January 2011 Climate Summary

Central Indiana
January 2011
Climate Summary
 
36th Coldest on record at Indianapolis
64th Driest on record at Indianapolis
21st Snowiest on record at Indianapolis
 
Temperatures
2011 rang in mild as temperatures were in the 50s with thunderstorms across central Indiana. The warmup was short-lived as a strong cold front moved across the state prior to daybreak on the 1st, with temperatures falling throughout New Years Day. In fact, the mid and upper 50s recorded at cities across central Indiana during the early morning of the 1st would end up being the warmest temperatures of the entire month as the persistent upper level trough across the eastern United States reestablished by the end of the first week of the month. This enabled repeated surges of very cold polar air to expand across the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley. After the warm temperatures early on the 1st, temperatures remained below 45 degrees for the rest of the month across central Indiana. In fact at Indianapolis, the temperature only managed to break 40 degrees twice after the 1st, on the 3rd and again on 18th when temperatures warmed to 41 degrees.
 
Low temperatures surged into the single digits in many locations on the mornings of the 8th and the 9th, with several locations dropping to near or just below zero. The coldest air of the month arrived on the 21st in the wake of an upper level disturbance that brought another round of accumulating snow to central Indiana. Skies cleared during the evening of the 20th, allowing temperatures to plummet to below zero across much of the region. Indianapolis dropped to -3, the lowest temperature experienced in the Circle City since February 5, 2009. Shelbyville fell all the way to -12 on the morning of the 21st. The coldest daytime temperatures of the month followed, with many locations struggling to get back to 10 to 15 degrees on the afternoon of the 21st. Within a few days, temperatures returned back to near normal with highs in the lower and mid 30s common throughout the final week of the month. 
Site
January 2011 Avg Temp
January 2011 Difference from Normal
Highest
Temperature
Lowest Temperature
Indianapolis
23.8
-2.7
55 on 1
-3 on 21
Lafayette
22.6
-0.7
57 on 1
-4 on 21
Muncie
21.8
-2.7
57 on 1
-7 on 22
Terre Haute
24.0
-2.5
57 on 1
-6 on 21
Bloomington
25.0
-2.9
58 on 1
-6 on 21
Shelbyville
23.9
-2.9
61 on 1
-12 on 21
Indy – Eagle Crk.
23.6
-2.9
55 on 1
-4 on 21 and 22
 
At Indianapolis, there were 18 days with below normal average temperatures, 10 days with above normal average temperatures and 3 days with normal average temperatures.
 
January 2011 was the 36th coldest in the Indianapolis area since 1871.
 
Precipitation

The heaviest of the rainfall throughout the month occurred during the first twelve hours of January as a strong cold front traversed central Indiana. Many locations across the eastern half of central Indiana received one half to one inch as the front tracked east. As colder air then settled into the region for much of the remainder of the month, the predominant precipitation type was snow. The only other significant system to bring precipitation other than snow came on the 31st as the initial wave of the ice storm that would impact central Indiana during the first two days of February, began during the evening. Some light snow did occur to the north of Indianapolis, with precipitation transitioning to freezing rain and sleet across much of the area. Many locations received from a quarter inch to just over one half inch on the 31st.
Site
January 2011 Precipitation
January 2011 Difference from Normal
Wettest Day
Longest Dry Stretch
Indianapolis
2.20
 -0.28
0.72 on 1
 4 days 2-5
Lafayette
0.73
 -1.06
0.22 on 31
 4 days 2-5
Muncie
0.85*
 -1.21
0.41 on 1
 4 days 2-5
Terre Haute
0.61**
 -1.52
0.45 on 1
 4 days 2-5
Bloomington
1.75
 -0.91
0.75 on 1
 4 days 2-5
Shelbyville
1.38
 -1.00
0.50 on 1
 4 days 2-5
Indy – Eagle Crk.
2.01
 -0.47
0.73 on 1
 4 days 2-5
                           
January 2011 was the 64th driest in the Indianapolis area since weather records began in 1871.
*Precipitation data is missing for Muncie Jan 20, and 29-31
**Precipitation data is missing for Terre Haute on January 20, 24, and 31
 
Snowfall
 
January 2011 continued the snowy trend from December with the second consecutive above normal month for snowfall as much of the eastern United States remained cold. Most of the snow throughout the month came as a result of the passage of upper level disturbances or Alberta Clippers, with the two largest snows falling on the 11th and on the 20th. Snow fell for much of the day on the 11th as low pressure passed through the region. Much of central Indiana received 3 to 6 inches of new snow. The heaviest snow fell just south of Interstate 70 and across the southern portions of the Indianapolis metro area. From Morgan County east through Johnson, southern Marion, and into Hancock, Shelby, Rush and Decatur Counties many locations received 4 to 6 inches. 
The second major snowfall of the month came as an upper level disturbance passed through central Indiana on the 20th. Light snow began prior to daybreak and persisted throughout the day. The heaviest snow fell south of Interstate 70, where 3 to 5 inches of new snow were on the ground by the evening. Further to the north, most locations generally received 2 to 3 inches. Indianapolis ended up with 11.8 inches of snow for the month of January, 2.5 inches above normal for the month. That now puts Indianapolis at 28.4 inches of snowfall for the winter through the end of January. That total is already above normal for the entire winter season, and is tied for the 7th highest snowfall ever experienced through the end of January in Indianapolis recorded history along with the winter of 1996-97. The most snow ever experienced through the end of January was 48.6 inches in the winter of 1977-78. That winter season included a whopping total of 30.6 inches in January 1978, the most snowfall ever received in any month in Indianapolis. That total was highlighted by the infamous Blizzard of ’78 at the end of that month, which contributed 15.5 inches of snowfall to the monthly total, and remains one of the most memorable snowstorms in central Indiana history.
 
Severe Weather
 
No severe weather occurred during the month of January across central Indiana.

For information on severe weather in other areas during January, visit the Storm Prediction Center “Severe Weather Event Summaries” website at http://www.spc.noaa.gov/climo/online/.
 
Miscellaneous
 
The maximum wind gust at Indianapolis International Airport was 32 mph out of the northwest on the 8th. Fog or haze was reported at Indianapolis on 22 days during the month, with dense fog reported only on the 18th. Thunder was reported on just one day, the 1st as a strong cold front passed through the region.
 
February 2011 Outlook
 
The official outlook for February 2011 from the Climate Prediction Center indicates a greater chance of below normal temperatures for central Indiana.  At Indianapolis, the average temperature for the month is 31.2 degrees. The outlook calls for greater chance of above normal precipitation. The average precipitation for February at Indianapolis is 2.41” and 6.1” of snowfall.
  
 
Data prepared by the Indianapolis Forecast Office.


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