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Preview of Winter

November is the transition month from fall to winter. It is a time when we finish the clean-up of the autumn leaves and summer gardens and finalize the preparations of our homes and cars for the hard winter weather ahead. The holiday season begins with Thanksgiving, a long weekend during which more of us travel to see friends and families than any other holiday in the year.

Unfortunately, during this busy time, the usually quiet weather of October often gives way to the first big winter storms of the season. The frequency increases during the month with the threat of wet or snowy weather becoming fairly high in the north about the time of peak holiday travel.

The continental United States which reached the annual minimum of non-tropical storms in late summer experiences a rapid increase of these storms in November. The storm tracks of the winter season all reappear. The British Columbia, the Alberta and the Colorado lows and the east coast cyclones all become active and can become quite intense.

November has produced some of the most memorable wind storms in the Great Lakes and the Appalachians. Along the east coast, though the threat of hurricanes is greatly diminished, severe nor'easters are becoming a threat. Along the west coast, Pacific storms are coming in at increasing frequency and can be very wet and windy. The only place immune from severe November storms seems to be the Gulf States, where they are between the hurricane and winter storm season.

Monthly rainfall diminishes across the central interior of the nation as tropical moisture gets cut off but generally increases west of the Rockies and east of the Mississippi reflecting the increased winter storminess. The chief exception to the rule is in the southeast Atlantic coast and Florida where the very wet tropical systems are now virtually gone. In Florida, Miami sees monthly rainfall drop from 7.1 inches to 2.7 inches and the number of rain days diminish from 15 to 8 as the winter dry season begins.



In the Pacific, the Pacific high continues to weaken and retreat south to a position off northern Mexico allowing Pacific storms to come ashore virtually anywhere along the west coast. Meanwhile in the Atlantic, the Bermuda High stays about in the same position but weakens along its western edge, opening the way for coastal storms to develop and move up along the Atlantic seaboard.

The polar highs growing in size and becoming increasingly cold. They tend to either plunge southward to the west of the Great Lakes or east through southern Canada and northern Maine to the Maritimes. When these highs drop into the central states and move east, they bring frosty mornings and cool days. As they move east however, we enjoy Indian Summer mildness in the return flow behind. When they take the northern track, the coolness lasts longer especially over the northeast.

The Great Lakes whose relative coolness in spring and summer suppressed shower and thunderstorm activity, now are warmer than the air and help enhance this activity. When the cold air plunges across the Great Lakes, lake effect snow showers and squalls kick in. In November with the lakes at their warmest, thunder may accompany the squalls. Enhancement of precipitation near the Great Lakes results in 18 days of measurable precipitation for the month in places like Buffalo.

Temperature extremes for November range from 105 at Croftonville, CA on November 12, 1906 to -53 degrees at Lincoln, MT on November 18, 1959.