The Washington Post

How unusual is this December warm weather?

Whereas in 2010 December days were most frequently in the 30s, this year 50s have been most common.

Consider the following about the month’s temperatures:

* We’ve had more days (7) with highs in the 60s than in the 40s (6).
* We’ve had zero days with highs in the 30s or colder (compared to 12 as of this date last year)
* Highs in the 50s have been most frequent (9 days compared to no such days last year)
* The average temperature is running four degrees above normal for the month (44.9 degrees compared to 40.9)

If the month ended today, Decemeber 2011 would rank 7th warmest on record since 1871. With slightly cooler weather in the forecast over the next several days, 2011 may slip a few spots. In general, though, temperatures should be milder than average for the rest of the year. I’d estimate 2011 ends up somewhere in the top 10 warmest Decembers. Ian Livingston tells me that if we fail to have a day where the high is below 40, it will be the first time on record.

A lilac blooms in Middleway, WV today. (Doug Clark via Facebook)

The warm weather is horrible for local ski resorts. Roundtop, Liberty, and Whitetail - unable to make snow - all remain closed.

Related: Record-setting warmth at Washington Dulles and Baltimore-Washington International airports
What is Washington, D.C.’s weather like in December? Breaking down norms and extremes

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.


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