NATIONAL WEATHER SUMMARY
1-3: Very cold weather returned to the western and central U.S., accompanied by light precipitation. Readings below -10°F occurred throughout the northwestern half of the Plains, while sub-zero temperatures were noted northwest of a line from northern New Mexico to southern Wisconsin. Portions of the southern High Plains experienced a protracted winter weather event, with periods of freezing and frozen precipitation occurring from December 30 – January 2. Meanwhile, Western precipitation was generally light, although snow fell at unusually low elevations in the Southwest. In California’s key watershed areas, mostly dry weather prevailed for a second consecutive week, following a highly beneficial, 3-week wet spell. For much of the week, warmth prevailed in the Southeast. In Georgia, daily record highs for December 28 reached 80F in Alma and Savannah. Daily records were also set in Florida locations such as Orlando (84F on December 29) and Miami (83F on December 30). Elsewhere in Florida, Vero Beach posted daily-record highs (85 and 83F, respectively) on December 29 and January 3. Lakeland, FL, also registered a daily record high (84F) for January 3. Cold weather lingered through week’s end in the Southwest, where Thermal, CA, notched additional daily record lows (21 and 20F, respectively) on January 1-2. New Year’s Day temperatures were the lowest on record for January 1 in Kingman, AZ (13F); Campo, CA (16F); and Los Angeles—LAX Airport, CA (36F). Rare snow accompanied the Southwestern chill. In Needles, CA, where 0.3 inch fell on December 31, snow had not fallen since February 2, 1985. Meanwhile, Flagstaff, AZ, reported a 17.3-inch snowfall on December 31 – January 1.
4-10: Generally dry conditions and frigid weather prevailed from the Plains to the East Coast. As a result, weekly temperatures averaged at least 10F below normal across large sections of the Plains, mid-South, and Midwest. In fact, the coldest weather of the season threatened unprotected winter wheat across. Farther west, much of the northern and central Plains at times, sub-zero temperatures were noted as far south as Colorado and Kansas. Although snow was not present across the southern Plains, temperatures stayed above 0F. Temperatures below 40F occurred in Florida’s northern citrus belt on January 8 and in Deep South Texas on January 10. In contrast, mild weather dominated the West, where temperatures averaged at least 10F above normal in portions of the Intermountain region and Great Basin. Fleeting warmth prevailed in the East on January 4, when daily record highs included 86F in Vero Beach, FL, and 70F in Georgetown, DE. Cold conditions dominated the central and eastern U.S. for the remainder of the week. Despite the surge of frigid air into the nation’s mid-section, relatively few record lows were set. By January 6, however, enough cold air reached the Northeast to set a daily record low (-13F) in Bangor, ME. The following day, Watertown, NY (-27F), notched a record-setting low for January 7. Later, a strong push of cold air into the Southeast led to daily-record lows for January 8 in locations such as Greensboro, NC (6F); Anniston, AL (10F); Greenwood, MS (10F); and Pensacola, FL (19F). Chilly weather lingered in the East through week’s end, when Parkersburg, WV, posted a daily record low of -4F on January 10. In contrast, a large number of daily record highs were established in the West, especially during the early to mid-week period. Record setting highs for January 5 reached 61F in Yakima, WA, and 58F in The Dalles, OR. Camarillo, CA, registered consecutive daily-record highs (82 and 85F, respectively) on January 5-6. Other daily record highs on January 6 in southern California soared to 87F in Escondido and 82°F in Santa Barbara. During another wave of records on January 7, highs surged to daily-record levels in Phoenix, AZ (81F), and Monterey, CA (80F).
11-17: Precipitation mostly bypassed California, extending a stretch of unfavorably dry weather to 4 weeks. The average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack remained stuck at 5 inches, just over one-third of the mid-January normal. Meanwhile, mostly dry weather accompanied a warming trend across the Plains and upper Midwest. Weekly temperatures in parts of the Northeast averaged at least 10F below normal. Before being replaced by mild weather, bitterly cold conditions lingered from the northern Plains into the Northeast. On January 13-14, temperatures fell below 0F as far south as northern Missouri and central sections of Illinois and Indiana. However, temperatures were generally not as low as those observed across the Midwest the previous week. Following mild December weather, unusually cold conditions gripped the central and eastern U.S. during the first half of January. In fact, during the 19-day period from December 27, 2014 – January 14, 2015, the temperature in Grand Island, NE, averaged 13.2F—more than 11F below normal. This marked the coldest such period in Grand Island since 1987-88, when the temperature averaged 11.6F. Similarly in Texas, the 18-day period from December 28 – January 14 was the coldest such period since 1978-79 in College Station and the coldest since 2009-10 in Houston. During that 18-day span, temperatures averaged 10.6F below normal in College Station and 8.6F below normal in Houston. During a final wave of frigid conditions, consecutive daily record lows were established on January 13-14 in Michigan locations such as Flint (-9 and -19F) and Grand Rapids (-5 and -13F). The January 14 minimum in Grand Rapids marked the lowest temperature in that location since February 4, 1996, when it was -17F. Elsewhere in Michigan, record-setting lows for January 13 included -21F in Gaylord and -14F in Traverse City. Later, mild conditions spread from the Pacific Coast to the Plains. By January 16, Russell, KS, posted a daily-record high of 63F. A day later, record setting highs for January 17, climbed to 59F in Portland, OR, and 39F in Grand Forks, ND.
18-24: Precipitation again bypassed California, extending a stretch of unfavorably dry weather to 5 weeks. The average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack dipped slightly to 4 inches, about one quarter of the late-January normal. Dry weather also prevailed across the remainder of the West, except for light showers from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies and some snow in the southern Rockies. The overall dry pattern also extended across large sections of the northern and central Plains, mid-South, and Midwest, accompanied by mid-winter warmth. In fact, Pacific warmth overspread much of the country for the second time this winter; the previous observance of unusually mild weather occurred during a 3- week period in December. Weekly temperatures averaged at least 10 to 20F above normal throughout the northern and central Plains and the much of the Midwest. Across the northern and central Plains, mild weather melted winter wheat’s protective snow cover. Near normal temperatures lingered, however, in parts of the East. In addition, cool weather developed in conjunction with a storm system crossing southern portions of the Rockies and High Plains. The mid to late week storm produced widespread precipitation across the South and East. On January 18, Sandberg, CA, tied a monthly record high (71F) most recently attained on January 6, 1969. Elsewhere in the West, daily-record highs for January 18 included 66°F in Reno, NV, and 54°F in Pocatello, ID. On the Plains, daily-record highs for the 18th soared to 77F in Childress, TX; 75°F in Gage, OK; and 65F in Wichita, KS. The central and southern Plains’ warmth lingered through January 19, when daily record highs in Kansas surged to 74F in Medicine Lodge and 73F in Wichita. By January 20, warmth was confined to the Deep South, where Del Rio, TX, collected a daily record high of 86F. Late in the week, record-setting warmth returned to the West. In fact, monthly record highs were established on January 24 in Heppner, OR (68°F), and Goldendale, WA (64F). Meanwhile, daily record highs for the 24th rose to 80F in Redding, CA; 68F in Eugene, OR; and 58F in Olympia, WA. For Eugene, it was the warmest January day since January 27, 1931, when the high was 69F. In southern California, locally high winds accompanied temperatures that on January 24 peaked at daily record levels in Fullerton (85F) and Santa Maria (82°). On the same day, southern California wind gusts were clocked to 82 mph in Malibu Hills, 77 mph in Fremont Canyon, and 65 mph in Ontario.
25-31: On the northern and central Plains, winter wheat’s protective snow cover—which had been eliminated by late-January warmth—was partially restored before the return of sharply colder weather, although coverage was shallow and patchy in some northern areas. Prior to the snow’s arrival, weekly temperatures had averaged at least 15 to 20F above normal across the northern and central Plains and upper Midwest. Stubbornly cool conditions lingered, however, in the eastern U.S. Temperatures averaged as much as 5 to 10F below normal in the Northeast. Meanwhile, mostly dry weather covered the Southeast. Early week warmth in the West quickly spread to the nation’s midsection. On January 25, monthly record highs were tied in locations such as Death Valley, CA (87F), and Helena, MT (63F). Helena’s record was originally set on January 7, 1902. Elsewhere, daily record highs for the 25th surged to 82F in Salinas, CA; 70F in North Bend, OR; and 63F in Seattle, WA. The following day, January 26, featured monthly record highs in Great Falls, MT (67F), and Elko, NV (65F). Choteau, MT, posted a daily-record high (70F) for January 26. The Plains’ warmth peaked on January 27, when monthly record highs in Kansas surged to 83F in Hill City, 82F in Colby, 80F in Dodge City, and 79F in Goodland. Similarly, January records were set or tied on the 27th in locations such as Imperial, NE (77F); North Platte, NE (74F); and East Rapid City, SD (73F). With a high of 83F on January 27, Russell, KS, narrowly missed its monthly record (84F on January 31, 1989). During a final flurry of daily record highs on January 28, temperatures rose to 80F in Austin, TX; 79F in Oklahoma City, OK; and 78F (also a monthly record) in Topeka, KS. During the second half of the week, modestly cooler air arrived across the Plains, while warmth reloaded across the West. Sacramento, CA, closed January with three daily record highs in a row (67, 69, and 74F). Ukiah, CA, notched consecutive daily record highs (74 and 75F, respectively) on January 30-31. Elsewhere in California, daily record highs for January 31 reached 78F in San Rafael and 76F in Redding. A band of precipitation spread across the Midwest and Northeast on January 26, resulting in a daily record snowfall of 4.3 inches in Pittsburgh, PA.
Jim G. Munley, jr.
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