October was a fairly dry month across the Tennessee Valley. That's nothing out of the ordinary. October is typically the driest month of the year here. However, we need all the rainfall we can get. Our region's local climate observation site at the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport in Muscle Shoals recorded 2.02 inches of rain for the month. That is in comparison to the 3.47 inches that is average. That puts us almost an inch and a half behind for the month. We are running a bit of a deficit for the year as well. 41.55 inches of rain have been recorded so far in 2022, putting is 3.06 inches below average.
Rain has been below average across a large part of the region the last 30 days, with almost everyone only getting between 50% and 80% of normal for the month. This deficit continues to allow low-level drought conditions to expand across the area. Almost everyone in the viewing area along and north of the Tennessee River is now classified in moderate drought conditions, and areas south of the Tennessee River in the viewing area are listed as abnormally dry.
Now, we look ahead to the month of November and what type of weather that may bring to the Tennessee Valley. Generally speaking, temperatures are on the downhill swing as we head through the month, as we have an increasingly low sun angle, the daylight hours get shorter in number, and we head closer to winter. Our average monthly high overall is 63 degrees, with that starting at 69 for an average high the first of the month, and the area averaging 57 for an average high by November 30th. Our average monthly low is 41 degrees, but we can certainly be much colder. We often have our first frost and freeze out of the way by the beginning of the month, as we do this year. The all time record low for November in the area is 2 degrees! That was set back in 1950. We can also see warm weather on occasion too. Our all time November record high was 89 degrees, set back in 2016. We have hit the 80s on a few other occasions as well, including November 10, 2002. When this does occasionally happen, it is most likely during the early parts of the month, in the warm sector of an approaching storm system.
Our average precipitation starts picking up in November as well as the main storm track with the jet stream gets more active and migrates southward back toward our area. Our average monthly precipitation comes in at 4.66 inches, and while we don't normally AVERAGE any of that as snowfall, we can and occasionally do get measurable wintry precipitation here in November. Muscle Shoals' record for November monthly snow was 5.5 inches back in 1929. We have occasionally had snow flurries as early as late October.
We do still monitor tropical activity in the Atlantic during November, but we are definitely in the last gasp of the season on average. The Atlantic hurricane season officially comes to an end November 30th, even though on rare occasion, we have had systems as late as December or even January. On average, because of cold fronts coming down, activity starts shifting away from the Gulf and toward systems that either develop ahead of cold fronts off the East Coast (especially subtropical/hybrid systems) or systems that develop in the Caribbean and either head westward toward Central America or get lifted north ahead of a cold front out of the Caribbean and across the Bahamas and into the open Atlantic.
One major concern we do have this time of year is the climatological ramp up of the fall severe weather "season". You can actually group the winter tornado activity we see in the Tennessee Valley with the fall and spring activity and just chart out one long "season" that runs from October through either the end of May or into early June. November is a definite peak within that longer season though. While we don't have the same frequency of tornadoes in November as we do during April or March, there have been some years where November has averaged the most active month of the year. In addition, tornadoes in our area in November (or any of the fall or winter months) can be just as violent and/or long-tracked as the tornadoes we see in the spring. The map above specifically charts out tornado tracks for EF2 or greater intensity tornadoes (F2 or greater before the Enhanced Fujita Scale was implemented) back into the late 1800s, and there is a distinct swarm of strong to violent November tornadoes on record across north Alabama, north Mississippi, and western and middle Tennessee. We have to watch each cold front that approaches very vigilantly this time of year, especially if there is an expected chance of thunderstorms to go along with it.