Nature Menu

Introduction Beginner's Guide Where to find wild flowers Where to find butterflies Books and online tools Week by Week Nature Blog SWC_Nature

Nature and Weather in South East England

This Week Message

For the latest observations, see the Nature Blog or the @SWC_Nature Twitter feed.

November weather

Other weather pages: JanuaryFebruaryMarchApril • MayJuneJulyAugust September • OctoberDecember

Return to November nature

In medieval times 1 November was regarded as the start of winter, and it is still about this time that the weather gets decisively colder. At the end of October one may be still be sitting in shirtsleeves on a sunny day, but by the end of the first week of November such times already seem a long way away. Hats, gloves and scarfs come out of the cupboard, even if they are not always used.

The temperature contrast can sometimes be quite stark. In 2014 the last day of October saw a record temperature of 24 degrees, the climax of a month when temperatures had regularly been up in the high teens. But on 5 November daytime temperatures were just 10 degrees, falling to 4 degrees overnight. 30 October 2016 was also a summer-like 20 degrees but on Sunday 6 November the temperature was just 7 degrees, with minus 1 overnight.

That being said the weather often starts the month in a changeable, westerly mode, only rather colder and bleaker than in Octopber. There is some rain, scattered sun, but mainly lots of cloud. Temperatures in such conditions are generally in the 10-13 degree range but may rise into the mid teens in the first half of the month. Night time temperatures are in the mid single digits but when the skies clear they can dip away to 2 or 3 degrees.

Sometimes there can major storms. 2009 was dominated by an extraordinary series of deep lows which brought heavy rain, severe flooding in Cumbria, and wind speeds of over 100mph on the south coast on Saturday 14th. In 2012 there were also several deep lows throughout the month, including a period of intensely wet and windy weather from 23-27 November which brought flooding to the West Country.

2015 was less dramatic, but was a particularly windy November, with the country always in the eye of an intense jetstream. Temperatures remained mild (10-14 degrees) both day and night and the weather was particularly grey, with only brief intervals of sun. 2010 also had a period of deep lows from the 7th to the 13th, and in 2016 there was an large storm on 20 November.

The first real blast of winter

In the second half of the month there is often a change to high pressure, which can bring the first real blast of winter - daytime temperatures down to 5 or 6 degrees and night time close to or below freezing.

Sometimes this is due to high pressure over the UK or Scandinavia, as happened from the 11th in 2011, from the 28th in 2014, and from the 23rd onwards in 2016, bringing generally settled weather. But a more common pattern seems to be for high pressure to establish itself to the west of the UK, bringing a north westerly or northerly airflows and changeable weather from Iceland or the Arctic. This happened from the 12th to the 29th in 2005, from 11-16 and 22-26 November in 2007, from the 18th onwards in 2008, from the 27th onwards in 2012, from the 13th onwards in 2013, from 20-22 November 2015, and (unusually early in the month) from 4-9 November in 2016.

November 2017 was dominated by such western-centred highs, with only four days (2-3, 14 and 21 November) when they were not in charge. The result was north westerly airflows but quite a lot of fine weather. Despite the wind direction, daytime temperatures remained surprisingly moderate for the most part - between 8 and 13 degrees, only dipping down to 3-5 degrees in the last six days of the month when the wind turned full northerly and blew straight from the Arctic. Nights were split between clear ones dipping down close to or just below zero and cloudier ones with temperatures of up to 9 degrees.

The most extreme example of a high to the west of the UK was 2010, however. It brought northerly winds from the 19th onwards, and then moved to Scandinavia bringing easterly winds. By the end of the month temperatures were getting down to minus 3 to 5 at night, rising to just 2 or 3 degrees by day. 30 November 2010 then saw three centimetres of snow fall in the south east, and there then followed a bitterly cold and snowy December, the coldest for 100 years.

30 November 2017 also saw snow down the east coast of England into Kent and was followed on 10 December by 6-8 centimetres of snow in the south east, which stayed on the ground for three days to the north of London. 21 November 1993 saw several centimetres of snow fall in London and stay on the ground for some days, and there was briefly snow in the early morning of 23 November 2008 and 21 November 2015. On 25-27 November 2005 snow in the West Country was bad enough to strand motorists on Bodmin Moor.

High pressure can sometimes mean days of crisp, frosty sunshine. 2011's cold snap produced nine such days, while 2005 had 12 days of full sun and four of part sun. In 2013 there were seven full sun days and seven with partial sunshine and November 2016 started with two sunny days and finished with four more, making eight days of full sunshine and 12 of part sunshine for the whole month. In 2017 there were 11 days of full sunshine and 10 with part sunshine, and only seven with rain. But in general November is a thoroughly gloomy month, with seemingly endless grey cloud.

When the sun does shine in November, it can take on an ethereal, mystical quality - but on the other hand it always seems to be shining straight in your eyes or be blocked by trees, buildings or isolated clouds. Though at the start of the month it still packs some warmth, by the end of the month it feels very weak, not rising above the tree tops till after 10am and dipping below them again by 2pm. By this time even the midday sun seems to offer little heat.

In general, one rather loses interest in the weather in November, however – days are getting so short that it barely seems to matter anyway. The dark evenings seem to spread awfully ahead of you: it will be the end of January before it is light after 5pm again. But on the other hand, there is a cosy feel to being indoors, and the city centre with its lights and animation starts to be a cheerful place to be.

Bonfire Night on 5 November marks the start of a kind of winter festival of light. Often this is the first time gloves, scarfs and hats come out of the cupboard, and about a week after it the Christmas decorations go up in the High Street, accompanied by the ritual complaints about how the celebrations start earlier and earlier each year (they don't: they always start in the second week of November). Yet the jolity has not yet started to take on the frenetic pre-Christmas quality: one can still shop without too many crowds.

Paths are usually muddy in November (though a notable exception was 2016 when they remained dry well into December) but the effect is mitigated by all the freshly fallen leaves. Only when these have rotted away later in the winter do paths become truly squelchy. In November fallen leaves can sometimes obscure the route of paths, especially in beech woods.

Other weather pages: JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugust SeptemberOctoberDecember

Return to November nature

© Peter Conway 2006-2017 • All Rights Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment