Large January Temperature Swings Will Continue
by Cody Matz
January 15, 2013 8:10 PM
As our temperatures begin to climb once again from the trenches of Arctic air, we can breathe a sigh of relief as warmer days are in our near future. The cold we endured over the weekend and early part of the week is retreating back northward. But before you get too comfortable with our relatively mild air, the pattern we appear to be in is very progressive. This means that cold fronts and warm fronts are in a pretty rapid state of flux moving quickly from place to place. This can lead to more frequent large temperature swings with Arctic air moving in, then retreating, and then the process starting all over again a couple days later. Although this is not real typical of many Januarys, its not uncommon. What it means for much of the U.S. though is the constant onslaught of fluctuation from temperatures say some 25 degrees above average to 25 degrees below average. The first half of January has been like this, and it looks to continue right into February.
Just take a peak at what we have had to endure the last week around here… plenty of melting last week as highs climbed into the 30’s and 40’s, to below average numbers over the weekend and early next week, and temperatures more like what we would expect in January.
What can be sort of ironic about the fluctuating numbers, is a lot of times we will remember one or the other, warm or cold, but notice that if you combine all of the temperatures together, you pretty much equal our average numbers. This is often why large swings in weather patters can be deceiving because honestly, they are perfectly normal.
But this last cold front was pretty far from normal with the cold air making it as far south as Mexico, and specifically cooling off an area that doesn’t get all that cold in the winter… at least by South Dakota standards. But I wanted to focus on the southwest U.S. for just a sec and show you how unusually cold it has been down there. I know that many have probably seen the late night talk shows making fun of newscasts down there and how they appear to be overacting a bit, or you might have even compared their temperatures to ours and think that calling them cold is a complete joke. But, this type of cold doesn’t happen all that often in those areas and this cold snap could ultimately hurt your wallet with many winter crops in California, Arizona, and Nevada sustaining losses. Now, in many cases, it’s not just how cold it is, but how long it has stayed cold. The Grand Canyon in Arizona tied an all time record low of 20 below zero this past weekend. Didn’t think it got that cold down there did ya? To one up the Grand Canyon, some mountainous areas of Utah, New Mexico, and Nevada have dropped to 35 below zero. In fact, nearly a thousand record lows and record low maximum temperatures have been recorded just in the last week. In some cases, the persistent cold hasn’t been seen like this in some 25 years and daily lows are breaking records from the 1800’s. Take a peak at some of the cold that has happened down there in the following few images.
(The two images above show daily record lows and daily record low high temperatures for the first half of January.... Notice that the majority of them are in the intermountain west.)
(The two images above are to give you a little different and more obvious perspective on the cold. With the colors on here, its pretty easy to see where some of the worst cold has been located.)
(The few images that follow below are taken from National Weather Service departments in Albuquerque, Las Vegas, and Flagstaff. Gives you a little taste of what they have been dealing with. And as someone who lived in the Phoenix area for quite sometime, don't laugh at these temperatures because when you are used to triple digit heat 6 months out of the year, the 20's feel like 20 below zero.)
Back in South Dakota, I mentioned earlier that our large temperature swings will probably continue into February…. Well that’s probably an understatement. A cold front is expected sometime this weekend that will make this last one that brought the cold weather over the weekend, look like its little brother. Some extremely cold air is gathering in Canada and will likely make an entrance into the U.S. this weekend and stick around through the first half of next week. Now, for those that don’t like the cold, there is some relative good news. Considering many areas have just a few inches or less of snow on the ground (with more melting in the upcoming couple of days) it will likely not be as cold as it COULD be. Even still, temperatures will dip dangerously low and could be awfully close to record territory, especially in the snow-covered areas of the north. Here is a perfect explanation of what could transpire next week from the National Weather Service in Aberdeen…
We will have more details on the invading Arctic Air as it gets closer so stay tuned...