The Alabama Climate Report

Brought to you by the Office of the Alabama
Climatologist

Volume 10, Number 9 - December 2019

December closed out the year with a monthly temperature of 4.9°F above normal for Alabama.  While that seems like a large number, if we go back just 4 years to 2015, December of that year was a whopping 10.5°F above the average.  Over the last 125 years, December’s statewide temperatures have risen about 2°F.  Other months of the year, especially in summer, have experienced declines in temperature since 1895 so that on an annual basis, temperatures statewide have actually declined by a fraction of a degree since then. 

For the year as a whole, Alabama’s statewide average temperature was 2.3°F above normal, the 3rd warmest since 1895 behind 1921 and 1927.  The “average” value represents the average of the daytime high temperature and the nighttime low temperature.  Many climatologists focus only on the average of the daily high temperatures as these are less affected by the artificial warming influence of buildings and roads that have gone up around the stations over the last 125 years.  For maximum temperatures, 2019 was 10th warmest.

December was mild, but there were a few cold days and even a light snow event on the 10th in which a few stations in north Alabama received about an inch of snow.  Priceville recorded the most at 1.4 inches.  In fact, that event was pretty much the only snow that fell in all of 2019 statewide.

The coldest December temperature from our long-term stations was 18°F at Aliceville.  Oddly enough, November saw morning low extremes in most stations that were even colder than 18°F and colder than they experienced in December or even last January.  Indeed, the state’s coldest temperature for 2019 came in November with Addison’s 11°F. 

Regarding December daily high temperatures, three stations, Enterprise 4W, Evergreen and Geneva No.2 all reached 81°F for the state’s highest at the same time snow was falling in far north Alabama.  For the year as a whole, the preliminary numbers indicate Helena and Andalusia-Opp Airport took top honors with 105°F (5 July and 18 September).  So, 2019 was an odd year with one the highest temperature readings occurring in September and the lowest just 2 months later in November.

December was wetter than usual at most stations, averaging 6.36 inches, over an inch above the normal.  A rural station 10.5 miles south of Lester (NW of Athens) recorded the most with 12.17 inches. In all, 13 stations, mostly in north Alabama, received more than 10 inches of rain. For 2019 as a whole, the state received 56.04 inches – slightly more than the long-term average of 55.25 inches.  As noted in earlier reports, the state suffered through a severe heat wave and drought in September, but surpluses of rain (October was very wet), left the state with a typical annual total.  The title of wettest station in 2019 goes to Reform with 87.24 inches (that’s over 7 feet.)  Statewide there has been an upward trend in rainfall over the past 125 years of about 4 inches.

Well, that is the last report covering 2019.  We look forward to letting you know about Alabama’s climate in the coming year.

- John Christy
The Alabama State Climatologist