Friday, January 1, 2016

Incredibly Ultra Weird Vermont And National December Weather Closes Out Wild 2015

A flower blooming in a West Rutland, Vermont
garden on Christmas Day, 2015. 
Something strange is going to happen outside my house in St. Albans, Vermont during this first week in January.

The strange thing is that the weather outside will be more or less normal.

I know that sentence doesn't make much sense. What would be so strange about average weather?

It's strange because we've had pretty much no normal weather lately. It's been off the charts.

I've never seen a month like December, 2015. Not locally, and not nationally.

Pretty much every state east of the oddly flooding Mississippi River, and pretty much every city east of the Mississippi had its hottest December on record.

First of all, it's extremely rare for such a wide geographical area to have a record hot month. It's even more odd -- extremely odd -- for some of those monthly heat records to be broken by such large margins.

On the relatively rare occasions when you have a new record for hottest or coldest month, that record is broken by a few tenths of a degree. It's pretty much unheard of to break the record by more than two degrees.

This time, many cities broke the monthly December record by several degrees.


Let't start here where I live, in Vermont, for the extreme records.

Burlington, Vermont's mean temperature in December, 2015 was 39.2 degrees, beating the old record hot month by 6.6 degrees. It's pretty rare to be merely 6.6 degrees warmer than average for a given month. Breaking a record by that margin was unthinkable until now.

December was a whopping 13.4 degrees warmer than normal in Burlington. Had December's weather happened in November instead, November still would have been one degree warmer than average.

For the first time since they started keeping records in Burlington, there were never any days that got below 10 degrees. (The closest it came was 16 degrees on the 28th) On 10 days, the temperature reached 50 degrees or more. Usually it takes a decade of Decembers to accumulate 10 days that reach 50 or more.

And of course there was that Christmas Eve in Burlington, in which the temperature reached 68 degrees, the hottest temperature on record for the entire month of December.  The month also had the latest first date of the season in which the temperature in Burlington never rose above freezing. That was on Dec. 28, ten days later than the old record set in 1998.

The month also had the fewest number of days that stayed below freezing during December. Just two.

Montpelier and St. Johnsbury, Vermont also broke their records for the hottest December on record by wide margins

December was soggy, too. Burlington had 4.44 inches of precipitation, double the average and good enough to make December, 2015 the 6th wettest on record.

Like I said, I don't know of any month that I can remember in which the weather was more extreme than in December, 2015.


Over the past 30 days, there have been 5,121 daily record highs at weather stations across the country, according to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center

Nights have been even weirder across the nation. Over the past 30 days, 6,441 daily records were set for highest minimum temperatures for any given day, says the NCDC.

Florida has been an extreme example of this. In Tampa, there were eight daily record high temperatures in a row. Fort Lauderdale had no cooler than normal days in December, and only 2 of the last 72 days were a bit cooler than average.
Shitless volleyball players in New York City,
Christmas Eve, 2015. 

Up until this year, the warmest overnight low for any December night on record in Key West, Florida, was 78 degrees. This year, for each of eight consecutive days starting December 23, that Key West warm overnight low record was tied or broken.

Further north, in New York City's Central Park, 11 days during December, 2015 reached 60 degrees or more. The previous record for most such December days was eight.

Many areas of the United States had record wet Decembers, too. These places include Portland, Oregon, with 15.24 inches for the month. Portland also  had its hottest year on record. , St. Louis, Missouri with 11.74 inches,  had its wettest December. Several cities in Georgia also had their wettest December since they began keeping track of such things.

I'm sure I've only hit just a few of the highlights in this year's extreme December across the country.

Let's see how 2016 turns out.

1 comment:

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