Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Weather & Climate

Weather History: December 11: Record temps, storms, tornadoes, wind & flooding

See also

Meteorological events that happened on December 11th:

People tend to think that pure liquid water cannot exist at temperatures below freezing. In actuality, inside of clouds tiny water droplets can remain as liquid, sometimes to temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero. These water droplets are known as supercooled water drops and will freeze instantaneously to a solid surface such as dust, or a plane. So, the 32 degree freezing point is more appropriately called the melting point.


As the Battle of Fredericksburg commenced, the Union troops were aided by fog in building of pontoon bridges and moving troops into position.


The highest temperature ever recorded in South America was recorded at Rivadavia, Argentina hit 120°.


Very cold weather prevailed from the Plains to the West Coast. San Francisco, CA received 0.8 inches of snow. The cold wave dealt severe damage to crops and orange groves in the Sacramento Valley.

Many locations reported record low temperatures for the date including: Havre, MT: -30°, Great Falls, MT: -26°, Winnemucca, NV: -24°, Lander, WY: -24°, Scottsbluff, NE: -22°, Elko, NV: -22°, Colorado Springs, CO: -21°, Pueblo, CO: -21°, Valentine, NE: -20°, Cheyenne, WY: -20°, Kalispell, MT: -15°, Goodland, KS: -14°, Denver, CO: -13°, Huron, SD: -13°, Lincoln, NE: -10°, Pendleton, OR: -10°, Dodge City, KS: -9°, Concordia, KS: -6°, Boise, ID: -4°, Lewiston, ID: -4°, Omaha, NE: -4°, Wichita, KS: -3°, Clayton, NM: -1°: Tied, Amarillo, TX: 1°, Medford, OR: 3°, Eugene, OR: 5°, Salem, OR: 5°, Abilene, TX: 18°, Astoria, OR: 19°, Midland-Odessa, TX: 20°, Eureka, CA: 24° and Downtown Los Angeles, CA: 39°.


A major winter storm dumped 18.9 inches of snow on downtown Toronto, Ontario Canada and gale-force winds piled it into huge drifts. A total of 22.5 inches fell over two days.


A tornado causing F2 damage moved through Marion County, Missouri. Damage totaled $200,000 in a 20-block area of Hannibal with a few homes completely unroofed. 12 people were injured along the tornado's path.

In central Missouri, one of the worst ice storms of the century struck leaving over 2 inches of ice in some locations.


An upper level ridge extending across the southwestern U.S. brought record high temperatures to parts of the West. Bishop, CA tied their record high temperature for December with 78°.

Other locations that set daily record high temperatures for the date included: Riverside, CA: 90°, Santa Ana, CA: 88°, Palm Springs, CA: 87°, Santa Maria, CA: 87°, Downtown Los Angeles, CA: 85°, San Diego, CA: 84°, Long Beach, CA: 84°, Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 84°, Bishop, CA: 78°, Idyllwild, CA: 75°, San Francisco Airport, CA: 74°, Stockton, CA: 71°, Sacramento, CA: 67°, Winnemucca, NV: 64°, Reno, NV: 63°, Olympia, WA: 58° and Burns, OR: 57°.


A strong upper level trough remained in pace from the Rockies to the West Coast that brought extreme record low temperatures for the date including: Winnemucca, NV: -33°, Elko, NV: -28°, Pocatello, ID: -26° (broke previous record by 16 degrees), Lander, WY: -26°, Ely, NV: -24°, Boise, ID: -22° (broke previous record by 18 degrees), Sheridan, WY: -20°, Burns, OR: -19°, Moline, IL: -18°, Rockford, IL: -18°, Green Bay, WI: -17°, Madison, WI: -17°, Reno, NV: -15°, Minneapolis, MN: -14°, Dubuque, IA: -13°, Rapid City, SD: -13°, Salt Lake City, UT: -11°, Milwaukee, WI: -10°, Alpena, MI: -8°, Chicago, IL: -5°, Eugene, OR: -5° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Medford, OR: -3°, Salem, OR: -3°, Yakima, WA: -2°, Olympia, WA: 11°, Portland, OR: 16°, Palomar Mountain, CA: 18°, Sacramento, CA: 20°, Las Vegas, NV: 21°, Stockton, CA: 24°, Fresno, CA: 25°-Tied, San Francisco Airport, CA: 26°, Santa Maria, CA: 26°-Tied, Long Beach, CA: 34°-Tied and Downtown Los Angeles, CA: 35°.

The high temperature at Victorville, CA was 32°, tying their lowest high temperature on record with 1/30/1957 and 12/15/1957.

Upper level high pressure off the southeast coast brought record highs to a few locations including: Charleston, SC: 83°, Macon, GA: 82° and Columbus, GA: 78°.


A deep upper level low with trough dug across the West. Phoenix, AZ had their first measurable snow of 0.1 inch since 2/2/1939. A few locations reported record low temperatures for the date including: Wheatland, WY: -27°, Laramie, WY: -24°, Douglas, WY: -24°, Scottsbluff, NE: -22°: Tied, Casper, WY: -19°, Rawlins, WY: -19°, Missoula, MT: -15°: Tied and Quillayute, WA: 20°.

A weak upper level ridge across the southeast brought record highs to a few locations including: Wilmington, NC: 77°, Mobile, AL: 77°, Pensacola, FL: 77°-Tied and Atlanta, GA: 73°.


Low pressure over southwestern Ontario, Canada, brought snow and gusty winds to the North Central U.S. Winds gusted to 62 mph at Riverton, WY. Snow and high winds in eastern North Dakota reduced visibilities to less than one hundred feet at times.

Warm weather prevailed across the Southern Plains. Many cities reported record high temperatures for the date, including: Corpus Christi, TX: 89°, Del Rio, TX: 89°, San Antonio, TX: 88°, Austin (Bergstrom), TX: 87°-Tied, Victoria, TX: 85°-Tied, Midland-Odessa, TX: 84°, Roswell, NM: 79°, El Paso, TX: 76° and Albuquerque, NM: 67°.

Laredo and Kingsville, TX tied for honors as the hot spot in the nation with 92°.


Arctic cold invaded the central and eastern U.S. Temperatures remained below zero all day over parts of eastern Upper Michigan and northern New England. Many locations reported record low temperatures for the date including: Caribou, ME: -16°, Ste, St. Marie, MI: -14°, Marquette, MI: -11°, Albany, NY: -8°, Binghamton, NY: -6°, Worcester, MA: -2°, Milton, MA: -1°, Providence, RI: 4°-Tied, Islip, NY: 11°, New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 13°-Tied, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 14°-Tied and Jackson, KY: 16°.

International Falls, MN was the cold spot in the nation with a low of -25°.

Out west, Redding, CA set a record high with 70°.

A tornado damaged the roofs of 15 homes with 7 receiving major damage at Treasure Island in Pinellas County, Florida during the mid-afternoon. At St. Petersburg, FL, high winds caused minor structural damage.


Strong Santa Ana winds developed across southern California and parts of central California. Winds in Kern County of central California gusted to 100 mph near Grapevine. The high winds reduced visibilities to near zero in the desert areas, closing major interstate highways east of Ontario, CA.

Arctic high pressure built in across the Plains behind a cold front bringing record low temperatures to a few locations including: Norfolk, NE: -13°, Sioux City, IA: -10°, Omaha, NE: -5°, Kansas City, MO: 0° and Midland-Odessa, TX: 15°.


Dense fog formed along the Hiwassee River near Calhoun, TN, dropping the visibility along a 3-mile stretch of I-75 to zero at times. 12 people were killed in a massive 83 vehicle pile-up.


Fog caused a major traffic accident in Sacramento, CA involving 8 big rigs and 12 cars on Interstate 5. Five people were killed and 20 were injured.

A southwesterly flow across the sunshine state brought record high temperatures to a few locations including: West Palm Beach, FL: 86°, Vero Beach, FL: 86°-Tied and Miami, FL: 85°.


Snow finally fell at Syracuse, NY, the latest this location recorded its first measurable snow of the season. It was 4 days after Las Vegas, NV and Phoenix, AZ saw snow.

Midland, TX recorded 9.8 inches of snow on this date for its greatest snowstorm on record.


A blizzard struck areas of the Midwest, Missouri Valley into Michigan. Strong winds sustained at 20 to 40 mph with gusts up to 50 mph created blizzard and near whiteout conditions, thunder and lightning and dangerous wind chills as low as -40°. Snowfall totals generally ranged from 6 to 16 inches with drifts several feet high in some areas. 10 to 15 inches occurred in Cook and DuPage Counties of the Chicago area, with 6 to 10 inches as far south as central Illinois. Freezing rain and sleet mixed in further south keeping accumulations down. 8 to 11 inches of snow fell across southwestern Missouri with amounts 12 to 14 inches reported from Joplin through Springfield to Joplin, MO. Areas near West Plains, MO received a mixture of snow and sleet keeping accumulations down to 4 to 8 inches.

Some snowfall totals included: Cassopolis, IN: 16 inches, Elkhart, Goshen, IN: 14 inches, Niles, St. Joseph & South Bend, IN: 12 inches, O’Hare Airport in Chicago, IL: 9.5 inches, Rockford, IL: 8.3 inches, Oelwein, IA: 8 inches, Muscoda, WI: 7.5 inches, Cuba City, WI: 7 inches and Mt. Sterling, WI: 7 inches

The 14.5 inches of snow that fell at Lansing, MI is the heaviest on record for any December day. The 14.2 at Grand Rapids, MI is also a record for any day in December and contributed to December 2000 being the snowiest month ever recorded at those locations. 19 people in the Chicago area died while shoveling snow, from heart failure or hypothermia.

Behind the storm, a strong arctic cold front moved across central and eastern portions of Oklahoma. Freezing rain and drizzle made driving very difficult from Bartlesville to Tulsa, down to Broken Bow. Wind chills dropped as low as -45° across parts of Kansas. A few locations reported record low temperatures for the date including Rapid City, SD: -19°, Grand Island, NE: -10° and Kansas City, MO: 0°.

In contrast, Galveston, TX set a record high with 77°.


An upper level ridge extending from the Rockies to the west brought some record warm temperatures for the date including: Pueblo, CO: 79°, Billings, MT: 67°, Sheridan, WY: 66°, Roundup, MT: 65°, Glasgow, MT: 62°, Miles City, MT: 61°, Ely, NV: 61°, Livingston, MT: 60°, Helena, MT: 59° and Yakima, WA: 59°.


Tropical Storm Olga dumped heavy rain across the Dominican Republic. The rapid accumulation of water in the Tavera Dam forced officials fearing a dam collapse would flood Santiago the nation's second-largest city, to make the drastic decision to release the water from the dam into the Yaque del Norte River and thus inundating seven towns. The flooding affected more than 34,000 people, killed 20 people and damaged nearly 7,000 homes.

An unseasonably strong upper level ridge along the southeast coast brought record high temperatures from parts of the Ohio Valley, Appalachians to the South including: Houston, TX: 83°, Baton Rouge, LA: 83°, Lake Charles, LA: 81°, Shreveport, LA: 79°-Tied, Galveston, TX: 78°, Chattanooga, TN: 77°, Memphis, TN: 77°-Tied, Nashville, TN: 76°, Knoxville, TN: 75°, Oak Ridge, TN: 75°, Jackson, KY: 74°, Louisville, KY: 74°, Charleston, WV: 73°, Huntington, WV: 73°, Bristol, TN: 72°, Lexington, KY: 70°, Beckley, WV: 68°, Elkins, WV: 68°, Akron, OH: 67°-Tied, Pittsburgh, PA: 66°, Columbus, OH: 66°-Tied and Mansfield, OH: 61°-Tied.


A rainstorm deluged Rome, Italy with nearly 4 inches in an eight-hour period. Flash floods caused by the downpours inundated streets, homes, and businesses, forcing the city to declare a state of emergency.


Check out my colleague Weather Examiners:

Baltimore, MD area weather with Tony Pann at

Orlando, FL area weather with Dr. Steve Oliver at

Houston, TX area weather & the weekly Weather America Newsletter with Larry Cosgrove at

NOAA Headlines Examiner with Dr. Steve Oliver and IPR at



  • Obama's Asia trip
    President Obama arrives in Asia, though he's not necessarily getting a warm welcome
    Watch Video
  • Ferry survivors deal with guilt
    The few heroes of the Korean ferry disaster deal with unimaginable survivor's guilt
    World News
  • Biden in Ukraine
    Vice President Biden urges Moscow to avoid further unrest in Ukraine
  • Pujols hits 500th home run
    Albert Pujols becomes the latest player to hit 500 home runs in his career
  • North Korean nuclear test?
    South Korea detects another possible nuclear test from North Korea
  • NYPD's Twitter campaign backfires
    NYPD's campaign designed to amicably engage New Yorkers and cops backfires horribly
    Watch Video

User login

Log in
Sign in with your email and password. Or reset your password.
Write for us
Interested in becoming an Examiner and sharing your experience and passion? We're always looking for quality writers. Find out more about and apply today!