Missouri and Kansas record hottest December ever as winters continue to heat up

·3 min read
Jill Toyoshiba/jtoyoshiba@kcstar.com

Thinking it hasn’t been as cold this winter as it normally has been? Well, you’re right.

The winter season — which runs December, January and February — got off to its hottest start in Kansas and Missouri, with both states experiencing their warmest average December on record.

The temperatures shattered the previous records by a considerable amount, according to data by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In Missouri, the average temperature for last month was 44.6 degrees, which beat the previous record of 42.4 degrees set in 2015. The average temperature for the month between 1901 and 2000 was 33 degrees.

Kansas finished December with an average temperature of 41.1 degrees, the first time the state passed 40 degrees for the month. The previous record was 38.5 degrees, set in 1957. The average temperature for the month between 1901 and 2000 was 31.5 degrees.

Kansas City International Airport, which became the official weather station for the metro area when it opened, saw its warmest December in its 50-year history.

The average temperature last month was 43.1 degrees, which was well above the average of 31.1 degrees for the time period between 1972 and 2000. The previous record was 39.7 degrees set in 2015.

Only two other times in Kansas City’s history were there warmer Decembers. That was in 1889, which had an average temperature for the month of 46.8 degrees, and in 1965, which reported an average temperature of 43.9 degrees.

Like other cities across the United States, Kansas City is seeing its winter season warming faster than other seasons due to climate change.

Since 1970, the average winter temperature has warmed by 3.4 degrees and the number of winter days above normal has also increased by nine days, according to an analysis by Climate Central, an independent climate change research organization.

While a warmer winter season and more days above normal may sound appealing, they can an a negative impact, according to Climate Central.

Disease-carrying insects like mosquitoes and ticks can migrate to locations previous too cold, less snow and ice can impact winter sports and fruit trees require the cold to produce fruit the following spring and summer, according to the organization.

There has also been a shift when Kansas City typically sees its coldest day of the winter season, according to “Coldest Day of the Year” maps generated by the National Centers for Environmental Information.

The maps used the 1991-2020 U.S. Climate Normals to identify which day of the year, on average, has the lowest minimum temperature.

For Kansas City, that’s 19.1 degrees on Jan. 18, previously it was on 19.3 degrees on Jan. 16.

While that is typically when Kansas City sees its coldest day, that doesn’t mean the cold of winter is over. Just look to last February when Kansas City had the stretch of 15 days where the minimum temperatures fell below 20 degrees, including on Feb. 16 when they plunged to -13 degrees

So far this winter, however, the average temperature has been 36.9 degrees. The normal average temperature for the entire winter season in Kansas City is 31.9 degrees.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting