Entire Report - January 2013


National Overview

NCDC transitioned to the nClimDiv dataset on Thursday, March 13, 2014. This was coincident with the release of the February 2014 monthly monitoring report. For details on this transition, please visit our public FTP site and our U.S. Climate Divisional Database site.

Maps and Graphics

Temperature and Precipitation Ranks
U.S. Percentage Areas
More Information

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Note: GHCN-M Data Notice

An omission in processing a correction algorithm led to some small errors on the Global Historical Climatology Network-Monthly dataset (GHCN-M v3.2.0). This led to small errors in the reported land surface temperatures in the October, November, December and Annual U.S. and global climate reports. On February 14, 2013, NCDC fixed this error in its software, included an additional improvement (described below), and implemented both changes as GHCN-M version 3.2.1. With this update to GHCN-M, the Merged Land and Ocean Surface Temperature dataset also is subsequently revised as MLOST version 3.5.3.

The net result of this new version of GHCN-M reveals very small changes in temperature and ranks. The 2012 U.S. temperature is 0.01°F higher than reported in early January, but still remains approximately 1.0°F warmer than the next warmest year, and approximately 3.25°F warmer than the 20th century average. The U.S. annual time series from version 3.2.1 is almost identical to the series from version 3.2.0 and that the 1895-2012 annual temperature trend remains 0.13°F/decade. The trend for certain calendar months changed more than others (discussed below). For the globe, ranks of individual years changed in some instances by a few positions, but global land temperature trends changed no more than 0.01°C/century for any month since 1880.

NCDC uses two correction processes to remove inhomogeneities associated with factors unrelated to climate such as changes in observer practices, instrumentation, and changes in station location and environment that have occurred through time. The first correction for time of observation changes in the United States was inadvertently disabled during late 2012. That algorithm provides for a physically based correction for observing time changes based on station history information. NCDC also routinely runs a .pairwise correction. algorithm that addresses such issues, but in an indirect manner. It successfully corrected for many of the time of observation issues, which minimized the effect of this processing omission.

The version 3.2.1 release also includes the use of updated data to improve quality control and correction processes of other U.S. stations and neighboring stations in Canada and Mexico.

Compared to analyses released in January 2013, the trend for certain calendar months has changed more than others. This effect is related to the seasonal nature of the reintroduced time-of-observation correction. Trends in U.S. winter temperature are higher while trends in summer temperatures are lower. For the globe, ranks of individual years changed in some instances by a few positions, but global temperature trends changed no more than 0.01°C/century for any month since 1880.

More complete information about this issue is available at this supplemental page.

NCDC will not update the static reports from October through December 2012 and the 2012 U.S and Global annual reports, but will use the current dataset (GHCN-M v. 3.2.1 and MLOST v. 3.5.3) for the January 2013 report and other comparisons to previous months and years.

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National Overview:



January Extreme Weather/Climate Events

Supplemental January 2013 Information


  • Climate Highlights — January
  • The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during January was 32.0°F, 1.6°F above the 20th century average, tying with 1958 as the 39th warmest January on record.
  • January brought warmer-than-average conditions to the eastern half of the contiguous U.S., despite several cold air outbreaks. The largest warm temperature departures from average were in the Southeast, where Georgia and Florida both had their 11th warmest January with monthly temperatures 5.7°F and 5.6°F above average, respectively.
  • Below-average temperatures were anchored in the western United States. Nevada had its ninth coolest January on record, with a monthly temperature 5.9°F below average, and Utah had its eighth coolest January, with temperatures 7.5°F below average.
  • The January nationally-averaged precipitation total of 2.36 inches was 0.14 inch above the long-term average. The January precipitation average masked both wet and dry extremes across the nation. Drought conditions remained entrenched across the Southeast, Great Plains, and the mountainous West.
  • Wetter-than-average conditions stretched from the Southern Plains to the Mid-Atlantic, where Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Michigan, and Virginia each had January precipitation totals ranking among their ten wettest. The above-average precipitation generally missed the core drought areas of the central and southeastern United States.
  • Drier-than-average conditions were observed along the West Coast, the central Rockies, and parts of the Northern Plains, Southeast, and Northeast. California, Connecticut, and Florida each had one of their ten driest Januarys.
  • According to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the January snow cover extent for the contiguous U.S. was slightly above average at 1.4 million square miles. Mountain snowpack was near-average for much of the West, with the exceptions in parts of the Northwest where snowpack was much above average, and in the Central and Southern Rockies where snowpack was much below average.
  • Alaska was warmer and wetter than average. The statewide average temperature was 7.1°F above average and the precipitation total was 64 percent above average. Parts of the state had monthly temperatures more than 10°F above normal.
  • According to the January 29th U.S. Drought Monitor report, 57.7 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, smaller than the 61.1 percent at the beginning of the month. Drought conditions improved in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Mid-Mississippi River Valley.
  • Climate Highlights — Winter to Date (December 2012 — January 2013)
  • The first two months of the winter season, December and January, were warmer than average for the contiguous U.S. and ranked as the 18th warmest such 2-month period on record. December-January had an average temperature 2.5°F above average. Much of the warmth occurred across the eastern half of the nation. The West Coast and Southwest were slightly cooler than average during the 2-month period.
  • An active storm pattern in the eastern U.S. resulted in wetter-than-average conditions during the first two months of winter. Louisiana, Mississippi, Michigan, and Pennsylvania each had a top ten wet period. The nationally-averaged precipitation total for the two-month period was 5.10 inches, 0.65 inch above average.
  • Climate Highlights — Last 12 months (February 2012 — January 2013)
  • The 12-month period, ending in January, was the warmest such period for the contiguous U.S., with every state being warmer than average. Sixteen states, across the central U.S. and Northeast, were record warm, and 27 additional states were top ten warm. The February-January nationally-averaged temperature of 55.0°F was 2.9°F above average and the ninth warmest of any 12-month period on record for the nation.
  • The nationally-averaged precipitation total of 26.95 inches for the February-January period was 2.19 inches below average. Much of the central U.S. was drier than average. , Colorado, and Missouri had a top ten dry 12-month period, while Colorado and Nebraska were record dry. Wetter-than-average conditions occurred in the Pacific Northwest and central Gulf Coast where Washington and Louisiana had a top ten wet period.

Alaska Temperature and Precipitation:

  • Alaska had its 12th warmest January since records began in 1918, with a temperature 7.1°F (3.9°C) below the 1971–2000 average.
  • Alaska had its 47th warmest November-January since records began in 1918, with a temperature 0.5°F (0.3°C) below the 1971–2000 average.
  • Alaska had its 11th wettest January since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 64.0 percent above the 1971–2000 average.
  • Alaska had its 39th wettest November-January since records began in 1918, with an anomaly that was 7.5 percent above the 1971–2000 average.

For additional details about recent temperatures and precipitation across the U.S., see the Regional Highlights section below and visit the Climate Summary page". For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month, please visit NCDC's Records page. For details and graphics on weather events across the U.S. and the globe please visit NCDC's Global Hazards page.


Regional Highlights:

These regional summaries were provided by the six Regional Climate Centers and reflect conditions in their respective regions. These six regions differ spatially from the nine climatic regions of the National Climatic Data Center.

  • Northeast Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
  • The trend of warmer-than-average temperatures in 2012 continued right into 2013. The Northeast’s average temperature of 26.5 degrees F (-3.1 degrees C) was 2.9 degrees F (1.6 degrees C) above normal but 1.2 degrees F (0.7 degrees C) cooler than January 2012. It was the 27th warmest January in 119 years. All states were warmer than normal with seven of the twelve states reporting January 2013 as one of their top 30 warmest. Delaware was the warmest state at 38.8 degrees F (3.8 degrees C). It was 4.3 degrees F (2.4 degrees C) above average and the state’s 17th warmest January. Departures for the rest of the states ranged from +1.8 degrees F (1.0 degrees C) in New Hampshire to + 3.6 degrees F (2.0 degrees C) in Vermont.
  • January 2013 was drier than normal in the Northeast. The region’s monthly precipitation of 2.54 inches (64.52 mm), 82 percent of normal, was 0.53 inches (13.46 mm) below average. Nine states were drier than normal with departures ranging from 39 percent of normal in Connecticut to 88 percent of normal in New Jersey. Several states had Januarys that ranked in their top 25 driest: Connecticut, 9th driest; Maine and Rhode Island, 11th driest; Massachusetts, 13th driest; New Hampshire, 16th driest; and Vermont, 23rd driest. Two states received near-average precipitation with Pennsylvania coming in at 100 percent of normal and Maryland at 101 percent of normal. West Virginia was the wettest state at 135 percent of normal making it their 30th wettest January since 1895.
  • Arctic air settled into the Northeast from the 22nd through the 25th. Temperatures were 15 to 20 degrees F (8.3 to 11.1 degrees C) below average. The cold air moving over the relatively warm waters helped create major lake-effect snowfall east of Lakes Erie and Ontario. The greatest totals along Lake Erie were found in Chautauqua County, NY, where around 2 feet (61 cm) of snow fell. Along Lake Ontario the greatest snowfall amounts were in Oswego and Cayuga counties of New York where around 3 feet (91.4 cm) fell. A powerful low pressure system moved through the Northeast from the 30th to the 31st. In advance of the low, warm southerly air helped twenty climate sites set record high temperatures. As the system advanced, sustained winds as high as 49 mph (21.9 m/s) with gusts as high as 81 mph (36.2 m/s) brought down trees and power lines, ripped off parts of roofs, and blew out windows. Heavy rain (6.12 inches (155.45 mm) fell in Damascus, MD) caused flash flooding with numerous road closures and water rescues reported. As cold air moved in behind the system, lake-effect snow was yet again generated with reports of up to 21 inches (53.3 cm).
  • For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
  • January temperatures were above normal across the Midwest. Statewide temperature departures ranged from 3 degrees F (2 C) to 5 degrees F (3 C) above normal. Despite the above normal temperatures for the month, there were several pushes of cold Arctic air that reached the Midwest in January. The coldest air arrived on the 19th and persisted for several days. Temperatures dropped below -40 degrees F (-40 C) in Minnesota, below -20 degrees F (-29 C) in Wisconsin and Michigan, below -10 degrees F (-23 C) in Iowa, and below 0 degrees F (-18 C) in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio during the cold snap.
  • January precipitation was near normal in Iowa, Minnesota, and Ohio and well above normal in the other Midwest states. Precipitation ranged from about 140 percent of normal to about 200 percent of normal. Indiana and Illinois were the wettest states with twice their normal precipitation totals for the month. Much the precipitation fell in the last few days of the month with a large portion of the region receiving from 1 to 3 inches (25 to 76 mm). Snowfall for January was below normal for most of the Midwest. Upper Michigan, northeast Wisconsin, and northwest Minnesota were the only areas with above normal snowfall for the month.
  • Severe weather returned to the Midwest on the 12th and then again in the last few days of the month. On the 12th, there were a handful of severe thunderstorm reports along with an EF2 tornado near Livingston, Kentucky. The tornado damaged two churches. On the 29th and 30th, the southern half of the Midwest had widespread thunderstorm wind damage reported along with several tornadoes. The tornadoes were reported in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky and ratings ranged from EF0 to EF2. Two people were injured by an EF2 tornado that hit Galatia, Illinois and two others were injured by an EF0 tornado that struck near Bradfordsville, Kentucky.
  • Winter conditions caused hundreds of accidents across the Midwest. Five accidents each included dozens of vehicles and completely shut down the highways for hours. Two pileups happened on the 21st in southwest Ohio. The first involved 86 vehicles on Interstate 275 near Cincinnati, Ohio with one fatality and at least 20 others sent to hospitals for their injuries. The second involved about 50 vehicles on Interstate 70. On the 31st, a mile long accident on Interstate 75 near Detroit, Michigan killed three people and at least 20 were injured and transported to hospitals. Just west of Indianapolis on Interstate 70, dozens of vehicles were involved in a chain reaction wreck that killed one and injured at least ten. The third big accident on the 31st occurred outside Flint, Michigan on US Highway 23, involved 32 vehicles, and caused 12 injuries.
  • For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest, see the weekly summaries in the Midwest Climate Watch page.
  • Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Mean temperatures were above average across the Southeast in January. The greatest departures were found across South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, where monthly temperatures were 6 to 8 degrees F (3.3 to 4.4 degrees C) above average, while monthly temperatures were 3 to 5 degrees F (1.6 to 2.8 degrees C) above average across Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, and South Florida. Monthly temperatures were generally above average across Puerto Rico and near average across the U.S. Virgin Islands. The warmest weather occurred between the 12th and 17th of the month, with maximum temperatures exceeding 70 degrees F (21.1 degrees C) as far north as central Virginia and as high as 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C) along the North Carolina coast. Overnight temperatures were also warm during this period, as more than 500 daily high minimum temperature records were tied or broken, including a few monthly records. Huntsville, AL (period of record: 1907-2013) and Milledgeville, GA (1891-2013) recorded monthly record high minimum temperatures of 65 degrees F (18.3 degrees C) on the 12th and 17th, respectively. The following week, a surge of Arctic air overspread much of the Southeast. Maximum temperatures failed to reach 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) across much of Virginia and North Carolina from the 22nd to the 27th of the month, while overnight temperatures dipped below freezing as far south as the Florida Panhandle between the 23rd and 25th of the month. The end of January saw a return of above average temperatures across much of the Southeast. On the 30th, Jacksonville, FL recorded a monthly record high maximum temperature of 85 degrees F (29.4 degrees C), breaking the old record of 84 degrees F (28.9 degrees C) last set in 1982 (period of record: 1871-2013).
  • Precipitation in January was highly variable across the Southeast region. Monthly totals were above normal in a swath extending from central and northern Alabama through northern sections of Georgia and South Carolina, western North Carolina, and much of Virginia. The wettest locations were found across western sections of North Carolina and Virginia, where monthly totals exceeded 15 inches (381 mm). Highlands, NC, located in Macon County, recorded its third wettest January on record with 15.42 inches (391.17 mm) (period of record: 1905-2013), while Asheville, NC recorded its second wettest January on record with 8.58 inches (217.93 mm) (period of record: 1869-2013). Most of this precipitation fell between the 14th and 18th of the month. Daily rainfall totals during this period exceeded 5 inches (127 mm) along the eastern slopes of the Appalachian Mountains. Across the region, major flooding was reported in parts of western North Carolina and northern Georgia. Heavy rainfall was also observed at the end of the month in association with a slow-moving frontal boundary. Some locations in western North Carolina recorded between 5 and 6 inches (127 and 152.4 mm) of rainfall from the 30th to the 31st, resulting in flash flooding in places such as Boone, NC and Asheville, NC. In contrast, monthly precipitation was well below normal across eastern sections of South Carolina and Georgia, and most of Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with monthly totals less than 25 percent of normal. Augusta, GA (period of record 1871-2013) and Charleston, SC (period of record: 1938-2013) recorded their driest January on record with monthly totals of 0.60 and 0.35 inches (15.2 and 8.9 mm), respectively.
  • The Southeast was impacted by two winter storms in January. The first occurred on the 17th and 18th of the month. Between 1 and 2 inches (25.4 and 50.8 mm) of snow fell across central portions of Alabama, and up to 5 inches (127 mm) was reported across the northern tier of the state. Snowfall totals ranged from 1 to 6 inches (25.4 to 152.4 mm) across central portions of North Carolina and Virginia, while up to 15 inches (381 mm) were recorded along the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachians. Trace amounts of snow were also reported in the Upstate of South Carolina. The second event occurred on the 25th of the month and resulted in a mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain across central North Carolina and mostly snow across western North Carolina and much of Virginia. Snowfall totals ranged from less than an inch (25.4 mm) across central North Carolina to as much as 6 inches (152.4 mm) across eastern sections of Virginia. Ice accumulations were generally less than 0.2 inches (5.1 mm) across central North Carolina, with some reports of glaze across northern Georgia and South Carolina.
  • There were 269 reports of severe weather across the Southeast in January, including seven confirmed tornadoes that occurred as part of an outbreak on the 30th of the month. The strongest tornado was an EF-3 that tracked for approximately 22 miles (35 km) across Bartow and Gordon Counties in northwest Georgia, approximately 50 miles (82 km) northwest of Atlanta. According to surveys conducted by the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, as many as 268 homes were damaged by the tornado, 30 of which were completely destroyed. The greatest damage was observed in the town of Adairsville in Bartow County. In addition, several cars and trucks were blown over as the tornado tracked across I-75. There has been one confirmed fatality and 17 injuries from this tornado. A second tornado was confirmed in Gilmer and Fannin Counties in extreme northern Georgia. This tornado was rated an EF-1 and resulted in hundreds of snapped and uprooted trees and power lines. The remaining five tornadoes were confirmed across central and northern Alabama, including four EF-1s and one EF-0. There were no additional casualties confirmed from these tornadoes. The weather system that contributed to the tornadoes also produced widespread damaging winds across the northern tier of the region.
  • The heavy rainfall across the interior of the region helped eliminate drought conditions across northern parts of Alabama and Georgia, western North Carolina, and parts of central Virginia. Drought conditions also improved across parts of central North Carolina, eastern Alabama, and western Georgia. On the other hand, the lack of rainfall in January contributed to a re-emergence of abnormally dry (D0) conditions across central Florida and an intensification of drought across southeastern Georgia, the Florida Panhandle, and along the Savannah River watershed at the border of Georgia and South Carolina. On the 9th of the month, 92 counties in Georgia received designation as natural disaster areas due to losses and damages from the on-going drought. Across Florida, the warm, dry weather in January aided the growth of strawberries and helped farmers prepare for spring planting. However, several fruit trees did not receive adequate chill hours and the lack of rain continued to limit the growth of citrus trees and winter forage. There was also concern that the early blooming of some plants and trees will make them susceptible to a late winter or early spring freeze.
  • For more information, please go to the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • High Plains Region: (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)
  • The January 2013 nationwide picture showed that the eastern U.S. generally experienced above normal temperatures while the western U.S. had below normal temperatures. Average temperatures across the High Plains Region were generally near normal, except for western areas of Colorado and Wyoming. In fact, the western half of Colorado had some of the largest departures in the Region with average temperatures ranging from 6.0-13.0 degrees F (3.3-7.2 degrees C) below normal. This caused many stations to rank in the top 10 coolest Januarys on record. Grand Junction, Colorado had its 5th coolest January with an average temperature of 14.3 degrees F (-9.8 degrees C), which was 13.1 degrees F (7.3 degrees C) below normal (period of record 1893-2013). The coolest January occurred in 1973 with an average temperature of 11.5 degrees F (-11.4 degrees C). In addition, Alamosa, Colorado had its 4th coolest January on record with an average temperature of only 4.6 degrees F (-15.2 degrees C) which was 11.7 degrees F (6.5 degrees C) below normal. The 1992 record of 1.4 degrees F (-17.0 degrees C) held firmly (period of record 1906-2013). Storm systems pushing through the Region brought both cold air down from Canada and warm air up from the south. This led to a wide range of temperatures and to many new daily record highs and lows. For example, Topeka, Kansas set its all-time January record high with 77 degrees F (25.0 degrees C) on the 28th. The old record of 74 degrees F (23.3 degrees C) occurred on January 8, 2003 and January 2, 1939 (period of record 1887-2013).
  • Precipitation was hit or miss across the High Plains Region this month. Because winter precipitation is generally light, there was little to no change in the drought regardless of whether a location received ample precipitation or not. Overall precipitation varied widely as totals ranged from 0 to 400 percent of normal. Above normal precipitation was concentrated in north central Wyoming, southwestern Colorado, southwestern and central South Dakota, and central and southeastern Kansas. The precipitation totals were not record breaking; however a few locations managed to get into the top 5 wettest Januarys on record. Howard 5 NE, located in southeastern Kansas, had its 4th wettest January on record with 2.81 inches (71 mm) of liquid equivalent precipitation. The record set in 1949 held at 5.40 inches (137 mm) of liquid equivalent precipitation (period of record 1907-2013). Meanwhile, other areas of the Region received little to no precipitation. Rock Springs, Wyoming had its driest January on record with only a trace amount of precipitation. The old record of 0.02 inches (1 mm) was set in 2004 (period of record 1948-2013). Several systems affected the Region this month, bringing a wide range of temperatures and precipitation types including snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain (some of which fell from thunderstorms). One storm to hit the Region occurred on the 11th and 12th. This was the first significant storm to hit the Black Hills, although the storm impacted each state in the Region. The heaviest snow totals in southwest South Dakota ranged from 6.0-11.0 inches (15-28 cm), while the heaviest snows in North Dakota occurred in the eastern portion of the state with 5.0-8.0 inches (13-20 cm). According to the National Weather Service in Dodge City, Kansas, this system even created a dust storm out ahead of the cold front in eastern Colorado and western Kansas. This caused visibilities to drop near zero on I-70. Another storm at the end of the month brought record breaking warmth to parts of Kansas, dangerous wind chills of -25 to -50 degrees F (-31.7 to -45.6 degrees C) to the Dakotas, and wintry precipitation in between. For instance, in eastern Nebraska, snowfall totals ranged from 2.0-8.0 inches (5-20 cm) and caused issues as portions of I-80 were closed due to blowing snow and numerous schools closed. The first severe weather of the year was also associated with this storm as high winds were reported in southeastern Kansas. One area of concern this month was the snowpack in the Rockies, which was below average. Fortunately, the snow season is far from over for the Rockies and much more snow can accumulate later in the snow season. By the end of the month, Wyoming’s statewide snowpack was 76 percent of average and Colorado’s statewide snowpack was 75 percent of average. In contrast, last year’s statewide snowpack was 112 percent of normal in Wyoming. According to the Billings Gazette, the snowpack in some basins in Wyoming was low enough to negatively impact the skiing industry. Meanwhile, the snowpack in Colorado actually increased by 17 percent the last week of the month. According to The Denver Post, even with this increase, January’s snow pack was the 8th lowest out of 32 years.
  • As expected for this time of year, there was little change to the U.S. Drought Monitor over the past month. Approximately 92 percent of the Region was still in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought. This was down slightly from the end of last month when 93 percent of the Region was in D1-D4. The only improvement was in north-central North Dakota where much of the abnormally dry conditions (D0) were erased. Drought conditions worsened in Colorado where the snowpack was significantly behind. The last holdout of D1 in the north-central part of the state deteriorated to severe drought (D2). In addition, extreme drought (D3) expanded slightly in the west-central part of the state. Those changes have put the entire state of Colorado in D2-D4. Drought conditions in the remaining states in the Region did not change with Nebraska leading the way with 77 percent of the state in D4. According to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released January 17th, drought conditions were expected to improve in North Dakota, northern South Dakota, and northern Wyoming. Drought was expected to persist elsewhere through April 2013.
  • For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
  • January proved to be another consecutive warm month for the Southern Region. Temperatures throughout the region averaged between 0 to 6 degrees F (0 to 3.33 degrees C) above normal, with temperature anomalies increasing from west to east. The only exception to this was in the western panhandle of Texas and along the Texas western border, where temperatures averaged slightly below normal. The warmest anomalies were observed in Mississippi and southern Tennessee. All state temperature rankings were on the warm side of normal, but all fell within the middle two quartiles. The state-wide average temperatures were as follows: 41.70 degrees F (5.39 degrees C) in Arkansas, 52.20 degrees F (11.22 degrees C) in Louisiana, 48.50 degrees (9.17 degrees C) in Mississippi, 39.70 degrees F (4.28 degrees C) in Oklahoma, 41.00 degrees F (5.00 degrees C) in Tennessee, and 47.70 degrees F (8.72 degrees C) in Texas.
  • January was a very wet month for most of the Southern Region. A majority of stations throughout the region reported precipitation totals that were well above the monthly normal. There were some areas in the region that received less than normal precipitation. This includes much of central and western Oklahoma, southern Texas, and a small pocket in north central Texas. Elsewhere, most stations reported over 150 percent of normal precipitation. The highest anomalies were observed in in the western panhandle of Texas, where stations reported over three times the monthly normal. Because this is a fairly dry region, precipitation totals ranged only from 2 to 4 inches (50.80 to 101.60 mm). The highest precipitation totals for the country occurred in southern Louisiana and along the Louisiana-Mississippi border. Many stations in this area reported monthly totals of over 10 inches (254 mm), with some stations reporting over 20 inches (508 mm). The state of Louisiana averaged 11.20 inches (284.5 mm) of precipitation, which makes it the second wettest January there on record (1895-2013). Mississippi experienced their ninth wettest January on record, with a state wide precipitation total of 9.29 inches (236.00 mm). Conditions were also quite wet in Tennessee, where a state wide precipitation total of 8.81 inches (223.80 mm) was reported, or the eighth wettest January on record (1895-2013). For Arkansas, it was their eighteenth wettest January on record (1895-2013), with a state wide precipitation total of 6.15 inches (156.20 mm). The state of Texas averaged 2.64 inches (67.06 mm) of precipitation, while Oklahoma averaged 1.85 inches (46.99 mm) of precipitation. For Texas, it was the sixteenth wettest January on record (1895-2013), while for Oklahoma it was their thirty-eighth wettest.
  • Despite high precipitation totals, drought conditions did not change too much over the past month. This is due in part to the fact that much of the heavy rainfall occurred in areas that were not experiencing drought, such as in Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi for example. High precipitation totals in Arkansas did result in about a one category improvement, but much of the northwest portions of the state remain in moderate to extreme drought. In central Texas, above normal precipitation did result in some improvement, but a little over half the state is still experiencing severe drought conditions or worse.
  • A tornado in De Soto Parish, Louisiana resulted in two injuries on January 12. The twister was classified as an EF-1.
  • On January 29, dozens of tornadoes and wind events were reported over an area ranging from northern Louisiana to central Tennessee. In Tennessee, two people were injured by tornadoes. One injury occurred in Dickson County, while the other occurred in Robertson County. Damages from these twisters are yet to be fully assessed, however; there were numerous reports of structural damage to barns, buildings and homes.
  • Heavy rainfalls in southern Louisiana resulted in some significant flash flooding events. Flooding was observed in several Parishes in the southeastern part of the state, and Governor Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency on January 10. HLNTV reported that hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes.
  • In Texas, flooding from excessive rainfall earlier in the month presented problems in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and Snook. Intermittent snowfall caused a fair amount of vehicular damage as well, generally from accidents caused by snow, sleet, and freezing rain or potholes and roadway damage caused by freezing temperatures (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
  • For Texas, many AgriLife Extension agents expect that the January rainfall, while not ensuring a successful harvest, did prevent winter wheat from being lost entirely, with some believing it saved over a million dollars. Cotton farmers are less fortunate, with initial yield estimates dropping by 500,000 due to the persistently dry conditions across most of the state. While snow cover in the western parts of the state have farmers cautiously optimistic, the long-term conditions are so poor that it’s not believed that the melt water will be enough to replenish soil moisture. With soil moisture conditions so poor, ranchers are still having trouble keeping their herds fed, causing the Cargill Meatpacking Plant in Plainview to lay off 2000 workers. Longer-term ecological damage has also been seen in recent months, culminating in the Wildlife Department falling short $4.6 million last year (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
  • Despite high precipitation totals in Texas, many regions are still suffering from low water supply, notably west Texas. The Lower Colorado River Authority enacted emergency conservation plans in January, and various levels of government are attempting to tackle the problem. Potential solutions include implementation of a 100-year plan in Lubbock estimated to cost anywhere between $4.1 and $10 billion, and a $2 billion appropriation plan introduced in the state legislature (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
  • For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Regional Climate Center)
  • Unusually cold conditions dominated the West, especially in the interior, this month as strong inversions developed in the Great Basin and other low-lying areas. These inversions resulted from widespread snow cover established in December and intrusion of cold air masses followed by persistent ridges of high pressure at upper levels. These conditions prohibited vertical mixing and horizontal flow, resulting in poor air quality and record low temperatures in affected areas. Precipitation was below normal for much of the region, though with several pockets above average in the Southwest and Montana.
  • Precipitation in the conterminous West was generally confined to two events this month. The first occurred over the 4th-12th and brought 10.2 in (26 cm) of snow to Salt Lake City, Utah and 24-36 in (60-90 cm) of snow to the northern portion of Utah’s Wasatch Range between the 10th and 12th. Salt Lake City received a total 23.8 in (60 cm) snowfall for the month, 190% of normal and the city’s 13th snowiest January since records began in 1874. The second event began on the 24th in conjunction with a plume of subtropical moisture over the Southwest. On January 26th, a weather balloon sounding at Phoenix, Arizona showed the most moisture present in the atmosphere of any January day since balloon launches began there in 1950. Phoenix recorded its 7th wettest January day in a 118-year record on the 26th at 1.18 in (30 mm). Portions of southeastern California, southeastern Utah, Arizona, and southwest Colorado also received a majority of their January precipitation from this event. Outside that area, dry conditions prevailed. Of note in the southern Great Basin was only trace of snowfall on Mt. Charleston near Las Vegas, Nevada where normal January snowfall is 21.9 in (56 cm). This month ties January 2003 for the least January snowfall at Mt. Charleston. Snow water equivalent in the Sierra Nevada snowpack started the month near 140% of normal and ended the month close to 90% of normal for the date. Despite daily record snowfalls and above normal precipitation in the northern and southern reaches of Montana, statewide precipitation averaged approximately 0.2 in (5 mm) below normal this month. This breaks a trend of above normal precipitation since October that followed a very dry spring and summer.
  • Frigid air settled into the Great Basin and other interior valleys this month. Salt Lake City, Utah, at an average 19.4 F (-7 C), experienced its coldest month since 1949 and 6th coldest January since records began in 1874. Their normal January temperature is 29.5 F (-1.4 C). There are an average 9.4 days below freezing at Salt Lake City in January, but in this past month 22 days failed to reach the freezing mark. This total remains a few days behind January 1949 where 26 days had sub-freezing highs. Grand Junction, Colorado had not recorded more than 21 sub-0 F (< -17.8 C) lows in a winter until hitting its 22nd of the season at -3 F (-19.4 C) on January 22nd with almost two months of winter remaining. Grand Junction also saw its 4th longest stretch of sub-freezing highs at 22 days from December 19-January 9. Freezes affected California’s citrus January 10-14, prompting farmers to take measures to prevent crop damage. Los Angeles, California hit a minimum 34 F (1.1 C) on the 14th, the coldest temperature recorded there in over 20 years.
  • Further north, Alaska was warmer and wetter than normal for the month. Several daily snowfall and precipitation records as well as high temperature records were set throughout the state. Average temperatures in the Interior and Western regions were most notable with anomalies up to 10 F (5.5 C) above normal. Following its coldest January on record in 2012 at nearly 20 F (11.1 C) below normal, Kotzebue, Alaska recorded an average 8.7 F (-12.9 C), 11.5 F (6.4 C) above normal this month and the 8th warmest January in a 63-year record. During a brief but intense cold snap late in the month, Chicken reached -62 F (-52.2 C), Eagle dropped to -57 F (-49.4 F). Fairbanks saw -48 F (-44.4 C) on the 27th for the second time this winter (also Dec 17th), and measured -40 F (-40 C) 14 times during the month. This followed after 0.15” (3.8 mm) of extremely atypical liquid rain fell on the 14th, the most rain in January in 50 years.
  • January 24: Freezing Rain in Great Basin: A rare freezing rain was reported at several Great Basin locations including Salt Lake City, Utah, Elko, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho. A storm system pushed subtropical moisture aloft over the region. Falling rain was super-cooled as it moved through the cold air trapped in the valleys. The droplets froze upon contact with objects on the surface, interrupting travel throughout the region. In Salt Lake City, this was the 9th incidence of freezing rain since 1940.
  • For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.

See NCDC's Monthly Records web-page for weather and climate records for the most recent month. For additional national, regional, and statewide data and graphics from 1895-present, for any period, please visit the Climate at a Glance page.


PLEASE NOTE: All of the temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data. The ranks will change when the final data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages. Graphics based on final data are provided on the Temperature and Precipitation Maps page and the Climate at a Glance page as they become available.

Global Analysis

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Note: GHCN-M Data Notice

An omission in processing a correction algorithm led to some small errors on the Global Historical Climatology Network-Monthly dataset (GHCN-M v3.2.0). This led to small errors in the reported land surface temperatures in the October, November, December and Annual U.S. and global climate reports. On February 14, 2013, NCDC fixed this error in its software, included an additional improvement (described below), and implemented both changes as GHCN-M version 3.2.1. With this update to GHCN-M, the Merged Land and Ocean Surface Temperature dataset also is subsequently revised as MLOST version 3.5.3.

The net result of this new version of GHCN-M reveals very small changes in temperature and ranks. The 2012 U.S. temperature is 0.01°F higher than reported in early January, but still remains approximately 1.0°F warmer than the next warmest year, and approximately 3.25°F warmer than the 20th century average. The U.S. annual time series from version 3.2.1 is almost identical to the series from version 3.2.0 and that the 1895-2012 annual temperature trend remains 0.13°F/decade. The trend for certain calendar months changed more than others (discussed below). For the globe, ranks of individual years changed in some instances by a few positions, but global land temperature trends changed no more than 0.01°C/century for any month since 1880.

NCDC uses two correction processes to remove inhomogeneities associated with factors unrelated to climate such as changes in observer practices, instrumentation, and changes in station location and environment that have occurred through time. The first correction for time of observation changes in the United States was inadvertently disabled during late 2012. That algorithm provides for a physically based correction for observing time changes based on station history information. NCDC also routinely runs a .pairwise correction. algorithm that addresses such issues, but in an indirect manner. It successfully corrected for many of the time of observation issues, which minimized the effect of this processing omission.

The version 3.2.1 release also includes the use of updated data to improve quality control and correction processes of other U.S. stations and neighboring stations in Canada and Mexico.

Compared to analyses released in January 2013, the trend for certain calendar months has changed more than others. This effect is related to the seasonal nature of the reintroduced time-of-observation correction. Trends in U.S. winter temperature are higher while trends in summer temperatures are lower. For the globe, ranks of individual years changed in some instances by a few positions, but global temperature trends changed no more than 0.01°C/century for any month since 1880.

More complete information about this issue is available at this supplemental page.

NCDC will not update the static reports from October through December 2012 and the 2012 U.S and Global annual reports, but will use the current dataset (GHCN-M v. 3.2.1 and MLOST v. 3.5.3) for the January 2013 report and other comparisons to previous months and years.

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Contents of this Section:


Global Highlights

  • The average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January 2013 tied with 1995 as the ninth warmest January since records began in 1880, at 0.54°C (0.97°F) above the 20th century average of 12.0°C (53.6°F).

  • The globally-averaged land surface temperature for January 2013 was the 13th warmest January on record, at 0.90°C (1.62°F) above average. The average land surface temperature across the Southern Hemisphere was record warm for the month.

  • The globally-averaged ocean surface temperature was the eighth warmest January on record, at 0.41°C (0.74°F) above average.


==global-temps-errata==

Introduction

Temperature anomalies and percentiles are shown on the gridded maps below. The anomaly map on the left is a product of a merged land surface temperature (Global Historical Climatology Network, GHCN) and sea surface temperature (ERSST.v3b) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC's Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The January 2013 Global State of the Climate report introduces percentile maps that complement the information provided by the anomaly maps. These new maps on the right provide additional information by placing the temperature anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season or year compares with the past.

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Temperatures

In the atmosphere, 500-millibar height pressure anomalies correlate well with temperatures at the Earth's surface. The average position of the upper-level ridges of high pressure and troughs of low pressure—depicted by positive and negative 500-millibar height anomalies on the January 2013 height and anomaly mapJanuary 2013 map—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.

January

The average global temperature across land and ocean surfaces was 0.54°C (0.97°F) above the 20th century average, marking the ninth warmest January since records began in 1880. The average global land surface temperature was 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the long-term average, ranking as the 13th warmest January on record. Temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere ranged from cooler than average across regions that included much of the western United States, northern Canada, and parts of northern Russia to much warmer than average across southern Greenland, Iceland, Central America, northern South America, and parts of the Middle East. Overall, the Northern Hemisphere land was 0.82°C (1.48°F) above average and ranked as the 21st warmest on record for January. The Southern Hemisphere, on the other hand, was record warm over land for the second month in a row, at 1.10°C (1.98°F) above the 20th century average. Record high monthly temperatures were observed over northeastern Brazil, much of southern Africa, and northern and central Australia. No land areas in the Southern Hemisphere were cooler than average.

Select national information is highlighted below:
  • The January 2013 nationally-averaged monthly maximum temperature was the highest ever recorded for Australia, at 2.28°C (4.10°F) above the 1961–1990 average, besting the previous record set in 1932 by 0.11°C (0.20°F). Regionally, the Northern Territory also had a record high average maximum temperature for January, Queensland second highest, and New South Wales third highest. The country set a new national record for the hottest day on January 7th, with an average maximum temperature of 40.33°C (104.6°F), surpassing the previous record set on December 21st, 1972. The highest temperature for the month was observed on January 12th at Moomba, South Australia: 49.63°C (121.33°F)—Australia's highest observed temperature in the past 15 years. Every state and territory reported above average maximum and minimum temperatures for the month. Additional details on the extreme heat and related impacts can be found in the January 2013 Global Hazards report.

  • The January temperature across Norway as a whole was close to average; however, the north and south of the country experienced contrasting conditions. Southern Norway was up to 4°C (7°F) below average while parts of northern Norway were up to 6°C (11°F) above average. According to Meteorologisk institutt, a similar occurrence was last observed in January 1996.

  • Austria as a whole was 1.2°C (2.2°F) above the 1981–2010 average. Some localized areas were up to 3.3°C (5.9°F) higher than their long-term averages. And just to the east, it was warmer than average across nearly all of Hungary during January. The south and southeast of the country saw the highest monthly-averaged anomalies, with temperatures about 2.5°C (4.5°F) above the 1971–2000 average.

  • Spain was warmer than average during January. More than half the country observed temperatures that were 1°–2°C (1.8°–3.6°F) above the 1971–2000 average.

  • Iceland was also warmer than average. The capital city of Reykjavik was 3.3°C (5.9°F) above average, marking the warmest January since 1987 and the seventh warmest since local records began in 1870. Many other Icelandic cities also observed top 10 warmest Januaries with respect to their periods of record.

  • Varying cooler-than-average and warmer-than-average temperatures across the United Kingdom made the month of January 0.4°C (0.7°F) cooler than the 1981–2010 average overall. Scotland was slightly warmer than average while England and Wales were cooler than average.

  • The nationally-averaged temperature across China was 0.2°C (0.4°F) below average, although there were large anomalous differences across the country. According to China's National Climate Center, temperatures ranged from 2°-4°C (4°–7°F) below average in most of northeast China, eastern Inner Mongolia, central Xinjiang, and parts of western Tibet to 1°–2°C (2°–4°F) above average in parts of northern Xinjiang, middle and western Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, and parts of southern Shanxi.

The January 2013 globally-averaged ocean temperature anomaly of 0.41°C (0.74°F) was the eighth warmest on record for January. For the tenth straight month, ENSO-neutral conditions persisted in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, with sea surface temperatures slightly below average across the eastern half of the equatorial Pacific. According to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, neutral conditions are favored to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2013. In other regions, it was much warmer than average across parts of the southern Arctic seas, the eastern Indian Ocean, and much of the tropical Atlantic, Indian, and western Pacific Oceans. Associated with a persistent negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, temperatures were cooler than average across the northeastern Pacific Ocean. Images of sea surface temperature conditions are available for all weeks during 2013 from the weekly SST page.

January Anomaly Rank
(out of 134 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +0.90 ± 0.16 +1.62 ± 0.29 Warmest 13th 2007 +1.84 +3.31
Coolest 122nd 1893 -1.92 -3.46
Ocean +0.41 ± 0.04 +0.74 ± 0.07 Warmest 8th 1998 +0.56 +1.01
Coolest 127th 1904 -0.47 -0.85
Land and Ocean +0.54 ± 0.08 +0.97 ± 0.14 Warmest 9th 2007 +0.85 +1.53
Coolest 126th 1893 -0.72 -1.30
Ties: 1995
Northern Hemisphere
Land +0.82 ± 0.22 +1.48 ± 0.40 Warmest 21st 2007 +2.28 +4.10
Coolest 114th 1893 -2.50 -4.50
Ocean +0.43 ± 0.08 +0.77 ± 0.14 Warmest 6th 1998, 2010 +0.53 +0.95
Coolest 129th 1904 -0.50 -0.90
Ties: 2003
Land and Ocean +0.58 ± 0.12 +1.04 ± 0.22 Warmest 11th 2007 +1.19 +2.14
Coolest 124th 1893 -1.24 -2.23
Ties: 1998
Southern Hemisphere
Land +1.10 ± 0.15 +1.98 ± 0.27 Warmest 1st 2013 +1.10 +1.98
Coolest 134th 1904 -0.84 -1.51
Ocean +0.41 ± 0.04 +0.74 ± 0.07 Warmest 11th 1998 +0.59 +1.06
Coolest 124th 1911 -0.48 -0.86
Ties: 1973, 2009
Land and Ocean +0.51 ± 0.07 +0.92 ± 0.13 Warmest 8th 2010 +0.64 +1.15
Coolest 127th 1904, 1911 -0.49 -0.88
Ties: 2005

Images of sea surface temperature conditions are available for all weeks during 2013 from the weekly SST page.


Precipitation

The maps below represent precipitation percent of normal (left) and precipitation percentiles (right) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations using a base period of 1961–1990. As is typical, precipitation anomalies during January 2013 varied significantly around the world.

  • Precipitation was above average across Austria during January. Much of Lower Austria, Burgenland, and Vienna observed precipitation that was two to four times higher than their monthly long-term averages.

  • Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan received rare snowfall on January 10th. Up to 8 inches (20 cm) of snow fell in Jerusalem, marking the biggest snowstorm in this area since 1992.

  • It was drier than average across most areas of Fiji during January, with 19 of 26 stations reporting well below- or below-average precipitation for the month. Viwa Island recorded just 56 mm (2.20 inches) of rainfall, its fourth lowest amount on record for January. Only one station reported above-average rainfall.

  • In the southwestern Pacific Ocean, post-tropical cyclone Freda brought heavy rains to New Caledonia on January 2nd, while Tropical Cyclone Dumile impacted the Southern Indian Ocean islands of La Reunion and Mauritius on January 3rd.

  • Madagascar and Mozambique, particularly the south and central regions, received torrential rain on January 23rd as a powerful storm hit the region. South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana were also impacted by severe flooding from the storm.

Additional details on flooding and drought events around the world can also be found on the January 2013 Global Hazards page.

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References

Peterson, T.C. and R.S. Vose, 1997: An Overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network Database. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., 78, 2837-2849.

Quayle, R.G., T.C. Peterson, A.N. Basist, and C. S. Godfrey, 1999: An operational near-real-time global temperature index. Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 333-335.

Smith, T.M. and R.W. Reynolds, 2005: A global merged land air and sea surface temperature reconstruction based on historical observations (1880-1997), J. Clim., 18, 2021-2036.

Smith et al., 2008, Improvements to NOAA's Historical Merged Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880-2006), J. Climate., 21, 2283-2293.

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Global Hazards

Please note: Material provided in this report is chosen subjectively and included at the discretion of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). The ability to report on a given event is limited by the amount of information available to NCDC at the time of publication. Inclusion of a particular event does not constitute a greater importance in comparison with an event that has not been incorporated into the discussion. Data included in this report are preliminary unless otherwise stated. Links to supporting information are valid at the time of publication, but they are not maintained or changed after publication.


Updated 01 March 2013

January 2013Wildfires ravaged Tasmania and southern Australia.read more January 2013Frigid cold shattered records across Southasia and China.read more January 2013Australia experienced an extreme heatwave.read more January 2013Floods rendered fatalities in Malaysia and Indonesia.read more January 2013Torrential rains inundated parts of South America and Africa.read more January 2013Tropical Storm Sonamu battered the Philippines.read more January 2013Tropical cyclones whirled in the Indian Ocean.read more January 2013Polar blast brought rare snow to Middle East.read more January 2013Early ice impacted China's Bohai Sea commerce.read more

Drought and Wildfires

Intense heat and dry conditions in southeastern Australia produced devastating bushfires during January, particularly in Tasmania, an island off the coast of Victoria. On February 1st, the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) estimated the insured losses topped $88 million U.S. dollars in value (nearly 1,800 claims) in Tasmania due to bushfires occurring since late December 2012. At least 270,000 acres burned and more than 200 structures were either destroyed or damaged in the Tasmanian blazes.

Tasmanian Fires in Australia during January 2013
Tasmanian Fires in Australia
during January 2013
Source: NASA

Extreme heat and strong winds fueled bushfires in southern Tasmania, where temperatures in the capital city of Hobart soared to a record daily maximum of 41.8°C (107.2°F) on January 4th, which was its hottest maximum temperature on record for any month since 1883. (Records from 1908–1917 were unavailable.) The city's previous record maximum temperature of 40.8°C (105.4°F) was set in January 1976. Over 130 homes were lost as fires swept through communities east of Hobart in southeast Tasmania and on the Forestier and Tasman Peninsulas. In early January, the Forcett fire, which jumped the Arthur Highway, consumed nearly 50,000 acres in nine days and resulted in the fatality of a firefighter, according to media reports. Dunalley, Boomer Bay, and Murdunna were especially hard hit. In Dunalley, some individuals escaped the flames by plunging into the sea, while some were trapped within a vehicle as the flames passed across. Beyond the destruction caused by fire, the residents faced the hazardous issues of asbestos and contaminated water. Fires isolated about 3,000 people on the Tasman Peninsula. More than 1,000 people were safely transported by sea from the Tasman Peninsula to Hobart overnight on January 4th–5th in the initial rescue effort. Emergency shelters were established in Port Arthur and Nubeena, where the Salvation Army provided meals and assistance to the evacuees. A fire near Nubeena burned over 960 acres. Fallen trees and power lines blocked roadways with as many as 300 power poles down. The Australian state of Queensland provided the equivalent of $200,000 U.S. dollars to the country's Red Cross appeal for Tasmania, which collected close to $3.5 million U.S. dollars by the end of January. A dozen of elite New Zealander firefighters arrived on January 9th to provide assistance in battling the fires in Tasmania's steep and remote terrain.

Elsewhere on the Tasmanian mainland, numerous bushfires flared. Along the state's eastern coast, a wind-driven bushfire in the Bicheno region burned nearly 10,000 acres and at least 12 properties, where road closures prevented access to the Freycinet Peninsula. After erupting on on January 3rd near Lake Repulse, a bushfire destroyed several homes, livestock, and farming equipment while burning close to 29,000 acres in the Derwent Valley to the northwest of Hobart. Ignited by lightning on January 3rd, a bushfire in the Southwest National Park scorched nearly 110,000 acres of wilderness around the Giblin River. Damage to some of the Park's track infrastructure forced a temporary closure in the area. Smoke from the blaze reached Hobart. Notably, the bushfire emulated the desired effects of a prescribed burn by reducing forest species that have encroached upon the buttongrass moorland ecosystem. Buttongrass moorland plants (cord rushes, sedges, shrubs) recover quickly from fires and re-sprout.

New South Wales Fires in Australia during January 2013
New South Wales Fires in
Australia during January 2013
Source: NASA Earth Observatory

On the Australian continent, stifling heat and strong winds bolstered New South Wales (NSW) bushfires in early January. Sydney's temperature peaked at 42.5°C (108.5°F) on January 7th. Southward of Sydney, the Yarrabin bushfire charred over 29,600 acres near the Wadbilliga National Park, after flaring on January 6th. Due to its proximity to a former military test range, the Dean's Gap fire created a challenge for firefighting efforts. Dropping water from aircraft presented an unacceptable risk of detonating unexploded ordnance located on the site. Containment lines were formed through bulldozing and the placement of special gel to prevent the fire's spread onto the range. The fire burned around 15,000 acres in the Morton National Park. Devastating livestock losses occurred in the Cobbler Road fire, which scorched more than 42,000 acres near Yass. Nearly 10,000 sheep valued at about $1 million U.S. dollars perished in the state due to bushfires in 2013, while severe damage of pasturelands resulted in fodder shortages, according to media accounts.

In northwestern NSW, lightning likely sparked a fire in the Warrumbungle National Park on January 12th, which scorched around 100,000 acres to the west of Coonabarabran. The ferocious blaze destroyed more than 30 homes and 50 sheds as well as caused extensive losses of farm machinery and livestock. Over 100 residents were evacuated. The inferno damaged at least five structures at the Siding Spring Observatory, but the domed state-of the-art optical telescope remained intact. On-site sensors at the facility recorded temperatures in excess of 100°C (212°F). The Australian National University's precautionary measures of outfitting all buildings with ember filter screens and keeping undergrowth cleared were credited as factors to the survival of the astronomy facility. The ICA estimated insured losses due to the catastrophic fire as about $10.2 million U.S. dollars in value.

In Victoria, bushfires resulted in one fatality and the loss of at least eight homes during January. A fire sparking in the Alpine State Park on January 17th near Gippsland scorched at least 118,000 acres. Temperatures in Sydney reached 45.8°C (114.4°F) on January 18th. Earlier in the month, a blaze at Kentbruck consumed over 17,000 acres including a large area of blue gum and pines.

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Extreme Temperatures

North Asian land surface temperature anomalies during early January 2013
North Asian land surface temperature
anomalies during early January 2013
Source: NASA

Areas across the Eurasian continent — spanning from Greece to China — continued to experience extreme cold during January. A cold snap in early January lowered temperatures to 5.0°C (41.0°F) in Athens and -13.0°C (8.6°F) in the northern parts of Greece, where blankets and food were distributed as relief to the growing homeless population. In northern India, at least 23 fatalities resulted from exposure to the near-freezing cold, raising the winter death toll to at least 249 in the country. The coldest temperatures in four decades occurred in easternmost India and Bangladesh, according to media reports. India's Agartala observed a minimum temperature of 3.3°C (37.9°F) on January 10th, which was 6.3°C (11.3°F) below normal. Nearly 80 deaths occurred in northern Bangladesh where the town of Syedpur recorded 3.0°C (37.4°F), the lowest value since February 1968. Reports by the Red Crescent Society indicated numerous people were hospitalized with respiratory illnesses, pneumonia, and cough. In northern China, two people perished in Inner Mongolia where blizzard conditions affected nearly 770,000 residents. Northeastern China saw temperatures dip to -15.3°C (4.5°F) and a loss of nearly 180,000 cattle occurred. Meanwhile, freezing temperatures with rain and snow across China's southwest impacted over 425,000 people, where efforts to distribute food and clothing were made. Agricultural losses in the southwest region due to the extreme cold were estimated at a value of $11.8 million U.S. dollars.

Later in the month, northern India saw temperatures drop to -11.4°C (+11.4°F) in Pahalgam in the Kashmir state, with 2.0°C (35.6°F) reported in Lucknow in the Uttar Pradesh state. Northern China experienced its lowest temperatures in 42 years at -28.2°C (-18.7°F), while in the western province of Xinjiang temperatures hit -40.0°C (-40.0°F), according to media reports. China's national average temperature was the lowest in 28 years at -3.8°C (25.0°F). Ice and snow disrupted travel on roads and airlines, and led to power outages.

Heatwave across Australia during January 2013
Heatwave across Australia
during January 2013
Source: NASA Earth Observatory

From late December to mid-January, the Australian continent sizzled under a dome of extreme summer heat. The wide expanse and persistence of the heatwave underscored its unusualness, which followed the country's abnormally hot spring. January 2013 marked Australia's hottest of any month in its 103-year period of record for both mean and maximum temperatures. Notably, eight days of January 2013 exceeded a daily national area-averaged temperature of 39.0°C (102.2°F). The monthly mean temperature (average of maximum and minimum) for Australia was 29.7°C (85.4°F) for January 2013, surpassing the previous two record hottest months of 29.4°C (84.9°F) set in January 1932 and 29.3°C (84.7°F) set in February 1983, respectively. Although a previous lengthy heatwave occurred in late 1972–early 1973, that event spanned a lesser spatial extent. The nation's hottest day occurred on January 7th with a value of 40.3°C (104.5°F), surpassing the previous record of 40.2°C (104.3°F) set on December 21th, 1972. Australia marked a new record for its monthly maximum temperature with a value of 36.9°C (98.4°F) for January 2013, which topped the previous records of 36.8°C (98.2°F) set in January 1932 and 36.5°C (97.7°F) set in December 1972, respectively. During the extreme heat Australian health agencies enacted heat health warning systems. Heatwaves in Australia harm more people than any other natural disaster. Australia's Climate Commission found in 2011 that the heatwaves of recent years have resulted in not only in deaths across the country, but increased hospital admissions for kidney disease, acute renal failure and heart attacks. During January, researchers at Victoria's Monash University prepared location-specific information regarding populations that are vulnerable to heat-related illnesses (elderly, young children, chronically ill, urban areas, and ethnically diverse) to assist government and community service providers in managing emergency response.

The severe heat resulted in the death of numerous birds in Australia. In NSW, flying foxes, a threatened species of bat having a wingspan of more than 1 meter (39 inches), dropped from the skies due to dehydration. An estimated 3,000 bats perished, according to media reports. The mammals, whose feeding behavior facilitates pollination and seed dispersal of native plants, subsist on fruit and flowers.

The continuing heat poses a threat to Australia's wheat crop, especially in the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and New South Wales, as soil moisture became increasingly depleted. Dryness and heat impacted Australia's wheat production in 2012, which fell by almost a quarter from an all-time high of nearly 30 million metric tons in 2011, according to media reports. Australia is the world's second largest wheat exporter.

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Flooding


Southeast Asia Rainfall Totals from Dec 24, 2012 – Jan 6, 2013
Southeast Asian Rainfall Totals
from Dec 24, 2012 – Jan 6, 2013
Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Monsoonal rains inundated parts of northeastern Peninsular Malaysia in late December 2012 and early January 2013. As much as 300 millimeters (12 inches) of precipitation fell over a two-week period. Over 23,000 residents evacuated and hundreds of homes were lost across the three states of Terengganu, Pahang, and Kelantan. Bottled water and bags of rice were distributed as part of the emergency response efforts. At least seven fatalities resulted from flash flooding in the country where the heavy rains coincided with high tide, according to media reports. Fast-rising waters stranded large numbers of motorists and submerged hundreds of parked vehicles. About 1,000 of the evacuees sought refuge due to the release of water at an irrigation dam construction site, necessitated by mounting pressure on an unfinished wall.

Torrential rains across Indonesia resulted in up to 3 meters (10 feet) of standing water in the capital city of Jakarta. The city's West Canal dike collapsed on January 17th, flooding the central business district. Train services were cancelled when 40 meters (131 feet) of track were destroyed and repairs could not be made until the waters receded. At least 10 million residents were impacted by the monsoonal flooding, where as much as 40 percent of the city is below sea-level. At least 41 people died and over 100,000 people were left homeless as a result of the flooding.

During early January, South American countries experienced flooding. Torrential rains lashed central Peru, where up to 3.0 m (9.8 ft) of water flooded the streets. The homes of nearly 5,000 residents were lost or damaged in the Pasco region. The rain's intensity prevented relief efforts to deliver aid by helicopter, thus 25 tons of humanitarian aid (food, clothing, construction materials) were transported over land. The Pachitea River in the Huanuco region flooded at least 110 homes and submerged crop fields, while displacing 550 people. Mudslides blocked roadways around Cuzco. Fifty towns in the Ancash region were isolated due to mudslides. Meanwhile in eastern Brazil, intense rains produced flooding in the three states of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and Espirito Santo. At least 12 fatalities occurred, with two people left missing and nearly 12,000 residents evacuated from their homes. More than half of a month's worth of rain fell upon the single day of January 3rd, while temperatures exceeded 40°C (104°F). In Xerem, a northern district of the Rio de Janeiro state, precipitation in the amount of 21.2 cm (8.3 in) was observed, according to media reports.


Flooding of Limpopo River in Mozambique on 25 January 2013
Flooding of Limpopo River in
Mozambique on 25 January 2013
Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Two weeks of torrential rains over southeastern Africa resulted in severe flooding and loss of life. At least 68 fatalities occurred in Mozambique where the overflowing Limpopo River flooded the cities of Chokwe and Xai-Xai. Up to 250,000 residents were displaced and camping along roadsides. Many people awaited rescue from rooftops by military helicopters. Humanitarian relief efforts to supply food, water, medicine, and shelter began.

In adjacent Malawi, at least four persons died as heavy rains and strong winds battered the country since late December. Flash floods damaged homes and crops while causing losses of livestock and contaminated water in a country already enduring an acute food shortage. Poor harvests resulted from prolonged dry spells during the past three years. The Government of Malawi cooperated with the United Nations World Food Programme to provide maize from the country's strategic grain reserve in relief efforts to nearly 2 million residents. Ireland and Norway subsidized the cost of the maize.

Flooding extended to Zimbabwe, Botswana, and South Africa, where a release of about 15,000 crocodiles occurred from a reptile farm in South Africa.

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Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Storm Sonamu lashed the Philippines on 04 January 2013
Tropical Storm Sonamu lashed the
Philippines on 04 January 2013
Source: NASA

Tropical Storm Sonamu (a.k.a. Auring; Jan 1th–10th) formed as a depression to the southwest of Guam and moved across Mindanao in the southern Philippines before attaining distinction on January 3rd as the earliest tropical storm to form in the Northwest Pacific in the last 34 years, since Typhoon Alice in 1979. After crossing the Sulu Sea, Sonamu's landfall in Palawan on January 4th caused two fatalities, injured 12 persons, destroyed at least 57 homes, and forced the evacuation of over 1,160 residents in the western Philippines. The storm lingered over the South China Sea, turning southwest and dissipating off the Malaysian coast of Borneo.

Tropical Cyclone Narelle off western Australia on 11 January 2013
Tropical Cyclone Narelle off western
Australia on 11 January 2013
Source: NASA

Tropical Cyclone Narelle (Jan 5th–15th) originated in the Timor Sea in early January. Narelle produced flooding and landslides in Indonesia, which caused at least 14 fatalities, injured eight persons, and damaged over 900 homes. High winds and heavy rain associated with the storm impacted fishing and fuel industries in southern Indonesia. Ocean swells of up to 5.0 m (16.4 ft) prompted a sailing ban for the Java Sea and delayed coal transport, resulting in financial losses estimated at about $6 million U.S. dollars in value, according to media reports. Australia's iron ore ports along the Pilbara coast were temporarily closed and Barrow Island evacuated. The storm tracked to the southwest and skirted along the western coast of Australia, bringing tidal surges. On January 11th, Narelle reached the equivalent strength of Category 4 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The peak surge of 1.1 m (3.6 ft) occurred on January 13th at Onslow, where four days earlier a local thunderstorm triggered an immense haboob, which slammed the city with a wall of dust storm.

Tropical Cyclone Oswald inundated northeastern Australia on 22 January 2013
Tropical Cyclone Oswald inundated
northern Australia on 22 January 2013
Source: NASA

Tropical Cyclone Oswald (Jan 17th–22nd), which originated in the Australian Gulf of Carpentaria, made an initial landfall in the Northwest Territory near Borroloola on January 19th, then re-emerged to the Gulf, quickly gaining strength in warm, moist air. Heavy rain, wind, and a storm tide impacted the adjacent coastal areas. Oswald made landfall on January 22nd near Kowanyama along the coast of Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland. Post-tropical cyclone Oswald brought heavy rainfall across the Peninsula, coastal Queensland, and the coast of NSW as far south as Sydney, which resulted in significant flooding. Daily precipitation totals in excess of 400.0 mm (15.7 in) were reported in numerous locations from January 24th to 28th. Lengthy power outages ensued after as many as six tornadoes ripped through Bundaberg and nearby towns on January 26th and 27th, leaving at least 24 persons injured and 150 homes damaged. Extensive flooding of the Mackenzie-Fitzroy River system occurred near Rockhampton. The flooding caused six fatalities and the evacuation of 7,500 residents, while water inundated 2,000 homes and 200 businesses. Pollutants swept into the Fitzroy River during the flooding, which contributed to a depletion of oxygen in the water and led to the subsequent death of thousands of fish near South Yaamba, according to media reports. As of February 8th, the ICA estimated insured losses (53,711 claims) due to the storm damages topped the equivalent of $560 million U.S. dollars.

Tropical Cyclone Felleng neared Madagascar on 29 January 2013
Tropical Cyclone Felleng neared
Madagascar on 29 January 2013
Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Tropical Cyclone Felleng (Jan 26th–Feb 3rd) developed along the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) to the southwest of Diego Garcia from the remnants of Tropical Storm Emang. Felleng tracked to westward, then turned southwest, skirting along Madagascar's eastern coast. Felleng's outer bands induced heavy rainfall over the island nation. At least nine persons perished in the subsequent flooding, which damaged close to 150 homes and forced an interim evacuation of nearly 1,300 residents, according to media reports.

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Severe Winter Weather

A winter storm lashed the eastern Mediterranean coast with snow, high winds, and heavy rains in early January. A heavy snowfall across Turkey, which began on January 6th, resulted in widespread transportation disruptions for several days, according to media reports. Over 75 airline flights were canceled, while Anatolian schools and businesses were closed. Traffic in the Bosphorus Strait — a vital shipping route of oil and grain from Russia — was suspended due to poor visibility the morning of January 8th. Cold temperatures preceded the snow, and dipped to -22.0 C (-7.6F) in the eastern provinces of Agri and Ardahan overnight on Jan 4th-5th. At mid-month, roads were blocked throughout villages of the Bitlis and Van provinces where snow exceeded 2.0 meters (6.6 feet). In late January, the country experienced more snow and heavy rain accompanied by the Lodos (a strong south wind) along the Aegean coast. In western Turkey, the snow depth reached 2.2 m (7.1 ft) at the popular skiing destination of Uludag in the Bursa province on January 27th.

Bitter conditions spanned several Mideast countries over January 9th–10th. The influx of cold polar air lowered temperatures from 5 to 10°C (9– 18°F) below average across Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel. Strong winds in excess of 70 kph (43 mph) exacerbated the wind's chilling effect. At least eight fatalities ensued from weather-related causes in the region, according to media reports. Ten fishermen were missing after being capsized into the Mediterranean Sea off the Egyptian coast. Strong winds, rain, and poor visibility led to the closure of several ports while sea-faring traffic through the Suez Canal dropped to half of its usual rate. Central Jerusalem received a rare snowfall ranging from 10 to 15 cm (4–6 in) with 10 to 20 cm (4–8 in) in the city's eastside and across areas north of the city, while up to 30 cm (1 ft) fell to the city's south, marking the region's greatest snowfall since 1992. Flash floods amid thunderstorms and hail resulted in over 400 homes being damaged in the West Bank and at least 500 residents being injured. Lebanon experienced flooding and power outages as winds and heavy rain battered its coastal areas, while deep snow in the mountains blocked roadways. Syria received heavy rains, then snow where many people suffered without heat and adequate shelter in the brutal cold. Torrential rains in Jordan's northern desert caused flooding in the tent camps occupied by as many as 50,000 Syrian refugees, whereas around 30 cm (1 ft) of snow impacted many parts of the country — closing schools, stranding motorists, and delaying airline flights.

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Polar Events and Sea Ice

Sea Ice in China's Laizhou Bay on 31 December 2012
Sea Ice in China's Laizhou Bay
on 31 December 2012
Source: NASA

Sea ice began forming in the Laizhou Bay during early December, which was about 20 days sooner than normal. On January 4th, the ice trapped nearly 1,000 fishing boats along eastern China's Shandong province. The ice's thickness of up to 15 cm (6 in) forced Chinese aquafarmers to ventilate for sea cucumbers and other aquatic organisms as well as accelerated the local scallop harvesting. According to media accounts, local fisherman lost one-third of their scallops due to sea ice last winter. The area's scallop industry annual revenues typically exceed a value of $48 million U.S. dollars. The ice created hazard for vessels navigating in deeper waters of the nearby Bohai and Yellow Seas. In the Bohai Sea, the country's largest offshore oil and gas production base, the sea ice covered about 24,700 sq km (9,537 sq mi) on January 9th, marking 2.5 times its average ice extent in the area, based on 25 years of Chinese satellite record.

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National Snow & Ice

NCDC transitioned to the nClimDiv dataset on Thursday, March 13, 2014. This was coincident with the release of the February 2014 monthly monitoring report. For details on this transition, please visit our public FTP site and our U.S. Climate Divisional Database site.

During January, much of the eastern U.S. was warmer than average while the West was cooler than average. Precipitation was more of a mixed bag with wetter-than-average conditions stretching from the Southern Plains into the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic while much of the West, Southeast, and Northeast were drier than average. According to NOAA’s National Snow Analysis, at the beginning of January, 66.6 percent of the contiguous U.S. had snow on the ground — the high terrain of the West and Great Basin, the Northern and Central Plains, the mid-Mississippi and Ohio river Valleys, the Great Lakes and much of the Northeast. The nature of the large January 1st snow cover was somewhat deceiving as many locations across the Great Plains, Midwest, and Northeast that did have snow on the ground had below-average snow depth. By January 31st, 44.6 percent of the contiguous U.S. was snow covered — the high elevations of the West, the Northern Plains, Western Great Lakes, and northern New England.

Northern hemisphere snow cover anomalies
U.S. January Snow Cover Extent Anomalies
Source: Rutgers Global Snow Lab

According to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, above-average January snow cover was observed for much of the western United States, as well as parts of the Northern Plains and Midwest. Below-average snow cover was present for the Central and Southern Plains, the Southern Rockies, and the Ohio Valley. The above-average snow cover for the West was due more to below-average temperatures preventing melting of December snowfall than new snow during January. As a whole, the contiguous U.S. experienced slightly above-average January snow cover. The monthly average snow cover extent of 1.44 million square miles was 104,600 square miles above the 1981-2010 average.



Western Snowpack 1 February
1 February Mountain Snowpack
Source: USDA

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), snowpack across the western U.S. was mixed during January. As of February 1st, above-normal snowpack was observed across the Northwest with parts of the Cascades having snowpack totals more than 180 percent of normal. Snowpack was below average for the Central and Southern Rockies stretching from Wyoming to Arizona with some locations have less than 50 percent of normal snowpack. Most other locations in the West had near-normal snowpack totals. Across Alaska, below-average snowpack was present for large areas of the state including the southern coast and interior regions. Above-normal snowpack was observed along the Alaskan panhandle.



Summary of Notable Snow Events:
Satellite Image of January 22 Lake Effect Snow Band
Satellite Image of Lake Effect Snow Band
over Lake Ontario and New York
Source: National Weather Service

January was marked by large temperature swings, particularly east of the Rockies. These swings in temperature were associated with strong cold fronts traversing the country. Ahead of the cold fronts, warm temperatures surged northward while along and behind these fronts, snow and cold temperatures were observed. For most locations, these shots of cold air and snow were short lived with only minor snow accumulations observed. These storms were partially responsible for the large snow cover extent, while snow depths were several inches below average across the Great Plains, Midwest, and Northeast. The exception was the lake effect snowfall across parts of the Great Lakes region when the cold air outbreaks moved over the warm and mostly ice free Great Lakes. Some locations in New York received over 3 feet of snow during these lake effect events.

Synoptic Discussion

Note: This Synoptic Discussion describes recent weather events and climate anomalies in relation to the phenomena that cause the weather. These phenomena include the jet stream, fronts and low pressure systems that bring precipitation, high pressure systems that bring dry weather, and the mechanisms which control these features — such as El Niño, La Niña, and other oceanic and atmospheric drivers (PNA, NAO, AO, and others). The report may contain more technical language than other components of the State of the Climate series.


NCDC transitioned to the nClimDiv dataset on Thursday, March 13, 2014. This was coincident with the release of the February 2014 monthly monitoring report. For details on this transition, please visit our public FTP site and our U.S. Climate Divisional Database site.


Synoptic Discussion

Monthly upper-level circulation pattern and anomalies
Monthly upper-level circulation pattern and anomalies.

January is the heart of the winter season when the cold polar air masses of the circumpolar vortex have the greatest likelihood of expanding south across the United States. The polar jet stream (which marks the edge of the circumpolar vortex and the boundary between the cold polar air masses to the north and the warmer sub-tropical air masses to the south) was weather patternvery active during January 2013, meandering in large loops of troughs and ridges as it blew across the country, bringing warm and cold spells to different areas during the month (weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Winter storms moving in the jet stream flow tapped Gulf of Mexico moisture to drop above-normal precipitation over the Lower to Mid-Mississippi and Ohio valleys and southern Appalachians (weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), while winter storms in the western trough brought welcomed precipitation over parts of the West. But the weather systems largely avoided the heart of the Central Plains and Southeast drought areas. Snow cover extent expanded and contracted with each passing storm (from 67 percent of the country snowcovered on January 1st, to 40 percent on the 11th, 49 percent on the 16th, 34 percent on the 20th, and 45 percent on the 31st), but ended up near average when integrated across the country and across the month. A spring-like storm system near the end of the month generated a tornado outbreak in the South to Midwest that raised the total preliminary tornado count to 64 tornadoes, which is above the long-term average for January. This is usually a quiet time of year for wildfires, but even so, 2013 had the second lowest number of wildfires for January in the 14-year record.

Monthly precipitation anomalies
Monthly precipitation anomalies.

The movement of the weather systems can be seen in the weekly precipitation anomaly patterns (weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Beneficial rain and snow helped improve drought conditions over much of the country, with contraction of the drought area occurring in the Midwest, Southeast, South, West, and Hawaii. However, storm systems largely missed the High Plains, where the worst drought categories (D3-D4, extreme to exceptional drought) expanded from 60.3 percent of the region at the end of December to 61.3 percent by the end of this month. Five states (Michigan and Virginia to Louisiana) had the tenth wettest, or wetter, January in the 1895-2013 record, while three states (California, Florida, and Connecticut) ranked in the top ten driest category. Overall, the precipitation helped reduce the national moderate to exceptional drought footprint from 61.1 percent at the end of December to 57.7 percent at the end of January (based on U.S. Drought Monitor statistics). According to the Palmer Drought Index, which goes back to the beginning of the 20th century, 45.6 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate to extreme drought at the end of January, a decrease of about 6 percent compared to last month.

Monthly temperature anomalies
Monthly temperature anomalies.

The weekly temperature anomaly maps (weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) show the weather patternmigrating nature of the weather systems, with warm air ahead of the fronts and colder air behind them, as they cycled west to east. Averaged across the month, temperatures were below normal in the West and above normal in the East, with two states (Nevada and Utah) ranking in the top ten coldest category for January and two southeastern states (Florida and Georgia) ranking as eleventh warmest. On a local basis, two and a half times as many record warm highs and lows occurred than record cold highs and lows. Over 2350 daily high temperature records and 2900 record warm daily low temperatures were tied or broken. In comparison, about 700 record low temperatures and 1300 record cool daily high temperatures were tied or broken. (These numbers are preliminary and are expected to increase as more data arrive.) The warmth in the highly-populated eastern U.S. contributed to a national Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI) for January 2013 that was below normal.

When averaged together, the mixture of temperature and precipitation extremes gave the U.S. the 39th warmest and 38th wettest January in the 119-year record. Averaging extremes tends to cancel them out. But when extremes are combined cumulatively, like in the U.S. Climate Extremes Index (USCEI), they may tell a different story. For January 2013, the nation had a large spatial extent of drought conditions (sixth largest PDSI component for January), but mediocre extent of heavy daily precipitation (33rd largest extremes in 1-day precipitation component), and extreme minimum (35th largest cold minimum component and 54th largest warm minimum component) and extreme maximum (43rd smallest warm maximum component and 47th largest cold maximum component) temperatures, compared to the 104-year history. This combined to give the U.S. a January USCEI that was only 62nd largest (43th smallest). But the mediocre performance of January was not enough to counter the preponderance of unusual warmth and dryness for much of 2012, with the national USCEI for the last twelve months (February 2012-January 2013) still ranking as the largest on record for February-January.

Subtropical highs, and cold fronts and low pressure systems moving in the storm track flow, are influenced by the broadscale atmospheric circulation. The following describes several such large-scale atmospheric circulation drivers and their potential influence this month:

Map of three-month temperature anomalies
Map of three-month temperature anomalies.
Map of three-month precipitation anomalies
Map of three-month precipitation anomalies.

Upper-level circulation pattern and anomalies averaged for the last three months
Upper-level circulation pattern and anomalies averaged for the last three months.

Examination of these circulation indices and their teleconnection patterns, and comparison to observed January 2013 and November 2012-January 2013 temperature, precipitation, and circulation patterns, suggests that no single atmospheric driver dominated the weather during January, but the weather was influenced in part by several of the drivers. ENSO was neutral and, thus, not a player. The PNA, AO, and NAO oscillated near or around neutral, and the EP-NP was near neutral, thus making their signals weak. Nevertheless, there is some agreement between the January upper-level circulation anomalies and the teleconnections for the AO and NAO, but the TNH circulation teleconnections were the closest match. Precipitation relationships are more susceptible to variability than temperature or circulation, but there is some match with the PNA and TNH. The temperature anomaly pattern matched the NAO in the east and TNH in the west. To summarize: it seems the TNH dominated the overall circulation for the month, but it may have shared influence with NAO for temperature and with PNA for precipitation, and possibly with the MJO for both. This month illustrates how competing atmospheric drivers can result in a complex weather pattern and how, when the atmospheric circulation drivers are neutral or in a state of transition, their influence can become difficult to trace and can be overwhelmed by other competing forces, including random fluctuations in the atmosphere.

Tornadoes

NCDC transitioned to the nClimDiv dataset on Thursday, March 13, 2014. This was coincident with the release of the February 2014 monthly monitoring report. For details on this transition, please visit our public FTP site and our U.S. Climate Divisional Database site.


According to data from the Storm Prediction Center, during January, there were 64 preliminary tornado reports. This is above the 1991-2010 average of 35 for the month. Most of the tornadoes during the month occurred during a severe weather outbreak on the 29th and 30th. There was one reported tornado-related fatality during the month on January 30th, ending a record-long stretch of 219 days without a tornado-related fatality in the United States. Prior to this date, the previous tornado-related death occurred on June 24th in Florida when Tropical Storm Debby impacted the state. According to analysis by the Storm Prediction Center, the previous record long consecutive day stretch with no tornado fatalities in the 1950-present official record was 197 days between August 15th, 1986 and February 28th, 1987. Longer periods without tornado fatalities have occurred prior to 1950, but inconsistent observing practices make comparisons to current data difficult.

On January 29th and 30th, a potent cold front moved through the southern U.S., spawning severe weather from Texas to New Jersey. Ahead of the cold front, record-breaking warmth surged northward, with temperatures reaching 30°F above average. Central Tennessee and northern Georgia were the hardest hit regions during the tornado outbreak. Several EF-2 tornadoes were confirmed in middle Tennessee on the 29th, which caused significant damage. In total, at least 14 tornadoes hit the region. According to the National Weather Service, this marked the largest tornado outbreak on record in central Tennessee during January. A strong EF-3 strength tornado tracked 21.8 miles through northern Georgia on the 30th with estimated peak winds of 160 mph and a width of 900 yards. The tornado caused significant damage in Adairsville, Georgia, where one fatality and over 20 injuries were reported. Hundreds of homes in Gordon County and Barstow County were damaged or completely destroyed. The tornado also crossed Interstate 75 where approximately 100 cars were overturned.

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Drought

NCDC transitioned to the nClimDiv dataset on Thursday, March 13, 2014. This was coincident with the release of the February 2014 monthly monitoring report. For details on this transition, please visit our public FTP site and our U.S. Climate Divisional Database site.

Issued 21 February 2013
Contents Of This Report:
Map showing Palmer Z Index

National Drought Overview

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Detailed Drought Discussion

Overview

The polar jet stream and associated storm track were very active during January 2013, meandering in large loops of troughs and ridges which brought warm and cold spells to different areas during the month (weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) as well as favoring some areas with precipitation and blocking rain or snow from other areas. Winter storms moving in the jet stream flow tapped Gulf of Mexico moisture to drop above-normal precipitation over the Lower to Mid-Mississippi and Ohio valleys and southern Appalachians (weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), while winter storms in the western trough brought welcomed precipitation over parts of the West. But the weather systems largely avoided the heart of the Central Plains and Southeast drought areas. The beneficial rain and snow helped improve drought conditions over parts of the West; precipitation from the frequent frontal systems and low pressure centers chipped away at the drought areas in the Southeast before the systems moved northeast; and tropical showers shrank the drought area in Hawaii. But drought intensified in the Great Plains. When the temperature and precipitation are averaged across the country for the entire month, January 2013 ranked as the 39th warmest and 38th wettest January in the 119-year record. The January precipitation helped reduce the moderate-to-exceptional national drought footprint from 61.1 percent at the end of December to 57.7 percent at the end of January. According to the Palmer Drought Index, which goes back to the beginning of the 20th century, 45.6 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in moderate to extreme drought at the end of January, a decrease of about 6 percent compared to last month.

The U.S. Drought Monitor drought map valid January 29, 2013
The U.S. Drought Monitor drought map valid January 29, 2013.

By the end of the month, the core drought areas in the U.S. included:


Palmer Drought Index

The Palmer drought indices measure the balance between moisture demand (evapotranspiration driven by temperature) and moisture supply (precipitation). The Palmer Z Index depicts moisture conditions for the current month, while the Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI) and Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) depict the current month's cumulative moisture conditions integrated over the last several months.

Palmer Z Index map Palmer Hydrological Drought Index map

Used together, the Palmer Z Index and PHDI maps show that the January short-term moisture conditions improved long-term drought in the Mid-Atlantic, Southern Plains, and Midwest, but January short-term dryness deteriorated long-term drought in parts of the Southeast and West (January PHDI compared to December PHDI). The combination resulted in a decrease in the total area under drought.


Standardized Precipitation Index

The Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) measures moisture supply. The SPI maps here show the spatial extent of anomalously wet and dry areas at time scales ranging from 1 month to 24 months.

1-month Standardized Precipitation Index 2-month Standardized Precipitation Index 3-month Standardized Precipitation Index

The 1-month SPI map shows that the moisture deficiencies in January were moderately dry or worse in four main areas: coastal Southeast, New England, Far West, and Central Rockies into the adjacent High Plains. Unusually wet conditions occurred from the Southern Plains through Great Lakes, and Lower Mississippi Valley to Mid-Atlantic states. The precipitation pattern for the last two months has been geographically diverse enough to limit short-term dryness to just parts of the Southeast and Central Rockies to adjacent High Plains. The precipitation pattern has been sufficient for the 3-month SPI to reflect near normal conditions across a wide swath of the country, with short-term dryness indicated for only areas in New England, coastal Southeast, Southern Plains, and Central Rockies into the adjacent High Plains. It isn't until six to nine months that widespread dryness is evident in the central third of the country. This pattern of long-term dryness persists in the 12-month SPI map. Dryness in the Southern Plains shows up weakly in the 3- and 6-month SPI maps, more strongly in the 9- and 12-month maps, and most strongly at 24 months. Dryness in parts of the Southeast is evident at all time scales. Patchy dryness in the West can be seen at 9 to 24 months.


6-month Standardized Precipitation Index 12-month Standardized Precipitation Index 24-month Standardized Precipitation Index


Agricultural and Hydrological Indices and Impacts

NOAA Leaky Bucket Model soil moisture percentile
NOAA Leaky Bucket Model soil moisture percentile
USGS monthly streamflow percentiles
USGS monthly streamflow percentiles

Drought conditions were reflected in numerous agricultural, hydrological, and other meteorological indicators, both observed and modeled.

Agricultural:

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as of January 29, 59 percent of winter wheat, 59 percent of hay, and 69 percent of cattle were in drought. For the 30th consecutive week (July 10, 2012 - January 29, 2013), drought encompassed more than two-thirds of the domestic cattle inventory.

Map showing NOAA/NCEP NLDAS modeled monthly soil moisture percentiles (total column)
Map showing NOAA/NCEP NLDAS modeled monthly soil moisture percentiles (total column).

Hydrological:

Map showing NOAA/NCEP NLDAS modeled monthly streamflow anomaly
Map showing NOAA/NCEP NLDAS modeled monthly streamflow anomaly.

Meteorological:

Map showing number of days with precipitation
Map showing number of days with precipitation.


Regional Discussion

Hawaii: January 2013 was drier than normal for the southeastern islands but near to wetter than normal for the northwestern islands. But the pattern was drier than normal for most stations in Hawaii for much of the last three years (last 2, 3, 4, 6, 10, 12, 24, and 36 months). The January rains increased streamflow and reduced the moderate to extreme drought area from 63 percent of the state last month to 58 percent this month.

Alaska: Most of the stations in Alaska were wetter and warmer than normal during January 2013. But drier-than-normal areas are evident at 2 months, with the dryness more widespread and intense at intermediate time scales (3, 4, and 6 months). The pattern is mixed at longer time scales (10, 12, 24, and 36 months). Abnormal dryness covers the northern and eastern two-thirds of the state on the USDM map with a spot of moderate drought in the Koyukuk Basin where the water content of the snowpack and water-year-to-date (October-present) precipitation were low.

Puerto Rico: January was a very dry month for Puerto Rico, especially the western and southern areas, with low streamflows at some stations. But at longer time scales, the area with the driest anomalies shifted to the southeast (last 2, 3, 4, and 6 months), where an area of D0 (abnormally dry) reflected the dryness on the USDM map.

CONUS State Ranks:

Current month state precipitation ranks Current 3-month state precipitation ranks

On a statewide basis, January 2013 ranked in the top ten driest category for three states (California, Florida, and Connecticut) and eleventh driest for Maine and Rhode Island. Fourteen other states ranked in their driest third of the historical record — in New England, the Southeast, and Central Plains to West. Dryness at three months was centered in the Great Plains, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and New England, where 16 states ranked in the driest third of the historical record — three of which (Florida, Connecticut, and New Hampshire) had a top ten driest November-January.

6-month state precipitation ranks Nebraska statewide precipitation, August 2012-January 2013

At the six-month time scale the Rockies to Great Plains and Upper Midwest were the epicenter of dryness, with the Southeast also dry. Nebraska had the driest August-January in the 1895-2012 record and four other states ranked in the top ten driest category. It was so dry in Nebraska that the state was driest for all seasons from 5 months (September-January) to 12 months (February-January).

12-month state precipitation ranks Wyoming statewide precipitation, February 2012-January 2013

The spatial pattern of dryness for the 12-month period (February 2012-January 2013) was similar to that for the last 6 months, except the dryness stretched further into the Ohio Valley and included states along the Mid-Atlantic coast and in New England. Nebraska and Wyoming had the driest February-January on record and four other states ranked in the top ten driest category, including New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri, and Delaware. It was so dry in Wyoming that the state was driest for all seasons from 10 months (April-January) to 12 months (February-January).

Western U.S.


Percent area of the Western U.S. in moderate to extreme drought, January 1900 to present, based on the Palmer Drought Index
Percent area of the Western U.S. in moderate to extreme drought, January 1900 to present, based on the Palmer Drought Index.

Beneficial rain and snow fell across part of the West during January, but much of the region was drier than normal. Water year-to-date (October-present) precipitation was above-normal in the northwestern regions and below-normal in the southeastern areas of the West — especially in the Central and Southern Rockies — as seen in high elevation (SNOTEL) station percentiles and basin averages. Low elevation station observations indicated dryness also across much of the Great Basin. Snow pack water content (station percentiles and percent of normal, basin percent of normal) was much below-normal in the Central to Southern Rockies and below normal across parts of the Great Basin and Pacific Northwest. Reservoir storage was below average in several states in the Southwest (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico) and Great Basin to Northwest (Nevada and Oregon), but near to above average in the other states. According to the USDM, 66.5 percent of the West was experiencing moderate to exceptional drought at the end of January, a 2.8 percent decrease compared to last month. The Palmer Drought Index percent area statistic was about 49 percent, an increase of about one percent compared to last month.


Great Lakes


Great Lakes Basin precipitation, February-January (12 months), 1895-2013 Great Lakes Basin temperature, February-January (12 months), 1895-2013

Monthly level (meters) of Great Lakes Michigan and Huron, January 1918-January 2013
Monthly level (meters) of Great Lakes Michigan and Huron, January 1918-January 2013.

Recent media reports carried an announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that two of the Great Lakes (Michigan and Huron) reached their lowest level in the 1918-present record at the end of January 2013 (see graph to right), and the other Great Lakes (Superior, Erie, and Ontario) were also well below average. Temperatures have been warm, with the U.S. side of the Great Lakes river basin experiencing the second warmest February-January 12-month period in the 1895-2013 record during February 2012-January 2013. Precipitation on the U.S. side for this period ranked only 59th driest for the entire Great Lakes basin, which is near the long-term average but also is a significant departure from the unusual wetness of the last ten years. Evaporation is dependent on temperature, humidity, wind, and the amount of solar radiation (sunlight). While potential evapotranspiration in recent years has been high due to anomalously warm temperatures, the unusually wet conditions basinwide on the U.S. side during the last decade have kept the Great Lakes basin PHDI from reaching extreme drought levels.

Annual average lake level for Great Lakes, 1918-2012, normalized by mean and standard deviation and area-averaged across the lakes
Annual average lake level for Great Lakes, 1918-2012, normalized by mean and standard deviation and area-averaged across the lakes.

In the graph to the left, the annual averaged lake level for each of the Great Lakes was normalized using the lakes' long-term average and standard deviation. The normalized z-scores were weighted by lake area to compute a basinwide averaged z-score, which was then itself normalized. Basinwide, the lake levels for the last 14 years (beginning in 1999) have been consistently well below average. Other periods with consistently below-average lake levels, basinwide, include 1956-1967 (which encompasses the 1960s national drought centered in the Northeast), 1931-1941 (the Dust Bowl of the 1930s decade), and 1921-1927 (which encompasses the 1920s national drought centered in the Southeast). For each of these earlier low lake level periods, the Great Lakes experienced persistent severe drought basinwide.

Great Lakes basin temperatures undergo a seasonal cycle with summer being the hottest time of year (with maximum seasonal evaporation) and winter being the coldest (with minimal seasonal evaporation). In 2012, the Great Lakes basin experienced the 13th warmest April-September (warm season) in the 1895-present record, with April-September temperatures well above the long-term average for most of the last 15 years. The basin had the warmest October-March (cold season) in 2011-2012, and likewise the October-March temperatures have been well above the long-term average for most of the last 15 years. The 2012-2013 cold season has also started well above average for the basin, with October 2012-January 2013 ranking as the 22nd warmest October-January. Warm season precipitation (April-September) was below average basinwide in 2012, but it has been generally above average for most of the last 15 years. Cold season precipitation (October-March) has been consistently much wetter than average for the last eleven years, with the current season-to-date (October 2012-January 2013) ranking tenth wettest. It is clear that the low lake levels of the recent decade are less dependent on precipitation than the low lake levels of the 20th century, and temperature may be playing a more significant role.

Winter ice cover provides an effective cap to reduce evaporation from the Great Lakes during the cold season. Temperature is one of the factors controlling the timing and extent of ice cover development. Great Lakes ice cover has been greatly reduced during the last 15 years, with the current season-to-date ice cover continuing this trend. Reduced ice cover results in more evaporation, and the potential evaporation (estimated from temperature) for October-March of last year was the highest of the 1900-2012 record. Warm season potential evaporation has been consistently above the long-term average during the last 15 years. On average, temperature-based estimates of cold season potential evaporation are only about a tenth of the warm season potential evaporation.

Primary Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt


The growing season (October-April) continued to be dry for the Primary Hard Red Winter Wheat agricultural belt. October 2012-January 2013 ranked as the 15th driest such period in the 1895-2013 record. Temperatures for the period ranked 25th warmest. The PHDI continued at extreme drought levels, regionwide. Primary Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt precipitation, October-January, 1895-2013
Primary Hard Red Winter Wheat Belt precipitation, October-January, 1895-2013.

NOAA Regional Climate Centers:


A more detailed drought discussion, provided by the NOAA Regional Climate Centers and others, can be found below.

SoutheastSouthMidwestNortheastHigh Plains
WestUpper Colorado River BasinPacific Islands

As described by the High Plains Regional Climate Center, the January 2013 nationwide picture showed that the eastern U.S. generally experienced above normal temperatures while the western U.S. had below normal temperatures. Average temperatures across the High Plains region were generally near normal, except for western areas of Colorado and Wyoming. Storm systems pushing through the region brought both cold air down from Canada and warm air up from the south. This led to a wide range of temperatures and to many new daily record highs and lows.

Precipitation was hit or miss across the High Plains region this month. Because winter precipitation is generally light, there was little to no change in the drought regardless of whether a location received ample precipitation or not. Overall precipitation varied widely as totals ranged from 0 to 400 percent of normal. Above normal precipitation was concentrated in north central Wyoming, southwestern Colorado, southwestern and central South Dakota, and central and southeastern Kansas. Other areas of the region received little to no precipitation. Rock Springs, Wyoming had its driest January on record with only a trace amount of precipitation. The old record of 0.02 inch (1 mm) was set in 2004 (period of record 1948-2013). Several systems affected the region this month, bringing a wide range of temperatures and precipitation types including snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain (some of which fell from thunderstorms).

As expected for this time of year, there was little change to the U.S. Drought Monitor over the past month. Approximately 92 percent of the Region was still in moderate (D1) to exceptional (D4) drought. This was down slightly from the end of last month when 93 percent of the Region was in D1-D4. The only improvement was in north-central North Dakota where much of the abnormally dry conditions (D0) were erased. Drought conditions worsened in Colorado where the snowpack was significantly behind. The last holdout of D1 in the north-central part of the state deteriorated to severe drought (D2). In addition, extreme drought (D3) expanded slightly in the west-central part of the state. Those changes have put the entire state of Colorado in D2-D4. Drought conditions in the remaining states in the region did not change with Nebraska leading the way with 77 percent of the state in D4.

As explained by the Southern Regional Climate Center, January proved to be another consecutive warm month for the region, and it was a very wet month for most of the region. There were some areas in the region that received less than normal precipitation. This includes much of central and western Oklahoma, southern Texas, and a small pocket in north central Texas. Despite high precipitation totals, drought conditions did not change too much over the past month. This is due in part to the fact that much of the heavy rainfall occurred in areas that were not experiencing drought, such as in Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi for example. High precipitation totals in Arkansas did result in about a one category improvement, but much of the northwest portions of the state remained in moderate to extreme drought. In central Texas, above normal precipitation did result in some improvement, but a little over half the state was still experiencing severe drought conditions or worse.

For Texas, many AgriLife Extension agents expect that the January rainfall, while not ensuring a successful harvest, did prevent winter wheat from being lost entirely, with some believing it saved over a million dollars. Cotton farmers are less fortunate, with initial yield estimates dropping by 500,000 due to the persistently dry conditions across most of the state. While snow cover in the western parts of the state have farmers cautiously optimistic, the long-term conditions are so poor that it was not believed that the melt water would be enough to replenish soil moisture. With soil moisture conditions so poor, ranchers were still having trouble keeping their herds fed, causing the Cargill Meatpacking Plant in Plainview to lay off 2000 workers. Longer-term ecological damage has also been seen in recent months, culminating in the Wildlife Department falling short $4.6 million last year (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).

Despite high precipitation totals in Texas, many regions were still suffering from low water supply, notably west Texas. The Lower Colorado River Authority enacted emergency conservation plans in January, and various levels of government were attempting to tackle the problem. Potential solutions included implementation of a 100-year plan in Lubbock estimated to cost anywhere between $4.1 and $10 billion, and a $2 billion appropriation plan introduced in the state legislature (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).

As summarized by the Midwest Regional Climate Center, January temperatures were above normal across the region. Despite the above normal temperatures for the month, there were several pushes of cold Arctic air that reached the Midwest in January. January precipitation was near normal in Iowa, Minnesota, and Ohio and well above normal in the other Midwest states. Precipitation ranged from about 140 percent of normal to about 200 percent of normal. Snowfall for January was below normal for most of the Midwest. Upper Michigan, northeast Wisconsin, and northwest Minnesota were the only areas with above normal snowfall for the month.

As noted by the Southeast Regional Climate Center, mean temperatures were above average across the region in January, generally above average across Puerto Rico, and near average across the U.S. Virgin Islands. Precipitation in January was highly variable across the Southeast. Monthly totals were above normal in a swath extending from central and northern Alabama through northern sections of Georgia and South Carolina, western North Carolina, and much of Virginia. In contrast, monthly precipitation was well below normal across eastern sections of South Carolina and Georgia, and most of Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with monthly totals less than 25 percent of normal. Augusta, GA (period of record 1871-2013) and Charleston, SC (period of record: 1938-2013) recorded their driest January on record with monthly totals of 0.60 and 0.35 inch (15.2 and 8.9 mm), respectively.

Heavy rainfall across the interior of the region helped eliminate drought conditions across northern parts of Alabama and Georgia, western North Carolina, and parts of central Virginia. Drought conditions also improved across parts of central North Carolina, eastern Alabama, and western Georgia. On the other hand, the lack of rainfall in January contributed to a re-emergence of abnormally dry (D0) conditions across central Florida and an intensification of drought across southeastern Georgia, the Florida Panhandle, and along the Savannah River watershed at the border of Georgia and South Carolina. On the 9th of the month, 92 counties in Georgia received designation as natural disaster areas due to losses and damages from the on-going drought. Across Florida, the warm, dry weather in January aided the growth of strawberries and helped farmers prepare for spring planting. However, several fruit trees did not receive adequate chill hours and the lack of rain continued to limit the growth of citrus trees and winter forage. There was also concern that the early blooming of some plants and trees will make them susceptible to a late winter or early spring freeze.

As explained by the Northeast Regional Climate Center, the trend of warmer-than-average temperatures in 2012 continued right into 2013. The Northeast's average temperature of 26.5 degrees F (-3.1 degrees C) was 2.9 degrees F (1.6 degrees C) above normal but 1.2 degrees F (0.7 degrees C) cooler than January 2012. It was the 27th warmest January in 119 years. January 2013 was drier than normal in the Northeast. The region's monthly precipitation of 2.54 inches (64.52 mm), 82 percent of normal, was 0.53 inches (13.46 mm) below average. Nine states were drier than normal with departures ranging from 39 percent of normal in Connecticut to 88 percent of normal in New Jersey. Several states had Januarys that ranked in their top 25 driest: Connecticut, 9th driest; Maine and Rhode Island, 11th driest; Massachusetts, 13th driest; New Hampshire, 16th driest; and Vermont, 23rd driest. Two states received near-average precipitation with Pennsylvania coming in at 100 percent of normal and Maryland at 101 percent of normal. West Virginia was the wettest state at 135 percent of normal making it their 30th wettest January since 1895.

As summarized by the Western Regional Climate Center, unusually cold conditions dominated the West, especially in the interior, this month as strong inversions developed in the Great Basin and other low-lying areas. These inversions resulted from widespread snow cover established in December and intrusion of cold air masses followed by persistent ridges of high pressure at upper levels. These conditions prohibited vertical mixing and horizontal flow, resulting in poor air quality and record low temperatures in affected areas. Precipitation was below normal for much of the region, though with several pockets above average in the Southwest and Montana. Of note in the southern Great Basin was only trace of snowfall on Mt. Charleston near Las Vegas, Nevada where normal January snowfall is 21.9 in (56 cm). This month ties January 2003 for the least January snowfall at Mt. Charleston. Snow water equivalent in the Sierra Nevada snowpack started the month near 140% of normal and ended the month close to 90% of normal for the date. Despite daily record snowfalls and above normal precipitation in the northern and southern reaches of Montana, statewide precipitation averaged approximately 0.2 in (5 mm) below normal this month. This breaks a trend of above normal precipitation since October that followed a very dry spring and summer.

January provided relief from persistent drought in the northwestern portion of the Hawaiian Islands. After its driest December on record, Honolulu, Oahu finally saw above normal precipitation this month at 2.42 in (62 mm), 105% of normal. The islands of Kauai and Molokai also fared well this month with above normal precipitation at most locations. Dry conditions continued for Maui and Big Island, especially in leeward areas, which were generally below 50% of normal for the month.

Further north, Alaska was warmer and wetter than normal for the month. Several daily snowfall and precipitation records as well as high temperature records were set throughout the state.

Upper Colorado River Basin: As reported by the Colorado Climate Center, the February 5th NIDIS (National Integrated Drought Information System) assessment for the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) indicated that the month of January brought above normal precipitation for the four corners and San Juan mountains as well as central and NE Utah and NW Colorado. NW Colorado and NE Utah saw over 150% of normal while the San Juan and parts of the Gunnison basin received over 100% of normal, with San Juan county, Utah reporting over 150% of normal. The northern and central mountains in CO as well as east of the Continental Divide saw below normal precipitation. For the water year precipitation percentage of normal through the end of January, much of Colorado remained below normal, in particular the Arkansas and Republican basins which were 50% of normal or worse. The Green and Duschesne River basins reported in the normal or above categories for the water year.

Water-year-to-date SNOTEL precipitation percentiles in the UCRB were highly variable depending on location. Along the Wasatch and Uintah ranges in UT, percentiles were in the normal range, with slightly lower percentiles in the Upper Green River basin in southwest WY. Higher percentiles in the 50s and 60s were reported in Uintah county, UT. The northern and central CO mountains showed precipitation below the 20th percentile at most locations, with sites in Grand, Summit, Eagle, Pitkin, Lake and Gunnison counties reporting below the 5th percentile. Percentile rankings in southwest CO in the San Juan mountains have recovered somewhat, now reporting in the teens and 20s. The Sangre de Cristo range in SE Colorado also reported below the 10th percentile at several sites in Costilla county. Basin snow water equivalent was less than normal on the east side of the UCRB and near normal on the west side of the basin. Sub-basins in western CO were all between 68% and 87% of normal snowpack with the Colorado basin reporting the lowest. The South Platte and Arkansas basins in CO were in the 61-64 % of normal range.

The lowest streamflows were recorded on headwater streams in the Colorado basin and Uncompahgre basin. Below normal flows (10th-24th percentile) were recorded on the San Juan river. The gages reporting in Utah and Wyoming were mainly in the normal category. Flows on the Arkansas and Republican rivers were mainly in the below to much below normal range with a few sites setting record low flows. The South Platte tributaries were quite variable with a few sites (Cache La Poudre and Big Thompson) recording much below normal.

Pacific Islands: According to reports from National Weather Service offices, the Pacific ENSO Applications Climate Center (PEAC), and partners, conditions varied across the Pacific Islands.

As noted by the National Weather Service office in Honolulu, several heavy rain events in January brought varying levels of drought relief to all four counties across the state. For some locations it was the wettest January in at least five years. Conditions on Kauai have improved to the point where the entire island is now drought-free. Oahu has only a small area of moderate drought, or D1 category conditions in the USDM map, over the leeward slopes of the Waianae range. Improvements also occurred over Lanai and west Molokai. Extreme drought, or D3 category conditions, improved to severe drought, or D2 conditions, in both areas. Unfortunately, leeward areas of Maui and the Big Island did not receive as much rainfall as the west half of the state and rainfall coverage was less consistent. Improvements in drought conditions occurred on both islands but the extent of these improvements was much more limited. Thus, extreme drought on Maui remains over the Kihei, lower Kula, Ulupalakua, and the lower Kaupo areas. Severe drought eased to moderate drought near the Pukalani and Makawao areas. On the Big Island, extreme drought continued over the Kawaihae area of the south Kohala district and the Pohakuloa area of the Hamakua district. Extreme drought eased to severe drought over the southern Kau district and the Waikoloa area of the south Kohala district. Severe drought remained in place over most of the north Kona and south Kona districts.

Some drought impacts impacts in Hawaii include the following:

KAUAI.
SUFFICIENT RAINFALL OCCURRED OVER THE PAST MONTH TO HELP CONTINUE
PASTURE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE POINT WHERE THE ISLAND IS NO LONGER
CONSIDERED TO BE UNDER DROUGHT.

OAHU.
PASTURES AND GENERAL VEGETATION CONDITIONS OVER THE LEEWARD WAIANAE
RANGE HAVE BEEN IMPROVING AS A RESULT OF RAINFALL IN JANUARY.   MORE
RAINFALL IS NEEDED TO SUSTAIN THE RECOVERY PROCESS.

MOLOKAI.
PORTIONS OF MOLOKAI HAD ITS WETTEST MONTH IN OVER FIVE YEARS. RECENT
GROUND REPORTS ARE NOT AVAILABLE BUT VEGETATION HEALTH DATA FROM
REMOTE SENSING SOURCES INDICATE THAT PASTURES AND GENERAL VEGETATION
CONDITIONS HAVE IMPROVED.  IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN HOW MUCH ADDITIONAL
RAINFALL WILL OCCUR TO SUSTAIN THE IMPROVEMENTS.

THE WATER LEVEL IN THE KUALAPUU RESERVOIR SHOWED ONLY A SMALL
INCREASE IN THE PAST MONTH AND REMAINS LOW.  THUS...THE STATE OF
HAWAII DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE HAS CONTINUED A MANDATORY 30
PERCENT REDUCTION IN IRRIGATION WATER CONSUMPTION.

LANAI.
A RECENT GROUND REPORT IS NOT AVAILABLE BUT VEGETATION HEALTH DATA
FROM REMOTE SENSING SOURCES INDICATE THAT PASTURES AND GENERAL
VEGETATION CONDITIONS HAVE IMPROVED IN THE PAST MONTH WHICH IS
CONSISTENT WITH THE INCREASE IN RAINFALL.

MAUI.
LEEWARD MAUI RECEIVED SOME RAINFALL OVER THE PAST MONTH WHICH HELPED
KEEP POOR PASTURE CONDITIONS FROM WORSENING OR SPREADING.  THE MAUI
COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF WATER SUPPLY CONTINUED ITS LONG STANDING
REQUEST FOR A 5 PERCENT REDUCTION IN WATER USE FOR UPCOUNTRY
RESIDENTS.  THE REQUEST FOR A 10 PERCENT REDUCTION IN WATER USE BY
CENTRAL AND SOUTH MAUI RESIDENTS ALSO REMAINED IN EFFECT.

BIG ISLAND.
THE KAU DISTRICT HAS RECEIVED ENOUGH RAINFALL TO SUPPORT GOOD
PASTURE AND GENERAL VEGETATION RECOVERY.  PORTIONS OF THE SOUTH
KOHALA DISTRICT NEAR WAIKOLOA RECEIVED ENOUGH RAINFALL TO SUPPORT
REGROWTH OF GRASSES AS WELL.  HOWEVER...PASTURES IN THE LOWER
ELEVATIONS OF THE SOUTH KOHALA DISTRICT NEAR AND NORTH OF KAWAIHAE
STILL CANNOT SUPPORT GRAZING.  VEGETATION IN THE POHAKULOA AREA ALSO
REMAINS VERY DRY AND FIRE OFFICIALS CONTINUE TO RATE THE AREA AS
UNDER EXTREME FIRE RISK.

SPI values for seven time periods for Hawaiian Island stations, computed by the Honolulu NWS office.
SPI values for seven time periods for Hawaiian Island stations

On other Pacific Islands (maps — Micronesia, Marshall Islands, basinwide), January was drier than normal for Koror, Yap, Chuuk, Lukonor, Pohnpei, and Kosrae, and much drier than normal for Kwajalein and Majuro. January rainfall amounts were below four inches at Kwajalein and Majuro and below 8 inches at Koror, Yap, Guam, Saipan, and Lukonor. According to NWS and media reports, the main reservoir in Majuro had about a week's supply of water and water restrictions were in effect; strong water conservation measures will be needed to avoid depletion of wells, reservoirs, and catchments. Majuro has been below normal for nine of the last 12 months. Total rainfall for the last 12 months (February 2012-January 2013) was near to above normal for all stations except Majuro and Pohnpei.


X
  • Percent of Normal Precip
  • Precipitation
  • Normals
Pacific Island Percent of 1981-2010 Normal Median Precipitation
Station NameFeb
2012
Mar
2012
Apr
2012
May
2012
Jun
2012
Jul
2012
Aug
2012
Sep
2012
Oct
2012
Nov
2012
Dec
2012
Jan
2013
Feb 2012-
Jan 2013
Chuuk181%107%40%173%131%141%169%86%128%144%116%99%120%
Guam NAS94%215%121%224%107%66%179%126%92%74%55%128%99%
Kapingamarangi71%121%102%143%179%146%192%147%138%167%74%197%123%
Koror126%121%120%122%95%88%102%111%78%67%103%72%91%
Kosrae185%60%84%86%99%124%144%109%113%119%110%98%91%
Kwajalein114%84%68%161%117%120%95%57%73%45%230%39%93%
Lukonor124%135%76%106%125%82%73%148%74%178%62%60%89%
Majuro65%194%97%59%81%68%87%67%46%154%53%31%81%
Pago Pago98%131%90%126%115%105%59%195%54%181%143%137%107%
Pohnpei138%98%45%115%100%92%96%90%82%109%71%83%89%
Saipan183%35%33%166%118%77%135%101%172%31%89%191%111%
Yap117%185%89%142%99%84%128%187%140%121%102%90%118%
Pacific Island Precipitation (Inches)
Station NameFeb
2012
Mar
2012
Apr
2012
May
2012
Jun
2012
Jul
2012
Aug
2012
Sep
2012
Oct
2012
Nov
2012
Dec
2012
Jan
2013
Feb 2012-
Jan 2013
Chuuk13.138.875.0219.5615.2716.9221.7810.0414.6815.3013.0910.00163.66
Guam NAS2.854.453.057.636.636.7426.4215.9810.565.452.815.1297.69
Kapingamarangi6.6113.8213.9117.2424.6820.6515.5714.5611.3215.447.2518.02179.07
Koror10.819.038.7914.4916.5416.3613.7213.019.237.6811.527.29138.47
Kosrae23.939.5914.7015.3514.5618.5520.4615.5212.3316.4917.7516.27195.5
Kwajalein3.011.973.5810.828.0811.839.236.178.185.0915.331.2284.51
Lukonor11.0612.518.6012.3514.5313.0810.2615.028.3916.187.005.05134.03
Majuro4.4612.759.145.968.897.5410.157.475.8420.696.092.42101.4
Pago Pago11.7614.008.4112.156.135.843.1912.734.9918.3418.3118.27134.12
Pohnpei13.1712.928.3122.9814.8614.2113.6211.2712.5916.1811.3710.88162.36
Saipan4.750.660.883.964.266.8617.7310.2418.311.753.444.8377.67
Yap6.098.435.0011.1411.9512.7418.9225.1917.0810.678.685.72141.61
Pacific Island 1981-2010 Normal Median Precipitation (Inches)
Station NameFeb
2012
Mar
2012
Apr
2012
May
2012
Jun
2012
Jul
2012
Aug
2012
Sep
2012
Oct
2012
Nov
2012
Dec
2012
Jan
2013
Feb 2012-
Jan 2013
Chuuk7.258.3212.4711.3011.6611.9812.8611.7111.5110.6111.2510.10136.77
Guam NAS3.032.072.533.406.1810.1414.7412.6611.447.385.114.0199.09
Kapingamarangi9.2711.4313.6412.0813.7814.158.139.938.199.279.849.15145.85
Koror8.567.447.3211.8317.4818.5313.5011.7711.8411.3911.1610.18152.90
Kosrae12.9316.0617.5117.7514.6414.9114.2214.2210.9413.8316.1116.67213.87
Kwajalein2.642.355.266.726.939.879.7410.7411.1811.286.663.1690.41
Lukonor8.939.2611.3111.6911.6515.9314.0410.1511.329.0811.278.41151.36
Majuro6.886.589.4210.1111.0111.1711.6911.1712.7313.4411.397.74125.25
Pago Pago12.0010.689.399.665.335.555.386.539.2610.1412.8413.34125.57
Pohnpei9.5513.1718.4119.9614.8115.4314.2612.5515.2714.8316.0813.18182.36
Saipan2.591.892.632.383.628.9113.1310.0910.625.613.852.5370.25
Yap5.194.565.637.8512.0415.0814.8213.5012.188.838.516.39120.31

Percent of normal precipitation for current month for U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islant stations

SPI values for seven time periods for Pacific Islands, computed by the Honolulu NWS office.
SPI values for seven time periods for Pacific Islands

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State/Regional/National Moisture Status
A detailed review of drought and moisture conditions is available for all contiguous U.S. states, the nine standard regions, and the nation (contiguous U.S.):

States
alabama arizona arkansas california colorado connecticut
delaware florida georgia idaho illinois indiana
iowa kansas kentucky louisiana maine maryland
massachusetts michigan minnesota mississippi missouri montana
nebraska nevada new hampshire new jersey new mexico new york
north carolina north dakota ohio oklahoma oregon pennsylvania
rhode island south carolina south dakota tennessee texas utah
vermont virginia washington west virginia wisconsin wyoming

Regional
northeast u. s. east north central u. s. central u. s.
southeast u. s. west north central u. s. south u. s.
southwest u. s. northwest u. s. west u. s.

National
Contiguous United States

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Drought Indicators
The following indicators illustrate the drought conditions this month:

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Contacts & Questions
For additional, or more localized, drought information, please visit:

Global Snow & Ice

NH Snow Cover Extent

January 2013 Snow Cover Extent 1981-2010 Anomaly Trend
(per decade)
Rank
(out of 47 years)
Records
million km2 million mi2 million km2 million mi2 million km2 million mi2 Year(s) million km2 million mi2
Northern Hemisphere 49.22 19.00 +2.35 +0.91 +0.16 +0.06 Largest 5ᵗʰ 2008 50.28 19.41
Smallest 43ʳᵈ 1981 41.89 16.17
North America 17.99 6.95 +0.45 +0.18 -0.01 -0.00 Largest 13ᵗʰ 1985 18.82 7.26
Smallest 35ᵗʰ 1981 16.07 6.20
Eurasia 31.22 12.05 +1.90 +0.73 +0.17 +0.07 Largest 6ᵗʰ 2008 32.27 12.46
Smallest 42ⁿᵈ 1981 25.82 9.97

Data Source: Global Snow Laboratory, Rutgers University. Period of record: 1967–2013 (47 years)

Data were provided by the Global Snow Laboratory, Rutgers University. Period of record is 1967-2013 (47 years).

The Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent (SCE) during January 2013 was 48.64 million square km (18.78 million square miles), 1.88 million square km (730,000 square miles) above average, and the sixth largest January SCE on record. This was the largest January SCE since 2008 when the monthly SCE was 49.8 million square km (19.2 million square miles). Both the Eurasian and North American land areas experienced above-average SCE in January.

During January, the North American SCE was above average, ranking as the 13th largest January snow cover extent on record. The monthly SCE was 17.86 million square km (6.90 million square miles), which was 370,000 square km (142,000 square miles) above average. Above-average SCE was observed across the mountainous West and Northern Plains of the United States. Although much of the western U.S. was drier than average, below-average temperatures during most of the month allowed snow which fell during December to remain on the ground. Below-average snow cover was observed in the Central Plains and parts of the Ohio Valley in the United States. Below-average SCE was also observed in parts of the Great Lakes region of both the U.S. and Canada. For more information on the U.S. January 2013 snow events, please visit the U.S. January Snow/Ice Summary page.

Eurasian SCE was 30.78 million square km (11.88 million square miles), which was 1.51 million square km (579,000 square miles) above average. This marked the sixth largest January SCE on record and the largest since 2008. Above-average snow cover was observed for much of Europe and northeastern China, where several snow storms impacted both regions. Below-average snow cover was present for much of Turkey, Iran, parts of the Tibetan Plateau, and the Himalayas.

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Sea Ice Extent

January 2013 Sea Ice Extent
1981-2010
Anomaly
Trend
(per decade)
Rank
(out of 34 years)
Records
million km2 million mi2 Year(s) million km2 million mi2
Northern Hemisphere 13.78 5.32 -5.16% -3.30% Largest 29ᵗʰ 1979 15.54 6.00
Smallest 6ᵗʰ 2011 13.57 5.24
Southern Hemisphere 5.77 2.23 +11.82% +2.52% Largest 8ᵗʰ 2008 6.88 2.66
Smallest 27ᵗʰ 2006 4.25 1.64
Globe 19.55 7.55 -0.71% -1.73% Largest 22ⁿᵈ 1979 21.25 8.20
Smallest 13ᵗʰ 2006 17.85 6.89

Data Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Period of record: 1979–2013 (34 years)

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent — which is measured from passive microwave instruments onboard NOAA satellites — averaged for January 2013 was 13.78 million square kilometers (5.32 million square miles), 7.2 percent below the 1979-2000 average. This was the sixth smallest January extent on record but the largest since 2010. The last 10 years have experienced the ten smallest January sea ice extents on record in the Arctic. January 2013 is the 20th consecutive January and 140th consecutive month with below-average Arctic sea ice extent. January Arctic ice extent is decreasing at an average rate of 3.2 percent per decade.

According to analysis by the NSIDC, the Arctic gained approximately 1.36 million square km (525,000 square miles) of ice during January, which was slightly higher than average. The Kara Sea, which has experienced below-average ice coverage for the past several months, was completely ice covered by the end of January. However, the Barents Sea continued to have below-average ice coverage. Below-average ice coverage was also observed for the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On the Pacific side of the Arctic, sea ice extent was slightly above average in the Bering Sea.

The January 2013 Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent was 5.77 million square km (2.23 million square miles), 14.0 percent above average, and the seventh largest January sea ice extent in the 1979-2013 period of record. Much-above-average sea ice extent was observed in the Weddell Sea and the overall Antarctic daily ice extent was nearly two standard deviations above the mean for most of January. Antarctic sea ice extent during January has increased at an average rate of 2.5 percent per decade, with substantial interannual variability.

For further information on the Northern and Southern Hemisphere snow and ice conditions, please visit the NSIDC News page.

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Upper Air

Troposphere

Lower Troposphere

January Lower Troposphere
January Anomaly Rank
(out of 35 years)
Record Years Decadal Trend
°C °F Year °C °F °C °F
UAH +0.51 +0.92 Coolest 34th 1989 -0.44 -0.79 +0.14 +0.25
Warmest 2nd 2010 +0.59 +1.06
RSS +0.33 +0.59 Coolest 31st 1989 -0.41 -0.74 +0.13 +0.23
Warmest 4th 2010 +0.48 +0.86
Ties: 2003

Mid-troposphere

January Mid-troposphere
January Anomaly Rank
(out of 35 years)
Record Years Decadal Trend
°C °F Year °C °F °C °F
UAH +0.38 +0.68 Coolest 33rd 2000 -0.37 -0.67 +0.03 +0.05
Warmest 2nd 1998 +0.48 +0.86
Ties: 2010
RSS +0.47 +0.85 Coolest 35th 1984 -0.38 -0.68 +0.08 +0.15
Warmest 1st 2013 +0.47 +0.85
UW-UAH +0.45 +0.81 Coolest 33rd 1984 -0.46 -0.83 +0.08 +0.15
Warmest 3rd 1998 +0.58 +1.04
UW-RSS +0.55 +0.99 Coolest 35th 1984 -0.47 -0.85 +0.13 +0.24
Warmest 1st 2013 +0.55 +0.99

Stratosphere

January Stratosphere
January Anomaly Rank
(out of 35 years)
Record Years Decadal Trend
°C °F Year °C °F °C °F
UAH -0.35 -0.63 Coolest 12th 2006 -0.57 -1.03 -0.38 -0.68
Warmest 24th 1983 +1.43 +2.57
RSS -0.40 -0.72 Coolest 7th 2006 -0.58 -1.04 -0.34 -0.61
Warmest 28th 1983 +1.35 +2.43
Ties: 2001

Background Information

Temperatures above the Earth's surface are measured within the lower troposphere, middle troposphere, and stratosphere using in-situ balloon-borne instruments (radiosondes) and polar-orbiting satellites (NOAA's TIROS-N). The radiosonde and satellite records have been adjusted to remove time-dependent biases (artificialities caused by changes in radiosonde instruments and measurement practices as well as changes in satellite instruments and orbital features through time). Global averages from radiosonde data are available from 1958 to present, while satellite measurements date back to 1979.

The mid-troposphere temperatures are centered in the in the atmospheric layer approximately 3–10 km [2–6 miles] above the Earth's surface, which also includes a portion of the lower stratosphere. (The Microwave Sounding Unit [MSU] channel used to measure mid-tropospheric temperatures receives about 25 percent of its signal above 10 km [6 miles].) Because the stratosphere has cooled due to increasing greenhouse gases in the troposphere and losses of ozone in the stratosphere, the stratospheric contribution to the tropospheric average, as measured from satellites, creates an artificial component of cooling to the mid-troposphere temperatures. The University of Washington (UW) versions of the UAH and RSS analyses attempt to remove the stratospheric influence from the mid-troposphere measurements, and as a result the UW versions tend to have a larger warming trend than either the UAH or RSS versions. For additional information, please see NCDC's Microwave Sounding Unit page.

The radiosonde data used in this global analysis were developed using the Lanzante, Klein, Seidel (2003) ("LKS") bias-adjusted dataset and the First Difference Method (Free et al. 2004) (RATPAC). Additional details are available. Satellite data have been adjusted by the Global Hydrology and Climate Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). An independent analysis is also performed by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) and a third analysis has been performed by Dr. Qiang Fu of the University of Washington (UW) (Fu et al. 2004)** to remove the influence of the stratosphere on the mid-troposphere value. Global averages from radiosonde data are available from 1958 to present, while satellite measurements began in 1979.

References

Wildfires

Updated: 13 February 2013

Number of Fires & Acres burned in January (2000-2013)
Number of fires & acres burned in January 2000-2013
Acres burned per fire in January (2000-2013)
Acres burned per fire in January 2000-2013

Overview

January is not considered to be part of the U.S. wildfire season, with fire activity typically being slow during the month. January 2013 experienced below-average activity in terms of the number of fires and acres burned, with 964 fires charring 8,573 acres. During the 14-year period of record, only the January 2007 values were lower when 387 fires burned 4,597 acres. Isolated large wildfires sparked across the country within the states of Montana, Oklahoma, and Florida. Meanwhile, fire management officials leveraged conditions for conducting winter season prescribed burns in northern areas of California and Arizona as well as across the Gulf Coast and Southeast.

1-Month Wildfire Statistics*
January Totals Rank
(out of 14 years)
Record 2000-2010
Average
Value Year
Acres Burned 8,573 13ᵗʰ Most 330,447 2006 53,742
2ⁿᵈ Least
Number of Fires 964 13ᵗʰ Most 3,507 2006 1,784
2ⁿᵈ Least
Acres Burned per Fire 8.9 11ᵗʰ Most 94.2 2006 23.5
4ᵗʰ Least

*Data Source: The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)

Discussion

U.S. Drought Monitor map from 29 January 2013
U.S. Drought Monitor map from 29 January 2013
Source: National Drought Mitigation Center

In January, winter storms deposited snowfalls across the nation's northern tier and significant rain fell over parts of the South, Southeast, lower Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic states. Dryness expanded in south Florida during early January, which increased the state's wildfire risk. By month's end the Florida Panhandle's drought worsened from moderate to severe, while the Peninsula's dryness increased. Elsewhere, drought conditions improved in the Great Basin, much of Texas, and Virginia during the month. Extreme to exceptional drought remained anchored over the central Great Plains.

Significant Events

Please note, this is a list of select fires that occurred during January. More comprehensive fire information can be found through Inciweb.

Florida

U.S. Large Wildfires 18 January 2013
U.S. Large Wildfires 18 January 2013

The Florida Forest Service reported 3,905 acres burned by wildfires in the state from January 1st–31st. A wildfire in east central Florida swept through over 900 acres of marshland in the St. John's Wildlife National Refuge after sparking on January 12th. Smoke from the Flora Vista fire caused the overnight closure of State Road 407 in Brevard County. The flames moved to the northwest and stayed away from homes and structures.


Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Analysis on 24 January 2013
Hazard Mapping System Fire and Smoke Analysis
on 24 January 2013
Source: NOAA Office of Satellite and Product Operations

On NOAA's Hazard Mapping System (HMS) map product, the red dots correspond to hot spots and the grey area represent smoke plumes from possible fire locations (including prescribed fires) detected over North America by satellite observations. After igniting on January 23rd, the Black Creek wildfire scorched 127 acres of the Apalachicola National Forest in Florida. In the adjacent Tate's Hell State Forest, smoke from a fire drifted over the eastern Gulf of Mexico on January 24th, while the Bucksiding Road wildfire, which sparked on January 28th, consumed 400 acres by month's end. The Buck #1 wildfire also burned nearly 1,200 forest acres to the south of Sumatra, Florida, during January.


Monthly Wildfire Conditions

Wildfire information and environmental conditions are provided by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS).

During the first two weeks of January, the 10-hour fuel moisture gradually lessened below four percent in parts of the extreme Southwest. Likewise, at the 100-hour and 1000-hour intervals the Southwest's fuel moistures decreased to values between 6 to 10 percent. Below-normal snowpack kept the fine fuels of the Upper and Mid-Mississippi Valley drier than normal, while wetter-than-normal conditions in the Ohio Valley kept soils very moist. Fuel moistures in excess of 15 percent dominated at all intervals (10-hour, 100-hour, and 1000-hour) with the exception of eastern Florida, where the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) value exceeded 600 units.


Over 2,750 acres burned in a wildfire in southeastern Montana where dryness and above-average temperatures persisted. Grasslands in the central High Plains were drier than average as the snowpack along the Colorado Front Range into southeast Wyoming was about 75 percent of average. At mid-month, the 10-hour fuel moisture decreased to below eight percent across New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma, as well as parts of the central Plains and lower Mississippi Valley. The 100-hour fuel moisture in Nebraska and the western parts of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas dropped under 10 percent.


Later in the month, new fires sparked in eastern Oklahoma, Alabama, and Florida. The Buck Trot wildfire burned over 2,100 acres in Oklahoma near Stilwell from January 23rd until January 27th when the area received a light rainfall. Meanwhile, three smaller fires in Oklahoma each burned 200 acres or less. Elsewhere, in the Gulf Coast of southwestern Alabama, the Industrial Road wildfire singed 119 acres near Citronelle on January 25th. KBDI values exceeded 600 units in parts of the Great Basin, South Dakota, Nebraska, extreme southern Texas, and much of the Florida Peninsula.


All Fire Related Maps


Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate for January 2013, published online February 2013, retrieved on September 2, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/2013/1.