National Overview

January Extreme Weather/Climate Events

January Highlights

January Temperature

January Precipitation

  • The January precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.85 inches, 0.54 inch above average, ranking in the wettest third of the 129-year record.
  • Precipitation was above average from California to the Great Lakes, from the southern Mississippi Valley to New England and in parts of the Southeast. Precipitation was below average from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Plains and in the Florida Peninsula and parts of the southern Plains and Mid-Atlantic.
  • North Dakota experienced its 13th-driest January in the 129-year record. Conversely, an abundance of precipitation received during the month resulted in Nebraska ranking third wettest and Massachusetts fourth wettest on record, with five additional states experiencing a top-10 wettest January on record.
  • Monthly precipitation averaged across the state of Alaska was 3.06 inches, 0.33 inch above average, ranking in the middle third of the 99-year record. Conditions were wetter than average across the North Slope, West Coast, southeast Interior and in parts of the Panhandle. Much of the Gulf of Alaska and northeast Interior experienced near-average conditions while much of central Interior Alaska and the western Aleutian Islands experienced below-average precipitation for the month.
  • According to the January 31 U.S. Drought Monitor, about 42.7% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down about 3.6% from the beginning of January. Drought or abnormally dry conditions expanded or intensified across portions of the southern Plains, the Florida Peninsula and parts of the Rockies, Pacific Northwest, Midwest and Hawaii. Drought or abnormally dry conditions contracted or was eliminated across large parts of the West and Midwest, and portions of the Plains, Great Lakes, Southeast, Northeast and Puerto Rico.

Other Notable Events

  • A series of nine atmospheric river events from late December into mid-January dumped a record amount of rain and mountain snow across parts of the western U.S., hitting California particularly hard and causing significant damage to the region including power outages. In California:
    • The perpetual deluge resulted in at least 21 deaths and prompted more than 1,400 rescues throughout the state.
    • California’s Geological Survey mapped more than 700 reported landslides due to rainfall.
    • The San Francisco Bay area experienced its wettest three-week period in 161 years.
  • January had several notable weather systems that brought severe thunderstorms and an unusually high number of tornadoes to portions of the United States. Over 150 tornadoes have been confirmed by the National Weather Service. This is the first time since 2017 and only the third time since 1950 that January had more than 100 tornadoes during the month.
    • On January 2-4, a tornado outbreak occurred across portions of the southern Plains, Southeast and Illinois. A total of 61 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service. The tornadoes and severe thunderstorms with hail caused significant damage to the region. Nine of these confirmed tornadoes occurred in Illinois on January 3 – the highest number of tornadoes in January for the state since 1989.
    • On January 12, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes swept through parts of the Midwest and Southeast. The National Weather Service confirmed 69 tornadoes during this outbreak including two EF3 tornadoes.
    • On January 16, two tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in Iowa – the state’s first January tornadoes since 1967.
    • On January 24, a tornado outbreak occurred from coastal Texas to the Florida Panhandle causing significant damage to the region. A total of 23 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service including an EF3 tornado that carved an 18.7-mile long path across parts of Harris County and the Houston metro area - the first EF3 tornado in the county in nearly 21 years.
  • On January 16, the National Hurricane Center tracked a winter storm taking on subtropical characteristics in the Atlantic - a storm of this nature is very rare during this time of year.

Monthly Outlook

  • According to the January 31 One-Month Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, areas from the southern Plains and Great Lakes to the East Coast and Alaska Peninsula favor above-normal monthly mean temperatures in February, with the greatest odds in southern Florida. The best chances for below-normal temperatures are forecasted from the central Rockies to the West Coast. Much of the eastern U.S. and portions of the Northwest and northern Plains as well as southwestern Alaska are favored to see above-normal monthly total precipitation. Below-normal precipitation is most likely to occur across the southern Southwest, south Texas and much of Florida. Drought is likely to persist across much of the West, Plains and portions of the Southeast Coast. Some improvement and/or drought removal is likely to occur across portions of northern California, Oregon, eastern Oklahoma, southeast Kansas, Michigan and Hawaii. Drought development is likely across parts of Texas and in the Florida Peninsula.
  • According to the One-Month Outlook issued on February 1 from the National Interagency Fire Center, portions of Texas, Georgia and Florida have above normal significant wildland fire potential during February.

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 Centers for Environmental Information.

Northeast Region (Information provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center)

January was an exceptionally warm month for the Northeast, with multiple locations seeing record low snowfall.

Temperature

The Northeast experienced its second warmest January since records began in 1895. The region’s average temperature of 33.5 degrees F was 9.4 degrees F warmer than normal. January average temperatures for the 12 Northeast states ranged from 7.6 degrees F above normal in Delaware to 10.5 degrees F above normal in Vermont. This January was the warmest on record for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It ranked as the second warmest on record for New York and Pennsylvania, the third warmest for Delaware and Maryland, and the seventh warmest for West Virginia. January 2023 was the warmest January since record-keeping began for 10 of the Northeast’s 35 major climate sites: Newark, New Jersey; Worcester, Massachusetts; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Dulles Airport, Virginia; Allentown, Pennsylvania; Portland, Maine; and Central Park, Islip, Kennedy Airport, LaGuardia Airport, New York. Numerous other temperature records were set throughout the Northeast this January. For more information, see the Notable Weather Events section below.

Precipitation

The Northeast received 3.41 inches of precipitation, 104 percent of normal, during January. Precipitation for the 12 Northeast states ranged from 48 percent of normal in Delaware to 147 percent of normal in Massachusetts, with seven states wrapping up January on the wet side of normal. While Delaware had its eighth driest January and Maryland had its 11th driest, Massachusetts had its 16th wettest January and Rhode Island had its 19th wettest. January 13 was the wettest January day on record for Caribou, Maine, with 1.78 inches of precipitation.

Drought

The U.S. Drought Monitor from January 3 showed less than 1 percent of the Northeast in moderate drought and 9 percent as abnormally dry. Much of the Northeast saw wetter-than-normal weather during January, alleviating abnormal dryness in New England and allowing New Hampshire to be free of drought and dryness for the first time since May 2020. Abnormal dryness also eased in Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey and contracted in New York. However, abnormal dryness was introduced or expanded slightly in areas that were drier than normal during January, including southern New Jersey, southern and western Maryland, and eastern West Virginia. A small area of moderate drought also persisted on Long Island, New York. The U.S. Drought Monitor from January 31 showed less than 1 percent of the Northeast in moderate drought and 3 percent as abnormally dry.

Notable Weather

The Northeast was exceptionally warm during January. In addition to several sites experiencing their warmest January on record, several other notable temperature records were set or tied. The average temperature was above normal every day during January for sites such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Central Park, which were experiencing their longest such streak at 35 days as of January 31. Several sites in New York and New England including Boston, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Concord, New Hampshire; and Albany, New York, set/tied their greatest number of January days with a high of at least 32 degrees F. For instance, the high temperature in Hartford, Connecticut, was at or above freezing every day in January for the first time on record. Similarly, the number of days with low temperatures at or above 20 degrees F tied or set records at multiple sites in New York and New England including Bridgeport, Connecticut; Binghamton, New York; and Burlington, Vermont. In fact, the low temperature in Worcester, Massachusetts, was at least 20 degrees F on 30 days in January, beating the old record of 25 days set in 2002. Similarly, the temperature in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, remained at or above 26 degrees F this January. All other Januarys back to 1889 at the site have recorded a colder temperature. This milestone of the lowest temperature during January ranking as the warmest on record occurred at 25 of the region’s 35 major climate sites. The warm weather allowed some maple syrup producers to tap trees earlier than usual because sap was already flowing; however, soft ground and ice limited access to forests for loggers, delaying projects. With above-normal temperatures and an unfavorable storm track for heavy snow, most of the Northeast experienced a snowfall deficit in January. In fact, there was no measurable snow during January at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; Baltimore, Maryland; Dulles Airport, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Newark, New Jersey; Bridgeport, Connecticut; and Islip, LaGuardia Airport, and Kennedy Airport, New York, tying several other years as the least snowy January on record. For Bridgeport it was the first January on record without measurable snow. As of January 31, several of these sites, including Central Park, Kennedy Airport, and Dulles Airport, had not seen measurable snow at all this snow season. For those three sites, the first measurable snow will be the latest on record, more than a month-and-a-half later than usual. The lack of snow affected winter recreation activities such as skiing and snowmobiling, with fewer trails open and a reduction in tourism revenue for businesses; however, transportation departments had a surplus of salt, helping their budgets. The snowy exceptions were parts of New Hampshire and Maine, which saw heavy snowfall during back-to-back-storms from January 22 to 26. The first storm, from January 22 to 23, dropped at least 12 inches of snow in multiple counties in both states, with 17 inches reported in Sullivan County, New Hampshire, and Somerset and Penobscot counties in Maine. The second storm, from January 25 to 26, targeted northern Maine, where up to 18 inches of snow fell. The storm also dropped 12 to 18 inches on portions of Vermont.

For more information, please visit the Northeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

Midwest Region (Information provided by the Midwest Regional Climate Center)

Temperature

The average January temperature for the Midwest was 29.1 degrees F (-1.6 degrees C), which was 6.7 degrees F (3.7 degrees C) above the 1991-2020 normal. Based on preliminary rankings, the Midwest had the 6th warmest January on record. Average temperatures were well above normal across the entire region. Preliminary statewide average temperatures ranged from 4.3 degrees F (2.4 degrees C) above normal in Iowa to 8.7 degrees F (4.8 degrees C) above normal in Indiana. Preliminary rankings indicate January average temperatures were among the top seven warmest for seven Midwestern states: Michigan (2nd), Indiana (3rd), Ohio (4th), Illinois (5th), Kentucky (5th), Wisconsin (5th), and Missouri (7th). Warm minimum temperatures were especially notable, with most of the region along and east of the Mississippi River having monthly minimum temperatures 9-15 degrees F (5-8 degrees C) above normal. Monthly minimum temperatures for most cities were among the top five warmest on record. Muskegon, Michigan (119 years of data) and Akron, Ohio (134 years of data) measured the warmest minimum January temperature on record. Chicago, Illinois and Indianapolis, Indiana had the 5th warmest January minimum temperatures, with records going back 151 years and 152 years, respectively. Over 700 daily high maximum and minimum temperature records were broken or tied in January

Precipitation

January precipitation totaled 2.71 inches (69 mm) for the Midwest, which was 0.77 inches (20 mm) above normal, or 140 percent of normal. Precipitation was near or above normal for most of the region, with only northwestern Minnesota below 50 percent of normal. The wettest regions (exceeding 175 percent of normal precipitation) were from western Iowa to northwest Wisconsin, and along the Ohio River. Preliminary statewide precipitation totals indicate that all nine states were wetter than usual, ranging from 0.3 inches (8 mm) above normal in Michigan to 1.95 inches (50 mm) above normal in Kentucky. Based on preliminary rankings, Iowa tied for the 5th wettest January on record. Several cities in central and western Iowa with over 100 years of measurements reported the wettest January on record, including Algona, Centerville, Sibley, and others.

Drought

Drought conditions were variable across the Midwest in January. Timely precipitation and mild temperatures helped to erase nearly all traces of drought in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, leaving just patchy areas of dryness across the lower Midwest. Drought held firm in southeast Michigan with 30 percent of the state in moderate to severe drought and virtually no change throughout the month. Drought also persisted in intensity and spatial extent in Iowa and across Minnesota. By month’s end, 54 percent of Iowa and 37 percent of Minnesota were in drought.

Snow

January snowfall was 25-75 percent of normal for most of the region due to persistent above-normal temperatures throughout the month. Most of Kentucky and southeast Ohio had less than 25 percent of normal snowfall. Lake-effected areas of northern and western Michigan, northwest Indiana, and northern Ohio had snowfall deficits of 10-25 inches for the month. Only areas in northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, and southern Missouri had over 125 percent of normal snowfall. Numerous snow-producing systems traversed Iowa and Minnesota, resulting in Minneapolis measuring its 9th snowiest January on record (139 years of data) and Sioux City measuring its 14th snowiest (134 years of data). The above-normal snowfall in Missouri, conversely, was from a single heavy-snow-producing system on January 25 that dumped 4-10 inches (10-25 cm) across the southern stretch of the state.

Notable Weather

There were 19 preliminary tornado reports across the Midwest in January, which was about three times higher than the 2000-2021 median. Tornadoes were reported on five separate days, affecting three Midwestern states (Illinois, Iowa, and Kentucky). The two tornadoes in Iowa marked the first January tornadoes to impact the state since 1967. Winter Storm January 24-25: A large storm system tracked across the region from Missouri to Ohio on January 24-25 blanketing the lower Midwest with rain, sleet, and snow. Snowfall totals ranged from 1-10 inches (2.5-25 cm), with the highest totals measured in southern Missouri and southeast Michigan. With temperatures near freezing, the water content of the snow was extremely high, leading to very heavy, wet snow. The National Weather Service in Indianapolis reported snow-to-liquid ratios that ranged from 3:1 to 5:1 across central Indiana. Slick roadways and reduced visibility created dangerous travel conditions and widespread closures of schools and businesses.

For further details on the weather and climate events in the Midwest, see the weekly and monthly reports at the Midwest Climate Watch page.

Southeast Region (Information provided by the Southeast Regional Climate Center)

Temperature

Mean monthly temperatures were above average across the Southeast in January. The greatest departures were found across Alabama, Virginia, northwest Georgia, and eastern sections of the Carolinas, where many locations were 6 to 8 degrees F (3.4 to 4.5 degrees C) above average for the month. Washington, D.C. recorded its third warmest January on record (since 1871) and Roanoke, VA tied its third warmest January on record (since 1912). Mean monthly temperatures were 2 to 4 degrees F (1.1 to 2.2 degrees C) above average across portions of southeast Georgia and much of the Florida Peninsula. For the second straight month, mean temperatures were near average across Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. January began with unseasonably warm temperatures across much of the region. Many locations recorded daily mean temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees F (5.6 and 11.1 degrees C) above average from the 1st to the 5th, with some locations as much as 25 degrees F (13.9 degrees C) above average. Maximum temperatures exceeded 70 degrees F (21.1 degrees C) across far northern sections of the region, and minimum temperatures were also quite warm. On the 4th of the month, Norfolk, VA recorded its highest minimum temperature for any January day (since 1871) with a value of 64 degrees F (17.8 degrees C), while Orlando, FL tied its highest minimum temperature for any January day (since 1892) with a value of 70 degrees F (21.1 degrees C). Unseasonably warm weather returned the following week ahead of a cold front, with mean temperatures running between 10 and 20 degrees F (5.6 and 11.1 degrees C) above average across much of the region (except Florida) from the 10th to the 13th. In the wake of the cold front, mean temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees F (2.8 to 5.6 degrees C) below average across much of the region, except across the Florida Peninsula, where mean temperatures were as much as 20 degrees F (11.2 degrees C) below average through the 18th of the month. Temperatures dropped below freezing as far south as the I-4 corridor. Warm weather returned to the region on the 17th of the month, with mean temperatures over 20 degrees F (11.1 degrees C) above average in many locations. Maximum temperatures reached 80 degrees F (26.7 degrees C) across southern Georgia and 70 degrees F (21.1 degrees C) as far north as southeastern Virginia through the 20th of the month. Tallahassee, FL recorded its highest maximum temperature for any January day (since 1892) with a value of 84 degrees F (28.9 degrees C) on the 19th, while Miami, FL tied its highest maximum temperature for any January day (since 1895) with a value of 88 degrees F (31.1 degrees C) on the 23rd. Following a brief period of cool weather, January ended with more unseasonably warm weather. On the 30th of the month, Jacksonville, FL (1871-2023) and Brunswick, GA (1944-2023) recorded their highest maximum temperature for any January day with values of 87 degrees F (30.6 degrees C) and 84 degrees F (28.9 degrees C), respectively.

Precipitation

Precipitation was above average across most of the interior of the region. The wettest locations were found across central and northern portions of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, where monthly precipitation totals were 2 to 6 inches (50.8 to 152 mm) above average (150 to 300 percent of normal). Anderson, SC tied its wettest January on record (since 1948) with 7.55 inches (192 mm) of precipitation. Auburn, AL recorded 9.56 inches (243 mm) of precipitation for the month, which is 4.25 inches (108 mm) above average. Monthly precipitation was 1 to 3 inches (25.4 to 76.2 mm) above average across much of Puerto Rico, with some locations over 4 inches (102 mm) above average across the northeast slopes. Precipitation was also frequent throughout the month, as several locations recorded one of their greatest numbers of January days with measurable precipitation. Raleigh, NC recorded 14 days with measurable precipitation, which tied for the fifth most for any January on record (since 1887), while San Juan, PR recorded 25 days with measurable precipitation, which tied for the fourth most days for any January on record (since 1898). In contrast, the driest locations were found across the northern Gulf Coast, much of the Florida Peninsula, and northern Virginia, where monthly precipitation totals were 2 to 6 inches (50.8 to 152 mm) below average (less than 75 percent of normal). Miami, FL recorded its fourth driest January on record (since 1895) with just 0.05 inches (1.27 mm) of precipitation, while West Palm Beach, FL recorded its third driest January on record (since 1888) with 0.21 inches (5.33 mm) of precipitation. Monthly precipitation was 1 to 2 inches (25.4 to 50.8 mm) below average across the U.S. Virgin Islands. Light snowfall amounts were reported in all states except Florida, and most of this was associated with a storm system that affected the region from the 12th to the 14th of the month. Up to half an inch (12.7 mm) of snow was recorded across the higher elevations of Georgia, while trace amounts were recorded across northern sections of Alabama and South Carolina and central portions of North Carolina and Virginia. Between 5 and 10 inches (127 and 254 mm) of snow was recorded across the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Regionally, the highest monthly snowfall total was 22 inches (559 mm) at Beech Mountain, NC.

Drought

Due to the copious precipitation, drought conditions continued to improve across much of the region in January. The percentage of the region in moderate (D1) drought declined by about 10 percent, while the percentage of the region in severe (D2) drought declined by about 4 percent. The biggest improvements were seen across southern parts of Alabama and Georgia and the western Panhandle of Florida, where large portions of moderate and severe drought were eliminated. Areas of moderate drought were also reduced slightly across eastern sections of the Carolinas. On the other hand, abnormally dry (D0) conditions emerged across much of the Florida Peninsula by the end of the month. Areas of moderate drought persisted across northeast Florida and southeast Georgia, while a small area of severe drought persisted across the Big Bend region of Florida. Abnormally dry conditions persisted across parts of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Agriculture

The Arctic outbreak that struck the region in late December continued to affect agricultural production in the region. In Florida, there was significant damage to many winter crops, particularly wheat, strawberries, forage, sugarcane, citrus, and cover crops. Cold weather in the middle of January caused additional damage to winter grazing pastures. This was especially the case across the Florida Peninsula, which also experienced significant precipitation deficits during the month. As such, many operators continued to rely on supplemental feeding. However, periods of warm weather during the month resulted in some improvements in pasture and winter wheat. The warm, dry weather also allowed sugarcane and citrus grove activities, as well as the preparation of rice planting, to progress throughout the month. On the other hand, persistently rainy and humid conditions across parts of Alabama and Georgia limited the supply of hay for cattle and contributed to a rise in calf scours. Generally wet weather across this part of the region limited field activities and delayed preparation for late winter and early spring planting. Various diseases were also noted, particularly in strawberries, which were running behind schedule in parts of Georgia and South Carolina. However, some crops such as wheat, oats, and onions, were progressing well by the end of the month. Strong winds attending a severe weather outbreak on the 12th caused significant damage to pastures and timberland across central Georgia. Agricultural conditions were variable across Puerto Rico. Dryness was reported across the south coastal region and along the southern slopes, while soils were saturated for much of the month across the north coastal region. Though surface water supplies were mostly full across the Virgin Islands, many farmers were taking measures to conserve water as the dry season progresses. These included using ground cover to limit evaporation, rotating foraging livestock, storing hay, and preparing irrigation.

Notable Weather

There were 451 reports of severe weather across the Southeast in January, which is well above the median frequency of 57 reports over the period 2000 to 2021 (790 percent of normal). There were 66 confirmed tornadoes, which is well above the median frequency of 7.5 (880 percent of normal). Alabama set a record for the greatest number of confirmed tornadoes for any January (since 1950) with 29, which breaks the previous record of 21 set back in 2017. Most of the tornadoes in the region occurred during two major severe weather outbreaks. The first outbreak occurred on the 3rd and 4th of the month with a total of 29 confirmed tornadoes (17 EF-0s, 11 EF-1s, 1 EF-2). Twenty-two of these occurred in Alabama and Georgia, five occurred in South Carolina, and the other two occurred in eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia. The strongest tornado was an EF-2 that tracked across Elmore County, AL, about 15 miles (24 km) north of Montgomery. Dozens of homes were damaged and numerous trees were snapped and uprooted around Lake Jordan. Much of the damage from this outbreak included snapped and uprooted trees, damage to roofs and sidings, and vegetation damage. In a few cases, trees fell on homes and buildings, some of which were shifted off their foundations. Two injuries were confirmed from this outbreak. The second outbreak occurred on the 12th of the month and, like the first outbreak, resulted in 29 tornadoes, some across many of the same counties in Alabama and Georgia. However, this outbreak produced a greater number of strong tornadoes (4 EF-0s, 12 EF-1s, 11 EF-2s, 2 EF-3s) and numerous casualties (nine fatalities and at least 50 injuries). An EF-2 tornado caused extensive damage in the town of Selma, AL. A daycare facility on the west side of town experienced partial roof collapse while children, infants, and workers took shelter in small interior rooms. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. There were numerous reports of trees down on homes, roofs blown off, and exterior walls that collapsed. One of the strongest tornadoes from this outbreak was an EF-3 that tracked over 82 miles (132 km) across Autauga, Elmore, Coosa, Tallapoosa, and Chambers counties in east-central Alabama, making it the sixth longest path length for a single tornado in Alabama since 1950. Some of the most significant damage was recorded in the community of Old Kingston, located about 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Montgomery. Several manufactured homes and a few vehicles were destroyed and thrown considerable distances. Seven fatalities and at least a dozen injuries were confirmed in this area. Significant damage also occurred in southern Coosa County. A large number of trees were snapped and uprooted, and several vehicles were moved or flipped. Several structures were heavily damaged and at least one site-built home was destroyed. More damage was reported in Tallapoosa County, particularly around Lake Martin. Some homes around the lake had their roofs blown off, walls collapse, or shifted from their foundation. The other EF-3 tornado tracked for about 30 miles (48 km) across Pike, Spalding, and Henry Counties in central Georgia just south of Atlanta. This tornado was part of the larger mesocyclone that produced the tornado in Selma, AL. The most significant damage occurred in southwest Spalding County, where at least 250 homes were destroyed or sustained major damage. At least 18 injuries have been attributed to this tornado. A weather station maintained by the University of Georgia in the middle of the county recorded a wind speed of over 80 mph (36 m/s) before the instrumentation was blown off the tower. The damage path in this area, just west of the town of Griffin, was at least 2 miles (3 km) wide. While this tornado was occurring, another tornado formed to the east of Griffin and tracked over 30 miles (48 km) through Butts, Newton, and Jasper Counties. One person died and one person was injured when a tree fell on a vehicle in the Jackson Lake area. Another fatality was indirectly related to the tornado when a lineman was knocked out of his bucket while restoring power the following day in Jasper County. There were also at least 10 injuries associated with this tornado. The remaining tornadoes occurred towards the end of the month. Five tornadoes (2 EF-2s, 3 EF-1s) were confirmed across the Florida Panhandle and southern Georgia on the 22nd. Much of the damage included snapped and uprooted trees as well as some structural and vegetation damage. Damaging straight-line winds were also recorded on this day, including a 74 mph (33 m/s) gust at the Jacksonville International Airport. On the 25th of the month, three weak tornadoes produced mostly minor damage across the western Florida Panhandle. No casualties were reported from these tornadoes. There were 338 high wind reports in January, which is well above the median frequency of 47.5 (716 percent of normal). Many of these reports were related to the two major severe weather outbreaks. During the first outbreak, straight-line winds of up to 80 mph (36 m/s) damaged several homes across northern Alabama, while 90 mph (40 m/s) winds from a downburst in Burke County, GA produced a damage swath over 7 miles (11 km) long and 100 yards (91 m) wide. Another 90-mph (40 m/s) wind gust caused extensive damage to an agricultural research facility in Barnwell County, SC. Dekalb-Peachtree Airport, located northeast of downtown Atlanta, recorded a 75 mph (34 m/s) wind gust, while Jacksonville International Airport recorded a 66-mph (30 m/s) gust, both on the 4th of the month. There were numerous reports of wind gusts exceeding 50 mph (22 m/s) across the region during the second outbreak. The strongest recorded gusts were between 80 and 90 mph (36 and 40 m/s) across southern portions of Alabama and Georgia and northwest Florida. There were 15 hail reports in January, which is above the median frequency of 2 (750 percent of normal). The largest hailstones recorded were golf ball sized, or 1.75 inches (44 mm), in Camden County, AL (south of Brunswick) on the 3rd, and in Shelby County, AL (south of Birmingham) on the 12th. There were two rip current fatalities in Puerto Rico in January, one on the 18th and one on the 28th of the month.

For more information, please visit the Southeast Regional Climate Center Home Page.

High Plains Region (Information provided by the High Plains Regional Climate Center)

After below normal precipitation in the High Plains for most of 2022, the new year began with record-breaking wetness. Many locations in the central part of the region eclipsed or ranked in the top 10 for both precipitation and snowfall. The winter of 2022-2023 has been very beneficial to parts of Wyoming, western Nebraska, eastern South Dakota, and northeastern Colorado. Valentine, Nebraska has already recorded their wettest and snowiest winter on record, with nearly 10 inches (25.4 cm) of snowfall and 1 inch (2.54 mm) of precipitation more than the previous record. While this wetness has impacted places affected by drought in 2022, the changes in drought conditions have been slow to improve due to the severity. Strong winds once again reared their head, this time combining with the winter weather. Multiple times during the month, both I-80 and I-25 were closed in Wyoming due to high winds and winter storms, or a combination of both. Several large accidents took place during the month, with the largest being a 44-vehicle pileup on the 28th to the west of Laramie.

Temperature

Temperatures varied across the region, with areas ranging from 8 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) below normal to 6 degrees F (3.3 degrees C) above normal. Despite the wide fluctuation in temperature, no major locations ranked in the top 10. Despite the overall lack of monthly records broken in the region, it was not a quiet month. Like December, January started with warmer temperatures while cooler temperatures dominated at the end. Temperatures reached 74 degrees F (23.3 degrees C) on the 2nd in Chaunte, Kansas. Not only were the temperatures well above normal, but they also lingered throughout the month. Ten days in Chanute were over 60 degrees F (15.6 degrees C) which tied for the second most in the month of January. The end of the month brought bitter temperatures throughout the region. Temperatures reached below –40 degrees F (-40 degrees C) in the mountainous parts of Colorado and Wyoming.

Precipitation

Several winter storms impacted the drought-stricken central part of the region this past month, leading to numerous precipitation records being broken. While many locations were above 200 percent of their normal precipitation, North Dakota and the northern portions of South Dakota missed out on this beneficial precipitation. Records were not only broken but shattered in parts of Nebraska and Wyoming. In Nebraska, monthly precipitation records were eclipsed by nearly 0.50 inches (12.70 mm) in Scottsbluff and Valentine, while many other locations like North Platte and Grand Island ranked in the top 10. The state of Wyoming experienced the brunt of these storms, with Casper, Lander, Riverton, and Rawlins surpassing their record. On the opposite end of the spectrum, North Dakota missed out, and Grand Forks ranked in the top 10 driest (0.90 inches; 22.86 mm).

Drought

After back-to-back months of above normal precipitation, drought conditions have started to finally improve. Some areas in the Dakotas and along the southern Front Range of the Rockies missed out on the much-needed precipitation, with conditions deteriorating as a result. Overall, there was a 3 percent decrease in D0 to D4 (abnormally dry to exceptional drought conditions). Although North Dakota missed out on the precipitation this past month, drought conditions improved after the near-record snowfall in December. The state experienced a 12 percent reduction in D2 (severe drought) in response, however, nearly 80 percent of the state is still engulfed in D1 (moderate drought). Wyoming greatly benefited this month, with an 11 percent reduction in D0-D4 in the state. Elsewhere in the region, other improvements and degradation were observed.

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

Southern Region (Information provided by the Southern Regional Climate Center)

A top ten warmest January for the Southern Region.

Temperature

January 2023 was warmer than normal across the Southern Region, with departures from normal being greater in the east of the region than in the west. Five of the six states and the region as a whole experienced top 10 warmest Januarys on record. Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas ranked 6th warmest (out of 129 years), while Tennessee and Louisiana were 7th warmest, the Southern Region as a whole ranked 8th warmest, and Oklahoma ranked 13th warmest. The largest statewide temperature departure from normal for January was Tennessee (+7.0 F). The warmest temperature recorded in the region during January was 92 F on January 16th at Falcon Lake, Texas and Linn-San Manuel, Texas. The coldest temperature recorded in the region during January was 4.0 F on January 30th at Hooker, Oklahoma and Goodwell Research Station, Oklahoma and on January 31st near Dalhart, Texas. One long-term station set a record high temperature for January: Meridian NAAS, Mississippi with 82 F on January 28th.

Precipitation

Precipitation was above normal in the east of the region and below normal in the west. Statewide average totals were well above the 1991-2020 normal for Mississippi (ranked 22nd wettest), Louisiana (25th wettest), Arkansas (26th wettest), Tennessee (29th wettest), and the Southern Region as a whole (32nd wettest). Oklahoma and Texas were slightly below normal and near their median historical values for January. The five wettest stations were a mix of CoCoRaHS (2) and COOP (3) sites and spread across three states: Livingston, Louisiana (14.84 inches), near The Woodlands, Texas (13.96), Sun, Louisiana (13.11), Cane Creek State Park, Arkansas (12.91), and near Spring, Texas (12.93). Two stations, both in Texas, reported no accumulated precipitation in December and were located near Santa Rosa and Castolon. Five stations reported single daily rainfall accumulations of over six inches, these included: Cane Creek State Park, Arkansas (7.30 inches, January 3rd), near Marvell, Arkansas (6.75, January 3rd), Livingston, Louisiana (6.57 inches, January 30th), near Hockley, Texas (6.55 inches, January 25th), and near Hampton, Arkansas (6.25 inches, January 3rd). Four long-term stations reported record high daily accumulations for January: Cane Creek State Park, Arkansas (7.30 inches, January 3rd), Livingston, Louisiana (6.57 inches, January 30th), near Plaquemine, Louisiana (5.00 inches, January 3rd), and Crandall, Mississippi (4.19 inches, January, 4th).

Drought/Flooding

During January, drought conditions remained relatively steady across the Southern Region. As of January 31st, much of central Texas, the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma remained in drought conditions. Slight degradation occurred in deep southern Texas, and slight improvements occurred along the southeast Louisiana coast. As of January 31st, the majority or all of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee were drought-free. Much of Oklahoma continued to experience Extreme (45 percent) or Exceptional (10 percent) Drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The majority of impacts from drought during January come out of the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma. There are concerns over the winter wheat crop, despite an increase of 11 percent in acres planted across the region when compared to 2022. The beef cattle herd in Oklahoma also reported substantial decreases when compared to the previous year. The January inventory of all cattle and calves was down 11.5% from January 1, 2022 to 1.981 million head. Oklahoma City is suing an oil company for allegedly stealing water intended for emergency drought relief. Water levels at gauges along the Mississippi River remained below long-term historical means but had rebounded from record lows observed in late 2022.

Notable Weather

Twenty-Eight tornadoes were reported across the Southern Region in January, impacting the states of: Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The ratings were: 7 EF0, 16 EF1, 5 EF2, and 1 EF3. In total there were eight reported injuries and no fatalities. On January 24th, an EF2 tornado near Orange, Texas injured two and an EF1 tornado near New Roads, Louisiana injured three. On January 2nd, an EF2 tornado near Jonesboro, Louisiana injured three. The largest of 32 hail reports was 2.0 inch hail that fell near Elm Park, Arkansas overnight on January 12th. There were a total of 119 severe wind reports across the Southern Region during January with 81 mph reported near Adair Oklahoma. Several wind reports across the region were associated with fallen trees and downed power lines. On January 31st, portions of central and western Texas were impacted by an ice storm causing power outages, traffic accidents, travel delays, power outages, and injuries associated with the ice storm. Over the next several days this storm would continue to affect northern Texas and would affect areas of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

For more information, please visit the Southern Regional Climate Center Home Page.

West Region (Information provided by the Western Region Climate Center)

The stormy pattern that began in late December for California, the Great Basin, and much of the Southwest continued into mid-January bringing well above normal precipitation and below normal temperatures to the region and continued improvement to long-term drought conditions. A deep snowpack is building across the Sierra Nevada and parts of the Upper Colorado River Basin with record high snow water equivalent for some locations. The Pacific Northwest was generally drier and warmer than normal.

Temperature

An active storm track with several cold low-pressure systems led to temperatures about 2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit below normal for much of the Great Basin, Arizona, and southern California. Ely, in eastern Nevada, recorded a monthly mean temperature of 19.7 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Fahrenheit below normal) marking the 16th coldest January since records started in 1893. Above normal temperatures were found across the Pacific Northwest with the warmest temperature anomalies in central and eastern Montana at 2 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Ingomar, in east-central Montana saw its 10th warmest January on record at 26.3 degrees Fahrenheit (8.2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal).

Precipitation

A series of moisture-laden atmospheric rivers brought heavy rainfall and mountain snowfall to California, the Great Basin, and parts of Arizona and New Mexico with many sites in the top five wettest Januarys on record. Ely, Nevada received 3.55 inches of precipitation (473 percent of normal) ranking as the wettest January since records began in 1893 which is over one inch greater than the second wettest January in 1907. Another January total precipitation record occurred at Spanish Fork Power House, Utah where 5.11 inches of precipitation fell (242 percent of normal); records began in 1917. Drier than normal conditions prevailed across most of the Pacific Northwest with less than 50 percent of normal total precipitation for many locations. West Glacier, Montana logged 0.76 inches of precipitation, only 22 percent of normal and the second driest January since 1949. Bellingham, Washington recorded 1.46 inches of precipitation (33 percent of normal) for the fourth driest January since records started in 1949.

Snowpack

In California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona snowpack was well above normal at the end of January with most NRCS SNOTEL sites greater than 150 percent of normal snow water equivalent (SWE); even more encouraging for drought recovery is that many locations have already surpassed the 1991-2020 median water year peak SWE. Snowpack has fallen below normal for much of the Cascades in Washington and Oregon, and northern Rockies in northern Idaho and northwest Montana with SWE values 70-90 percent of normal.

Drought

According to the US Drought Monitor at the end of January, 61 percent of the West was in drought with six percent of the West in extreme (D3) or exceptional (D4) drought. Drought improvements were found in all western states except for Montana with the most widespread improvements in California. Only a few small areas of worsening drought (one category degradations) were found in Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and New Mexico.

Alaska Summary

Temperatures across Alaska were warm with many stations reporting 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, or warmer, above normal January mean temperatures. The Panhandle had several long-term sites in the top ten warmest Januarys including Sitka at the fifth warmest (41.8 degrees Fahrenheit and 5.3 degrees Fahrenheit above normal) and Juneau at the tenth warmest (34.4 degrees Fahrenheit and 6.1 degrees Fahrenheit above normal). It was also wet in the Panhandle with many locations 110-130 percent of normal total January precipitation. Parts of Southcentral Alaska were drier than normal with Kenai reporting just 0.03 inches of total precipitation (three percent of normal) making it the driest January since consistent reporting began in 1944. January precipitation totals were a mixed bag across the rest of Alaska with some areas below normal and other areas above normal.

Hawaii Summary

The Big Island and Oahu saw monthly precipitation totals mostly below normal with many stations less than 50 percent of the 1991-2020 average. Hilo received 2.06 inches (25 percent of normal) of precipitation for the month coming in as the 14th driest January since records started in 1950. Maui, Molokai, and Kauai saw above normal monthly precipitation. Hana, on the island of Maui, logged 11.47 inches (203 percent of normal) of monthly rainfall which is the 14th wettest since 1950. Overall, the spatial extent of drought was reduced across the state and the end of January was the first time without D2 (severe drought) or worse in the state in about one year based on the US Drought Monitor.

Notable Weather

Early January storms bring major coastal impacts to central California: A series of strong winter storms with heavy rainfall, high winds, and large ocean waves that coincided with high tides caused major flooding and damage to areas of California’s central coast. Capitola, just to the east of Santa Cruz, was hit particularly hard with many oceanfront properties and businesses severely damaged including the 166-year-old Capitola Wharf. Initial estimates of damage in Santa Cruz County came in at $36 million.

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 2023, published online February 2023, retrieved on June 20, 2024 from https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/access/monitoring/monthly-report/national/202301.