With the exception of a cold spell in the middle of the month, December turned out to be much warmer than normal. It also had the least snowfall in at least 39 years.
The mean temperature was 27.7 degrees, 6.1 degrees above normal, the 7th warmest December since prior to 1982. There were no sub-zero temperatures compared with a normal of six or seven such days. In spite of the warm month, only one temperature record was broken – a 63-degree reading early Christmas morning, breaking the previous Christmas day high reading of 61 degrees from 1982.
The highest temperature in December was the 63-degree reading on Christmas and the low reading was zero on the 16th. Over the past 39 years, December temperature extremes are 67 degrees in 2015 and -29 in 1993.
The warmest December over the past 39 years was in 2015 when the month’s mean temperature was 35.5 degrees; the coldest December was in 1989, with a mean temperature for the month of only 2.3 degrees, a monthly record that will likely never be broken. That month was the coldest December in the history of New York State.
There were 1,149 heating degree-days (HDD’s) last month compared with a normal of 1,345. Total HDD’s since the start of the degree-day season on July 1st is 2,689 compared with a normal of 3,230.
December’s snowfall totaled only 4.3 inches, the least amount for any December since the Malone weather station was opened in 1982, and well below the normal of 21 inches. On Christmas morning, there was no snow at all on the ground.
The old record for least snowfall in December is six inches in 1998 and also in 1982. The most snow for December was in 2007 with 43 inches.
Total snowfall through the end of December was only 7.8 inches. Normal as of Dec. 31 is 32.3 inches.
December’s total precipitation (rain and melted snow) was 1.93 inches, well below the normal of 2.63. Total precipitation for 2020 is 33.88 inches, almost exactly five inches below the normal of 38.86.
December’s highest unofficial wind gust was 52 mph from the SW; average for the month was 7.3 mph from the SW.
· Mean temperature: 27.7 degrees
· Normal mean: 21.6 degrees
· Warmest Dec: 35.5 degrees (2015)
· Coldest Dec: 2.3 degrees (1989)
· Highest temp: 63 degrees (25th)
· December record high: 67 (2015)
· Lowest temp: 0 degrees (16th)
· December record low: -29 (1993)
· Temperature records broken: 1 (high)
· Precipitation: 1.93 inches
· Normal precip: 2.63 inches
· Record precip: 5.70 inches (1983)
· Least precip: 0.51 inches (1989)
· Snowfall: 4.3 inches
· Normal snowfall: 21.1 inches
· Record snowfall: 43 inches (2007)
· Least snowfall: 4.3 inches (2020)
· Maximum wind gust: 52 mph (SW)
· Average wind: 7.3 mph (SW)
January is normally the coldest month of the year with the last two weeks of the month generally being the coldest period. Normal January mean temperature in Malone is 13.6 degrees. January, 1994, with a mean temperature of only 1.4 degrees, is the coldest January (and the coldest of any month) in Malone over the past 38 years. The warmest was January, 1990 with a mean of 25.8. The coldest January reading was -30 in 1994 and the warmest was 65 degrees in 1995. On average, we can expect 12 days with sub-zero temperatures and 9 days with above freezing temperatures.
Normal precipitation is 2.19 inches and includes an average of 22 inches of snow. The driest January over the past 38 years was 1988 when only 0.94 inches of precipitation was recorded while the wettest was 1998 with 6.39 inches.
January snowfall has ranged from only seven inches in 1983 to 41.5 inches in 2019. Based on the past 38 years, we can expect snowfalls of an inch or more on nine days and two storms with three or more inches.
Sunrise is at 7:35 a.m. (this is the latest time for sunrise in Malone) on January 1st, the same time as it has been since December 29th and will continue at this time through January 6th. Sunset is at 4:27 p.m. on the first. By the 31st, sunrise is at 7:17 a.m. and sunset is at 5:04 p.m. Thus, for January, there is a net gain of 55 minutes of daylight, 37 minutes at the end of the day and only 18 minutes in the morning.
On the 5th through the 9th, 1998, an unprecedented ice storm in northern NY, northern New England, and southeast Canada caused over $3 billion damage, nearly 40 deaths, and loss of power to millions of customers, some for well over a month. Ice accumulations generally exceeded 3 inches. Over the duration of the event Malone measured over 4 inches of rain, almost all in the form of freezing rain, more than double the average precipitation for the entire month.
Twenty four of the 50 states set their coldest temperature of record in January, including a minus 70 degree reading in Roger’s Pass, Montana, in 1954, the coldest temperature in the lower 48 states. Alaska also set its lowest record temperature on Jan. 23, 1971, with a minus 80 degree reading at Prospect Creek Camp, the coldest official U.S. temperature ever recorded. As for New York, our lowest temperature was set in February, along with 20 other states. That reading was minus 52 degrees, set at Stillwater Reservoir in February, 1934, and tied by Old Forge in February, 1979.
On the 13th, 1981, the temperature in Key West, FL, fell to its all-time record low of 41 degrees. The high for the day was only 54. Do you really want to winter in Florida?