October Was 4th-Warmest Ever in USA

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY3:45 p.m. EST November 14, 2014

(Photo: WLTX)

November may be turning into an icebox across much of the country, but remember how warm October was?

Turns out last month was the USA's 4th-warmest October on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday.

Only the Octobers of 1963, 1947 and 1950 were warmer than 2014.

This year marked the warmest October in more than 50 years, since the one in 1963. (U.S. climate records go back to 1895.)

That warmth brings greater concern for the persistent drought in many parts of the West.

"The drought across the West, Southwest and Southern Plains showed little improvement in October," the climate report, written by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, reported. "The next few months are critical for Western snowpack, a vital component of Western water resources."

Over half of the western U.S. — and over 99% of California — remains in a drought, according to this week's U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website that tracks the dryness. Overall, 11 of California's 12 major reservoirs are at below-average levels, according to California's Department of Water Resources.

There may not be much relief in sight, either. A long-promised El Nino — a climate pattern that sometimes brings heavy rain and snow to the Western U.S. — may not materialize at all, according to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center

In October, every state either had near-average temperatures (white), above-average temperatures (light orange) or much above-average temperatures (dark orange).(Photo: National Climatic Data Center)

For the year to date, California continues to bake, with a temperature that's a whopping 4.2 degrees above average.

"It is virtually certain that 2014 will be California's warmest year on record," the climate report stated. Washington and Oregon are both having their 2nd-warmest year on record.

Sixteen states, including every state west of the Rockies, had one of their 10 warmest Octobers on record, NOAA reported. In fact, the cities of Seattle, Portland and Monterey, Calif., all had their warmest October since records began.

Much of the Great Plains and South were also warmer than average in October, as was the Northeast. October 2014 was the first month since July 2013 in which every state's temperature was either near or above-average.

The October climate report for the Earth will come out next Thursday.