Public works crews have likely logged more hours in street sweepers than in snow plows this month. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says the statewide average snowfall total for this December is just 2.5 inches.
“You’d have to back to 2006 for the last time we had less snow (in Iowa in December),” Hillaker said. “That year, we had only a-half inch on snow in December. But, compared to the previous four Decembers before this one, all had well above normal snowfall amounts. In some cases, record snowfall amounts in some areas of the state.”
This month ranks 19th for the least amount of snow in December in 136 years of weather records. It’s a big change from recent years. Last year, Iowa had 13.5 inches of snow in December. In 2009, just over two feet of snow fell across the state. 2008 and 2007 featured Decembers with 16 and 13 inches of snow.
“All four of those most recent Decembers rank at least 11th or higher on (snowiest) December list,” Hillaker said. “So, this year is certainly a huge contrast.” This month will also go down as one of the warmest Decembers in Iowa history. Hillaker said the average temperature over the month was about seven degrees warmer than normal, despite a cold start to the month.
The lowest recorded temperature was 19-below zero in Sheldon on December 6. The highest temperature was 58 degrees, recorded in several locations on December 14 and again yesterday (December 29) in Keokuk and Keosauqua.
Highs are forecast to reach near 60 degrees in parts of southwest Iowa tomorrow, the final day of the month and year.