Cool temps notwithstanding, drought spreads across a quarter of the U.S.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — If you thought the last few weeks were cold, you’re right on track. The National Climatic Data Center released January 2011 readings this week, showing it was the coldest January on record since 1964, which might be cold comfort to those old-times who say they don’t make winters like they used to.
The average January temperature across the contiguous U.S. was exactly 30 degrees, which is .8 degrees below the 1901-2000 average. And even though big parts of the country were blasted by powerful winter storms, it was an exceptionally dry month, with precipitation across the Lower 48 states averaging nearly three-quarters of an inche below that 100-year average. According to the U.S. drought monitor, about 24 percent of the country is being affected by moderate to exceptional drought, mostly across the southern tier of states, in a classic La Niña pattern.
Much of the country experienced below-average temperatures, but what doesn’t fit into typical La Niña trends are the warmer-than-average temps across the West Coast states, which are normally cooled by La Niña — but that’s just for one month.
Another piece of the La Niña puzzle is dryness across the Southwest, and New Mexico reported its driest January on record, while Nevada and Arizona reported their second-driest January. on record. Similarly, the Southeast also reported dry conditions, with the tenth-driest January on record for the region.
Click here to get the full report and the regional breakdown.