November is almost here! What does that usually mean for weather in the Tennessee Valley?
Despite having a good number of beautiful dry days across the Tennessee Valley this month, October has still managed to find a way to run above average in the rainfall department. The climate reporting station at the airport in Muscle Shoals (the official regional reporting climate station of our entire viewing area) picked up just over 5.5 inches of rain for the month of October, putting it just over 2 inches above average. October is usually one of our top three driest months across the Tennessee Valley. That puts our rainfall for the year at 56.28 inches at the reporting station, 11.67 inches above average.
As October wraps up on this Halloween night and we get ready to head into November 2021, it is helpful to look at what November typically brings for weather in our area.
November in the Tennessee Valley still averages a little on the milder side, but we are definitely heading into the cool season. Our average high temperature for the month overall is 63 degrees, and our average monthly low is 41 degrees. When looking at the monthly average temperatures more closely in detail, we see that our average high temperatures are still near 70 degrees at the start of the month before falling into the mid to upper 50s by November 30th. Our morning lows average in the mid 40s at the start of November before making their way down into the mid to upper 30s during the last week of the month. It still can be very warm at times though, with our monthly record high being 89 degrees, set back in 2016. We definitely can get well into the 70s, if not the 80s in November, especially if we find ourselves in the warm sector of an advancing storm system. We can also turn quite chilly this time of year as well, as the jet stream makes its yearly migration back southward, bringing polar air masses southward with it. Although our average morning low stays above freezing for the whole month, our average first freeze of the season happen usually just before the start of the month, and our monthly record low is all the way down at 2 degrees above zero, set in 1950.
With the main jet stream becoming more active and heading south, it is no surprise that November averages a bit on the wetter side when compared to the late summer and early fall. Our average monthly precipitation across the Tennessee Valley comes in at 4.66 inches, but we can definitely get much more than that with a storm system that produces heavy rainfall and/or thunderstorms. While the Atlantic hurricane season officially goes through November 30th, it is often winding down by now, and the focus for tropical systems moves away from U.S. landfall threats. That means that pretty much all of our heavy precipitation events in November come from "regular" mid-latitude or extratropical systems, your typical systems associated with frontal boundaries and temperature contrasts. While we don't average snowfall in November, it definitely can happen. In fact, this reporting station in Muscle Shoals holds a record November snowfall of 5.5 inches, set back in 1929! Lighter events with sleet, light freezing rain, or flurries/light snow are definitely not unheard of, although they are not overly common either.
November also begins our move into the heart of the fall severe weather season in the Tennessee Valley. Aside from the main spring months of March, April, and May, November is the most active month for tornadoes across the Tennessee Valley. There was even a time back in the early to mid 2000s, prior to the 2011 tornado season, that November even beat out the month of April for total number of tornadoes in Alabama! Our tornadoes in the fall can also be just as large, violent, and deadly as the twisters that happen in the heart of spring. From October all the way through the end of May, we run an elevated risk of storm systems being able to produce supercell thunderstorms with long-tracked, strong to violent tornadoes... and that includes the fall and winter months. November has a particularly long history with upper-end type tornadoes, nearly as much as March and April.
As we head into the heart of the fall and winter tornado season, it is a good idea to take the time now to make sure you have a severe weather safety plan in place that you and your family understand as second nature. This includes having MULTIPLE RELIABLE WAYS of hearing warnings. Don't rely solely on sirens. Don't rely solely on a weather radio. Don't rely solely on a weather app. Have multiple layers of warning methods. Have backups and redundancy. Even the best technology can and sometimes will fail. Your LIFE may depend upon having those multiple layers of redundancy for hearing a tornado warning. Shown here are some additional basic tips that you can use to get ready as we move into our severe weather season in the Tennessee Valley.