Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney, NE Climatology

National Weather Service - Hastings, Nebraska

A Climatological overview of conditions in South Central Nebraska on New Year’s Day (1956-2005)



Snowfall accumulated at Grand Island on New Year’s Day (1956-2005)   Snowfall accumulated at Hastings on New Year’s Day (1956-2005)   Snowfall accumulated at Kearney on New Year’s Day (1956-2005)
Site Snow Amount (inches) Year   Site Snow Amount (inches) Year   Site Snow Amount (inches) Year
1 4.2 1960   1 2.8 1960   1 3.0 1995
2 3 1992   2 1 1977   2 2.4 1960
3 3 1995   3 1 1999   3 2.0 1978


Like The Christmas holiday before it, precipitation has been generally meager on New Year’s Day. In fact, Grand Island recorded appreciable precipitation on New Year’s Day 9 times within the past 50 years, the most of which being 0.52’’ back in 1992. This compares favorably with Hastings and Kearney, which both noted measurable precipitation 6 times over the same period. The overwhelming majority of this moisture fell as snow, with the heaviest daily snowfall on New Year’s Day noted above. it is interesting, or at the least noteworthy enough to note that the snowfall included in 1995 (at Grand Island and Kearney) and in 1978 at Kearney, were actually from storm systems that began snow on New Year’s Eve. In 1960, for example, snow began on the night of December 31st 1959 late in the evening, accumulating 1 inch before the clock struck midnight, with an additional 4.2 inches of snow falling on January 1st, 1960. This is not to say that this kind of scenario has not unfolded before. However, it is interesting to note that the 1 inch of snow falling before midnight was included in the snowfall totals for the calendar year 1959, with the ensuing 4.2 inches going onto the new 1960 snow ledger!




Needless to say, winter nights over the Central Plains can get awfully cold, and the graphic above certainly bears this out!!! Normal low temperatures this time of year average to around the lower teens. While we’ve been able to stay near that figure in recent years, there have been quite a few years that stand out as unusually cold. Most Notable of these was New Year’s morning 1974. Temperatures to ring in 1974 were downright frigid! Grand Island, Hastings, and Kearney reported lows 23, 19 and 14 degrees below zero on that morning. Those temperatures at Hastings and Kearney are good enough, or should we say COLD enough, to hold, or tie, single day record low temperatures for the sites.


5 Coldest (Low Temp.) at Grand Island (1956-present)   5 Coldest (Low Temp.) at Hastings (1956-present)   5 Coldest (Low Temp.) at Kearney (1956-present)
Rank Temp. (F°) Year   Rank Temp. (F°) Year   Rank Temp. (F°) Year
1-Tie -23.0 1974   1 -19.0* 1974   1-Tie -14.0* 1974
1-Tie -12.0 1979   2 -8.0 1969   1-Tie -14.0* 1969
1-Tie -10.0 1969   3 -7.0 2001   1-Tie -14.0* 1968
2 -6.0 1988   4-Tie -6.0 1979   2 -12.0 1979
3 -6.0 2001   4-Tie -5.0 1978   3 -9.0 1988

*Daily Record low for site



As this graphic indicates, while high temperatures on New Year’s Day have varied, they generally fall between the 30s and 40s. This is not to say that ringing in the new year on an unusually warm note does not ever happen. Grand Island and Hastings, for example, have seen the mercury top the 60 degree mark on New Year’s day over the past 50 years. In fact, the Third City has seen 60°+ temperatures 3 times over the past 50 years, most recently on New Year’s Day, 2004. Kearney, however, has not seen the 60° plateau at all on 1/1 over the past 50 years, coming as close as a 59° reading on the same New Year’s 2004. However, when you bear in mind that normal highs for this time of year are in the lower 30s, temperatures in the 50s are usually awfully easy to take!!!


5 Warmest (high temperature) at      Grand Island (1956-present)   5 Warmest (High Temperatures) at Hastings (1956-present)   5 Warmest (High temperatures) at Kearney (1956-present)
Rank Temp. (F°) Year   Rank Temp. (F°) Year   Rank Temp. (F°) Year
1 61.0 1964   1 62.0 1997   1 59.0 2004
1-Tie 61.0 1997   2 58.0 2004   2 58.0 2000
2 60.0 2004   3 57.0 1964   3-Tie 56.0 1971
3 59.0 1998   4 53.0 1998   3-Tie 56.0 1981
4 50.0 1986   5 50.0 1989   4 53.0 1957


New Year’s Day Mean Highs and Lows (1956-2005)
Site Avg. High Temp. (F°) Normal high for the date (F°) Departure from Normal
Grand Island 32.2


Hastings 33.8


Kearney 34.5


Site Avg. Low Temp. (F°) Normal low for the date (F°)  
Grand Island


12.0 -0.4


14.0 -0.3


12.0 -1.8

Climatological Conclusion

As you can see, temperatures over the past 50 years in the Tri-cities depart a small amount from the normal. Our lows have been slightly colder than normal, with lows at Kearney standing out as almost 2°F below normal. With regard to Maximum daily temperatures, Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney have trended ever so slightly above climatological normal, with Hastings standing out at nearly 1°F above normal. These are no small detail when you take into account that these readings are averaged over a 50 year period! So, in the end, those New Year’s revelers ringing in the New Year across South Central Nebraska can reasonably expect daytime highs in the lower 30s, with low temperatures in the lower teens.


Data Compiled by Mike Montefusco

Posted by National Weather Service - Hastings, NE


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