Friday Wrapup – Illinois Very Cold and Dry in November

snow-nov21So far, November has been much colder and drier than average. The statewide average temperature is 34.6 degrees, which is 9 degrees below average.

The statewide average precipitation (rainfall + water content of snow) was only 0.6 inches, about a third of the average through this date.

There have been astounding snowfall totals in places like Buffalo, NY, and some significant snowfall in Minnesota and Wisconsin. However, Illinois and most of the surrounding states have had far less snowfall (first map) in November. Many sites in the state had 1 to 2 inches except for a stretch between Quincy and Chicago with less than an inch.

The modest snowfall totals in November so far are not that unusual. Average snowfall totals for the month are generally less than an inch south of I-80 and about 1 to 2 inches north of I-80 (second map).

map2Illinois-snow-11NOV-normals

Latest Outlook for Winter in the US

Today the NOAA Climate Prediction Center released their latest winter forecast. First, there are two important notes about the winter forecast. One is that El Niño has not arrived yet, and if it does, it is expected to be mild.

The other point is that the current conditions are not always a reliable predictor of future conditions. In other words, just because we are having a cold November (9 degrees below average), that does not doom us to another cold winter. To give a recent example, November of 2012 was 1.3 degrees below average, while the following winter of 2012-13 was 3.0 degrees above average.

The first panel shows the temperature odds for December-February, our core winter months. Southern Illinois has a slightly elevated chance of colder-than-average temperatures as does most of the southern states. There is a stronger chance that temperatures will be above-average on the West Coast and Alaska.

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The second panel shows the precipitation odds for winter. The outstanding feature for us is the large area around the Great Lakes with an increased chance of being drier-than-average that covers all of Illinois.

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Cold Week for the US

It has been a very cold week in the US with temperature departures in the central US at 15 to 25 degrees below average. Yesterday, Champaign-Urbana was 26 degrees below average for the date and just 2 degrees shy of the record low of 6 degrees set back in 1891.

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Here is the temperature departure for today from the site Climate Reanalyzer showing the bitterly cold temperatures in the eastern half of the US, while once again Alaska is well above average. We saw this pattern most of last winter, starting in late November.

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Here is the plot of the jet stream (high winds at upper levels of the atmosphere – shaded in yellow and red) showing its dip down into the southern US. That means we pretty much have an open door to cold Arctic air in the Midwest.

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Cold and Snowy November in Illinois

snow-nov17-2014-smallHere is the scene out my backdoor last night, not just frost on the pumpkin but real snow. And the poor annuals in the flower-pot are done.

As of this morning we had 0.5 inches of snow in Champaign-Urbana. The snow over this weekend was widespread across Illinois but heaviest in the far north and far south (map below). In fact, the heaviest amounts were in southern and eastern Illinois and included Shawneetown with 4.0 inches, Newton with 3.1 inches, and Beecher City, Paris, and Salem all with 3.0 inches.  Nationally, 50 percent of the US is covered in snow this morning (second map). snow-novThe statewide average temperature for Illinois for November is 37.7 degrees, 6.5 degrees below average. Both Chicago and Rockford have experienced 5 days in a row with temperatures not rising above freezing. And the National Weather Service forecasts for today and Tuesday show that highs will stay in the teens in northern Illinois and in the 20’s in central and southern Illinois. Those are temperatures more typical of January than November. Temperatures are expected to slowly warm up towards the weekend.

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Fifty percent of the lower 48 states covered in snow.

January through October – 6th coolest and 19th wettest for Illinois

For the period from January through October, the statewide temperature for Illinois was 52.5 degrees, a full 3 degrees below the long-term average of 1981-2010 and the sixth coolest year to date on record with those records going back to 1895.  The five colder years were 1904, 1917, 1979, 1912, and 1978.

Of course, you may ask how can we be so cold during a phase of global warming. There are two answers to that. One is that most of the cold weather for 2014 was confined to the central US. While we were cold in the central US, the western US was much warmer than average.

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Click to enlarge. Source: NOAA National Climatic Data Center.

… and the central US may go down as one of the few cold spots on average, of any place on earth for 2014 so far (see the blue patch on the global map below).

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Click to enlarge. The global temperature covers the period from January through September. Source: National Climatic Data Center

In addition, while 2014 has been colder than average in Illinois (last dot on the time series plot below), it has been the exception to the rule since the early 1980’s.

glance2
Click to enlarge. Source: National Climatic Data Center.

PRECIPITATION

For the same period, the statewide precipitation was 37.47 inches, 3.67 inches above average and the 19th wettest on record. It was a very wet year so far across much of the rest of the Midwest/Great Lakes region, except for dryness in KS and MO.

glance3
Click to enlarge. Source: National Climatic Data Center

Below are the monthly temperature and precipitation departures by month for Illinois in 2014. Below the bar plots are the data used in the plots.

For temperature, January, February, and March were exceptionally cold, as was July. April, May, June, August, and October were much closer to average.

For precipitation, we had an interesting bipolar pattern of a dry month followed by a wet month that continued all the way to August before things became consistently wet through October.

*These numbers are preliminary and may change a little as more data comes in.

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Year Month Temperature Normal Depart
2014 Jan 19.3 26.4 -7.1
2014 Feb 19.4 30.9 -11.5
2014 Mar 34.4 41.3 -6.9
2014 Apr 52.4 52.6 -0.2
2014 May 63.6 62.7 0.9
2014 Jun 73.0 71.9 1.1
2014 Jul 70.3 75.4 -5.1
2014 Aug 73.7 73.6 0.1
2014 Sep 64.7 66.2 -1.5
2014 Oct 54.4 54.4 0.0
2014 Nov 42.5
2014 Dec 29.9
Year Month Precipitation Normal Depart
2014 Jan 1.72 2.07 -0.35
2014 Feb 2.22 2.06 0.16
2014 Mar 1.46 2.96 -1.50
2014 Apr 5.15 3.78 1.37
2014 May 3.29 4.60 -1.31
2014 Jun 6.77 4.21 2.56
2014 Jul 3.30 4.08 -0.78
2014 Aug 5.20 3.59 1.61
2014 Sep 4.08 3.23 0.85
2014 Oct 4.28 3.24 1.04
2014 Nov 3.47
2014 Dec 2.69

Cold Start to November in the Midwest

So far, November has been cooler than average across Illinois and the eastern two-thirds of the Midwest (below). The statewide average temperature is about 5 degrees below average.

The NWS forecasts indicate that temperatures are likely to stay below-average for the next two weeks across Illinois and the Midwest. The second and third maps are the latest NWS 6-10 and 8-14 day forecasts.

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