Temperatures: Monthly average temperatures ranged from 9 to 11 degrees above normal. Many locations across our region experienced their warmest December on record, including Paducah, Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, and Carbondale. This was only the 2nd time that Paducah, KY observed a monthly departure more than 9 degrees above normal. The other occurrence was in March of 2012. High temperatures ended up around 12 to 13.5 degrees above normal, but the low temperatures only finished around 6 to 8.5 degrees above normal There were several periods of record high temperatures throughout the month. The first occurred Dec 2-3, with another between Dec 10-15, and the final most pronounced one occurred Dec 24-28. All 5 of our official climate stations recorded their warmest Christmas Day on record, with temperatures ranging between 72 and 77 degrees. Some of these records were shattered by as much as 7 degrees. Poplar Bluff was within 1 degree of their all-time warmest December temperature on December 2nd when they reached 78 degrees. Paducah experienced 8 days with temperatures reaching 70 degrees, breaking the previous December record of 5 days set in 2015. A record number of days reaching 70 degrees was also set in Poplar Bluff, Carbondale, and Cape Girardeau with 6, 5, and 5 days respectively.
Precipitation: Much of the region finished near or slightly wetter than normal for December. Some of the wettest locations were observed around Cape Girardeau, MO, and into the Carbondale and Vienna areas of southern Illinois. Cape Giradeau finished as their 10th wettest December on record. There was also a corridor of higher rainfall amounts focused across parts of northwest Kentucky including around the Madisonville area (6.54” at the Hopkins County mesonet 4 S of Madisonville). Some drier than normal pockets were intermixed, particularly across southern portions of the region along the KY/TN border and in the Poplar Bluff area.
Two severe weather events impacted the region during the month, one December 5-6 and another December 10-11. The latter event included a historic EF-4 tornado that left a path of destruction of 165 miles long and over 1 mile wide across western Kentucky.