US had its third-warmest autumn on record, seventh-warmest November

U.S. had its 3rd-warmest autumn on record, 7th-warmest November
2014 photo of a cotton field experiencing drought conditions in Ropesville, Texas. Approximately 53.4% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought by the end of November 2021. Credit: NOAA, 2014

November 2021 was quite warm and dry across the U.S., wrapping up a very warm autumn—and year so far—for the nation.

November also brought the official close of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, which was the third most-active on record according to scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

Here are more highlights from NOAA's latest monthly U.S. climate report:

Climate by the numbers

November 2021

The average November temperature across the contiguous U.S. was 45.2 degrees F (3.5 degrees above the 20th-century average), which placed the month at the seventh-warmest November in the 127-year record.

Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah had their second-warmest November on record, with Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming ranking among their warmest five Novembers.

The nation's average precipitation across the contiguous U.S was 1.28 inches (0.95 of an inch below average), ranking as the eighth-driest November on record. Alabama and North Carolina saw their fifth-driest Novembers.

Year to date (YTD) and meteorological autumn

It was a warm meteorological (September through November) across the contiguous U.S. The average autumn temperature was 56.7 degrees F (3.1 degrees above average), making it the third-warmest meteorological autumn in the historical record. Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming ranked second warmest, with 14 additional states ranking among their five warmest autumns.

U.S. had its 3rd-warmest autumn on record, 7th-warmest November
A map of the United States plotted with significant climate events that occurred during November 2021 and throughout Autumn 2021. Please see the story below as well as the full climate report highlights at Credit: NOAA NCEI

The total autumn precipitation was 6.81 inches (0.07 of an inch below average), which ranked in the middle third of the seasonal record.

With just one month left in 2021, the year to date (YTD, January through November) is the seventh-warmest on record—with an average temperature of 55.9 degrees F (2.1 degrees above average).

Despite the drier-than-normal autumn, the U.S. continued a wet YTD, with a precipitation total of 28.06 inches (0.47 of an inch above average), ranking in the middle-third of the climate record.

Other notable climate events in November

  • Drought covered more than half the U.S.: According to the November 30 U.S. Drought Monitor reportoffsite link, approximately 53.4% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, up 5.6% 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.
  • A very busy hurricane season came to an end: The 2021 Atlantic season officially ended on November 30 and produced 21 named tropical systems, the third most-active season on behind 2020 and 2005. In all, there were 7 hurricanes and 4 major (Category 3 or higher) hurricanes in 2021. The average number of hurricanes and major hurricanes is 7 and 3, respectively.

Provided by NOAA Headquarters

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