Wrapping up a dry November
Posted December 3, 2012
Hard to believe we're already into December, but now that we are the numbers from November are in, and we can take a look at how it wound up in terms of weather and climate. On both counts, the bottom line was cold and dry when compared to long-term averages.
At the Raleigh-Durham airport, November finished up with a mean monthly temperature of 47.6 degrees F, which was both a sizable 4.6 degrees below normal and also over 7 degrees colder than last year at the same time. That's a good bit warmer than our coldest November, which averaged 42.5 degrees in 1976, but it was enough to rank as the 7th coldest reading for the month in 69 years of observations. The temperature during the month ranged as high as 75 on the afternoon of the 11th, and as low as 23 the morning of the 23rd. As seen on the first map above, temperatures around the southeast were chilly in general, with many areas 2-4 degrees below normal, but most of central and eastern NC fall into the blue contour denoting 4-6 degrees shy of normal.
In addition to being chilly, it was a very dry month at the airport and for most of the state. At RDU, total precipitation for November was 56 hundredths of an inch, 2.56 inches below normal and much drier than last year, which featured precipitation just a bit above normal for the month.This was the third driest of 69 Novembers at the airport, and not a lot more rain than the driest there, which saw .48 inches five years ago in 2007. The second map above shows precipitation percent of normal for the southeast, showing much of our area picked up less than 50% of normal rainfall, and less than 25% for about the northwestern half of the area, while there were just a couple of pockets toward the southern coast that saw considerably more.
Winds were comparatively light for the month, averaging 4.6 mph, compared to a long-term average of 6.1 mph for November. The highest gust during the month was 26 mph, which occurred on the 18th.
The dearth of rainfall through the second half or so of October and through November helped prompt the U.S. Drought Monitor to designate central NC as abnormally dry a couple of weeks ago, and then last week to upgrade us to moderate drought. In the week ahead, we're unlikely to get much rain, perhaps a few hundredths to around a quarter inch with a cold front crossing the area Wednesday, There are some hints from longer-range models now that we may see a shift to somewhat colder weather and more frequent bouts of precipitation starting around the middle of December, but it is too soon to know how much confidence to place in that change for now.