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    A December to Remember

    By By Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist
    January 02, 2011, 3:54:48 AM EST

    It has been a wild month for a large part of the nation in terms of temperature and precipitation.

    East Cold

    With the exception of New England, the eastern half of the nation has been much colder than average for December. The greatest departures from normal lie over the Southeast.

    Much of Florida is a shoo-in for the coldest December on record with multiple frosts and freezes to show for it. In the Sunshine State, the cold has blown away benchmark cold Decembers of 1915, 1935, 1963 and 1989.

    In Naples, Fla., Dec. 1-29, 2010, is averaging 56.9 degrees. The old record of 61.9 degrees set in 1989 will be blown away.


    In vacation hot spot, Orlando, shivering visitors can attest to an average temperature of 51.4 degrees, on track to break the 55.3-degree benchmark set in 1989.

    Other Florida cities on the verge of setting their coldest December on record include Miami with 60.9 degrees rivaling that of 62.0 degrees set in 1963, Tampa with 52.4 degrees outpacing that of 54.5 degrees set in 1915 and Fort Myers with 56.1 degrees ready to stomp 58.4 degrees set in 1935.

    Other cities in the South, including Charlotte and Wilmington, N.C., are on track for setting new cold marks for December. Charlotte is running 34.5 degrees for the month through the 29th with 34.8 degrees set in 1989. Wilmington seems to be a lock with a current reading of 37.9 degrees rivaling 38.6 degrees set in 1989.

    Portions of the Ohio Valley and central Appalachians are mighty cold with departures at or around 10 degrees below normal. However, mega cold winters of 1917, 1983 and 1989 have put a new cold December record out of reach.

    West Warmth

    While people in the East have been shivering, many in the West have had it warm this month, relatively speaking.

    Temperature departures of 5 to 8 degrees above average have been common from the Intermountain West to the deserts and southern High Plains.

    Amazing as the warmth has been in the West, very few, if any, all-time warm December records have been met.

    West Precipitation

    Despite the warmth and lack of snow in Denver, it appears the Mile High City will catch up a bit with snow before the month ends.

    Rainfall in portions of the West Coast and yards of snow in the nearby mountains have made up for the near-miss in the record temperature department.


    The storms in California will be beneficial to most residents, but certainly not to those souls who lost their homes.

    Portions of central and Southern California received several month's worth of rain in one storm prior to Christmas which led to widespread flooding and localized destruction.

    The result was the rainiest month ever in Bakersfield with 5.84 inches as of the 29th blew away the old December record of 2.03 inches in 1995.

    In Los Angeles, 8.83 inches of rain has fallen shy of the last couple of days of the month, breaking the old December record of 6.57 inches set in 1936.

    Christmas Weekend Blizzard

    Last, but certainly not least, Snowicane II in the coastal mid-Atlantic and much of New England during the long Christmas weekend.

    This storm was far more disruptive as it occurred on a holiday weekend when many people were traveling and became stranded in 4-inch-per-hour snow that left from 1 to 3 feet of snow in a large area.

    The storm had property owners and city workers digging out days after the last flakes had fallen.

    It is possible this storm set a New Jersey state snowfall record. However, almost hurricane-force winds made accurate measuring of that snow nearly impossible in many areas.

    Hurricane-force winds were experienced over eastern New England, and strong tropical storm-force winds were felt elsewhere in New England and the coastal mid-Atlantic.

    The same storm brought the first white Christmas ever to a number of locations in the South and was responsible for the mayhem in the West days earlier.

    Unfortunately, needed rain failed to soak much of the Deep South and southern Plains were it was so desperately needed.

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