Michigan November weather to bring ups and downs, rain and snow

(WXYZ) - The kids have barely finished trading or devouring their candy before, BAM!, we've got a new month on our hands. Welcome to November, a month of big weather changes in metro Detroit.

Wild Novembers

Gordon Lightfoot was impressed enough by our gales of November to write a ballad after the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald in November of 1975. The entire Great Lakes region, including southeast Michigan, can be ravaged by ferocious storms as winter cold battles lingering autumn warmth. In Detroit, we've been as cold as zero degrees (F) in November of 1880, and as warm as 81 degrees almost 70 years later, on November 1, 1950. Back in the year the Supremes hit #1 with "You Keep Me Hangin' On," we had almost a foot of snow in November (11.8" in 1966). But snow-haters might be happy to know that about 1 in 12 of our Novembers since 1874 have brought no measurable snow (2010 was the last time it happened).

Normal Novembers

Even an average November means lots of swings in temperatures, and usually a lot of cloudiness. The Great Lakes' water temperatures are still fairly warm this month, since water cools more slowly than air. The cold air coming down from the arctic passes over that "warm" water to produce low clouds, which blow from Lake Michigan to the east, right into metro Detroit, on prevailing westerly winds. It's not unusual for us to have several days in a row with solid overcast skies and temperatures that barely move during the day. We've had a sample of November weather most of the last few days. Unless you're a rock star, you don't typically need your sunglasses much this month around here. Average highs cool from the mid 50s on the 1st before plunging to only 42, on average, for the high by the 30th. By the end of the month, average lows are just under 30 degrees. And snow-lovers, we get 1.6" of snow in an average November.

Last November

Last November was sunnier and much warmer than average. It was actually the 5th warmest November recorded in Detroit, and it was almost completely snowless (we got 1/10" all month). A year ago today, we flirted with a record high on a sunny 78 degree Tuesday, and we set a record high on the 18th (73 degrees). Rainfall was very close to average (almost 3") for the month.

Ahead this November

Don't expect a repeat of all the sunny warmth of last year.  I expect a lot of swings in temperature with plenty of strong fronts coming through and ample cloudiness. Temperatures may end close to long-term averages, but that will happen because the below average days will mostly cancel out the warmer than average days. Precipitation is likely to be heavier than normal with most of it probably falling as rain. I do expect that we'll probably have at least some lake effect snow showers moving through. This November will be colder than last year, and we'll probably end up with more snowfall than in 2016. 

I still plan to keep sunglasses handy because I like the rock star look in Motown.

Print this article Back to Top