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Midwest Overview - November 2015

Warm Month and Season

November temperatures were well above normal in the Midwest (Figure 1).  Temperatures were more than 5°F above normal for the region, ranking as the fifth warmest on record (1895-2015).  Statewide departures ranged from about 4°F in the southern states to nearly 8°F above normal in the northern states with all nine states ranking in the top ten percent of their respective histories.  The fall (Figure 2), combining the very warm September and November with the slightly above average October, also came in among the warmest on record.  The seasonal departure for the Midwest was 4°F above normal, ranking it as the second warmest on record and the warmest in over 50 years.  Statewide values for the fall season also ranked in the warmest ten percent of the record in all nine states with the northern states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan all ranking as their second warmest fall.  The record warmest fall for the region, and all states except Minnesota, remains the fall season of 1931.

Very Wet in the West

November precipitation was very heavy in the western half of the region but was below normal to the east (Figure 3).  Monthly totals exceeded 12 inches in southeastern Missouri helping to bring the Missouri statewide rainfall total to 7.86 inches which ranked it as the wettest November on record.  Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin also ranked in the wettest 10 percent while Ohio was well below average, with a statewide deficit of over 1 inch.  Many stations in Missouri and Iowa set new records for November rainfall.  Heavy snow fell from Iowa to the southern half of Lake Michigan in the week before Thanksgiving, for monthly totals that topped normal by as much as 5 to 10 inches (Figure 4).  Further to the north, snowfall totals were below normal for the month.  Fall precipitation was closer to normal in most of the Midwest with a few locations below 75 percent of normal and a few more with 125 percent of normal (Figure 5).  Dry weather in September and October in Missouri offset the very wet conditions in November. Minor flooding was reported on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and their tributaries, in late November due to the heavy rains in Missouri and neighboring states.

Drought Eases

Drought eased in the region during November, particularly in the western half of the region (Figure 6).  The November rains were cause for removing drought completely from Missouri, Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and nearly so in Illinois, where the only remaining drought was in the counties bordering Indiana in the southeast part of the state.  Some remaining areas of drought persisted in Indiana and Michigan but the areal coverage of drought in the Midwest dropped from 16 percent of the region to less than 4 percent by the end of the month.

Freezing Conditions Close out the Growing Season

Freezing conditions touched the remaining areas of the region which had not yet received a freeze.  Scattered stations, mostly across the southern half of the region, had yet to receive a 32°F freeze (Figure 7) at the start of November and scattered stations in all nine states had yet to get a hard freeze of 28°F (Figure 8).

November Tornadoes in Iowa

The storm that brought heavy snow to Iowa, northern Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northwest Indiana, and southwest Michigan on November 11th through 13th also brought extremely windy conditions and severe weather to the Midwest.  Thirteen tornadoes were reported in Iowa, including one at the Des Moines airport and strong thunderstorms also caused wind damage in Iowa and northwest Illinois.  Straight line winds associated with the storm system also caused transportation problems, particularly in Chicago where hundreds of flights were delayed at the two major airports and the Chicago Skyway Bridge was closed for 12 hours.  Widespread winds of 40-55 mph occurred across large parts of Illinois and Wisconsin while winds of 60-70 mph were reported in the Chicago area.

The Iowa Climatology Bureau also contributed to this report.
The Minnesota State Climatology Office also contributed to this report.
The Missouri Climate Center also contributed to this report.