November started out absolutely beautiful! The daily temperatures were as much as 10 and 12 degrees above normal. But, by the end of the month, daily temperatures were as much as 15-17 degrees below normal.
The cold came with roughly 6 inches of snow for most of the Flagstaff area. Snow stuck around for quite a while, too. There is still a drift outside of my office entrance. Compared to the 30-year mean, Flagstaff was 2 degrees below normal and the 28th coldest on record. It was also the 33rd wettest. In the graph below, the temperatures are compared to the mean of temperatures going back to 2004.
After a brief break over the summer and early fall, Flagstaff has fallen back below normal. The question is whether this trend is going to continue. If we continue to see significantly colder than normal temperatures, we cold see closer to normal precipitation.
So far, December has been beautiful! Every day has seen daily temperatures above normal with the last 3 days being 11-12 degrees above normal. This is the how I originally foresaw the winter playing out. Looking ahead to the next two weeks, there is a chance that the storm track will drop south. But, the extent of the drop has been variable. Temperatures appear to be headed toward a cooling trend, but only back to normal levels until around Christmas. So, while the possibility of a White Christmas exists, I remain skeptical.
One other consideration is that it looks like the high number of hurricanes had an impact on Atlantic sea surface temperatures. Much of the North Atlantic has returned to near normal temperatures. This could play a role in moderating how warm and dry the winter will be. At the same time, the Pacific off the coast of California and Baja continues to grow cooler.