November’s Wild Mood Swing

On Friday and Saturday Chicago got the biggest November snow storm in 120 years. Which is strange, because for about three weeks November had been doodling along acting like a nice October. Then suddenly there’s a wild mood swing and it feels like we’re in January.


On Friday it felt like suddenly the world had been transformed into black and white. First there was rain, which froze as the temperature descended. When the snow came, it was wet and heavy.


Perennials, shrubs, and tree limbs bowed under the weight. During the night I was awoken by the sound of branches breaking. Fortunately none of my trees or shrubs had serious damage.


Our bird baths were full of freezing slush, so I emptied the fountain and set up the heated bird bath, which I refer to as the Bird Jacuzzi.


Our ‘Golden Raindrops’ Crabapple was still holding onto its leaves when the snow came.


On Sunday the sky cleared and the sun shone, but it was still cold.


The ice on the branches glittered a bit in the sunshine.


The bird feeders were busy. Cardinals, Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Juncos, and Redpolls were fortifying themselves against the cold.

Has winter made an early surprise visit to your garden?

66 Comments on “November’s Wild Mood Swing

  1. Great photos! Such a strange fall here in Chicago and now this. So far, lots of drooping branches on the shrubs and trees but nothing broken yet. To top it off, saw Sandhill Cranes migrating today.

  2. My goodness that storm came in fast! We had family flying out of O’Hare to head to PDX and got delayed by over a day….glad your shrubs are safe. The birds have a good friend in you!

  3. Ha, the same happened here in Berlin yesterday. After all too warm weather all November, it surprised us with huge snowflakes yesterday afternoon. I love the term bird jacuzzi, btw

  4. That’s a real coincidence – we had sudden a temperature drop on Saturday and after the rain a sprinkling of snow. November was so mild until then, but winter has definitely arrived now!

  5. I gasped when I began reading Jason; what a shock. Heavy wet snow is the worst kind for plants. After an exceptionally mild November here we are forecast temperatures dipping down to zero during the nights this week. Keep warm!

  6. It’s been very cold here in the UK this weekend too. By cold I mean about 3 degrees! No snow for us (yet) but there was some farther north. What a transformation in your garden. Lovely photos and how wonderful to see a red Cardinal. That’s a corker of a bird to see in the garden.

  7. We have woken up to frost this morning here but no snow. Gorgeous photos of your wintery garden and your fabulous red cardinal.

  8. Wow! What a transformation. Its been wet and warm here for the last six weeks, but we have our lowest temperature so far this morning (30 F at 5:25 am), so I’m expecting to see frost when the sun comes up.

  9. Stunning photos thank you. Dipped into the thirties on the Gulf coast last night. Covered the potted plants with sheets and picked all the datum as yesterday

  10. Winter tried to move in this weekend. We only had rain tho. After the rain the temperatures dropped dramatically. We are due a warm up at the middle of this week tho. It looks like a nice table setting for your birds. Do they eat the grapes? My birds ignore grapes when we set some out for them. Redpolls at your feeder! what a treat. I haven’t seen them very many times ever, never at our feeders. Try to keep warm.

    • They peck at the grapes a little bit. I put them out there because there was a bunch of grapes that were forgotten in the back of the fridge.

  11. That heavy wet snow takes a real toll. I’m crossing my fingers as I type this. 🙂 The ‘s’ word hasn’t visited us yet, and the temps have been in the 40-50’s. The pellet stove is working away, but all in all November so far has been kind to us.

  12. Oh my, that did come unexpectedly did it? That first snow fall is always the best though isn’t it? Except yours did look heavy and probably did some damage. Ahhh, your fine feathered friends love to visit I see, and are those grapes I see as an offering? 🙂

  13. Winter came to you in a rude rush with that heavy, wet snow, but glad you were able enjoy an extended mild fall this year. The photos are wonderful. I like the first one, all black and white except for the red hydrant. Beautiful birds.

  14. Here in Montreal we are still enjoying an unusually warm November, with sunny skies that are definitely not the norm. Temperatures are meant to fall dramatically during the week, then to rise again on the weekend to 13C /55F. I wish I hadn’t cut the garden back so early!

  15. Sorry to see that snow arrived so early for you — but that same cold front finally broke the heat in zone 10. Today is a windy, low humidity day with temps in the 70s. Stay warm!!

  16. Oh dear! Crazy weather, but they do make dramatic photographs. Grape fest for the cardinals. I hadn’t thought of feeding grapes to birds.

  17. Glad there was no serious damage! This morning, I woke up to find a dusting of snow in our yard at the little house in the big woods. Nothing like what you got, though! Time to bring in the rest of ornaments and lawn furniture!

  18. Thanks to you, Jason, for convincing me to plant tulips in pots…for the first time for me. Of course, I had to go overboard. I just finished seven pots. Will post the results next spring.

  19. Oh Jason that does look cold, we have had similar weather here, I like your mood swing description, very apt. Although no snow storm just a big drop in temperatures, our weather is rarely as dramatic as yours. I hope there is not too much damage in lovely garden.

  20. Frost, not snow, here. Either one transforms a sorry looking garden into a winter wonderland…temporarily.

  21. I love the photos of all that snow, but I guess the reality of living with snow is quite different.
    I bet the birds love the bird Jacuzzi……nice idea!

  22. Last year, we had 14″ of snow the day before Thanksgiving and never saw bare ground again until April. This year has been very different — El Nino winters are usually drier and warmer than average in New England as the big storms come up the east coast and go out to sea to our south.

  23. Yes, winter is here, too. I’m glad we didn’t get the worst of it, but five inches was enough. The birds and squirrels have been fun to watch in the snow. 🙂 You are so kind to your birds to give them a warmed bath. 🙂

  24. Lucky birds to get a jacuzzi. That is a great shot of the red cardinal. We had frosts at the weekend, but are now back to warmer temperatures. Glad your garden survived intact.

  25. Wow! I would probably go into some sort of catatonic hibernation if we got that much snow this early, LOL. Out of morbid curiosity I looked up the earliest monthly snowfall on record for our area, and it’s only happened 8 times since 1947 and with one exception were all 2″ or less. The one exception was in 1989 when we got 7.5″ during November — and then for the ENTIRE rest of the winter only 3″ more fell! Talk about a mood swing, LOL

  26. Hello Jason, a few days ago we were given a rude interruption to our unusually mild November weather with a few days of cold and frost – no snow though (we are in the South) – but things seem to be warming up again. The days are getting very short though, going to work when it’s only just getting light and coming home long after dark and they’re only going to get shorter!

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