National Climate Report - January 2016
January Average Temperature Departures
January Percent of Average Precipitation
- Climate Highlights — January
- The January contiguous U.S. average temperature was 32.2°F, 2.1°F above the 20th century average, ranking as the 34th warmest January on record.
- The contiguous U.S. average maximum (daytime) temperature was 41.9°F, 1.4°F above the 20th century average, ranking near the median value in the 122-year period of record. The average minimum temperature was 22.5°F, 2.8°F above average, the 24th warmest on record.
- Above-average temperatures were observed across the West, Northern and Central Plains, Upper Midwest, and the Northeast. Maine observed its 11th warmest January on record. Below-average temperatures occurred in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.
- Alaska had its fifth warmest January on record. The statewide average temperature of 17.1°F was 15.0°F above the long-term average. Much-above-average temperatures were observed throughout the state, with slightly above-average temperatures across the Aleutians.
- During January, there were about 3.5 times more record warm daily maximum and minimum temperature records compared to cold daily maximum and minimum temperature records. There were 1,544 warm daily temperature records (646 maximum and 898 minimum) compared to 442 cold daily temperature records (286 maximum and 156 minimum).
- Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January was 18 percent below average and the 41th lowest value on record.
- The January precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.03 inches, 0.28 inch below the 20th century average, the 36th driest January on record.
- Above-average precipitation fell across parts of the West and in Florida. Parts of Florida were record wet and the statewide precipitation total of 5.96 inches was 3.00 inches above average and ranked as the fourth wettest January for the state.
- According to an analysis of NOAA data by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the January contiguous U.S. snow cover extent was 1.65 million square miles, 286,000 square miles above the 1981-2010 average, and the seventh largest in the 50-year period of record. Above-average snow cover was observed across the West, Northern Plains, and Northeast, with below-average snow cover in parts of the Southern Plains.
- According to the February 2nd U.S. Drought Monitor report, 15.5 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down from 18.7 percent at the end of December. Drought conditions improved for parts of the West and Northeast, with drought worsening in parts of the Northern Rockies and Plains. January was drier than average for much of Hawaii, with many locations receiving less than 25 percent of normal monthly precipitation. Honolulu had its driest January on record, receiving just 0.01 inches of rainfall. The January normal rainfall for Honolulu is 2.31 inches and the previous record dry January of 1924 received 0.12 inches. Abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions expanded to the entire state.
- A powerful winter storm hit the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast from January 22-24, with snow falling from Arkansas to Massachusetts, impacting more than 100 million people. Several cities, including Baltimore, Maryland and New York City, set new all-time snowfall records. Impacts were widespread with power outages, more than 13,000 flight cancellations and severe coastal flooding. On the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS), the storm rated as a Category 4 (Crippling) winter storm and ranked as the fourth most impactful winter storm since 1950. Only winter storms in 1993, 1996, and 1960 ranked higher.
- Drought continued to shrink across much of the U.S. during January, resulting in the smallest drought footprint since October 2010. Several Pacific storms slammed into the West Coast, bringing beneficial precipitation but causing coastal erosion. At higher elevations, above-average mountain snowpack was observed across the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which have been snow starved for several winters. Despite the slightly improved drought conditions in the West, longer-term precipitation deficits persist with exceptional drought continuing for 39 percent of California. Reservoir levels across California continued to be much below average. Drought conditions were nearly non-existent east of the Rockies.
**A comparison of the national temperature departure from average as calculated by NCDC's operational dataset (nClimDiv), the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN), and the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) is available on our National Temperature Index page.**
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)
- With an average temperature of 24.9 degrees F (-3.9 degrees C), the Northeast was 1.7 degrees F (0.9 degrees C) warmer than normal in January. Nine of the twelve states saw above-normal temperatures, with four ranking this January among their top 20 warmest: Maine, 11th warmest; New Hampshire, 14th warmest; Vermont, 17th warmest; and Massachusetts, 20th warmest. Temperature departures for all states ranged from 3.2 degrees F (1.8 degrees C) below normal in West Virginia to 6.0 degree F (3.3 degrees C) above normal in Maine.
- The Northeast received 2.25 inches (57.15 mm) of precipitation in January, which was 73 percent of normal. All states were drier than normal, with four ranking this January among their top 20 driest: 14th driest in New York, 15th driest in Vermont, and 17th driest in Connecticut and New Hampshire. Precipitation ranged from 54 percent of normal in Vermont to 97 percent of normal in New Jersey.
- The U.S. Drought Monitor from January 7 showed 28 percent of the Northeast was abnormally dry, while another 7 percent was experiencing moderate drought. The January 22 to 24 snowstorm helped ease dry conditions in some areas. By month's end, 23 percent of the region was abnormally dry and 3 percent was experiencing moderate drought.
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Washington National, DC had their latest first trace of snow on record on January 12. Ten days later, both sites were in the bull's-eye of a historic snowstorm, which dropped up to 42 inches (107 cm) of snow on parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic from January 22 to 24. Eight of the Northeast's 35 major airport climate sites had their greatest 1-day snowfall on January 23. In fact, five sites received more snow on that one day than they normally get in an entire snow season. Winds gusted up to 75 mph (34 m/s), causing blizzard conditions for up to nine hours. Preliminary data indicated that several sites along the New Jersey and Delaware coasts saw record or near-record high water levels, even higher than those during Sandy in some cases, which resulted in moderate to major flooding. Early estimates indicated damage in Cape May County, New Jersey was $67 million. Offshore wave heights were up to 27 feet (8 m), with 6 to 15 foot (2 to 5 m) waves near the coast. The high seas carved out cliffs up to 15 feet (5 m) high in some dunes. Of the 66 beach areas surveyed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, 40 beaches experienced moderate to major erosion. All flights into and out of Philadelphia and the three Baltimore-Washington area airports were cancelled on January 23, with very limited flights in the New York City area. Between January 22 and 26, more than 13,000 flights were cancelled nationwide. Numerous roads were also shut down or impassable. A backup on the Pennsylvania Turnpike left more than 500 vehicles stranded for almost 24 hours. Travel bans were enacted in some areas, such as New York City and Baltimore. Public transportation services were also suspended. As communities dug out, schools were closed for up to a week. In addition, more than 100,000 customers lost power during the storm, with the greatest number in New Jersey. The weight of the snow also caused some roofs to collapse. The storm was given a preliminary value of 17.758 on the National Centers for Environmental Information's Regional Snowfall Index scale, making it a category 4 (crippling) storm and the sixth highest ranked storm for the Northeast. Above-normal temperatures in December and January left many lakes unfrozen or with thin ice. With Lakes Erie and Ontario mostly unfrozen, two lake-effect events each dropped up to 3 feet (1 m) of snow on parts of western and northern New York between January 10 and 14. In New Hampshire and Maine, several ice fishing tournaments had to be postponed.
- 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 in the Midwest averaged slightly above normal. It was the fifth straight month above normal following a cool summer in 2015. The northern parts of the regions were 2 to 4 degrees F (1.1 to 2.2 C) above normal while in the south, Kentucky and southern Ohio, were 1 to 3 degrees F (0.6 to 1.7 C) below normal. Temperatures in mid-January dropped to below zero F (-17.8 C) in parts of all nine states, easily the coldest weather of the season. Warmer than normal conditions in the first and last week of the month offset that cold spell however.
- January precipitation was generally below normal across the Midwest though there were pockets of above normal precipitation located mostly in the northern half of the region. Statewide values were just over 90 percent of normal in Michigan and ranged from about 40 to 75 percent of normal in the other eight states. Snowfall was above normal for January in two locations. In northern Michigan, lake-effect snows dropped 2 to 3 feet (60 to 90 cm) of snow downwind of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Kentucky and southern parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio picked up above normal snowfall as well. Much of the snow fell during the early stages of a storm that continued eastward dropping heavy snows in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states.
- The dry conditions in January helped draw down rivers still flooded from the plentiful rains of December. Flooding had largely moved downstream beyond the Midwest by the middle of January. Despite the dry month, the Midwest remained free of drought during the month. Only a small percentage of the region was classified as abnormally dry.
- Snow in January caused several multi-vehicle accidents that closed interstate highways in the Midwest. On the 12th, separate incidents in Indiana closed parts of I-64, I-74, and I-70. In Michigan on the 17th, I-94 was closed for most of the day due to an accident that involved nearly 200 vehicles, injured more than 20 people, and caused one fatality. The highway was completely closed in both directions for more than 14 hours and was not completely reopened for two days.
- For further details on the weather and climate events in the Midwest, see the weekly and monthly reports at the Midwest Climate Watch page.
- Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
- Temperatures were slightly below average across the Southeast region, with very few extremes observed during January. The greatest departures in mean temperature were found across western North Carolina, western Virginia, and localized pockets across the southern portion of the region, where monthly departures were 3 to 4 degrees F (1.7 to 2.2 degrees C) below average. However, there were no long-term (i.e. period of record exceeding 50 years) stations across the region with monthly mean temperatures that were ranked within the top 5 coldest values. Temperatures were well above average in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as San Juan, PR (1899-2016) tied its fifth warmest January mean temperature on record. Across the Southeast, the warmest weather occurred at the end of the month, as moist tropical air surged northward ahead of an approaching frontal boundary. Daily maximum temperatures exceeded 60 degrees F (15.6 degrees C) and daily minimum temperatures remained above 30 degrees F (-1.1 degrees C) across much of the region. In contrast, the coldest weather of the month occurred from the 19th through the 20th, as a strong Canadian high pressure system settled over the region. During this 2-day period, minimum temperatures fell below 25 degrees F (-3.9 degrees C) across a broad portion of the region north of Florida, with numerous locations recording values below 10 degrees F (-12.2 degrees C) in western North Carolina and Virginia.
- Precipitation was highly variable across the Southeast region during January, with several extremes recorded. The driest locations were found across east-central Georgia, central portions of the Carolinas, and southwestern Virginia, where monthly precipitation totals were between 50 and 25 percent of normal. Precipitation was also well below normal across much of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with the exception of southwestern portions of Puerto Rico. Christiansted, USVI (1952-2016) observed its second driest January on record with only 0.50 inch (12.7 mm) of precipitation. In contrast, the wettest locations were found across central and southern Florida as well as northern Virginia, where monthly precipitation totals ranged from 150 to 600 percent of normal. Fort Myers, FL (1892-2016) and Vero Beach, FL (1943-2016) observed their wettest January on record with 12.98 (330 mm) and 9.39 inches (239 mm) of precipitation, respectively. On the 27th, Fort Myers observed its wettest January day on record with 3.29 inches (83.6 mm) of precipitation. Miami, FL (1912-2016) observed its second wettest January on record with 7.57 inches (192 mm) of precipitation. Measurable snowfall was reported in every state across the region, except Florida, during the month. From the 4th through the 5th, a dusting of Chesapeake Bay-effect snow occurred along northern portions of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. On the 22nd and 23rd, a strong coastal cyclone produced record-breaking snowfall and blizzard conditions across northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., including a 52 mph wind gust recorded at Washington Dulles Airport on the 23rd. Sterling-Dulles Airport, VA (1962-2016) observed its second greatest 1-day and 2-day snowfall on record with 22.1 (561 mm) and 29.3 inches (744 mm), respectively. Washington, D.C. (1884-2016) tied its fifth greatest 2-day snowfall on record with 17.8 inches (452 mm). Several locations in western North Carolina also recorded exceptional snowfall amounts during this winter storm. Asheville, NC (1870-2016) observed its sixth greatest 1-day snowfall on record with 13.4 inches (340 mm), and a preliminary report indicates that Mt. Mitchell, NC (1980-2016) observed its greatest 1-day and 2-day snowfall on record with 41.0 (1,041 mm) and 52.0 inches (1,321 mm), respectively.
- There were 66 severe weather reports across the Southeast during January, which is very close to the median monthly frequency of 62 reports during 2000-2014. Nearly 90 percent (58 of 66) of these severe weather reports occurred in Florida, with 80 percent (47 of 58) occurring from damaging thunderstorm winds and 20 percent (11 of 58) from tornadoes. At least one severe weather report was recorded within the region on 10 days during the month. On the 17th, an 82 mph thunderstorm wind gust was recorded at Naples Municipal Airport in Florida, causing damage to several planes and significant tree damage at nearby Naples Zoo. Nine tornadoes (3 EF-0s, 3 EF-1s, 3 EF-2s) were confirmed across the region during the month, which is greater than the short-term (2000-2014) median frequency of 6 tornadoes observed during January. All 9 tornadoes occurred across central and southern Florida in association with an unusually strong and persistent subtropical jet stream over this region. Since 1950, three EF-2 tornadoes have been observed in Florida in only three other months of January (1973, 1978, 1979), with two of these occurring during El Niño events (1973 and 1978). On the 9th, an EF-2 tornado touched down in Cape Coral, FL, damaging over 175 structures (14 homes with major damage) and downing over 100 power poles. On the 17th, another EF-2 tornado touched down in Duette, FL, causing 2 fatalities and 4 injuries after destroying a mobile home. A total of 11 injuries were reported from 4 of the 9 tornadoes that occurred during the month.
- Drought conditions (D1 and greater) were not observed across the Southeast region (excluding Puerto Rico) during January. The extent of moderate-to-extreme (D1 through D3) drought conditions across portions of eastern and southern Puerto Rico remained at 42 percent during the month. Unusually wet conditions resulted in numerous agricultural impacts across southern Florida. Yields of several vegetable crops, including celery and green bell peppers, were significantly reduced due to poor field conditions from excessive rainfall. Many corn plants in flooded fields across southern Florida were knocked down by high winds during the month, with some growers reporting estimated losses of 50 to 90 percent. Winter forage, including rye grass, showed signs of stress and disease in saturated soils across parts of central and northern Florida.
- 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 )
- It would be tough to summarize January's climate conditions across the High Plains region in a few words, as a wide range of conditions occurred. There were very few top 10 rankings for temperature and precipitation this month, as most places did not see extremes one way or the other. One exception is Jamestown, North Dakota, which experienced its driest January on record and only recorded a trace of precipitation (period of record 1949-2016). Much of the state had below normal precipitation in January, as did many other areas across the High Plains. Wetter conditions prevailed in parts of Wyoming and Colorado, as well as an area from northern Kansas northward through southeastern South Dakota. Temperature records were not particularly impressive this month, but most notably, North Dakota experienced temperatures that were 2.0-6.0 degrees F (1.1-3.3 degrees C) above normal. It was cooler than normal in parts of Wyoming and Colorado, and a constant snowpack may have kept temperatures cooler across the Nebraska panhandle and western South Dakota. El Niño is also impacting Rocky Mountain snowpack, as forecasts for below normal snowpack in the Northern Rockies and above normal snowpack in the Southern Rockies have verified thus far.
- A powerful winter storm struck the eastern U.S. the weekend of January 22-24. Heavy snow and high winds caused blizzard conditions and impacted an area from Arkansas to Massachusetts that included East Coast cities such as New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. More than 30.0 inches (76 cm) of snow fell in one day at John. F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Allentown, Pennsylvania, obliterating their previous records for maximum one-day total snowfall. The blizzard caused major travel and transportation disruptions in the larger cities, Broadway shows in New York were cancelled, and storm surge from the blizzard caused coastal flooding in New Jersey. Even southern cities had impressive snow totals. For instance, Nashville, Tennessee received over a year's worth of snowfall with this storm, coming in at 8.0 inches (20 cm). This amount was 1.7 inches (4 cm) higher than the city's normal annual snowfall.
- The warm pattern that had been prominent throughout most of the High Plains region since fall continued into January for parts of the area, including North Dakota, northern Wyoming, eastern Colorado, central Nebraska, and much of Kansas. The warmth in January was particularly impressive across North Dakota, as much of the state experienced temperatures that were 2.0-6.0 degrees F (1.1-3.3 degrees C) above normal. The city of Minot, North Dakota had its 8th warmest January on record (period of record 1949-2016). January began in Minot with above normal temperatures, then temperatures dipped below normal during a cold spell in the middle of the month, and then they soared back to above normal to end the month. The warmth of the last 10 days of January was so impressive, the entire month ended above normal. In fact, Minot set a record on January 29th for the highest maximum temperature, which was 48.0 degrees F (8.9 degrees C), and highest minimum temperature, which was 38.0 degrees F (3.3 degrees C), that were ever recorded on that day.
- January temperatures were not above normal everywhere in the region. Southern Wyoming, western and central Colorado, southern South Dakota, the Nebraska panhandle, and eastern Nebraska experienced near normal to slightly below normal temperatures in January. It is worth noting that many of these regions also experienced above normal precipitation for the month. The below normal temperatures were not record-breaking, however.
- Both above normal and below normal precipitation occurred in the High Plains region in January, which is a very different story from the record-breaking wetness experienced by parts of the region in December. Southern Wyoming and western and central Colorado were wetter than normal, as several systems moved through and impacted this region. Casper, Wyoming recorded 0.99 inches (25 mm) of precipitation, which was its 6th wettest January on record (period of record 1940-2016). A strong storm system impacted Wyoming and Colorado at the end of the month, bringing widespread snow accumulations to the Rockies. This snowfall benefited recreational areas such as Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where skiers and snowboarders were out enjoying the fresh snow.
- Northeastern Kansas and southeastern Nebraska also experienced above normal precipitation in January. A storm system came through around the 20th of the month that brought a wintry mix to the region and over 9.0 inches (23 cm) of snow to the communities of Haddam and Washington in Kansas. Another system followed soon after on the 25th that mostly impacted southeastern Nebraska, bringing an initial period of freezing rain and causing minor ice accumulations before changing over to snow. The highest snowfall total in the area was 5.5 inches (14 cm), which fell in the community of Crete. Northeastern Kansas and southeastern Nebraska were often in the path of storm systems during the past few months, which has kept the region fairly wet since November.
- On the dry side, areas experiencing below normal precipitation included the Dakotas, northern Wyoming, eastern Colorado, western and central Nebraska, and western and southern Kansas. Jamestown, North Dakota had its driest January on record, recording only a trace of precipitation the entire month (period of record 1949-2016). Worland, Wyoming was also rather dry, as January 2016 came in as the 6th driest January on record with only 0.03 inches (1 mm) of precipitation (period of record 1961-2016). Worland is in the Bighorn Mountains area of northern Wyoming that has been experiencing below normal precipitation since the fall, resulting in a below normal snowpack and the development of drought conditions.
- The snowpack story for January is very similar to December. Snowpack continued to do well in Colorado, as the Rockies experienced above normal precipitation. Snow water equivalent was still above 100 percent of median for most of the state as of the end of January, with the exception of a few SNOTEL sites in the northern part of the state. As for Wyoming, snowpack improved in the western and southern parts of the state, but it is still below normal in the Bighorn Mountains in northern Wyoming, a region that is now in drought. Because it is early in the season, it is important to keep in mind that these conditions can change quite dramatically over the course of the season.
- Just like last month, drought conditions both improved and degraded across parts of the High Plains region in January, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The biggest improvement came in North Dakota, where moderate drought (D1) and abnormal dryness (D0) were reduced in the south-central part of the state. The region in D0-D1 improved from about 39 percent to just over 25 percent from the beginning to the end of the month. This area received some snowfall in mid-January, helping to alleviate drought and dry conditions there.
- The D1 that was introduced in northern Wyoming in December expanded southward in January to include parts of central Wyoming. The area in drought in the state was nearly 13 percent as of the end of the month. Precipitation has been below normal in this region since the summer. The area in drought includes the Bighorn Mountains, where the snowpack season got off to a slow start and has yet to recover. D0 also expanded into areas west of the region in drought so that just over three-quarters of Wyoming was experiencing D0 or D1 conditions as of the end of January.
- The rest of the region remained relatively unchanged in January where drought is concerned. Because this is the driest time of the year and soils are frozen, drought conditions do not normally change rapidly. Impacts from drought or dryness are also typically minimal this time of year due to factors such as little agricultural activity.
- For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center) s
- January average temperatures were generally near normal across the Southern Region, with most stations reporting averages within 2 degrees F (1.11 degrees C) of expected values. One exception to this occurred in eastern Tennessee, where many station averaged between 3-5 degrees F (1.67-2.78 degrees C) below normal. The state-wide average temperatures for the month are as follows: Arkansas averaged 39.30 degrees F (4.06 degrees C), Louisiana averaged 48.70 degrees F (9.28 degrees C), Mississippi averaged 43.90 degrees F (6.61 degrees C), Oklahoma averaged 38.20 degrees F (3.44 degrees C), Tennessee averaged 34.80 degrees F (1.56 degrees C), and Texas averaged 46.40 degrees F (8.00 degrees C). Oklahoma and Texas experienced a slightly warmer than normal month, while the four remaining states experienced a slightly cooler than normal month. For Tennessee it was their thirty-fifth coldest January on record. All other state rankings fell within the two middle quartiles. All ranking records are based on the period spanning 1895-2016.
- January precipitation in Southern Region did not vary much from state to state in terms of anomalies, except for in central Texas and central Oklahoma, where precipitation totals were generally below twenty-five percent of normal. Elsewhere in the region, precipitation totals varied between 25 to 75 percent of normal in Arkansas, and mostly between 50 to 100 percent of normal in Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. The state-wide precipitation totals for the month are as follows: Arkansas reporting 2.09 inches (53.09 mm), Louisiana reporting 4.48 inches (113.79 mm), Mississippi reporting 3.79 inches (96.27 mm), Oklahoma reporting 0.51 inches (12.95 mm), Tennessee reporting 2.69 inches (68.33 mm), and Texas reporting 0.92 inches (23.37 mm). Both Oklahoma and Tennessee experienced their eighteenth driest January on record, while it was the thirty-third driest January on record for both Mississippi and Texas. Arkansas recorded its twenty-fourth driest January on Record, while Louisiana's ranking fell within the middle two quartiles (fifty-fourth driest). All state ranking records are based on the period spanning 1895-2015.
- Although all six states in the Southern Region experienced a drier than normal month, the region remains drought-free. Below average temperatures could account for this as they tend to reduce the water demand on soils.
- There were not many severe weather days in the Southern Region through January. On January 21, 2016, however, several tornadoes were reported in south western Mississippi. These tornadoes occurred mostly in Copiah and Lamar Counties, but there were also reports submitted in Simpson County, Scott County, and in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana. In Lamar County, over a dozen homes suffered severe damage from an EF2 rated twister. In Collinsville, Mississippi, a church was heavily damaged from a tornado that was spawned from a supercell thunderstorm. Despite the reported damage, there were no injuries or fatalities.
- The new year also saw near record stage levels for the Mississippi River in the Southern Region. Many communities reported flooding from Tennessee through Mississippi. In Vicksburg, the river crested near the middle of the month as just over 50 feet (15.24 m). In Louisiana, the Bonnet Carre Spillway in St. Charles Parish was opened to allow the rushing Mississippi floodwaters to bypass New Orleans. On January 18, the river crested at Baton rouge, with a stage slightly higher than 43 feet (13.11 m). Although the US Army Corps of Engineers did consider opening the Morganza Spillway, they were confident that this would not be necessary. The total dollar amount of this flooding event is yet to be determined.
- In Texas, cold fronts brought chilly, windy conditions to parts of the state for longer periods of time, but nothing extreme. West Texas was a different story winter storms causing travel impacts and accumulating snow. While snow did not linger for long, heavy winds and snow drifts caused dairy and cattle ranchers to suffer heavy losses: an estimated 30,000 dairy cows died during the event early in the month. The cold weather did little to damage winter wheat in the South Plains. Cold temperatures helped prevent crop disease from spreading and snow insulated crops to keep them from wilting. The winter weather caused the Texas Tech athletic center to collapse due to heavy snow accumulations and caused the university and surrounding high schools to cancel track and field meets.(Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
- Texas rains associated with El Niño caused $1.2 billion in damages according to the Texas Insurance Council. This was a preliminary report and could continue to rise as insurance reports are filed. Other estimates from late December/early January weather include $13 million in roadway damage in Kaufman County.
- For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
- Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)
- Several storms affected the West this month, with above normal precipitation in many areas, and constant or added mountain snowpack. Temperatures were slightly below normal in the south and near to slightly above normal along the coast and northern tier.
- Storms battered southern California and the Southwest during the first week of the month. By January 7, San Diego had already received 150% of its normal January precipitation, finishing the month with a total 3.21 in (82 mm), 162% of normal. The storms also affected Arizona, where Phoenix received 124% of its normal January precipitation in the first week of the month. January precipitation in Phoenix totaled 1.31 in (33 mm), 140% of normal. Farther north, a series of moderate storms brought precipitation throughout the month. In California's central Valley, Fresno observed a total 4.42 in (112 mm), 202% of normal and the 5th wettest January since records began in 1948. In coastal northern California, Arcata logged its second wettest January on record at 12.3 in (312 mm), 150% of normal. Parts of the Great Basin were wet as well. Ely, Nevada, recorded 2.48 in (63 mm) precipitation, the second wettest January since records began in 1888. Much of this precipitation fell as snow; new snowfall totaled 35.4 in (90 cm) for the month, the snowiest January on record and 3rd snowiest of any month at Ely. To the east, Salt Lake City, Utah, recorded 1.94 in (49 mm), 155% of normal and 16th wettest since records began in 1928. In northwestern Colorado, Hayden observed its 11th wettest January in a 108-year record at 2.74 in (70 mm), 171% of normal. Eastern Washington also saw a large area of above normal precipitation; Wenatchee recorded its 3rd wettest January in a 58-year record with 2.22 in (56 mm), 209% of normal.
- Snowpack increased or held steady for western mountains this month. The Sierra Nevada saw beneficial snowfall and ended January at 113% of normal snow water equivalent (SWE). This was the first time since 2011 that above normal snowpack was observed there at the end of January. Near to slightly above normal SWE was reported in the Cascades. SWE across Great Basin ranges was generally 150% of normal at month's end. Much of the Rocky Mountains saw SWE values near normal. The month helped to reduce drought conditions in much of the West. The US Drought Monitor showed large areas of improvement in the eastern Great Basin, eastern Washington and Oregon, and northern Arizona.
- A few areas of the West saw drier than normal conditions this month. In eastern New Mexico, Tucumcari received no measurable precipitation this month (normal is 0.46 in/12 mm). This occurred 12 other times in the station's 76-year record. In northwestern Wyoming, Buffalo Bill Dam reported 0.05 in (1 mm), 15% of normal. Persistent drier than normal conditions along the Wyoming-Montana border have moved the area into abnormally dry/moderate drought on the US Drought Monitor.
- Most locations across the West saw temperatures within 2 F (1 C) of normal. A few locations in central California and along the northern tier of the region recorded above normal temperatures. Temperatures averaged 51.8 F (11 C) in Bakersfield, California, 4 F (2 C) above normal, the 9th warmest January since records began in 1937. The eastern Great Basin and Southwest saw pockets of much cooler than normal temperatures. Ely, Nevada, recorded an average temperature of 19.4 F (-7 C), 5.9 F (3 C) below normal and the 14th coldest January since temperature records began in 1893.
- Temperatures were above normal throughout the state of Alaska this month. In the coastal southwest, temperatures at King Salmon averaged to 32.4 F (0.2 C), 16.2 F (9 C) above normal and tied for 4th warmest since records began in 1917. Further inland, McGrath had its 6th warmest January in a 76-year record at 8.5 F (-13 C), 14.9 F (8.3 C) above normal. Precipitation was generally below normal for the state this month, though some areas on the southern and northern coasts saw above normal totals. Fairbanks recorded only 0.01 in (<1 mm) for the month, 2% of normal and tied with 1966 for driest January since records began in 1929. Consistent with a strong El Niño episode, Hawaii saw below normal precipitation statewide this month. Most reporting stations observed less than 25% of normal precipitation. Honolulu recorded 0.03 in (<1 mm) of rainfall for the second driest January in a 77-year record. Temperatures were near to slightly above normal for much of the state, though Hilo observed its second warmest January on record at 74.1 F (23 C), 2.7 F (1.5 C) above normal.
- January 5-6: Strong winter storm caused flash flooding in San Diego County: Heavy rain fell over much of San Diego County, causing flash flooding on roadways throughout the region, flooding of homes and businesses, and minor debris flows. Strong winds downed trees and caused power outages.
- January (all month): Coastal erosion in Pacifica, California: High tides, high surf and heavy rains caused erosion of coastal cliffs in Pacifica, causing the city to declare a local state of emergency. The erosion threatens a number of homes along the cliff.
- January 31: Major accident, closure on Interstate 80 in California due to snowstorm: Slick roads following back-to-back storms resulted in a 29 vehicle accident on I-80 near Truckee, California, closing the major highway for 2 hours.
- For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.