Colder than average December closes out fourth warmest year on record

By Russell Russ

December 2010 was the coldest December we’ve seen since the year 2000. With an average mean temperature of 22.6 degrees it was 2.7 degrees below normal. The month’s high temperature of 55 degrees was observed on December 1. The low temperature of 5 degrees was observed on both December 10 and 17. With numerous cold and windy days, wind chill temperatures fell into the single digits many times and even below zero on several occasions.

December’s total precipitation amount was 6.20 inches, 1.72 inches above normal. The monthly snowfall total of 17.3 inches was very near normal, being just 0.2 inch below normal. If you are keeping track, Norfolk had about two inches of snow on the ground for Christmas, giving us just barely a white Christmas once again. The largest snowfall of the month, and season so far, was the 11.5 inches that fell December 26 and 27, during the so called Blizzard of 2010. Snowfall totals were extremely difficult to measure due to the blowing and drifting snow. Initial forecasts predicted up to two feet of snowfall, but in the end we got about half that. The snowfall total for this winter season to date, October through December, is 17.4 inches. This is 7.4 inches below the normal for this time period.

Many smaller ponds, including Pond Hill Pond, iced over for the season on December 6, two days earlier than last year. The smaller ponds initially iced up on November 28, but lost it with rain and warm temperatures on November 30. Wangum Lake iced over on December 9, nine days earlier than last year, and Tobey Pond iced over on December 10, also nine days earlier than last year. By December 24 Tobey was carrying about six inches of ice.

In review of Norfolk’s weather for the 2010 calendar year it was quite a bit warmer than normal, a little wetter than normal, but had less snow than normal. The yearly mean temperature was 47.4 degrees, 2.7 degrees above average. It was Norfolk’s fourth warmest year in the last 79 years. Only 1998 with 48.4 degrees, 2001 with 48.3 degrees, and 2006 and 2002 with 47.8 degrees were warmer years. The yearly total precipitation amount was 55.84 inches. This was 3.30 inches above normal and just 0.14 inch above the 2009 yearly total. Snowfall for the year totaled 70.6 inches. This was 20.3 inches below the yearly average and 6.4 inches below the 2009 yearly total, but by no means a record for least amount of yearly snowfall.