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Weather History: December 3: Record temps, storms, wind, snow & flooding

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Meteorological events that happened on December 3rd


Cleveland Abbe was born on this date in New York City. Abbe was a meteorologist who pioneered in the foundation and growth of the U.S. Weather Bureau, later renamed the National Weather Service.


A severe blizzard raged across Kansas and Iowa, producing up to 16 inches of snow in northern Iowa. The storm caught many settlers unaware of the hazards that prairie storms of this nature create.


On this date through the 6th, a great snowstorm dumped up to 42 inches in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. 33 inches fell at Asheville, NC and 25 inches at Rome, GA.


Yuma, AZ was soaked with 1.10 inches of rain and by the 10th they had received 4.43 inches, making it the wettest December on record. The average annual rainfall for Yuma is 3.38 inches.


Death Valley, CA set their December high temperature record with 89°.


Beginning on this date and ending on the 4th, snow fell across the Mid-Atlantic States. Snowfall totals included: Washington, D.C.: 11.1 inches, Baltimore, MD: 7.8 inches, Philadelphia, PA: 7 inches and Richmond, VA: 2.1 inches.


Upper level high pressure and a surface high over the Great Basin brought record highs from the Rockies to the West Coast. Locations setting record highs for December included: Santa Ana, CA: 95°, Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 94° Riverside, CA: 93°, Palm Springs, CA: 93° and Palomar Mountain, CA: 80°. Santa Maria, CA & Bishop, CA tied their December highs with 90° and 78° respectively. Other daily record highs included:

Long Beach, CA: 92°, Downtown Los Angeles, CA: 89°, Yuma, AZ: 86°, San Diego, CA: 85°, Idyllwild, CA: 80°, San Francisco Airport, CA: 73°, Fresno, CA: 72°-Tied, Goodland, KS: 71°, Sacramento, CA: 70°, Stockton, CA: 69°, Ely, NV: 67°, Colorado Springs, CO: 66°, Grand Island, NE: 65°-Tied, Sheridan, WY: 64° and Burns, OR: 61°.


An intense storm brought heavy precipitation to parts of central and south-central California, especially the mountains, starting on this day and ending on the 7th. Over the five days, 27.74 inches fell at Lake Arrowhead, 23.73 inches fell at Palomar Mountain, 18.72 inches in Big Bear Lake, 17.85 inches in Idyllwild, and up to a foot of rain at lower elevations. On this day, local flooding occurred at the coast and at Palm Springs. Strong winds caused power outages.


An upper level west-southwest flow brought record high temperatures from the Plains to southern New England. Locations recording their warmest December temperatures included: St. Louis, MO: 76, Quincy, IL: 72 and Waukon, IA: 63.

Other daily record highs included: San Angelo, TX: 84-Tied, Dallas, TX: 83, Dallas (DFW), TX: 83, Jacksonville, FL: 82, Macon, GA: 81, Savannah, GA: 81, New Orleans, LA: 81, Fort Smith, AR: 79, Tallahassee, FL: 79-Tied, Columbia, SC: 79, Tupelo, MS: 78, Columbus, GA: 77, Little Rock, AR: 76, St. Louis, MO: 76, Huntsville, AL: 75, Knoxville, TN: 75, Memphis, TN: 75, El Paso, TX: 75-Tied, Athens, GA: 74, Springfield, IL: 74, Nashville, TN: 74-Tied, Charlotte, NC: 73-Tied, Evansville, IN: 72, Louisville, KY: 72, Greensboro, NC: 72, Oak Ridge, TN: 72, Atlanta, GA: 72-Tied, Asheville, MC: 72-Tied, Chicago, IL: 71, Peoria, IL: 71, Columbia, MO: 71, Bristol, TN: 71, Lexington, KY: 70, Moline, IL: 69, Cincinnati, OH: 69, Rockford, IL: 65, Indianapolis, IN: 65, Dayton, OH: 65, Fort Wayne, IN: 64, Newark, NJ: 64, New York (Central Park), NY: 64, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 64, Dubuque, IA: 64-Tied, South Bend, IN: 63-Tied, Mansfield, OH: 62, Bridgeport, CT: 60, Detroit, MI: 60-Tied, Milwaukee, WI: 60-Tied and Albany, NY: 56.


A small low pressure area moving across the Florida Peninsula dumped heavy snow in North and South Carolina. Tryon, NC checked in with 18 inches for their heaviest total. Asheville, NC recorded 16.3 inches which set a new 24 hour snowfall record and Landrum, SC reported 14 inches. The cold front trailing from the low pressure area pushed southeastward through Sarasota and Manatee County in Florida preceded by thunderstorm winds, heavy rain and at least five tornadoes. Roofs were ripped off, trees and utility lines downed. A tornado moved across the Venice Airport damaging three planes, and into the winter quarters of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus collapsing two large tents. 3.19" of rain fell at Venice and 2.65" at Sarasota causing some water damage. Ten people were injured by the tornadoes.


An unseasonal ridge of high pressure off the southeast coast brought record heat from the Plains to the East Coast and southern Canada. Across southern Ontario Canada, high temperatures reached 73° at Hamilton and 68° at Toronto.

Many locations in the U.S. set record highs for December including: Huntington, WV: 80° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Charleston, WV: 80°-Tied (broke previous daily record by 10 degrees), Nashville, TN: 79°, Cleveland, OH: 77° (broke previous daily record by 12 degrees), Youngstown, OH: 76° (broke previous daily record by 15 degrees), Akron, OH: 76° (broke previous daily record by 13 degrees and their only day in December above 70°, Columbus, OH: 76°, Erie, PA: 75° (broke previous daily record by 10 degrees), Cincinnati, OH: 75°-Tied, Pittsburgh, PA: 74° (broke previous record by 11 degrees), Mansfield, OH: 73° (broke previous record by 10 degrees and only time they have been at or above 70 in December), Blair, WI: 64°, Preston, MN: 63°, Mather, WI: 62°, Owen, WI: 60°, and Medford, WI: 59°.

Other daily record highs included: Tampa, FL: 84°-Tied, Augusta, GA: 82°, Meridian, MS: 82°-Tied, Tallahassee, FL: 81°, Macon, GA: 81°-Tied, Montgomery, AL: 80°, Columbus, GA: 79°, Jackson, KY: 79°, Knoxville, TN: 79°, Charleston, SC: 79°, Athens, GA: 77°, Oak Ridge, TN: 77°, Evansville, IN: 76°, Louisville, KY: 76°, Bristol, TN: 76°, Birmingham, AL: 76°-Tied, Lexington, KY: 75°, Memphis, TN: 75°-Tied, Atlanta, GA: 74°, Buffalo, NY: 74° (broke previous record by 13 degrees), Chattanooga, TN: 73°, Paducah, KY: 73°-Tied, Rochester, NY: 72°, Elkins, WV: 72°, Dayton, OH: 71°, Fort Wayne, IN: 69°, Indianapolis, IN: 69°, Beckley, WV: 69°-Tied, Detroit, MI: 68°, Toledo, OH: 68°, Flint, MI: 67°, Lansing, MI: 66°, Williamsport, PA: 66°, Syracuse, NY: 65°, South Bend, IN: 64°, Alpena, MI: 64°, Grand Rapids, MI: 63°, Yakima, WA: 61°, Ste. St. Marie, MI: 60° (broke previous record by 10 degrees), Houghton Lake, MI: 60°-Tied, Milwaukee, WI: 60°-Tied, Marquette, MI: 59°, Olympia, WA: 59°, Burlington, VT: 56° and Binghamton, NY: 55°.

The 24-hour rainfall record for Arkansas was set as 14.06 inches fell at Big Fork.


9.22 inches of rain fell at Birmingham, AL in 24 hours, causing severe flash flooding which literally submerged traffic.


Stormy weather in the northwestern U.S. finally began to abate, but not before Gold Beach, OR was drenched with 7.94 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Low pressure brought widespread snow from the Upper Mississippi Valley to the Central Appalachians.


Gale force winds ushered cold air into the northeastern U.S., and produced snow squalls in the Lower Great Lakes Region. Winds gusted to 48 mph at Buffalo, NY.


Heavy snow and high winds created blizzard conditions in northern New England. Snowfall totals in Maine ranged up to 31 inches, at Limestone. Presque Isle, ME reported a record 30 inches of snow in 24 hours, along with wind gusts to 46 mph.

Up to a foot of lake effect snow fell at South Bend, Elkhart, Goshen, and Plymouth, IN


Weather Channel Meteorologist Marny Stanier delivered the network's first live broadcast from a snowstorm as she broadcast during a raging blizzard at Milwaukee, WI. Low pressure moved eastward from the Rockies bringing heavy snow to the Midwest. Wind gusts up to 60 mph created whiteout conditions across a large part of the Upper Midwest. 22 inches fell at Adams, WI. Madison, WI set their 24 hour snowfall record with 17.3 inches and drifts reached 7 feet. Dubuque, IA recorded 15 to 17 inches and 13 inches piled up at Green Bay, WI. Generally, 6 to 18 inches of snow fell. Due to the weight of the snow, the dome roof of a sports stadium collapsed in Iowa City causing about $2 million dollars in damage. For a large portion of Iowa, this was the worst snowstorm in several years.


An intensifying low pressure area south of New England dumped a surprise heavy, wet snow across northern Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and east-central New York. This was an elevation storm with the big snow accumulations primarily above 1,000 feet. Monterey, MA recorded 19 inches of snow. This 19 inch amount was the biggest single snowfall in a storm in Massachusetts in nearly 5 years. Other snowfall amounts in Massachusetts included 16 inches at Great Barrington and 15 inches at Peru. 14 inches of snow was recorded in Stephentown, NY.


Upper level high pressure ridging across the southeast brought record high temperatures from the Plains to the East Coast. Necedah, WI set their record high for December with 63°.

Other record highs for the date included: Tampa, FL: 84°-Tied, Wilmington, NC: 79°, Charleston, SC: 79°-Tied, Galveston, TX: 79°-Tied, Huntsville, AL: 75°-Tied, Charlotte, NC: 75°, Chattanooga, TN: 75°, Sterling (Dulles Airport), VA: 74°, Topeka, KS: 73°, Baltimore, MD: 72°, Harrisburg, PA: 72°, Columbia, MO: 72°, Dodge City, KS: 70°, Newark, NJ: 70°, Atlantic City, NJ: 69°, New York (Central Park), NY: 69°, New York (LaGuardia), NY: 69°, Wilmington, DE: 68°-Tied, South Bend, IN: 67°, Wichita, KS: 67°, Islip, NY: 67°, Concordia, KS: 67°-Tied, Scottsbluff, NE: 67°-Tied, New York (Kennedy Airport), NY: 66°, Norfolk, NE: 66°-Tied, Lansing, MI: 66°-Tied, Allentown, PA: 66°, Avoca, PA: 65°, Grand Rapids, MI: 64°, Milwaukee, WI: 64°, Des Moines, IA: 63°, Sioux Falls, SD: 63°, Salt Lake City, UT: 63°, Green Bay, WI: 62°, Bridgeport, CT: 61°, Sioux City, IA: 61°, St. Cloud, MN: 61°, Madison, WI: 61°, Marquette, MI: 59°-Tied, Albany, NY: 58° and Binghamton, NY: 58°.

Low pressure brought heavy snow to parts of the northern Rockies through the 4th. Snow fall totals included: Livingston, MT: 21 inches, Nye, MT: 18 inches, McLeod, MT: 16 inches, Big Timber/Ryegate, MT: 12 inches, Shawmut/Paradise Valley, MT: 11 inches, Harlowton, MT: 9 inches, Roundup, MT: 8 inches, Gardiner, MT: 6 inches, Columbus, MT: 5 inches and Billings, MT: 4 inches.


On this date through the 4th, heavy snow fell over the Foothill and Denver, CO. The heaviest snowfall occurred in the Foothills south of I-70 and near the Palmer Divide. Snowfall totals included: 25 inches near Tiny Town, 18 inches at Conifer, 15 inches near Evergreen, 14 inches at Chief Hosa & Blackhawk, 12 inches at Pine Junction, 11 inches atop Floyd Hill & Roxborough and 10 inches at Castle Rock. Around the Denver metro area, totals included: 10 inches at Highlands Ranch, 9 inches at Parker and 8 inches at Aurora and Wheat Ridge.


Lake Charles, LA recorded 6.19 inches of rain on this day to bring their yearly rainfall total to 81.89 inches, their wettest year ever. The old record was 79.88 inches set in 1919.

Arctic air and fresh snow cover combine to drop the temperature to -18° at Lansing, MI setting a record for early season cold.


Temperatures in Pincher Creek, Alberta Canada go on a fast rollercoaster ride this December day. At 2pm local time, the temperature stood at 7°, but in less than an hour, it had soared to the freezing mark. The "warmth" increased to 45° by 7:30pm then plunged to 9° less than 20 minutes later.

Heavy rainfall triggers flash floods across Sydney, Australia. In less than half an hour, areas of western Sydney receive as much as an inch of rain.


Moscow, Russia experienced their warmest December day in recorded history. Muscovites walk without their fur coats as the temperature hit 50°.


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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