November 2021 Climate Summary
Colorado sunset, Photo courtesy Jennifer Balch
Warm and Dry in the High Plains
Warm and dry conditions were observed across the High Plains in November. Above-normal temperatures were recorded across the entire region with the highest departures 10 degrees F (5.6 degrees C) and higher. Precipitation across the majority of the region was below-normal outside of a portion of northeast North Dakota and a few other isolated areas. These warm, dry conditions led to many impacts within our region.
Horticulturists in Wyoming are concerned after noticing trees beginning to bud as a result of above-normal temperatures in November. While the early budding or blooming can be a pretty sight, it can be damaging to the trees. When blooming early, a sudden drop in temperatures can cause shock to the tree. It can also cause the tree’s flower or fruits not to grow next year as they have exerted all of their energy in growing early. Concerns for tourism in western South Dakota have begun throughout November as it continues to be warm and dry in the region. Many businesses in the western portion of the state, such as the Black Hills, rely on business from winter sports. With the warm temperatures and lack of snow, opening dates have been pushed back without an indication of when they will be able to open. Warm temperatures have also impacted their ability to create synthetic snow, as temperatures 28 degrees F (-2.2 degrees C) or below are needed.
Winter crops have also been impacted by warm, dry conditions. In Kansas, warm temperatures have caused winter wheat to grow more than it should. The additional plant height can cause an increased chance of problems with plant diseases and pests. Around mid-November, the crops begin to become dormant, but the warm temperatures have helped crops continue to grow and as a result, have been using ground moisture due to lack of precipitation. With drought conditions present, pulling from soil moisture is a concern as they look toward next year’s crops.
Above: Departure from 1991-2020 normal temperature (top) and percent of normal precipitation (bottom) for November 2021 in the High Plains region.
Maps produced by the High Plains Regional Climate Center and are available at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current
November was a dry month for the High Plains with below-normal precipitation across the region. Most of the region observed less than 50 percent of normal precipitation. As a result, departures across the region were below normal, aside from an area of above-normal precipitation in northeastern North Dakota. The largest departures from normal were observed in southwestern Colorado, eastern Kansas, and eastern Nebraska with totals as much as 3.75 inches (95.25 mm) below normal.
This large area of below-normal precipitation led to many locations ranking in the top 10 driest on record for November (see page 6 for November monthly rankings). Salina, KS observed a trace of precipitation for the month which tied as the 3rd driest November on record. Goodland, KS also received very little precipitation for November receiving 4 percent of normal precipitation. With 0.02 inches (0.50 mm) of precipitation for November, Goodland observed its 7th driest November on record tied with 2014 and 1950. This has led to crop concerns in Kansas as winter crops pull moisture from the soil due to lack of precipitation. This can lead to problems in the crop season next year as soil moisture will be less than optimal.
Colorado, with the largest departure from normal precipitation for November, also observed some concerns as a result of the lack of precipitation. Several locations within the state recorded among their driest on record. Early season snowpack in the mountains is below normal for this time of year which has the state climatologist in Colorado concerned. An above-average snowpack is essential this year due to the current drought. Without the snowpack, water levels along the Colorado River will likely remain low. While it is still early in the season, the longer Colorado goes with little precipitation, the more it with take to make up the deficit.
Despite a dry month, Northeastern North Dakota did receive above normal precipitation for November. While it was not enough to rank in the top 10 for the month, it did help contribute to a change from D1 to D0 drought conditions for that portion of the state.
Above: Total precipitation in inches (top) and departure from normal
precipitation in inches (bottom) for November 2021. These maps are
produced by HPRCC and can be found on the Current Climate Summary Maps page at: http://hprcc.unl.edu/maps/current
Above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation for November led to reduced streamflow in areas across the region. This is most present in Montana, where streamflow is below normal to much below normal across most of the state, with some gauges indicating record low streamflow. Below normal to much below normal streamflow can also be observed in portions of Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado, with record low streamflow for the month in areas of western South Dakota and Nebraska. In the lower Missouri River Basin, streamflow remains normal to above normal for most of the area with a few gauges indicating below normal streamflow.
Temperatures for the High Plains region were above normal for the month of November. While our entire region observed above-normal temperatures, the greatest departure from normal can be observed in the western half of the region. Temperature departures in the western High Plains were 4 degrees F (2.4 degrees C) and higher with some areas observing temperatures 10 degrees F (5.6 degrees C) or more above normal.
As a result of these above-normal temperatures across the region, many locations ranked in the top 10 warmest November on record (see page 6 for November rankings) and some areas broke daily records throughout the month. Wyoming observed the greatest departure from normal temperatures for November with most of the state 6 degrees F (3.3 degrees C) above normal. Rawlins, WY observed its warmest November on record with an average temperature of 38.9 degrees F (3.8 degrees C) breaking a previous record of 38.5 degrees F (3.6 degrees C) set in 2017. This was a temperature departure of 7.6 degrees F (4.2 degrees C) above normal. A few locations observed their second warmest November on record, which included Colorado Springs, CO. Colorado Springs observed an average temperature of 45.9 degrees F (7.7 degrees C) which was 6.4 degrees F (3.6 degrees C) above normal. Throughout the month many areas in the region also exceeded daily temperature records. Pueblo, CO reached a high temperature of 75 degrees F (23.9 degrees C) for November 29th, which was 1 degree F (0.6 degrees C) above the record for that day set in 1945,1973, and 2003. On November 16th, Yankton, SD observed its warmest temperature recorded this late in the season observing a temperature of 76 degrees F (24.4 degrees C). Denver, CO exceeded its record for the latest measurable snowfall, which previously was November 21st, 1934, with no measurable snow seen in the month of November.
Above-normal temperatures and dry conditions in the month of November led to the intensification of drought conditions. The southern part of the region saw an increase of severe drought (D2) and moderate drought (D3) as a result of these conditions. Despite this, the region remained free of exceptional drought (D4) conditions.
Colorado experienced the most significant increase in drought conditions, with D2 and D3 conditions increasing 22 percent during the month in the eastern part of the state. The entire state is now experiencing abnormally dry or drought conditions. Western Kansas saw the introduction of D3 and the slight increase to moderate drought (D1) and D2 conditions after receiving below 25 percent of their normal precipitation. In Wyoming, D3 was reduced slightly in the south-central part of the state but was introduced in the southeastern portion and expanded across the northern part of the state. While in North Dakota, D1 and D2 conditions were reduced in the eastern part of the state after above-normal precipitation this past month. Throughout the rest of the region, other minor improvements were observed. According to the U.S. Monthly Drought Outlook for December, drought development is likely in southern Colorado and southwestern Kansas.
According to the Climate Prediction Center, La Niña conditions remain present and are likely to continue throughout the winter season. A La Niña advisory is in effect. For more information, visit https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf
The National Weather Service’s long-range flood outlook through February indicates a continual decrease in the chance of minor flooding. There is a greater than 50 percent chance of minor flooding in areas of the lower Missouri River Basin in December and that will continue to decrease through February where it becomes less than 5 percent chance. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), significant wildland fire potential has returned to normal for the High Plains and is expected to continue to remain normal through January. February, there is a return of above normal wildland fire potential for southeastern Colorado and southwestern Kansas.
The seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks below combine the effects of long-term trends, soil moisture, and when applicable, the El Niño Southern Oscillation cycle (ENSO). To learn more about these outlooks, please visit http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov.
The three-month temperature outlook shows an increased chance of above-normal temperatures for most of the contiguous Unites States. The highest chances for above-normal temperatures can be seen in the Southeast and Northeast portions of the country. In the High plains, the southern portion of the region shows increased chances of above-normal temperatures, whereas, in the northern portion of the region, there is increased chances for below-normal temperatures. In the central portion of the High plains, there are equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal temperatures.
The precipitation outlook for the next three months indicates below-normal precipitation across the Southwest and Southeast of the United States, whereas above-normal precipitation can be observed throughout the Midwest and Northwest. In most of the High Plains there are equal chances of above-, below-, and near-normal precipitation, aside from a small portion of Colorado and Kansas with increased chances of above-normal precipitation.
The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released on November 18th indicates drought conditions are expected to persist across the Western U.S. and western High Plains over the next three months. Drought conditions are expected to show minor improvements in the Northwest, with some areas likely to observe drought removal. Drought conditions are likely to develop in portions of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Station Summaries: By the Numbers
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