January: The Tale of Two Seasons
Right on the heels of that powerful Nor’easter that dumped over three feet of snow in some places across the northeast, it looks like things are going to feel a lot more like winter as we start February. We can sit back and take a look at what our January has looked like, and it’s had a little bit of everything.
Let’s first take a look at what has happened with our snowfall. We started the month off with a decent snow pack, that made it look a lot more like winter and also helped keep us colder – more on that in a second.
January 1st, 2015 U.S. Snow Depth. Photo Courtesy: NOHRSC
January 28th, 2015 U.S. Snow Depth. Photo Courtesy: NOHRSC
Since a decent snowfall on January 5th, we have been hard pressed to get some decent precipitation. Since that date, we haven’t had one day with over a tenth of an inch! So you’re thinking, we must be really dry. The answer to that is both yes, and no. Most of the area is sitting below normal (yellow) for the month of January, but some locations (in green) are slightly above normal.
For Sioux Falls, January usually brings in only 0.56″, below you can see that we are clinging to that number as we speak, but many out west – especially west of the Missouri River, haven’t even gotten a tenth of an inch!
Because of this, we are seeing the Drought Monitor, which is updated weekly, indicating signs of Slight and Moderate drought starting to creep back into the Plains. After this spring, those drought conditions were hard to find around the area.
Latest Drought Monitor – Valid January 20th, 2015 Courtesy: The National Drought Mitigation Center
Now let’s talk temperature. The month started off well below average, do you remember? the first 14 days of the month were brutal, we had high temperatures barely above zero, and wind chills were commonly -10° to -30° below zero. In the middle of the month, the atmosphere decided to quit the bender it was on and basically made a 180° degree turn. The last two weeks have been above average, both in the high temperature and low temperature departments.
This strong rebound has actually pushed many of us above average of the overall normal temperatures we see during the month of January. We can also thank that tremendous loss of the snow on the ground for the warmer temps, because during the winter that snow does a very effective job at reflecting sunlight.
We are used to seeing extreme swings in weather simply by where we are geographically located on the planet. January has had people shaking their heads in disbelief, or for some, putting the winter coats away. Like I said, the upcoming month looks to start off chilly, so go grab those coats you crazies, we have just under (according to the astronomical calendar) two months of winter to go!