National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

December 2021: Warmest on Record!

  • Summary of December 2021 Temperatures at Lubbock

December 2021 was consistently warm for Lubbock and the Texas South Plains. While Lubbock came close to equaling or breaking about a dozen record warm highs and low, only two records were actually broken, and another was tied. The high temperature of 80 degrees on December 22nd broke the old record of 77 degrees, set in 2005. The high temperature of 81 degrees on Christmas Eve broke the old record of 80, set in 1955, and the low temperature of 52 degrees on New Year's Eve tied the record for the date, set in 1965. Childress broke several records as well, their warmest temperature was 86 degrees on Christmas Eve (which was one degree short of the daily record). The warmest December temperature recorded in our area was 90 degrees at Aspermont (West Texas Mesonet station) on Christmas Eve.

Here's another graph that shows the warmest and coldest months on record at Lubbock. Note that 9 of the 12 warmest records have been since 2011, while the coldest months on record are about 40 years (1983=39 years in 2022) or older. This follows global trends and seems certain to continue.


  • The warmest and coldest months at Lubbock


The exceptional warmth was not limited to West Texas. Statewide, December 2021 will shatter December 1933 as the warmest December on record, dating back to 1895.  For most locations, the previous warmest December was 1933.  A few locations (such as Abilene and San Angelo) saw 1970 as their warmest December.


Why was it so much warmer than normal?

"Normal" or average high temperatures across the Texas South Plains for December are generally in the 50s, while normal low temperatures and generally in the 20s and 30s. The "normal" is just an average of all the temperatures recorded at each station. The normal values can be calculated from the entire historical record for a station, or in 30-year periods (official NWS method, current period is from 1981-2010). 

Although every year is different, December is usually a month were we get several cold fronts that bring Polar or Arctic air into the region as it gets directed southward through western Canada and the High Plains east of the Rockies. As can be seen in the temperature graph at the top of this page, we did receive three distinct cold fronts in December. However, the air behind the front was not particularly strong and was quickly scoured out in the following day or two. We finally got a strong cold front that arrived on New Year's Day 2022.

The map below shows the average temperature calculated across the United States for the whole month of December 2021. It shows the relative warmth across the southern states.

  • Average December temperature at 850mb for the United States in December 2021


The next map below shows the average temperature calculated across the United States for the whole month of December 2021 as a departure from the long-term (1981-2010) average. It highlights where the warmth was exceptional, and in much of the case for Texas, record breaking.


  • Map of December 2021 average temperatures for the United States as a departure from normal