By DAVID GREEN
When George Isobar makes his annual graph next month showing the month-by-month precipitation, he knows what it's going to look like: Below average almost throughout the year.
November is likely going to take the prize as the lightest month of all.
"I knew there wasn't a lot of rain falling last month," he said, "but I was really surprised when I totaled it up and got just 85 hundredths of an inch."
Isobar, who maintains Morenci area climate information for the National Weather Service, said there was one month like that last year and that one was even stranger yet: only .65 and in June.
"Over the last 30-odd years, we've averaged around three inches of precipitation in November," he said. "This year was the second lowest we had over that time period. It's certainly a long way from the record-setting November just a year ago when 7.75 inches fell."
Only 0.83 of an inch was measured in 1976 and 0.85 in 1980.
About three-fourths of the rain fell during a storm on Nov. 12. There were only two other days where there was much of anything.
"We did have our first snow last month, if you can call it that," Isobar said. "There was a brief period of snow pellets that fell on the afternoon of Nov. 12, and some actual flakes Nov. 23 and 24, but nothing measurable. Winter isn't here yet."
The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the Morenci-Fayette area remaining in the category of "unusually dry" at the end of November, with an area of "moderate drought" starting not too far to the west and stretching beyond Chicago.
At the end of October, a third of the country was classified in "severe to extreme drought" and half of the country fell into the "moderate to extreme drought" category.
Cooler than average
Isobar recorded three days in the 60-degree range, with a high of 68° Nov. 11, and 10 days in the 50s. There were only four days where the temperature never climbed out of the 30s.
A low of 20° was recorded Nov. 6 and again on Nov. 13.
"There were plenty of chilly mornings with 17 of them in the 20s and eight of them in the low 20s," said Isobar.
November started off on the chilly side with nine days in a row colder than average. For the month, the departure from normal came in at 2.4° below.
It wasn’t the greatest month for wind turbines, Isobar noted, with an average wind speed of 5.8 miles an hour.
DECEMBER—Snowbirds have flocked into the Observer office to change their newspaper delivery to Florida and Arizona, but maybe they flew away too soon.
"They've missed some really nice weather," Isobar said, "but I don't expect it to last. We generally have some snow on the ground sometime during the month.”
There’s the rare year like 1998 when only a tenth of an inch fell all month, but the average is around eight inches for December.
“Our record snowfall for December occurred 11 years ago when 28.3 inches fell,” Isobar said. “We’ve got a long way to go to get anywhere near that mark. We’ll soon be half way through the month with barely a trace.”