PLEASE NOTE: All temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data.  The ranks will change when the final data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages.  As final data become available, the most up-to-date statistics and graphics will be available on the Climate Monitoring Products page and the U.S. Climate at a Glance Web site.

For graphics covering periods other than those mentioned above or for tables of national, regional, and statewide data from 1895—present, for January, last 3 months or other periods, please go to the Climate at a Glance page.

National Overview:

Temperature Highlights
  • For the contiguous United States, the average temperature for January was 30.5°F (-0.8°C), which was 0.3°F (0.2°C) below the 20th century mean and ranked as the 49th coolest January on record, based on preliminary data.
  • Temperatures across much of the western U.S. were below normal, with near-normal temperatures across the Midwest, South, and Southeast regions. In contrast to the rest of the country, temperatures were above normal in the Northeast, which had its 20th warmest January on record.
Precipitation Highlights
  • This was the 50th driest January in the 1895—2008 record. An average of 2.21 inches (56.1 mm) fell across the Contiguous U.S. this month, which is 0.01 inches (0.3 mm) below average.
  • Although the majority of the northern Great Plains experienced much below normal precipitation during January, the deficits were generally less than half an inch, with the exception of Minnesota, which had 0.54 inches (14 mm) less precipitation than normal. In contrast, Michigan received an inch above normal precipitation for the month, tying it for the 11th wettest January on record.
  • According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 26% of the U.S. was in moderate to exceptional drought. Much of the drought was concentrated in the Western part of the U.S., with the most extreme and exceptional drought in the Southeast U.S. As of January 29, 73% of the Southeast remained in moderate to exceptional drought, and 39% of the Southeast was in extreme or exceptional drought.
Other Items of Note
  • A strong cold front that advanced slowly into relatively warm air from January 7-8 brought 54 confirmed reports of tornadoes across the Midwest, making it the second-largest January tornado outbreak on record [the largest was January 21-22, 1999, when 138 tornadoes struck the southern Mississippi Valley]. The same system caused 17 more confirmed tornado reports on the 10th in the south-central U.S. At least five deaths and numerous injuries were blamed on these cold-season twisters and high winds. Of these 71 tornadoes, 8 tornadoes caused damage categorized as EF2 and 8 as EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Although tornadic outbreaks in January are not common, they more frequently occur in the Central and Southern states and are quite rare in the far north. The January 7 tornadoes in Wisconsin were the second instance of January tornado reports on record in that state; the first occurred in 1967.
  • Strong La Niña conditions were present in the tropical Pacific Ocean by the end of January. Equatorial sea-surface temperatures remained below average from west of the Date Line eastward to the South American coast and remained above average in the western Pacific Ocean and much of the North Atlantic Ocean. According to the CPC, nearly all of the dynamical and statistical models are forecasting weak-to-strong La Niña conditions during the next several months. A strong La Niña may result in wetter than normal conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Ohio River Valley and drier than normal conditions in the Southwest, southern Great Plains and the Southeast U.S. during the next few months. Additionally, a strong La Niña may result in well above average temperatures across much of the southern two-thirds of the country, especially in the Southwest U.S., over the next three months. For additional information on ENSO conditions, please visit the NCDC ENSO Monitoring page and the latest NOAA ENSO Advisory.
  • Alaska had its 45th coolest January since records began in 1918, with a temperature 0.83°F (0.46°C) below the 1971—2000 average.

  • Alaska had its 18th warmest November—January on record, with a temperature 2.02°F (1.12°C) above the 1971—2000 average.

  • Alaska had its 13th warmest August—January on record, with a temperature 1.58°F (0.88°C) above the 1971—2000 average.

  • Alaska had its 17th warmest February—January on record, with a temperature 0.73°F (0.41°C) above the 1971—2000 average.
For additional details about recent temperatures and precipitation across the U.S., see the Monthly and Seasonal Highlights section below and visit the January Climate Summary page. For information on local temperature and precipitation records during the month of January, please visit NCDC's Extremes page. For details and graphics on weather events across the U.S. and the globe please visit NCDC's Global Hazards page.

Regional Highlights:

These regional summaries were provided by the six Regional Climate Centers and reflect conditions in their respective regions. These six regions differ spatially from the nine climatic regions of the National Climatic Data Center.

Northeast | Midwest | Southeast | High Plains | Southern | Western

Northeast Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Calm weather, with temperatures near 60°F (16°C), encouraged New Hampshire voters to turn out in record numbers at the nation's first primary on January 8th. While the first week of 2008 averaged slightly below normal, the warm-up during the 2nd week had Northeast residents wondering if spring had arrived early. A persistent southerly flow kept temperatures in the region well above normal for about a week, breaking records in many locations on the 7th, 8th and 9th. A slight cool down later in the month was not enough to offset the warmth, and the Northeast ended up with an average temperature that was 4.1°F (2.3°C) above normal. Individual state departures ranged from 1.0°F (0.6°C) above normal in West Virginia to 5.7°F (3.2°C) warmer than normal in Vermont.

  • Precipitation totals were 75% of normal in the Northeast. Maryland, Delaware, the eastern third of Pennsylvania, northwest New Jersey and parts of the Hudson Valley of New York saw about half of their normal January precipitation. It was the 10th driest January since 1895 in Delaware and the 12th driest in Maryland. West Virginia was the wettest state, with 103% of the normal January precipitation. The southernmost part of Maryland's Eastern Shore was still experiencing severe drought conditions while Delaware, southern Maryland and the southern tip of West Virginia continued to be under moderate drought conditions at the end of January.

  • Below normal precipitation coupled with above normal temperatures led to a lack of significant snow events. In fact, Central Park had no measurable snow for the month of January. This was only the second time since 1898 that no snow was recorded at this location. The last time was 1933.
For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
  • January was colder than normal in the northwestern and southeastern portions of the region, while temperatures in the central sections of the Midwest were near to slightly above normal. Temperatures ranged from 2-4°F (1.1-2.2°C) below normal from northwestern Missouri to southwestern Minnesota. In the southeastern Midwest, temperatures ranged from near normal along the Ohio River to 2°F (1.1°C) below normal in southern Kentucky. Temperatures in a band from southwestern Missouri north and eastward to Ohio ranged from 1-2°F (0.6-1.1°C) above normal. The largest positive departures occurred from northern Wisconsin eastward to southern Lower Michigan and extreme northeastern Ohio, where temperatures were 4-6°F (2.2-3.3°C) above normal.

  • January was a wet month for areas around the Great Lakes. Precipitation was heaviest in central to northern Illinois and through northern Indiana, most of which occurred during the first 10 days of the month. Dry weather persisted across Minnesota as only a fraction of the normal precipitation fell. Missouri, Kentucky and Ohio received near normal precipitation. Snowfall across the region varied. Snowfall was well above normal across Iowa, northern Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. The largest accumulation of snow occurred in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where more than 60 inches (1.5 m) fell during January. Much of that resulted from lake effect snowfall as low pressure exited the region to the east. Little to no snow fell across much of Missouri, southern Illinois, northwest Minnesota and Kentucky.

  • The first major storm system to affect the area hit on January 8 as a cold front stalled out across Iowa and northern Illinois. Waves of low pressure rode up the eastern flank of a trough carved out in the central U.S., slowly advancing the front. The storms that raced ahead and along the front produced over 75 reports of tornadoes, 121 strong wind reports and over 136 reports of hail. This unusual event was only the second time on record that a tornado struck Wisconsin in January, the first in 1967. Heavy rains accompanied these storms and caused numerous flooding-related issues along rivers. Flooding in Illinois was aided by melting snows further north. Things quieted down during the middle of the month until the weekend of the 19th and 20th, when another cold blast of air brought wind chills down to dangerous levels across the northern Midwest. The month ended with a bang as warm air invaded the area ahead of a very strong arctic cold front that swept through the Midwest on January 29. The front was accompanied by severe thunderstorms, a sharp drop in temperature, and a spectacular contrast in weather within a few hundred miles. It is not too often that a tornado watch and blizzard/winter storm warnings exist within a few counties of each other, but that in fact was the case on January 29 in the central Midwest. Temperatures fell as much as 30°F (17°C) within an hour of the front passing at most locations. The combination of rain, sleet, freezing rain, snow and blowing snow in the cold air behind the front made travel extremely hazardous. Winds sustained from 40 to 45 mph (64-72 kph) and gusts of more than 50 mph (80 kph) produced near white-out conditions from eastern Iowa southeast through central Illinois.
For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest during January, see the weekly summaries in the MRCC Midwest Climate Watch page.

Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Snow fell on all the states in the southeast in January, including Florida. Daytona Beach had a record breaking snowfall on Jan 3rd, when a trace fell at the International Airport there. The Melbourne FL National Weather Service Office also noted that this constituted a record accumulation for the date. Although there were similar flurries in other areas of the state, no stations in Florida recorded measurable amounts during the month. Puerto Rico was completely snow free, but most of the mainland north of Florida had accumulations ranging from a quarter of an inch (6 mm) in central South Carolina to four inches (102 mm) in western and northern Virginia. Even coastal Virginia received more than an inch (25 mm).

  • Despite that precipitation, much of the region remained entrenched in drought. South and central Georgia had a little relief early in the month, but north and central Alabama, northwest Georgia and much of North Carolina remained in the Exceptional Drought category. This has persisted for several months, and streamflows throughout central Georgia are considerably below normal, while rivers in the Carolinas and the Gulf coast of Florida are at low levels seen less than 10% of the time.
For more information, please go to the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

High Plains Region: (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)
  • Cold temperatures dominated most of January for Colorado and Wyoming, and beneficial snows fell in the mountains of central and western Colorado and Wyoming. Record cold temperatures in portions of southwest Colorado on January 17 are currently under investigation, but even without taking these into consideration, the average temperature for January was 8-10°F (4-6°C) below the 1971—2000 average in southwest Colorado. In Nebraska and the Dakotas, a period of unusually warm weather in the last week of January moderated the otherwise cold average temperature for January, with highs reaching into the 50s (°F; 10-16°C) for several locations before a dramatic drop of close to 60°F (33°C) with the passing of a cold front on January 28. Most of Kansas saw near-normal temperatures on average, but experienced large temperature swings similar to Nebraska and the Dakotas. Cold temperatures allowed snow cover from December, along with some snowfall associated with the frontal passage in late January to remain in central and northeastern Nebraska for almost all of January, with the exception of the urban areas of Lincoln and Omaha, where warm temperatures at the end of January made a rapid dent in the snow cover.

  • January 2008 was dry for portions of central and western Nebraska, eastern Colorado,and the Dakotas. The mountain regions of west-central Colorado received 150-200% of normal precipitation, while the high plains in the east received next to nothing. Most locations in Colorado had their biggest snowfall days from January 7th—9th, with the Colorado Drainage Basin as the big winner, where most locations have 150%-200% of normal snowpack. Crested Butte, in the Colorado Drainage Basin, reported 73.7 inches (187 cm) of snowfall in January 2008. Areas of western Wyoming also received much-needed precipitation, where 150-200% of normal fell during the month. Moose, WY (near Yellowstone) saw an impressive 5.93 inches (151 mm) of liquid precipitation, helping to fill a rainfall deficit that begain in 2007.

  • Continued degredation in the drought conditions occured in portions of western North Dakota as January remained dry. Some categorical improvement is expected in western portions of the Dakotas in April 2008, according to the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook released on January 17. An even higher likelihood of categorical improvement is expected in western Wyoming. Persisting drought conditions are expected in north-central North Dakota, with possible intensification in portions of southwest Kansas and southeast Colorado.

For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
  • In the Southern Region, temperatures were generally near average for the month of January, with most stations reporting within 4°F (2.2°C) of normal. The only exception to this was in central and north central Oklahoma and northern Texas, where temperatures averaged 4-6°F (2.2-3.3°C) above the monthly normal.

  • Precipitation in the Southern Region was generally below normal, with the exception of the coastal regions, where above normal monthly totals were observed. In addition, there were some small pockets of above normal precipitation in southwestern Texas and northwestern Tennessee. The driest areas of the southern region were observed in the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, southern Oklahoma, and northern Texas. In these locations, the majority of stations reported less than half an inch for the month, with many others recording no precipitation at all. Similar, but less severe values were observed in southwestern Texas, and in northern Arkansas, with most stations reporting only 5-25% of normal precipitation. In fact, most of Arkansas and northern Louisiana received half of the monthly average or less, except in extreme eastern Arkansas. Similarly low values were also found in central Mississippi. The highest positive precipitation anomalies for the month were observed in the central Texas coast, where precipitation totals for the month ranged from approximately 150-180% of normal. Palacios Municipal Airport received 5.63 inches (143 mm) for the month, or 177% of the monthly average.

  • On January 7, tornadoes were reported near Decatur, Hiwasse, Bentonville, and Rogers, Arkansas. No details regarding damage were available. There were several reports of damaging wind and hail in Arkansas, Mississippi and western Tennessee on January 8-9. On the 8th, a tornado in the vicinity of Appleton, AR resulted in at least one fatality. Structural damage was reported and the storm downed trees and power lines. Similar damage from tornadic activity was also reported in the area of Jerusalem, AR. Near Osceola, AR, tornadic activity caused many homes to be damaged, and on highway 61, semi trucks were overturned. There were also reports of golf ball-sized hail near Osceola. Near Edith TN, a tornado damaged several homes and trailers. Similar tornado-induced damage was also reported in Dyersburg, TN and near Halls, TN. In the case of the latter, tree and structural debris was spread over Highway 51. On the 10th of January, there were several reports of tornadoes in Mississippi with substantial damage in Magnolia and three injuries near Weir. Approximately a dozen hail reports were recorded on the 10th in central and southern Mississippi. On January 29, there were several wind damage reports in central and north-central Tennessee. Damage was mostly restricted to trees and power lines, however, some homes were damaged as well. Winds were estimated to be 60 mph (97 kph) near Dickson, TN.
For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Regional Climate Center)
  • Except for eastern Montana, temperatures throughout the West were mostly below normal with pockets of Nevada, Utah and Colorado nearly 10°F (6°C) below average. As in December 2007, many western valleys were trapped in cold air inversions, leading to extremely frigid conditions. The monthly average minimum temperature at Gunnison, CO was -18.0°F (-27.7°C), by far colder than any other location in the U.S. except stations in northern Alaska. The average minimum temperature in Alamosa, CO, was -12.2°F (-24.6°C), the coldest there since 1992 and 5th lowest overall back to 1948. The average monthly temperature of 6.5°F (-14.2°C) in Vernal, UT was the coldest for January since 1984.

  • Precipitation was near to slightly below normal in the Pacific Northwest and intermountain regions, and further below normal in parts of eastern Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. New Mexico was quite dry except in its northwest. California, Arizona, southern Utah, and western Colorado were wetter than usual, not usually a characteristic of La Niña winters. The San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado have built up a much above average snowpack. Some locations in California measured more precipitation in January 2008 than the entire rainy season of 2006—07. Santa Barbara, CA measured 10.44 inches (265.2 mm) for the month, exceeding the previous 19 month total of 9.83 inches (249.7 mm). Heavy snow in the mountains of the west pushed the snow pack to near or above normal in nearly all locations by February 1st. In the Sierra Nevada the snow water equivalent increased from 53% of normal at the beginning of the month to about 115% by the end. In contrast to Santa Barbara, Denver received just 0.08 inches (2.0 mm) for the month, their 4th driest January on record.

  • One of the more powerful storms in the past few years slammed into California adding much needed snow in the mountains and unwanted wind along the coast and interior valleys. Minor flooding and mudslides occurred in much of Southern California. Wind damage was severe as many valley locations reported winds of up to 80 mph (129 kph), with gusts to as high as 165 mph (265.5 kph) on the Sierra ridge crests. Snow pack in the Lake Tahoe area increased from 51% of average on the morning of January 3rd to about 104% three days later. Rainfall totals ranged from 8 inches (203 mm) along the north coast of California to 12 inches (305 mm) in the southern California mountains. Up to 10 ft (305 cm) of snow fell in the central Sierra. Bishop, CA in the Owens Valley measured an astonishing 4.29 inches (109.0 mm) of rain on January 4—5, an amount that is 85% of their annual average. Elsewhere, a rare tornado damaged 64 homes in Hazel Dell, Washington during the early afternoon hours of the 10th. Some 200 12-24 inch (30-60 cm) trees were downed and many power poles toppled. This was only the 3rd January tornado reported in the state of Washington since 1950.
For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.

See NCDC's Monthly Extremes web-page for weather and climate records for the month of January. For additional national, regional, and statewide data and graphics from 1895-present, for January, the last 3 months or other periods, please visit the Climate at a Glance page.

PLEASE NOTE: All of the temperature and precipitation ranks and values are based on preliminary data.  The ranks will change when the final data are processed, but will not be replaced on these pages.  Graphics based on final data are provided on the Climate Monitoring Products page and the Climate at a Glance page as they become available.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly National Climate Report for January 2008, published online February 2008, retrieved on July 18, 2024 from