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December 2021 in the top-10 warmest Decembers for Des Moines ever

Three of the top 10 warmest Decembers on record in Des Moines have occurred since 2000.

DES MOINES, Iowa — EDITOR'S NOTE: The above video originally aired on Dec. 24, 2021

The numbers are in, and it's official: December 2021 was the seventh warmest December on record in Des Moines.

Des Moines recorded an average temperature of 34.8° in December, which accounts for both afternoon highs and morning lows. 

Three days in December had high temperatures at 60° or above:

  • 74° on Dec. 15 (a new all-time record for Des Moines, which had previously never recorded a temperature of 70° or higher in December)
  • 62° on December 6
  • 60° on December 14 

The coldest day of the month occurred on Dec. 29, when the high temperature at Des Moines International Airport reached only 19°.

RELATED: Storm aftermath: National Weather Service confirms 43 total tornadoes in December derecho

NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) released new climatological averages in 2021.

Their data points to December as the fastest-warming month for Des Moines, as the month's average high temperature jumped nearly 2° within the last 30 years.

Data also suggests December is becoming drier with less snow: the average December snowfall in Des Moines has dropped nearly an inch in the last 30-year period. 

Three out of the top 10 warmest Decembers in Des Moines have occurred since 2000:

  1. 39.5° in 1889
  2. 36.2° in 2015
  3. 35.8° in 1931
  4. 35.8° in 1923
  5. 35.2° in 1965
  6. 34.9° in 1881
  7. 34.8° in 2021
  8. 34.7° in 2006
  9. 34.6° in 1891
  10. 34.3° in 1918

This data paints a picture of climate change's impact on average temperatures in Des Moines, especially in the month of December. 

RELATED: Guthrie County continues recovery from historic December storms

As temperatures continue to rise in December, it is possible more unusual, and often extreme, weather events will occur in this month, too.

Just take 2021 as an example: 43 tornadoes were recorded in a single day in December for Iowa, marking the most substantial tornado outbreak in state history.

Previously, only five total tornadoes had been recorded in Iowa in December.

Furthermore, the storms on Dec. 15, 2021 were classified as a derecho, the first derecho to occur in December in recorded United States history.

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WATCH: Historic derecho, tornadoes rip through Iowa (Dec. 15, 2021)

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