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

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Meteorological events that happened on December 7th:


In early December, two weeks of mild and rainy weather culminated in the worst flood in 50 years in the Lower Connecticut River Valley. The Merrimack River swelled to its highest level, and in Maine the raging waters swept away mills, carried off bridges, and ruined highways.


The winter of 1830-31 was known as the "Winter of the Deep Snow" in Illinois. Records from Fort Armstrong (present-day Moline), Fort Dearborn (present-day Chicago), and Augusta indicated that heavy snowfall of 2 to 3 feet had fallen during the month of December. This severe winter, along with a poor corn harvest, compelled northern Illinoisans to seek grain in southern parts of the state, which had escaped the extreme conditions of the north. The furnishing of grain led to the use of the term "Little Egypt" being used to describe southern Illinois.


On this date through the 8th, severe flooding hit parts of the Houston, TX area. Eight people were killed as 100 city blocks were inundated. The town of Satsuma reported 16.49 inches of rain.


Record December warmth prevailed across parts of the west. La Mesa, CA set the December U.S. high temperature record with 100°.

Palm Springs, CA tied their highest temperature on record for December with 93° (12/3/1958).

Other locations reporting record high temperatures for the date included: Santa Maria, CA: 90°, Escondido, CA: 88°, Santa Ana, CA: 87°, Riverside, CA: 87°, Yuma, AZ: 83°, Las Vegas, NV: 76°, Eugene, OR: 67°, Pendleton, OR: 64°, Salem, OR: 61°, Seattle, WA: 57° and Spokane, WA: 54°.


A strong Mono Wind event occurred during the evening hours producing wind speeds estimated at over 70 mph across Yosemite National Park by the U.S. Park Service. Over 200 trees were downed here and the ski lift at Badger Pass was severely damaged. Trees also fell down in the North Fork and Big Creek areas of the Sierra National Forest.


Brutal record cold prevailed from the Lakes to the Pacific Northwest. Record low temperatures for the date included: Great Falls, MT: -30°, Williston, ND: -30°, Bismarck, ND: -28°, Rochester, MN: -28°, Helena, MT: -28°, Green Bay, WI: -21°, Minneapolis, MN: -20°, Billings, MT: -20°, Casper, WY: -18°, Sheridan, WY: -18°, Madison, WI: -15°, Rapid City, SD: -12°: Tied, Pueblo, CO: -11°, Missoula, MT: -10°, Dubuque, IA: -9°, Marquette, MI: -8°, Burns, OR: -8°, Pendleton, OR: -7° (broke previous record by 14 degrees), Alpena, MI: -6°, Eugene, OR: -6° (broke previous record by 29 degrees), Pocatello, ID: -5°, Spokane, WA: -5°, Grand Rapids, MI: -4°, Salem, OR: -4° (broke previous record by 24 degrees), Boise, ID: 0°, Medford, OR: 1° (broke previous record by 16 degrees), Lewiston, ID: 2°, Muskegon, MI: 2°, Olympia, WA: 5°, Astoria, OR: 10° (broke previous record by 17 degrees), Quillayute, WA: 13°, Portland, OR: 17° and Austin (Bergstrom), TX: 40°.

Most of Florida escaped the deep freeze and a few locations reported record high temperatures for the date including: Vero Beach, FL: 87°, Fort Myers, FL: 86° and Tampa, FL: 85°-Tied.


Snow, mostly lake-effect, born with winds gusting to 62 mph dumped 39.8 inches of snow at London, Ontario Canada.


It was a frigid day across the west with numerous record low temperatures including: Flagstaff, AZ: -19° (broke previous record by 13 degrees), North Platte, NE: -15°, Colorado Springs, CO: -13°, Missoula, MT: -12°, Winslow, AZ: -10° (broke previous record by 18 degrees), Goodland, KS: -9°, Grand Junction, CO: 0°, Big Bear Lake, CA: 5°, Idyllwild, CA: 10°, Palomar Mountain, CA: 11°, Victorville, CA: 12°, Bishop, CA: 13°, Fresno, CA: 25°, Phoenix, AZ: 27°, Riverside, CA: 28°, Eureka, CA: 28°, Sacramento, CA: 29°, Stockton, CA: 29°, Yuma, AZ: 30°, Borrego Springs, CA: 31°, Long Beach, CA: 31°-Tied, Downtown Los Angeles, CA: 32° and Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 37°.

Locations reporting record high minimum temperatures for the date included: Big Bear Lake, CA: 18°, Palomar Mountain, CA: 28°, Idyllwild, CA: 29°, Victorville, CA: 40°, Riverside, CA: 50°, Palm Springs, CA: 54°, San Diego, CA: 55°, Santa Ana, CA: 55° and Borrego Springs, CA: 55°.

In contrast, locations across from Texas to Florida set record high temperatures for the date including: Orlando, FL: 90°, Fort Myers, FL: 90°, Miami, FL: 86°, Tampa, FL: 86°, Jackson, MS: 84°, Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: 84°, Daytona, Beach, FL: 84°-Tied, Jacksonville, FL: 82°, Savannah, GA: 82°, Meridian, MS: 82°, Tallahassee, FL: 81°, Charleston, SC: 81°-Tied, Columbus, GA: 79° and Lake Charles, LA: 78°,


Snow accumulated to 12 inches as a blizzard struck Ottawa, Ontario Canada


Another in a series of storms hit the northwestern U.S., with wind gusts over 100 mph reported at Cape Blanco, OR. While snow and gusty winds accompanied a cold front crossing the Rockies, strong westerly winds, gusting to 93 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder CO, helped temperatures in western Kansas reach the 60s for the sixth day in a row.

Heavy rain fell across eastern Puerto Rico, with 19.41 inches reported at Las Piedras. Flooding caused $5 million dollars damage.


An upper level low brought up to 18 inches of snow to the Colorado Rockies, with 14 inches at Boulder, CO, and 4 to 8 inches across metro Denver caused numerous flight delays and traffic mayhem. Heavy snow blanketed New Mexico the following day, with 15 inches reported near Ruidoso.


A storm moving out of the Central Rocky Mountain Region spread snow across Kansas and Oklahoma into Arkansas and Tennessee. Six inches of snow accumulated on parts of northwest and north-central Oklahoma, while one to two inches accumulated over central and eastern Oklahoma. The widespread snowfall led to slick and hazardous road conditions, which contributed to many traffic accidents. Snowfall totals ranged up to 7.5 inches at Winfield, KS. Freezing rain on trees and power lines cut off electricity to 24,000 homes in northeastern Arkansas, and 40,000 homes in the Nashville, TN area were without electricity for several hours.

A few locations enjoyed record high temperatures. Borrego Springs, CA tied their December high with 87° (12/6, 12/8 & 12/28/1980).

Los Angeles (LAX), CA hit 82°, setting a daily record high while San Diego, CA tied their record high with 80°.


A dense icy fog covered much of Northwest Missouri reducing visibilities to less than a quarter of a mile and to near zero in some locations. With temperatures well below freezing, the fog formed a thick frost which also built up on bridges and overpasses. The combination of heavy frost on roadways and poor visibility made for several minor traffic accidents during morning rush hour.


A rapidly deepening coastal storm crossed New England, giving the region its second heavy snowfall in as many days. 20.5 inches of snow fell at Groton, VT, 19.5 inches was recorded at New Ipswich, NH, 18 inches piled up at Ashburnham, MA, and 16.5 inches was measured at Union, CT. Over eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, the snow was extremely wet. Snow was still on trees and other objects from the previous day's storm, and this combined with the new snow and some rain mixing in resulted in an enormous amount of tree damage. Over 900,000 people lost power with 500,000 in Massachusetts alone. 113,000 people in Massachusetts were without power for several days. This was the most extensive and costliest weather related power outage in New Hampshire's history as 94,000 lost power during the storm.

A short-lived but strong F2 tornado touched down just east of I-75 near Riverview, FL that completely destroyed three mobile homes and damaged six others. One person and three dogs were killed when the occupants of an unanchored mobile home was lifted up by tornadic winds and tossed nearly 100 feet from it's foundation into a neighbor's yard where it disintegrated on impact. At least five parked cars were damaged by the tor


It was another day of incredible warmth across the East as many cities reported all-time record highs for the month of December. 73° at Concord, NH and 71° at Portland, ME were not only records for the month, but their warmest winter season (December-February) readings ever. Overall, 70 all-time December temperature records and 700 daily records were broken during the first 8 days of the month as an unprecedented late autumn heat wave occurred from the Rockies to the East Coast.

The following locations set their all-time December record high: Wilmington, NC: 82°, Richmond, VA: 81°-Tied, Washington, D.C.: 79°, Lynchburg, VA: 79°-Tied, Greensboro, NC: 78°-Tied, Atlantic City, NJ: 77°, Islip, NY: 77° (broke previous daily record by 19 degrees), Providence, RI: 77° (broke previous daily record by 14 degrees), Baltimore, MD: 77°-Tied, Newark, NJ: 76°, Boston, MA: 76° (broke previous daily record by 10 degrees), Windsor Locks and Bridgeport, CT: 76° (broke daily record by 14 degrees), Hartford, CT: 76° (broke previous daily record by 14 degrees), New York (Central Park), NY: 75°, New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 75° (broke previous daily record by 16 degrees), New York (LaGuardia), NY: 75°, Harrisburg, PA: 75°-Tied, Milton, MA: 74° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Concord, NH: 73°, Philadelphia, PA: 73°-Tied, Worcester, MA: 72° and Portland, ME: 71°-Tied (broke previous daily record by 12 degrees),

Locations reporting daily record highs for the date included: Houston, TX: 84°, Meridian, MS: 84°, Augusta, GA: 82°, Savannah, GA: 82°-Tied, Mobile, AL: 81°, Tallahassee, FL: 81°-Tied, Charleston, SC: 81°-Tied, Raleigh, NC: 80°, Columbia, SC: 80°, Galveston, TX: 79°, Norfolk, VA: 79°, Roanoke, VA: 77°, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: 77°, Charlotte, NC: 76°, Asheville, NC: 75°, Oak Ridge, TN: 75°, Wilmington, DE: 72°, Allentown, PA: 71°, Syracuse, NY: 70°, Buffalo, NY: 69°, Rochester, NY: 69°, Cincinnati, OH: 69°, Columbus, OH: 69°, Avoca, PA: 69°, Erie, PA: 69°, Williamsport, PA: 69°, Dayton, OH: 68°, Lexington, KY: 68°-Tied, Jackson, KY: 67°, Cleveland, OH: 67°, Mansfield, OH: 67°, Youngstown, OH: 67°, Burlington, VT: 67°, Akron, OH: 66°, Albany, NY: 65° and Binghamton, NY: 62°-Tied.

An trough dug in out west bringing unsettled conditions with some record lows for the date including: Bishop, CA: 8°, Sacramento, CA: 27°, Dana Point, CA: 29°, Mission Viejo, CA: 29°, San Clemente, CA: 29°, Stockton, CA: 29°-Tied, Capistrano Beach, CA: 30°, Escondido, CA: 32° and Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 37°-Tied.


Fog reduced visibility on I-65 near the Tennessee River in Northern Alabama during the early morning hours. A tractor trailer jackknifed, leading to a chain reaction accident that involved 18 vehicles.


A quick 12 hour snow burst in the southern Sierra Mountains produced 13 inches at Hume Lake, CA, 13 inches at Lodgepole, CA and 15 inches at Shaver Lake, CA.


Valentine, NE residents experience and 80 degree temperature rise in about 36 hours from -14° to 66°.


A tornado swept through a northwest London suburb leaving a trail of destruction, damaging homes and vehicles. The tornado injured six people.


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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