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December 2012 - Report and Summary

by Robert K. Peters, Ph.D. - National Weather Service Cooperating Observer

The year 2012 tied for the third warmest year on record, with an average temperature of 68.4 2.9 deg. Warmer than normal. It was warmer by 0.3 deg. Than 2011 which is the fourth warmest year on record. It was also dry but not as dry as 2011. Rainfall was 40.58 inches about 87 percent of normal. Drought returned at year's end. Through September, rainfall ran near to slightly above normal. October through December were dry.

The year's highest temperature was 103 on July 29, while the lowest was 24 on December 26 and 30th. The wettest day was March 20 when 2.99 inches of rain fell. The warm season was 222 days just about normal. It began on May 6 and ended September 25th. The growing season was about two weeks longer than normal at 261 days; it began February 25 and ended November 13. March 2012 was the third warmest March on record. The temperature reached or exceeded 100 degrees on 16 days, and reached or exceeded 90 on 91 days. Temperatures reached or fell below freezing on 22 days. All of these values were fairly close to normal. 1911 shares the 2012 mark for third warmest years; 1921 is the warmest year, with 1998 in second place.

The thirty-day outlook for December 2012 had called for above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation.

The month of December 2012 was warmer and drier than normal. Compared with December 2011, the month was 3.9 deg. Warmer, and 3.87 inches drier. Yearly rainfall was 10.33 inches greater in 2012 than in 2011. The first nine days of the month were very warm, with temperatures running between 5 and 20 degrees above normal. Weak cold fronts on the 4th and 7th lowered temperatures slightly, and resulted in a few light showers with both systems. Otherwise, a southerly flow off the Gulf of Mexico and upper air high pressure brought very warm and moist air into the region. Dense fog was present in parts of the area on the mornings of the 6th, 7th, and 8th. A cold front on the 9th lowered temperatures below normal, which persisted until an upper air system crossed on the 14th. This brought in warmer air, which persisted through a weak cold front on the 17th. Rain accompanied the disturbances.

Temperatures cooled through the 22nd, then warmed significantly until a cold front arrived on the morning of the 24th. A push of Arctic arrived on the afternoon of the 25th. Severe weather occurred in parts of the area between midnight and 6 a.m. on Christmas Day, with rain continuing for much of the day until changing over to snow that afternoon. Though snow or ice was on the ground on Christmas Day in 1929, 1963, and 1990, the snowfall of 2012 was the first frozen precipitation on December 25 since a trace of sleet fell in 1975.

The remainder of the month was cold. Another system crossed on the 28th with rain, again followed by another cold air outbreak, with rain back into the region on the 31st.

The reporting period for temperatures and phenomenon on each day is for the twenty-four hours ending at midnight hours GMT--6 p.m. CST and 7 p.m. CDT. The reporting period for precipitation is for the twenty-four hours ending at noon GMT--6 a.m. CST and 7 a.m. CDT. All times are given using the twenty-four hour clock, and are expressed in Greenwich Mean Time.

Observations are from NWS Station 41/9207/4 in Tyler, Texas. The term "normal" refers to averages from the standard climatic period 1971-2000.




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