December 2011 Weather and Climate Review (Including 2011 Totals)

(Click on the links in gray boxes below to quickly jump to information located farther down the page)

 Monthly Narrative

Tri-Cities and Ord Details, and Monthly Extremes Graphs, Tables, Maps Drought Monitor Graphics

2011 Monthly Precipitation/Snowfall Table and Archive of These Monthly Reviews


December 2011 Weather Stories 
(Click HERE for archive to all web stories)

December:

 December Tornado History For South Central Nebraska, North Central Kansas

December:

 Christmas Day Climatology for Grand Island

Dec. 3:

 First Widespread Snow Event of The Season  (3-6 inches in most areas)

Dec. 3:

 Record Snowfall For December 3rd in Hastings

Dec. 6:

 Record Low Temperature For December 6th in Kearney

Dec. 8:

 2-4 Inches of Snow Across Most of South Central Nebraska

Dec. 19-20:

 1-6 Inches of Snow In North Central Kansas

Dec. 24-31:

 One of the Warmest Endings to December On Record!

Late Dec.:

 Explanation of the Late December - Early January Warm Spell

Jan. - Dec.

 2011 Annual Weather and Climate Review For 2011

(*Please Note: All climate data presented here are preliminary and have not undergone final quality control by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Therefore, these data are subject to revision. Final and certified climate data can be accessed at: WWW.NCDC.NOAA.GOV).

* Effective Aug. 1, 2011, the new set of 30-year climate averages, or "normals", from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) for 1981-2010 superseded the previous 30-year set of 1971-2000 normals on all NWS climate-related products.


 DECEMBER 2011 CLIMATE REVIEW FOR SOUTH CENTRAL NEBRASKA 
AND PORTIONS OF NORTH CENTRAL KANSAS

...Near-To-Above-Normal Precipitation In Most Areas...Along With Above-Normal Temperatures...

The following narrative focuses on climate and weather highlights for the month of December 2011 across the NWS Hastings coverage area, encompassing 24 counties in south central and central Nebraska, and 6 counties in north central Kansas. Click HERE for a map of this coverage area. The temperature and precipitation data presented here are largely based on the NWS Cooperative Observer network, along with data from a handful of automated airport sites. Climate averages and "normals" for December 2011 presented here are based on the official 1981-2010 normals.

TEMPERATURES
......(According to 30-year averages, "normal" December high temperatures range from 35-40 degrees across northern portions of the area generally north of Interstate 80, to 39-45 degrees across southern portions of the area including North Central Kansas. Low temperatures typically average between 10-20 degrees across the northern half of the area, and 15-23 degrees in southern counties...) 

For the majority of the 30-county area, temperatures for the month of December as a whole ranged from 1-3 degrees above normal, marking the third month in a row with above-normal readings. 

However...this above-normal monthly average certainly 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 11th and the 31st, however, the trend reversed itself with nearly every day featuring above-normal temperatures. This stretch of notably mild weather really showed its hand during the last 8 days of the month, between the 24th and 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. In fact, this 8-day period ranked among the Top-5 warmest endings to December on record across most of the area (for some insight as to why this warm pattern took hold, please refer to the story linked near the top of the page). 

Some of the warmest readings of the month occurred on the 29th and 31st (see monthly extremes farther down the page), when much of the southern half of the NWS Hastings coverage area soared well into the 60s. In contrast, the cold-snap at the beginning of the month contained the coldest readings of the winter season so far, with northern and western portions of South Central Nebraska tumbling to between -11 and -17 degrees on the morning of the 6th.

In the Nebraska Tri-Cities, both the warmest and coldest readings of the month occurred at Kearney, with a high of 60 degrees on the 29th and 31st, and a low of -12 on the 6th. Based on NWS Cooperative Observer and automated airport observations, a few temperature extremes across the entire 30-county coverage area included 68 degrees at Edison, NE, on the 29th, and -17 degrees at nearby Cambridge on the 6th.

(Please look farther down the page for more information on December 2011 temperatures and extremes, including detailed breakdowns for Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney and Ord)

PRECIPITATION/SNOWFALL...(According to 30-year averages, "normal" December precipitation (rainfall and snow liquid equivalent) across most of the 30-county area ranges somewhere between 0.50-inch and 1-inch, with the highest amounts favoring eastern areas closest to the Highway 81 corridor such as York, Hebron and Beloit...) 

Based on reports from around 70 NWS Cooperative Observers, along with a handful of automated airport sites, roughly 70% of the 30-county area measured above-normal precipitation during December 2011, with only around 30% of the area checking in slightly-below-normal. For all areas though, the month was not as dry as November was. For nearly the entire area, the majority of December precipitation fell during the first 1-2 weeks of the month. This time-frame featured the first widespread snow event of the winter season on the 3rd, with 3-6 inches in most places, and a localized zone of 7-9 inches mainly in parts of Dawson, Gosper and Furnas Counties. Several days later on the 8th, another system brought 2-4 inches of snow to areas of South Central Nebraska mainly near and north of Highway 6.

While the latter half of the month was rather dry across the 24 counties in South Central Nebraska, parts of North Central Kansas picked up 1-6 inches of snow from the 19th-20th, with the highest amounts focused across southern portions of Rooks, Osborne and Mitchell Counties. Looking beyond the NWS Hastings coverage area, it turned out these North Central Kansas counties only caught the edge of a significant snow storm that slammed much of western and central Kansas with even higher snow totals of 8-15 inches. 

The highest precipitation (also includes snow-liquid equivalent) totals within the 30-county area for the month focused across Rooks, Osborne and Mitchell Counties in North Central Kansas, along with eastern portions of South Central Nebraska including counties such as York, Thayer, Nuckolls and Polk. Per NWS Cooperative Observers (as listed farther down the page), some of the highest monthly precipitation totals included Hunter KS (1.78 inches), St. Paul (1.76) and Beloit KS (1.65). For Beloit, this ranked as the 11th-wettest December on record out of 95 years. The limited areas that received near-to-below-normal precipitation for the month mainly focused in northwest portions of South Central Nebraska, affecting counties such as Buffalo, Sherman, Valley and Greeley. Some of these lowest-ranking monthly totals included Oxford (6 miles NNW) with 0.23-inch, Greeley (0.34) and Kearney (0.39). 

Snowfall-wise, most of the 30-county area measured between 4-9 inches for the month, which was near-normal to slightly above-normal. At Grand Island, the monthly total of 8.3 inches ranked as the 25th-snowiest December on record out of 117 years, but fell well-short of the December 2009 all-time record of 26.5 inches. On the low-side of snowfall for the month, places that received 3 or fewer inches were mainly confined to parts of Thayer and Nuckolls Counties in Nebraska and Phillips County in Kansas. On the higher side of monthly snowfall amounts, generally in the 10-11 inch range, were portions of mainly Dawson, Gosper, and Furnas Counties.

(Please look farther down the page for more information on December 2011 precipitation and extremes, including percent-of-normal plots, and a detailed breakdown for Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney and Ord. In addition, the link on the far upper right of this page contains an archive of monthly precipitation amounts for around 70 locations.)

DROUGHT STATUS
...Compared to the end of November, the U.S. Drought Monitor as of January 10th (images at bottom of page) reflected a slight improvement in official drought categories within the 30-county area, thanks to widespread precipitation from a few passing weather systems. The most notable improvement occurred within the 6-county portion of North Central Kansas, where only northern portions of Jewell County remained in Category D0 (abnormally dry) or D1 (moderate drought). Across the 24 counties in South Central Nebraska, slightly over half of the area, including nearly all locations along and west of Highway 281 remained free of all drought or abnormally dry designation. However, most areas east of Highway 281 remained in Category D0 (abnormally dry) or D1 (moderate drought) designation, although the areal coverage of D1 shrank slightly. Most of this limited D1 area as of Jan. 10th focused within the following counties: Polk, Hamilton, York, Clay, Fillmore and Nuckolls. As was the case a month ago, Category D2 drought (severe) remained well off to the south in southern Kansas, and also off to the east, from far northeast Nebraska into northwest Iowa.

(Please refer to the Drought Monitor graphics toward the bottom of the page for further details)

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS/HIGH WINDS...One round of strong thunderstorms occurred during the month, mainly affecting portions of South Central Nebraska south of Interstate 80 and west of Highway 281 during the late afternoon hours on the 29th. This fast-moving line of storms featured straight-line winds up to around 55 MPH, and although damage was minimal, one empty metal grain bin was destroyed 2 miles east of Loomis in Phelps County.  

- Number of Severe Thunderstorm Warning polygons issued by NWS Hastings in December 2011: ZERO (same as last year)
- Number of Tornado Warning polygons issued by NWS Hastings in December 2011: ZERO (same as last year)

Back To Top Of Page


 December 2011 Climate Details For Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney and Ord...Along With Temperature and Rainfall Extremes For NWS Cooperative Observer and Automated Airport Sites

Click on the links below for the December 2011 climate summaries for Grand Island, Hastings, Kearney and Ord.

Grand Island     Hastings     Kearney         Ord

...DECEMBER 2011 TEMPERATURE/PRECIPITATION/SNOWFALL EXTREMES FROM NWS HASTINGS COOPERATIVE 
OBSERVERS OR AUTOMATED ASOS/AWOS SITES...

...A FEW OF THE WARMEST HIGH TEMPERATURES DURING DEC. 2011                        
68 Degrees...Edison NE on the 29th (Cooperative Observer)
66 Degrees...Phillipsburg KS airport on the 29th (automated AWOS)
66 Degrees...Gothenburg on the 29th (Cooperative Observer)
65 Degrees...Franklin on the 29th (Cooperative Observer)
65 Degrees...Cambridge on the 29th (Cooperative Observer)
64 Degrees...Alton KS (2 miles SW) on the 31st (Cooperative Observer)
64 Degrees...Lexington airport on the 29th (automated AWOS) 
63 Degrees...Smith Center KS on the 31st (Cooperative Observer)
63 Degrees...Harlan County Dam on the 29th (Cooperative Observer)
                         
...A FEW OF THE COLDEST LOW TEMPERATURES DURING DEC. 2011 
-17 Degrees...Cambridge on the 6th (Cooperative Observer)
-15 Degrees...Ord airport on the 6th (automated ASOS)
-15 Degrees...Beaver City on the 6th (Cooperative Observer)
-15 Degrees...Canaday Steam Plant (6 SSE Lexington) on the 6th (Cooperative Observer)
-14 Degrees...Greeley on the 6th (Cooperative Observer)
-14 Degrees...Genoa (2 miles W) on the 6th (Cooperative Observer)
-13 Degrees...Gothenburg on the 6th (Cooperative Observer)
-12 Degrees...Kearney airport on the 6th (Cooperative Observer)
-11 Degrees...Loup City on the 6th (Cooperative Observer)
-11 Degrees...Oxford (6 miles NNW) on the 6th (Cooperative Observer)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
...A FEW OF THE HIGHEST RAINFALL AND/OR SNOW-LIQUID EQUIVALENT TOTALS DURING DEC. 2011           
(May also include observations from NeRAIN network)                                                   
1.78 Inches...Hunter KS in Mitchell County (Cooperative Observer)
1.76 Inches...St. Paul in Howard County (Cooperative Observer)
1.65 Inches...Beloit KS in Mitchell County (Cooperative Observer)
1.64 Inches...Natoma KS in Osborne County (Cooperative Observer)
1.58 Inches...York (3 miles N) in York County (Cooperative Observer)
1.45 Inches...Cawker City KS in Mitchell County (Cooperative Observer)
1.44 Inches...Plainville KS (4 miles WNW) in Rooks County (Cooperative Observer)
1.44 Inches...Bradshaw in York County (Cooperative Observer)
1.40 Inches...Jewell KS in Jewell County (Cooperative Observer)
1.39 Inches...Hubbell in Thayer County (Cooperative Observer)
                                
...A FEW OF THE LOWEST RAINFALL AND/OR SNOW-LIQUID EQUIVALENT TOTALS DURING DEC. 2011
0.23 Inches...Oxford (6 miles NNW) in Furnas County (Cooperative Observer)
0.34 Inches...Greeley in Greeley County (Cooperative Observer)
0.39 Inches...Kearney airport in Buffalo County (Cooperative Observer)
0.46 Inches...Loup City in Sherman County (Cooperative Observer)
0.48 Inches...Miller in Buffalo County (Cooperative Observer)
0.50 Inches...Arcadia in Valley County (Cooperative Observer)
0.50 Inches...Gothenburg in Dawson County (Cooperative Observer)
0.55 Inches...Ord in Valley County (Cooperative Observer)
0.59 Inches...Canaday Steam Plant (6 SSE Lexington) in Gosper County (Cooperative Observer)
0.63 Inches...Edison in Furnas County (Cooperative Observer)

...A FEW OF THE HIGHEST SNOWFALL TOTALS DURING DEC. 2011 
11.0 Inches...Dannebrog (4 miles NW) in Howard County (Cooperative Observer)
10.5 Inches...Shelby (3 miles NE) in Polk County (Cooperative Observer)
10.5 Inches...Elwood (8 miles S) in Gosper County (Cooperative Observer)
10.5 Inches...Canaday Steam Plant (6 SSE Lexington) in Gosper County (Cooperative Observer)
10.0 Inches...Cambridge in Furnas County (Cooperative Observer)
 9.9 Inches...Ravenna in Buffalo County (Cooperative Observer)
 9.5 Inches...Bradshaw in York County (Cooperative Observer)
 9.4 Inches...Hastings NWS Office in Adams County 
 9.3 Inches...Central City in Merrick County (Cooperative Observer)
 

Back To Top Of Page


Various graphs and tables depicting December 2011 climate data for 
South Central Nebraska and North Central Kansas:

(Please Note: THESE DATA ARE PRELIMINARY AND HAVE NOT UNDERGONE FINAL QUALITY CONTROL BY THE NATIONAL CLIMATIC DATA CENTER /NCDC/. THEREFORE...THESE DATA ARE SUBJECT TO REVISION. FINAL AND CERTIFIED CLIMATE DATA CAN BE ACCESSED AT WWW.NCDC.NOAA.GOV)

Click Each Graph To Go To Monthly Temp/Precip Summary Pages

Grand Island Temperature Summary: Observed daily maximum and minimum temperatures are connected by blue bars. Area between normal maximum and minimum temperatures is shaded green. Red bars connect record high temperatures. Blue bars connect record low temperatures.

Hastings Temperature Summary: Observed daily maximum and minimum temperatures are connected by blue bars. Area between normal maximum and minimum temperatures is shaded green. Red bars connect record high temperatures. Blue bars connect record low temperatures.

 
Click Images To Enlarge

Grand Island Precipitation Summary Blue line indicates cumulative observed precipitation for December 2011. Red line indicates "normal" December precipitation based on 30-year data from 1981-2010.

Hastings Precipitation Summary Blue line indicates cumulative observed precipitation for December 2011. Red line indicates "normal" December precipitation based on 30-year data from 1981-2010.

 

Grand Island (Regional Airport) - Jan. 2011 - Dec. 2011 Annual Summary

  January February March April May June July August Sep. October November December 2011
Total/Average

Average High (F)

28.5

39.0

48.6

61.5

71.5

83.7

89.0

86.0

74.8

68.7

52.7

39.6

62.0

Average Low (F)

8.7

15.8

27.5

38.1

48.1

59.9

69.8

63.5

47.3

41.1

26.4

19.5

38.8

Average Temperature (F)

18.6

27.4

38.1

49.8

59.8

71.8

79.4

74.7

61.0

54.9

39.6

29.5

50.4

Departure from Normal (F)

-3.8

-0.8

-0.2

-0.1

-0.8

+0.7

+3.6

+0.7

-4.1

+2.7

+1.5

+2.8

 -0.4

 

Precipitation (inches)

1.49

0.28

1.02

2.93

8.70

1.72

4.37

2.30

0.83

2.20

0.21

 1.11

27.16 

Departure from Normal

+0.95

-0.40

-1.02

+0.32

+4.63

-2.00

+1.23

-0.82

-1.40

+0.34

-0.96

+0.48

+0.50

 

Snowfall (inches)

18.7

2.2

8.7

0.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Trace

8.3

38.1 

Departure from Normal

+12.1

-3.9

+3.1

-1.1

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

-0.1

-1.0

-3.1

+3.1

+9.1 

 

Hastings (Municipal Airport) - Jan. 2011 - Dec. 2011 Annual Summary

  January February March April

May

June

July

August

Sep.

October

November

December

2011
Total/Average

Average High (F)

28.6

38.2

49.2

61.9

71.1

83.1

89.8

84.3

74.0

68.4

52.7

39.2

61.7

Average Low (F)

10.2

16.0

28.4

38.6

48.3

60.8

69.9

64.6

48.2

41.5

27.2

18.9

39.4

Average Temperature (F)

19.4

27.1

38.8

50.3

59.7

71.9

79.9

74.4

61.1

54.9

40.0

29.0

50.5

Departure from Normal (F)

-4.2

-2.5

-0.3

-0.3

-1.8

+0.2

+3.8

+0.1

-4.5

+2.3

+1.3

+1.4

-0.9

 

Precipitation (inches)

1.00

0.30

0.49

4.34

5.03

2.65

4.96

4.90

0.70

1.36

0.38

1.00

27.11

Departure from Normal

+0.45

-0.37

-1.59

+1.47

+0.44

-0.94

+1.15

+1.60

-1.86

 -0.63

-0.91

+0.39

0.00

 

Snowfall NWS Office (inches)

20.0

5.2

4.4

1.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Trace

9.4

40.0

Departure from Normal

+14.0

-1.3

-0.8

-0.2

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

-0.2

-1.0

-2.6

+3.3

+11.2

 

Kearney (Cooperative Observer at Airport) - Jan. 2011 - Dec. 2011
(*Temperature Data may include "mix"of automated obs and Cooperative Observer obs to better reflect true "calendar day" averages)

 

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

Sep.

October

November

December

2011
Total/Average

Average High (F)*

29.7

38.2

48.2

60.9

70.5

82.7

88.1

84.9

74.1

67.7

52.2

39.2

61.4

Average Low (F)*

8.5

13.6

25.7

37.0

45.8

59.2

68.4

63.9

47.3

40.0

24.9

18.0

37.7

Average Temperature (F)*

19.1

25.9

37.0

49.0

58.2

71.0

78.2

74.4

60.7

53.8

38.5

28.6

49.5

Departure from Normal (F)*

-3.3

-1.7

0.0

+0.8

-1.0

+1.2

+3.5

+1.8

-2.8

+2.9

+1.5

+2.7

0.0

 

Precipitation (inches)

0.86

0.12

0.90

3.45

7.53

4.51

4.07

3.72

0.65

4.92

0.33

0.39

31.45

Departure from Normal

+0.32

-0.49

-1.15

+1.02

+3.41

+0.58

+0.79

+0.64

-1.42

+2.88

-0.69

-0.18

+6.22

 

Snowfall (inches)

15.6

4.7

11.7

T

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Trace

6.6

38.6

Departure from Normal

+10.3

-0.4

+6.1

-2.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

-0.2

-0.7

-3.1

+3.1

+15.2

 

Ord (Evelyn Sharp Field Airport) - Jan. 2011 - Dec. 2011
(*Winter precipitiation data may include coop observer reports due to automated airport equipment under-measuring snowfall liquid equivalent)

  January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Average High (F)

-

-

-

59.1

68.7

80.4

88.9

86.1

74.5

66.6

52.8

39.5

Average Low (F)

-

-

-

35.2

44.9

57.0

67.6

61.4

43.9

36.6

20.2

14.1

Average Temperature (F)

-

-

-

47.2

56.8

68.7

78.2

73.8

59.2

51.6

36.5

26.8

Departure from Normal (F)

-

-

-

-1.6

-2.5

-0.5

+3.8

+0.8

-4.4

+2.0

+0.2

+1.9

 

Precipitation (inches)*

-

-

-

2.51

4.90

4.16

2.23

2.46

0.77

2.83

0.03

0.54

Departure from Normal

-

-

-

-0.08

+1.09

+0.04

-0.74

-0.70

-1.67

+0.90

-1.04

-0.05

 

Snowfall (Coop Observer)

-

-

-

3.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

Trace

8.5

Departure from Normal

-

-

-

+0.5

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

-1.1

-5.3

+1.1

 

Smith Center KS (Cooperative Observer) - Jan. 2011 - Dec. 2011
(*All data from coop observer with daily 24-hour obs taken around 7 AM. As a result, data may vary slightly from true "calendar day" averages)

 

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

Sep.

October

November

December

2011
Total/Average

Average High (F)*

34.6

40.6

52.8

66.2

73.8

86.9

95.8

89.5

78.0

71.0

54.4

43.0

65.6

Average Low (F)*

10.8

13.5

27.6

38.1

47.1

60.4

69.2

65.6

49.8

41.0

27.3

18.7

39.1

Average Temperature (F)*

22.7

27.1

40.2

52.1

60.5

73.7

82.5

77.6

63.9

56.0

40.9

30.9

52.3

Departure from Normal (F)*

-5.0

-4.9

-1.4

-0.4

-3.3

-0.3

+2.8

+0.4

-4.3

+1.2

+0.5

+2.1

-1.2

 

Precipitation (inches)

0.75

0.86

0.54

2.30

9.45

4.82

5.25

5.03

0.39

2.32

0.72

0.95

33.38

Departure from Normal

+0.26

+0.28

-1.33

+0.03

+5.53

+1.21

+1.38

+1.73

-1.65

+0.44

-0.50

+0.29

+7.67

 

Snowfall (inches)

10.2

11.2

3.4

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.6

 3.7

29.1

Departure from Normal

+6.5

+7.1

+0.8

-0.6

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

-0.2

-0.4

-1.2

+0.5 

+12.5


Most of the following images depicting December Precipitation and Temperatures are courtesy of 
the High Plains Regional Climate Center:

Please note: These maps are a "best-approximation" of actual measured values, and data reflected on these maps may not exactly match actual values due to the effects of interpolation and "smoothing" used to create the maps.

Click Images To Enlarge
Nebraska: December 2011 Measured Precipitation (Inches) Kansas: December 2011 
Measured Precipitation (Inches)
Nebraska: Dec. 2011 Percent of Normal Measured Precip. (%) Kansas: Dec. 2011 Percent of 
Normal Measured Precip. (%)
 
NWS Hastings Area: Dec. 2011 Total "Observed" Precipitation 
Based On AHPS Precipitation Analysis Including Radar Data

<--- While the precipitation images above are based strictly on gauge-measured data, this image on the left utilizes an "Observed" multisensor approach created by River Forecast Centers. Hourly precipitation estimates from WSR-88D NEXRAD radar are compared to ground rainfall gauge reports, and a bias (correction factor) is calculated and applied to the radar field. For much more information on these types of images, and to create your own precipitation maps, please visit the following site: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ridge2/RFC_Precip/index.php?site=gid  

   
Nebraska: Dec. 2011 Temperature Departure from Normal (F) Kansas: Dec. 2011 Temperature Departure from Normal (F)


The following drought status images, current as of Jan. 10, 2012, are courtesy of the U.S. Drought Monitor (see narrative above for more details):

Click Images To Enlarge

Nebraska - U.S. Drought Monitor as of Jan. 10, 2012

Kansas - U.S. Drought Monitor as of Jan. 10, 2012

For more climate related information, check out the following websites:

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



Return to News Archive

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.