JOPLIN/SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — It’s been a December to remember.

Joplin has set record highs five times this month.

  • On December 2, Joplin hit a high of 76 degrees, breaking the previous record high for the date of 74, set in 1970.
  • On December 3, Joplin hit 74 degrees, breaking the previous record for the date of 73, set in 2012.
  • On December 15, Joplin hit 76 degrees, breaking the previous record for the date of 74, set in 1984.
  • On December 24, Joplin hit 75 degrees, breaking the previous record for the date of 73, set in 1955.
  • On December 26, Joplin hit 75 degrees, breaking the previous record for the date of 71, set in 2008.

On two occasions, Joplin also set record warm low temperatures.

  • On December 15, the low temperature in Joplin was 53 degrees, breaking the previous record warm low of 47, set in 1957.
  • On December 24, the low in Joplin was 58 degrees, breaking the previous record warm low of 53, set in 1982.

Perhaps even more impressive, this month has seen Chanute twice set its all-time record high for December.

Before this year, Chanute had never recorded a temperature warmer than 77 in December, but it hit 78 on December 2. Then, on December 24, a new monthly all-time record was set, with a high of 80.

The National Weather Service in Springfield says a weather pattern called La Niña can help explain this warmth.

La Niña was in effect last year as well,” said Steve Runnels, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the NWS in Springfield. “Many people may remember that over the course of the winter, we were above normal, but then, come February, our temperatures really took a nosedive. In fact, sub-freezing temperatures all the way down into Texas occurred. So, it all goes to show you we could be above normal for much of the winter, but all it takes is one or two events to make it the most memorable winter ever.”

La Niña occurs when cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean push the jet stream northward, resulting in warmer and drier than normal conditions in the southern United States.

The current 8-14 day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (which runs from January 5-January 11) calls for below normal temperatures in the Four States, but the three month outlook (January, February and March of 2022) calls for an overall trend of above normal temperatures to continue.

Now, the Four States likely will see some wintry weather over the next couple months and Runnels urges residents of the Four States to be prepared. After all, it might be easy to get caught off guard after a winter that so far has just not felt like winter.

“If you are going to be out and about, put some blankets or warm clothing in your car should you happen to get stuck or slide off the road,” said Runnels. “At home, have plenty of things that you can use over the course of a week or so should an ice storm knock out power for an extended period of time.”