USDA October Weather Summary

November 9, 2012 03:51 AM

Unfavorably dry weather returned to the southern half of the Plains' winter wheat belt during October, as exceptionally dry conditions persisted in much of South Dakota and Nebraska. Consequently, nearly one-fifth (19%) of the United States winter wheat was rated in very poor to poor condition by November 4 - a list topped by South Dakota (52%), Nebraska (49%), Oklahoma (30%), Colorado (28%), and Texas (24%). In addition, much of South Dakota's wheat failed to germinate by early November - 33% emerged on November 4, compared to the 5 year average of 93 percent. Finally, October ended with at least 40% of the rangeland and pastures rated very poor to poor in 20 States across the western and central United States, led by Nebraska at 97%.

In contrast, beneficial rain and snow fell across the Nation's Northern Tier from the Pacific Northwest to the Red River Valley of the North. In particular, the precipitation aided winter grains, which previously had struggled to emerge. Farther south, warm, mostly dry weather covered California and the Southwest, promoting autumn fieldwork.

Meanwhile, corn and soybean harvest activities were complete by early November in parts of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota and South Dakota. In the eastern Corn Belt, frequent rainfall eased or eradicated any remaining drought but slowed summer crop harvesting and winter wheat planting.

Elsewhere, drier-than-normal weather in much of the Southeast - excluding Florida's peninsula - allowed harvesting to proceed, while Hurricane Sandy made headlines toward month's end in the Mid-Atlantic States. Sandy merged with a non-tropical storm and was forced inland on October 29 by a blocking high-pressure system over the northern Atlantic Ocean.

Sandy officially made landfall as a post-tropical cyclone near Atlantic City, New Jersey, with sustained winds near 80 miles per hour. Sandy's greatest impacts occurred in coastal and tidal areas of the northern Mid-Atlantic States, where a record-setting storm surge inundated beachfront and low-lying communities. In addition, wind gusts of 60 to 90 miles per hour in the Mid-Atlantic coastal plain downed trees and power lines. Farther inland, across the central and southern Appalachians, Sandy dumped as much as 1 to 3 feet of snow.

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