Welcome to the month of December, considered the start of “meteorological Winter,” even though on the calendar the Winter Solstice is at 4:44 AM CST on December 21st. Its hard to believe that we are already on the 12th month of the year, and before you know it, 2017 will be here.
On average for the city of Birmingham, December ranks as the second coolest month. Average daytime highs start off at 60 degrees at the beginning of the month, and drops down to 54 degrees by New Years Eve. Average lows start the month off at 39 degrees, and finishes the month off at 34 degrees.
As far as all-time record temperatures for the month of December for the city of Birmingham, the warmest December high occurred on December 7, 1951, when the mercury reached an amazing 80 degrees in the Magic City. The coolest low ever for Birmingham was at 1 degree, and that occurred twice (12/13/1962 & 12/23/1989).
December ranks comes in at number 2 as the month that has the least amount of sunshine. The month’s 46% possible sunshine average is only beaten by January, whose average possible sunshine is at 42%. It normally rains on 10.4 days in the month, with 1 inch or more on 1.4 of those days. Snowfall average for the month is 1/10th of an inch, but one of the most memorable snowfall events in Birmingham occurred on New Years Eve in 1963, when 8 inches blanketed the city… the most ever for December.
December ranks as the seventh wettest month with an average rainfall amount of 4.47 inches for the month. The wettest December ever recorded for Birmingham was back in 1961 when 13.98 inches of rain fell. The wettest single December day on record for the Magic City was December 27, 1942, when an amazing 7.7 inches of rain drenched the city.
As you know in Central Alabama, our primary severe weather season is in the Spring during the months of March, April, and May. Most people do not realize that we also have a secondary severe weather season in the Fall, which typically runs during the months of November and December. Sometimes we are fortunate to experience a quiet season where there is little to no severe activity, but we may also see our fair share of destructive tornadoes and other severe events. During the last 66 years (from 1950 to 2015), the state of Alabama had at least one documented tornado in the month of November or December in 46 of those years, which equates to 70%.
Just within the last 14 years (not including data from November 2016), 21% (175) of all documented tornadoes (822) occurred during November and December. In that same period, 6% (18) of the tornado-related fatalities (283), and 10% (262) of the tornado-related injuries (2730) occurred in November and December. If you remove the number of fatalities from just April 27, 2011, the percentage of deaths that occurred during November and December is around 40%.