National Climate Report - November 2003

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US Percent Area Very Wet/Dry/Warm/Cold

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National Overview:

Temperatures across the country averaged cooler than normal in the West and warmer than normal in the East. This is in reverse to a national pattern which has persisted for several months.

The precipitation signal was mixed across the country with much of the East again receiving more precipitation than average as well as the Great Lakes and parts of the Southwest. Some areas of the Midwest were slightly dry during November, though the signal was generally moderate.

For additional details, see the Monthly Highlights section. For details and graphics on weather events across the U.S. and the globe go to NCDC's Global Hazards page.

The Atlantic Basin had above average activity in terms of the number of named storms in 2003. As of November 30th, the official end of the season, 14 named storms had developed, however two further storms (Tropical Storms Odette and Peter) developed in December after the official end of the season. Sixteen named storms is well above the 1944-1996 average of 9.8, but consistent with a marked increase in the annual number of tropical systems since the mid 1990s (1995-2002 average = 13.3). Seven of the named storms were classified as hurricanes and three of those were 'major' (category three or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale). See the Atlantic Hurricane page for further details.

In the Eastern North Pacific, the season began slowly, though 16 named storms had developed as of the end of November. None of the storms reached hurricane strength until Hurricane Ignacio in late August, however seven storms had reached hurricane strength by November 30th. None of those reached 'major' status, the first year since 1977 in which there was no major hurricane. The 1966-1996 average for the Eastern Pacific is for 16.4 storms to form. The 1995-2002 average is slightly lower than this at 12.8. See the East Pacific Hurricane page for more details after December 12th.

Indices used to determine the state of ENSO suggest that the Equatorial Pacific is in a neutral ENSO phase and Sea Surface Temperatures are slightly above normal across the eastern equatorial Pacific. To see the latest NOAA advisory and typical impacts of a La Nina or El Nino episode for the U.S., go to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.
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Monthly and Seasonal Highlights:


  • November 2003 ranked as the 42nd warmest November in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 43.2°F (6.2°C), which was 0.7°F (0.4°C) above the long-term mean.
  • November 2003 was drier than average for precipitation nationally, ranking 33rd wettest.

    For tables of national, regional, statewide and selected city data from 1895-present, for November, last 3 months or other periods, please go to the Climate At A Glance page

  • September-November temperature was above average and ranked as the 20th warmest such period in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature for September-November was 55.2°F (12.9°C) which was 1.0°F (0.6°C) above the long-term mean.
  • September-November 2003 was near average for precipitation in 2003, ranking 60th driest in the last 109 years.

  • December 2002-November 2003 ranked as the 16th warmest such 12 months in the 1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 53.7°F (12.1°C) which was 0.9°F (0.5°C) above the long-term mean.
  • Precipitation was average to slightly above average for December-November leading to a rank of 30th wettest for the last 12 months based on a record of 108 such periods.

    Regional and Statewide:

  • November 2003 ranked much above average temperature for 11 states, with North Carolina averaging 4th warmest out of 109 Novembers.
  • Alaska temperature was 4.9°F (2.7°C) above average for November and 3.4°F (1.9°C) above average for the Fall season (Sept-Nov).
  • November was much wetter than average for 2 states, with no states much drier than average. Most of the East was once again wetter than average - a pattern which as persisted for over 12 months.
  • For the Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt, preliminary data indicate that precipitation was less than average for November. The growing season for the Hard Red Winter Wheat is October-February.
  • The 3 month period, September-November, was much warmer than average for 7 states and also for the West region overall.
  • September-November 2003 was especially wet for the New England states, with the Northeast region ranking wettest September-November on record. West Virginia also had its wettest September-November on record
  • The last 12 months were record wet for 4 Mid-Atlantic states, as was the Southeast region as a whole. Dry conditons remained in many northern and western states.

See NCDC's Monthly Extremes web-page for weather and climate records for the month of October.
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It should be emphasized that all of the temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data. The ranks will change when the final data are processed.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: National Climate Report for November 2003, published online December 2003, retrieved on August 22, 2019 from