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November feels like September as warm weather shatters records in East

An amplified pattern with strong high pressure in the east. (Pivotal Weather)

The eastern United States is in the final throes of an extended and exceptional bout of warmth that has resulted in dozens of records from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border since late last week.

In a number of spots, including Atlanta, Tallahassee and Burlington, Vt., the temperatures have risen as high as they ever have this late in the year.

The high temperatures since Saturday, some 15 to 25 degrees above normal, mark the culmination of a remarkably warm start to November overall.

On Monday, a tool from the Southeast Regional Climate Center revealed Washington’s weather more closely resembled what is normally seen in Tampa at this time of year, while Raleigh, N.C., mimicked Miami.

As a cold front pushes through the East by Monday night, weather more typical of November will return.

The warmth by the numbers

Record temperatures that focused on parts of the Plains, Midwest, Ohio Valley and Gulf Coast last week advanced eastward and increased in coverage over the weekend and into Monday.

A sampling of the slew of Sunday records includes:

  • Burlington: A high of 76 degrees was a record for the date and month and the highest ever observed so late in the year.
  • Boston: A high of 76 topped the Nov. 6 record of 73 in 1948. That tied for the fifth-highest reading so late in the year.
  • Richmond: The 82-degree high was one degree above the Nov. 6 record set in 1975. It also tied for the third-highest temperature so late in the year.
  • Raleigh: The 83-degree high tied the Nov. 6 record from 2003 and was tied for the second-highest reading so late in the year.
  • Atlanta: The 83-degree high crushed the Nov. 6 record of 78, tying for the highest temperature this late in the year.
  • Tallahassee: A scorcher of 88 equaled the Nov. 6 record from 2015, as hot as it’s been this late in the year. In Fort Myers, Fla., it hit 90-plus for the fourth time this month.
  • Harlingen, Tex.: The high of 93 broke the Nov. 6 record of 92 from 1945. It tied for the highest this late in the year.

Sunday records came after a significant number of locations set record highs on Saturday, including Washington Dulles International Airport; Hartford, Conn.; Buffalo; Cleveland; Concord, N.H.; and Muskegon, Mich.

While Sunday’s afternoon highs were exceptionally high, the low temperatures — early in the day — were even more anomalous in many instances.

A majority of weather stations in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast notched record-high low temperatures Sunday. Burlington and Bangor, Maine, dipped to only 62 degrees, warmer than their average highs. Boston, New York and Albany, N.Y., dropped to just 65, 66 and 67, respectively. Many of these lows were also the highest so late in the year.

In the D.C.-Baltimore area, record-high lows in the mid-60s were set at all three official observing locations Sunday. Washington (Reagan National) and Dulles both dipped to only 66, their highest low on record so late in the year. Baltimore’s low of 64 was also its warmest so late.

Monday’s records

Monday’s record list again featured locations from Maine to the Deep South, with a focus on the East Coast.

At least four dozen locations set Nov. 7 record highs, including Washington and Islip, N.Y., reaching 81 and 80, respectively. Washington’s temperature was an astonishing 75 degrees at 9 a.m., the warmest ever observed so early in the day this late in the year (since at least 1936).

The records Monday also included a number of November monthly records that are also warmer than anything witnessed in December. Islip was one of those places. The 80-degree high there outdid any temperature in the final two months of the year by two degrees. Other locations that set their warmest temperatures for November and beyond include those in a zone from New Orleans with a high of 90, to Wallops Island, Va., at 81 and New York JFK Airport with 80.

Many other locations, like Washington and Baltimore with 81, saw either their warmest temperature so late in the year, or in the top few.

Monday’s warmth closed out a first week of unusual November weather. Washington hit 70 or above every day for the first time on record, and it was the second-warmest first November week on record in Richmond.

Much of the northeast quadrant of the Lower 48 has seen temperatures well above normal for the first week of November. Departures from normal temperature as of Sunday included some eye-popping values, such as 16 degrees above normal in Albany and 13 degrees in Baltimore, both embedded within a large area of at least 10 above normal.

Why so warm?

A late-summer-like zone of high pressure, sometimes called a heat dome, swelled over the eastern United States during the first week of the month before intensifying over the weekend.

Over the past several days, the heat dome has been flanked by a big dip in the jet stream to the west and a developing subtropical storm north of the Caribbean. These features have helped amplify the pattern, increasing the heat dome’s intensity.

Given a setup more common of late summer, temperatures have remained persistently high overnight, in part thanks to extraordinary levels of moisture for November. Precipitable water values, a measure of moisture in the air, were as high as 350 percent above normal in the D.C. area Sunday morning.

Out of season high humidity and record warmth are made more probable by human-caused climate change. This bout of extreme temperatures in the east has mimicked other waves of intense warmth around the globe in recent months, including a surge of record warmth last week in Europe.

Europe is seeing its warmest weather on record so late in the year

While a smaller surge of high temperatures late this week break more records, a colder air mass will take aim at the region by the weekend.