November is climatologically the cloudiest month of the year in Fargo Moorhead. An average November will bring eighteen cloudy days and only six sunny days. The rest of the days would be classified as Partly Cloudy (a mix of sun and clouds).
The arctic experiences a quick plunge into winter during late October and especially in November. The southern part of the United States will stay relatively mild during this same time period. Large temperature contrasts begin to energize the upper-level wind flow often times bringing numerous storm systems with the corresponding cloud cover over much of the region this time of year. Plus, the low sun angle makes it difficult to evaporate low-level clouds and fog. The numerous storm systems this time of year also bring another common element of November weather, the wind.
Although the spring months of March and April are on average windier, November is not too far behind.
It was on this date in 1940 that the famous Armistice Day storm raged across the upper Midwest. The blizzard left 49 dead in Minnesota, many of them hunters caught in rapidly changing weather conditions. Gales on Lakes Michigan and Superior caused ship wrecks resulting in another 59 deaths.
Up to seventeen inches of snow fell in Iowa, and at Duluth Minnesota the barometric pressure dropped to 28.66 inches. Just like the Halloween Blizzard in 1991, the Armistice Day Blizzard brought only 1 inch of snow to Fargo Moorhead but it was accompanied by a fierce north wind. That north wind brought in bitterly cold weather and even with only one inch of snow on the ground, temperatures dropped below zero on November 13 and 14.
On the 13th the high temperature was only 8 degrees which to this day still stands as the coldest high temperature ever recorded for that date.
Last week in this space, I wrote about how close we came on Monday, November 3 to setting a monthly record for the warmest daily low temperature. The warm weather lasted several days last week and on Wednesday morning the temperature was in the upper 50s.
The November monthly record for the warmest daily low is 51 degrees, but we needed to make it until midnight to set the record. Temperatures north and west of Fargo Moorhead dropped into low 40s that afternoon, but in Fargo Moorhead we sat near 60 almost the entire day. During the evening hours the temperature dropped into the middle 50s and then at 9:40 pm the temperature briefly hit 51 degrees before rising again. So although we did not break the monthly record for the warmest low, we did indeed tie it.
The previous record was set in 1977 preceding a snow storm, just like this year. But the difference is this year the snow stayed about from Fargo Moorhead, but in 1977 after the record was broken we were hit by several inches of snow and even colder temperatures.
Nine out of the first ten days in November have a record high of 70 degrees or above, yet, since 1881, Fargo Moorhead has recorded a high of 70 or higher only sixteen times during the month of November. Four years, 1887, 1903, 1975 and 1999 all recorded two days at 70 or above, which means in only twelve Novembers did the residents of this area get to enjoy a 70 degree day.
The last time we reached 70 in November was just two years ago on November 8, 2006 when the high temperature reached 72 degrees. Earlier this week the official high in Fargo Moorhead was 69 degrees on Monday afternoon, but like a great golf shot that ends up a few inches from the cup, close does not count, so 2008 will not be joining the November 70 degree club.
Monday morning, residents of Fargo Moorhead woke up to a low temperature of 53 degrees. It is a record not normally mentioned, but the warmest low temperature ever recorded during the month of November was 51 degrees on November 7, 1977.
Therefore, you would think that we broke the all-time monthly record for the highest minimum, except these are daily records, not morning records. To break the record we needed to make it until midnight with the temperature staying above 51 degrees. At 10 pm the temperature was still 54 degrees, but the sky started to clear around 11 pm and at 11:59 pm it was 49 degrees for the official low.
Although, we did not break the monthly record, we did set the daily record as the old record for November 3 was 47 degrees. We will have another opportunity for a record high minimum again on Wednesday.