For most states in the United States, fall brings rain. The Northern Hemisphere begins to swing away from the sun, and winter creeps ever closer. The polar jet stream falls from the Canadian border farther south, often bringing pressure changes that can lead to more rainfall. In October, some northern states are well on their way to winter, while in others, the leaves have just started changing colors.
Weather is as frustrating as it is fascinating. Our inability to predict the weather long-term has irked scientists for decades, but thankfully, data from the past can give us an idea of where to start. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tracks data from around the country to better inform the future of weather, water, and climate awareness. With data from NOAA, we can take a look at the 10 states that get the most rain in October. This data is based on the average rainfall recordings of each state between 1991 and 2020.
1. New Hampshire — 5.0 inches
October means rain in New England, it seems! Our top spot for this list goes to New Hampshire, a state famous for its fall foliage and its history. October is actually New Hampshire’s rainiest month, though June and July can get pretty wet as well. New Hampshire collects a majority of its rain from Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast! Famous for its erratic weather, Mt. Washington is in competition for the coldest place on earth when wind chill is taken into account. The mountain experienced the rainiest July on record in 2023.
2. Rhode Island — 4.8 inches
A small but mighty state, Rhode Island comes in as the second wettest state in October. That breeze off the Atlantic makes for great sailing but also brings in the rainy pressure systems that drench everything. October is tied with December for Rhode Island’s rainiest month. As one of the first 13 colonies, Rhode Island’s historical colonial towns get even more atmospheric when the skies are gray.
3. Massachusetts — 4.8 inches
The most populous state in New England, Massachusetts, is known for many things. The landing at Plymouth Rock, the Boston Tea Party, the Salem witch trials, leaf-peeping, Cape Cod, sports, and much, much more. Number three on our list, Massachusetts gets most of its rain in October. The Bay State sits right on the Atlantic and gets its cold fronts directly from the source. December also brings a lot of precipitation, but it’s more likely to fall as snow rather than rain.
4. Maine — 4.8 inches
Maine adds another New England state to our list, coming in at number four. Known for its jagged coast and the lobsters that live there, Maine is one of the most rural states in the country! Its deeply forested interior sees the most rain of the year in October, with June as a close second. The summer rains contribute greatly to the development of Maine’s state fruit, the wild blueberry. Come October, though, the seasonal rains trigger the leaves to change color and herald the fast-approaching winter.
5. Connecticut — 4.8 inches
Connecticut receives relatively consistent precipitation year-round, which ranges from 3.6 inches to the 4.8 inches that fall in October. However, most of that comes as snow during the winter months. The state is mostly protected from the open ocean by Long Island, though the waters of Long Island Sound and Block Island Sound still provide plenty of moisture year-round.
6. Vermont — 4.6 inches
Vermont sits right next to New Hampshire and comes in at number six on our list. Known for its beautiful landscapes and abundance of outdoor activities, all the rain in October might put a damper on some adventures. The Green Mountain State actually gets more rain in June and July than it does in October. The summer rain provides lush greenery to the state as it runs off Mt. Mansfield, the state’s highest peak.
7. Louisiana — 4.5 inches
An outlier in our tour of the Northeast, Louisiana ranks as number seven on our list. This is slightly misleading, though, because Louisiana just gets a lot of rain all year round. October is actually one of the state’s least rainy months! January, April, June, July, August, and December all see an average rainfall of over 5 inches. All the lovely moisture and humidity from the Gulf of Mexico floats north and contributes greatly to the Pelican State’s rainy weather.
8. New York — 4.3 inches
Taking us back up north is New York. The rest of the majestic state can get lost in the bright lights of New York City, but the Empire State has so much more to offer. Niagara Falls, the Catskill Mountains, the Great Lakes, and much more exist outside of the Big Apple. October is one of New York’s rainiest months, though it’s tied with June at 4.3 inches of precipitation.
9. Arkansas — 4.3 inches
Just to the north of Louisiana, Arkansas experiences the effects of similar weather patterns — the Natural State gets a lot of rain! April and May both see 5.4 inches of rain, then comes the dry season. The summer months see less rain than the rest of the year, and October’s increase in precipitation marks the start of the wet season. Arkansas’ many natural wonders, such as lakes, rivers, and mountains, all benefit from the rain.
10. New Jersey — 4.2 inches
Rounding out our list at number 10, New Jersey brings us back to the Northeast. The state includes over 130 miles of Atlantic coastline and is the most densely populated state in the country. New Jersey also sees a good bit of rain — October is on the low end of the state’s precipitation accumulation. The state’s rainiest months are July, August, June, and December.
Worst October Weather
The changing of seasons often results in tumultuous weather events, especially as the polar jet stream shifts in the fall. As such, October can be a prime month for wild weather, including hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, snow, flooding, and tropical storms.
Eleven named tropical storms — including two Category 2 hurricanes, Delta and Zeta — made landfall in October 2020, while other states experienced the snowiest October on record. Also, Colorado experienced three huge wildfires in October 2020, all of which broke state records.
In October 2018, Hurricane Michael hit Florida’s panhandle with the most intense landfall since the mid-19th century. Meanwhile, that same year, opposite sides of the Mississippi River experienced record temperatures on both sides of the scale — record highs to the east and record lows to the west, which even resulted in snow for the Texas panhandle.
October brings change to the United States, heralding the coming of winter. Though the fall solstice occurs in September, many states don’t start to see signs of fall until October, when the leaves start to change. Because of this, rain and October go hand in hand! Shifts in the atmosphere and the rotation of the Earth bring changes in the weather, too. For many of the states listed above, October is the rainiest month of the year. All that water can also cause trouble, however, as October is a prime time for hurricanes, storms, and other extreme weather.
|October rainfall (in inches)
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