Winter hors d'oeuvre

After the first snow of the season fell in the Poconos, Dieter Boehmer clears snow from his car in his driveway on Cherry Valley Road near Stroudsburg, Pa., on Tuesday, November 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Pocono Record,David Kidwell)

In January 2011, the official average temperature in Philadelphia finished below the long-term normal.

That would not happen again for 22 consecutive months.

Finally, November 2012 is about to break that streak. Based on what's happened so far and the forecast, the temperature will come in at 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit below the 30-year normal.

In fact, the projected monthly temperature, 44.3, would be low enough to finish in the top 33 for chilly Novembers in the 139-year period of record.

That also would be the coolest November since at least that of 1997, which also weighed at close to 44.3.

What does it all mean for the coming winter?

Snow-lovers  don't want to be thinking about the winter of 1997-98. That was quite a mild one, with less than an inch of snow measured for the entire season at Philadelphia International Airport.

November 1996 was even colder, at 41.3, but the subsequent winter was no great shakes for snow, with an unimpressive 12. 9 inches.

Conversely, November 1995 comes in at No. 13 on the cool list, and that season was the snowiest ever.

At No. 2, November 1976 preceded one of the coldest Philadelphia winters on record.

Tony Gigi at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly points out that this year's combination of a warm October and cool November is an unusal one in the period of record.

He found six reasonable matches, stuck them in the weather processor, and turned on the switch.

What he came up with was an average winter snowfall of 22.0 inches and Dec. 1 to March 1 temperature of  35.5 -- almost dead-on average based on the 30-year normal period.

In short, the atmosphere has been even more guarded than usual with its clues for the coming winter.

What can be said is that the meteorological winter, which begins Saturday, will come on like meteorological November.

Afternoon temperatures could make a run at 60 on Monday, and nothing December-like is imminent.