By Arthur A. Francis
---- — This year, our November temperatures were lower than normal and ranged from 67 degrees on the 12th to a low of 26 degrees on the 6th.
Our November rainfall was considerably below normal. We measured 1.53 inches. Our heaviest precipitation occurred during the nor’easter of the 7th and 8th. It was at this time when we had our first snowfall of the current season. The snow began to mix with rain during the evening of the 7th and into the early morning hours of the 8th. Even though the ground surfaces were warm, slippery, hazardous conditions resulted over many places locally. Additionally, strong northeast winds buffeted the area with gusts to 49 miles per hour.
The first day of winter officially begins at 6:12 a.m. on Dec. 21, and we will have daylight hours of only nine hours and five minutes each day from the 16th to Christmas Day! Although December gives us our shortest daylight hours, it nevertheless can give us some invigorating days with brilliant sunshine and crystal-clear visibility.
Now we must be prepared to expect those inevitable colder winter temperatures. Early in the month, our normal daytime high readings are found in the mid-40s, while early morning readings drop to the low 30s or upper 20s. However, by month’s end, the temperatures range from the mid-30s during the day and drop to bone-chilling 20s by early morning.
December can be a very exciting weather month for New England. During the past 30 years, our highest December temperature was a very unseasonable 78 degrees in 1998, while our lowest was a frigid 11 degrees below zero in 1980.
As for precipitation, December can vary greatly as far as snowfall is concerned. During our 30-year period of records, the greatest snowfall was an impressive 33 inches in 2003. It is interesting to note we have had four Decembers that have given us more than 30 inches of snow since 1995. On the other hand, December can surprise us with very little snow or no snow at all. In 1999, there was no snowfall here at Salem, and just last year, we had only a trace of the white flakes.
Salem meteorologist Arthur A. Francis is a faculty member in the geography department at Salem State University.
Temperatures: High 67, low 26, average 40.6
Prevailing wind: 49 mph on the 7th
Rainfall: 1.63 inches
Snowfall: 1.5 inches