January Feature Story: Spoiled Rotten in December


Happy New Year! I can’t believe we are talking about 2015 in the past-tense already. Wow! It was a crazy year in terms of weather around these parts and a year that many won’t forget, especially those impacted by severe weather both in the spring and summer months. Now that January has arrived and we anticipate periodic arctic outbreaks, we’ll focus our attention on a warmer subject. December 2015!

This past December was a warm one, hence the title of this month’s article. We were indeed spoiled rotten with high temperatures above normal for nearly the entire month! According to the Midwest Regional Climate Center (mrcc.isws.illinois.edu) December was ranked as the warmest December on record with all nine Midwest states from Illinois to Wisconsin to Kentucky being above average in terms of temperatures. Here in Illinois the average temperature for the month of December was 41, over 11 degrees above average smashing the old record of 38.9 degrees set back in 1923. Absolutely phenomenal. Can’t complain though as we enjoyed our fair share of warmth with several days pushing 50 degrees for highs as seen on the accompanying graphic. Towards the end of the month we began to fall back to normal as snowpack continued to build to the northwest of the area inching the colder air closer to us here.

But wait…that’s not all! We set yet ANOTHER RECORD in the Midwest in terms of rainfall for December. The state of Illinois didn’t break the state record for rainfall (6.64” observed vs 7.17” record) but the Midwest as a whole set a new record with an average of 5.01” of precipitation observed (the previous record being 4.42” set back in 1982). Fortunately for us most of this fell in liquid form. Can you imagine how much snowfall that would have equated to had we been below freezing? OUCH!

Looking long range El Nino still holds strong though a gradual weakening is expected as we get closer to spring according to the latest NOAA outlook. Until then expect above average temperatures to continue with the occasional arctic blast thrown in now and then. Precipitation is expected to be near normal as we close out the month of January (~1.5” liquid / 9” snow).

Lastly, I would like to thank Mrs. Beveroth from Riverbend Middle School in Fulton for inviting me to talk about weather with her seventh grade science class. I was amazed by the depth of the material they are learning and it was a great experience that I hope to repeat soon!