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A break from the chill for a while

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Smaller showers on Friday morning, but steadier rain expected Sunday.

After a dramatic shift from warm to cold this month, temperatures will be closer to normal for the next several days.

For the first 12 days of the month, every day was warmer than normal. Over those days, the average temperature was 12.4 degrees above normal. And during the first week of the month, the low temperature never went below 50 degrees.

Like flicking a switch, the next 10 days were all colder than normal, with an average temperature of 7.5 degrees below normal. Through the morning of Nov. 17, Richmond had not had a night in the 20s. But the next five consecutive nights were all in the 20s; the streak ended Wednesday with a daybreak temperature of 30 degrees.

High temps so far in Richmond - Nov 2022

Much above normal earlier in the month before a dramatic switch for the third week.

Milder nights are also ahead for the next few days, likely in the 40s from Thanksgiving night through the first of next week. A couple of storm systems will pass through over the next four days, but metro Richmond will be on the relatively warm side of the storms as they go by, keeping away any threat of snow or ice.

Temperatures will edge into the 60s during Thanksgiving afternoon, and while one data point does not make a trend, it does fit with the recent observations of the warming climate.

Forecast 2022-11-24

Steadiest rain this weekend is expected Sunday morning

Thanksgiving was moved to the fourth Thursday in November in 1942, so to get an idea of how that time of the month has changed, we looked at the average temperature during the week of Nov. 22-28.

Over the past 50 years (1972-2021), the average high temperature during that week is 58.5 degrees, an increase of 3.5 degrees over the prior 50 years (1922-1971).

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Richmond’s daily weather records go back to 1987, and there have been 19 times when that period averaged less than 50 degrees. But it has happened only twice in the past 50 years — 1977 and 2018.

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With temperatures nearer to normal for the next week or so, a November snow is out of the question. And while there is no obvious sign of snow ahead in December yet, there are some hints that the atmosphere will be more conducive for snow in Virginia later in the month.

After the first weekend of December, many of the computer simulations suggest several days that are colder than normal with a more active storm track. This is not reflective of one particular simulation, but a group of simulations called an ensemble.

The ensemble forecasts suggest a shift in steering winds across Greenland and the North Atlantic Ocean, a relationship known as the North Atlantic Oscillation. In the negative phase of this pattern, there is warm air and high pressure at the jet stream level over Greenland, effectively blocking the normal west-to-east movement of storms across eastern North America, and allowing repeated blasts of Arctic air into the eastern United States.

The last time the NAO was substantially negative was just after the middle of October, when Richmond had five consecutive nights of temperatures 40 degrees or below.

So while that signal is still more than 10 days away, keep that in the back of your mind for the first full week of December.

Until then, enjoy the milder nights.

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