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December, so far, is Wichita’s seventh-coldest on record

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, at 7:18 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, at 6:50 a.m.


Wichita’s coldest Decembers

1. 1919 -19.8

2. 1972 - 21.2

3. 1909 - 22.5

4. 1917 - 24.6

5. 2005 - 25.7

6. 1985 - 26.5

7. 2013* - 27.3

8. 2009 - 27.5

9. 1898 - 28.4

10. 1942, 1937 - 28.5

*through Dec. 12

Source: National Weather Service

People around Wichita have been grumbling about how cold it has been – even for December.

Turns out they’re right.

Calculations by the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service indicate 2013 is among the 10 coldest Decembers in the city’s history, Sunday’s balmy weather notwithstanding.

With an average temperature of 27.3 degrees through the first 12 days, this year ranks as the seventh-coldest December since 1889, when records began being kept.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cold,” said Chance Hayes, warning coordination meteorologist with the local branch of the weather service. “It doesn’t signify that we’re going to be any cooler than usual this winter. We’ve just had a cooler start.”

The coldest start to December occurred in 1919, when the average temperature for the first 12 days was 19.8 degrees.

This year’s ranking in coldest Decembers was earned despite the fact that highs topped 60 on two of the first three days of the month. Temperatures dropped as low as 6 degrees twice, with a high of only 18 on Dec. 8.

The temperature didn’t climb out of the 20s for nearly a week.

Kansas had plenty of company in the deep freeze: Much of the nation shivered in well-below-normal temperatures, thanks to an arctic front that pushed all the way down into Texas and gave even the Deep South a chill.

These temperatures are not exactly new – 2005 and 2009 are also in the top eight over the same time period – but they do send a message: Bundle up.

“The weather’s a lot like a roller coaster,” Hayes said, with plunges into cold spells coupled with climbs into warmer periods.

Indeed, more seasonal temperatures in the 40s and 50s arrived this weekend and are forecast to continue at least through Thursday.

But computer models are suggesting another blast of arctic air could barge into the Great Plains later this month. That could give 2013 another boost toward the top of the “coldest Decembers” chart.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @StanFinger.

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