The 12 Northeastern states are on a record-setting pace, to make 1996 one of the wettest -- if not one of the most memorable -- weather years in the last 102 years of weather data, according to a climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.
"If we get normal precipitation for the rest of year -- that is through the rest of November and December -- we'll probably break the record," said Keith Eggleston, a climatologist at the center.
The official, calculated precipitation through Oct. 31, 1996, in the Northeast is now 44.6 inches, about 6.75 inches shy of a new record. The year 1972 -- in which Hurricane Agnes deluged the East -- still holds claim as the wettest year of the last century, precariously holding onto its 51.34 inches mark.
The normal precipitation amount for the Northeast in November is 3.79 inches; the normal for December is 3.44 inches. Based on that, Eggleston concludes that breaking the 1972 record is a probability.
Besides 1972, the other top years of precipitation in the Northeast are: 1990, which endured 49.62 inches; 1983, which saw 49.4 inches; and 1945, which had 48.61 inches.
In October, more than 5 inches of rain fell during the month from New Jersey, through southeastern New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, eastern Massachusetts, most of New Hampshire and southwestern Maine.
The heaviest rain was reported in southwestern Maine, while Portland set a new October record for precipitation with 14.76 inches. In fact, Portland set an all-time 24-hour precipitation record of 10.53 inches on Oct. 21-22, which handily beat the old record of 7.83 inches from Hurricane Bob set on Aug. 18-19, 1991
It was the wettest October in 102 years of record for coastal Maine and the second wettest for southern New Hampshire and coastal Massachusetts. Both Massachusetts and New Hampshire more than doubled their normal October precipitation amounts with 216 percent and 211 percent, respectively.
In the south, monthly totals were much closer to normal, with Delaware and West Virginia measuring less than a quarter-inch more than their normal October amounts.
The heaviest rains of the month occurred between Oct. 18 and Oct. 21, as a deep, slow-moving storm pulled tropical moisture into the Northeast. Parts of southwestern Maine reported more than 19 inches of rain from this storm.
For January through October, the total precipitation ranked as the greatest on record for the states of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well as for the Northeast overall. Massachusetts and West Virginia have received over 50 inches of rain during these 10 months, in each case, exceeding the normal total by more than 13 inches. It was the second wettest such period for New York and third wettest for New Hampshire.
For 1996 to be the wettest year on record (January-December), West Virginia needs only 4 more inches of precipitation and the Northeast 6.75 inches during the remaining two months of the year.
Temperatures for the most part were somewhat cooler than average during October. Vermont reported the largest departure at 1.5 degrees below normal. West Virginia was the only state that was warmer than normal, with a monthly departure of 0.9 degrees above normal. The 12-state Northeast region averaged 0.5 degrees cooler than normal.
New Weather Records
October's 24-Hour Precipitation Records (inches):