Some Snow Returns to the Midwest in November

December 8, 2021 // Article by: Nate Woltmann


The Chicagoland area has seen a sluggish start to the winter season this year compared to the past few seasons, with dry conditions contributing to a lack in meaningful snowfall in November. While many may believe the previous month has felt warmer than any typical November, both the average high and low temperatures were below average. The Windy City's average high temperature of 48.2 degrees was 0.2 degrees below normal, while the average low of 32.5 degrees was even lower at 1.6 degrees below normal. While the temperatures averaged below normal for the month, a few streaks of highs in the 50s and 60s visited the Chicagoland area, especially early on in the month.

Even with the below average temperatures, Chicago struggled to receive any meaningful snowfall, and severely lacked in monthly precipitation as a whole. Accumulating only 0.71 inches of precipitation (1.71 inches below the monthly average), Chicago saw it's 8th driest November on record. The only measurable snow of November came with a quick system in the middle of the month, producing heavy rain and snow showers on the 12th. 

Even with the briefly moderate to heavy snowfall found in these spotty snow showers through the afternoon of the 12th, much of the snow melted on contact with above-freezing ground temperatures. Only small accumulations ranging from a coating - 0.5" were recorded, helping to minimize roadway issues during the season's first snow. Another minor snow event then pushed in quick on it's heels November 13 - 14th, but again only coating - 0.5" amounts resulted. As a result of these minimal snowfalls, the Chicago area fell below the average in November, compared to the typical 1.8" at O'Hare Airport. 

Video of the snowfall outside of National Weather Service Chicago on the 12th


Indianapolis was a bit chiller than Chicago in November, with daytime highs starting in the 40s before a week of warmer weather. High temperatures peaked at 69 degrees on the 8th, before cooler weather dominated the second half of the month, with only a few days reaching 50, and one day reaching the 60s.

Thanks in large part to the cooler second half of November, Indy's average high temperature ended up 2.1 degrees below average at 40.5 degrees. Average lows for ended up even lower, at 31.2 degrees, which was 3.7 degrees below the November average. 

The Indianapolis area wasn't just well below average for temperatures in November, but well below average in precipitation as well. While Indy saw more precipitation than Chicago with 1.22", this was 2.23" below average, and nearly missed a top ten slot on the driest Novembers. 

Snowfall totals told a similar story to precipitation. A moderate period of snow followed by snow showers on the 14th brought more snow to Indy than Chicago, with 0.4"- 0.8"  reported south to north, respectively. Yet, while recording more snow than Chicago, Indy still managed to fall 0.3" below normal for November with 0.5" officially.

Half an inch of snow officially recorded at NWS Indianapolis, the only measurable snow of November. 


Below average temperatures were common for Ohio as well, with 52.3/32.6 degrees, 50.9/32.7 degrees, and 50.6/32.4 degrees for average highs/lows in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton, respectively. These average temperatures were each 2.0, 1.8, and 2.6 degrees below normal in order for Cincy, Columbus, and Dayton for the month of November. These large departures from average are largely due to a sudden cold snap late in the month when temperatures fell into the 30s for highs. Otherwise, there were vast temperature fluctuations in the first 3 weeks of November, even reaching the 60s and near 70 a few times.

Snow reached most of the state of Ohio on November 14th, with 0.1" inches in Cincinnati, and 0.4" each in Columbus and Dayton. Some areas north of Columbus in Delaware and Union counties even saw up to 1.0 to 1.5 of snow! This  system accounted for the majority of the snowfall for most of Ohio in November.

Overall, total precipitation fell well below average for Ohio, following the trend across the Midwest. Dayton ended driest with 1.61", ending 1.46" below average. Columbus collected 1.90" total precipitation, which was 0.89" below average. Cincinnati received the most of the three cities with 1.93", but still ended 1.30" below average for November.

Precipitation Totals and Averages for Cincinnati, Columbus, and Dayton, OH. Credit: NWS Wilmington, OH.