Cool in the West, warm in the East
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite a couple of Arctic outbreaks and cooler than average conditions across, the West, the average January temperature across the contiguous 48 states was well above the 20th century average, with the warmest readings from the eastern half of the country, and especially the Southeast, where several states reported near-record warmth.
According the latest monthly report from the National Climatic Data Center, the average January temperature was 32 degrees, which 1.6 degrees warmer than the 20th century average. Georgia and Florida reported some of the warmest temperatures, at 5.7 and 5.6 degrees above average. Click here to read the full report.
In the West, snow-covered valleys and atmospheric inversions combined to keep average temperatures on the low side, with Utah reporting its eighth-coolest January on record, with temps running 7.5 degrees below average, and Nevada reporting its ninth-coldest January, with an average temperature that was 5.9 degrees below average.
The western half of Colorado recorded some of the greatest below-average temperature anomalies, with many weather stations west of the Continental Divide reporting readings among the 10 coldest on record.
Grand Junction, Colorado had its 5th coolest January on record. The average temperature in January was 14.3 degrees, which was 13.1 degrees below the average based on readings going back to 1893. Grand Junction’s coldest-ever January was in 1973, with an average temperature of 11.5 degrees.
Alamosa, Colorado reported the 4th-coldest January on record with an average temperature of 4.6 degrees, which was 11.7 degrees below normal, but still slightly warmer than the coldest-ever readings in January 1992, when the average temperature was just 1.4 degrees.
Across the winter region. Los Angeles reported its coldest day in more than 20 years, hitting a low of 34 degrees on January 14, as Arctic air threatened citrus crops in Southern California.
In late January, a southwestern storm with a tropical moisture feed helped fuel a storm that brought some relief to the parched region. According to the NCDC, a weather balloon over Phoenix measured the most moisture present in the atmosphere of any January day since balloon launches began there in 1950. Phoenix recorded its 7th wettest January day in a 118-year record on Jan. 26, with 1.18 inches of moisture.
Otherwise, generally dry conditions prevailed across the West, with the Sierra Nevada snowpack shrinking from 140 percent of average to 90 percent of average during the month.
Mt. Charleston, outside Las Vegas, tied the record for the driest-ever January with just a trace of snowfall reported during the month, compared to the average of 21.9 inches.
Alaska reported warmer and wetter than average conditions, with a statewide average temperature that was 7.1 degrees above average and precipitation total 64 percent above average. Parts of the state had monthly temperatures more than 10 degrees above normal.
Overall, precipitation for the month was .14 inches above average, but that reading masked extremes at both ends of the spectrum, with parts of the country still seeing extreme drought.
The first two months of the winter season, December and January, the average temperature across the lower 48 states was 2.5 degrees above average, the 18th-warmest start to the winter season on record.
Information compiled from the NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: National Overview for January 2013, published online February 2013, retrieved on February 14, 2013 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/national/2013/1.