Maps and Graphics:
|Temperatures across most of the country were warmer
than average for December 2003. The exception was the Southeast
where 6 states were significantly cooler than the long-term mean.
The contiguous nation ranked 21st warmest in 109 years of
The precipitation signal was more mixed across the lower 48 states
with wetter than average conditions extending across much of the
West (except the extreme Northwest) and the Northeast, while the
southern tier of the country was mostly drier than the long-term
mean. Averaged across the nation, precipitation was near average
ranking 52nd driest out of 109 years.
For additional details, see the Monthly
Highlights section. For details and graphics on weather
events across the U.S. and the globe go to NCDC's Global Hazards page.
Snow was heavy in parts of the West late in the month with
crippling blizzards hitting much of the western mountain states. A
heavy snowstorm brought parts of the Northeast to a standstill
earlier in December. Details of the 2002/2003 snow season can be
found on NCDC's monthly snow summary
Indices used to determine the
state of ENSO suggest that the Equatorial Pacific was in a
neutral ENSO phase and Sea
Surface Temperatures were near normal across the equatorial
Pacific during December. To see the
latest NOAA advisory and
typical impacts of a La Nina or El Nino episode for the U.S.,
go to NOAA's
Climate Prediction Center.
Monthly and Seasonal Highlights:
- December 2003 ranked as the
21st warmest December in the 1895 to present record. The
preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 35.9°F
(2.2°C), which was 2.4°F (1.3°C) above the long-term
- December 2003 was near average
for precipitation nationally, ranking 52nd driest.
For tables of national, regional, statewide and selected city data
from 1895-present, for December, last 3 months or other periods,
please go to the Climate At A
- October-December temperature was
above average and ranked as the 11th warmest such period in the
1895 to present record. The preliminary nationally averaged
temperature for October-December was 45.4°F (7.4°C) which
was 1.8°F (1.0°C) above the long-term mean.
- October-December 2003 was near
average for precipitation in 2003, ranking 54th driest in the last
- January-December 2003 ranked as the
20th warmest calendar year in the 1895 to present record. The
preliminary nationally averaged temperature was 53.7°F
(12.1°C) which was 0.9°F (0.5°C) above the long-term
- Precipitation was average to slightly above average for
January-December leading to a rank of
39th wettest for the last 12 months based on a record of 109 such
Regional and Statewide:
- December 2003 ranked much above average temperature for
Minnesota, with 24 other
states averaging significantly warmer than the mean. Six states in
the Southeast had siginificantly below average temperature in
- Alaska temperature will
be available on January 9th.
- December was much wetter
than average for 3 states, with only Texas averaging much drier
than the long-term mean.
- For the Hard Red Winter
Wheat Belt, preliminary data indicate that precipitation was
near average for December. The growing season for the Hard Red
Winter Wheat is October-February and precipitation has been below
average for the growing season so far.
- The 3 month period,
October-December, was much warmer than average for 4 states and
warmer than average for all regions except the Southeast. No state
averaged significantly cooler than the long term mean.
- October-December 2003 was
especially wet for states in the Northeast, with the Northeast
region ranking 7th wettest October-December on record. Maine and
Vermont also had thier 2nd wettest October-December on record.
- The last 12 months were record warm for New Mexico, with all western regions
ranking 2nd warmest year on record. States averaging cooler than the
long-term mean were confined to the Southeast and Northeast.
- The last 12 months were record wet for Dry conditons prevailed across the
Midwest with New Mexico having its 5th driest year on record.
See NCDC's Monthly
Extremes web-page for weather and climate records for the month
An in-depth annual review of U.S. climate in 2003 is
available at: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2003/ann
It should be emphasized that all of the temperature and
precipitation ranks and values
are based on preliminary data. The ranks will change when the final
data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages.
Graphics based on final data are available on this page: National Temperature and Precipitation Maps
Citing This Report
NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: National Climate Report for December 2003, published online January 2004, retrieved on October 24, 2020 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/200312.