December 2019 Weather and Its Impacts on Missouri

Pat Guinan
State Climatologist
University of Missouri Extension

A mild weather pattern established itself across Missouri during December with above normal temperatures dominating throughout the month, Figure 1. Preliminary data indicate the average statewide December temperature for Missouri was 38.9F, or 5.6 above the long-term average. It was the 10th warmest December on record and warmest December since 2015, Figure 2. Warmest temperatures for the month occurred around Christmas time, Table 1.

Highest December 2019 Daily Temperature (℉)
Station Name* County
High Temp (℉) Date
Ozark Beach Taney 73 26
Washington Franklin 72 26
Shelbina Shelby 71 26
Freedom Osage 71 26
St. Charles 7SSW St. Charles71 26
Jefferson City Cole 71 26
Lakeside Miller 71 25
Ash Grove 4S Greene 71 26
Galena Stone 71 26
Columbia U of M Boone 70 25
*NWS Cooperative Network or Missouri Mesonet
Table 1.

It was an up and down year in regard to monthly temperature anomalies with 6 months above normal and 6 months below normal, Figure 3. Preliminary data indicate the annual statewide temperature average was 55.0F, or 0.4 above the long-term average. Seventeen out of the past twenty-one years have been warmer than average, Figure 4.

December was a drier than average month with preliminary precipitation data indicating a statewide average total of 1.69 inches, or 0.65 inches below the long-term average. It was the driest December since 2017, Figure 5, and the eighth wetter than average month for the year, Figure 6.

According to December radar estimates, heaviest precipitation totals occurred over portions of central and southeastern Missouri where 1.5-2.5 inches were common, Figure 7. A few locations reported more than 3-inches of precipitation. Locations reporting lightest and heaviest monthly totals are listed in Table 2.

The only notable snow event occurred from Dec 15-17, when most of northern and central Missouri reported 3-6 inches, Figure 8.

December 2019 Total Precipitation
  Station Name* County
Precipitation (in.)
LightestTarkio #2 Atchison 0.91
  Trenton Grundy 0.99
  Gallatin 1W Daviess 1.16
  Hopkins 3.9WSW Nodaway 1.18
  Monett 4SW Barry 1.28
HeaviestEdmundsen St. Louis 4.35
  Ava 0.8NNW Douglas 3.94
  Poplar Bluff Butler 3.10
  Hornersville Dunklin 2.90
  Sikeston 1.7ENE Scott 2.81
*Rain gauges are from the NWS Cooperative Network or CoCoRaHS Network
Table 2.

The preliminary annual statewide precipitation average for Missouri was 53.78 inches, making 2019 the 7th wettest year on record and wettest year since 2015, Figure 9. According to annual radar estimates for 2019, heaviest amounts, in excess of 70 inches, were reported in some southwestern and southeastern counties, Figure 10. Some of the heaviest annual precipitation reports are listed in Table 3. The heaviest official annual total on record for Missouri occurred in 1957 when Portageville reported 92.77 inches.

Annual Precipitation for 2019
Station Name* County
Precipitation (in.)
Anderson 6.8W McDonald 82.82
Seneca Newton 82.07
Anderson 3W McDonald 77.70
Neosho 3.9WNW Newton 77.23
Scott City 0.9E Scott 74.11
Portageville Pemiscot 74.06
Noel 3.8NNE McDonald 73.56
Washburn 5W Barry 72.80
Poplar Bluff Butler 72.75
*Rain gauges are from NWS, CoCoRaHS & Missouri Mesonet
Table 3.

The mild December weather translated to lower than usual energy consumption and less stressful conditions for outdoor workers, exposed livestock and pets. Despite below average precipitation the past couple months, soil moisture levels remain high and these damp conditions will stick around for the rest of winter considering cold season temperatures, short day length, dormant vegetation and minimal evaporation rates. Additionally, the wet conditions are widespread across much of the north central U.S. and portions of the central Plains and an elevated risk for flooding will likely persist across a large portion of the Missouri and Mississippi River Basins into spring.

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Columbia, MO December Daily Max/Min Temp Normal vs 2019

Figure 1.

Missouri Average December Temperature 1895-2019*

Figure 2.

Missouri Monthly Temperature Departure from Average* Jan - Dec 2019**

Figure 3.

Missouri Annual Avg Temp 1895-2019*

Figure 4.

Missouri Avg December Precipitation 1895 - 2019*

Figure 5.

Missouri Monthly Precip Departure from Avg Jan - Dec 2019**

Figure 6.

Radar Estimated Precip for December 2019

Figure 7.

Accumulated Snowfall Dec 15-17, 2019

Figure 8.

Missouri Annual Average Precipitation 1895 - 2019

Figure 9.

Radar Estimated Precip for December 2019

Figure 10.

Missouri Average Temperature December 2019

Missouri Average Temperature Departure December 2019

Missouri Accumulated Precipitation December 2019

Missouri Accumulated Precipitation Departure December 2019

Source: Pat Guinan, 573-882-5908