Warm Autumn Continues
On the heels of a warm September, warmth continued to be the story across the Midwest. October temperatures were above normal across the region, ranging from 1°F to 3°F above normal in the northern reaches, to as much as 6°F in parts of Missouri and Kentucky
(Figure 1). The region as a whole was 4.7°F above normal, which ranked as the 9th warmest October in the 122-year record. All nine states ranked among the 20 warmest in their history, with six states among the 10 warmest. The autumn temperatures to date (September and October) ranked as the 5th warmest in history and the year-to-date ranked 4th. All nine states were among the warmest 10% of their history for both September-October and January-October.
Most of the Midwest was drier than normal in October with rainfall totals ranging from less than an inch to more than 4 inches (Figure 2). Slightly wetter-than-normal areas touched every state, with a small area of south central Minnesota being the only location with 150-200% of normal. Dry weather was more widespread
(Figure 3) with totals short of 75% of normal touching all nine states, 50% or less in six states and the driest areas in Kentucky and some neighboring states, with deficits of 2.50 to 4.00 inches (Figure 4), came in at less than 25% of normal.
Drought Emerges in Kentucky
The Midwest was free of drought as of the October 4th release of the US Drought Monitor
(Figure 5). Drought emerged in southeast Kentucky and expanded slightly to the west and north as the month continued. As of the October 25th Drought Monitor, almost 25% of Kentucky (Figure 6) was in moderate drought and more than 10% of the Midwest was classified as abnormally dry.
Harvest was slightly behind normal as October started, mostly due to wet fields from late summer and early fall rains. Drier weather in October helped alleviate wet fields which allowed for more field work, and harvested acres ended the month closer to the 5-year average.
Limited Severe Weather
Severe weather in October was fairly limited
(Figure 7). Only eight days had even a single report and most of those had just a handful of reports. Three tornadoes were reported near the Quad Cities in eastern Iowa on the 6th (Figure 8). Two tornadoes were rated EF1 but no injuries were reported. On the 12th
(Figure 9), two EF0 tornadoes were reported in northern Indiana. The day with the most widespread severe weather was on the 19th (Figure 10), when hail up to 3 inches in diameter was reported in Indiana.
First Signs of Winter
First freeze dates in 2016 have been running a week or two behind the median dates
(Figure 11). The northern half of the Midwest picked up their first freeze in October (Figure 12) after just a few stations did in September. The first measurable snow of the season fell in Michigan on the 26th and 27th
(Figure 13). Median first snow dates (Figure 14) show stations in the upper Midwest are also slightly behind schedule for their first snow event in 2016.