The Potomac River rages past Olmsted Island after heavy rain on Nov. 11. (Edward Wood/Flickr)

Normally in Washington, November is a bracing extension of fall with lots of sunny days and highs in the 50s. But 2018′s iteration more often felt like winter. Temperatures were substantially below normal, and rain seemed to fall incessantly.

On top of that, we had our first measurable November snow since 1996, the most in the month in almost 30 years.

The rainfall was record-breaking. The 7.57 inches that soaked Washington broke the all-time November record of 7.18 from back in 1877. Baltimore also had its wettest November with its 8.14 inches besting 1952′s 7.68 inches. (Dulles’s 7.69 inches fell short of its record, just below 1963′s 7.83 inches.)

The entire eastern half of the United States experienced its coldest November since 2014. In Washington, the average temperature of 46.5 degrees was 3.1 degrees colder than normal and the coldest since 1997′s 46.2 degrees. It was the 58th coldest November of all time.

Cold air funneled south into the eastern United States because of the configuration of two large high pressure zones frequently positioned near Alaska and Greenland.


November 2018 verifies colder than normal for much of the United States.

Extremes

The November cold was strongest in the Midwest, but Washington experienced really chilly weather at times, including one of the colder Thanksgivings on record as temperatures hovered in the 30s.

Here is the list of Washington’s November weather extremes:


The warmest weather was at the very front of the month and the coldest on Thanksgiving. (Matt Rogers)

In addition to breaking monthly rainfall records, we also set several daily precipitation records:

Washington:

  • Nov. 5: Record-daily rainfall of 1.44 inches tops 1 inch from 1939.
  • Nov. 15: Record-daily snowfall of 1.4 inches tops 0.1 inches from 1906.

Dulles:

  • Nov. 2: Record-daily rainfall of 1.32 inches tops 1.02 inches from 1967.
  • Nov. 15: Record-daily snowfall of 3 inches tops a trace from 1995.

Baltimore:

  • Nov. 15: Record-daily snowfall of 1.7 inches tops 1.2 inches from 1908.
  • Nov. 16: Record-daily snowfall of a trace ties 2000.

Year-to-date rankings

Our abnormally wet year continued. November’s record wetness easily pushed 2018′s total past 2003 into the position of wettest year of the current century. As of Dec. 3, Washington needs only 0.57 inches to break the record for wettest year, set in 1889.


NOAA

The cold November prevents 2018 from being as warm so far as four other years this century, but this year still ranks among the warmest years of the 2000s.


NOAA

Reviewing our forecast for November

A month ago, we posted the following outlook for November:

Temperatures: We predict temperatures to run near to above average (if above average, it will be the seventh month in a row). The average temperature for November is 49.6 degrees, and we project that this month’s temperature will average between 49.0 and 52.5 degrees.

Rain: We predict precipitation to run near to above the average of 3.17 inches, ending up between three and four inches. This should keep 2018 on track for the wettest year of the 2000s and one of the wettest of all time.

Snow: I don’t think so. Our normal amount for November is 0.5 inches, but we have yet to receive more than a trace in the 2000s. We think 0.0 inches is probably the right answer, and we’ll need to wait deeper into the winter for snow when El Niño can work its magic.

The average temperature of 46.5 was colder than we expected. The rain of 7.57 inches was indeed above normal but much higher than our projection. And the 1.4 inches of snow was also higher than expected. We give ourselves a grade of D for this outlook; the fact we leaned toward above normal precipitation is the only reason it’s not an F.