@NOAAClimate: U.S. had 3rd warmest and 2nd wettest year to date

Here’s the release from NOAA (Brady Phillips):

October typically ushers in those crisp, sunny days of fall. But last month was no ordinary October, as warm and wet conditions dampened peak leaf viewing across many parts of the Midwest and New England and fires devastated parts of Northern California and the West.

 

Here’s how things shook out in terms of the climate record:

Climate by the numbers
October 2017

October’s nationally averaged temperature was 55.7 degrees F, 1.6 degrees above average, which placed it among the warmest third of the historical record. Record warmth spanned New England with much-above-average temperatures stretching into the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic. Below-average temperatures were observed in the Northwest and Northern Rockies. The precipitation total for the month was 2.53 inches, 0.37 of an inch above average.

The year to date
The year to date (January–October 2017) average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was the third warmest on record at 57.5 degrees F, 2.5 degrees above average,. Every state across the contiguous U.S. had an above-average temperature for the first 10 months of the year. The year-to-date precipitation was the second wettest on record for this period at 28.93 inches, 3.57 inches above average.

 

More notable climate events include:

Hurricane Nate made double Gulf Coast landfall: On October 7, Nate made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana and a second landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi, as a Category 1 hurricane. Nate brought heavy rains to the central Gulf Coast and Southern Appalachians.

Tropical Storm Philippe saturated Florida and the East Coast: On October 29, Philippe made landfall near the Everglades National Park in Florida with sustained winds of 45 mph. The remnants of Philippe interacted with a storm off the East Coast and brought heavy rain, hurricane-force winds and battering waves to the Northeast.

Northern California endured catastrophic wildfires: A hot and windy weather pattern during the second week of October caused several wildfires to grow out of control very quickly in N. California. More than 40 people died, and thousands of homes and business were destroyed — it was the deadliest week in California wildfire history, according to state officials.

Drought eased in the North and expanded in the South: Drought spread in parts of the South while beneficial rains helped alleviate drought in northern areas of the U.S . As of October 31, the contiguous U.S. drought footprint (total area) was 12 percent, down 2.4 percent from the start of the month.

More: Find NOAA’s report and download related maps and images by visiting the NCEI Website.

“America is facing a crisis over its crumbling water infrastructure” — The New York Times

Water infrastructure as sidewalk art

From The New York Times (Hiroko Tabuchi):

Two powerful industries, plastic and iron, are locked in a lobbying war over the estimated $300 billion that local governments will spend on water and sewer pipes over the next decade.

It is a battle of titans, raging just inches beneath our feet.

“Things are moving so fast,” said Reese Tisdale, president of the water advisory firm Bluefield Research. And it’s a good thing, he says: “There are some pipes in the ground that are 150 years old.”

How the pipe wars play out — in city and town councils, in state capitals, in Washington — will determine how drinking water is delivered to homes across America for generations to come.

Traditional materials like iron or steel currently make up almost two-thirds of existing municipal water pipe infrastructure. But over the next decade, as much as 80 percent of new municipal investment in water pipes could be spent on plastic pipes, Bluefield predicts.

The outcome of the rivalry will also determine the country’s response to an infrastructure challenge of epic proportions.

By 2020, the average age of the 1.6 million miles of water and sewer pipes in the United States will hit 45 years. Cast iron pipes in at least 600 towns and counties are more than a century old, according to industry estimates. And though Congress banned lead water pipes three decades ago, more than 10 million older ones remain, ready to leach lead and other contaminants into drinking water from something as simple as a change in water source…

The American Chemistry Council, a deep-pocketed trade association that lobbies for the plastics industry, has backed bills in at least five states — Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Indiana and Arkansas — that would require local governments to open up bids for municipal water projects to all suitable materials, including plastic. A council spokesman, Scott Openshaw, criticized the current bidding process in many localities as “virtual monopolies which waste taxpayer money, drive up costs and ultimately make it harder for states and municipalities to complete critical water infrastructure upgrades.”

Opponents of the industry-backed bills, including many municipal engineers, say they are a thinly veiled effort by the plastics industry to muscle aside traditional pipe suppliers.