Like all scientists, meteorologist love data. We keep records for as many things and as many places as possible. We have daily maximum and minimum temperature and rainfall records going back over a century.
When you collect that much information, you’re able to compare dates year-over-year and extract other useful information, too. For example, two of my favorite records to consider are the lowest maximum temperature and the highest minimum temperature. They give an idea of whether a day has really been “this cold” or a night really has been “this warm” on a particular date in the past.
When we have a day like today – cold, dreary, damp, and winter-like in early November, I always look at the lowest maximum temperature records to see how unusual the weather really is. Today’s weather could actually be noteworthy, especially since we’re not expecting the temperature to move much at all day.
The official climate records for the greater Triangle are kept at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, so even though we are not necessarily at that location, that’s where we have to look. On this day in 1971, the high temperature was 46 degrees – the record for the lowest maximum temperature for the day. The runners-up are 48 degrees in 1933 and 50 degrees in more than one year. So, if we stay cooler than 46 degrees today, we will break that record for the coolest high temperature on this date.
In case you are wondering, our normal (30-year average) high temperature for today is 66 degrees, and our normal low is 43 degrees. Yes, this is definitely an unusually chilly day.