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

Weather History: December 21: Record temps, storms, snow, ice & tropics

See also

Meteorological events that happened on December 17th:


A 3-week blockade of snow began at Portland, OR as the city received a record December total of 34 inches.


Conditions were not ideal for spectators at Kill Devil Hills on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but they were ideal for the participants in a grand experiment. Winds of 27 mph with gusts to 35 caused the Wright brothers to ignore the brisk 39° temperature and grey, overcast skies as they took to the air in their gas engine powered aircraft.


A severe ice storm struck central Illinois, coating the ground with nearly two inches of glaze at Springfield. The storm caused $21 million dollars damage along with much hardship. Ice was on the trees until the 4th of January, and electricity was not restored until January 10th.

Calgary, Alberta Canada experienced their coldest December temperature at -45°.


On this date through the 18th, an ice storm in western New York State resulted in extensive damage and hardship. A news report from Buffalo stated, "one was kept awake by the breaking limbs, which snapped off much louder than a rifle shot."


Greensboro, NC experienced its greatest 24-hour snowfall when 14.3 inches fell.


The powerful U.S. Third Fleet was battered by powerful Typhoon Cobra east of the Philippines. There was mass confusion as the ships rolled on monstrous waves as high as 60 feet and dealt with intense wind gusts of nearly 200 mph in the Philippine Sea. The central pressure in the storm was estimated to be 891 millibars or 26.31 inHg. Three destroyers and numerous other ships were sunk by the storm. 778 sailors and marines died and 146 aircraft were destroyed.


Lake effect snow buried Muskegon, MI with a three day total of 34 inches of snow from the 16th to the 18th. This will be the snowiest December in Muskegon history with a grand total of 82.6 inches.


An arctic outbreak made its way from the northwestern U.S. to the Plains with a blizzard in Idaho, Washington and Oregon. Heavy snow also fell in coastal sections. Walla Walla, WA had a temperature of -20° for a new December record low. Other daily record lows for the date included: Medicine Bow, WY: -44°, Helena, MT: -38° (broke previous record by 13 degrees), Casper, WY: -31°, Missoula, MT: -30° (broke previous record by 14 degrees), Sheridan, WY: -29°, Scottsbluff, NE: -25°, Billings, MT: -24°, Kalispell, MT: -24°, Cheyenne, WY: -24° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Huron, SD: -23°, Rapid City, SD: -23°, Spokane, WA: -20° (broke previous record by 14 degrees), Valentine, NE: -19°, Yakima, WA: -17°, Pocatello, ID: -15°, Norfolk, NE: -14°, Pendleton, OR: -12° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Grand Island, NE: -11°, Goodland, KS: -10°, Burns, OR: -10°, Lincoln, NE: -9°, Concordia, KS: -5°, Topeka, KS: -1°, Amarillo, TX: 2°, Portland, OR: 7°, Oklahoma City, OH: 8°-Tied, Salem, OR: 9°, Eugene, OR: 10°-Tied, Seattle, WA: 11° and Wichita Falls, TX: 14°-Tied.


A four-day snow and ice storm, described as the worst major ice storm in Oklahoma in more than a decade, ended during the morning hours. The storm affected all but the southeast part of the state, with ice accumulations of a half to 1 inch. Local ice accumulations of 4 inches were reported at Cordell. More than 225 people were treated for injuries, after slipping on the ice. At least 170 of these injuries were in the Oklahoma City area.


A snowstorm along the Mid-Atlantic gave Washington, D.C. 10.2 inches of pre-Christmas snow


A major cold wave engulfed the Central U.S. The temperature at Oklahoma City, OK dropped below freezing during the evening and did not rise above 32° again until New Years Eve, a record setting period of two weeks.

Billings, MT had a high temperature was -8°; this was the first of 8 consecutive days with a high temp below zero, a December record.

One of the most severe Arctic outbreaks to affect the Great Plains gripped Oklahoma for more than two weeks in late December. The prolonged cold wave, lasting from the 17th through the 31st, lowered Oklahoma City's average temperature for the month to a cold 25.8°, their coldest on record. Locations that reported record low temperatures for the date included: International Falls, MT: -35°, Great Falls, MN: -27°: Tied, St. Cloud, MN: -24°, Valentine, NE: -23°, Duluth, MN: -21°: Tied, La Crosse, WI: -18°, Minneapolis, MN: -17°, Marquette, MI: -9°, Omaha, NE: -9°: Tied and Clayton, NM: 2°.


A severe mid-Missouri ice storm knocked out power for up to 26 hours in some locations. Threes and telephone lines were covered with up to an inch of ice.


A storm in the southwestern U.S. brought heavy rain and snow to parts of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Charleston, NV was blanketed with 12 inches of snow while Lake Havasu City, AZ was drenched with 2.26 inches of rain.

On the coast of Washington, Quillayute set a record low with 21°.


Squalls brought locally heavy snow to the southeastern shores of Lake Michigan. Snowfall totals ranged up to 16 inches at Chadron, OH and 14 inches at Harvey, MI.

Across the east a few locations reported record low temperatures for the date including: Islip, NY: 15°, Wallops Island, VA: 20° and Cape Hatteras, NC: 25°-Tied.


Heavy snow continued across the Colorado Rockies. Steamboat Springs was buried under 74 inches and reported a total of 108 inches of snow between the 10th and the 18th of the month. Vail received 65 inches of snow between the 14th and the 18th.

Many cities from Kentucky to Pennsylvania reported record low temperatures for the date, including: Columbus, OH: -12°, Fort Wayne, IN: -11°, Mansfield, OH: -11°, Indianapolis, IN: -10°, Youngstown, OH: -10°, Cincinnati, OH: -9°, Elkins, WV: -8°, Detroit, MI: -7°, Cleveland, OH: -7°, Dayton, OH: -7°, Lexington, KY: -6°, Pittsburgh, PA: -6°, Springfield, IL: -5°, Columbia, MO: -5°, Evansville, IN: -3°, Beckley, WV: -2°, Charleston, WV: -2°, Louisville, KY: 1°, Lynchburg, VA: 3°, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: 3°, Jackson, KY: 4°, Bristol, TN: 6°, Paducah, KY: 6°-Tied, Wallops Island, VA: 18° and Redding, CA: 27°.


Snow, gale-force winds and heavy rain swept across Greece and Turkey. Two days of heavy snowfall and temperatures as low as 14° forced the closure of all northern Greek airports and all schools in northwestern Greece. 120 people were trapped on a train in Northern Greece halted by 6.6 feet of snow.


Light rain began falling on the southern portions of the Las Vegas valley in Nevada just after sunrise, but changed to snow by mid day as cold air was being drawn in from the northeast. By late afternoon snow began accumulating on most surfaces including roads. The heaviest snow occurred during the late afternoon/early evening hours before finally ending as a change to rain during the late evening. Officially 3.6 inches of snow was recorded at the National Weather Service office in the south part of the valley. Areas around the Las Vegas Strip and McCarran International Airport received between 2 and 3 inches of snow. The hardest hit area was around Henderson where 5 to 10 inches of snow was reported. Amazingly areas to the west and north such as Summerlin and North Las Vegas received very light amounts or none at all. This was also the most snow ever recorded in December. Yucca Valley, CA recorded between 12 and 15 inches of snow which is one of the biggest snowstorms to ever hit that area.

Along with the storm a few locations reported record low temperatures for the date including: Burns, OR: -22° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Sioux City, IA: -14°, Winnemucca, NV: -12°, Eugene, OR: 10°-Tied and Eureka, CA: 27°.


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



  • Mt. Everest avalanche
    Disaster strikes Mt. Everest as at least 12 people were killed in an avalanche
    Watch Video
  • Most Earthlike planet discovered
    The Kepler telescope has discovered the most Earthlike, possibly habitable planet yet
    Space News
  • Easter crosses create debate
    Easter crosses spark a debate of separation of church and state in Ohio
  • Chelsea Clinton is preggers
    Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child
  • Stanley Cup playoffs
    The battle for Lord Stanley's Cup is on, don't miss a minute of playoff action
  • Ukraine discussed amongst U.S., E.U., Russia
    The U.S., E.U. and Russia agree on ways to diffuse the tension in Ukraine
    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!