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Assessing the U.S. Climate in November 2021

Third-warmest Autumn on record; third-most active hurricane season comes to an end

Live oak trees over a canopy road in the fall
Courtesy of Getty Images

For November, the contiguous U.S. average temperature was 45.2°F, 3.5°F above the 20th-century average, ranking seventh warmest in the November record. During meteorological autumn (September-November), the average temperature for the Lower 48 was 56.7°F, 3.1°F above average, ranking third warmest in the historical record. For the year to date, the contiguous U.S. temperature was 55.9°F, 2.1°F above the 20th-century average. This ranked seventh warmest in the January-November record. 

The November precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 1.28 inches, 0.95 inch below average, ranking eighth driest in the 127-year period of record. The autumn precipitation total across the Lower 48 was 6.81 inches, 0.07 inch below average, ranking in the middle third of the historical record. The year-to-date precipitation total across the contiguous U.S. was 28.06 inches, 0.47 inch above the long-term average, also ranking in the middle third of the January-November record.


Above-average tropical activity across the Atlantic Basin occurred for the sixth year in a row. By the official end of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season (November 30), 21 named storms formed. It was the third most-active Atlantic hurricane season on record. Category 4 Hurricane Ida was the strongest landfalling and most destructive hurricane of the season with cost estimates currently at $64.5 billion and associated fatalities at 95.

This monthly summary from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia, and the public to support informed decision-making.

November 

Temperature

 

  • November temperatures were above average from the West Coast to the Great Lakes and into New England as well as across portions of the Deep South. California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico each had their second-warmest November on record with three additional states in the West and High Plains ranking among their warmest five Novembers. Temperatures were near to below average across much of the eastern third of the contiguous U.S. 
  • The Alaska average November temperature was 4.1°F, 7.6°F below the long-term mean, tying for eighth-coldest November in the 97-year period of record for the state. Temperatures were record cold across southwestern Alaska with monthly average temperatures 15°F to 20°F below average. Long-term climate sites in Iliamna, King Salmon and Cold Bay each reported their coldest November on record.

 

Precipitation

 

  • Precipitation was above average across portions of the Northwest, northern Plains, Florida and south Texas while below-average precipitation dominated much of the contiguous United States. Alabama and North Carolina both ranked fifth driest for the month while 11 additional states ranked among their driest 10 Novembers.
  • In Alaska, statewide precipitation ranked in the driest third of the historical record. Precipitation was below average across much of the state with the driest conditions present across the western and southwestern portions of the state. This resulted in
  • below-average snowpack across much of the region. Snowfall was above average across parts of south-central Alaska and the Panhandle due to a larger percentage of the precipitation falling as snow as compared to average. 
  • According to the November 30U.S. Drought Monitor report, approximately 53.4 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up 5.6 percent from the beginning of November. Drought conditions expanded or intensified across portions of the Carolinas and Virginia, the southern Plains, along the front range of the Rockies and across portions of Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Drought severity and/or extent lessened across parts of the West and Upper Mississippi River Valley. 

 

2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season Summary

  • Twenty-one named storms formed in the Atlantic during 2021, which ranks as the third most-active season on record (average is 14). In all, there were 7 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes in 2021 (average is 7 and 3, respectively). The record of 30 named storms occurred last year during 2020. Twenty-seven named storms formed in 2005.
  • Eight named-storm-continental U.S. landfalls occurred during 2021 (Claudette, Danny, Elsa, Fred, Henri, Ida, Mindy and Nicholas) with Ida being the most destructive. Damage associated with Ida was reported from the Louisiana coast to the Northeast. 
    • Category 4 Ida was among the most-intense hurricanes on record to make landfall in Louisiana (Katrina in 2005 was more intense), with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and minimum central pressure of 930 mb.
  • 2021 was the sixth consecutive above-normal Atlantic hurricane season and the seventh consecutive year with a named storm forming prior to the official start of the season on June 1.

Autumn (September-November)

Temperature

 

  • Autumn temperatures were above average across most of the contiguous U.S. Montana, Wyoming and Colorado ranked second warmest for this three-month period with 14 additional states ranking among their five warmest autumns. 
  • The Alaska statewide average temperature for autumn was 23.8°F, 2.2°F below average, ranking in the coldest third of the historical record. Temperatures were below average across much of the West Coast, western Interior, south-central and southeastern portions of the state. Record cold temperatures occurred across portions of 
  • Bristol Bay, Northwest Gulf and the Aleutians. Pockets of above-average temperatures were observed across parts of the North Slope and Northeast Interior regions. 

 

Precipitation 

 

  • Precipitation was above average across parts of the West, northern Plains, Ohio Valley, Northeast and Southeast. Washington state ranked sixth wettest for this three-month period. Precipitation was below average across portions of the Southwest, northern Rockies, central to southern Rockies, southern Plains, Lower Mississippi River Valley, western Great Lakes and the Carolinas and Virginia. 
  • Autumn statewide precipitation ranked in the driest third of the historical record in Alaska. 

 

Year-to-date (January-November)

Temperature

 

  • Year-to-date temperatures were above average across the western U.S., central and northern Plains, Great Lakes and East Coast with Maine ranking second warmest and 11 additional states across the Northeast, Great Lakes, northern Plains and West ranking among their five warmest such periods. Temperatures were near average across portions of the southern Plains, central Gulf Coast and Tennessee Valley with pockets of below-average temperatures embedded across the South.
  • Year-to-date statewide temperatures ranked near average in Alaska with above-average temperatures observed across northeastern portions of the state. Below-average temperatures were present across portions of the southwestern and southeastern Alaska mainland.

 

Precipitation

 

  • January-November precipitation was above average from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes and into portions of the Northeast. Mississippi ranked eighth wettest on record. Precipitation was below average across much of the West, northern Plains and portions of New England and the Carolinas. Montana ranked fourth driest on record for this January-November period. 
  • January-November precipitation in Alaska was above average across much of the West Coast, North Slope, Central Interior, Northeastern Interior and Panhandle regions. Drier-than-average conditions were present across Cook Inlet.​​​​​​​

 

For more detailed climate information, check out our comprehensive November 2021 U.S. Climate report scheduled for release on December 13, 2021.