It's Cold, but How Cold? A perspective

As the song goes "Baby, It's Cold Outside" - and we all know it. The recent string of bitter cold is unusual, but is it that unusual? Yes, and no. Putting the first 10 days of December 2013 in perspective we see that while the start to the month has been pretty chilly, it is not yet a record. And believe it or not, it's been colder in recent years. For example, the first 10 days of 2007 were colder at both locations. In 1972 it was brutally cold during that first half December.

Below is a table of the ten coldest starts to December. These data are for Fargo and the UND/NWS Climate station but are fairly representative of the region as a whole.

Lowest first 10-Day Mean Avg Temperature 
for December in Fargo, ND
Rank
Value
Ending Date
Missing Days
1 -8.0 1972-12-10 0
2 -5.7 1927-12-10 0
3 -2.5 1977-12-10 0
4 -1.2 1893-12-10 0
5 -0.8 1978-12-10 0
6 -0.5 1919-12-10 0
7 0.6 1976-12-10 0
8 1.9 1955-12-10 0
9 2.4 1917-12-10 0
10 2.5 2007-12-10 0
Last value also occurred in one or more previous years.
Period of record: 1881-01-01 to 2013-12-10

 

Lowest first 10-Day Mean Avg Temperature 
for December UND/NWS Climate Station.
Rank
Value
Ending Date
Missing Days
1 -6.8 1972-12-10 0
2 -6.5 1919-12-10 0
3 -4.3 1927-12-10 0
4 -2.4 1893-12-10 0
5 -2.3 1978-12-10 0
6 -1.8 1917-12-10 0
7 -0.5 1977-12-10 0
8 -0.1 1955-12-10 0
9 0.5 1976-12-10 0
10 1.0 2007-12-10 0
Period of record: 1893-01-01 to 2013-12-10

 What about the coldest Decembers on record for Fargo and the UND/NWS Station? Again, it's cold but a long way from the coldest Decembers on record.

 Lowest December Mean Avg Temperature 
for Fargo, ND*
Rank
Value
Ending Date
Missing Days
1 -0.5 1886-12-31 0
2 -0.3 1983-12-31 0
3 -0.2 2000-12-31 0
4 0.5 1927-12-31 0
5 2.0 1924-12-31 0
6 2.5 1893-12-31 0
7 2.7 1917-12-31 0
8 3.8 1972-12-31 0
- 3.8 1964-12-31 0
10 3.9 1985-12-31 0
Period of record: 1881-01-01 to 2013-12-10

 

Lowest December Mean Avg Temperature 
for UND/NWS Climate Station*
Rank
Value
Ending Date
Missing Days
1 -1.0 1917-12-31 0
2 -0.6 2000-12-31 0
3 -0.3 1916-12-31 2
4 0.8 1985-12-31 7
5 1.0 1924-12-31 0
6 1.1 1983-12-31 6
7 1.3 1927-12-31 1
8 2.1 1893-12-31 2
9 2.1 2008-12-31 0
10 2.7 2013-12-31 21
Period of record: 1893-01-01 to 2013-12-10

 

While it has been cold here in the Red River Valley, it's been even colder to our west. The core of some really, brutally cold air has been anchored over the higher terrain of Montana and Wyoming, and points west. The image below is the temperature departure from normal for the first 10 days of December. Image courtesy of the Regional Climate Center in Lincoln Nebraska.

What are the prospects of that 2013 will become coldest December on record? Well, the outlook for the rest of the month suggests below normal temperatures will continue, with periodic moderations possible. At this time it is not possible to say whether or not it will become the coldest on record, but we are certainly off to a chilly start.

* The data above is from the Acis climate program which is managed by the Regional Climate Centers in cooperation with the National Climate Data Center.

For additional information contact the Grand Forks NWS at 701.795.5198



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