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December Can Be Quite Stormy

Early Decembers have had their share of storminess!

Posted: Dec. 11, 2018 10:42 PM
Updated: Dec. 11, 2018 10:47 PM

November is known more for storminess, compared to December.  We tend to think of just snow & winter settling in during December, which November is often associated with wet & windy weather with big temperature swings. 

However, December can be quite stormy, even without snow.  It can turn downright spring-like with sudden temperature swings.  These are all examples of that in the December 1-15 period:

December 2, 1837

An early morning likely derecho brought a “violent gale” with damage to the area. “Scores of trees were uprooted” by the t’storms. Temperatures fell rapidly from unseasonable 60s & 70 ° to 30s. Scenario bears superficial resemblance (although observational data is scant) to the derecho of December 1998. The storm system brought unusually warm weather to not only our area, but as far north as northern New York, where 64° was recorded at Governeur, New York at 7 a.m. on December 3.

A pelting sleet storm on the night of December 1-2 was reported at Fort Snelling (at present-day Minneapolis, Minnesota). The sleet melted down to 1.15” liquid.

December 6, 1998

Between 12:30 & 2:15 a.m., a serial derecho with widespread straight-line winds of 60-70 mph with cores of 90-100 mph gusts blasted through the area. University Hall on the Purdue campus had major roof damage totaling $100,000. The wind blew over a 35-car freight train in Carroll County near Rockfield, while the third story of a Total Discount store in Logansport collapsed & fell into a restaurant. A grain bin was blown over near Walton & a barn was partially unroofed. At Peru, several buildings & homes were damaged in the city with the roof blown off a warehouse. A mobile home was destroyed near the city & another was overturned while trees fell on automobiles near Logansport. Widespread tree, powerline& barn/farm damage occurred area-wide. A wind gust of 82 mph was recorded at Grissom Air Reserve Base & 77 mph at West Lafayette. The only hail report was 0.75” at Wheatfield. Record warmth with highs of 68-74° preceded the storms & just prior to storm passage just after midnight, temperatures were still 65-70°.

December 7, 1927

From the 7th to the 8th, the temperature fell from 55° to 3° at West Lafayette as an Arctic cold front blasted through with howling winds of up to 52 mph. This occurred after 1-2” of rainfall on the 7th. At Rensselaer, the temperature fell from 53° to 3°, at Kokomo 55° to 5°, Crawfordsville went from 56° to 6°, Wheatfield crashed from 52° to 0° & Whitestown 54° to 4°. Southeast of Indianapolis as Rushville, the mercury went from an astonishing 65° to 6° in 24 hours.

The 1.53” of rainfall at Wheatfield to the 1.11” at Crawfordsville to 0.93” at Kokomo & 1.32” at West Lafayette caused ponding in fields that froze solid nearly instantly with passage of the front.

December 8, 1966

Rare December severe weather event produces F2 tornadoes in Jasper & Montgomery counties. 1 person was injured in Jasper County with additional straight-line wind damage in White& parts of Montgomery County. The wettest December day on record occurred at Logansport with this event when 3.20” rain fell.

December 10, 1971

QLCS squall line with damaging straight-line winds moved through central & southern Indiana. Straight-line wind damage with gusts to 65 mph occurred in Montgomery & Boone counties.

December 11, 1967

7 tornadoes are confirmed in Indiana along with damaging straight-line winds as strong low pressure moved north-northeastward from Memphis, Tennessee to northwest Michigan. One person was injured from an F1 in Putnam County & wind gusts to 65 mph occurred in southeast Montgomery & Boone counties. After such a wet, cool fall, only 60-70% of the soybean & corn crop in Indiana & Illinois was harvested. Tornadoes & damaging winds damaged & even flattened acres & acres of crops. Structural damage from the tornadoes alone amounted to $358,000 (1967 dollars). Many other tornadoes, wind & hail occurred in the southeastern United States with damage in the millions of dollars. Just 10 days later, another significant severe weather outbreak would occur in the same regions of Indiana with more heavy rainfall, which continued to delay the harvest.

December 12, 1875

The pressure gradient between a strong surface high pressure over Texas & a very strong surface low over northern Michigan of 980 mb (low-end Category 2 hurricane strength) brought howling northwest winds to the area with highs in the 30s. Gusts of 50 mph occurred in the viewing area as the “gale” blew through.

December 15, 1987

A very intense storm system moved through the viewing area during the morning, producing a damaging windstorm. The strong surface low racing from Memphis to Gary deepened to 980 mb near Kankakee, Illinois around 7 a.m. (Category 2 hurricane strength). Howling winds of 55-70 mph occurred 5-10 a.m. with wind damage across the viewing area.

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