NOAA: Contiguous U.S. warmer and wetter than average for January
Drought persists for central U.S.; above-average January snow cover extent for Lower 48
According to NOAA scientists, the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during January was 32.0°F, 1.6°F above the 20th century average, tying with 1958 as the 39th warmest January on record.
The January nationally-averaged precipitation total of 2.36 inches was 0.14 inch above the long-term average. The January precipitation average masked both wet and dry extremes across nation. Drought conditions remained entrenched across the Southeast, Great Plains, and the mountainous West.
This monthly summary from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia, and the public to support informed decision-making.
U.S. climate highlights - January
- January brought warmer-than-average conditions to the eastern half of the contiguous United States, despite several cold air outbreaks. The largest warm temperature departures from average were in the Southeast, where Georgia and Florida both had their 11th warmest January with monthly temperatures 5.7°F and 5.6°F above average, respectively.
- Below-average temperatures were anchored in the western United States. Nevada had its ninth coolest January on record with a monthly temperature 5.9°F below average and Utah had its eighth coolest January with temperatures 7.5°F below average.
- Wetter-than-average conditions stretched from the Southern Plains to the Mid-Atlantic, where Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Michigan, and Virginia each had January precipitation totals ranking among their ten wettest. The above-average precipitation generally missed the core drought areas of the central and southeastern United States.
- Drier-than-average conditions were observed along the West Coast, the central Rockies, and parts of the Northern Plains, Southeast, and Northeast. California, Connecticut, and Florida each had one of their ten driest January.
- According to data from the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the January snow cover extent for the contiguous U.S. was above average at 1.4 million square miles. Mountain snowpack was near-average for much on the West, with the exceptions of the Northwest where snowpack was much above average, and the Central and Southern Rockies where snowpack was much below average.
- Alaska was warmer and wetter than average. The statewide average temperature was 7.1°F above average and the precipitation total was 64 percent above average. Parts of the state had monthly temperatures more than 10°F above normal.
- According to the January 29 U.S. Drought Monitor report, 57.7 percent of the contiguous U.S. was experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought, smaller than the 61.1 percent at the beginning of the month. Drought conditions improved in parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Mid-Mississippi River Valley.
U.S. climate highlights - Winter to Date (December 2012 - January 2013)
- The first two months of the winter season, December and January, were warmer than average for the contiguous United States and ranked as the 18th warmest such period on record. The two-month period had an average temperature 2.5°F above average. Much of the warmth occurred across the eastern half of the nation. The West Coast and Southwest were slightly cooler than average during the 2-month period.
- An active storm pattern in the eastern United States resulted in wetter-than-average conditions during the first two months of winter. Louisiana, Mississippi, Michigan, and Pennsylvania each had a top ten wet period. The nationally-averaged precipitation total for the two-month period was 5.10 inches, 0.65 inch above average.
U.S. climate highlights - Last 12 months (February 2012 - January 2013)
- The 12-month period, ending in January, was the warmest such period for the contiguous United States, with every state being warmer than average. Sixteen states, across the central U.S. and Northeast were record warm, and 27 additional states were top ten warm. The February-January nationally-averaged temperature of 55.0°F was 2.9°F above average and the ninth warmest of any 12-month period on record for the nation.
- The nationally-averaged precipitation total of 26.95 inches for the February-January period was 2.19 inches below average. Much of the central U.S. was drier than average. New Mexico, Colorado, and Missouri had a top ten dry 12-month period, while Colorado and Nebraska were record dry. Wetter-than-average conditions occurred in the Pacific Northwest and central Gulf Coast where Washington and Louisiana had a top ten wet period.
Katy Vincent, email@example.com, 828-257-3136