State climatologist: Texas experienced hottest December on record, with climate change a contributing factor

AUSTIN (KXAN) – State climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon announced that Texas had its hottest December since at least 1889.

The official state record for the previous hottest December was December 1933 at 53.3 degrees and once the data is finalized December 2021 could go into the record books with an average temperature above 58 degrees Fahrenheit .

In many of the states’ largest cities, temperatures were between 5 and 9 degrees warmer than average.

The temperature deviates from normal. (Image: Southern Regional Climate Center)

In Austin (Camp Mabry), we experienced average temperatures over 11 degrees above the 30-year average and easily our hottest December on record.

Hottest December in Austin

Not only did Camp Mabry set the record for the hottest average temperature, but also the highest average temperature and the hottest average lowest.

At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, records have also fallen. December 2021 will go into the record books as having the hottest average temperature and also the hottest high average temperature.

Nielsen-Gammon compared the heat to moving the entire state south. “Amarillo got normal temperatures from Dallas, Dallas got normal temperatures from Corpus Christi, and Austin got normal temperatures from Brownsville,” he said.

While this was by far the hottest December since 1889 and therefore the hottest December during our full recording period, question marks remain as to whether December will become the hottest month winter month recorded.

The hottest winter month in February history was February 2017, when temperatures across the state averaged 58.4 degrees. We won’t know if December 2021 will beat this until all the data for the month is analyzed and possibly checked for quality control.

The meteorological winter runs from December 1 to the end of February.

The 20th century average temperature for December in Texas is 46.9 degrees and Nielsen-Gammon believes that once the data is finalized, the statewide average temperature for December 2021 will end near 12 degrees above. above the 20th century average.

Typically, temperatures are not compared to the century average, but rather to the 30-year average. With our climate warming, the 30-year average temperature for Texas is about two degrees warmer than the 20th century average.

Based on very limited data, December 1889 was also very hot for Texas, but since record keeping was done differently and data was scarce, it doesn’t really compare.

As for the reason behind such incredible heat across Texas in December, our winter model La Nina certainly played a big part.

“Global warming did not make December a record, but it did contribute to the victory margin,” Nielsen-Gammon said.

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