A Monster Mashup: Halloween Climatology from Coast to Coast

Can you guys believe that this Saturday is Halloween?! I feel as if this year has flown by (and has been a little scary itself!)….but what a fun treat that this spooky celebration falls on a weekend this year! Halloween can be a tricky one for meteorologists, and revelers alike. Normal high temepratures can range from the 40s to the 80s with low temperatures ranging from the teens to the 70s…which makes planning your costume in advance a little tricky!

Most places in the US experience quite dramatic temperature swings throughout the month of October, although the contiguous United States generally sees an average temperature of 54°F for the month. Occasionally though, the warmth of summer likes to hang around throughout the month, while other years find that wintry temperatures like to creep in a little early! The coldest October ever occurred in October 1925, while the warmest on record occurred in 1963!

Last year (October 2019) saw a split trend across the country, with below average temperatures observed from the High Plains to the Pacific Coast, while above-average temperatures blanketed the eastern third of the contiguous U.S. Parts of southern Florida were record warm. Florida recorded their second-warmest October ever, while both Georgia and South Carolina recorded their third-warmest October! On the other hand, Idaho recorded their coldest October, with Washington, Utah, and Wyoming observing their second coldest October.

An early-season snowstorm across the Rockies and Midwest was accompanied by bitter cold temperatures during the last week of October. All-time record low temperature records for October were set across the West with some temperatures dipping well below zero. Peter Sinks, UT, often one of the nation’s coldest locations, dropped to −46°F (the coldest temperature ever recorded in October across the contiguous US!) early on October 30, according to the Utah Climate Center.

October also ushers in the first month of the cold season where parts of the country see snow (although we saw snowfall in parts of Wyoming and Montana on August 31 this year!) The Rockies and parts of the Northern and Central Plains into the Upper Midwest typically observe their first snowfall during the month. Higher elevations in the East have also observed snow in October.

Fortunately, October is near the end of the peak of hurricane season in the North Atlantic…but deadly and costly tropical storms are still possible this month (such as Superstorm Sandy which made landfall near Atlantic City, New jersey October 29, 2012). Tornado activity also typically fairly low during the month of October, although deadly outbreaks are still possible, mostly across the Southern Plains ad Southeast.

Sandy, Early Morning, October 30, 2012; Courtesy of: NOAA

While it’s fun to look back at Climate Normals, it’s important to remember that the actual weather conditions on Halloween can vary widely based on the current weather patterns. To look up your local forecast, be sure to check your town at weather.gov!

Lastly, to wrap up, we wanted to share this great graphic of Halloween temperatures at ten locations across the U.S. with Halloween-themed names, courtesy of our friends at NCEI!

Happy Halloween to all! Stay safe and always remember to check the weather before heading out!

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