Hope you’re having a good Thursday so far, it’s looking warmer today and almost hitting 60. We’ll talk more about the weather a little later on, specifically a very dry last month.

But first let’s check out a local lab that’s watching for the omicron variant.

— Lauren Aguirre (@laurencaguirre, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

This Penn lab may be the first to spot omicron when it gets here

The omicron variant of the coronavirus will inevitably arrive in the Philly region. When it does get here, there’s a lab at the University of Pennsylvania that’s likely to spot it first.

The Penn Center for Research on Coronavirus and Other Emerging Pathogens is expected to be a critical resource in identifying and tracking the COVID-19 variant. It already sequences genetic material in samples from positive tests, hospitalized patients, and even animals.

Sequencing is crucial to tracking variants. Once scientists know the building blocks that make up the virus’ RNA, they can determine how mutations affect its ability to spread and make people sick. Routine sequencing in South Africa led to the discovery of the omicron variant.

Our reporter Jason Laughlin checks out the Penn lab.

What you should know today

Philly had a really dry month

Philadelphia didn’t have much rain or snow this November. And it’s not alone.

We had our driest November in 45 years. And while having a snowless November is the norm for the region, not much of anything fell from the skies last month around here — or in much of the nation.

The upshot is only a small percentage of ski trails in the Northeast are open.

Why so dry? Our reporter Anthony R. Wood asked the experts.

Photo of the day

That’s it for today. Remember, tomorrow is Friday!