It's that time again! Time to reflect on the last month of weather in Champaign-Urbana, and take a look at where we're headed for the next few weeks.
Looking strictly at temperatures the month of December was wildly dynamic, producing temperatures as warm as 64° on December 4th, and as cold as -5° on the 31st. December finishes spot-on with our average monthly temperature of 29.0° - a departure of 0°. I'm guessing it didn't *feel* average to you. In fact, only 6 of the 31 days of the month had temperatures within 5° of the average for that date. Essentially, 25 of 31 days were well-above or well-below average, with 17 of 31 days being what I'd consider significantly above/below the average at +/- 10° from the daily average. I'm bordering on rambling here - but this is just so surprising to me. Over half of the month was spent either significantly warmer or colder than the average, and it balanced out perfectly in the end as "average".
December was extremely dry in Champaign-Urbana, finishing with a monthly total of 0.46" of precipitation. That's just a small fraction of our monthly average of 2.73". You'll recall the agonizing wait for measurable snowfall in Champaign-Urbana came to a festive close on Christmas Eve. While liquid precipitation totals finished well-below average, our monthly snowfall totals scrambled last minute into near-average form. December 2017 snowfall finishes at 5.8", just 0.8" below the expected average of 6.6".
You also may recall we began the month of December *very* warm in central Illinois, with high temperatures in the 50's and 60's the first four days. We moderated some, with average temperatures in the 20's and 30's over the next 10 days giving a more December-like feel, but we still lacked the snow! During this more typical temperature stretch, we were very dry with only trace amounts of precipitation reported. We ran into another warm stretch from December 16th to the 23rd, before the arctic air that we're now all too familiar with invaded. But still, it was dry. In fact, forget the wait for measurable snowfall - it was not until the 22nd day of the month that we were able to squeeze out our first 0.1" of precipitation here in Champaign-Urbana.
Snow-lovers rejoice, measurable snowfall did arrive in the Twin Cities just in time for the holidays with around 4" of snow falling December 23-25, and another approximately 2" falling around the New Year holiday.
What does January have in store? I do think we'll thaw out some, but likely only moderating back toward "average" levels. Given the very very cold start to the month, final numbers are likely to finish on the below-average side as they relate to temperatures. Expect more cold, perhaps even another round of bitter cold air, but I'd also expect us to see one or two relatively-warm stretches with air that will feel downright balmy after the last two weeks. Precipitation looks to be near average, or slightly above average for the month of January (which would be around 2.05" of liquid precipitation and 6.8" of snowfall).
Stay warm, my friends!