Capital Region

November cold, snowy – but no record breaker

Just over 10 inches of snow fell
Fog rolls in as rain falls on snow near the reflection pool at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs on Monday.
Fog rolls in as rain falls on snow near the reflection pool at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs on Monday.

CAPITAL REGION — November brought cold and snow to the Capital Region — but the month did not break any weather records.

“Our monthly average temperature was 37, which is 2.9 degrees below normal,” said Ray O’Keefe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany. “That doesn’t make the top 10 coldest. To make the top 10 coldest you need 34.8. So it’s below normal but it’s not dramatically below normal.”

The coldest November on record took place in 1875, when the average temperature was 31.5 degrees.

The month’s snowfall total sounds formidable for autumn — 10.4 inches — but the number is also outside the weather service’s top 10.

“You need 11.8 inches to get into the top 10, so it’s just outside,” O’Keefe said.

Some people probably didn’t need the snow or cold at all, at least not during the fall season. The chilly, wet and snowy weather prevented some from raking and bagging leaves; conditions may have also delayed the installation of outdoor holiday lights.

O’Keefe said the Capital Region received a snowy November as recently as 2014, when 12.3 inches fell — good for seventh on the top 10 snowiest Novembers. Trace amounts fell in both 2017 and 2015; six-tenths of an inch fell in 2016.

While people may have been astonished by the 5.1-inch snowstorm that hit the area Nov. 15-16, amazing storms have occurred during past Novembers.

On Nov. 24-25, 1971, 22.5 inches of snow fell — the largest November snowfall in the Capital Region. In 2014, 10.4 inches fell Nov. 26-27 — fifth on the all-time November list.

The snowiest November took place in 1972, when 24.6 inches of snow fell. Right behind that snowy November is the 1971 edition, when 24 inches of snow fell during the month.

The long-range forecast includes a weak El Niño weather system. Meteorologists say a weak El Niño is born when sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific rise only slightly higher than normal. During a strong El Niño winter, those same temps rise significantly above the norm.

“On average, we’ve had slightly cooler than normal winters when we’ve had weak El Niños and precipitation has been kind of near normal,” O’Keefe said. “The official forecast at the National Weather Service unfortunately does not offer a lot of guidance. There are equal chances of below normal or above normal for both temperature and precipitation. That’s kind of a function of the weak El Niño in that it doesn’t really tip its hand very well.”

Warmer temperatures will start December, but not for long.

“We’re looking at a high Saturday getting into the upper 30s and Sunday the mid-40s,” O’Keefe said. “But with the 40s comes rain, Saturday night into at least Sunday morning is going to be rain.”

O’Keefe said that could mean leaves will stay in back yards.

“It’s either going to be raining or the leaves are going to be soaked by the rain,” he said. “Maybe when you do your spring yard work, you can get to your autumn leaves.”

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]


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