November in the West
Several storm systems impacted the northern tier of the West this month, with a few systems pushing southward into California. Temperatures this month averaged cooler than normal for the northeastern half of the West and warmer than normal in the southeastern half of the region. Significant temperature variability was observed throughout the month, especially in the north, with the passage of strong cold fronts.
Another month of above normal temperatures helps maintain 2014 as California’s warmest calendar year on record to-date. Temperatures have been above normal for a majority of the state since January 2014. Slightly above normal temperatures were also observed in Arizona and much of the Great Basin. Further east, daily average temperatures fell to more than 20-40 F (11-22 C) below normal in areas east of the Rockies with the passage of a cold arctic front mid-month, warmed to several degrees above normal in the latter half of the month, and dropped significantly again with another cold front at end the month. Casper, Wyoming saw a temperature drop of 27 F (15 C) in roughly 30 minutes on November 29 with the late month cold front. Many stations in Montana saw 24 hour temperature decreases of 50-75 F (28-42C), bottoming out at -20 to -30 F (-29 to -34 C). Billings, Montana observed its 8th coldest November with an average 37.0 F (2.8 C). Records at Billings began in 1937.
Much of the northern tier of the West observed near to above normal precipitation this month. Monthly totals in the inland Northwest and northern Rockies were not necessarily large in quantity but anomalously high for November. Missoula, Montana recorded its 3rd wettest November on record with 2.88 in (73 mm), 1.88 in (48 mm) above normal. Some Northwest locations, many along the coast, observed below normal precipitation this month. The 2.99 in (76 mm) observed at Portland was only 53% of the November normal. Further south, drier conditions dominated. Over the last few days of the month, the first of a series of storms brought precipitation to a large area of California with 0.5-2 in (13-51mm) observed throughout much of the state and over 2 in (51 mm) of water reported in the northern Sierra Nevada. In spite of this and other storms earlier in the month, precipitation was still less than 75% of normal throughout much of the state. The Southwest deserts remained nearly dry this month, not unusual for this time of year. This month’s storms helped to establish snowpack in western mountains, with 1-2 ft (30-61 cm) observed in the Sierra and southern Cascades by the end of the month and 2-4 ft or more (61-122 cm) in the northern Cascades as well as the northern and central Rockies. With the exception of a small area at the Oregon-Washington-Idaho border, drought conditions did not worsen in the West this month, though severe to exceptional drought persists for a large area of California, Nevada, and southeastern Oregon.
Many locations in Alaska observed one of their top-10 warmest Novembers on record this month with average temperatures 6+ F (3.3 C) above normal in all but the southeast and far southwest portions of the state. Temperatures at King Salmon averaged 36.5 F (2.5 C), the warmest in a 98-year record. McGrath and Anchorage recorded their 5th warmest Novembers at an average 16.1 F (-8.8 C) and 31.3 F (-0.4 C), respectively. McGrath also set a monthly record high temperature of 50 F (10 C) on November 12; this location had previously never seen a temperature of 50 F (10 C) or greater past October 22. Further south, precipitation in Kodiak totaled 13.00 in (330 mm) for the month, 189% of normal and the 4th wettest November since records began in 1931. Elsewhere in the state, precipitation was near normal along the southern coast, below normal throughout the interior and above normal along the North Slope. At much lower latitudes, precipitation was below normal for much of Hawaii. Several stations of the windward side of the Big Island reported above normal rainfall.
Significant Events for November 2014
November 11-12: Strong winds in Washington, Oregon: Strong easterly winds downed trees and caused power outages for tens of thousands in western Washington and Oregon. Gusts of 60-70 mph (97-113 kph) were reported east of Portland and 50-70 mph (80-113 kph) near Enumclaw, south of Seattle.
November 13-14: Ice storm in eastern Oregon: An early season ice storm impacted travel along Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon and central Idaho.
November (all month): Alaska ski resorts unable to open for Thanksgiving holiday: Warm, snow-free conditions keep popular Alaska ski resorts Alyeska and Hilltop near Anchorage from opening over the Thanksgiving holiday. Not only was natural snowfall not sufficient, temperatures were too warm for manual snow making to occur. The last time Hilltop ski resort did not open for Thanksgiving was in the early 2000s.