1-6: Cold, dry weather dominated the country, although there were significant exceptions.  For example, a major winter storm grazed the southern Atlantic Coast with rare snowfall before slamming the Northeast with wind-driven snow and heavy surf.  And, unusual warmth persisted from California to the Four Corners region, where weekly temperatures averaged at least 10F above normal in several locations.  Conversely, frigid weather dominated areas from the Plains to the East Coast.  Temperatures ranged from 20 to 25F below normal in a strip across the Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic States.  A much larger area, covering nearly all of the eastern half of the U.S., averaged more than 10F below normal.  At times, temperatures plunged to -30F or below in Montana, Minnesota, and the Dakotas, as well as scattered locations in the Northeast.  On January 3-4, light freezes affected nearly all of Deep South Texas.  Similarly, parts of Florida’s peninsula experienced generally light freezes on January 4-5.  However, blustery conditions hampered freeze-protection efforts, particularly with regard to tender vegetables.  During the second half of the week, showery weather developed across northern California and the Northwest.  New Year’s Eve (December 31) and New Year’s Day (January 1) featured consecutive daily-record lows in locations such as Cedar Rapids, IA (-22 and -24F), and Timber Lake, SD (-31 and -32F).  Elsewhere in South Dakota, other daily-record lows for December 31 included -30°F in Mobridge and -31F in Huron.  Williston, ND, also collected a daily-record low of -31°F on New Year’s Eve.  On January 1, temperatures plunged to -30F or below and set daily records in Turner, MT (-36F); Kennebec, SD (-35F); Watertown, NY (33F); Havre, MT (-32F); Aberdeen, SD (-32F); Mobridge, SD (-30F); and Miles City, MT (-30F).  Farther south, sub-zero readings set records for New Year’s Day in several locations, including St. Joseph, MO (-14°F), and Garden City, KS (-9F).  Meanwhile in Illinois, record-setting lows for January 1 dipped to -19F in Moline and -16F in Peoria.  In fact, high temperatures on New Year’s Day remained below 0F in Illinois locations such as Peoria, Lincoln, and Moline—all of which peaked at -2F.  The frigid conditions continued through January 2, when Sioux City, IA (-28F), experienced its fifth-lowest reading on record—and lowest temperature since December 29, 1917.  Cedar Rapids, IA, posted a third consecutive daily-record low on January 2, with a low of -23F.  In the lower Midwest, sub-zero daily records for January 2 included -13°F in Dayton, OH, and Fort Wayne, IN.  From December 28 – January 2, Glens Falls, NY, registered five daily-record lows in 6 days, tumbling to -25°F on the 2nd.  Later, cold air reached deep into the Southeast, with single-digit readings resulting in daily records in North Carolina locations such as New Bern (°F on January 5) and Elizabeth City (4F on January 6).  Bitter cold returned by week’s end to the Great Lakes region, where Pellston, MI, tallied consecutive daily-record lows (-33 and -35F, respectively) on January 5-6.  Temperatures in Indianapolis, IN, remained at or below 20F for 12 consecutive days (December 26 – January 6), breaking the station record of 10 days set from January 4-13, 1912; January 23 – February 1, 1936; and January 2-11, 1979.  And, the temperature in St. Louis, MO, remained below 32F on 14 consecutive days from December 26 – January 6—the longest stretch of sub-freezing weather in that location since December 15-30, 1983.  In stark contrast, several daily record highs were set in California and the Southwest.  On January 2, Woodland Hills, CA, noted a daily-record high of 85F. 


7-13: Weekly temperatures averaged at least 10F above normal across much of the interior West.  Bitterly cold conditions also returned to the Midwest at week’s end, following several days of above-normal temperatures.  In many Midwestern locations, significant snow preceded and accompanied the transition to colder weather.  In fact, snow extended into the South on January 12, when significant accumulations occurred as far south as the northern Mississippi Delta.  Heavy rain, in excess of 2 inches, fell in the central Gulf Coast region.  Late-week rain also totaled 2 inches or more in many locations across the middle and northern Atlantic States.  The rain, combined with brief warmth and a lack of absorption by frozen soils, led to local flooding and ice jams.  Bitterly cold conditions persisted early in the week across the East.  From January 5-8, Elizabeth City, NC, noted four consecutive daily record lows (11, 4, 2, and 7°F).  On January 7-8, consecutive daily record lows were established in locations such as Georgetown, DE (0 and 8F); New Bern, NC (5 and 8F); and Norfolk, VA (10°F both days).  Sub-zero, daily-record lows for January 7 included -30F in Watertown, NY; -2°F in Burlington, VT; -14F in Elkins, WV; 9°F in Worcester, MA; -8°F in Zanesville, OH; and -2F in Lynchburg, VA.  Later, dramatically milder air overspread the eastern U.S.  Just 5 days after reporting a daily-record low of -2F on January 7, Trenton, NJ, noted a minimum temperature of 51F.  Similarly, Lynchburg’s January 12 minimum of 54F came just 5 days after the aforementioned daily-record low.  The surge of warmth, in advance of a strong cold front, resulted in daily-record highs on January 11 in dozens of locations, including Charleston, WV (71F); Bristol, TN (69F); and Grand Rapids, MI (58F).  The following day, record-setting highs for January 12 rose to 85°F in Melbourne, FL; 73F in Elizabeth City, NC; 70F in Lynchburg, VA; and 66F in Scranton, PA.  Warmth also developed on the High Plains, where daily-record highs for January 10 reached 78F in Midland, TX, and 73°F in Garden City, KS.  Farther west, late-week warmth produced record-setting highs for January 13 in locations such as Long Beach, CA (88F), and Tucson, AZ (78F). In Texas, Amarillo’s record-setting dry spell stretched to 92 days (and counting), more than 2 weeks longer than the former record of 75 days set from October 21, 1956 – January 3, 1957.  Amarillo last received measurable precipitation on October 13, 2017.  In Nevada, however, Las Vegas reported rainfall totaling 0.14 and 1.33 inches, respectively, on January 8-9.  Las Vegas had not received a drop of rain in a record-breaking span of 116 days from September 14 – January 7 (previously, 101 days from July 2 – October 10, 1944).  Las Vegas’ 1.33-inch sum on January 9 represented the highest non-monsoon daily total on record (previously, 1.29 inches in February 8, 1993).  The wettest January day in Las Vegas had been January 21, 2010, with 0.89 inch.  Elsewhere, rainfall in Albuquerque, NM, totaled 0.03 inch on January 10, ending a 96-day streak without measurable precipitation.  It was Albuquerque’s longest stretch without measurable precipitation since 1956, when there was a 107day streak from February 4 – May 20.


14-20: A final blast of bitterly cold air reached deep into the South, preceded by another batch of wintry precipitation.  The cold snap, which peaked on January 1718, held Southeastern weekly temperatures 5 to 15°F below normal and threatened winter crops in Florida and Louisiana.  Producers in Florida used irrigation (ice caps) to help protect crops such as citrus and strawberries, while growers in Louisiana monitored sugarcane for signs of freeze injury.  In addition, snow covered the ground across large sections of the South for several days, starting around mid-month.  Snow, albeit mostly light, also fell in parts of the Midwest and Northeast.  Meanwhile, mild weather prevailed in the West and returned to the northern Plains and upper Midwest.  Weekly temperatures averaged at least 10°F above normal in parts of the interior West. Record-setting warmth prevailed.  On January 15, Seattle, WA (64F), tied a monthly record high originally set on January 20, 1981.  Another surge of Northwestern warmth on January 17 resulted in daily-record highs in locations such as Roseburg, OR (71F), and Walla Walla, WA (66F).  Farther east, however, daily record lows for January 16 plunged to -6F in Joplin, MO, and 1F in Dalhart, TX.  Consecutive daily-record lows were established on January 16-17 in several locations, including Batesville, AR (6 and 4F); Greenwood, MS (9 and 5F); and Waco, TX (15 and 8F).  On January 17 in Arkansas, temperatures plunged to their lowest levels since December 1989 in locations such as Mena (-1F); El Dorado (3F); and Texarkana (6F).  Similarly, Longview, TX (8°F on January 17), reported its lowest reading since December 23, 1989, when it was 2F.  In Louisiana, minimum temperatures on January 17 fell to 16F in Lafayette and 20F in New Orleans; it was the coldest day in both locations since February 5, 1996.  Lafayette also achieved a daily-record low (17F) the following day, on January 18.  From January 16-18, Vicksburg, MS, posted a trio of daily-record lows (13, 11, and 8F).  By January 18, daily-record lows in Florida plunged to 25F in Lakeland and 29F in Tampa.  For Tampa, it was the first freeze since January 13, 2011, and the lowest temperature since January 11, 2010, when it was 25F.  Elsewhere, late-week warmth expanded across the western and central U.S.  Salt Lake City, UT, logged consecutive daily-record highs (56 and 58F, respectively) on January 18-19.  On the central High Plains, daily-record highs for January 19 reached 74F in Goodland, KS, and Burlington, CO.  On the 20th, daily-record highs in Texas surged to 81F in Childress and 80°F in Borger, and in Iowa rose to 52F in Mason City and 50F in Waterloo.


21-27: Mostly dry weather in the Southwest contrasted with heavy precipitation in parts of northern California and the Northwest.  Despite the precipitation, accumulation of mountain snowpack was limited by mild weather.  In fact, below-normal temperatures were confined to areas from California into the Southwest, while mild weather dominated the central and eastern U.S., as well as the Northwest.  Weekly temperatures averaged at least 10F above normal in the Corn Belt and were more than 15F above normal in much of the upper Midwest. Warm weather prevailed in advance of the early-week storm, with daily-record highs occurring on January 21 in locations such as Greenwood, MS (76F), and Springfield, MO (72F).  Georgetown, DE, posted a daily-record high (68F) for January 22.  Meanwhile, a surge of cool air into the Southwest resulted in scattered daily-record lows, including 15°F (on January 22) in Douglas, AZ.  During the second half of the week, temperatures again rose across the central and eastern U.S.  By January 25, daily-record highs were set in Kansas locations such as Salina (69F) and Topeka (68F).  Two days later in Michigan, Sault Sainte Marie (45F) reported a daily-record high for January 27, as well as its highest temperature in that location since December 5.


28-31: Dry conditions covered the area east of eth Rockies. .  Elsewhere, ongoing unsettled weather from the Pacific Northwest to the northern High Plains contrasted with warm, dry weather in California, the Great Basin, and the Southwest.  Even in areas of the West where precipitation fell, high-elevation snow accumulations were limited by midwinter warmth.  In fact, mild weather boosted weekly temperatures 10 to 20°F above normal across the Intermountain West.  Warmth spilling east of the Rockies pushed temperatures at least 5°F above normal across parts of the High Plains.  In contrast, frigid conditions (locally more than 5°F below normal) affected parts of the north-central U.S.  In late January, record-setting warmth spread inland from the Pacific Coast.  In southern California, January 28-29 featured consecutive daily-record highs in locations such as Long Beach (89 and 91°F); Vista (89 and 90°); and Camarillo (85 and 89°F).  Las Vegas, NV, also posted a pair of daily-record highs (71°F both days) on January 28-29, followed by another record (77°F) on February 3.  In Arizona, Yuma (86°F) and Phoenix (83°F) notched daily-record highs for January 29.  Early-week warmth also extended into the Northwest, where Washington locations such as Walla Walla (66°F) and Yakima (61°F) logged daily-record highs for January 29.  Later, warmth reached the southern Plains, where record-setting highs in Texas included 80°F (on January 31) in Wichita Falls and 78°F (on January 30) in Dalhart.  With a high of 61°F on January 30, Pocatello, ID, eclipsed a monthly record originally set with a high of 60°F on January 31, 2003.  Alamosa, CO, also set a monthly record with a high of 63°F on January 31 (previously, 62°F on January 20, 1971).  In early February, warmth further intensified across much of the West.  Daily-record highs were established on each of the first 3 days of February in California locations such as Red Bluff (77, 79, and 81°F), Ukiah (77, 77, and 84°F), and San Jose (74, 76, and 78°F).  Woodland Hills, CA, registered a trio of daily-record highs (87, 90, and 89°F) from February 2-4.  Record-setting warmth returned to Yakima, WA, from February 2-4, when highs climbed to 63, 67, and 68°F.  Other communities that closed the week on February 2-3 with a pair of daily-records highs included Boise, ID (59 and 61°F); Roseburg, OR (71 and 64°F); and San Francisco, CA (73 and 76°F).  Meanwhile in Texas, January 31 was the 110th consecutive day without measurable precipitation in Amarillo and the 84th such day in Lubbock.  Amarillo’s 1956-57 former record of 75 consecutive days was broken weeks ago, while Lubbock’s 2005-06 record of 98 days is being threatened.  Farther north and west, periods of heavy precipitation was mostly confined to the northern Rockies and the Pacific Northwest.  Quillayute, WA, tallied a daily-record rainfall of 4.21 inches on January 29, helping to boost its monthly total to 22.10 inches (151 percent of normal).  On February 1, snowfall in the central Appalachians resulted in a daily-record total of 5.0 inches in Beckley, WV.  Snow also blanketed the northern High Plains, where daily-record totals in Montana included 4.5 inches (on February 3) in Havre and 2.4 inches (on February 2) in Glasgow.

Jim G. Munley, jr.

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