One of The Warmest Endings To December On Record!

December 2011 was certainly a month defined by two distinct temperature regimes across South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas. For the month as a whole, daily temperatures averaged 1-3 degrees above normal. However, this above-normal monthly average did not represent the entire month, as the first 10 days featured well-below normal readings on several days, along with plenty of snowfall. Between the 10th and the 31st, however, the trend reversed itself with nearly every day featuring above-normal temperatures. 

This stretch of notably mild weather became most-pronounced during the last 8 days of the month, between the 24th and the 31st. During this time frame, most of the area recorded high temperatures in the 50s several times, and even 60s in parts of the area. Focusing solely on the 24th-31st, this ended up being a Top-5 warmest end to December on record across most of the area. For some insight as to why the weather pattern turned so mild, please refer to this story.

Below is a series of tables...

These tables, reflecting data for six chosen sites across the NWS Hastings coverage area with long periods of record, depict where 
Dec. 24-31, 2011, ranked historically versus all other Dec. 24-31 periods on record. For each site, rankings are given for AVERAGE DAILY HIGH TEMPERATURE and also for the MEAN DAILY TEMPERATURE, which is simply a mathematical average of the daily highs and lows. For climate purposes, the MEAN DAILY TEMPERATURE is typically used to make "official" rankings, since it accounts for both the highs and lows. 

Here are some highlights that stand out from the data presented below:

1.) For all six sites, the MEAN DAILY TEMPERATURE from Dec. 24-31, 2011, ranked between the 3rd and 5th-warmest on record, with records for most sites dating back at least 110 years.  For five of the six sites, the AVERAGE DAILY HIGH TEMPERATURE also made the Top-5 list, with the exception of Hastings, which finished just outside the Top-5 at 50.9 degrees.

2.) The warm average temperatures during this 8-day period were clearly a result of prolonged mildness, versus a brief but intense onset of record-breaking warmth. In fact, the Tri-Cities of Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney never broke a daily high temperature record during this stretch. However, for sites such as Grand Island, the MEAN DAILY TEMPERATURE during this time ranged between 11 and 20 degrees above normal on each day.

3.) For most of South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas, one only has to go back to 2005 or 1999 to find even warmer average temperatures between Dec. 24-31. This is interesting to note that for some locations, three of the Top 5 or 6 warmest Dec. 24-31 periods on record have occurred within the last 13 years. Prior to 1999, a few other notable stretches of late-December warmth included 1956 and 1931.

 

All-Time December Temperature Extremes for Grand Island (Records Date to 1895):

Warmest High Temperature:  80 degrees on December 6, 1939
Warmest Low Temperature:   46 degrees on December 1, 1998 / December 4, 1913 / December 3, 1913
Coldest Low Temperature:    -26 degrees on December 26, 1989 
Coldest High Temperature:    -9 degrees on December 24, 1983 / December 21, 1983


Between December 24-31, 2011...

High temperatures at the Grand Island airport ranged from 44 to 57 degrees  (normal is 35)
High temperatures at the Hastings airport ranged from 43 to 57 degrees  (normal is 35)
High temperatures at the Kearney airport ranged from 44 to 60 degrees  (normal is 35)
High temperatures in Loup City ranged from 43 to 58 degrees  (normal is 36)
High temperatures in Holdrege ranged from 43 to 62 degrees  (normal is 36)
High temperatures in Smith Center, KS, ranged from 46 to 63 degrees  (normal is 39)

For the following tables, temperature records date back to the following years:

Grand Island - 1895    Hastings- 1906    Kearney- 1901    Holdrege- 1902    Loup City- 1901    
Smith Center - 1912 (but missing 1925-1950)

Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average Mean Temperature)

GRAND ISLAND

Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average High Temperature)

GRAND ISLAND

 

 Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average Mean Temperature)

HASTINGS

Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average High Temperature)

HASTINGS 

40.1 degrees - 1931

54.9 degrees - 1999

 

42.8 degrees - 1956

56.1 degrees - 1956

39.9 degrees - 1999

53.2 degrees - 1922

 

40.9 degrees - 2005

54.4 degrees - 1999

39.8 degrees - 2011

53.1 degrees - 1929

 

40.5 degrees - 1999

52.4 degrees - 2005

39.4 degrees - 1956

52.8 degrees - 1956

 

39.0 degrees - 2011

52.1 degrees - 1929

39.1 degrees - 1919

51.4 degrees - 2011

 

38.4 degrees - 1931

51.8 degrees - 1937

 

Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average Mean Temperature)

KEARNEY

Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average High Temperature)

KEARNEY

 

 Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average Mean Temperature)

LOUP CITY

Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average High Temperature)

LOUP CITY

39.9 degrees - 1929

56.0 degrees - 1929

 

39.2 degrees - 1999

56.4 degrees - 1999

39.6 degrees - 2005

54.6 degrees - 1999

 

38.1 degrees - 1956

51.4 degrees - 1937

39.3 degrees - 1956

53.0 degrees - 1912

 

37.6 degrees - 2011

51.0 degrees - 2011

39.1 degrees - 2011

52.9 degrees - 2011

 

36.0 degrees - 2005

50.8 degrees - 1956

38.6 degrees - 1931, 1929

52.2 degrees - 1956

 

35.4 degrees - 1986, 1931

50.5 degrees - 1986

 

Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average Mean Temperature)

HOLDREGE

Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average High Temperature)

HOLDREGE

 

 Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average Mean Temperature)

SMITH CENTER, KS

Warmest December 24-31
Periods on Record
(Average High Temperature)

SMITH CENTER, KS

43.3 degrees - 1929

57.2 degrees - 1929

 

42.1 degrees - 1999

58.1 degrees - 1956

41.4 degrees - 1999

55.9 degrees - 1999

 

41.0 degrees - 2004

56.5 degrees - 1999

41.0 degrees - 1956

52.6 degrees - 1956

 

40.5 degrees - 1956

54.6 degrees - 2011

40.0 degrees - 2005

52.0 degrees - 2011

 

39.8 degrees - 2005

54.0 degrees - 2004

39.2 degrees - 2011

51.9 degrees - 1903

 

39.5 degrees - 2011

52.2 degrees - 1922, 1912


* Please note: For Grand Island and Hastings, all official data since the 1990's is based on automated ASOS equipment at the airports, which record high and low temperatures on a midnight-to-midnight "calendar day" basis. For the other four sites depicted above, official high and low temperature data is reported by NWS Cooperative Observers for a 24-hour period ending around 7am. As a result, high and low temperatures reported by these observers sometimes do not match true "calendar day" values. In the tables above, minor adjustments were made to some temperatures reported by Cooperative Observers to better reflect true calendar day values. *

This page was composed by the staff at the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska.

 



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