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The warmest December on record came to a close Thursday as Metro Detroiters rang in the New Year, according to the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.

As of Wednesday, the average temperature recorded at Metro Detroit Airport was 41.6 degrees, meteorologist Sara Schultz said.

The previous record was 40.6 degrees and that was in 1881, added Dan Thompson, also a meteorologist for the weather service.

The weather service started keeping records in 1874, he said.

December’s last day reached a high of 36 degrees, which was just slightly above normal, Schultz said. Temperatures Thursday were expected to hover in the low 30s.

Thursday’s high, Schultz said, is regarded as normal for this time of year. The norm is about 33 degrees.

The highest recorded temperature for Dec. 31 was 65 degrees in 1875.

Snowfall since Dec. 1 was also within the normal range for the month. The Detroit area got about six inches in November and a couple more along with Monday’s ice storm.

January is expected to start out cold, with temperatures Friday in the upper 20s and a few occasional flurries, Thompson said. The weekend should bring cloudy to partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 30s.

But January could turn out to be another warm month, Thompson said.

“We’re still expecting January as a whole to be warmer than normal,” he said. “That’s mainly due to the strong El Niño that’s in place, which typically results in warmer temperatures across Michigan.”

The warmest January on record hit an average of 36.7 degrees in both 1932 and 1880, according to Thompson.

hfournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

@HollyPFournier

Extended forecast

Thursday: Patchy snow showers and freezing drizzle before noon, a chance of snow showers between noon and 2 p.m., and scattered flurries after 2 p.m. Cloudy, with a high near 33. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.

Thursday night: Scattered flurries. Cloudy, with a low around 30.

New Year's Day: Flurries likely. Cloudy, with a high near 28.

Friday night: Cloudy, with a low around 26.

Saturday: Cloudy, with a high near 32.

Saturday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 27.

Sunday: Partly sunny, with a high near 33.

Sunday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 24.

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