November 2016 Extremes

Blanketing the Lower 48 is a series of over 800 surface weather observation stations used to detect and record the day’s weather for a specific location. These stations use instruments such as thermometers and anemometers to measure surface weather conditions and give us information like temperature, dew point, and wind speed.

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Using daily data collected by this network, we’ve crunched the numbers to find out which locations in the US have had the most extreme weather during the month of November.

Warmest

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No, that’s not an extreme temperature of 15 degrees, but instead a month that averaged 15 degrees above normal! Grand Forks clocked its seventh month in a row of above average temperatures with a real doozy. In the month of November, Grand Forks ran the table with 30 straight days of above average temperatures. Their warmest temperature came on the 4th where the city hit 73 degrees for an afternoon high. That may not seem like a terribly warm temperature, but then again, their average high for the day is only 43 degrees. The mercury only dipped below the freezing mark 13 times – setting a new record for fewest sub-freezing low temperatures in the month of November – when they should hit this mark every single day of the month. All things considered, November 2016 was the warmest such month on record for Grand Forks, beating the next closest warm November by a whopping 3.4 degrees.

Coldest

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In what was an abnormally warm month for most of the US, our coldest spot checks in as more of a technicality than anything. Wilmington, North Carolina was one of just 12 out of the over 800 observation stations in the contiguous US to see below average temperatures in November. The other cities being-

  • North Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Cross City, FL
  • Elizabeth City, NC
  • West Bay, FL
  • Rocksprings, TX
  • New Bern, NC
  • Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood, FL
  • Ft. Myers, FL
  • Ft. Pierce, FL
  • Hobbs, NM
  • Cape Hatteras, NC

NOAA’s official State of the Climate report for November will be released during the second week of December, and it is very likely we will see a near-the-top warmest November for the US. In November, 45 states had cities with a top 10 warmest November on record – that includes 12 states in which at least one city had their warmest November on record. November 2016, for what it’s worth, just didn’t have much cold to write home about.

Wettest

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For the second month in a row, the wettest city in the US was Quillayute, Washington. With just over two feet of rain for the month, the normally wet city nestled in the Pacific Northwest saw almost 10 inches of rain above their monthly average. Quillayute saw rain every single day during the month of November, including a streak of 29 straight days going back to October with measurable precip (0.01” or greater). That makes for the 7th longest rainy day streak since records began in 1966. Quillayute is no stranger to rainy days, averaging close to 200 each year. Only four other US cities can say they see more precipitating days on average. Quillayute sees just shy of 100 inches of rain every year, meaning a quarter of their annual average rainfall fell in November.

Snowiest

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In a month with so much warmth, it seems out of place to be talking about snow. That said, November was host to our first two named Winter storms of the season: Argos and Blanche. The first of these, Argos, dropped record snow during the week of Thanksgiving in parts of upstate New York. The largest of these totals came out of Binghamton, where almost 28 inches of snow fell over the course of 3 days. This smashed the previous record for 3 day snowfall totals and also gave Binghamton its second snowiest November on record. Just last season, Binghamton saw only 32 inches of the white stuff, a far cry from the 83 inches the city sees on average every winter. If that’s not wild enough for you, just one day before the flakes started to fall in Binghamton, the afternoon high reached a balmy 66 degrees. Talk about a wild ride!

Sunniest

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If sunny skies are more of your thing, Barstow, California was the place to be in November. Located in Southern California’s Inland Empire, Barstow sits on the edge of the expansive Mojave desert. In a place that only sees 23 days with measurable rainfall per year on average, it shouldn’t be too surprising to see them make top marks for clear blue skies. Surprisingly enough, quickly-dissipating showers brought the city three days of rain in November totaling just 0.05 inches. November does kick off the wet season for parts of the desert Southwest which stretches through late April. Oh, and by the way, that 1% of total sky cover was thanks to 27 days in which there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky according to the observation station’s laser beam ceilometer (a fancy tool for automatically measuring cloud coverage and height).

Cloudiest

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On the other side of the coin, there were a lot more clouds than sun dotting the sky in Portland, Oregon. Portland, which is only shadowed by Seattle in terms of average number of cloudy days per year, came out of the month of November with an average of 82% total sky coverage per day. According to the National Weather Service, any day with 80% or more total sky coverage is considered cloudy. For Portland, 20 of the possible 30 days in November were cloudy enough to be, well, cloudy. Meanwhile, only one day was classified as clear (meaning less than 30% total sky coverage). Cloudy days and Portland go together like pumpkin-spice lattes and corner coffee shops in the Fall. Portland sees roughly 222 days per year of mainly cloudy skies (that’s 61% for you mathematicians out there). Go figure that in a country that spans some 3500 miles coast to coast, only a 15 hour drive that crosses one state border separates the sunniest and cloudiest cities this November.

There you have it, the extremes for the month that was November 2016. See you next month for more!


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2 Comments


  1. Cheyenne, WY picked up just 3.8″ of snow during the month of November. Their 48-hour snowfall record is 25.2″ that fell back in November of 1979.

  2. what about Cheyenne,wyoming’s ridiculously high snowfall..Stefanie Abrams mentioned caually in one short sentence that this city recieved something like 56inches of snow in 41 hours..this is not a ski resort,its a capital city sitting on a high desert plateau.