster 2. A complex pattern of severe weather impacted much of Italy from October 28 to November 4, killing 29 and causing $3.7 billion in damage. Flooding, landslides, strong winds, waves, hail, and heavy snowfall caused major damage in the regions of Veneto, Liguria, Toscana, Piemonte, Lazio, Sardegna, and elsewhere. Venice suffered its 4th highest water levels since 1872, and highest since 2008. Above: Tourists make their way along water-covered sidewalks near the famed Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy, on Monday, October 29, 2018. Waters up to 5.1’ high flooded St. Mark’s Square. Image credit: Stefano Mazzola/Awakening/Getty Images.
October Billion-Dollar Disaster 3. After peaking as a Category 5 super typhoon with 160 mph winds, Typhoon Trami brushed Okinawa, Japan as a Category 2 storm, then made landfall in Japan’s Wakayama prefecture on September 30 as a Category 1 storm with 85 mph winds. Trami caused widespread disruption and damage on the Japanese mainland, killing 4 and injuring more than 200. At least 6,000 homes and other structures suffered damage due to wind and flooding, with total damages of at least $1 billion. Above: Himawari-8 visible image of Trami at 2330 UTC September 26, 2018. At the time, Trami was a Category 2 storm with 105 mph winds, and had an unusual “hub cloud” resembling a miniature typhoon in the eye (see animation here). Image credit: CIRA/RAMMB.
China drought
October Billion-Dollar Disaster 4. Drought in China during the summer caused an estimated $3.55 billion in damage. Above: drought conditions in China for the summer of 2018. Image credit: USDA.

El Niño conditions expected this winter

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) kept an El Niño Watch in place in its November 8 monthly advisory. Over the past week, sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region (in the equatorial Pacific) were about 0.5°C above average. Temperatures of at least 0.5°C above average are needed to be classified as an El Niño event, with the 3-month average temperature staying more than 0.5°C above average for five consecutive months. Oceanic conditions have been above the weak El Niño threshold for nearly two months, but the atmosphere has not yet responded, leading NOAA to classify the current state of the atmosphere as neutral.

Odds for an El Niño event to form were predicted to be 80% for the coming winter (December - January - February), the time of year when El Niño events are typically at their strongest. These odds have increased since the September advisory, when a 65 - 70% chance was given. If an El Niño event does form, it is expected to be a weak one, with a 55 - 60% chance of it continuing into spring (March - April - May).

Departure of SST from average
Figure 3. Departure of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the benchmark Niño 3.4 region (in the equatorial Pacific). Over the past two months, SSTs have near the 0.5°C above-average threshold needed for an El Niño event. Image credit: Levi Cowan, tropicaltidbits.com.

Arctic sea ice: Third lowest October extent on record

Arctic sea ice extent last month had the third lowest average October extent in the 40-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). In the Antarctic, the annual maximum extent came on October 2, and was the fourth lowest maximum in the satellite record—higher than the 1986, 2002, and 2017 maxima.

Notable global heat and cold marks set for October 2018

Hottest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: 45.1°C (113.2°F) at Sulaibya, Kuwait, 10 October
Coldest temperature in the Northern Hemisphere: -55.4°C (-67.7°F) at Summit, Greenland, 26 October
Hottest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: 46.6°C (115.9°F) at Vioolsdrif, South Africa, 28 October
Coldest temperature in the Southern Hemisphere: -71.2°C (-96.2°F) at Dome A, Antarctica, 3 October
(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera.)

Major weather stations that set (not tied) new all-time heat or cold records in October 2018


Five all-time national heat records broken in 2018

So far in 2018, five nations have broken an all-time record for hottest temperature in recorded history:

Palau: 95°F (35°C) at Koror on March 22
Algeria: 124.3°F (51.3°C) at Ourgla on July 5
Taiwan: 104.5°F (40.3°C) at Tianxiang on July 10
Japan: 106.0°F (41.1°C) at Kumagaya on July 23
South Korea: 105.8°F (41.0°C) at Hongcheon on August 1

No nations have set an all-time cold temperature record so far in 2018. Most nations do not maintain official databases of extreme temperature records, so the national temperature records reported here are in many cases not official. I use as my source for international weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, one of the world's top climatologists, who maintains a comprehensive list of extreme temperature records for every nation in the world on his website. If you reproduce this list of extremes, please cite Maximiliano Herrera as the primary source of the weather records.

Forty-seven monthly national/territorial heat records so far in 2018

January: Marshall Islands
February: Marshall Islands, Falkland Islands, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Palau
March: Marshall Islands, Qatar, Armenia, Madagascar, Pakistan, Iraq, UAE, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
April: Albania, Montenegro
May: Hong Kong, Norway
June: Oman, Marshall Islands, Cocos Islands
July: Iran, Namibia, Indonesia, El Salvador, Jordan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Korea, Comoros
August: Japan, Fiji, Falkland Islands
September: Iraq, Comoros
October: Japan, Finland, Thailand, Switzerland, Guam
November: Hungary, Albania, Slovakia, Poland
(Courtesy of Maximiliano Herrera.)

One national monthly cold record set so far in 2018

September: Iceland

Continental/hemispheric records in 2018

Highest temperature ever recorded in April in Asia: 50.2°C (122.4°F) at Nawabshah, Pakistan, 30 April
World record of the highest reliably-measured minimum temperature in 24 hours: 42.6°C (108.7°F) at Qurayyat, Oman, 26 June
African record of highest temperature: 51.3°C (124.3°F) at Ouargla, Algeria, 5 July
African record of the highest minimum temperature: 39.5°C (103.1°F) at Salah, Algeria, 29 July

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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Dr. Jeff Masters

Dr. Jeff Masters co-founded Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. in air pollution meteorology at the University of Michigan. He worked for the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990 as a flight meteorologist.


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