Thursday, November 17, 2011

From Mammatus to Graupel: This November's Wandering Vermont Weather

After a soaking wet and seasonably cold October with a few frosts and some light snow, the onset of November brought an odd weather change to Vermont.  The weather dried out, the sun came out, and warmer than average conditions spread over the state.


Above: sun lights up bare deciduous trees along the Middlebury River as it peeks through a gap in the clouds low on the western horizon.  You can't see the river from this photo, but the water level is the lowest it has been since before Irene.
In true Vermont form, there were still plenty of clouds floating about, and temperatures did occasionally dip low enough for non-accumulating snow showers.


Nighttime freezes also allowed for me to use my 'experimental icicle generator' (a plastic milk jug with a hole poked in it) to create a couple of colored icicles.


Yet, for the most part, temperatures were well above average, on a few days reaching into the 60s in the Middlebury area.  While I am ready for winter at this point, and look forward to enjoying the snow, I still managed to enjoy the warm sunny days outdoors.  The sky continued to be beautiful, as always.


At one point I noticed something very rarely seen in November in Vermont:  mammatus clouds.  These clouds, which are associated with humid air sinking out of a high cloud bank, can form in a variety of conditions, but usually form in warm weather and are often associated with thunderstorms.  Thunderstorms in November are quite rare, and it's safe to say that viewing mammatus clouds in Vermont through the branches of bare deciduous trees is a rare event.


As it turned out, the storm that came a few hours after these clouds were spotted did not include thunder and lightning, though areas to the south and west of Vermont did experience thunderstorms.  We did, however, pick up a warm, relatively heavy nighttime rain... very different from a normal November rainstorm, which is generally a hypothermia-inducing barrage of windblown rain (yes, the wind chill can be well below freezing when it rains, even though the actual temperature is usually not - and wind chill doesn't even take into account being soaking wet!).

Of course, the warm weather can't last.  Today was a much more typical November day.  It is about as cold as it looks...


About an hour after this photo was taken, a graupel shower moved through Middlebury.

The thanksgiving weekend could hold anything from a nor'easter with some snow, to sunny warm weather... but it does seem increasingly likely that it will be at least seasonably cold on Thanksgiving in Vermont.

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