How about that…here we are in December. After what was quite a year for the Capital Region and the United States weather wise, we are entering winter 2005. Things promise to be a bit quieter, but also a bit whiter.
Re-learning the fickle weather of the Northeast (and from a much different perspective) has been something else, and I can’t wait to see some snow flying around. Of course, come March, I’ll probably have a much different take on that…
So, let’s talk snow (and cold) for December. Winter begins at 1:35pm on Wednesday the 21st, and that day will be one of seven days where we have the least amount of sunshine for the year.
The strongest rays of the sun will be furthest away from us at that time, but the good news is that starting a week later, the days begin to get longer once again. Of course December is a heavily traveled month with plenty of holidays around, lots of parties to go to and many friends to see. Hanukkah begins this year at sundown on Christmas Day, a Sunday, with the last candle of the menorah to be lit on the first full night of 2006.
Now for some past weather tidbits, and as we all know it can be cold and white in December. First the cold, and it comes by mid-month on average; highs go from 41 on the 1st, to 35 a week before Christmas, to 32 on New Year’s Eve. The warmest December day was 68 degrees on the 6th in 2001, and the coldest was a frigid 22 below zero on Christmas Day, 1969. Another cold fact—back in 1942 on the 20th, the high temperature was 8 degrees…below 0. Outrageous.
Snow can fly as well in December, and it has of course. Two of the top five biggest snowstorms in Albany’s history have come in the month of December. Number three on the list was in 1969, when 26.4 inches fell over a few days starting late on Christmas day and the fourth was a three-day storm that dumped 24.7” in 1915.
The snowiest December on record was in 1969, when 57.5” of snow fell. Just three years ago, December 2002 finished a distant fifth with 33.2”, over half of which also fell on Christmas Day.
So, what other kinds of weather have befallen the Capital Region over the last 115+ years on Christmas Day? We’ve just about seen it all—from a mild record high of 66 degrees way back in 1889 (also a Sunday, by the way), to that record low Christmas morning of -22 in 1969. That snowfall in 2002 was a record for Christmas, with 19.2” falling throughout the day. A tough day to make it over the river and through the woods, indeed. And if you remember, another 20+” fell just a week and a half later.
What will this December bring? The average date during any given year for the first 3+” of snowfall is on the 14th, and the average snowfall for December is 12.8”. That being said, Christmas isn’t always white, even here in the Capital Region (take last year for example). However, if we can use history as a guideline, we stand better than a 6 in 10 chance of having at least an inch or snow covering the ground on Christmas morn.
In next month’s article, I’ll summarize what we went through in 2005 weather-wise in upstate New York, and what we can expect in 2006. We’ll also talk about heating your house and what heating degree days are all about. After a pretty mild start to last month, it’ll soon be time to pay the check. Speaking of November, this year’s record-breaking hurricane season ended on the 30th, and good riddance to it.
Happy Holidays to you and your family, and I’ll see you in 2006.
Jason Gough is a meteorologist with NewsChannel 13. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time-