With statewide rainfall averaging more than 10 inches, Missouri weather records show October was the wettest in 68 years and second wettest in history.
“Rainfall was about three times normal for October, which is considered a fairly dry month suitable for harvesting,” said Pat Guinan, University of Missouri Extension Commercial Agriculture climatologist.
Current observations indicate October also was the fifth coldest on record, averaging about 6 degrees below normal. “It may rank colder when the final numbers are tallied,” Guinan said.
Preliminary rainfall data shows a statewide average of 10.17 inches, close to the 10.47 inches recorded in 1941.
“We thought the 1941 record was unbeatable,” Guinan said. “Until now, the second-wettest October was 7.23 inches in 1919.”
A very active weather pattern during the month led to frequent rain and extended cloudy periods. The combination of rain and cool temperatures slowed evaporation, causing wet soils across Missouri, he said. Conditions delayed harvests in Missouri and across the Corn Belt.
Wet weather created other problems for farmers. October is when calves are separated from the mother cows. Bad weather adds stress and health problems. Grain farmers are dealing with crop molds, slow-drying grain, stalk lodging, soil compaction and delays in planting winter wheat, Guinan said.
“Fortunately, weather patterns change,” he added. “The outlook shows dryer and warmer weather for the next couple of weeks. The probabilities are uncertain for the last half of November.”
The winter outlook from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center calls for above-normal temperatures in the northwestern half of Missouri. The rest of the state shows equal chances for high, low or normal temperatures, Guinan said. Below-normal precipitation is expected across southeastern counties, with equal chances for the rest of the state.
Some regions of the state broke historic rainfall records. St. Louis had 12.38 inches, setting a new record after 137 years. Weather observers in Shannon and Oregon counties in southeast Missouri recorded more than 15 inches of rain during October.
Counties in northwest Missouri received less rainfall, in the 4-7 inch range, which was still almost twice normal.
Guinan emphasized that the weather data is preliminary. “It will be close in regard to breaking the 1941 record, but it’s safe to say most Missourians have seen their wettest October.”
The five wettest Octobers are 1941 with 10.47 inches; 2009, 10.17 inches; 1919, 7.23 inches; 1984, 7.17 inches; and 1967, 6.61 inches.
Coolest Octobers on record are 1925 at 47.8 degrees F; 1917, 49.1 degrees; 1976, 50.5 degrees; 1895, 50.5 degrees; and 2009, 50.6 degrees.