Warm December closes out wettest year on record

By Russell Russ

December 2011 was tied with 1982 as the fifth warmest December in the last 80 years. With an average mean temperature of 32.5 degrees it was 7.2 degrees above normal. The month’s high temperature of 57 degrees was observed on December 6. The low temperature of 10 degrees was observed on December 19. No daily temperature records were set this month, but overall it was a warm month. The average monthly temperature from December 2010 was nearly 10 degrees colder.

December’s total precipitation amount was 5.33 inches, 0.82 inches above normal. The monthly snowfall total of 3.0 inches was 14.5 inches below normal. Strangely enough, Norfolk had a white Halloween, but we did not have a white Christmas. The snowfall total for this winter season to date, October through December, is 27.1 inches. Thanks primarily to October’s 23.8 inches; this is 2.3 inches above normal for this time period.

It was not an early pond ice year for the area. Many smaller ponds, including Pond Hill Pond and Wood Creek Pond iced over initially during the third week of December, but then lost it and got it back a few times until about December 27 or 28 when they iced over basically for the season. Last year the smaller ponds started forming ice in late November. The larger water bodies like Tobey Pond and Wangum Lake did not form ice at all in December. Last winter both were iced over by December 10 and by December 24 Tobey had a good six inches of ice. Not this winter.

The close of 2011 completed 80 consecutive years of weather recording for this weather station. In review of Norfolk’s weather for the 2011 calendar year it certainly was one for the record books. With an annual average mean temperature of 47.1 degrees it was 2.4 degrees above normal and tied with 1949 as the sixth warmest year on record. Last year was the fourth warmest year on record. The year of 2011 was also the wettest year in our 80 years of recording the weather. With a total precipitation amount of 77.28 inches it was 24.73 inches above the normal of 52.55 inches. It surpassed the long-standing 1955 record of 76.04 inches by 1.24 inches, quite impressive to say the least. Snowfall for the year totaled 108.1 inches. This was 17.3 inches above the yearly average of 90.8 inches, but by no means near a record for yearly snowfall.