A Slowly Decreasing Rainfall Deficit

By Russell Russ

It was a fairly average October in this part of the world. Temperatures were close to normal and precipitation, for the second month in a row, was above normal. After a dry summer that increased the rainfall deficit by 7.60”, the fall months of September and October reduced it by nearly three inches. The yearly deficit was by no means eliminated, but a sizeable bite was taken out leading into the upcoming winter months. Norfolk’s fall foliage season this year was average to perhaps a little below average for colorful beauty. One could say that the early summer spongy moth caterpillar outbreak combined with our dry summer played roles in reducing the quality of the fall foliage this year. Generally speaking, peak colors were in early October, with swamps peaking during the first week of the month and everywhere else peaking during the second week – arguably a little earlier than normal.

The month’s high temperature of 69 degrees was observed on October 26 and the low of 27 was observed on October 29. There were no records for daily highs or lows this month. The monthly mean temperature of 48.5 degrees was just 0.7 degree above normal. Norfolk’s warmest October was in 2001 with 55.3 degrees. The coldest was in 1974 with an average temperature of 42.0 degrees. It didn’t seem like it to many, but there were ten days with frost between September 30 and October 31. Most were light frosts in lower elevation locations. October 9 was the first day with widespread frost. Last year that did not occur until October 24.

The total precipitation for the month was 5.61 inches, 1.25 inches above normal. It was not all that high ranking, but it did rank as Norfolk’s twenty-first wettest October over the last 91 years. Norfolk’s wettest October occurred in 1955 with 17.49 inches (also second wettest of any month). The driest October was in 1963 with just 0.63 inch (also the third driest of any month). There was no snowfall this October, technically making it 0.9 inch below normal. Norfolk’s record for October snowfall continues to be the impressive 23.8 inches recorded in 2011.

Through October, the total precipitation amount for the year was 39.50 inches. This was 3.88 inches below normal through October. This is 15.12 inches less than last year’s total through October. We are currently below normal, but we are in much better shape now than we were at the end of August.

It has been stated that November’s weather can sometimes predict what type of winter we will have. Some people swear by that statement, others do not believe it at all. Looking back at the last ten years of Norfolk weather, November’s weather during that stretch did not seem to have much influence on winter’s weather. It seems that sometimes November can be a predictor and sometimes it cannot.

Early November this year was very warm with temperatures in the 60’s to low 70’s for many of the first twelve days of the month. Our extended autumn weather ended after November 13 when our local weather finally became more seasonal and more in line with the calendar. Temperatures dropped significantly and November began acting like November. The first snow of the season came during the early evening of November 15. A quick 1.2 inches of snow with some sleet and freezing rain, plow trucks out plowing and sanding and ice forming on some local ponds is a good way to get everyone thinking that winter is on its way.