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Climate: Despite cool October, 2012 still hottest ever in U.S.

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Drought persists across 62 percent of the country

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A 16-month string of above-average temperatures in the U.S. ended in October, as repeated surges of cold air dropping into the heartland kept readings below average for the first time since May 2011, at the end of a chilly La Niña winter.

The National Climatic Data Center reported this week that the average temperature across the contiguous U.S. during October was 53.9 degrees, just 0.3 degrees below the long-term average. Even with the October dip, 2012 is still on track to be the warmest year ever in the contiguous U.S. states.

At an average national temperature of 58.4 degrees, the January to October reading is still 3.4 degrees above average and 1.1 degrees warmer than the previous year–to-date record, set in 2000.

During the first 10-months of 2012, 21 states reported record warmth with an additional 25 states reporting readings among their all-time 10 warmest. Only Washington had a statewide temperature near average for the period.

During October, below average readings were reported from Montana down through the central U.S. all the way to the Gulf of Mexico at Alabama. The Southwest (California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona), as well as numerous states in the Northeast, reported warmer than average temps for the month. The Southeast, Pacific Northwest and upper Midwest were about average, as was Texas.

Drought conditions eased slightly across the U.S. with the national drought monitor showing some level of drought across about 62 percent of the country, down from 64 percent the previous month. The Pacific Northwest and the Northeast were wetter than average, while drier than average conditions prevailed from Texas up through the high plains and west into Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.

Information compiled from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: National Overview for October 2012, published online November 2012, retrieved on November 8, 2012 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2012/10.

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