November 2020: Warm and Rainy for the Northeast

December 10, 2020 // Article by: Cody Hewitt

The clocks fell back and the days became much shorter, yet November ended as the warmest month of the season. Indeed, it was among the warmer ones on record. However, those warm temperatures didn’t quite settle in to start the month, as a front brought wet weather. Following that, the region entered one of the quietest stretches all year. High pressure anchored itself, allowing temperatures to regularly warm well into the 70s everywhere (even touching 80 in spots!), while the overnights stayed in the 40s and 50s. This was enough to send daily departures almost 20 degrees above normal.

While this brought the feel of summer that some enjoyed, all systems break down eventually. Tropical Storm Eta affected Florida before moving out to sea, but before doing so it interacted with an approaching front which helped pull moisture up the East Coast. This led to an active three days between the 11th and 13th, with the 11th seeing over an inch of rainfall in many places, including up to 2.00” in Washington, D.C. While calmer weather marked the interim, an abnormally strong south wind on the 15th caused lots of tree and structural damage as gusts blew up to 60 mph.

Power line damage on November 16th, 2020 from New Jersey. Photo via meteorologist Joe Slezak.

A cooldown followed, with the 17th and 18th seeing some lake effect snow closer to the I-95 corridor, but any coatings were only found in the higher hills such as the Catskills, the northwestern ridges of New Jersey, and the Berkshires. Temperatures rebounded above normal for the third week, although nowhere near the warmth seen earlier in the month. Another low pressure system interrupted this on the 23rd, resulting in a brief cool stretch before returning to unseasonable warmth for the final week. A rather powerful storm then impacted much of the Northeast. The two main factors were high winds that gusted over 50 - 60 mph along the coast, particularly along the Jersey Shore and again over Cape Cod, resulting in numerous tree damage reports. 2.00-3.00” of rain fell across New England, with up to 1.00” elsewhere, helping beat back any remaining drought across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

Bushkill Creek flooding in eastern PA on November 30th. Photo courtesy of meteorologist Simon Wachholz.

The two rain events alone sent the region above normal for precipitation in November, with Hartford, CT and Boston, MA in particular receiving double their usual rainfall (at over 6.00”). The balmy stretches during the month caused temperature departures of 3 - 6 degrees across the Northeast. In fact, Scranton, PA saw its 5th warmest November on record at nearly 48 degrees. In terms of snowfall, only Hartford and Boston recorded traces of snowfall, despite normally receiving 1 - 2” on average at this point.