The Alabama Climate Report

Brought to you by the Office of the Alabama

Volume 9, Number 7 - October 2018

In general, the weather in October was warmer and drier than average across the state.  All of the stations for which we have long-term averages that I was able to check were between +3 and +5.2 °F above average (Mobile having the largest departure.)  For the state we were +3.6°F above the mean. So far, this fall has been exceptionally warm with a temperature for September and October of +4.1°F above normal.  This is the 6th warmest Sep-Oct since 1895.  The warmest was 1919 at +5.3°F.  Even though we’ve had a few warm Falls lately, the overall temperature trend since 1895 has been slightly downward.  (This information is courtesy of NOAA.)

October is typically our driest month, so a drier than average October means a dry month indeed – but not necessarily record-setting.  Of the 329 stations with rain gauges, 56 reported less than 1 inch, and six with zero.  But the overall average was 2.59 inches, which was very close to the 2.83 in. average.  Modest areas of drought appeared in west central through north Alabama during the month as a result. Bucking the dry trend were stations with over 6 inches of rain: Clayton, Dothan, Geneva, Headland (wettest at 8.07 in.), Mathews, Ramer, Rehobeth, and Tuskegee thanks mostly to a side-swipe from Hurricane Michael.

Things appear to be coming together for a warm phase of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation mode, more commonly known as El Niño.  The major weather impact in Alabama occurs in the wet season from about December through April.  If the typical situation unfolds, we will see a higher proportion of storm systems track along the Gulf Coast, bringing greater than average rainfall from about Birmingham southward.  El Niños tend to bring a little chill to the air too with cooler than average temperatures overall.  However, with our high variability of weather types in the winter and spring, anything could happen on any given day, so be ready.

- John Christy
The Alabama State Climatologist