December Climate Summary for Huntsville and Muscle Shoals

Temperatures...

The trend of below normal temperatures that began in August ended with sharp finality during the month of December.  At Huntsville, the average temperature of 49.6 degrees was 5.7 degrees above the normal for the month, ranking as the 8th warmest December on record.  In fact, December was 0.1 degrees warmer than the rather cool month of November.  This has only happend seven other years at Huntsville: 1911, 1923, 1933, 1951, 1956, 1971, and 1984.  This was perhaps a fitting end to a year that will go down as the warmest on record for many locations in northern Alabama and southern middle Tennessee.  At Muscle Shoals, the monthly average of 49.4 degrees was 6.1 degrees above normal, ranking as the 5th warmest December on record there.  Temperatures started out very warm for the month of December, with daytime highs mainly in the 60s and 70s for the first ten days of the month.  A record high temperature of 74 degrees was tied at Muscle Shoals on the 2nd, while record high minimum temperatures were set at Huntsville and Muscle Shoals on the 9th.  A colder airmass moved into the region, dropping temperatures to a few degrees below normal mainly from the 11th through the 13th.  Then, another significant warmup occurred for the 3rd week, with temperatures once again well above normal.  Warm air and strong southwesterly winds ahead of a rather potent weather system brought above normal temperatures to the area for the Christmas holiday, but then temperatures fell below normal once again for most days after the 26th.       

2012 finished as the warmest year on record for both Huntsville and Muscle Shoals.  More statistics and an annual recap will be available soon.  Below are the top 5 warmest years for both locations (based on calculations using monthly averages):


Huntsville

Muscle Shoals

Rank

Avg Temperature

Year

Rank

Avg Temperature

Year

1

64.0

2012

1

64.3

2012

2

63.8

1933

2

64.0

1998

3

63.7

1922

3

63.5

2007

4

63.6

2007

4

63.4

1933

4 (tie)

63.6

1927

5

63.1

1921 & 1999

Daily Temperature Graphs for the month of December for each location (click on the images for a larger version).

Huntsville - Dec 2012 Temperature Graph

Muscle Shoals - Dec 2012 Temperature Graph

Daily Temperatures for Huntsville December 2012 - click on the image for a larger version. Daily Temperatures for Muscle Shoals December 2012 - click on the image for a larger version.

Temperature Statistics for the Month of December at Huntsville and Muscle Shoals. All temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit.

December Statistic

Huntsville

Muscle Shoals

Average Monthly Temperature 49.6 49.4
Normal Temperature* 43.9 43.3
Deviation From Normal 5.7 Above Normal 6.1 Above Normal
Monthly Ranking** 8th Warmest 5th Warmest
Warmest December 53.0 (1933) 52.9 (1933)
Coolest December 33.8 (1989) 33.4 (1989)
Max Temperature 74 (Dec 2nd & 3rd) 75 (Dec 3rd & 9th)
Min Temperature 24 (Dec 22nd) 20 (Dec 22nd)
All-Time Max Temperature

81 (Dec 8, 1956)

78 (Dec 7th 1998)
     (Dec 24th 1964)
     (Dec 24th 1955)
     (Dec 31st 1951)
     (Dec 7th 1951)
     (Dec 5th 1933)
All-Time Min Temperature

-3 (Dec 22/23, 1989)

-5 (Dec 23, 1989)

Record Highs

60 degrees on the 9th (High Minimum)

74 degrees on the 2nd 
59 degrees on the 9th (High Minimum) 

Record Lows None None

  

Precipitation...

Precipitation was generally near to above normal for most of northern Alabama and southern middle Tennesse.  However, a few areas of slightly below normal precipitation did occur, along a narrow swath in northwestern Alabama, including Muscle Shoals, and in parts of northern Jackson County.  Rainfall was heaviest in far western portoins of Lauderdale County and in southern Cullman County, where amounts near 8 inches were recorded and radar data indicate amounts around 8 to 10 inches may have fallen in some locations.  The Huntsville precipitation total of 6.75 inches was nearly one inch above normal for the month, ranking as the 33rd wettest on record.  At Muscle Shoals, the precipitation total of 5.42 inches was just over a quarter of an inch below normal, but ranked as the 44th wettest on record.1  A daily precipitation record was set at Huntsville on the 16th, when 2.46 inches of precipitation was recorded at Huntsville International Airport.  This eclipsed the previous record of 2.36 inches set in 1961.  Traces of snowfall were recorded on the 26th and 29th, but no measurable snowfall was recorded for the month.    

1 Precipitation can be below normal for a month, but still be counted among the wettest months because of the skewness of the data set.   

Radar Precipitation Estimates and Departures from Normal for December for the Huntsville Forecast Area (amounts are in units of inches).

Radar Precipitation Estimates

Radar Precipitation Departures from Normal

Radar precipitation estimates - click on the image for a larger version Radar estimated precipitation anomalies - click on the image for a larger version

December Precipitation Statistics for Huntsville and Muscle Shoals (amounts are in units of inches).

December Statistic

Huntsville

Muscle Shoals

Monthly Precipitation 6.75 5.42
Normal Precipitation 5.77 5.68
Departure from Normal 0.98 Above Normal 0.26 Below Normal
Monthly Ranking 33rd Wettest 43rd Wettest
Wettest December 18.68 (1990) 19.19 (1990)
Driest December 0.58 (1945) 0.65 (1980)
Wettest Calendar Day 2.46 (Dec 16th) 1.56 (Dec 25th)
Record Wettest Day 9.07 (Dec 22, 1990) 5.20 (Dec 1, 1991)
Monthly Snowfall Trace Trace
Normal Snowfall 0.3 0.4
Record Monthly Snowfall 21.4 (1963) 11.1 (1963)


The Monthly Outlook for January from the Climate Prediction Center...
The one month temperature outlook indicates higher chances for above normal temperatures for the Tennessee Valley climatic zones.  The 3-tiered probabilities are as follows...

Above Normal....48%
Near Normal......33%
Below Normal....19%

The one month precipitation outlook indicates slightly higher chances for above normal precipitation for the central Tennessee Valley climatic zones. The 3-tiered probabilities are as follows...

Above Normal....36%
Near Normal......33%
Below Normal....31%

What is normal for January? ...Huntsville daily normals and records / Muscle Shoals daily normals and records


* Normal temperatures and precipitation are based on the 1981-2010 climatological period. All temperature data are expressed in degrees Fahrenheit.
** Temperature data for Huntsville go back to 1907, while precipitation data are available since 1894. Any months that contain missing daily temperature or precipitation data are not counted in the rankings.

*** Temperature and precipitation data for Muscle Shoals go back to 1893, however sporadic outages of data occur especially in the 1910s and again from September 1995 through May 1997. Any months that contain missing daily temperature or precipitation data are not counted in the rankings.

Note...all data above are preliminary and have not undergone final quality control by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Therefore, these data are subject to revision. Final and certified data can be accessed at the NCDC at the following location... http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov

One month and seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks may be obtained from the Climate Prediction Center at the following location...http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov

KDW


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