Ag Weather Forum

November Warm Again

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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November 2020 was the second warmest on record. In the north-central U.S., warmth was accompanied by very dry conditions. (NOAA and Midwest Climate Center graphics)

Monthly climate reports continue to show warmer conditions. The report for conditions in November lays that out in detail. Following are highlights from the NOAA November climate overview.

November has jumped 2020 back on the "top-three warmest" track, becoming the second-warmest November in the 141-year record, according to the latest monthly summary from the National Centers for Environmental Information. Even with an ongoing La Nina, the 2020 hotter-than-average freight train keeps on steaming ahead. And with only one month left in the year, 2020 has a 54% chance of becoming the hottest year on record.

Global land and ocean temperatures during November were 1.75 degrees Fahrenheit (0.97 degree Celsius) above the 20th-century average, making it the second-hottest November on record behind only 2015. It has been 44 years since a November was below the 20th-century average.

When describing the global temperature patterns for a month that was almost the hottest on record, there's going to be a lot of hot options to talk about. Exceptionally anomalous heat was observed across northern Asia, northern Europe, the Bering Sea, Australia and parts of South America. Over 6% of the planet observed a record-warm November. And, just like previous months, no area had record-cold November temperatures, even if locations in the eastern/central Pacific Ocean, southwestern Asia and Canada observed a cooler-than-normal month.

Regionally, November was a banner month for heat, too. Oceania had its warmest November on record, with temperatures on average 3.71 degrees F (2.06 degrees C) above average, absolutely smashing the previous record. In particular, Australia was hot, setting a record for November temperatures in the country's 111-year record. In Europe, the second-warmest November on record was aided by the hottest November for Norway at a mouth-gaping 8.3 degrees F (4.6 degrees C) above average.

November marks the end of the Northern Hemisphere fall (Southern Hemisphere spring). And, just like the rest of the seasons this year, the September-November period was dominated by above-average temperatures across much of Earth.

The most anomalously warmer-than-average location during this past fall was across northern Russia, as temperatures were over 9 degrees F (5 degrees C) above average. But the heat was truly worldwide. South America, Oceania AND Europe all observed their warmest September-November on record. This past fall also saw Europe break the 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) temperature anomaly barrier for the season for the first time as the continent recorded temperatures 2.24 degrees C (4.03 degrees F) above average.

Down under, Australia helped to pace Oceania's record-setting season as it also observed its warmest spring on record. Driving that record were particularly warm minimum temperatures that broke the previous record by 0.81 degrees F.

Year-to-date temperatures (January-November) fell just barely below the previous record set in 2016 with anomalies 1.8 degrees F (1.0 degree C) above average. And, like this past November, the year-to-date heat has been led by large above-average temperature anomalies (over 9 degrees F, or 5 degrees C) across northern Russia.

Regionally, while South America, Oceania and the Caribbean have all just experienced their second-warmest January-November on record, Europe and Asia one-upped them with their hottest on record. In fact, this was the first time that the January-November period was over 2.0 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above average for both continents (Europe and Asia).

More details on the NOAA report are available at this link:….

In addition, November saw the north-central U.S. work deeper into drought conditions. From Sioux City, Iowa, north, precipitation from mid-November through mid-December was mainly 75% below normal, and in the central two-thirds of South Dakota, precipitation was more than 90% below normal. This dry pattern is in sharp contrast to a year ago, when the entire north-central U.S. had soil moisture profiles so full that the entire region was one big spring of running water. This dryness already has much of the grain market anticipating a dry start to the 2021 spring crop season west of the Mississippi. And, given the presence of a moderate La Nina in the Pacific Ocean, the prospect of moisture to ease this dryness is low ahead of the 2021 spring.

The combination of world heat and regional drought means that the November climate report gives plenty of reason for caution as 2020 winds down.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @BAndersonDTN


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