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December 2009
North Country Monthly Climate Summary

TEMPERATURE SUMMARY...

DECEMBER WAS A MONTH OF EXTREMES WHEN IT CAME TO TEMPERATURES. IT STARTED OUT ON THE MILD SIDE, WITH MANY LOCATIONS REACHING INTO THE 50S ON THE SECOND AND THIRD, AND THE 40S ON THE FOURTH. COMBINED WITH OVERNIGHT LOWS ABOVE FREEZING, DAILY AVERAGE TEMPERATURES WERE SOME 15 TO 25 DEGREES ABOVE NORMAL. SEVERAL RECORD DAILY HIGH TEMPERATURES WERE SET ACROSS THE NORTH COUNTRY DURING THIS WARM SPELL. BURLINGTON REACHED 59 DEGREES ON THE 3RD, WHILE MONTPELIER PEAKED AT 58, AND SAINT JOHNSBURY TIED THE RECORD OF 54 DEGREES. TEMPERATURES THEN TURNED MUCH COOLER DURING THE MIDDLE OF THE MONTH. MANY LOCATIONS STRUGGLED TO REACH INTO THE TEENS DURING THE DAY, AND DROPPED BELOW ZERO DEGREES AT NIGHT. THE COLDEST PERIOD OF THE MONTH WAS THE NIGHT OF THE 17TH INTO THE EARLY MORNING OF THE 19TH. DURING THIS TIME, SARANAC LAKE PLUMMETED TO -25 DEGREES, SUTTON TO -20, ISLAND POND TO -18, AND SAINT JOHNSBURY TO -13. WARMER TEMPERATURES QUICKLY FOLLOWED ON THE HEELS OF THE COLD, AS HIGHS GOT BACK INTO THE UPPER 30S AND LOWER 40S TOWARD THE END OF THE MONTH. HOWEVER, THE MILD WEATHER WAS SHORT LIVED AND 2009 CAME TO A CLOSE WITH TEMPERATURES NEAR NORMAL.

TEMPERATURE STATISTICS ACROSS THE NORTH COUNTRY FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER...

  Burlington Montpelier Massena Saint Johnsbury
Avg. Temp 25.5 23.5 22.9 22.4
Departure +0.7 +1.0 +1.2 -0.2
Highest 59 ON 3RD 59 ON 3RD 51 ON 2ND 54 ON 3RD
Lowest -1 ON 19TH, 30TH -9 ON 19TH -12 ON 18TH -13 ON 18TH

BELOW ARE DAILY TEMPERATURE GRAPHS FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER FOR EACH BURLINGTON, MONTPELIER, MASSENA, AND SAINT JOHNSBURY.

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PRECIPITATION SUMMARY...

PRECIPITATION AMOUNTS WERE GENERALLY AT OR ABOVE NORMAL ACROSS THE NORTH COUNTRY DURING DECEMBER 2009. SOUTHWEST FLOW ALOFT ALLOWED SEVERAL STORM SYSTEMS TO AFFECT THE AREA WHILE TAPPING INTO MOISTURE FROM THE ATLANTIC OCEAN. WITH TEMPERATURES ABOVE NORMAL FOR MUCH OF THE MONTH, MOST OF THE PRECIPITATION ASSOCIATED WITH THESE SYSTEMS FELL AS RAIN. SEVERAL DAILY RAINFALL RECORDS WERE SET EARLY IN THE MONTH, ON THE 3RD. BURLINGTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT SAW 0.77 INCHES OF RAIN THAT DAY, WHILE MONTPELIER RECEIVED 1.5 INCHES, AND MASSENA 0.81 INCHES. ANOTHER POTENT STORM SPREAD RAIN ACROSS THE REGION ON THE 26TH AND 27TH. WHILE NO RECORDS WERE BROKEN, RAINFALL FOR THE EVENT WAS WELL ABOVE AN INCH IN SOME LOCATIONS. AGAIN, WARM TEMPERATURES MEANT THAT LITTLE TO NO SNOW WAS RECORDED DURING THE PERIOD. MONTHLY SNOWFALL WAS BELOW NORMAL ACROSS VERMONT AND NORTHERN NEW YORK. IN FACT, BURLINGTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT DID NOT RECEIVE ANY MEASUREABLE SNOWFALL UNTIL DECEMBER 7TH. THIS TIED THE RECORD FOR THE LATEST MEASUREABLE SNOWFALL EVER AT THE STATION. AS MENTIONED PREVIOUSLY, THIS WAS MOSTLY DUE TO THE RELATIVELY MILD TEMPERATURES THAT PERSISTED THROUGH MUCH OF THE MONTH. A COLD SNAP DURING THE MIDDLE OF THE MONTH DID BRING FREEZING WEATHER AND SNOW TO THE AREA. TOTAL MONTHLY SNOWFALL RANGED FROM AROUND A FOOT IN THE SOUTHERN SAINT LAWRENCE VALLEY OF NEW YORK TO 30 INCHES OR MORE IN THE NORTHERN GREEN MOUNTAINS OF VERMONT. THE MOST SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL OCCURRED ON THE 8TH THROUGH THE 10TH OF THE MONTH. TOTAL AMOUNTS DURING THIS PERIOD RANGED FROM JUST 1 INCH IN PORTIONS CENTRAL VERMONT TO AS MUCH AS 8 TO 10 INCHES IN THE NORTHERN GREEN MOUNTAINS AND THE NORTHERN ADRIONDACKS. SOME SELECTED AMOUNTS FROM AROUND THE REGION INCLUDE 7.0 INCHES AT WAITSFIELD, 8.0 INCHES IN GROTON, AND 10.0 INCHES IN WANAKENA.

PRECIPITATION STATISTICS ACROSS THE NORTH COUNTRY FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER...

  Burlington Montpelier Massena Saint Johnsbury
Monthly Total " 3.02 3.56 2.56 3.40
Departure +0.80 +0.95 -0.38 +0.40
Greatest 24hr 1.00 ON 26TH-27TH 1.52 ON 2ND-3RD 0.93 ON 2ND-3RD 1.05 ON 2ND-3RD
SNOW/SLEET
Monthly Total " 17.7 23.7
Greatest 24hr 3.9 ON 29TH 4.9 ON 9TH

BURLINGTON FORECAST AREA ACCUMULATED MONTHLY RAIN GAUGE PRECIPITATION (IN INCHES) FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER.

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BURLINGTON FORECAST AREA ACCUMULATED MONTHLY SNOWFALL (IN INCHES) FOR THE MONTH OF DECEMBER.

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MONTHLY WEATHER PATTERNS AND GLOBAL CLIMATE DRIVERS...

THE MAIN WEATHER FEATUR FOR DECEMBER WAS AN ANOMALOUSLY STRONG 500MB TROUGH LOCATED ACROSS THE CENTRAL CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES. WITH THE TROUGH TO THE WEST AT THE BEGINNING OF THE MONTH, THE NORTHEASTERN STATES WERE PLACED UNDER SOUTHWEST FLOW. THIS ALLOWED RELATIVELY MILD AND MOIST AIR TO STREAM INTO THE REGION, WHICH KEPT TEMPERATURES WELL ABOVE NORMAL ACROSS MUCH OF THE NORTH COUNTRY. A COUPLE OF STORM SYSTEMS AFFECTED THE AREA, BUT WITH THE WARMER TEMPERATURES, MOST OF THE PRECIPITATION FROM THESE FEATURES FELL AS RAIN. THE TROUGH GRADUALLY SHIFTED EASTWARD THEREAFTER, BRINGING ALONG WITH IT A VERY COLD DRY AIRMASS. THE CHANGE IN TEMPERATURE WAS DRASTIC, WITH TEMPERATURES PLUMMETING WELL BELOW ZERO BY THE MIDDLE OF THE MONTH. THE CHANGE IN AIRMASS RESULTED IN WIDESPREAD PRECIPITATION, AND THE COLDER AIR MEANT MOST OF IT FELL AS SNOW. FORTUNATELY, ANOTHER 500MB TROUGH ESTABLISHED ITSELF OVER THE UPPER MIDWEST, WHICH ONCE AGAIN PLACED VERMONT AND NORTHERN NEW YORK BACK INTO A MILDER FLOW REGIME. TEMPERATURES CLIMBED BACK ABOVE NORMAL, THOUGH NOT NEARLY AS MUCH AS THE PREVIOUS EVENT. HOWEVER, THIS TROUGH, TOO SHIFTED EAST, USHERING COLDER AIR BACK INTO THE NORTH COUNTRY.

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THE CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER IS FORECASTING TEMPERATURES TO BE ABOUT NORMAL FOR JANUARY 2010. PRECIPITATION AMOUNT SHOULD ALSO BE CLOSE TO NORMAL.

EL NINO CONTINUED TO STRENGTHEN DURING DECEMBER 2009, WITH SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES REACHING TO 1.8 DEGREES CELSIUS ABOVE NORMAL. THIS PLACES EL NINO AT MODERATE STRENGTH, AND IT IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE INTO THIS SPRING. EL NINO WILL CONTINUE TO EXERT A SIGNIFICANT INFLUENCE ON THE GLOBAL WEATHER AND CLIMATE IN THE COMING MONTHS. FOR THE UNITED STATES, THIS MEANS ABOVE AVERAGE PRECIPITATION FOR THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE COUNTRY, WHILE THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST AND THE OHIO AND TENNESSEE VALLEYS WILL BE DRIER THAN NORMAL. BELOW AVERAGE SNOWFALL AND WARMER THAN NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE MOST LIKELY ACROSS THE NORTHERN SECTIONS OF THE COUNTRY, EXCLUDING NEW ENGLAND, WHILE BELOW AVERAGE TEMPERATURES WILL REIGN IN THE SOUTH-CENTRAL AND SOUTHEASTERN U.S. IN NEW ENGLAND, TEMPERATURES AND PRECIPITATION WILL REMAIN CLOSE TO NORMAL.

CLIMATE PREDICTION CENTER JANUARY 2010 PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK...

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CLIMATE PREDICITION CENTER JANUARY 2010 TEMPERATURE OUTLOOK...

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Figure 1: Burlington Monthly Temperature Trend
Figure 2: Montpelier Monthly Temperature Trend
Figure 3: Massena Monthly Temperature Trend
Figure 4: Saint Johnsbury Temperature Trend
Figure 5: Monthly Precipitation Map
Figure 6: Monthly Snowfall Map
Figure 7: 500MB Geopotential Height Anomalies
Figure 8: Climate Prediction Center Precipitation Outlook
Figure 9: Climate Prediction Center Temperature Outlook