December 2015: Warmest ever in Western Massachusetts

El Nino a big factor in record breaking month

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The mild weather seems long gone now, but less than 10 days ago we were in the 60s!

New data just compiled by UMass Amherst climatologist Michael Rawlins found that it was the warmest December EVER in Amherst, since record keeping began in 1836. This record warmth comes after record COLD at the beginning of last year.

“Almost opposite months if you will. February record cold, almost a dozen degrees below normal and now December about a dozen degrees above normal. When you average that out for the year we had about an average temperature year,” said Rawlins from the UMass Climate Systems Research Center.

December warm temperature records fell in Worcester, Hartford and most cities with long term record keeping in New England.

Rawlins credits El Nino, a warming climate and the weather pattern over the Arctic for influencing last month’s record temperatures.

Due to the mild temperatures in December, most of the precipitation came down as rain and not snow. In fact, we’d need about a foot of snow right now to catch up to normal for this time of year.

“It was pretty strange that it was so cold this past winter and this winter was really warm, but I guess February could be very cold, who really knows, because it’s only December—err, January,” said Alicia Leclair, a student at UMass. Amherst.

Our record warmth in December doesn’t say much about what’s to come for the rest of winter, especially now that temperatures appear to have come back much closer to normal.

“This was an extremely weird 2015, but it didn’t stop us from preparing for the ultimate cold that we had last winter, so we bought a generator to keep our house, in case of a power outage, we bought a generator to stay warm,” said Alice White from Shutesbury.

The long term outlook brings the potential for prolonged winter weather by mid-January.

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