November temperatures were considerably below normal. Our highest reading was 69 degrees on Nov. 1, and our lowest was 17 degrees on Nov. 13. Rainfall was near normal with 4.12 inches recorded. A dusting of snow (0.2 inches) occurred on Nov. 8.
The most impressive storm was another of those explosive, so-called bomb cyclones. The barometric pressure dropped 28 millibars in 24 hours on Nov. 24, resulting in very strong winds with peak gusts of 40 to 45 mph in some areas, accompanied by torrential, tropical-like rain.
We measured nearly 2 inches of rain here in Salem. Several times the rain was falling at the rate of an inch per hour. There was a thunderstorm during the heavy period of rain in Danvers. Again, the center of the storm tracked and passed right over the Salem area.
Now, December has arrived. For the most part, this is the month when winter conditions start to become more established.
But along with the stormy weather, December can bring us some brilliant, sunny days with deep, blue skies and crystal clear visibility. These times are especially delightful when they follow snowstorms that cover the region with a blanket of pure white snow.
Early in the month, our temperatures usually climb to the mid to upper 40s during the day, falling to the 30s by dawn. By month’s end, the afternoon readings usually reach the mid to high 30s, tumbling to the low 20s by sunrise.
The winter solstice occurs on Saturday, Dec. 21, at 11:19 p.m., and for the next few days we will have about nine hours of daylight each day.
Winter can give us some happy memories, of fun sports in the snow, skiing and ice skating, as well as looking forward to the delightful holiday spirit.
Then, there are the frigid temperatures, blizzards, and wild weather. In our region the colder winter often means shoveling, snowblowing, and experiencing bad roads.
From our records since 1977, our highest December temperature reached a summerlike 78 degrees in 1998. The lowest was 11 degrees below zero in 1980.
Salem’s average December precipitation is 4.56 inches. But we've had as much as 7.54 inches in 2006 and as little as 1.18 inches in 1979.
We usually have snow in Salem. The average for the month is 10 inches. But we've had as much as 33 inches back in 2003. That year, we had a most impressive three-day intense nor'easter at the beginning of the month. The storm developed along the New Jersey coast and raced to a point just east of Cape Cod before slowing down.
That storm gave Salem a 28-inch blanket of heavy, wet snow, while Peabody had 36 inches of snow. The winds were close to hurricane force and swept the snow into massive drifts in some areas. On the other hand, there has been only one December here with no snow. That was in 2015.
Most of us will be delighted to have a White Christmas with a peaceful glittering of snow enhancing our winter landscape while we enjoy that special warmth with family and friends and helping those in need as our spirits are lifted.
Arthur A. Francis is a Salem meteorologist.