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History, Buffalo – 71 degrees for Dec. 14

Someday, you’ll tell people where you were, how you dressed and what you did on Dec. 14, 2015.

In more than 140 years of recorded weather history, Monday’s 71-degree high temperature was the warmest that it has ever been in Buffalo this late in the year.

“It’s very rare to hit 70 degrees in December,” said Jon Hitchcock, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

The previous record for the date, 64 degrees set in 1901, was equaled at about 10 a.m.

By 12:30 p.m., it was shattered when the mercury touched 71 degrees at Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga.

It was only the third time that the thermometer here reached the 70-degree mark in December.

The other two?

• On Dec. 3, 1982, it reached an all-time December high of 74 degrees.

• On Dec. 4, 1941 – three days before the attack on Pearl Harbor – it was also 71 degrees.

A strong low-pressure system in the western Great Lakes opened the door to Monday’s warmth in the Buffalo Niagara region.

“That drew warm air from the Deep South into our area,” Hitchcock said.

Monday’s warmth, which was 35 degrees above average, also vaulted this month into the lead for the warmest December in history.

The average monthly temperature for the month’s first two weeks – 44.3 degrees – is nearly a full degree warmer than the start to December 2001’s 43.5 degrees. As a cautionary tale, that month ended as the snowiest in the city’s history, as more than 80 inches of snow fell between Christmas Eve and New Year’s.

With the late Monday passage of a cold front, it’ll be noticeably cooler – but still above normal – over the next few days.

Then, another cold front later in the week could bring a punch of winter, albeit a brief one, to the region with lake-effect snow Friday and Saturday.

“It’s looking pretty good for lake-effect snow,” Hitchcock said. “It could have a fairly significant effect looking at the pattern.”

The wind direction will play a large role in where the heavy snow piles up the most. Forecasters will be able to pinpoint that better by midweek.

Don’t expect the snow to stick around for Christmas. Another extended warm-up is due next week, according to projections by both the weather service and AccuWeather.

AccuWeather shows temperatures getting back to the 50s starting Dec. 23 with a high of 55 on Christmas Day and 58 on Dec. 26. The weather service projects exact temperatures only a week at a time, and extended forecasts show a 90 percent chance of above-average temperatures between next Tuesday and Dec. 28.

“The chances of a white Christmas are very close to zero for most areas,” Hitchcock said.

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com