Coldest December in 20 years at Bartow weather station
National Weather Service observer Jason Bauserman, of Bartow, has seen some weird weather in 20 years, but none more out of the ordinary than what he recorded last month.
"December was the coldest month in the 20 years I've had of record keeping," he said. "It happened to be 10.4 degrees below average. I've never had a month in 20 years, either high or low, being that far off the average. It was just consistently cold for the whole month and it all started on December 1."
The average December mean temperature in Bartow is a balmy 29.5 degrees. Bauserman computed a mean temperature for December 2010 of 19.1 degrees. The month had an average high of 25.2 degrees and an average low of 13 degrees.
Winter arrived last year on the day the calendar flipped to December. Bauserman recorded a high of 54 on November 30, followed by a high of 32 on December 1.
Strangely, Bauserman recorded only one below-zero low temperature during the entire month, on December 16, when the temperature dropped to minus three degrees. The unusually low high temperatures are to blame for the cold monthly average.
The second coldest December in Bauserman's records was in 1994. That month, Bauserman recorded low temperatures of minus 30 degrees on two consecutive days and a total of nine days with below-zero lows. December 1994 had an average daily low of nine degrees, but an average daily high of 29.9 degrees, balancing out the month's mean temperature to 19.5 degrees.
Making last year's abnormally cold December even stranger - it followed nine months of above average temperatures. Bauserman said springtime virtually skipped over Pocahontas County, with warm weather starting on March 7.
"There was an abrupt end from the cold to the warm," he said. "Ever since March 7 - for nine straight months - we had above average temperatures, until we hit December 1, where we had that quick cutoff point, where it was super-cold again. I've never had nine months in a row of either cold or warm temperatures. Of course, it did turn out to be the warmest summer on record."
"I couldn't make maple syrup this year because I didn't have the freeze-thaw," he added. "It just went from too cold to too warm without the freeze-thaw that you need to make syrup."
Eighty- plus temperatures are an extreme anomaly in April, but occurred twice in April last year.
"On April 2, I had an 85 degree temperature," he said. "That was a record high and that is the earliest, in my 20 years of record keeping, that I had an 85 degree temperature."
Later that month, on April 26, Bauserman recorded a high temperature of 86 degrees. The weatherman hasn't recorded an 80+ high temperature on April 2 or April 26 in the last 20 years.
In addition to an early arrival, warm weather lingered longer in 2010. Bauserman has never recorded a high temperature over 80 as late as September 24, but last year, the high on that day was 84 degrees.
Rainfall was significantly below average in 2010. Bauserman recorded 36.7 inches in Bartow, whereas the station's average yearly rainfall is more than 44 inches.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the Northeast United States had the warmest January through November period ever recorded in 2010. The agency has not yet released data for December.