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Northeast Overview - December 2012

Monthly Summary

After a cooler than normal November, December returned to the 2012 trend of above normal temperatures. In fact, with an average temperature of 33.6 degrees F (0.9 degrees C), 4.8 degrees F (2.7 degrees C) above normal, it was the 7th warmest December on record in the Northeast. All states were warmer than normal with all but one placing December 2012 as one their top 15 warmest. Delaware had their warmest December on record averaging 7.0 degrees F (3.9 degrees C) above normal. Departures for the rest of the states ranged from +5.7 degrees F (3.2 degrees C) in Vermont, their 6th warmest, to +3.2 degrees F (1.8 degrees C) in Maine, their 21st warmest. With an average temperature of 50.2 degrees F (10.1 degrees C), 2.7 degrees F (1.5 degrees C) above normal, preliminary data indicates the Northeast region had its warmest year on record. Preliminary data also indicates that eight of twelve of the Northeast states had their warmest year on record while the other four states had one of their top 5 warmest. Departures among the states ranged from +2.0 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) in West Virginia to +3.1 degrees F (1.7 degrees C) in Delaware.

On the heels of one of the driest months on record, December turned out to be wetter than normal. With 5.27 inches (133.86 mm) of precipitation (151 percent of normal), it was the 9th wettest December in 118 years in the Northeast. All states reported wetter than normal conditions, with December in nine of twelve states ranked within the 2nd to 23rd wettest. Departures among the states ranged from 103 percent of normal in Connecticut and Maryland to 170 percent of normal in Pennsylvania. Despite a wet end to the year, the Northeast's annual precipitation total of 42.78 inches (1086.61 mm) was only 96 percent of normal. Delaware, even after being poured on by Hurricane Sandy in October, was the driest of the states. The state was down 11.33 inches (287.78 mm) of precipitation, making it the 6th driest year since 1895. Of the dry states, departures ranged from 75 percent of normal in Delaware to 99 percent of normal in Pennsylvania. Maine was the only state to report above average annual precipitation at 110 percent of normal, their 28th wettest.

At the beginning of the month, warm air ahead of an advancing cold front helped several cities set new maximum temperature records. Highs on the 3rd and 4th reached up to 72 degrees F (22.2 degrees C) in the Northeast. A series of storms moved through the region from the 16th to the 19th. Nearly 2 feet (61.0 cm) of snow fell in northern Maine while eastern Pennsylvania had inch (6.35 mm) hail and parts of Massachusetts had up to inch (19.05 mm) of ice accumulation. Another storm moved through from the 20th through the 22nd. Two to three inches (50.8 to 76.2 mm) of rain fell in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware causing flooding and road closures. A Nor'easter on the 26th created difficulties for holiday travelers. The storm dropped over 20 inches (50.8 cm) of snow on parts of upstate New York and Maine. Sections of Interstate 84 and the Taconic State Parkway in New York were closed for several hours due to accidents. Heavy rain, over 3 inches (76.2 mm), and high winds with gusts to 70 mph (31 m/s) affected coastal areas. About 7,000 customers on Long Island lost power. A quick, hard-hitting snowstorm moved through on the 29th bringing another 12 to 20 inches (30.5 to 50.8 cm) to parts of the Northeast. The storm caused a 20-car pileup on Interstate 93 in New Hampshire and a regional jet to skid into a snow bank in Albany, NY.