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November 2013 Climate Summary

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Source/Author: Natalie Umphlett - High Plains Regional Climate Center 12/05/13

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November 2013 Climate Summary  

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

Temperature Summary

After an eventful couple of months in the High Plains Region, November 2013 was fairly quiet. Temperatures were generally within 2.0 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) of normal and heavier precipitation was confined to just a few areas. This was good news for producers across the Region. Early in the month, grain moisture levels were a bit high, which slowed harvest activities. However, the drier conditions later on helped producers get back out into the fields to finish up their harvest and begin preparing for winter.

Overall, temperatures were near to below normal in the east and near to above normal in the west. The largest temperature departures occurred in areas of eastern Kansas and northwest North Dakota where temperatures were up to 3.0 degrees F (1.7 degrees C) below normal and a few pockets of Colorado and Wyoming where temperatures were up to 3.0 degrees F (1.7 degrees C) above normal. While some daily records were broken, especially during the cold snap around November 22-23, temperatures were not extreme enough to break monthly records. One example from the cold snap was Minot, North Dakota which set a new daily record on the 23rd with a minimum temperature of -17.0 degrees F (-27.2 degrees C). This beat the old record of -13.0 degrees F (-25.0 degrees C) set in 1950 (period of record 1948-2013).

Precipitation Summary

After two extreme precipitation months, the High Plains Region got a bit of a break. One of the impacts of the heavy precipitation in previous months was a recovery in soil moisture in many of the affected areas - especially in the Dakotas and Wyoming. At this time of the year it is highly unlikely that the soils will dry out and will consequently retain their moisture throughout the winter. With this in mind, some may be wondering about the potential for spring flooding. Luckily, it is very early in the season and there is a long way to go in terms of precipitation accumulations (both snow and rain). These conditions will continue to be monitored as the season progresses.

Taking a look at November, the High Plains Region was fairly dry with large areas receiving less than 50 percent of normal precipitation. Since precipitation during this time of the year is generally light, large deficits did not occur. Some locations within the dry areas ranked in the top 10 driest Novembers on record. Rock Springs, Wyoming only received 0.03 inches (1 mm) of precipitation which tied with 2007 as the 4th driest November on record (period of record 1948-2013). The driest November occurred in both 1974 and 1976 when only a Trace amount of precipitation was received.

Areas receiving above normal precipitation included the panhandle of Nebraska, south-central Colorado, and a swath running from the southwest corner of Kansas into southeastern Nebraska. The precipitation totals in the wetter areas of Nebraska and Kansas varied from just above normal to 200 percent of normal, while south-central Colorado had precipitation totals which topped 300 percent of normal. One local example was Alamosa, Colorado which had its wettest and 3rd snowiest November on record (period of record 1932-2013). The monthly liquid equivalent precipitation total came to 1.63 inches (41 mm) which was 388 percent of normal! The old record of 1.23 inches (31 mm) occurred in 1991. The monthly snowfall total came to 18.1 inches (46 cm) which was just shy of the 1940 record of 20.0 inches (51 cm).

Climate Outlook

Just like last month, ENSO-neutral conditions were still present and likely to continue into the spring of 2014. For the next three months, the temperature outlook indicates a higher probability of above normal temperatures in extreme southern portions
of Colorado and Kansas. Meanwhile, a higher probability of below normal temperatures exists for North Dakota and northern South Dakota. The precipitation outlook indicates a higher probability of above normal precipitation in only one area of the Region - northern Wyoming. A small sliver of southern Colorado has an increased probability of below normal precipitation. Equal chances of above, near, or below normal temperatures and precipitation exist for the rest of the Region. The seasonal outlooks combine the effects of long-term trends, soil moisture, and when applicable, the El Niño Southern Oscillation cycle (ENSO). More information about these forecasts can be found here.

Drought Watch

Drought conditions in the High Plains Region changed only slightly over the past month, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Approximately 19 percent of the Region was in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought at the end of the month, which was a slight decrease from 22 percent at the end of October. These improvements occurred in western Wyoming and northwestern Colorado where D1 was eliminated. Severe (D2), extreme (D3), and exceptional (D4) drought conditions persisted across southeastern Colorado, western Kansas, and west-central Nebraska. The only improvement in those categories occurred in eastern Wyoming where a small area of D2 was eliminated. Luckily, the only degradation was the increase in abnormally dry conditions from 51 percent to 55 percent coverage. This increase in dryness occurred in eastern Kansas where hydrologic and agricultural impacts were being realized. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released November 21st, current drought conditions should persist across Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado through February 2014. Improvements
are expected in the remaining areas of drought in Wyoming.

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