November 2019: Cold and Snowy Midwest

December 19, 2019 // Article by: Zach Graff

November turned out to be a cold and snowy month this year compared to most. From Chicago to Columbus, average temperatures were 5 degrees below normal thanks to a cold air mass that moved into the region. This allowed monthly precipitation to come in well below average with Dayton receiving 1.63” compared to 3.39”. That being said, the cold caused precipitation to fall as snow amounting to 3.2”. This doesn't seem like much, but actually, it is more than 5x their normal snowfall (0.6”) for November! Although the first half of the month was cold and active, conditions flipped for the second half of the month.

Cold and Snowy First Half of the Month 

The first of the month started off cold with temperatures 10 - 15 degrees below normal. These cold temperatures in conjunction with a front moving through produced a minor bout of snow showers, resulting in a dusting across Chicago. Outside of a few rain showers between Indianapolis and Columbus, the remainder of the week remained dry before wintry precipitation returned on the 6th. This time wintry weather was in the form of mixed showers of snow and sleet that spread across the Windy City once again. As this system drifted across the Midwest on the 7th, it caused rain to briefly switch to a moderate burst of snow delivering a coating in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus. In the wake of this system, temperatures warmed into the lower 60s on the 10th in Dayton and Cincinnati, while Chicago felt the brunt of the most significant storm of the month in terms of snowfall. This storm produced a widespread 2 - 5” in Chicago before impacting the rest of the Midwest on the 11th and 12th. This storm broke daily snowfall records from 1894 in Cincinnati and Dayton with 2.3” of snowfall! Behind the storm, a frigid artic air mass filtered into the region causing lows to plummet into the single digits during the morning of the 12th and 13th. These temperatures were as much as 30 degrees below normal! To round out the first half the month, a brief round of snow showers fell across Chicago in the evening of the 13th, which resulted in a coating to up to an inch of snow. The first half of the month ended up being the coldest on record in Chicago with an average temperature of 31.2. In addition, it was tied with 1995 for the earliest stretch of 6+ days with 1”+ of snow depth.

Average Second Half of the Month

The 15th and 16th was dry with continued cooler temperatures before another brief round of snow showers fell across Chicago on the 17th and 18th . Accumulations were yet again unimpressive, with only a dusting observed.  As this same system coasted across Columbus, rather snow falling, patchy freezing drizzle fell. This led to areas of patchy ice on mainly colder and elevated services. Afternoon highs then warmed back into the 50s between the 19th - 22nd with rain showers or periods of rain each day. A brief cool down followed on the 23rd that allowed rain to end as snow in Ohio where a dusting to 0.5” of snow fell. However, temperatures rebounded nicely on the 24th through the 27th with temperatures almost nearing 60 degrees! This warm up was accompanied by periods of rain with 0.25 - 0.75” over the few days. In the wake of this system, strong winds flowed across the Midwest on the 27th with wind gusts of 60 mph+. These strong winds caused sporadic power outages and down trees.  Before the calendar turned to December, the area returned to near normal (in terms of temperature) with another brief round of moderate rain on the 30th yielding 0.25 - 0.75”.