November 2011 Global Weather Extremes Summary

Published: 6:00 AM GMT on December 11, 2011

November 2011 Global Weather Extremes Summary

November was a more active month than October so far as global weather extremes are concerned. The biggest story was the great flood of Bangkok in Thailand. Central Europe reported its driest November on record. An unprecedented early-season cold wave engulfed the interior of Alaska while a powerful extra-tropical low pressure wreaked havoc in communities along the Bering Sea coast. And…wild flowers bloomed in the Atacama Desert, driest place in the world.

Below are some of the month’s highlights.


A near-record warm and wet November affected the Ohio Valley and Northeast of the U.S. By the end of the month a new all-time state record for calendar-year precipitation had been set for Ohio with 73.81” at Cheviot near Cincinnati (former record was 72.08” at Mt. Healthy in 1880).

On November 7th an EF-4 tornado ripped through southwest Oklahoma near the town of Tipton. This was the strongest November tornado on record for the state of Oklahoma.

Radar covering southwestern Oklahoma clearly displays the classic hook echoes of two tornadoes north of the Altus area at 3:30 pm CST on November 7th. The Tipton EF-4 twister was in the storm near Hobart on this display. Screen shot from

High winds in the Western U.S. resulted in a wild fire in the Reno, Nevada area on Nov. 18th. About 35 homes were destroyed and one life was lost (from a heart attack). Winds gusting to 141 mph were clocked on Virginia Peak just southeast of the city. High winds also blew across Wyoming with a 102 mph gust recorded 13 miles southwest of Clark, Park County on the 17th. Another extreme wind event affected most of the West beginning on the last day of the month (see my last blog for details).

In Alaska a cold wave gripped the interior region. It was the earliest, coldest two-week period in Fairbanks on record between Nov. 14-28 when the temperature averaged -21°F below average (the minimum was -41° on November 17th). On November 9-10th the first of a series (still on-going!) powerful extra-tropical low-pressure systems cruised across the Bering Sea (pressure bottomed out at 943 mb) producing wind gusts to 89 mph and waves 40-50 feet high.

While Alaska was experiencing its cold wave, Greenland was enjoying a ‘heat wave’. At least in relative terms; between Nov. 8-20 the temperature at Summit (named after the fact that the site rests on the top of the island's glacial dome at some 10,000’) averaged 20-50°F above normal, peaking at a balmy 2°F on November 13th. By the end of the month the temperature had fallen back to normal (actually below normal) with a figure at -70.2°F (-56.8°C) on November 30th, the coldest reading in the northern hemisphere for the month.


The most powerful late-season tropical storm on record to form in the Eastern Pacific, Hurricane Kenneth, reached its maximum strength on November 22nd with 145 mph winds. Fortunately, the hurricane drifted harmlessly over open waters well west of the Mexican and Central American coastlines.

GOES-West satellite image of Hurricane Kenneth taken at 11 am on November 22nd when the storm was at its peak with 145 mph winds. NOAA Visualization Lab.

The Atacama Desert of Chile, the driest region on earth, was carpeted in rare wildflowers during November thanks to the wettest winter (June-September) in 20 or so years.

Almost 2.00” of precipitation has ‘deluged’ parts of the Atacama Desert in Chile since last June, a place that normally records just .02” a year and has gone for as long as 16 consecutive years with no precipitation whatsoever. Ironically, the rainfall has been attributed to La Nina conditions in spite of the fact that it is El Nino that normally produces anomalous precipitation in the region; the last time this much rain fell in the Atacama was in 1998 during one of the strongest El Nino episodes on record. Photo from ‘Earthweek: Diary of the Planet.


It was the warmest and driest November on record for many parts of Europe. Almost all of central Europe received no precipitation whatsoever and most Alpine locations reported their lowest snow depths ever for this time of the year. The big exception to this was in southern France and Italy where an intense storm in the Mediterranean Sea produced exceptional rainfall that resulted in extensive flooding in the Genoa, Italy area. All-time point rainfall records for the nation of Italy were set at Vicomorasso when 7.13” (181 mm) of rain fell in just one hour, and 13.27” (337 mm) in three hours, on November 4th.

Rampaging floodwater swept through the streets of Genoa, Italy on November 4th. Up to 20” of rain in 24 hours hit parts of the city. Photo by Tano Pecoraro/AP.

In the United Kingdom, November was the 2nd warmest such on record averaging 2.9°C (5.2°F) above normal. A maximum temperature for the month was measured at Tregarth on November 13th with 66.6°F (19.2°C). The lowest temperature for the month in the U.K. was 21.0°F (-6.1°C) at Redesdale, Northumberland on November 7th, an unusually high minimum. In fact, several sites reported their warmest absolute minimums for the month of November on record (Cork Airport and Belmullet). Heaviest 24-hour rainfall was 3.19” (81 mm) at Benmore on Nov. 17-18, and the highest wind gust recorded was 90 mph on Fair Isle on November 27th.


The warmest temperature measured in the Northern Hemisphere this past November was 109.4°F (43.0°C) at Matam, Senegal on November 10th. And the warmest temperature measured in the Southern Hemisphere and the world during November was 113.2°F (45.1°C) at Vioolsdrif, South Africa on November 19th. A reading of 48.8°C was reported from Skukuza, South Africa on November 11th but the reading is very suspect: the next warmest location in South Africa that day was just 39.0°C.

UPDATE TO OCTOBER SUMMARY: An all-time national heat record was set in October for the nation of Zambia when a reading of 109.0°F (42.8°C) was recorded at Mfuwe breaking the previous national record of 108.1°F (42.3°C) also set at Mfuwe on November 17, 2005.


The biggest weather story in Asia, and the world for that matter, was the incredible flood that engulfed most of the city of Bangkok, Thailand, during the entire month. The waters have now receded but the fallout from this catastrophe will be felt globally for months to come: essential computer hardware parts are in critically short supply (including parts needed to build Apple’s new I-Phone 4S), rice exports have been drastically curtailed bringing great hardship to the nation’s farmers and the country’s GDP growth is expected to fall to just 2.8% this year instead of the 6.5% that was expected. The death toll climbed above 600, making this the 2nd deadliest natural disaster in Thailand’s modern history.

A military helicopter flies on a flood-relief mission over the northern suburbs of Bangkok during the great flood. Photo by Jennifer Villavolos/Navy Visual News Service.

Elsewhere in Asia, flooding in Sri Lanka left at least 12 people dead after a severe storm with gale-force winds affected the Galle and Matara Districts on November 24-25.

A tropical storm in the Arabian Sea, Cyclone Kella, swiped the southern coast of Yemen on November 1-2 resulting in the deaths of at least six people.

A heavy storm dropped up to 39” of snow in parts of northwestern Iran on November 15. The Tabriz area was especially affected.

Heavy snow blankets northwestern Iran with 1-3 foot-accumulations in mid-November. Photo from photo collection submitted anonymously and exact location unknown.


Temperatures averaged close to normal for Australia as a whole during November although Victoria reported its 4th warmest-minimum-temperature average for November on record. Precipitation was much above average (175% of normal nation-wide) and the month was the 8th wettest November on record in Australia.

Maps of temperature and precipitation deciles for Australia during the month of November. Courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The warmest temperature recorded in Australia during November was 111.4°F (44.1°C) at Birdsville Airport, Queensland on Nov. 15th and 29th. The coldest was 25.9°F (-3.4°C) at Liawenee, Tasmania on November 15th. The heaviest calendar-day rainfall was 10.75” (273 mm) at Tully Sugar Mill, Queensland on November 25th.


The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere and the world during November was -77.8°F (-61.0°C) recorded at Vostok on November 1st.

KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data and Italian rainfall records, and Stephen Burt for the U.K. extremes.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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Christopher C. Burt is the author of 'Extreme Weather; A Guide and Record Book'. He studied meteorology at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison.

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November 2011 Global Weather Extremes Summary

November 2011 Global Weather Extremes SummaryNovember was a more active month than October so far as global weather extremes are concerned. The biggest story was the great flood of Bangkok in Thailand. Central Europe reported its driest November on record. An unprecedented early-season cold wave engulfed the interior of Alaska while a powerful extra-tropical low pressure wreaked havoc in communities along the Bering Sea coast. And…wild flowers bloomed in the Ataca...

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