The average temperature last month was 28.2 degrees which is 0.6 degrees below the current 30 year average. Although not an exceptionally cold month, it was the coldest November in Fargo Moorhead since 2003. Fargo Moorhead had recorded 9 straight above average Novembers until this year. Not only temperatures finished below average last month, but precipitation did as well.
In total, only 0.40 inches of rain and melted snow was recorded in November. That is well below the average of 1.00 inch. Our cooperative observer in north Moorhead measured 0.3 inches of snow last month. The average November snowfall is 7.9 inches. That ranked November 2013 as the 9th least snowiest November since 1890.
In recent years 2006 with just 0.2 inches and 1999 with no measureable snow ranked lower.
Another November has come and gone with very little snow falling in Fargo Moorhead. From 1985 through the year 2000 snowfall in November was common and often abundant. More than 50% of the years during that stretch recorded more than 10 inches of snow. But since the turn of the century, November snow became much less common.
Since 2001 there has been only two years with above average snow in November. Those two years were in 2001 and in 2010. Including this year, there have been seven years in that period with less than 1 inch of snow. Not only have recent Novembers been low on snow, but also, low on rain. Last month was our 5th straight November with below average precipitation.
Decembers, on the other hand, have tended to be quite wet in recent years leading to spring flooding in 2009, 2010 and 2011 reminding us that the weather can and does change quickly in this area.
The average high today is 31 degrees. The average high will stay below freezing until March 8 when that average will finally be back to 32 degrees. During the three principle months of winter, December through February, Fargo Moorhead averages 18 days with a high temperature above freezing.
n four out of the last five winters, we have recorded a below average number of melting days. The one exception was during the winter of 2011-2012 when on 47 of the 91 days that winter the high temperature was above freezing. That is the most of any winter on record. Of note, the other four of the past five winters in total had only recorded 47 days above freezing, an example of how unique the winter of 2011-2012 was for warmth.
The record lowest number of winter days above freezing is two such days that occurred during the brutal winter of 1978-1979.
This is usually the time of year that we record the first below zero low temperatures of the season. It is also no coincidence that this is also the time of year when we began to record our first snowfalls of one inch or greater. Like most other climate statistics, the first below zero reading varies greatly from year to year.
The earliest below zero low temperature occurred on October 26, 1919 when the low dropped to -4 degrees. The latest first negative of the season was back in 1987 when our first negative temperature did not occur until December 31. The average date is sandwiched in between those two extremes on November 28. The average last below zero day in spring is on March 11.
The overall average number of days below zero during our cold season is 48, with ten of those days recording both a negative high and low.
Our first low temperature in the teens this season arrived Wednesday when the low reached 17 degrees at the airport. Our average first teen of autumn is on October 28, so we achieved that milestone close to that average date. Our average first high temperature at or below freezing is November 9 and we may hit that next week.
Last year our first freezing high occurred on Veteran’s Day, we also recorded one inch of snow that day as well. In the autumn of 2009 we did not record such a day until December 2. That was also the latest such occurrence on record. Of note, the weather turned cold quickly after date and the winter of 2009-2010 ended up finishing with a below average temperature. On the other extreme, the earliest freezing high in autumn occurred on October 12, 1909.
If you are curious, that winter also finished with a below average temperature, although, neither winter finished exceptionally cold by our standards.
Last month was the first month since April with the average temperature finishing below normal. October finished with an average temperature of 44.8 which is 0.8 degrees below the current 30 year average. The month started off mild, with the first 10 days finishing well above average, but the rest of the month nearly every day was below normal.
It was not only a cool month, but a wet one as well. In total, 4.18 inches of rain was recorded at Hector Int’l in October making last month the 8th wettest such month on record. Most of that rain fell from two separate systems, one that dropped about 1.5 inches from October 4-6, and the other that brought nearly 2 inches on rain on October 14 and 15. When you combined the 4.39 inches of rain that fell in September, 8.57 inches of rain has been recorded since September 1 making the past two months the 4th wettest such period since records began in 1881.
October seems to be one of those months that no one really expects it to snow, yet, when no snow is actually measured, many seem to get surprised by that as well. One reason perhaps is that October snow has been fairly common in recent years. Fargo Moorhead averages just 0.7 inches in October. yet five out of the past seven years have recorded more than one inch of snow.
Historically, measurable snow has occurred in 45% of all Octobers since snow records have been kept, making these recent snowy Octobers seem more typical then it has been historically. Most years any snow this time of year is in smaller quantities as it only takes 3.8 inches to make it into the top 10 snowiest Octobers on record. Last year we came close to that finishing as the 11th snowiest when 3.6 inches were measured.
This year we tied with numerous years as the 60th snowiest October on record with just a trace being reported.
The average temperature through the first 10 months of 2013 is running about 1 degree below average. Seven of the ten months this year recorded temperatures reasonably close to the average with most of them finishing just slightly above normal. September was the only month so far this year that finished well above average. The temperature last month was 5.3 degrees above normal.
But the reason this year as a whole is running below average is because of the extremely cold March and April this region recorded. April 2013 was the coldest April on record for the state of North Dakota and ranked as the 3rd coldest in Minnesota. April finished more than 10 degrees below average in Fargo Moorhead after the month of March had also finished more than 10 degrees below normal.
Therefore, 2013 will probably finish as colder than average overall principally because of those two very cold spring months.
Today, October 28, is the average date of our first low temperature in the teens in Fargo Moorhead. Like so many other “normals” in our climate, the range from that average is considerable. The earliest morning low in the teens occurred on September 26, 1965 and back in 1944 the first morning low in the teens held off until November 26.
Of note, back in the autumn of 1965, although September was very cold, in fact, it was the coldest September on record, October and November trended much warmer with even a rare 70 degree November day even being recorded that year. In more recent years, seven out of the last eight years our first teen occurred after this date.
Last year our first morning low in the teens occurred on Veteran’s Day when our low was 19 degrees. We also happened to wake up 1 inch of snow that morning as well.
Our record low temperatures are now mostly in the single digits above zero and beginning in early November, all our record lows will be below zero until March 31. A couple of exceptions to that statement will be tomorrow, when the record low is -4 degrees, set in 1919, which is the earliest below zero temperature on record and one final double digit record next Wednesday when the record low is 10 degrees set in 1991.
Many of you may recall that was the day before the famed Halloween blizzard that dropped significant snow in portions of Minnesota that year. Of course, such events this time of year are rare, but smaller snow events are more common. The record lows this time of year were almost all set a day or two after a snowfall as snow cover greatly enhances our ability to cool off during our increasingly longer nights.