November is typically the month where we turn the corner from fall to winter in West Michigan. Just as we go back to Standard time on the first of the month, we also go back to the days of heavy sweaters, snow shovels and going to and coming home from work in the dark. On November first the sunrise is at 7:17a.m. and sunset at 5:35 a.m. By the end of the month sunrise is 7:53 a.m. and sunset at 5:10 p.m. That means we lose one hour of potential daylight. I say potential because November is usually our third cloudiest month with only 28 percent of possible sunshine.
November is our first real taste of snow with an average of 6.8 inches, the first measurable snow (0.1 inches or more) usually happens on the sixth with the first inch on the seventeenth. November 2014 broke the record as the snowiest November ever recorded, with 31.0 inches.
We certainly need time to adjust before we enter our snowiest month of December, with an average of 21.9 inches. November ranks right in the middle for precipitation (rain and melted snow) with 3.51 inches. September is usually the wettest with 4.28 inches and February the driest with only 1.79 inches. The temperatures take a nose dive with an average high of 54 degrees on the first and only 40 degrees by the end of the month. The low temperatures take a similar slide going from 37 degrees down to 28 degrees. See the attached slideshow for more November statistics. The Climate Prediction Center forecast for November is for above average temperatures for central and northern Michigan.
There are some interesting weather events for November and I’ll just highlight a few of them from the National Weather Service Archives. To see the complete list, subscribe to the Grand Rapids Weather examiner for a daily email of historical events.
Nov. 1, 1950, starts warm with a record high of 81 degrees. This is the last time we see records in the 80s until March.
Nov. 5, 1951, the temperature plunges to six degrees at Grand Rapids. This sets a record for early season cold.
Nov. 6, 1951, snow and cold dominate the month of November across western Lower Michigan, especially the first week. The morning low of 12 degrees at Muskegon is the fifth consecutive daily record low temperature. Lake effect snow continues piling up at a record pace with more than two feet of snow falling at Grand Rapids in the first week of November.
Nov. 11, 1995, a strong cold front passage is followed by high winds and lake effect snow. From three to seven inches of snow fell across Ottawa and Kent Counties in a six hour period. The heavy snowfall combined with high winds caused widespread power outages due to tree limbs falling and lines breaking. In South Haven a garage roof was destroyed by a falling tree. Power outages affected more than 50,000 people.
Nov. 13, 1986, high temperatures are held in the upper teens to lower 20s as arctic air pours into Lower Michigan. The high of 19 degrees at Grand Rapids is a record for the date and the coldest high temperature for so early in the season.
Nov. 20, 2000, an intense lake effect snow squall dropped 11.5 inches of snow on Grand Rapids. This sets a record for the most snow in a November day.
Nov. 23, 1931, has a record high of 70 degrees. This is the last time we observe a record high in the 70s until March.
Nov. 24, 1950, a massive storm moves through the northeast United States, producing blizzard conditions and record low pressure, and drawing extremely cold arctic air south across Michigan. The bitterly cold air results in high temperatures only around 10 degrees, with record lows down to nine below zero at Grand Rapids. One day later on the twenty-fifth, the temperature plunges to an incredible 14 degrees below zero at Muskegon, for the coldest November temperature on record. Grand Rapids hits 10 degrees below for a November record low.
Nov. 29, 1929, a month after the great stock market crash, it is the temperature that crashes in Lower Michigan. Record morning cold in the single digits is followed by afternoon highs only in the 10 to 15 degree range.
Severe weather is unusual for West Michigan in November. There have been a few notable exceptions.
Nov. 10, 1975, a powerful storm brought high winds across Lower Michigan, toppling trees and power lines. A tornado was spun up by the storm, damaging mobile homes and a barn in Allegan County. The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior during the storm, with a crew of 29 men. There were no survivors. The ore carrier left Superior, Wis. on Nov. 9, loaded with 26,116 tons of taconite pellets. The cargo was to be delivered to Detroit, but the ship ran into winds of at least 60 mph and high waves and foundered at about 7:30 p.m. north of Whitefish Point.
Nov. 11, 1911, a tornado outbreak strikes the Midwest, killing more than a dozen people. Nine people are killed as a violent tornado hits Janesville, Wis. Within an hour, survivors of the storm were digging out in near-blizzard conditions with zero degree temperatures. In Michigan, a tornado kills two people and injures 21 others as it destroys five factories and 21 homes in the northern part of Owosso in Shiawassee County. Another tornado hits southeast of Battle Creek in Calhoun County, leveling barns and taking the roofs off homes. A tornado near Kingsland in Eaton County kills cattle and horses.
Nov. 27, 1989, severe weather strikes Lower Michigan with downburst winds and tornadoes. A tornado did a quarter million dollars of damage as it cut a six mile path south of Portland in Ionia County. Another tornado caused minor damage over a three mile long path south of Durand in Shiawassee County.