USA: 4th warmest January on record

4th warmest January on record for the USA according to NOAA

7th warmest January in Minnesota according to Mark Seeley at UM (preliminary)

4th warmest start to meteorological winter (Dec & Jan) on record in the Twin Cities

Sub-zero again overnight in northern Minnesota

Near zero Friday & Saturday morning in the metro?

USA: 4th warmest January on record:

The data is in from NOAA for January, and this will go down as the 4th warmest year opener on record.

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More details from NOAA:

Climate Highlights — January

•The average contiguous U.S. temperature in January was 36.3 degrees F, 5.5 degrees F above the 1901-2000 long-term average — the fourth warmest January on record, and the warmest since 2006. Precipitation, averaged across the nation, was 1.85 inches. This was 0.37 inch below the long-term average, with variability between regions. This monthly analysis is based on records dating back to 1895.

•Warmer-than-average temperatures were widespread across the contiguous United States during January. Nine states — Arizona, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming — had January temperatures ranking among their ten warmest. Florida and Washington were the only states with temperatures near average, and no state was cooler than average.

•Many locations across the Northern Plains exceeded all-time warm January maximum temperature records during the month, including Minot, North Dakota, which reached 61 degrees F on January 5th. This surpassed the previous record of 59 degrees F for the city, set on January 28th, 1906.

•In contrast to the contiguous United States being much warmer than average, several towns across Alaska had their coldest average January temperatures on record — Nome (-16.6 degrees F), Bethel (-17.3 degrees F) McGrath (-28.5 degrees F), and Bettles (-35.6 degrees F).

•Cities across the Northern Plains, Midwest, and Northeast had below-average snow fall during the month a result of warmer and drier than average conditions. According to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the average snow extent during January was 1.0 million square miles, which was 329,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average. This marks the 3rd smallest January snow cover extent in the 46-year period of record.

•According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of January 31st, 2012, about 3.3 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing the worst category of drought, called D4 or exceptional drought, about the same as the beginning of the month. However, the percent area of the U.S. experiencing drought of any severity increased from 31.9 percent at the beginning of January to 37.9 percent at the end of the month. Most of the drought expansion occurred across the Upper Midwest and the western states.

•The United States Climate Extremes Index (USCEI) and Regional Climate Extremes Index (RCEI) are sensitive to extremes in temperature, rainfall, dry streaks, drought, and tropical cyclones on the national and regional scale, respectively. During January, the USCEI was above average, driven by a large extent in warm maximum temperatures. The percent area of the U.S. experiencing extremes in warm maximum temperatures was 56 percent, which is the second highest value on record. Regionally, the West North Central, South, and West regions ranked 3rd or 4th highest for the extent of warm maximum temperature extremes.”

Minnesota was “ground Zero” for January warmth. My MPR colleague and UM cimate guru Dr. Mark Seeley elaborates.

Topic: Preliminary climate summary for January 2012

“A very warm January prevailed across Minnesota. Many observers report mean monthly temperatures that are 7 to 9 degrees F warmer than average. Both Fargo-Moorhead and International Falls report their 5th warmest January in history, while on a statewide basis January 2012 appears to rank as the 7th warmest historically. Three new state record high temperatures were set for the month (on the 4th, 54 F at Marshall; on the 5th, 63 F at Marshall and Canby; and on the 10th, 59 F at Marshall). MSP International Airport reported only three mornings with below zero F temperatures, well below the average of eleven. The monthly temperature extremes were 63 degrees F at Marshall and Canby on the 5th, and -30 degrees F at Brimson (St Louis County) on the 20th. January was the 4th consecutive month with significantly above normal temperatures across the state, making the October (2011) through January (2012) period one of the warmest in state history. One final note on temperature: despite the dominance of warm temperatures, Minnesota reported the coldest temperature in the 48 contiguous states on four dates during the month.

It was also generally a drier than normal month, though some observers reported significant snowfall, and the largest monthly total for the winter so far. Some of those with significant January snowfall included: 14.9 inches at Orr; 14.1 inches at Kabetogama; 12.7 inches at Lanesboro; 11.4 inches at Grand Meadow; and 10.3 inches at Gunflint Lake. The last weekend of the month may bring additional snows to these areas as well.

Over January 9-10 strong winds were reported around the state with the advance of an arctic high pressure system. Many reported wind gusts from 40 to 50 mph.

Soil frost depths increased during January, starting out at just a few inches below the soil surface and dropping to as deep as 20 to 30 inches in places where there is little snow cover.”

February started mild in Minnesota. Temps at MSP Airport ran a full +13.4 degrees vs. average for the first 6 days!

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Our cooler weather pattern looks to persist for the next two weeks of February. We should creep back closer to what passes for “average” in Minnesota these days.

Stay tuned, and stay warm!


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