January 2012 precipitation ranged from below normal over most of the northwest third of the HSA, to above normal over parts of far northeast IA and far southwest WI. A passing low brought light to moderate rain and snow to mainly the north half of the HSA on the 1st. The next stronger passing low brought light to locally heavy snow to mainly the central and eastern thirds of the HSA on the 12th. Another passing low and cold front brought light snow to much of the HSA on the 17th. Stronger lows moving through the Upper Midwest dropped light to moderate snow over mainly the south half of the HSA on the 20th, and across the entire HSA on the 23rd. A weak low and cold front brought light snow to mainly the central and north parts of the HSA on the 29th.
Normal January precipitation varies from around an inch across the west and north ends of the HSA, to near 1.25 inches across the southeast end. Precipitation totals for this month ranged from 60 to 80 percent of normal across portions of southeast MN and north-central WI, to 100 to 125 percent of normal across portions far northeast IA and far southwest WI. Most totals for the month were 90 to 110 percent of normal. Extreme totals recorded for the month ranged from 0.48 at Dodge Center in Dodge Co. MN and 0.52 inch at L/D 4 at Alma in Buffalo Co. WI, to 1.55 inches at L/D 10 at Guttenberg in Clayton Co. IA and 1.87 inches near Platteville in Grant Co. WI.
January snowfall ranged from below normal over much of southeast MN and north-central WI, to above normal over much of the southeast quarter of the HSA. Totals for the month varied from 4 to 8 inches in the below normal areas, up to 12 to 18 inches in parts of far northeast IA and far southwest WI. Normal January snowfall ranges from around 10 inches in the southeast end of the HSA to around a foot across the west and north ends. Snowfall totals this month were mostly 80 to 120 percent of normal.
Temperatures this month averaged 20 to 24 degrees. This was 5 to 7.5 degrees above the normals and made this one of the warmer Januarys of record. Temperatures were much above normal on the 1st, near normal on the 2nd and 3rd then much above normal from the 4th to the 11th. Readings were below normal on the 12th to 14th, much above normal again on the 15th and 16th, then below to much below normal from the 17th to the 21st. The last 10 days of the month saw above to much above normal temperatures. Extremes for the month ranged from lows of 5 below to 20 below on the morning of the 21st to near record or record highs in the mid 40s to mid 50s on the 5th and 10th.
Flows in the rivers and streams of the HSA were near normal for January. The above normal temperatures and mostly near or below normal snowfall resulted in below normal snow cover and below normal snow water content at the end of the month. Soil frost depths were near to below normal at month’s end. Ice cover on streams, rivers and lakes was also below normal. Abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions persisted across much of southeast MN and nearby areas at month’s end.