<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> December 2004 Saint Cloud Weather Summary
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This Month's Daily Statistics

Top of Page
(December 2004 Summary)
Jan-Jul Aug-Dec Year NWS Stats
Coldest Summers Warmest Falls

Saint Cloud Weather Summary for December 2004 and Annual Weather Summary for 2004

Warm and Brown Through December

but for how long?

     For the seventh time in the past 8 years, December 2004 in Saint Cloud was abnormally mild. The average temperature of 19.6°F was 5.2°F above normal, but only ranks as the 40th mildest December out of the 124 Decembers in Saint Cloud records. This December was also not nearly as warm as recent Decembers, including last year. Six of the past 8 Decembers, 1997 (24.0°F; 13th), 1998 (21.0°F; 32nd), 1999 (22.2°F, 22nd), 2001 (23.9°F; 14th), 2002 (23.2°F; 15th), and 2003 (22.4°F, 21st), were all warmer than this December and were more than 7°F above normal. Still, none of the recent Decembers have been able to crack the 10 warmest Decembers on record, including December 1913, the warmest December on record, with an average temperature of 28.6°F. (10 Warmest/Coldest Decembers)

    In fact, the only December since 1996 that has been colder than normal was December 2000. (historic average temperatures of the past 12 years) With an average temperature of 3.8°F, December 2000 was the third coldest December on record. (10 Warmest/Coldest Decembers).

    December did continue the trend of mild weather since September. In fact, the average temperature of September through December was 41.5°F, tying 1912 for the 11th warmest Sept.-Dec. period in 124 years of Saint Cloud temperature records. Two recent years in our mild trend, Sept.-Dec. 2001 (42.4°F; 4th) and Sept.-Dec. 1998 (41.7°F; 10th), have been warmer than the last 4 months of this year. The mildest Sept.-Dec. was in 1931 when the last 4 months averaged 45.2°F.

   December 2004 would have ranked a lot higher if it weren't for 5 cold days around Christmas. During December 22 through 26, the average temperature was 2.9°F (high temperature was 7.4°F; low was -1.6°F), about 8.5°F colder than normal. This period included Saint Cloud's first sub-zero high since January 30 and the first -20°F low since February 15. So, while it's been warm, we will not duplicate the three-year absence of below zero highs which ended early this year. (historic highs <= 0°F) Without those 5 days, the average December temperature would have been 21.8°F (average high: 32.3°F; average low 11.2°F). This still would not have been a record warm December, but would have tied for the 24th warmest December.

     The most noticeable difference from a normal December has been the lack of snow. Only 2.0 inches of snow were recorded at the Saint Cloud Regional Airport with only 3.2 inches recorded at Saint Cloud State University. The normal December snowfall is 7.5 inches. More on the low snowfall total, its rank in Saint Cloud records and what the climate record tells us about the rest of the winter, can be found in the low Oct-Dec snowfall report. Minnesota is a state of contrasts as of late December. While the southern two-thirds of the state had nearly no snow on the ground, there was plenty of snow in the Arrowhead, including near record snow depth of 2-2 1/2 feet in parts of Lake and Cook Counties in the eastern Arrowhead. Also note that this map does not include up to 7-10 inches of new snow in the Red River Valley yesterday and last night. Still, there has been plenty of snow in the resort areas of northeastern Minnesota and the lee of Lake Superior in Wisconsin and northern Michigan.

   The melted precipitation, which included the little bit of snow, some rain, and two ice storms (one on the 20th and one on the 30th), totaled 0.46 inch at the Saint Cloud Regional Airport. This was still about half of the normal precipitation which is 0.83 inch.

Top of Page
(December 2004 Summary)
Jan-Jul Aug-Dec Year NWS Stats
Coldest Summers Warmest Falls

    December 2004 Statistics

Temperatures (°F)
December 2004
Normal
December Average High Temperature (°F)
28.3
23.2
December Average Low Temperature (°F)
10.9
5.5
Mean Temperature for December (°F)
19.6
14.4

December Extremes

Temperature(°F)
Date
Warmest High Temperature for December 2004 (°F)
45
December 30th
Coldest High Temperature for December 2004 (°F)
-2
December 23rd
Warmest Low Temperature for December 2004 (°F)
32
December 9th
Coldest Low Temperature for December 2004 (°F)
-20
December 24th
Record Temperatures in December 2004
Temperature(°F)
Date
Old Record
No record temperatures set.
Temperature Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
December 2004 Days with High Temperatures <= 32°F
16
23.5
December 2004 Days with High Temperatures <= 0°F
1
1.0
December 2004 Days with Low Temperatures <= 32°F
31
25.7
December 2004 Days with Low Temperatures <= 0°F
8
1.5
Precipitation (in)
December 2004
Normal
December 2004 Precipitation (in)
0.48
0.83
Precipitation Thresholds
Number of Days
Normal
December 2004 Days with Measurable (>= 0.01 inch) Precipitation
7
6.6
December 2004 Days with >= 0.10 inch Precipitation
2
2.0
December 2004 Days with >= 0.25 inch Precipitation
0
0.7
December 2004 Days with >= 0.50 inch Precipitation
0
0.1
December 2004 Days with >= 1.00 inch Precipitation
0
0.0
December Extremes
Precipitation (in)
Date
Most Daily Precipitation in December 2004
0.14
December 30th
Record Precipitation in December 2004
Precipitation (in)
Date
Old Record
No Precipitation Records Set
Snowfall (in)
December 2004
Normal
December 2004 Saint Cloud Airport Snowfall (in)
2.0
7.5
December 2004 SCSU Snowfall (in)
3.2
7.5
2004-2005 Seasonal Snowfall (1 Oct 2004 - 31 Dec 2004)
2.2*
16.3
December Extremes
Snowfall (in)
Date
Most Daily Snowfall in December 2004
0.5 (Airport)
1.3 (SCSU)
December 21st
Record Snowfall in December 2004
Snowfall (in)
Date
Old Record
No records set
*5th lowest October-December snowfall in Saint Cloud records
See report on low snowfall through December
Top of Page
(December 2004 Summary)
Jan-Jul Aug-Dec Year NWS Stats
Coldest Summers Warmest Falls

A Warm 2004 Whose Cold Spells Will be Remembered
2004 Annual Saint Cloud Weather Summary

    Temperatures: On the average, 2004 was a warmer than normal year. The average temperature of 43.0°F was more than a degree above normal and warmer than 2000 and 2003. However, the most notable temperature statistics were cold ones. The chilly summer, topped by the coldest August since 1886 (4.9°F below normal; 2nd coldest on record), had an average temperature that was 3.0°F below normal. The cold summer tied the summer of 1945 for the 4th coldest summer in Saint Cloud records and exceeded records for cold elsewhere in the state. In July and August, Saint Cloud temperatures broke or tied 12 daily cold records, including tying its coldest August temperature ever with a low of 33°F on August 21. Frost was recorded not too far to the north and west, some on multiple days during the chilly August outbreaks. On the other hand, there were only four days with a high of at least 90°F, only 3 days during the actual summer. This was the fewest number of 90°F highs since 1997.

    2004 will also be remembered for short, but intense periods of winter. While the overall winter of 2003-2004 was warmer than normal, the period of January 18 through February 17 featured temperatures that were 5.0°F colder than the average January. Included in this period were three days with a high of zero or colder, the first high temperatures that cold since December 24, 2000. (Highs of zero or colder) On January 29, Saint Cloud had its first high temperature at or below -10°F since December 25, 1996. (Highs of -10°F or colder). We had 6 days with a low of at least -20°F during our one-month winter of 2003-2004, the most low temperatures that cold since 1996-1997. When the temperature bottomed out at -31°F on January 30th, it was the first time the temperature dropped to -30°F or below since December 26, 1996. (Lows of -30°F or colder). For good measure, we had 5 intensely cold days in December, adding both a sub-zero high and a -20°F low, a remarkable feat without snow cover.

    However, seven of the 12 months in 2004 were warmer than normal. This included the entire fall, which averaged 5.0°F warmer than normal, tying Fall 1889 for the 8th warmest fall on record. This was the warmest fall since 1963. 2004 was the first year ever in which a top 10 warmest fall followed a top 10 coldest summer. Tack on December 2004 to the warm fall, as noted above, and we finished the 11th warmest Sept.-Dec. period on record. The mild fall was crucial to agricultural industry statewide. In places where an early frost didn't stop crop maturation, the warm September and October allowed many crops to recover from the chilly summer.

    Having milder than normal weather during the cooler parts of the year is consistent with other years in our streak of mild winters as well as recent global trends. While it does not provide explicit proof of human-induced global warming, having much of the warming occur in low temperatures and the cold season is consistent with computer forecasts of global warming.

   Precipitation: Saint Cloud had an above normal rainfall year which was important in relieving the intense dry spell from the second half of 2003. The total precipitation was 28.91 inches, 1.64 inches above normal. The rainiest month of the year was May. With 6.73 inches in Saint Cloud, May 2004 ranked as the 7th wettest May on record and the wettest May since 1965. Three of the 7 days with at least one inch of rain took place in May. That was the highest monthly total of one-inch rainfall days since July 1997. While the number of days with heavy rain wasn't extraordinary, the number of days with any precipitation wbroke into the top 10. There were 120 days with measurable precipitation, which tied 1981 for the 12th most number of precipitation days on record. There are, on average, about 97 days with measurable precipitation in Saint Cloud.

     The net effect of the rainy year was to ease drought conditions in much of state. The annual series of Drought Monitor maps from the National Drought Mitigation Center shows that started out with much of Minnesota plagued by at least moderate drought. Severe drought was in north central Minnesota and extreme drought was in southeastern Minnesota. However, a heavy late season snowstorm followed by March rains eased these conditions. In fact, south central and southeastern Minnesota (as well as parts of northwestern Minnesota) ended up having too much rain and dealing with flooding problems. Much of the rest of the state had its dry conditions eased with heavy rains in May and June. The last State Climatology Office weekly precipitation map for the growing season shows the areas of too much rain, with near record or record rainfall (light purple) in the northwest and the southeast. (report on wet warm season from the Minnesota State Climatology Office). Among the heavy rain events, October 28 produced the heaviest rain event in central Minnesota. This storm produced a swath of 2-inch plus rainfall across central Minnesota with the most in a line just to the south of Saint Cloud. It was the heaviest rain event of the year in Saint Cloud with 1.86 inches in 24 hours. However, 4-inch rainfalls, indicated by radar estimates, were hard to come by from ground reports. An even more serious rainfall was the flash flood in south central and southeastern Minnesota on September 14-15 where 6-10 inches of rain fell in some areas.

    Snowfall: In the calendar year of 2004, 32.1 inches fell. This was more than 14 inches below normal. Most of the snowfall deficit has been caused by the slow start to the snow season this year (See December summary).

    There are two myths about the lack of snow this year and recently.

  1. We haven't had much snow in recent years.
    This is false. In three of the past 4 cold seasons, Saint Cloud has had above normal snowfall. (Recent cold-season snowfall.) The difference between recent years and earlier years is that much of the snow has melted relatively quickly, so the period of persistent snow cover has been much shorter than normal.
  2. There isn't much snow in Minnesota.
    This is false for the northern third of the state. The snow depth map from the NOAA satellite center shows snow cover all across the northern anywhere from 3 to 10+ inches in much of northeast Minnesota into northern Wisconsin and Michigan. This has increased from yesterday's storm as areas as close to us as Brainerd have at least 10 inches of snow on the ground.

     

    Top of Page
    (December 2004 Summary)
    Jan-Jul Aug-Dec Year NWS Stats
    Coldest Summers Warmest Falls

2004 Statistics

  1. Temperatures (°F)
    2004
    Normal
    Average High Temperature (°F)
    53.3
    52.5
    Average Low Temperature (°F)
    32.7
    31.1
    Mean Temperature for 2004 (°F)
    43.0
    41.8
    Liquid Equivalent Precipitation (in)
    2004
    Normal
    2004 Total Precipitation (in)
    28.91
    27.27
    Snowfall (in)
    2004
    Normal
    2004 Total Snowfall
    32.1
    46.8
    2004 Month-by-Month Summary January-July
    Temperature (°F)
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul
    Average High Temperature 15.6 26.0 42.1 60.1 65.1 73.5 78.9
    Average Low Temperature -1.0 8.8 23.4 31.9 42.3 52.4 56.9
    Mean Temperature 7.3 17.4 32.8 46.0 53.7 63.0 67.9
    Departure from Normal -1.5 +1.4 +4.4 +2.4 -2.8 -2.1 -1.9
    2004 Warmest High Temperature 96°F on June 7th
    2004 Coldest High Temperature -11°F on January 29th**
    2004 Warmest Low Temperature 69°F on July 21st
    2004 Coldest Low Temperature -31°F on January 30th*

    *First Low <=-30°F since February 21, 2001
    **First High <= -10°F since December 25, 1996 (longest streak on record)

    Precipitation (in)
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul
    Liquid Precipitation 0.42  0.78 1.34 1.29 6.73* 3.63 3.43
    Departure from Normal -0.34 +0.19 -0.16 -0.84 +3.76 -0.88 +0.10
    Most in 24 hours 1.86 inches on October 28-29
    Snowfall (in)
    Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul
    Snowfall 11.9 9.3 8.9 T 0.0 0.0 0.0
    Departure from Normal +0.9 +2.5 -0.3 -2.8 - - -
    Most in 24 hours 5.6 on January 26th
    Top of Page
    (December 2004 Summary)
    Jan-Jul Aug-Dec Year NWS Stats
    Coldest Summers Warmest Falls
    2004 Month-by-Month Summary August-December
    Temperature (°F)
    Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec 2004
    Average High Temperature 73.8 75.5 57.1 44.0 28.3 53.3
    Average Low Temperature 50.8 52.7 38.2 25.2 10.9 32.7
    Mean Temperature 62.3 64.1 47.7 34.6 19.6 43.0
    Departure from Normal -4.9 +6.7 +2.4 +5.8 +5.2 +1.2
    Precipitation (in)
    Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec 2004
    Liquid Precipitation 1.64  5.13 3.43 0.54 0.46 28.91
    Departure from Normal -2.29 +2.20 +1.19 -1.00 -0.36 +1.64
    Snowfall (in)
    Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec 2004
    Snowfall 0.0 0.0 T 0.2 2.0 32.1
    Departure from Normal - - -0.8 -8.6 -5.5 -14.7
    Top of Page
    (December 2004 Summary)
    Jan-Jul Aug-Dec Year NWS Stats
    Coldest Summers Warmest Falls

 



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Last updated: 7-January-2004
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