October weather in Missouri gave sharp contrasts. September weather that felt like August went away. October 2019 was the coldest October in 10 years and the fifth month this year that was colder than normal. Unexpected snow over much of the state ended the month.
October went from dry to wet, becoming the wettest October since 2014. It was the eighth wetter-than-average month in 2019.
“Strong contrasts became the theme for Missouri weather in 2019,” says Pat Guinan, MU Extension climatologist. “The state lies between colder-than-average states in north-central U.S. and warmer than average in southeast U.S.”
There’s more. The first fall freeze came early for the western Ozarks and central Missouri. The Oct. 12 freeze was near or a few days earlier than normal in northern Missouri and the eastern Ozarks. The southeast escaped, but all locations froze by month’s end.
Farmers hoped for late frost to allow crop harvest. In cool, wet weather, crops planted late matured and dried slow.
By the last week of October, corn harvest was at 64 percent. Soybeans were 43 percent harvested. That was 20 percent behind for corn and 15 percent late for soybeans.
Bright spots were for pasture and hay. Wet weather ended droughts that cut forage yields in recent years. Hay supplies were 71 percent adequate. All numbers came from the Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service.
Many soil moisture reports rated “very wet” at the end of October. That extended across northern and central U.S.
On Oct. 1, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed dry weather in southeast border counties. That was the first drought of the year. By month’s end, the state was “drought free.”
Guinan says preliminary data shows state average rain at 5.3 inches for October. That’s 2.09 inches above long-term rain. In all, it’s the wettest January-to-October since 2008.
Some areas had heavy rain, especially in the southeast two-thirds of the state. Up to 7-inch averages fell there. Some southwest border counties had more than a foot of rain. That included Barry, Stone and Taney counties.
One volunteer in Taney County reported 15.54 inches for the month.
Some farmers farther away reported their rain gauges were too small to record rains. They overflowed.
Snow in October is unusual, but it does occur, Guinan says. Up to 11.5 inches of snow fell on Oct. 22-23, 1996, in northwest and west-central counties. Trees still in leaf broke and power lines fell.
“Wet soil conditions will likely persist in winter into early spring,” Guinan says. “Expect elevated risks of flooding across Missouri and Mississippi river basins.”
As state climatologist, Guinan helps oversee a network of 37 automated weather stations across the state. Area residents access almost up-to-the-minute weather, including soil temperatures, from a nearby station.
To find a nearby station, go to mesonet.missouri.edu.
The website offers vast climate data.
The weather networks are a collaboration of the MU Extension Climate Center and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.