January 2017 ended up being (once again) a warm and wet month across much of the United States. Overall, the month across the lower 48 ended up as the 18th warmest January since 1895, and the ninth wettest January on record (which would be the wettest since 1998). In this edition of D.J.’s Monthly Digits, let’s take a look back some of the weather extremes of January 2017.
January ended up being a very warm month from the Southern Plains into the Northeast, with 61 long-term NWS climate locations recording one of their top ten warmest January’s on record. Only one of those locations, though, ended up having their warmest January on record – Bridgeport, CT. January 2017 beat the previous warmest January in Bridgeport by a whole 0.1°, which had been set in 1950. While records only go back to 1948, two days (both the 12th and 13th) set new record highs. Here’s a list of select locations that saw a top ten warmest January last month:
The warmth helped set even more records during the month of January in parts of the nation. In Atlanta, for example, they saw 11 days with a high of 70 or higher, beating the previous record of 10 set in 1950. Atlanta ended up seeing five record highs last month (14th, 15th, 17th, 19th and 20th). Tulsa (OK), Fort Smith (AR), Huntsville (AL), Athens (GA), and San Antonio (TX) also tied their most 70°+ days on record during January.
Meanwhile, Corpus Christi saw a total of 15 days with a high at or above 80, which is now the most on record. The previous record stood at 13 days, set in both 1972 and 1950. Two record highs were set in January (15th and 21st) and the thermometer even hit 92 on the 21st, which was second earliest first 90 on record.
The Northwest continued to see cooler than average temperatures during the month of January after a cold December across the region as well. Overall, eight long-term NWS climate locations saw a top ten coldest January on record. While none of those location saw their coldest January, Burns, OR did record their second coldest with an average temperature of 11.1°. Here’s a look at those eight locations and what ranking they did see last month:
The warmth that areas from the South to the Northeast saw last night really sticks out on this map from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), with many areas seeing temperatures that were much above average. Both Louisiana and Mississippi saw their fifth warmest January on record. Meanwhile, the Northwest states saw an average temperature that was below average for the month.
The heaviest precipitation during the month of January fell across portions of the West Coast, which was battered by storm after storm, and in the Southeast. In both spots, some locations saw an estimated 10″+ of precipitation according to radar estimates.
With widespread precipitation across the month of January, 56 long-term NWS climate locations ended up with a top ten wettest January on record. Four total locations ended up with their wettest January on record: Alamosa (CO), Amarillo (TX), Dodge City (KS), and Sacramento (CA). In Sacramento, they saw 9.92″ of rain last month – besting the previous January record of 9.14″ in 1978. They saw more rain this January versus the previous five January’s combined (2016 (5.44″), 2015 (Trace), 2014 (0.15″), 2013 (0.96″) and 2012 (2.43″) for a five year (January only) total of 8.98″).
Some locations with a top ten wettest January on record included:
There were numerous areas of the country that saw one of their wettest January’s on record, but the state that came closest to seeing their record wettest was New Mexico. They ended up with the second wettest on record with an average of 1.75″ of precipitation across the state. The only states that saw a drier than average January were Montana and Washington.
The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above average temperatures across much of the lower 48 as we head through February 2017, below average temperatures across parts of southwest Alaska.
Above average precipitation is expected during February across parts of the northern tier of the lower 48. However, parts of the Southwest and Southern U.S. could see below average precipitation.
– Meteorologist D.J. Kayser