December 2022 Weather and Its Impacts on Missouri

Pat Guinan
Extension/State Climatologist
University of Missouri

The first half of December was seasonably mild with above average daily temperatures, but a mid-month pattern change translated to arctic air incursions and below average temperatures impacting Missouri for the latter half of the month, Figure 1. Preliminary data indicated an average statewide December temperature of 33.2°F, or 0.2° above the long-term average (1901-2000). There have been only two below average Decembers over the past 12 years (2013 & 2016), Figure 2. It was the eighth month in 2022 to average above normal, Figure 3. The biggest anomalies occurred in March (37th warmest), June (24th warmest) and July (20th warmest).

Preliminary data indicate the annual statewide temperature average was 55.0°F, or 0.5° above the long-term average. It was the eighth consecutive year with above average temperature, Figure 4, and twenty out of the past twenty-five years (80%) in Missouri have been warmer than average.

The mid-month pattern change was particularly notable with unusually cold temperatures, especially during the week of Christmas. The average statewide temperature for the 6-day period, Dec 22-27, 2022, was 13.7°F. The last time a similar period was colder occurred on Dec 22-27, 2000, or 22 years ago. Coldest statewide daily minimum temperatures for December 2022 are listed in Table 1.

Missouri, December 2022 Minimum Daily Temperature
Station Name* County Min Temp (°F) Date
Princeton Mercer -19 23
Conception Nodaway -16 23
Smithville Lake Clay -16 23
Potosi 4SW Washington -16 23
Buffalo 2N Dallas -15 23
Marshall Saline -14 23
*NWS Cooperative network
Table 1.

December was slightly drier than average with preliminary precipitation data indicating a statewide average total of 2.23 inches, or 0.08 inches below the long-term average (1901-2000). Six out of the past seven Decembers have been drier than average, Figure 5.

For the year, 7 months were wetter than average and 5 months below average, Figure 6. The biggest anomalies occurred in May (28th wettest), Jun (20th driest) and September (13th driest).

December precipitation was variable with heaviest amounts confined to southern sections. Much of southern Missouri reported more than 2-inches of precipitation with some rain gauges in far southern areas receiving 3-5 inches, and a few reports between 5-6 inches in extreme southeastern Missouri. Most of the northern 2/3 of Missouri reported 1-2 inches of precipitation for the month with a few small pockets in west central, northwestern and northeastern Missouri reporting less than 1-inch.

Total preliminary statewide average annual precipitation for 2022 was 40.31 inches or 0.19 inches below the long-term average. Only four years have been drier than average since 2008, Figure 7. Heaviest annual precipitation fell over southern Missouri, Figure 8. Some of the heaviest and lightest annual precipitation totals for 2022 are listed in Table 2.

Missouri, Heaviest and Lightest Precipitation Totals for 2022
Station Name* County Precipitation (in.)
Poplar Bluff Butler 56.64
Shell Knob 5.6ESE Stone 56.32
Doniphan 14.5NW Ripley 55.68
Summersville 3.6S Texas 54.87
Cassville 0.5SW Barry 54.64
Blackburn 3.7E Saline 25.54
Smithville Lake Clay 27.45
St. Joseph AP Buchanan 27.99
Gower 2.7S Clinton 29.08
Grant City 4.4WSW Worth 29.68
*Rain gauges from NWS Cooperative Network and CoCoRaHS
Table 2.

No major winter storms were reported in December; the biggest snow event impacted parts of south central and southwestern Missouri on Dec 22-23, with 2-3 inches of snow.

The extreme cold period around Christmastime translated to high energy consumption and reflected in consumer's home heating bills. Cold stress on outdoor workers, exposed livestock and pets was also experienced, especially with wind chills dropping to -30°F. Ranchers were challenged with feeding hay and routinely chopping ice-covered ponds for water. Dock damage due to freezing and thawing of ice on lakes was also reported. The period of cold weather, with little to no snow blanket, resulted in a deeper frost line than usual and numerous reports of frozen and broken pipes.

As of December 27, 2022, the U.S. Drought Monitor indicated much of the northern half of Missouri and some southeastern and southwestern sections experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought, Figure 9. A handful of counties in southeastern (Scott), southwestern (Vernon, Barton, Jasper) and northwestern (Atchison) Missouri reported severe drought.

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Columbia, MO December Daily Max/Min Temperature Normal vs 2022

Figure 1.

Missouri Average December Temperature 1895-2022*

Figure 2.

Missouri Monthly Temperature Departure from Average January - December 2022*

Figure 3.

Missouri Annual Average Temperature 1895-2022*

Figure 4.

Missouri Average December Precipitation 1895-2022*

Figure 5.

Missouri Monthly Precip. Departure from Average January - December 2022*

Figure 6.

Missouri Annual Average Precipitation 1895-2022*

Figure 7.

Accumulated Precipitation (in) January 01, 2022 to December 31, 2022

Figure 8.

U.S. Drought Monitor - Missouri - December 2022

Figure 9.

Average Temperature (°F) December 01, 2022 to December 31, 2022

Average Temperature (°F): Departure from 1991-2020 Normals December 01, 2022 to December 31, 2022

Accumulated Precipitation (in) December 01, 2022 to December 31, 2022

Accumulated Precipitation (in): Departure from 1991-2020 Normals December 01, 2022 to December 31, 2022

Source: Pat Guinan, 573-882-5908