October 2021: A look back at last month’s weather

Weather

BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — October! Another month down, just two more to go until we call 2021 quits. October brought with it a lot of baggage, unusually warm weather, and our first below-average snowfall of the year. But we’ll get into that in just a minute.

Temperatures

Let’s start with that unusual warmth. Almost the entire first-half of October was considered to be above average, except for the first day of the month.

We had an unusually strong ridge built in over us, which allowed warm, moist southern air easy access north. The additional moisture kept our dewpoints high, which meant our temperatures could only drop so low overnight. Remember: the air temperature can’t drop below the dewpoint. These warm nights, just like during the summer, are what drove our daily average temperatures up the most.

With this being such a warm October in Beckley, it shouldn’t come as a shock that it took a spot in the top ten warmest Octobers. 2021 is tied for the seventh warmest October out of 108 years on record for Beckley!

Based on years with less than five days missing from the month of October on record.
Data: xmACIS2/NOAA RCC

Precipitation

We mentioned earlier this was an unusually humid month. Some of the highest dewpoints we saw were into the 60s, including during the early morning hours. Now, that’s normal during the summer, but for early October that puts us into the fifteenth percentile, which is something that’s not going to happen every year.

With unusually humid weather during at least part of the month, you think it would mean we’d also have above-average precipitation. More moisture = more rain, that’s the basic formula. But with a ridge overhead, it wasn’t really conducive for unsettled weather. Most of the rain was focused in the second half of the month, when we saw multiple cold fronts blow through and a stubborn upper-level low hang around. In fact, 70% of the rain for the month fell after October 15.

The other interesting thing about October is based on the 1991-2020 climate normals, we average 1.3-inches of snow. October 2021 did not feature any snow, but that almost goes without saying since we didn’t even break freezing at the Raleigh County Airport. In reality, snow in October is fairly rare for much of the region, outside of the high elevations of Pocahontas county. But there are a few outliers in the records, which get calculated into the average regardless, and that’s how we get our inch of snow and change for October. The most notable is the Halloween snowstorm caused by then Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Note: The years 1999 to 2004 are “missing” according to records.
Data: xmACIS2/NOAA RCC

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