One of the most powerful tropical cyclones on record hit the Philippines last Friday and then moved in southeast Asia over the weekend. That storm was known as Typhoon Haiyan in international circles, but if you followed this event via the Internet, you may have noticed that some individuals were also referring to the storm as Typhoon Yolanda.
Yolanda was the name given to the storm by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA). Any tropical system that has the potential to impact the Philippine islands the PAG-ASA assigns a Filipino sounding name, not necessarily names of people, to the storm to make it easier to be remembered. The Philippines average around 20 named systems a year, far more than usually impact other countries in the world, making easily recognizable names very important for the country.
Yolanda was the 24th system named this year by the PAG-ASA.
Both November and December average 18 cloudy days. Because November is one day shorter, it gets listed as the cloudiest month of the year. Yet, that technicality should not take away from the fact that both months tend to be very gray. Plus, when you add the affect of a low sun angle and the short days, many people will have at least some symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short.
Often times what breaks up this cloudy pattern are large arctic high pressure systems that tend to bring in the bitterly cold, yet sunnier weather this area often experiences in late December through February. But until then, there will likely be far more cloudy days than sunny ones as this area will tend to be near the storm track for the next several weeks keeping the sky full of clouds and gloom.
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 week on Halloween, 42 tornadoes were reported across the country. Most of those were confirmed with storm survives over the following days. That was the most tornadoes reported on October 31 since at least 1950. That was also the highest daily tornado count in the United States since early July.
Yet, even with a high number of tornadoes recorded last week, the 2013 season overall has been one of the quietest since good severe weather records started in 1950. Not only has the tornado season been quiet, but so has the Atlantic hurricane season. Through October the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index was the 4th lowest since 1950 for the Atlantic basin.
Plus, it will probably be another year without a major hurricane strike on the lower 48 states, continuing the longest such streak since at least the Civil War.
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.
I have been asked on more than one occasion in the past week if we will be experiencing any “Indian Summer” this autumn. By definition “Indian Summer” is an extended period of above average temperatures in mid to late autumn. Plus, most individuals only consider true “Indian Summer” to occur only after the first killing frost of the season.
If we use the second part of the definition it is highly unlikely this area will experience another extended period of warm weather before winter as such weather is unusual in this area this late in the year. But if you only consider “Indian Summer” to be period of warm weather in autumn, then we did have a nice stretch during the first half of October. Such weather does not occur every year and such conditions should never be expected.
Yet, when it does occur, those are the days that nearly everyone agrees are the some of the most pleasant weather we experience.
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.