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

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Meteorological events that happened on December 9th:


A second great snowstorm in just five days brought another 15 inches of snow to Morristown, NJ, on top of the 8 inches which fell on the 7th and 8th, and the 18 inches which fell on the 4th and 5th. Their total snowfall for the week was 41 inches. New Haven, CT received 17 inches of new snow. Up to four feet of snow covered the ground in eastern Massachusetts following the storms.


A brutal start to winter in southern Alberta, Canada as the town of Lethbridge saw their temperature drop to -26°.


A severe winter storm struck the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes Region. 25 inches of snow fell at Buffalo, NY, accompanied by wind gusts to 78 mph. Vevay, IN was blanketed with 26 inches of snow, while winds whipped the snow into 14 foot drifts. Just over a week later, the Ohio River was frozen enough that people could walk across it from Indiana to Kentucky.


Snow began falling at Bend, OR during the pre-dawn hours and continued to fall non-stop for the next two days. Before it was over, a total of 47 inches of snow had fallen. All transportation grounded to a halt. Buildings began to collapse from the weight of the snow. As is often the case, extreme cold followed the snowfall. The mercury dropped to -25° at Bend on the 12th, a record that still stands.

Numerous locations from the Rockies to the Plains and Midwest reported record low temperatures for the date including: Great Falls, MT: -38°, Lander, WY: -36°, Kimball, NE: -34°, Scottsbluff, NE: -32°, Havre, MT: -31°, Helena, MT: -28°, Cheyenne, WY: -28°, Colorado Springs, CO: -27°, Elko, NV: -26°, Williston, ND: -26°:Tied, North Platte, NE: -25°, Kalispell, MT: -24°, Goodland, KS: -23°, Pueblo, CO: -22°, Valentine, NE: -22°, Grand Junction, CO: -20°, Lewiston, ID: -19°, Lincoln, NE: -19°, Missoula, MT: -15°, Grand Island, NE: -14°, Des Moines, IA: -13°, Sioux City, IA: -13°, Clayton, NM: -12°, Omaha, NE: -11°, Concordia, KS: -11°, Dodge City, KS: -10°, Topeka, KS: -6°, Wichita, KS: -4°, Kansas City, MO: -3°, Amarillo, TX: -2°, Oklahoma City, OK: 3°, Lubbock, TX: 8°, Dallas (DFW), TX: 17° and Dallas, TX: 19°.


A few locations across the West reported record high temperatures. It was 92° at Escondido, CA, their highest temperature on record for December. Other daily record highs included: Palm Springs, CA: 91°, Santa Ana, CA: 90°, Clayton, NM: 75° and Kalispell, MT: 48°.


A winter storm began as light freezing rain and the next day the freezing rain changed to heavy snow. Ice accumulated up to a half inch thick, damaging power lines and trees. The greatest damage was across northwest and north-central Oklahoma, where slippery roads brought a rash of accidents, resulting in two deaths and several injuries. Snow piled up to between 5 and 12 inches across the western half of Oklahoma. Strong winds during the evening of the 10th drifted the snow up to four feet deep in extreme western Oklahoma, closing several roads.


A deep upper level trough prevailed from the Rockies to the West Coast bringing more record low temperatures. Lowest ever in December, Lodgepole and Grant Grove, CA recorded their coldest December temperatures with -16° and -4° respectively.

Other daily record lows included: Glasgow, MT: -36°, Winnemucca, NV: -34° (broke previous record by 24 degrees), Havre, MT: -32°, Williston, ND: -31°, Helena, MT: -30°, Sheridan, WY: -29°, Ely, NV: -27°, Burns, OR: -26°, Pocatello, ID: -24° (broke previous record by 15 degrees), Missoula, MT: -22°, Boise, ID: -21° (broke previous record by 25 degrees), Rapid City, SD: -19°, Casper, WY: -18°, Reno, NV: -16° (broke previous record by 25 degrees), Billings, MT: -15°, Denver, CO: -14°, Salt Lake City, NV: -11°, Pendleton, OR: -9°, Medford, OR: -6° (broke previous record by 16 degrees), Salem, OR: -5° (broke previous record by 18 degrees), Eugene, OR: -5° (broke previous record by 14 degrees), Yakima, WA: 1°, Bishop, CA: 9°, Olympia, WA: 10° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Quillayute, WA: 10°, Portland, OR: 15°, Astoria, OR: 17°-Tied, Eureka, CA: 21°, Sacramento, CA: 21°, Fresno, CA: 23°, Stockton, CA: 23°, San Francisco, CA: 24°-Tied and Long Beach, CA: 33°-Tied.

The upper level ridge persisted across the Gulf of Mexico bringing record high temperatures to parts of the south including: Fort Myers, FL: 86°, Orlando, FL: 86°, Tampa, FL: 86°, Meridian, MS: 81°, Jackson, MS: 80° and Mobile, AL: 79°.


The fifth storm in nine days kept the northwestern U.S. wet and windy. Winds along the coast of Washington gusted to 75 mph at Oceans Shores and at Hoquiam. The northern and central coastal mountains of Oregon were drenched with 3 inches of rain in 10 hours, flooding some rivers. Snowfall totals in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State ranged up to 36 inches in the Methow Valley. High winds in Oregon blew a tree onto a moving automobile killing three people and injuring two others at Mill City.

Tallahassee, FL set a record high with 81°.


A strong storm produced wind gusts to 65 mph from the Alaska Peninsula to the North Gulf Coast of Alaska. Southeasterly winds gusted to 75 mph in the Anchorage hillside.

Gusty winds associated with a strong cold front caused a power outage across much of the island of Hawaii.


On this date through the 10th, a lake-effect snowstorm created record 24-hour snowfalls of 38 inches in Buffalo, NY and 28 inches in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. More than a foot of snow piled up off of Lake Michigan in Lower Michigan. A few locations reported record lows for the date including: Muskegon, MI: 1°, Jackson, KY: 7° and Oak Ridge, TN: 14°.


Santa Ana winds started on this day and ended the next day. Gusts reached 101 mph at Modjeska Canyon, 93 mph at Fremont Canyon, 83 mph at Ontario and 52 mph at Santa Ana. Trees and power lines were downed, vehicles overturned, and damage was done to property.

The first significant snow in more than a month fell across the Colorado Rockies. The upslope snow event produced up to 17 inches of snow in the Foothills outside of Denver with 4 to 8 inches across metro Denver west of I-25.


The game time temperature at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI was 11° as the Packers kicked off against the Minnesota Vikings. The Pack fell behind, but Green Bay Quarterback Bret Favre was 34-0 at Lambeau Field when then temperature is less than 34°. He brought the Pack back with an impressive drive to win the game 26-22, making his record an impressive 35-0 when the temperature was less than 34°.

Snow caused havoc at Tokyo, Japan. For the first time in more than a decade, snow fell in December. Although it totaled less than 1 inch, 208 people were injured in accidents.

Severe icing conditions and wind gusts up to 112 mph caused two Russian naval vessels to freeze over and sink at Novorosisk, Russia. Fortunately, the crews of the patrol boat and exploration craft were safely evacuated.


Subfreezing temperatures at Tehran, Iran resulted in the deaths of 40 homeless people.


An upper level ridge off the across the northern Bahamas produced a southerly flow ahead of cold front that brought record high temperatures to parts of the south. Record highs for the date included: Baton Rouge, LA: 83°-Tied, Lake Charles, LA: 82°, New Orleans, LA: 82°-Tied, Augusta, GA: 81°, Tallahassee, FL: 81°-Tied, Macon, GA: 80°, Shreveport, LA: 80°-Tied, Jackson, MS: 80°-Tied, Tupelo, MS: 78°, Athens, GA: 78°, Little Rock, AR: 77°, Memphis, TN: 77°, Columbus, GA: 77°-Tied, Atlanta, GA: 76°, Chattanooga, TN: 74° and Nashville, TN: 73°.


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



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