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Weather History: December 23: Record temps, ice, storms, snow & wind

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Meteorological events that happened on December 23rd:


The "snow campaign" in the Carolinas and Georgia was marked by a 24 inch snowfall at the American camp at Reedy River, North Carolina.


A major storm off of Long Island, NY wrecked several ships, killing entire crews. Onshore, a foot of snow fell accompanied by gale force winds and temperatures near 0°.


The overnight low temperature at Regina, Saskatchewan Canada plummeted to -55°, the coldest December night on record.


A windstorm at Sydney, Australia whipped winds to 70 mph disrupting traffic.


The barometric pressure dipped to 981 millibars or 28.97 inHg at Boise, ID, an all-time record for that location.


The second blizzard within a week hit northeast Nebraska beginning on the 21st through this date. Heavy snowfall of 9 to 15 inches piled up across many areas. High winds whipped the snow into huge drifts stranding thousands of motorists. Three separate cases occurred of pedestrians leaving their vehicles only to be found frozen later. Additional death and injuries indirectly related to the storm were also prevalent.


An exceptionally tight pressure gradient brought strong northeasterly winds to Florida. Sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts over 40 mph prevailed through the state for periods longer than 24 hours. The highest gust reported was 58 mph at Kennedy Space Center. The area hardest hit was along the lower east coast where 1 to 3 inches of rain added to the problems. Power and telephone lines were toppled throughout the state, limbs were broken from trees and fruit drop was noted in the citrus belt. Beach erosion in the Vero Beach area caused damage to two buildings. The strong winds blew sand into homes along the east coast beaches, and many windows facing the wind were broken. The heavy rain damaged South Dade County tomato fields and the strong winds scarred the fruit. Waves along the lower east coast reached 15 feet and several boats were destroyed and many others grounded. Three people drowned when their boats capsized, and a 16 year old boy drowned when he was washed into the sea while photographing breakers. On Florida's West Coast, officials reported that a 43-foot sailboat lost its rigging 50 miles west of Tampa and was drifting.


On this date through the 25th, a major winter storm struck Colorado producing heavy snow and blizzard conditions. A record 2 feet of snow was reported at the former Stapleton Airport in Denver, which was shut down for 33 hours. Up to 44 inches of snow fell in the foothills surrounding Denver. The storm hurt the ski industry as skiers were unable to make it out of Denver to the slopes, and the closed airport became a campground for vacationers.


A deep upper level trough around two upper level lows over central and eastern Canada continued to bring brutally dangerous cold to most of the country. The temperature plunged to -50° at Williston, ND to equal their all-time record. Minneapolis, MN reported an afternoon high of -17°. Strong northerly winds that evening produced wind chill readings of -100° across North Dakota.

Cheyenne, WY recorded their 4th consecutive day in which the temperature remained below zero while Chadron and Scottsbluff, NE were in their 7th consecutive day. Lows across the plains were generally from -20° to -30° for the 4th consecutive day.

From this date through the 25th, temperatures in Columbia, MO remained below zero for 45 consecutive hours.

From the 22nd through the 26th, Springfield, IL saw temperatures of zero or colder for 101.5 hours. The cold spell contributed to an average temperature for the month of only 16.1 degrees, a December record.

The barometric pressure at Wichita Falls, TX rose to 31.13 inHg, which was the second highest known pressure reading ever recorded in the state of Texas.

Missoula, MT tied their December record low with -30°. This broke their previous daily record by 10 degrees.

Other daily record lows for the date included: Wisdom, MT: -55°, Butte, MT: -52°, West Yellowstone, MT: -45°, Bozeman Airport, MT: -43°, Lincoln Ranger Station, MT: -43°, Havre, MT: -41° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Bismarck, ND: -40°, Boulder, MT: -39°, Glasgow, MT: -37°, Lewistown, MT: -37°, Lander, WY: -37° (broke previous record by 16 degrees), Chinook, MT: -36°, Virginia City, MT: -35°, Valentine, NE: -34°, Aberdeen, SD: -34°, Cut Bank, MT: -34°, Miles City, MT: -33°, Shelby, MT: -33°, Townsend, MT: -33°, Helena, MT: -32°, Livingston, MT: -32°, White Sulphur Springs, MT: -32°, Fargo, ND: -31°, Fort Assiniboine, MT: -31°, Del Bonita, MT: -31°, Great Falls, MT: -30°, St. Cloud, MN: -30°, Conrad, MT: -30°, Rochester, MN: -29°, Huron, SD: -28°, Sheridan, WY: -28°, Rapid City, SD: -27°, Chester, MT: -27°, Kalispell, MT: -26°, Valier, MT: -26°, Sioux Falls, SD: -25°, Grass Range, MT: -24°, Scottsbluff, NE: -24°, Cheyenne, WY: -24°, Pocatello, ID: -23°, Green Bay, WI: -23°, Choteau, MT: -22°, Dubuque, IA: -22°, Sioux City, IA: -21°, Chicago, IL: -21°, Rockford, IL: -21°, Madison, WI: -21°, Billings, MT: -20°, Omaha, NE: -20°, Des Moines, IA: -19°, Burns, OR: -19°, Pendleton, OR: -19° (broke previous record by 13 degrees), Spokane, WA: -18°, Boise, ID: -18°, North Platte, NE: -18°, Peoria, IL: -17°, Lewiston, ID: -16°, Grand Island, NE: -15°, Norfolk, NE: -15°, Colorado Springs, CO: -13°, Yakima, WA: -13°, Springfield, IL: -13°, Evansville, IN: -13°, Marquette, MI: -13°, Lincoln, NE: -13°, Denver, CO: -10°, Detroit, MI: -9°, Kansas City, MO: -9°, Columbia, MO: -8°, Clayton, NM: -7°, Olympia, WA: -7°, Concordia, KS: -6°, Topeka, KS: -6°, Wichita, KS: -6°, St. Louis, MO: -5°, Amarillo, TX: -1°, Oklahoma City, OK: 1°, Lubbock, TX: 3°, Wichita Falls, TX: 6°, Abilene, TX: 8°, Midland-Odessa, TX: 9°, Seattle, WA: 9° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), San Angelo, TX: 10°, Salem, OR: 11°, Jackson, KY: 12°, Portland, OR: 12°, Astoria, OR: 13°, Quillayute, WA: 13°, Austin, TX: 15°, San Antonio, TX: 16°, Austin (Bergstrom), TX: 17° and Victoria, TX: 22°-Tied.


A winter storm brought heavy snow to the Central Rockies, and also spread a blanket of snow across the Mid-Missouri Valley in time for Christmas. Snow and high winds created near blizzard conditions in Wyoming. Snowfall totals in Wyoming ranged up to 25 inches at Casper, with 4 feet of snow reported at the Hogadon Ski Resort on Casper Mountain. The Wolf Creek Ski Resort in Colorado received 26 inches of snow. Totals across the Plains ranged up to 16 inches at Alpena, SD with 14 inches at Harrison, NE. Strong winds ushered unseasonably cold air into the southwestern U.S. Canyon winds gusting to 100 mph created ground blizzards in parts of Utah.


A massive arctic high pressure area of 1061 millibars set historic record low temperature readings from the Canadian border to central Texas and Florida. Many cities in the upper Midwest saw low temperatures below -20°. A total of 122 cities across the central and eastern U.S. reported record low temperatures for the date. Locations setting all-time record lows included: Topeka, KS: -26° (broke previous daily record by 20 degrees), San Angelo, TX: -4° (broke previous daily record by 14 degrees), Victoria, TX: 9°-Tied (broke previous daily record by 13 degrees), Del Rio, TX: 10° (broke previous daily record by 12 degrees), Lake Charles, LA: 11° (broke previous daily record by 10 degrees) and New Orleans, LA: 11° (broke previous daily record by 14 degrees). Yankton, SD was the cold spot in the nation with a morning low of -31°.

Locations reporting all-time December record lows included: Norfolk, NE: -26° (broke previous record by 11 degrees), Moline, IL: -24°, Kansas City, MO: -23° (broke previous daily record by 14 degrees), Des Moines, IA: -22°, Springfield, IL: -21°, Beckley, WV: -18° (broke previous record by 22 degrees), Springfield, MO: -16° (broke previous daily record by 11 degrees), Lincoln, NE: -13°, (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Abilene, TX: -7° (broke previous daily record by 15 degrees), Wichita Falls, TX: -7° (broke previous daily record by 13 degrees), Fort Smith, AR: -5°, Tupelo, MS: -3° (broke previous daily record by 17 degrees), Dallas (DFW), TX: -1° (broke previous daily record by 11 degrees), Midland-Odessa, TX: -1°, Dallas, TX: 1°, Birmingham, AL: 1°-Tied (broke previous daily record by 16 degrees), Little Rock, AR: 1°-Tied, Meridian, MS: 2°, Huntsville, AL: -3°-Tied (broke previous daily record by 16 degrees), Jackson, MS: 4°, Austin, TX: 4° (broke previous daily record by 11 degrees), Shreveport, LA: 5°, Austin (Bergstrom), TX: 6° (broke previous daily record by 11 degrees), San Antonio, TX: 6° (broke previous daily record by 10 degrees), Houston, TX: 7° (broke previous daily record by 15 degrees), Baton Rouge, LA: 8° (broke previous daily record by 14 degrees), Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX: 12°, Corpus Christi, TX: 13° (broke previous daily record by 14 degrees), Galveston, TX: 14°-Tied and Brownsville, TX: 16° (broke previous daily record by 14 degrees).

Locations reporting daily record lows: Casper, WY: -39°, Waterloo, IA: -25°, Sioux City, IA: -24°, North Platte, NE: -24°, Elkins, WV: -24° (broke previous record by 24 degrees), Dubuque, IA: -23°, Peoria, IL: -22°, Columbia, MO: -19° (broke previous record by 11 degrees), Concordia, KS: -17° (broke previous record by 11 degrees), Alpena, MI: -17° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Grand Island, NE: -17°, Indianapolis, IN: -15°, Wichita, KS: -15°, St. Louis, MO: -15° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Dodge City, KS: -14° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Columbus, OH: -14° (broke previous record by 13 degrees), Toledo, OH: -14°, Clayton, NM: -13°, Huntington, WV: -13° (broke previous record by 18 degrees), Flint, MI: -12°, Cincinnati, OH: -12° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Charleston, WV: -12° (broke previous record by 15 degrees), Lexington, KY: -11°, Grand Rapids, MI: -11°, Jackson, KY: -10° (broke previous record by 22 degrees), Mansfield, OH: -9°-Tied, Louisville, KY: -8°, Paducah, KY: -8°, Oklahoma City, OK: -8°, Tulsa, OK: -8°, Nashville, TN: -8° (broke previous record by 17 degrees), Binghamton, NY: -6°, Mt. Pocono, PA: -6°, Hartford, CT: -5°, Muskegon, MI: -5°, Bristol, TN: -4° (broke previous record by 17 degrees), Waco, TX: -4°, Amarillo, TX: -3°, Worcester, MA: -2°, Roanoke, VA: -2°, Oak Ridge, TN: -1° (broke previous record by 15 degrees), Lubbock, TX: -1°, Milton, MA: -1°-Tied, Knoxville, TN: 0° (broke previous record by 14 degrees), Asheville, NC: 1°, Atlantic City, NJ: 1°, Reading, PA: 2°, Providence, RI: 2°-Tied, Georgetown, DE: 3°, Wilmington, DE: 4°, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: 4°, Trenton, NJ: 4°, Bridgeport, CT: 5°, Chattanooga, TN: 5° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Washington, D.C.: 7°, Newark, NJ: 7°, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 7°, Philadelphia, PA: 7°, Salisbury, MD: 7°, Atlanta, GA: 8°, Charlotte, NC: 8°, Islip, NY: 8°, New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 8°, Wallops Island, VA: 8°, Montgomery, AL: 9°, Mobile, AL: 9° (broke previous record by 14 degrees), Richmond, VA: 9°-Tied, Greenville-Spartanburg, SC: 10°, Raleigh, NC: 10°-Tied, Pensacola, FL: 13°, Athens, GA: 13°, Columbus, GA: 14°, Macon, GA: 15°, Wilmington, NC: 15°, Columbia, SC: 16°, Augusta, GA: 17°, Charleston, SC: 17°, Savannah, GA: 18°, Gainesville, FL: 22°, Daytona Beach, FL: 23°, Cape Hatteras, NC: 23°, Jacksonville, FL: 24°, Orlando, FL: 24° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Tampa, FL: 28°, Vero Beach, FL: 28°, West Palm Beach, FL: 32° and Miami, FL: 37°.

A storm system moving across the Florida peninsula and along the Southern Atlantic Coast produced high winds and record snows along the Carolina coast. Snowfall totals of 15 inches at Wilmington, NC and 13.3 inches at Cape Hatteras, NC were all-time records for those locations. Gale force winds, gusting to 60 mph, produced waves 34 feet high off the coast of North Carolina, and whipped the heavy snow into drifts up to 8 feet high. Two inches fell at Savannah, GA; one of only three times that snowfall in the city required a ruler for measurement. Charleston, SC picked up 3.9 inches. The storm resulted in the first white Christmas on record from northeastern Florida to North Carolina. Snow fell in Tampa and Daytona Beach as Florida experienced its most widespread snowstorm in history and their first white Christmas in history as airports and interstates were shut down. Snow and sleet fell as far south as a Sarasota to Melbourne.

Many traffic accidents and several fatalities occurred on ice-covered roads in North

Florida. At least six people died of hypothermia and another four in space-heater related fires. Extensive crop damage including a loss of about 30% of the $l.4 billion citrus crop occurred leaving tens of thousands of migrant farm workers unemployed. Winter vegetables, berries, nursery ornamentals and fish suffered heavy losses. Power blackouts hit hundreds of thousands of residents at various times during the holiday weekend.

Behind the arctic surge, some locations went through a dramatic warm-up. Cheyenne, WY saw a 2 day temperature change of 75 degrees, from a low of -28° on the 22nd to a high of 47° on this date. Scottsbluff, NE recorded an impressive 84 degree temperature change, warming from -42° on the 22nd to 42° above on this date.

After setting a record low temperature of -29° the day before, Rapid City, SD saw the mercury climb to 49° on this date.


A deep upper level trough brought dangerous record lows from the Plains to the West Coast. Pocatello, ID set their December record low with -29° while Flagstaff, AZ tied their all-time December record low with -23°. That broke their previous record by 11 degrees.

Other locations reporting daily record lows included: Ely, NV: -30°, Huron, SD: -30°, Alamosa, CO: -29°, Ely, NV: -28°, Winnemucca, NV: -28° (broke previous record by 14 degrees), Sioux Falls, SD: -28°, Scottsbluff, NE: -27°, Pueblo, CO: -25°, Boise, ID: -18°-Tied, Colorado Springs, CO: -17°, Denver, CO: -17°, Grand Junction, CO: -17°, Salt Lake City, UT: -11° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Winslow, AZ: -11°-Tied, Good land, KS: -9°, Reno, NV: -9°, Albuquerque, NM: -7°, Amarillo, TX: -6°, Bishop, CA: -5°, Medford, OR: 7°, Las Vegas, NV: 11° (broke previous record by 12 degrees), Salem, OR: 11°, Fresno, CA: 18°, Redding, CA: 20°, Sacramento, CA: 20°, Stockton, CA: 20°, Santa Maria, CA: 22°, Phoenix, AZ: 26°, Eureka, CA: 27°, San Francisco Airport, CA: 28°, Long Beach, CA: 30°, Downtown Los Angeles, CA: 34°, Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 35° and San Diego, CA: 36°.


Recent heavy rains in Austin, TX set a new yearly rainfall record. 51.64 inches had fallen to this date. The old record was 51.30 inches set in 1957. The monthly rainfall record for December already had been far exceeded. The rainfall total for the month to this point was 13.59 inches. The old December record was 5.91 inches set in 1944.


On this date through the 24th, an intense ocean storm, known as an intense hybrid nor'easter lashed New England with high winds and heavy rains on this day and continued into the 24th. The storm had its origins in the western Gulf of Mexico two days before and had the characteristics of a tropical cyclone, even as it reached 40 degrees north latitude. It dumbelled around a regular developing baroclinic low on the coast of the Carolinas, and had an extremely tight pressure pattern, with a central pressure of 969 millibars as it approached New England. High pressure to the north only enhanced the pressure gradient, and resulted in winds exceeding hurricane force over coastal areas. A wind gust of 88 mph was recorded at Walpole, MA. Sustained winds of 63 mph with a gust to 84 mph were record on Nantucket Island. Falmouth, MA recorded a 78 mph wind gust and a 74 mph gust was reported at Ashaway, RI. Plymouth, MA was deluged with 4.85 inches of rain and Gloucester, MA checked in with 4.72 inches.


A surprise heavy snowstorm struck eastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. Dracut, MA was buried under 23.5 inches of snow. 22 inches was recorded at Pepperell, MA, 21 inches was measured at Ayer, MA including 8 inches in one hour, and Nashua, MH checked in with 20.5 inches.


A major ice storm from Texas to Virginia caused major havoc with holiday transportation and widespread power outages.


La Crosse, WI had their first measurable snow of the season with 0.6 inches. This is the latest date for the first measurable snowfall of a season.


Late afternoon lighting strikes knocked out power to 1,800 customers in Saanich, just north of Victoria British Columbia Canada. The bolts knocked out traffic signals at a dozen major intersections during the afternoon rush hour. One bolt shorted out the transformer at the Walmart store, causing an evacuation.


A potent winter storm brought accumulations of a foot or more to some locations across the Upper Mississippi River Valley, along with strong winds and white out conditions. After starting out as some drizzle or light rain, the precipitation changed over to snow on the 22nd, and then continued to fall through the better part of this date. Snowfall rates Saturday night of an inch per hour were common at times. In addition to the snow, the winds started to increase Saturday night, becoming very blustery on Sunday. Northwest winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts of 40 to 45 mph led to blowing and drifting of the falling, and fallen snow. "White-out" conditions developed in many areas as a result, with snow drifts of several feet also being reported. Travel was impossible in some areas.


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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