Iowans are well aware that 2018 is starting out much colder than normal, with wind chills of 30-below and worse, but the final tallies on the last month of 2017 show a wide range of temperatures.
State climatologist Harry Hillaker says December covered both extremes, starting out very mild. Hillaker says, “We had a few 70-degree readings early on and then a very, very cold last week or so of the month with the coldest weather coming on New Year’s Eve when it got down to 22-below zero at the Spencer airport.” That ended up being the lowest temperature anywhere in the state for the calendar year.
December concluded just one-half of one-degree warmer than normal statewide. A dry spell started in late October, carried through all of November, and continued well into December, until the snow began to fall.
“Roughly the last ten days or so in December, snowfall started to become more common,” Hillaker says. “It was about an every-other-day occurrence, at least some light snow in some parts of the state. It still didn’t amount to much as far as overall moisture. Statewide average, we had just 42/100ths of precipitation for the month.”
That’s less than the norm and it ended up being Iowa’s 12th driest December in 145 years of records. Snowfall statewide averaged 5.8 inches during the month, which was close to average. January is opening up very frigid and the forecast calls for a colder-than-normal month ahead.
“It’s a very cold start to the month,” he says. “It’ll take quite a warm-up at some point in the month to get us back above normal.” More moderate temperatures may arrive by this weekend with slightly-above normal temps possible, though Hillaker says we’ll likely be back down into the very cold weather by next week. Precipitation for January, he says, will likely be below normal.
(Thanks to Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)