November 2020: Warm to Start, but Snow Caps off the Month in the Midwest

December 13, 2020 // Article by: Zach Graff

The last month of meteorological fall was full of extremes. November started off with temperatures well above average with highs around 80 degrees! This “heat wave” was then a precursor to a couple of severe weather days that resulted in winds up to 70 mph and isolated tornadoes for mid-November.  All of this was capped off with a few snow events to end the month. Overall, in terms of temperatures, November came in 3 – 7 degrees above normal with Chicago being the warmest. As for precipitation, most areas across the Midwest came in near average except for Chicago where they were 1.50” shy of their normal. The winner for snowfall for the month was Columbus with a general 2 – 4” of snow but areas to the northeast towards Cleveland saw up to 2 feet! 

The first two days of the month were precipitation free, cool and windy with afternoon highs in the upper 40s to lower 50s while lows dropped into the upper 20s to lower 30s. Wind gusts were as high as 40 mph which helped whip up waves as high as 18 ft and caused minor lakeshore flooding. After this brief cool stretch, the warmest temperatures of the month developed between 3rd – 10th thanks to large scale high pressure dominating the region. Temperatures rose to 80 degrees in Dayton and Cincinnati on the 8th! This stretch of 7 days in a row of greater than 70 degrees broke the longest stretch of consecutive 70+ degrees in the month of November since 1953! After this record-breaking warm stretch, a powerful cold front swept through Chicago on the 10th. This led to numerous downed trees, powerlines and even shingles being blown off of people’s houses. Wind gusts were between 60 – 70 mph. In addition to the straight-line winds, two EF-0 tornadoes (80 mph winds) formed just west of Aurora and ook down multiple trees. After this event, temperatures fluctuated between the 50s to lower 60s before another strong line of storms pushed through Ohio on the 15th. Straight line winds gusted as high as 60 mph which took down multiple trees and powerlines which led to sporadic power outages throughout the region.  These strong winds were also felt in Chicago and Indianapolis and resulted in 20 ft waves on Lake Michigan!

Snow in Columbus, OH from November 30th into December 1st. Via Twitter

Then, colder air rushed in on the 17th and 18th with a few snow showers in Columbus. These snow showers were rather light and resulted in a few scattered coatings. After this brief cooldown, temperatures climbed back above average before a disturbance brought another shot of cold air on the 24th. This system was strong enough to produce measurable snow across Chicago with 1 – 3” west of the city towards Naperville and a coating to less than an inch around the lakeshore. While it was snow in Chicago, the storm produced a widespread 1 -2” of rain across much of the Midwest. Dry and near average temperatures followed for a few days before a potent system developed right over the Midwest to cap off the month. This system was a nuisance because it lasted for 24 hours, particularly in Ohio with the heaviest snow falling the night of Nov 30th into the morning of Dec 1st. The snow covered all surfaces and there was even some minor blowing and drifting thanks to wind gusts up to 30 mph. Overall, Columbus saw 2 – 4”, Dayton 1.5 – 3.0” and Cincinnati 1 - 2”. As you headed west into Indianapolis and Chicago, it was just a few snow showers which led to a few coatings here and there. The usual amount of snow for this time of year is an inch or less, but all in all, it wasn’t a record-breaking storm.