Though the temperature took a nosedive the last two days of the month -- and year -- December weather can be remembered primarily for its mild temperatures and higher than normal rainfall, meteorologists said.
Winter has "gotten off to a warm and wet start," thanks to December, the first month of meteorological winter, said Tim Morrin, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton. But don't read too much into the future, he said, as "patterns can change quickly."
As of Tuesday, the average temperature for the month was 40 degrees -- 4.2 above the norm, according to a preliminary monthly report.
Even yesterday's forecast highs of just 32 to 33 degrees -- with wind chill making it feel more like around 19 to 21 -- wouldn't likely make much of a dent in that average, Morrin said.
Only seven days, as of Tuesday, registered below-average temperatures, he said. That's in a month that saw two days in the 60s -- Dec. 1's opening 66 degrees and Christmas Eve Day's record-breaking 60, both at Long Island MacArthur Airport, where the weather service has maintained data for 30 years.
Although there was no hint of a white Christmas, there was just about no hint of any other white day, with just a trace of snow -- 0.4 of an inch at the airport, compared with the monthly average of 5.4 inches.
Rain was another matter. As of Tuesday, the airport had seen 6.12 inches of precipitation, nearly all rain, which is 2.18 inches above the norm for the month.
And, looking ahead to the opening days of January, more rain is forecast, Morrin said, with a rise in temperatures and an event that could mean "a pretty good soaking rainfall overnight Saturday."
Longer term, the Climate Prediction Center is indicating for January equal chances for above, below and right at normal temperatures and precipitation amounts, with 32.6 degrees and 3.65 inches the respective norms.