On October 13th, over 900 cargo ships were stranded at a section of the Xijang River with low water levels in the southern province of Guangxi, China. According to reports, severe drought in the region began in early August and the average water level in Changzhou ship lock fell nearly 10 feet (three meters) since that time (Source: Xinhua). The dry season for the region typically begins in December.



West and Plains


Drought conditions across the U.S. were generally mitigated by widespread precipitation during the month of October - as determined by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The West Coast states experienced several storms, leading to a 1-2 category improvement across most locations. Conditions also improved for Upper Mid-West states and Southern Texas with a more active storm pattern bringing several inches of precipitation to both regions. Arizona and other portions of the four corners region had drought conditions worsen from moderate to severe by the end of the month, while drought conditions in the Southeast remained generally unchanged. Please visit our Drought Page for further discussion on drought conditions. U.S. Drought Monitor




A significant early season snowstorm occurred across portions of the Western U.S. on October 27th through the 30th, affecting the states of Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Locations along the Front Range in Colorado saw up to 46 inches (117 cm) of snowfall. Several interstates and major highways in the region were closed due to the weather conditions. This storm, along with earlier snowfalls in the month, led Cheyenne, Wyoming to have its snowiest October on record with 28 inches (71 cm) reported and North Platte, Nebraska to have its snowiest month on record for any month with 30.3 inches (77 cm) observed. Please see our October Snow and Ice Report for more information (source: National Weather Service).


Mississippi Valley and the Midwestt


While the western U.S. was enduring a heavy snow event the last week of October, the U.S. Gulf Coast, mid-Mississippi River Valley, and Midwest were dealing with flooding rains and strong thunderstorms. An active storm pattern for the month had already saturated the ground, giving way to widespread flooding. The Governor of Louisiana declared a state of emergency because of the damage. The National Weather Service - Storm Prediction Center had 35 preliminary reports of tornadoes in the region. The flooding and storms were blamed for at least three deaths (Source: AP.


Eastern U.S.

On October 15th and 16th, a storm moving along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard brought the earliest measurable snowfall to regions of interior Pennsylvania and New York. The mountainous locations of Pennsylvania received up to 10 inches (25.4 cm) of snow accumulation. The heavy wet snow falling on foliage caused widespread tree damage and over 10,000 homes to lose power in the region. (Source: U.S. National Weather Service)





In Sicily, Italy, nine inches (230 mm) of rain fell in a three-hour period on October 2nd, leading to Italy's worst mudslides in more than a decade. At least 20 people perished while 40 were reported missing. In addition to the heavy rains, officials indicated that deforestation and development weakened the soil and contributed to the landslides (Source: AP).



Just days after India reported the driest monsoon season in almost 40 years, the southern states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh received their heaviest rainfall in more than 60 years. At least 286 people were killed and 2.5 million were left homeless following the torrential downpours and subsequent flooding. Millions of acres of farmland were submerged and government officials reported total damages in the range of 6.7 billion




Heavy rains the last week of October led to flash-flooding in southwestern Somalia near the Kenyan border, displacing over 15,000 people. The town of El-Waq was reported to be almost entirely underwater (Source: IRIN News). There were also reports of significant losses to livestock in the flooded areas. On the positive side, the rains in the region have helped to alleviate the symptoms of an on-going drought.





Storms affecting the most populated Australian state of New South Wales the week of October 19th led to torrential rainfall with widespread flooding and wind damage. Officials reported that hundreds of homes in the state lost power due to downed trees. Damaged roofs were also reported in the Sydney area. One person died due to the heavy rainfall. To-date for the month of October, parts of coastal New South Wales received 16 inches (400 mm) more rainfall than average. (Source: Australian Bureau of Meteorology)




Typhoon Parma, following closely on the heels of Ketsana, developed on September 27th and made landfall over Cagayan Valley, Philippines on October 3rd as a category 1 storm, packing sustained winds of 92 mph (142 km/hr). The storm weakened to tropical depression status as it slowly criss-crossed the northern portion of the island between October 4th and October 10th as it was influenced by yet another nearby storm, Melor. At least 374 people were killed and more than 3.1 million were affected as continuous torrential rains triggered flooding and landslides in the area, burying dozens of villages. An estimated 43 million U.S. dollars in damage to crops and infrastructure was reported (Sources: Reuters, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).


Typhoon Melor hit Japan's main island on October 8th with fierce wind gusts up to 100 mph (160 km/hr), destroying dozens of structures, causing hundreds of flight cancellations, and closing businesses. Two people were killed and 2,400 were forced to evacuate their homes.


Hurricane Rick formed in the Northeast Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico on October 16th. On October 18th, Rick became the strongest October hurricane recorded for the basin, and the 11th category five, with maximum sustained winds near 180 mph (290 km/hr) and a minimum central pressure of 906 mbar. Behind Hurricane Linda in 1997, Rick is the second strongest hurricane ever recorded for the Eastern Pacific. Rick weakened to a strong tropical storm with sustained winds of 50 mph (80 km/hr) before making landfall near Mazatlan, Mexico. The impacts of Rick led to at least two deaths in Mexico. (Source: AP)


Typhoon Mirinae was the fourth typhoon to affect the Philippines in October 2009, making landfall on the 30th with winds of 115 mph (185 km/hr). Government officials reported that over 13,000 people were affected, 27 people killed, and another 4 reported missing (Source: Reuters). Several inches of rain fell on already saturated soil leading to flash flooding in areas south of Manilla on the main island of Luzon. Most roads in the region were buried by landslides, or submerged under floodwater. The storm weakened and made a second landfall in Vietnam on November 3rd killing over 100 people (Source: AP).


Jim G. Munley, jr.

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