Average October

2008-11-11 23:05:26.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist


According to the summit dictionary, one of the definitions for “average” is: lacking special distinction, rank, or status; commonly encountered. Some synonyms listed with “average” are: common, customary, ordinary, standard, or usual. I almost want to write to them and add one more: October. It is not that I hold anything against the month of October personally but after finishing up our monthly summary this week for the month of October, I found it to be on the whole, average.

October is certainly not our coldest, warmest, windiest or snowiest month up here but it has had its extremes, some of which were set as recent as 2005. In 2005, October saw a new monthly record high temperature of 62F, a new maximum monthly precipitation total of 28.70 inches, a new monthly maximum snowfall in 24 hours at 25.7 inches, and a new monthly maximum snowfall total of 78.9 inches. October has also seen a daily record low of -5F in 1939, a minimum monthly precipitation total of 0.75 (our lowest precipitation total ever recorded for a month) in 1947, and a peak wind of 161 mph back in 1943. October also holds a record in my heart as the month with the highest wind I have been out working in at 158 mph back in 2006. But this year, nothing stands out and by the end of next month; it will be yesterday’s news in my mind.

So what made it so “average” in my mind? Let’s start with temperature. The average temperature was 29.8F, only 0.4F below normal. The high was 51F on the 15th and a low of 6F on the 29th without a single daily record being met or broken. What about precipitation? The total was 8.23 inches, a lot for a valley location but for here, it was only 0.57 inches above normal and our 24 hour maximum was only 2.61 inches. At least we were above normal but not by much. Snowfall did not fair as well with only 10.5 inches falling putting the month 3.3 inches below normal which puts the seasonal total of 10.7 inches 5.5 inches below normal. Below normal but still not bad this early in the season, so I will be optimistic that we will make that up. And winds were almost completely average at 34.0 mph for the month, only 0.1 mph below normal.

Lastly, our peak wind was 97 mph from the west which is strong, but October is usually when our first 100+mph gusts occurs but this year, nothing. In fact, we haven’t seen a gust of over 100 mph since April; a long stretch for a location known for winds, although not alarming. I looked at our data back into the 80s and we have had similar stretches but if we go through November without 100 mph, then I will really have to start digging into our archives to see if we have achieved a new in-house record. But the month is young, so there is still time to get our gust. But, with the two shifts vying to be the first shift to experience the first 100 mph gust before the other for claiming rights, the race is on.

So October did not bring a “special distinction, rank, or status” to the summits. It wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold. It didn’t blow us away, so to speak. It wasn’t a white out or a wash. October just was what it was. And since I am not going anywhere fast, I still have plenty more months to experience new means and extremes. So I will wait here patiently to discover the month where “unique” will have to be redefined.

Side note: The picture to the comment has nothing to do with the comment directly. What struck me in the picture is the rime ice that formed on it. Rime ice is formed into where the wind is blowing as super-cooled droplets slam into surfaces. There are other comments that define what rime is so if you want to know more search for them. But what is unique here is the two directions that rime formed on this pole, one northwest and one northeast. This pipe is at the top of the observation tower, where objects usually have rime growing into the prevailing wind direction. What is odd is there was not a single minute of north or northeast winds today. So our best guess as to how we got the northeasterly rime feathers was from an eddy effect being formed by the deflection by the deck below. I could do an entirely other comment on how this formed actually. So, lets just say, it is rare to see this on the tower without a wind shift and so I thought I would share it.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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