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Beau's Journey » Blog Archive » November 1, 2009: October – one for the record books!
Sunday, November 1st, 2009

November 1, 2009: October – one for the record books!

October 2009 – One for the record books.
– Beau Dodson

Absolutely stunning numbers for the month of October.  I don’t believe that I can ever recall an October that produced such widespread heavy rainfall.  And it wasn’t just one or two systems – repeatedly the storm track brought persistent moderate to heavy rains to a large portion of the central and southern United States.

October is normally one of the drier months in western Kentucky.  Far from it this year.  Many area farmers will be happy to close this chapter of weather history.

KFVS Channel 12, WSIL TV 3, and WPSD TV 6 all reported widespread heavy rain totals from their viewers and weather watchers during the month of October.  Frequently the rain was either a top news story or a headline during the news broadcasts.   Forecasters ran out of descriptive superlatives for the weather.  More often than not, news anchors used the words "broken record" to describe the ongoing precipitation events.

In Massac County I recorded 5 events that produced between 1-2"+ amounts.  A total monthly rainfall of 11.35".  Quite amazing.  The Paducah, Kentucky NWS Office recorded a total of 10.55" of rainfall.  This was 7.10" above normal.  Preliminary monthly data report from the NWS Office in Paducah, KY.

Some other rainfall totals from around our region included:  Carbondale, Illinois reported a total of  9.80" of rain.  Evansville, Indiana reported a total of 8.21" of rain.  Cape Girardeau, Missouri reported a total of 10.38" of rain.  Poplar Bluff, Missouri reported a total of 13.23" of rain.  Owensboro, Kentucky reported 5.47" of rain.

At least a trace of rainfall was recorded on 15 days during the month of October at the weather observatory in northern Massac County!  Many other days were cloudy.  Residents of the region regularly complained about the  lack of sunshine.  Farmers were forced out of their fields while they waited for drier ground conditions.  Moist conditions left corn and soybeans, as well as other crops, molding in the fields.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the combination of a late planting season and an unusually cool, wet fall caused one of the latest harvests in recent memory. On October 26th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said just 20% of the corn crop had been harvested in the major corn-producing states, compared with 58% on average by this point in 2004 through 2008. Farmers also had brought in just 44% of the soybean crop, versus 88% on average over the past five seasons. – sourced at link above

Not only was the month of October wet, it was also unusually cool.  Although we did not record a freeze, here in Massac Couinty, we did have frost on two occasions.  The cloudy sky conditions during the month kept temperatures below to well below normal.

October 2009 will go down as one of the wettest Octobers at the National Weather Service Office in Paducah, Kentucky.  It was the 6th coolest October on record.  The National Weather Service Office in Paducah, Kentucky recorded 10.55" of rain.  This precipitation total shattered the old record of 7.37" which fell during October of 1998.

Other National Weather Service Offices summarized the month as quite extreme.   There are simply too many stories to post.

I recorded rainfall during a 24 hour period starting at 9 am and ending at 9 am on the following dates:

October 2,   0.42"
October 5,   0.05"
October 7,   2.32"
October 9,   2.38"
October 10, 0.61"
October 14, 0.41"
October 15, 1.31"
October 16, 0.02"
October 17, 0.03"
October 18, 0.01"
October 23, 0.98"
October 27, 0.11"
October 28, 0.96"
October 30, 0.42"
October 31, 1.35"

The recording station in northern Massac County

Very little in the way of severe weather was reported in the KPAH forecast region.  One date – October 8th – had 1 wind report logged on the SPC storm report page.  That report came from Trigg County, Kentucky.  Damage to outbuildings and trees on a farm were logged by the NWS Office in Paducah.


Storm Prediction Center – Storm Reports for October 8th

A tornado watch (#761 for the year) was issued prior to the report.  Thankfully no tornadoes were reported in our local counties.


It is unlikely that we will experience an October quite like the October of 2009 for some time to come.

Some of the impressive climate data maps from the High Plains Regional Climate Center.  Although these maps may not be exact – they do give you a general idea of just how extreme this month was.

The above map shows total Precipitation for the month of October.  You can see the large area of green and yellow.  Most of that area recorded record or near record rainfall totals for the month.

The above map shows precipitation totals over the central United States for the month of October.
Our region experienced widespread 6-11"+ amounts.  Portions of southern Illinois have recorded more
than 50 inches of rainfall so far this year (reported by Jim Rasor of WSIL TV 3).  According to record keepers this is the second year in a row for totals that high.  Reportedly, this is the first time that has occurred in record keeping history (for some locations in southern Illinois).

The above map shows precipitation totals over the southern United States for the month of October.
Some areas of Arkansas experienced more than 20 inches of rainfall during the month of October.
Numerous flash flood warnings were issued for large chunks of Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Texas,
and Louisiana.  This wet weather came on the heels of a September record flood event in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Several of the precipitation events, during the month of October, were influenced by the remnants of tropical activity that spread into the United States from the Pacific Ocean (Olaf and Rick).  Very little in the way of Atlantic tropical weather influenced the rainfall totals over the central and southern United States.

The above map shows the departure of precipitation from normal values.  The green, blue, and purple areas are anywhere from 1-16+ inches above normal.

This map is zoomed in on our region.  You can see the extreme departure numbers.  Rainfall totals were anywhere from 3-7+ inches above normal.  Quite amazing to see such widespread above normal precipitation totals.  This has caused many rivers and streams to flood.  Again, quite unusual for October of any year.

This map is zoomed in on our region.  Once again you can see the extreme departure numbers.  Rainfall totals were anywhere from 3-15+ inches above normal.

An even more amazing map is the percentage departure from normal maps.  This map indicates what percentage areas are above normal in the rainfall department.  For an area to be 40-50% above normal in rainfall would be considered significant.  Areas on this map are anywhere from 100-600%+ above normal.  Not only is that incredible it would likely be nearly impossible to find anything quite like it from recent record keeping.

Equally significant, on this map, is the widespread nature of the above normal percentage areal coverage.  Extreme.

The same map zoomed in on our local region. Rainfall totals of 150-300% above normal.

Areas just south of us are even more wet.  Extreme percentage totals such as this are causing a lot of concern about upcoming flood potential during the winter and spring months.  If weather patterns continue to produce above normal precipitation then it is possible that the flood season of 2010 will be one to remember.  Let’s hope not.

Long term drought indicator blends – from the National Drought Mitigation Center

Not to forget temperatures.  Another important story of October 2009.  A large section of the United States recorded below to much below normal temperatures.  This was partially because of the number of precipitation events that kept cloud cover at a maximum.  The lack of sun produced below normal temperatures.

There were several notable early season snow events across the Rocky Mountains, the Northern Plains, and even the Northeast United States.

The above map shows departure from normal temperatures.  Widespread -1 to -10 degree departures were recorded.  A monthly temperature departure of negative or positive of 2 or 3 degrees is considered quite significant.  To see such a large area of below normal temperatures is impressive.

In looking for a comparison year, Meteorologist – Larry Cosgrove, posted this map on his winter outlook.  October of 2002 appears similar in terms of temperature departures for much of the United States.  Although, there were some other upper air differences that year.


October of 2002 had similar cold conditions over the United States.

Temperature departure maps zoomed in on our local region.  Much cooler than normal conditions prevailed for much of the month of October.  Nineteen days of below normal temperatures were recorded at the Paducah, Kentucky National Weather Service Office.

Temperature departure maps for the southern United States.

Temperature departure maps for the central United States.

And finally one last map from the Agriculture Department.  Widespread above normal streamflow
conditions are being reported over a wide area of the United States.  Again, this is a concern for
upcoming flood potential during the winter and spring months.

– Summary by Beau Dodson

Other reports –

Top 5 coldest Octobers on record for Kansas City
Springfield, Missouri – WET
Omaha, Nebraska – coldest/wettest/snowiest
Des Moines, Iowa – cold and wet
Chicago, Illinois More
Near record wet in Illinois
Twin Cities, Minnesota – one for the record books
Goodland, Kansas – coldest


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