National Overview:

January Extreme Weather/Climate Events

  • Climate Highlights — January
  • January 2015 Statewide Temperature Ranks Map

    January 2015 Statewide Precipitation Ranks Map
    January 2015 Statewide Temperature and Precipitation ranks
  • During January, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 33.0°F, 2.9°F above the 20th century average. This ranked as the 24th warmest January in the 1895-2015 record and marked the warmest January since 2012.
  • The average January maximum (daytime) temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 43.2°F, 2.7°F above the 20th century average — the 26th warmest on record. The average January minimum (nighttime) temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 22.7°F, 3.0°F above the 20th century average — the 23rd warmest on record.
  • Locations from the West Coast, through the Intermountain West, and into the Northern Plains were warmer than average, where seven states had a top 10 warm January — California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. No state was record warm for the month. Parts of the Southern Plains and Northeast were cooler than average while no state had a top 10 cool January.
  • According to preliminary data, during January, there were 3,499 warm daily temperature records broken or tied (1,906 warm maximum and 1,593 warm minimum), compared to 775 cool daily temperature records broken or tied (441 cool maximum and 334 cool minimum).
  • The average contiguous U.S. precipitation was 1.75 inches, 0.56 inch below average, and ranked as the 18th driest January in the 121-year record.
  • Most areas of the U.S. were drier than average, especially the West, Central Plains, and Midwest, where four states — California, Nebraska, Oregon, and Wyoming — had a top 10 dry January. The Southern Rockies and Plains and the coastal Mid-Atlantic were wetter than average, but no state had a monthly precipitation value ranking among their 10 wettest.
  • For the third consecutive January, California's precipitation was much below average, indicating a continuation of long-term drought conditions. The monthly statewide precipitation total of 0.68 inch was 3.57 inches below average, the fourth driest January on record. Several cities in northern California were record dry, including San Francisco, which received no measurable precipitation in January for the first timeon record. January is typically the wettest month of the year for California.
  • According to analysis of NOAA data by the Rutgers Global Snow Lab, the January contiguous U.S. snow cover extent was 1.3 million square miles, 75,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average. This marked the 18th smallest January snow cover extent in the 49-year period of record. Despite the below-average monthly snow cover extent, a powerful Nor'easter impacted the East Coast in late January, bringing blizzard conditions and coastal flooding to New England. Boston, Massachusetts received 24.4 inches of snow, the sixth highest single-storm snowfall total for the city. The storm was rated a Category 3 ("Major") for the Northeast, based on the Regional Snowfall Index which considers both the snow amount and population affected across the region.
  • Based on NOAA's Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index (REDTI), the contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand during January was 9 percent below average and the 53rd lowest in the 1895-2015 period of record.
  • According to the February 3rd U.S. Drought Monitor report, 28.4 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down slightly from 28.7 percent at the end of December. Drought conditions worsened across parts of the West, Central Rockies, Midwest, and Ohio River Valley. Drought conditions improved in parts of the interior Northwest, Southern Plains, Southwest, and the Lower Mississippi River Valley. Drought conditions also worsened for much of the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Climate Highlights — winter-to-date (December 2014-January 2015)
  • For the first two months of winter (December 2013-January 2014), the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 34.9°F, 3.5°F above the 20th century average. This was the sixth warmest December-January period on record and the warmest since 2012.
  • The average maximum (daytime) temperature was 44.3°F, 2.7°F above average and the 14th warmest on record. The average minimum (nighttime) temperature was 25.5°F, 4.3°F above average and the warmest on record for December-January surpassing the previous record set in 2005/06 by 0.1°F.
  • Most of the contiguous U.S. was warmer than average for the two-month period, with the largest departures from average occurring across the West where nine states had a top 10 warm winter-to-date. California was record warm with a temperature 5.1°F above the 20th century average and 0.7°F warmer than the previous record that occurred just last year. Near-average temperatures were observed from the Central Gulf Coast, into the Ohio Valley and eastern Great Lakes region. No state had December-January temperatures that were below the 20th century average.
  • The December-January contiguous U.S. precipitation total was 4.31 inches, 0.35 inch below the 20th century average and the 40th driest on record.
  • Most of the West saw near-average winter-to-date precipitation where January precipitation deficits nearly equaled December precipitation surpluses. The warm and relatively dry winter to date in the West led to large snowpack deficits in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. Below-average precipitation was observed through the Upper Midwest and into the Mid-Mississippi River Valley and Ohio River Valley. The Southern Rockies, Central Plains, and New England were wetter than average for the two-month period. No state had precipitation totals ranking among the 10 wettest or driest.

**A comparison of the national temperature departure from average as calculated by NCDC's operational dataset (nClimDiv), the U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN), and the U.S. Climate Reference Network (USCRN) is available on our National Temperature Index 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 Region: (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)
  • 2015 got off to a cold start in the Northeast. January's average temperature of 20.0 degrees F (-6.7 degrees C) was 3.2 degrees F (1.8 degrees C) colder than normal. All twelve states experienced colder-than-normal temperatures, with departures ranging from 1.5 degrees F (0.8 degrees C) below normal in Delaware to 4.5 degrees F (2.5 degrees C) below normal in New York.
  • January ended on the dry side of normal for the Northeast. The region picked up 2.72 inches (69.09 mm) of precipitation, 87 percent of normal. Seven states had a drier-than-normal January, with departures ranging from 72 percent of normal in West Virginia to 93 percent of normal in Connecticut and Maine. For the five wet states, departures ranged from 102 percent of normal in New Hampshire to 145 percent of normal in Delaware (the state's 18th wettest January on record).
  • According to the U.S. Drought Monitor released on January 8, 11 percent of the Northeast was abnormally dry. Conditions deteriorated in parts of Pennsylvania and New York during the month. By the end of the month, 18 percent of the region was abnormally dry.
  • A Nor'easter struck the region from January 26-28. Some of the largest snow totals were: 36.0 inches (91.4 cm) in Hudson, Massachusetts; 33.5 inches (85.1 cm) in Thompson, Connecticut; 33.2 inches (84.3 cm) in Nashua, New Hampshire; 31.5 inches (80.0 cm) in Sanford, Maine; 30.0 inches (76.2 cm) in Orient, New York; and 28.5 inches (72.4 cm) in Burrillville, Rhode Island. The storm packed hurricane-force winds, with peak sustained winds of 59 mph (26 m/s) and a peak gust of 78 mph (35 m/s) in Nantucket, Massachusetts. The winds caused significant coastal flooding in parts of Massachusetts, and blizzard conditions in coastal areas of Maine and New Hampshire. Thousands of flights were cancelled and travel bans were put in to effect. Throughout the month, icy and snowy conditions contributed to numerous large accidents. On the 2nd, a 35-vehicle pileup occurred on Interstate 93 in New Hampshire. In Pennsylvania, an 18-vehicle pileup occurred on Interstate 80 on the 8th and more than 50 vehicles were involved in a pileup on Interstate 76 on the 18th.
  • For more information, please go to the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • Midwest Region: (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)
  • January temperatures ranged from 5 degrees F (3 C) above normal in the northwest corner of the Midwest to 5 degrees F (3 C) below normal in the northeast corner of the region. In the north central parts and most of the southern half of the region temperatures were near normal for the month. The monthly averages masked the large cool departures in the first half of the month when temperatures were 6 to 12 degrees F (3 to 7 C) below normal and the large warm departures in the last half of the month when temperatures ranged from near normal in the northeast to as much as 15 degrees F (8 C) above normal in the northwest.
  • January precipitation was below normal for nearly the entire region. Small areas of southeast Missouri, northern Ohio, and northwest Minnesota were slightly above normal, while the remaining areas were below normal with deficits of 1 inch (25 mm) or more in much of the southern third of the Midwest. Precipitation totals were less than half of normal in parts of Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, and Michigan. Snow totals for January were above normal only across northern Illinois, northern Indiana, and Ohio. The rest of the Midwest was below normal, especially the southern third of the region where less than 2 inches (5 cm) fell and across central Minnesota and into northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where totals were less than 50 percent of normal.
  • With the low snow totals in January and the warm weather during the last two weeks of the month, snow depths were low in both extent and depth for much of the region. Only the far northern and northeastern areas were close to normal by the end of the month. On the 31st a significant storm was beginning to churn across the Midwest bringing large amounts of welcome snow to a swath across the middle of the region. The snows began on the 31st and continued into the first days of February with most of the snow reported in February.
  • The dry conditions in the region caused the US Drought Monitor to expand Abnormally Dry conditions across large swaths of the Midwest in January. The storm that began on the 31st will undoubtedly reverse much of this expansion. Despite Abnormally Dry conditions expanding from 17 percent to 40 percent of the region during the month, only about 3 percent of the Midwest was rated in drought as of the January 27th release of the Drought Monitor.
  • On January 7th, a large high-pressure system moved across the Midwest bringing very high-pressure readings to the region. In the Midwest, the readings were typically just below record values but many locations came very close to their record values.
  • Travel was impacted by winter weather due to several storms during the month. On the 9th, a pileup that included more than 190 vehicles occurred in southern Michigan and causing a fatality, numerous injuries, fires and spilled cargo, evacuations of nearby homes, and led to a closure of travel in both directions on Interstate 94 that lasted most of the day. Also on the 9th, individuals died near Ann Arbor, Michigan, near Flint Michigan, and in Lake County, Indiana due to weather related accidents. Flight schedules in the region were scrambled due to massive cancellations in the northeast US due to a major storm that caused multiple airlines to cancel thousands of flights to and from the northeast on the 26th through the 28th.
  • Flooding was a problem in southern Indiana in the latter half of the month. A driver died after driving into a flooded area in Greene County, Indiana. The warm temperatures also melted snow and broke up ice on rivers leading to ice jams on the Wabash River from the 19th through the 24th.
  • For details on the weather and climate events of the Midwest, see the weekly summaries in the Midwest Climate Watch page.
  • Southeast Region: (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)
  • Mean temperatures in January were near average across much of the Southeast region. The greatest departures were found across southeastern Florida and northern Virginia. Mean daily maximum temperatures were 3 to 5 degrees F (1.7 to 2.8 degrees C) below average over northern Virginia, but mean daily minimum temperatures were only 1 to 3 degrees F (0.6 to 1.7 degrees C) below average. In contrast, mean daily maximum temperatures were 1 to 3 degrees F above average over southeastern Florida, while mean daily minimum temperatures were 2 to 4 degrees F (1.1 to 2.2 degrees C) above average. Mean temperatures were above average in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands during January. Indeed, several locations observed their second or third warmest January mean temperature on record, including San Juan (1899-2015), Juncos (1931-2015), and Guayama (1914-2015). The warmest weather occurred during the 3rd and 4th, as moist tropical air surged northward ahead of an approaching Gulf Coast cyclone. During this two-day period, daily maximum temperatures exceeded 60 degrees F (15.6 degrees C) and daily minimum temperatures remained above 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) over much of the region, with the exception of the Appalachian Mountains. In contrast, the coldest weather of the month occurred on the 8th, as an exceptionally strong Arctic high pushed southward across the region. Excluding southern Florida, daily mean temperatures were at least 15 degrees F (8.3 degrees C) below average across the entire region. Numerous locations in all states except Florida recorded single-digit minimum temperatures on the 8th. Mt. Mitchell, NC (1980-2015) tied its tenth coldest daily minimum temperature (-16 degrees F; -26.7 degrees C) for any month on record.
  • Precipitation was slightly below normal across the Southeast during January. The wettest locations were found across portions of central Florida, eastern North Carolina, and Tidewater Virginia, where monthly precipitation departures exceeded 1 to 3 inches (25.4 to 76.2 mm) above normal. One of the wettest locations was Wallops Island, VA (1967-2015), which observed its sixth wettest January on record with 4.73 inches (120 mm) of precipitation. In contrast, the driest locations were found across southwestern Virginia and southern Florida, where monthly precipitation ranged between 5 and 50 percent of normal. Blacksburg, VA (1953-2015) observed its sixth driest January on record with only 1.3 inches (33 mm) of precipitation. Precipitation was near average for much of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, though Aibonito, PR (1906-2015) observed its fifth wettest January on record with 6.05 inches (154 mm) of precipitation. With the exception of northern Virginia and the Appalachian Mountains, very little snowfall was recorded across the region during the month. The greatest monthly snowfall totals in North Carolina and Virginia were recorded at Mt. Mitchell (13.7 inches; 348 mm) and Mt. Weather (9.5 inches; 241 mm), respectively. On the 8th, a trace of snowfall was measured in Jacksonville, FL for the first time since December of 2010.
  • There were only 59 severe weather reports across the Southeast throughout January, and the majority (85 percent) of these reports occurred during a two-day severe weather outbreak from the 3rd to the 4th. In addition, all but seven severe weather reports occurred in the southern portion of the region (AL, GA, FL). Over 70 percent of the monthly reports were for damaging thunderstorm winds. The most significant of these events occurred on the 3rd, when a vigorous squall line produced damaging straight-line winds across portions of Alabama and northern Georgia. A three-year-old boy in Tuscaloosa, AL sustained minor injuries in his residence due to a fallen tree. Fifteen tornadoes were confirmed across the Southeast in January, including 6 EF-0s, 8 EF-1s, and 1 EF-2. Fourteen of these tornadoes occurred during the 3rd and 4th, as a Gulf Coast cyclone tracked northeastward across the region. On the 4th, an EF-1 tornado touched down near Alma, GA and caused injuries to two residents after destroying their mobile homes. On the 24th, an EF-0 tornado touched down in the Myakka State Forest in Sarasota County, FL and destroyed a trailer at a local ranger station.
  • Little change in drought conditions was noted for the Southeast region during January. The percentage of the region under drought-free conditions (less than D1) remained just above 99 percent from December 30th through January 27th. Moderate (D1) drought conditions persisted across a small portion of coastal Alabama centered on Mobile Bay as well as the extreme western tip of the Florida Panhandle. Agricultural impacts were relatively minimal across the region. Higher yields on winter cabbage were aided by slightly warmer-than-average temperatures across the Florida Panhandle during January. However, canola and carinata (oilseed) fields in southwestern Georgia sustained considerable damage due to unusually cold temperatures at the beginning of the month.
  • 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 )
  • The big story this month was the temperature. A look at the average temperatures for the month shows that overall, January was warmer than normal. But, the average temperatures only scratch the surface of what was a very interesting month. The daily temperature data show that for the majority of the High Plains region, the first half of the month was dominated by cold air, with below normal temperatures. However, by the middle of the month, the cold air had given way to a much warmer airmass. During this warm period, many daily records were broken and some locations set new records for their warmest January temperature on record. Ultimately, the temperatures during the latter part of the month were so warm that the monthly averages were largely above normal and in some cases, much above normal. Average temperatures were within 2.0 degrees F (1.1 degrees C) of normal across much of Kansas, eastern Colorado, central Wyoming, and the panhandle of Nebraska. Temperature departures of 2.0-4.0 degrees F (1.1-2.2 degrees C) above normal were common across much of Nebraska, South Dakota, and western Colorado, while temperatures in excess of 4.0 degrees F (2.2 degrees C) above normal occurred in North Dakota, portions of South Dakota, and an area encompassing southwestern Wyoming into northwestern Colorado. There were some rather large departures, particularly in southwestern Wyoming and pockets of North Dakota. However, these temperatures were not record breaking, nor did they break into the top 10 warmest Januaries on record. In regards to precipitation, it was relatively dry this month as most of the region received less than 50 percent of normal precipitation and only a few isolated areas received at least 150 percent of normal precipitation. With the exception of the mountainous areas, typical liquid equivalent precipitation for the month of January is less than an inch across the region. With this in mind, even with little to no precipitation, deficits do not build quickly over the winter months. Conversely, precipitation totals at the higher end of the spectrum typically only contribute a small amount to the annual totals.
  • January was a month of extremes when it comes to temperature. As mentioned above, most of the region experienced below normal temperatures the first half of the month, while the last half of the month was well above normal. Ultimately, monthly average temperatures were at or above normal for the region and while these departures were not record breaking, there were locations in North Dakota that ranked in the top 20 warmest Januaries on record. Some examples included Fargo (12th), Dickinson (12th), Grand Forks (16th), Bismarck (17th), and Williston (20th). Although temporary warmups are common in the winter here in the plains, the warmth this January was prolonged and many daily records were set for highest maximum and minimum temperatures. Due to the large fluctuation in temperatures, monthly temperature ranges of 70+ degrees F (38.9 degrees C) were common. Temperatures during the last week of the month were particularly warm with temperature departures in excess of 20 degrees F (11.1 degrees C) above normal. January 27th was a very warm day with temperatures reaching into the 70s (21.1 degrees C) as far north as central South Dakota. Some locations across Kansas reached higher with temperatures at or above 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C). These extremely warm temperatures set new records, or tied, for warmest January day. Dodge City, Kansas tied for its highest January temperature on record on the 27th with a maximum temperature of 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C). The only other time in January that Dodge City had been that warm was January 31, 1989 (period of record 1874-2015). The image above shows Dodge City's temperatures over the past year. The extreme warmth of mid to late January is evident.
  • According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, there were only slight changes to drought conditions over the past month. For much of the High Plains region, drought improvements or developments are not usually expected as this is typically the driest season of the year. Over the past month, the total area in drought (D1-D4) increased to just over 12 percent with moderate drought conditions (D1) expanding across eastern North Dakota. Drought conditions in South Dakota and across the southern part of the region, in Colorado and Kansas, remained largely unchanged. However, abnormally dry conditions (D0) expanded eastward in Kansas and Nebraska, and also across western Colorado and into southern Wyoming. A major winter storm at the end of the month brought rain and snow to portions of Nebraska and Kansas, so a contraction of abnormally dry conditions may occur there. Although drought conditions have eased or have been completely eliminated over much of the High Plains region, impacts can still be felt. In the spring of 2014, enrollment for Livestock Forage Disaster Assistance began under the 2014 Farm Bill. This allows for the retroactive coverage of losses from 2012 and 2013, and also 2014. According to the USDA, over $2.7 billion in payments have already gone out. The states with the most payments included Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. Nebraska producers received payments of $512.89 million, while Kansas producers received payments of $461.26 million. These figures cover the time period of October 2011 to December 2014.
  • Overall, it was a fairly dry month across the High Plains region. Even though on a regional scale it appears that not much occurred, there were some interesting precipitation rankings at isolated locations. Here are some examples on both the wet and dry sides of the spectrum. On the dry side, some locations across the plains have had low snowfall totals this season. Fargo, North Dakota is an extreme example of this as the town set a new record for latest 1-inch (3 cm) snowfall. Snow has fallen in Fargo this season, but not a single event has produced at least 1 inch (3 cm) of snow. Even at the time of this writing (February 5), Fargo had failed to have a 1-inch (3 cm) snowfall. Before this season, the latest 1-inch (3 cm) snowfall occurred on January 27, 1944 (period of record 1885-2015). Additionally, Fargo has received only 7.5 inches (19 cm) of snowfall this season, which is significantly behind the normal snowfall of 31.0 inches (79 cm). This 7.5 inches (19 cm) amounts to only 24 percent of normal snowfall for the season. While a low snowpack in the mountains is undesirable, the low snowpack in eastern North Dakota does have a bright side as there are no concerns of spring flooding in the Red River Valley at this time. Other parts of the region were also dry, including Lander, Wyoming, which had its 2nd driest January and Cheyenne, Wyoming, which had its 9th least snowiest January. Both locations have long histories with records dating back to the late 1800s. But, on the wet side of the spectrum, one of the few locations to receive above normal precipitation this month was Colorado Springs, Colorado. Colorado Springs had its 4th wettest and 4th snowiest January on record with 13.5 inches (34 cm) of snow and 0.87 inches (22 mm) of liquid equivalent precipitation (period of record 1894-2015). Back to the east, a winter storm at the end of the month dropped heavy rain and snow across portions of Nebraska and Kansas. New daily precipitation records were set on January 31st for many locations including Concordia and Topeka (in Kansas), and Lincoln and Omaha (in Nebraska). Some of these totals even ranked in the top 10 all-time wettest days to occur in January. Lincoln, Nebraska had its 5th wettest January day on the 31st with 0.82 inches (21 mm) of liquid equivalent precipitation. Much of the precipitation fell as rain and heavy, wet snow, which allowed for higher totals.
  • For more information, please go to the High Plains Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • Southern Region: (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)
  • With the exception of northern and central Oklahoma, January was a slightly cooler than normal month across the Southern Region. Average temperatures for the month generally ranged between 0 and 2 degrees F (0 and 1.11 degrees C) below normal. In central and southern Texas however, temperatures averaged between 2 and 4 degrees F (1.11 and 2.22 degrees C) below normal. The coldest departures occurred in the extreme south of Texas, with temperatures averaging as much as 6 degrees F (3.33 degrees C) below normal. The state-wide average temperatures for the month are as follows: Arkansas averaged 38.60 degrees F (3.67 degrees C), Louisiana averaged 47.20 degrees F (8.44 degrees C), Mississippi averaged 43.80 degrees F (6.56 degrees C), Oklahoma averaged 37.70 degrees F (3.17 degrees C), Tennessee averaged 36.10 degrees F (2.28 degrees C), and Texas averaged 44.00 degrees F (6.67 degrees C). All state-wide temperature rankings fell within the two middle quartiles.
  • January was a drier than normal month for all states in the Southern Region except for Texas, and Louisiana. Counties in western Tennessee and eastern Arkansas only received between 25 to 50 percent of normal, while surrounding counties faired only slightly better with totals ranging between 50-75 percent of normal. Similar anomalies were also observed throughout most of Oklahoma. Precipitation totals were near to slightly above normal across much of Louisiana and central Arkansas. Conversely, conditions were quite wet in Texas, with a bulk of the stations in the state reporting over 150 percent of normal. Many stations in the Trans Pecos climate division reported over twice the monthly expectation. The state-wide average precipitation totals are as follows: Arkansas averaged 3.51 inches (89.15 mm), Louisiana averaged 5.63 inches (143.00 mm), Mississippi averaged 4.75 inches (120.65 mm), Oklahoma averaged 0.99 inches (25.15 mm), Tennessee averaged 2.73 inches (69.34 mm), and Texas averaged 2.54 inches (64.52 mm).
  • Drought conditions did not change much over the past month. Areas of northern Texas and southern Oklahoma are still experiencing extreme and exceptional drought. Similarly, counties in south central Texas are still categorized as moderate to extreme drought. Dry conditions along the Arkansas and Tennessee border has resulted in some expansion of moderate drought.
  • Several tornadoes were reported in Central Mississippi on January 3, 2015. Most of these occurred in the counties of Lawrence, Covington and Jasper. Fortunately, no injuries or fatalities were reported. Most of the damage was limited to trees and power lines, however, a home and mobile home were reported damaged in Covington County.
  • In a positive turn of events with respect to the ongoing lingering drought in Texas, The Houston Chronicle reported that Texas cattle herds are starting to rebound. The article reported that bovine inventories in the state had hit a 48 year low in 2014, but a report by the United States Department of Agriculture have numbers increasing by as much a 6 percent as of January, 2015.
  • In Texas the cold weather and winter storms created some havoc with the harvesting of cotton. Frozen precipitation and high humidity have kept the cotton yields idle which could cause problematic delays in harvesting. Soil moisture remained good in the Lower Valley due to their wetter than normal season but in the northern parts of Texas, soil moisture is declining (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
  • North Texas experienced 11 earthquakes within 27 hours in which the strongest of them was 3.6 in magnitude (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
  • In the middle of January, a winter storm dropped a foot of snow in Amarillo and prompted numerous schools and businesses to shut down for the day due to the unsafe conditions on the roadways. At the end of the month, portions of Central Texas saw an unseasonal warm-up of temperatures with some locations getting over 80 degrees F (26.67 degrees C) (Information provided by the Texas Office of State Climatology).
  • For more information, please go to the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.
  • Western Region: (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)
  • January was warmer than normal for a majority of the West, with the greatest departures from normal observed in the Great Basin and along the borders between Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. Persistent high pressure over the West Coast kept California, Oregon, and Nevada drier than normal. Several storms skirted the ridge, delivering above normal precipitation to the Desert Southwest and the northern tier of the West.
  • Areas that do not typically receive a large portion of their annual precipitation in January saw above normal totals this month. In northeastern New Mexico, Clayton, reported its wettest January in a 118-year record at 1.56 in (40 mm) for the month, 457% of normal. January is typically the driest month of the year at Clayton. Further west, Winslow, Arizona, observed 1.63 in (41mm) this month. This is 1.11 in (28 mm) above normal and the 4th wettest January in a 123-year record, and also roughly 21% of Winslow's annual rainfall. Winslow typically receives only 6% of its annual rainfall in January. In southern Arizona, Tucson observed its 4th wettest January in a 69-year record with 2.54 in (65 mm), 270% of normal. On January 30th, an upper level low-pressure system combined with a warm sub-tropical air mass led to Tucson recording its wettest January day on record at 1.39 in (35 mm). To the north, in Montana, January is typically one of the drier months of the year with normal precipitation totals less than 1 in (25 mm). In the north-central part of the state, Havre receive 1.3 in (33 mm) precipitation, 394% of normal and the 3rd wettest January since records began in 1961. In the southern part of the state, Billings received 227% normal precipitation and also recorded its 8th snowiest January (18.7 in/48 cm) since records began in 1934. The far northern Cascades as well as the northern Rockies accumulated snow this month and reported snow water equivalent (SWE) values slightly below to slightly above normal. The central and southern Rockies saw SWE values in the 75-90% of normal range at the end of the month.
  • Following a wet December, drier to much drier than normal conditions returned to California, Nevada, and Oregon this month, with precipitation less than 50% of normal across large portions of these states. SWE values in the Sierra Nevada and Cascades were only 20-40% of normal at the end of the month. In California, San Francisco recorded no January precipitation for the first time in its long 167-year record; normal is 4.5 in (114 mm). The previous record for driest January was set last year, 0.06 in (2 mm) in 2014. Sacramento also experienced its driest January on record with a total of 0.01 in (0.3 mm). Records for Sacramento began in 1877. In far northern California, only 1.73 in (44 mm) fell in the gauge at Crescent City. This is 8.66 in (220 mm) below normal and the driest January at Crescent City since records began in 1949. Across the border in Oregon, Klamath Falls recorded 0.4 in (10 mm) in January, 22% of normal and the 5th driest since records began in 1948. Further east, 0.2 in (5 mm) of precipitation were recorded in Elko, Nevada, 18% of normal. Elko typically observes 10.5 in (27 cm) snowfall in January, though only trace snowfall was reported this month. Only 5 other Januaries in Elko's 128-year record have had no measurable snowfall. Southwest Wyoming and northwest Colorado also saw a large area of below normal precipitation this month. Precipitation at Rock Springs, Wyoming, totaled 0.01 in (0.3 mm). This was 2% of normal and the driest January since records began in 1948.
  • Warmer than normal temperatures generally accompanied dry conditions this month. In southern California, Los Angeles recorded its 6th warmest January in a 139-year record at 62 F (16.7 C), 4 F (2.2 C) above normal. The average January temperature at Klamath Falls, Oregon was 37.0 F (2.8 C), 6.8 F (3.8 C) above normal and the 2nd warmest on record. January temperatures averaged to 33.7 F (1 C) in Elko, Nevada, 8.6 F (4.8 C) above normal and the 5th warmest since temperature records began in 1890. Rock Springs, Wyoming recorded an average temperature of 29 F (-1.7 C) this month, 7.6 F (4.2 C) above normal and the 3rd warmest January on record.
  • Precipitation was below normal across the state of Hawaii this month. These conditions prompted the US Drought Monitor to increase drought designations of abnormally dry or moderate drought from only 32% of the state in December to 100% of the state by late January. Further north, temperatures were above normal throughout Alaska with the greatest departures from normal observed in the Southeast region. Juneau observed its wettest January on record with 11.98 in (304 mm) precipitation, 224% of normal. This was also the 6th warmest January at Juneau with an average temperature of 35.1 F (1.7 C) for the month, 6.8 F (3.8 C) above normal. Records for Juneau began in 1936.
  • January 1: Snowstorm travel impacts in northern Arizona: Snow led to slick roads and vehicle accidents along portions of Interstate 17 and Interstate 40 in northern Arizona. Road closures due to accidents impacted travel and left many stranded. Snowfall totals for Coconino County Dec 31-Jan 1 were in the 12-18+ in range (30-45 cm).
  • January (all month): Extreme drought continues into 4th winter in California, western Nevada, and southeastern Oregon: A warm and dry January exacerbated drought conditions in these regions and depleted snowpack in the Cascades and Sierra. Impacts of the ongoing drought include concerns over water resources, municipalities running out of water, agricultural losses, reduction of jobs in the agricultural sector, increased food prices, and impacts on winter recreation-related businesses.
  • For more information, please go to the Western Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, Monthly National Climate Report for January 2015, published online February 2015, retrieved on April 21, 2024 from