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National Overview - January 2009


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Maps and Graphics:


January Most Recent 3 Months Most Recent 6 Months
Most Recent 12 Months Year-to-Date US Percent Area Very Wet/Dry/Warm/Cold
Annual Summary for 2008

PLEASE NOTE: All 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.  As final data become available, the most up-to-date statistics and graphics will be available on the Climate Monitoring Products page and the U.S. Climate at a Glance Web site.

For graphics covering periods other than those mentioned above or for tables of national, regional, and statewide data from 1895—present, for January, last 3 months or other periods, please go to the Climate at a Glance page.

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National Overview:


Temperature Highlights
  • For the contiguous United States, the average temperature for January was 31.2°F (-0.4°C), which was 0.4°F (0.2°C) above the 20th century mean and ranked as the 59th warmest January on record, based on preliminary data.
  • Using the Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI - an index developed at NOAA to relate energy usage to climate), the nation's residential energy demand during January was approximately 3.0% above average consumption and ranked as the 34th highest in 115 years.
Precipitation Highlights
  • This was the 5th driest January in the 1895—2009 record. An average of 1.3 inches (32.8 mm) of precipitation fell across the contiguous U.S. this month, which is 0.9 inch (23.6 mm) below average.
Other Items of Note
  • Equatorial sea surface temperatures remained below average from the Date Line eastward to the South American coast and remained above average in the western Pacific. According to the Climate Prediction Center, nearly all of the dynamical and statistical models are forecasting La Niña conditions to weaken during the next several months, with an eventual transition to ENSO-neutral conditions. A developing La Niña may result in wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest and drier than normal conditions in the southwestern and southeastern U.S., as well as above average temperatures in the south-central and southwestern U.S. in the next three months. For additional information on ENSO conditions, please visit the NCDC ENSO Monitoring page and the latest NOAA ENSO Advisory.
Alaska:
  • Alaska had its 37th coolest January since records began in 1918, with a temperature 2.5°F (1.4°C) below the 1971—2000 average.

  • Alaska had its 43rd coolest November—January on record, with a temperature 1.3°F (0.7°C) below 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 January Climate Summary page. For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month of January, please visit NCDC's Extremes page. For details and graphics on weather events across the U.S. and the globe please visit NCDC's Global Hazards page.

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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 | Midwest | Southeast | High Plains | Southern | Western

Northeast Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Below normal temperatures chilled the Northeast this month, in fact, there were only 3 January's since 1983 that were colder than January 2009: 1994, 2003 and 2004. The regional average of 18.2°F (-7.7°C) was 4.8°F (2.7°C) below normal. Maine's average of 7.4°F (-13.7°C) placed January 2009 as the 8th coldest in 115 years. None of the Northeast states had above normal averages, but the southern states averaged slightly warmer, relatively speaking, than the northern ones. Departures ranged from 2.8°F (1.6°C) below normal in West Virginia to 6.2°F (3.4°C) below normal in Maine. Several minimum temperature records were set this month (see below), including a pending new state record minimum of -50°F (-45.3°C) recorded on the 16th at Big Black River, ME.

  • Precipitation totals were also below normal this month. The region's average of 2.22 inches (56 mm) was 66% of the normal January amount. Massachusetts' total was closest to normal, or 95%. Vermont was the driest state, with only 50% of the normal precipitation. While precipitation was below normal, cold temperatures insured that what fell out of the clouds was mainly in the form of snow or sleet. Many areas of the Northeast saw snow totals that were 10 to 20 inches (254 to 508 mm) above normal.

  • The precipitation that fell during the last week of January improved drought conditions in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Only portions of Pocahontas, Monroe and Mercer Counties along the West Virginia - Virginia border were in moderate drought when the U.S. Drought Monitor was updated on Feb 3, 2009. The same report indicated two small areas of abnormally dry conditions: one in eastern West Virginia and the other in northwestern Pennsylvania. Elsewhere in the Northeast, eastern New York and most of New England were experiencing extremely moist conditions, according to the January 31, 2009 Long Term Palmer Drought Severity Index.
For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
  • Although January got off to a mild start across all but the northern quarter of the Midwest, when all was said and done it was a cold month across the region. Temperatures in January ranged from slightly below normal in western Missouri to 6°F (3.3°C) - 8°F (4.4°C) below normal in the northeastern half of the Midwest. The middle of the month saw the coldest weather in more than 10 years for much of the Midwest. The coldest period was from January 14-17, when average daily temperatures ranged from less than -15°F (-26°C) in northern Minnesota to the low 20°F (-5°C to -6°C) in southern Missouri. This was, of course, much below normal, ranging from 24°F (13.3°c) below normal in the central Midwest to 10°F (5.6°c) below normal in southern Missouri. Hundreds of temperature records were set across the region during this period. Low temperatures of -40°F (-40°C) occurred several days in a row across northeastern Minnesota, with the coldest reading -48°F (-44°C) at Babbitt, MN on the morning of January 15. Low temperatures in the -30sF (-30s°C) were recorded as far south as central Iowa and northwestern Illinois. Based on preliminary January temperature data, this was the 10th coldest January on record for Michigan, the 11th coldest in Wisconsin, and the 13th coldest for Indiana and Ohio. It was the 20th coldest January in Iowa, and the 22nd coldest for both Minnesota and Illinois.

  • As a whole, the Midwest experienced a dry January. Precipitation ranged from less than 10 percent of normal in western Missouri to 150 percent of normal in eastern Kentucky and in the western upper peninsula of Michigan. However, until the storm of January 26-29, the only areas with normal to above normal precipitation were Michigan's Upper Peninsula, western Iowa, and extreme eastern Kentucky. The late January storm brought significant precipitation to an area from the Missouri Ozarks through the Ohio Valley. More than 3 inches (76 mm) of rain fell on most of Kentucky, with more than 5 inches (127 mm) in the extreme south. January snowfall was normal to much above normal from Iowa eastward through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, and from southeastern Missouri east-northeast along the Ohio River. Snowfall was also as much as 200 percent of normal in far northern Minnesota and in the Michigan U. P. At the end of the month snow covered most of the Midwest with the exception of western Missouri and southern Kentucky.

  • The cold, wintry weather had significant impacts this month. In Iowa, the Des Moines International Airport reported at mid-month that they already had exceeded their seasonal budget for de-icing solution having dealt with six freezing rain events in December and two up until that point in January. A major storm January 26-29 left behind a large area of 3 to 8 inches (76 to 203 mm) of snow from eastern Missouri through Ohio, with 12 to 16 inches (301 to 406 mm) in an area from southeastern Illinois through central Indiana. The storm also produced a large swath of freezing rain, as much as 1.5 inches (38 mm) in some areas, that caused extensive damage and knocked out power to almost a million customers in the Midwest. The worst of the damage was in Kentucky. Total ice accumulations greater than 1 inch (25.4 mm) were common along a line from Paducah to Lexington, which is where the majority of damage to trees and power lines occurred. An estimated 700,000 customers lost power in Kentucky alone.
For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest during January, see the weekly summaries in the MRCC Midwest Climate Watch page.

Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Mean temperatures for January 2009 were close to normal (within 2°F) across most of the region. Temperatures were slightly above normal across much of Alabama, western Florida, western Georgia and small portions of South Carolina. Slightly below normal temperatures were observed across the southern three-quarters of FL as well as portions of the Carolinas and Virginia. While mean temperatures were close to normal, the month featured strong swings in temperature as alternating masses of warm and cold air were advected across the area. Most notably, Arctic air swept into the region on January 15th behind a cold front and persisted across portions of the region over the next week. Minimum temperatures reached into the single digits and lower over much of the region, with exception to Florida. The mountainous areas experienced bitter cold temperatures; Mount Mitchell, North Carolina and Burkes Garden Virginia recorded low temperatures of -12 and -10 °F (-24 and -23°C) , respectively, on the 16th and 17th. Pelion, South Carolina and Archibold, Florida recorded minimum temperatures of 8°F and 15°F (-13 and -9°C) , respectively, on the 17th and 22nd. Vegetable growers in northern Florida reported significant damage, especially to sensitive crops like bell peppers and tomatoes. Blueberry blooms were damaged by the cold temperatures in southwestern Georgia. The tropical fish industry suffered losses up to 20% to 30% in uncovered ponds in the vicinity of Tampa and Lakeland Florida. Mean monthly temperatures were very close to normal across Puerto Rico.

  • Monthly precipitation totals were below normal across most of the region. Precipitation was less than 50% of normal across southern portions of North Carolina, much of South Carolina, Georgia, as well as southern and western Florida. Much of Puerto Rico experienced below normal precipitation totals for the month. West Palm Beach, Florida witnessed the driest January on record with only 0.11 inches (3 mm) of precipitation. The dryness in South Florida significantly increased the wildfire potential in that region. Above normal precipitation totals were recorded across a narrow band stretching northeastward across northern Alabama and NW Georgia as well as portions of southwestern Virginia. Rome, Georgia received 7.35 inches (186 mm) of precipitation, which ranked as the 3rd highest precipitation total for the month of January. Much of the precipitation across this region occurred on the 6th and 7th as several waves of low pressure moved along a northeast-southwest oriented stationary front. Rome, Georgia reported a two day precipitation total of 5.76 inches (146 mm). This rainfall provided some short term relief from the drought persisting across portions of the area. Monthly snowfall totals were relatively modest across much of the region. However, a significant snowfall event occurred across the eastern third of North Carolina on the 20th as a strong upper level disturbance spawned the development of a cyclone off of the Southeast Coast. Raleigh and Plymouth, North Carolina reported over 6 and 4 inches (152 and 102 mm) of snow, respectively. The associated upper-level disturbance produced locally heavy amounts of snow across northern Georgia and extreme western North Carolina. Dallas, Georgia, which is situated 25 miles northwest of Atlanta, received 5 inches (127 mm) of snow.

  • Drought conditions changed very little during the month. The region of extreme drought conditions shrank slightly across northwestern South Carolina and extreme NE Georgia as a result of the heavy precipitation on the 6th and 7th. Stream flow and groundwater levels continued to be low in this region; however, low demand for water resources prevented water supply systems from experiencing problems. Moderate drought conditions continued across western North Carolina, small portions of SW Virginia, and west central Florida. On the 6th and 7th, a series of small tornadoes caused minor damage to roofs and trees and destroyed one mobile home near Chattoogaville and Forsyth in northern Georgia. Strong wind gusts were reported across portions of the region on the 7th as a strong cyclone and frontal system passed rapidly through the region. Wind gusts of 63 and 56 MPH were reported near Goldsboro, North Carolina and Roanoke, Virginia, respectively.
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 majority of the High Plains region had average monthly temperatures which ranged from 6°F to 8°F (3.3°C to 4.4°C) above normal. Meanwhile, areas which were dominated by northwest flow had temperature departures of 2°F to 8°F (1.1°C to 4.4°C) below normal. An intrusion of arctic air in mid-January led to several daily minimum temperature records. One daily record includes Bismarck, North Dakota which recorded a low temperature of -44°F (-42.2°C) on January 15th. South Dakota was a state divided as the western half had above normal average monthly temperatures and the eastern half had below normal average monthly temperatures. For instance, Spearfish, which is located on the far western edge of the state, recorded an average temperature of 31.3°F (-0.4°C) which was the 8th warmest January on record. Meanwhile, Victor 4 NNE, which is located in the far northeast corner of the state, recorded an average temperature of 1.8°F (-16.8°C) which was the 3rd coldest January on record.

  • Little to no precipitation fell across a large area of the High Plains this month as much of the southern portion of the region received less than 50% of normal precipitation. Drought conditions persist across western North Dakota, western Wyoming, and southeastern Colorado as these areas also saw little to no precipitation. Areas that received ample precipitation included northwestern North Dakota, western South Dakota, eastern Wyoming, northwestern Colorado, and the panhandle of Nebraska. The Waubay National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota recorded its wettest January and received 2.22 inches (5.64 cm) of liquid equivalent precipitation, or 396% of normal precipitation.

  • High winds were recorded in the foothills of the Rockies on January 28th. Sustained winds of 72 mph (116 km/h) were reported 6 miles northwest of Boulder, CO. Wind gusts ranged from 65 mph (105 km/h) in Nederland, CO to 100 mph (161 km/h) 6 miles northwest of Boulder, CO. No damage was reported.
For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
  • Average Temperatures in the Southern Region remained fairly close to what is typically expected during the month of January. In general, temperatures were slightly above normal in northwestern and southern Texas; averaging 2-4° F (1-2°C) above the monthly normal. Similar anomalies were experienced in southern Louisiana. Elsewhere, temperatures varied only 0-2°F (0-1 °C) from normal.

  • January proved to be a very dry month in the Southern region with the majority of stations reporting only 25% of normal precipitation or less. In fact, many stations in west and southern Texas reported zero to less than one tenth of an inch (0-2.54 mm) of precipitation. Conditions were equally as dry in western and northern Oklahoma. In east Texas, many stations reported over an inch of precipitation, however; many of these stations were still 1-3 inches (25.4-76.2 mm) below the monthly mean. Similar values were observed in Louisiana, Mississippi and southern Arkansas. Counties in northern and eastern Tennessee reported above normal precipitation for the month, as did a small number of counties in northwestern Arkansas. In these regions, precipitation totals varied from 130% to 175% of normal. In eastern Tennessee, the excess precipitation should prove helpful in alleviating some of the drought that has taken hold there for several months.

  • Dry conditions in the Southern region during the month of January have led to a rather significant change in drought conditions, particularly within Texas and Oklahoma. In Texas, anomalously low precipitation values have resulted in an expansion in the extreme and exceptional drought from last month. In addition, a belt of severe drought is now recognized from southern Oklahoma to central Texas. In Louisiana, dry conditions there have led to a small area of moderate drought along the coast from Vermillion Bay to Barataria Bay. In contrast, anomalously high precipitation in eastern Tennessee has resulted in an improvement for much of the eastern third of the state. A small area of moderate drought, however; is still present along the state's eastern boundary.
For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Regional Climate Center)
  • Except for parts of the Pacific Northwest, January was quite mild throughout the region. Stagnant conditions and strong inversions caused cold fog to form in many valleys of Idaho, Oregon and Washington. In one 9 day stretch from the 16th to the 24th in Walla Walla, Washington, fog and low clouds persisted and temperatures ranged from only 25° to 32° F (F (-4° to 0° C) with 2 days having a daily temperature range of only 1° F (2° C). At the same time, in the Blue Mountains 20 miles east of Walla Walla and 4000 feet higher, conditions were sunny with temperatures in the mid 50's. Parts of Montana reached 60° F (15.5° C) mid-month while Pueblo, Colorado, reached 70° F (21° C) or higher on 4 consecutive days from the 19th to the 22nd. In Alaska, Fairbanks warmed nearly 100° F (55° C) over a span of a week with an all-time record January maximum temperature of 52 occurring on the 16th. This followed close on the heels of an extremely cold first 11 days where the average temperature was -40° F (-40° C). Anchorage set a new record for the warmest January minimum temperature ever at 36° F (2° C) on the 17th.

  • Most of the West had near or below normal precipitation, especially the Southwest and California. Many stations in New Mexico measured no precipitation for the month. Unless abnormally wet conditions occur in California over the next couple of months severe water restrictions will be enforced as the state faces its third straight dry winter. Snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was at only 60% of normal by the end of the month and many California reservoirs are at their lowest level in over 30 years. Snow conditions in the rest of the West, however, fared better with most of the intermountain region at or near normal, even New Mexico. By contrast, the panhandle of Alaska was quite wet with Juneau recording its second wettest January back to 1948 and the snowiest all-time with 75.2 inches (1910 mm). Yakutat set a new January daily record with 7.44 inches (189 mm) falling on the 18th. Although parts of the Pacific Northwest faced severe flooding during the first week of January, the monthly rainfall ended up near or slightly below normal as high pressure dominated for the rest of the month.

  • Jan 1-2: Heavy rain and flooding caused significant flooding in parts of northwest Oregon. Over 4 inches (102 mm) caused numerous landslides closing highway 101 near Cloverdale and highway 22 near Grande Ronde. One person was killed her vehicle was submerged in the North Fork of Eagle Creek in Clackamas County while 5 others were injured when a landslide slammed into a house in Lake Oswego at 1 in the morning.

    Jan 6-7: Heavy rain and flooding in western Washington on the 6th caused heavy rain up to 8000 feet. There was record flooding on the Naselle River as it crested to over 4 feet above flood stage. Up to 10 inches (254 mm) of rain fell in parts of the Washington Cascades causing numerous temporary road closures (including Interstates 5 and 90) due to flooding and mudslides.

    Jan 7: Winds gusting to 90 mph along the Front Range near Boulder caused the collapse of a transformer igniting a fire that eventually burned over 1500 acres and caused the evacuations of about 900 homes. Two firefighters were injured and at least four structures were lost.

    Jan 15: Strong southerly flow produced surface winds of over 100 mph in parts of Alaska and temperatures in the interior up to 100° F (45° C) warmer than the previous week. This produced some rain in Anchorage with local small stream flooding and extreme avalanche conditions in the mountains.
For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Alaska: (Information provided by Audrey Rubel at NOAA NWS Alaska Region Headquarters.)
  • It was quite a cold start to the New Year for nearly all of Alaska. The widespread cold snap persisted for the first half of the month and was followed by a dramatic warm up with record or near-record daily temperatures courtesy of a Chinook event. On the 14th, 16th and 17th, high temperatures of 44°, 52°, and 48°F (6.6°, 11.1°, 8.9°C) were all records for the respective dates in Fairbanks (central Interior). In addition, low temperatures of 27°F (-2.3°C) on the 16th and 22°F (-5.6°C) on the 19th were both record high minimum temperatures. After the warm up, most locations felt a drop in temperatures and a return to more seasonable conditions. Overall, January ended up being colder than normal for most locations, aside from just a few spots such as Barrow on the Arctic coast and Yakutat on the northern edge of the southeast panhandle. The cold was especially strong at St. Paul Island as it is feeling the effects of the Arctic ice pack. The mean monthly temperature for January at this northern Pribilof Island was 17.0°F (-8.3°C), nine degrees below normal, which overtakes 2006 as the coldest on record.

  • For precipitation, the big story by far was the record snow amounts in the southeast. Monthly totals set new records at Juneau (75.2 inches or 1910 mm), Auke Bay (72.5 inches or 1842 mm), Pelican (80.0 inches or 2032 mm), and Elfin Cove (78.9 inches or 2004 mm). Daily amounts were quite high as well with some 24-hour totals of more than one foot. In Juneau, new records were set on four days - 5.9 inches (150 mm) on the 4th, 12.4 inches (315 mm) on the 8th, 6.1 inches (155 mm) on the 10th, and 9.1 inches (231 mm) on the 26th. In general though across Alaska, precipitation (melted snow and rain) was at or above normal for much of the state, with the exception of the central Interior and parts of the southwest.

See NCDC's Monthly Extremes web-page for weather and climate records for the month of January. For additional national, regional, and statewide data and graphics from 1895-present, for January, the last 3 months or other periods, please visit the Climate at a Glance page.

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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 Climate Monitoring Products page and the Climate at a Glance page as they become available.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: National Overview for January 2009, published online February 2009, retrieved on April 19, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2009/jan.