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November 2012 Climate Summary

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Source/Author: Natalie Umphlett - High Plains Regional Climate Center 12/05/12

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November 2012 Climate Summary  

For a printable version of the climate summary which includes more figures, data tables, and state summaries, click here

Temperature Summary

November 2012 was warm and dry across the majority of the High Plains Region. Below normal temperatures were confined to northern North Dakota where temperature departures ranged from 2.0-4.0 degrees F (1.1-2.2 degrees C) below normal. However, most locations in the Region had average temperatures at least 2.0 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) above normal. The largest departures occurred in southern Wyoming where a large area had average temperatures which were 6.0-10.0 degrees F (3.3-5.6 degrees C) above normal. The warmth caused many locations in that area to rank in the top 10 warmest Novembers on record. Laramie, Wyoming had its 3rd warmest November on record with an average temperature of 38.0 degrees F (3.3 degrees C) which was 8.7 degrees F (4.8 degrees C) above normal. The record of 40.6 degrees F (4.8 degrees C) was set in 1949 (period of record 1948-2012).

Temperatures for the year continued to be among the warmest on record for locations in each state of the Region. For instance, Omaha, Nebraska had its warmest January-November on record with an average temperature of 58.4 degrees F (14.7 degrees C). The old record of 57.9 degrees F (14.4 degrees C) was set in 1934 (period of record 1871-2012). Topeka, Kansas also had its warmest January-November with an average temperature of 62.1 degrees F (16.7 degrees C). This easily beat the old record of 61.0 degrees F (16.1 degrees C), which was also set in 1934 (period of record 1887-2012).

Precipitation Summary

Unfortunately November was another dry month as precipitation totals were still well below normal across the majority of the Region. A large swath extending from Colorado and Kansas up into southern North Dakota received as little as 25 percent of normal precipitation. In addition, some locations did not receive any measurable precipitation. For instance, Goodland, Kansas received just a trace of precipitation this month and tied with 1959, 1939, and 1932 for its driest November on record (period of record 1895-2012). Goodland has been experiencing exceptional drought conditions (D4) since the end of July (see image below for precipitation totals over the past year).

A few areas of the Region did get ample precipitation this month including northern and central North Dakota and north-central Wyoming. Williston, North Dakota had its 5th snowiest November on record with 16.0 inches (41 cm). 8.0 inches (20 cm) of Williston’s monthly total fell all in one day - the 10th. This total smashed the old daily record of 2.2 inches (6 cm) set in 1996 and 1940, and was also the 3rd highest snowfall total for any day in November (period of record 1894-2012).

Although drought conditions were downgraded in parts of North Dakota where beneficial precipitation fell, the drought continued to have impacts elsewhere. For example, the Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park has burned for more than 6 weeks due to the combination of high winds and dry conditions. According to the Coloradoan, by the end of the month, more than 3,500 acres had burned since the fire started on October 9th. Even though the harvest season has come to a close, the dry weather continued to impact agriculture across the Region as well. The major concerns were the condition of winter wheat and the replenishment of soil moisture. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the winter wheat ratings across the U.S. were the worst since 1985. Winter wheat emergence was still just behind the 5-year average in Colorado, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The two hardest hit states were Nebraska and South Dakota, where the percentage of the winter wheat crop rated in good condition was only 14 and 2, respectively. Neither state’s crop was rated in excellent condition.

Climate Outlook

ENSO-neutral conditions are present and likely to continue through the winter. For the next three months, the temperature outlook indicates a higher probability of above normal temperatures for Colorado, western Kansas, southwestern Nebraska, and all but the northeast corner of Wyoming. A higher probability of below normal temperatures exists for much of North Dakota and the northeastern corner of South Dakota. The precipitation outlook indicates a higher probability of above normal precipitation for only the far southeastern corner of Kansas. Equal chances of above, near, or below normal temperatures and precipitation exist for the rest of the High Plains Region. More information about these forecasts can be found here.

Drought Watch

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, drought conditions remained widespread over the past month. Overall, about 94 percent of the Region was still in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought. This was down slightly from the end of last month when 98 percent of the Region was in D1-D4. Although Nebraska had a very slight improvement over last month, it was still the hardest hit state in the Region, with 77 percent in the D4 designation. Wyoming had a slight increase in D4 in the eastern portion of the state as well. Unfortunately, there were slight improvements in only limited parts of the Region. North Dakota received beneficial precipitation which led to improvements in the north-central part of the state where much of the D1 was downgraded to abnormally dry conditions (D0). By the end of the month a couple of areas of western and central North Dakota were completely drought free. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released November 15th, drought conditions were expected to improve across North Dakota and far northern South Dakota. All other areas of drought in the Region were expected to persist through the end of February 2013.

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