October 1988 was the warmest and one of the driest Octobers in 115 years of record keeping in the Salt Lake Valley.
A record-high maximum temperature of 73 degrees was recorded on Oct. 31. The previous high for that date of 72 degrees was set in 1952.The month will be etched in meteorological history as the warmest October on record in the Salt Lake Valley, with the average monthly temperature, 60 degrees - 7 degrees above normal, according to figures compiled by William J. Alder, meteorologist in charge of the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service, and Greg Smith, a meteorologist intern.
Previously, October 1950, held the record, with the average daily temperature at the airport running 57.9 or 4.9 degrees above normal. Considering all available data, including figures collected since 1875, the warmest October in downtown Salt Lake was 58.6 degrees in 1921.
October '88 saw plenty of records set at the airport, however, including average high temperature of 74.3, and average low temperature of 45.6. In checking airport and downtown records, Alder and Smith discovered that the average daily temperature for every day in October was above the normal average temperature for that day.
This has only happened two other times in history at the airport: January 1953 and February 1934.
So far, Alder said, there have been no freezing (32 degrees) or below freezing temperatures recorded at the airport this fall.
With only 6.50 inches of precipitation, January through October was the driest period for those months on record. The previous driest was 6.53 inches of moisture in 1931. Considering both airport and downtown records, the driest calendar year was 8.70 inches in 1979 and the wettest, 24.26 inches, in 1983. During a normal calendar year, 15.31 inches of moisture is recorded.
Smith said nearly every Utah weather station showed below-normal precipitation during October. The moisture pattern across the state during the month was not much different than in several previous months, he said.
The driest areas were in the north, extending into the Uintah Basin, while the wettest areas were in central Utah and extending into southwestern Utah.