Tim Thomas | Check out these frozen facts|

Tim Thomas

Here we are 11 months gone and just December to get through before we put 2017 to bed for the year. Our Thanksgiving dinner is now just a memory as we find ourselves faced with ole man winter and the Christmas holidays approaching at record speed.

November was a quiet month with a mixture of warm, sunny days and a few very cold mornings. Precipitation was light and for the most part I think we all can agree that November was a decent month. Rainfall totaled 1.76 inches, which is 1.22 inches below the average of 2.98 inches.

The maximum temperature was a warm 70 degrees and the minimum slipped to a cold 18 degrees. The average maximum temperature was 52.8 degrees and the average minimum came in at 32.6 degrees. Temperatures climbed to the 70-degree mark for only one day, temperatures registered in the 60s on six occasions, the 50s were noted on 12 days, the 40s 10 days and just one day failed to get out of the 30s. Outside of a few windy days November remained rather tranquil.

Forecasters at the Climate Prediction Center are looking for a December that features below normal temperatures and precipitation at the moment is too close to call.

The 90-day outlook for December, January and February indicates temperatures once again reaching above normal. Precipitation for that same 90-day period is forecast to be above average. One thing that we must remember is that these forecasts are only outlooks and are not set in stone by any means.

Remember we have a La Nina in the Pacific Ocean that will play a role in winter's weather. Also don't forget the North Atlantic Oscillation, which also can play a part in our winter weather. I heard in the market rumor mill that we were supposed to have several major snowstorms this winter. Snow lovers may be happy but once again the National Weather Service cannot predict snowstorms with any accuracy more than a few days in advance.

Found some very good pointers concerning ice from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that I thought we should share with the readers of Weatherwise. The following information is fantastic for those who love the cold of winter. Check out these facts:

• New ice is usually stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly-formed ice may support one person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially-thawed ice may not.

• Ice seldom freezes uniformly. It may be a foot thick in one location and only an inch or two a few feet away.

• Ice formed over flowing water and its currents is often dangerous. This is especially true near streams, bridges and culverts. Also, the ice on outside river bends is usually weaker due to the undermining effects of the faster current.

• The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process. The extra weight also reduces how much weight the ice sheet can support. Also, ice near the shore can be weaker than is ice farther out.

• Booming and cracking ice isn't necessarily dangerous. It only means that the ice is expanding and contracting as the temperature changes.

• Schools of fish or flocks of waterfowl can also adversely affect the relative safety of ice. The movement of fish can bring warm water up from the bottom of the lake. In the past, this has opened holes in the ice causing snowmobiles and cars to break through.

Sooner or later cold air will start to cause lakes, streams and rivers to freeze over so we must be vigilant while engaging in outdoor recreation this winter. Remember these guidelines:

• Under 4 inches of ice: Stay off.

• 4 inches of ice: Fishing or other activities are safe.

• 5 to 7 inches of ice: Snowmobiles or ATVs can navigate.

Nov. 30 marked the official end to the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, which matched NOAA's seasonal prediction for being extremely active. The season produced 17 named storms of which 10 became hurricanes including six major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5) including the first two major hurricanes to strike the continental U.S. in 12 years.

This year three devastating hurricanes made landfall (Harvey in Texas; Irma in the Caribbean and southeastern U.S.; and Maria in the Caribbean and Puerto Rico). Harvey was also the first major hurricane to hit the U.S. since Wilma struck Florida in October 2005. Additionally, four other storms hit the U.S., including Cindy in Texas, Emily and Phillipe in Florida, and Nate in Mississippi. The 2018 hurricane season begins on June 1 and continues to the end of November.

We are in the final days of 2017 and the New Year is just around the corner. Next month we'll review all the facts and figures from 2017. Until next month be sure to relax and enjoy and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the entire Weatherwise family!

Tim Thomas is a graduate of Fort Hill High School and has been affiliated with the National Weather Service since 1965.

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