Believe It Or Not – That Was December

red sky
Red sky at night - a sailor's delight

OSWEGO, NY – Above average warmth and below average snowfall – was it really December?

“It certainly wasn’t anywhere near the Decembers we remember around here,” said Bill Gregway, local observer for the National Weather Service.

Temperatures were so mild in December in the Port City that these snapdragons continued to bloom as if it were spring time instead the dead of winter.
Temperatures were so mild in December in the Port City that these snapdragons continued to bloom as if it were spring time instead the dead of winter.

The average temperature for December 2011 was 35.1 degrees. That is 5.4 degrees warmer than average.

December 2006 (37.0 degrees) is the warmest on record. In second place is 36.9 degrees in 2001.

“Last month came in number 5,” Gregway said. “That means we’ve had 3 out of the top 5 in just the past few years.”

The highest temperature was 53 degrees on the 4th and 15th. Meanwhile, the lowest was 10 degrees on the 18th.

December saw no new records set, Gregway added.

There were 13 days where the high was 40 degrees or above; with a streak of 5 in a row.

There were 3 days when it was in the 50s.

Four overnight lows slipped into the teens.

Total precipitation for the month came in at 3.71 inches, which is 0.09-inch below average.

The greatest precipitation in a 24-hour period was 0.87-inch on the 15th.

Measurable precipitation fell on 19 days with streaks of 6 and 5 days in a row.

A trace of precipitation fell on 4 days.

No precipitation was recorded on 8 days with a streak of 3 days in a row.

For the year, total precipitation wound up at 50.15 inches. That is 7.22 inches above normal, according to Gregway’s figures.

In the past 43 years of his record keeping, that is the sixth wettest.

The top 5 include: 2008 – 55.97 inches on top followed by 54.66 inches in 1992. Third place goes to 1976 with 50.35 inches. Fourth is 50.21 inches in 1996 and right behind that is 1972 with 50.20 inches.

Snowfall, on the other hand, is a totally different story.

The total for December was 6.6 inches.

“That,” Gregway said slowly, “is 26.9 inches below average.”

It’s the 4th lowest total since he’s been keeping records.

The greatest snowfall in a 24-hour period came over the 9th and 10th when 2.6 inches was recorded.

The least amount of snow in December is 2.9 inches in 1911.

For the winter (up to the end of December) the total is 9.5 inches – a whopping 33.5 inches below normal.

Going back to 1898, that is the 8th least amount of snow at this time. Number 1 is 4.0 inches in 1931.

The most snow we’ve had at this point in the winter is 97.4 inches in 1995. That’s followed by 2000 with 96.1 inches and 2008 with 73.8 inches.

The area saw 30 percent of the total sunshine available last month.

That is 11 percentages above average, Gregway said.

The number of cloudy days, 21, was 4 below average.

The number of partly cloudy days, 7, was 2 above average.

The number of clear days, 3, was 2 above average.

There were no thunderstorms, which is average.

There were 3 foggy days and that is 2 more than normal.

Snow pellets fell once as did ice pellets and glaze.

The strongest winds were west-northwesterly gusting at greater than 30 mph on the 28th.

“We had winds above 20 mph 6 times in December,” Gregway added. “It was kind of a windy month.”

The highest barometric pressure was 30.61 on the 3rd and the lowest was 29.25 on the 27th.

The highest temperature in December is 69 degrees on the 7th in 1998. December 29, 1933, has the dubious honor of being the coldest (-23 degrees).

The wettest December on record is 10.50 inches in 1878.

It’s a tie for the driest (1.02 inches) between 1876 and 1917.

December 1958 holds the record for snowiest – 85.8 inches. At the low end is 2.9 inches in 1911.

The warmest December was 2006 – 37.0 degrees and the coldest was 16.2 degrees in 1989.