Saturday, January 19, 2013

TOP STORY >> All kinds of weather visited in December

Leader staff writer

It’s hard to imagine after living through all that Christmas snow and, for many, five days or more without power that December started out setting and tying record highs.

Record highs were tied in Jacksonville on Dec. 1 at 75 degrees and on Dec 9 at 72 degrees. The month was the second warmest December on record, and the warmest since 1984, based on the average temperature.

Looking at just the high temperatures, it was the third warmest December on record, and looking at the low temperatures, it was the second warmest December on record.

But a little cold got into the month.

On Dec. 27 after the snow stopped falling and the skies opened up crystal blue, it got cold and a new low was set that morning in Jacksonville when it dipped to 13 degrees. The last seven days of the month averaged about eight degrees below normal.

Officially, the Christmas snowfall, the first in 86 years, was 8 inches in Jacksonville, with another inch added on the 26th. Cabot saw 10 inches and places around Ward clocked in at 13.5 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

The ice, sleet, snow, and blowing winds created near blizzard conditions for most of central Arkansas Christmas afternoon and into the next day.

Weather officials said this was the first time the area had seen such blizzard conditions since Jan. 28, 1966.

The Christmas snowstorm covered most of the state, with Harrison and Monticello getting a few tenths of an inch to central Arkansas where most residents saw eight or more inches.

The snowstorm set many all-time December snowfall records, both daily and monthly, as well as several all-time daily snow records, but it didn’t add much to the month’s total precipitation as it takes 10 inches of snow to equal one inch of rain. For the month, the local area received 5.6 inches of precipitation in December, most of that coming not in the Christmas snows, but in a pair of thunderstorms that rolled through during the month. The thunderstorms spawned two tornadoes in the state, raising the total to 18 for the year, well below the average of 33 tornadoes per year.

The 5.6 inches of precipitation was about a half inch more than normal.

According to weather monitors at Little Rock Air Force Base, nine inches of snow fell during a 24-hour period Dec. 25-26, making it the snowiest 24-hour December snowfall on record. The previous record was 8 inches set in 1963. The eight inches of snow on Christmas Day ranks as the snowiest December day on record, beating out the 7.7 inches that fell Dec. 22, 1963.

However the snowiest day on record for Jacksonville happened Jan. 6, 1988, when the area was hit with 11.9 inches of snow. The all-time record daily snowfall in December for the state was set Dec. 31, 1876, in Monticello when 21 inches fell.