Tuesday, February 2, 2010

January Summary

Normally I'm not a fan of January.  Memories of it ring of dry, cold weather.  While the climatology of the area speaks a different story, I think recent memory has tainted my view of the month.  This January, however, provided some nice contrasts, and a good little snow.  Generally dry, and overall colder than normal, we experienced a good 5.5" snow, temperatures that ranged from -5° to 52°, and a rain event that sent gulf moisture to the tune of 1.48" in the rain gauge.  Not a boring month at all!

January Daily Observations

January 6-7 Snow

Total Snow:  5.4"
Total Precip: 0.27"
Max Wind Gust:  WNW 29 mph (Jan 6)

Arctic air spilled in just before the new year, bringing the coldest air of the season so far.  Wind chills flirted around -20° at some times.  With extreme cold air in place, a strong system slid through the area from the Northwest.  Traditionally, these storms don't carry much moisture, especially with the polar air in the region.  But this one packed enough punch to give much of the midwest a decent snow cover.  As the storm passed, winds picked up, and sustained in the 20 mph range.

As the storm began, we had a few hours of nice, BEAUTIFUL vertically falling snow.  Overnight, the winds picked up, and a different scene could be found.  Below are a few of pictures of the drifting that occurred:



The snow was extremely dry, with a water content of 20:1.  I literally swept the snow off my car in the above picture with a broom.  The drifts are telling of the wind gusts we experienced overnight.  The drifts you see in the pictures were 12" in some places.  Click HERE for more pictures.


Mean Temp:  24.7°
Deviation:  (3.1°)
Maximum:  52° on Jan 13
Minimum:  -5° on Jan 9

Heating Degree Days:  1250 | 1178 last year
Cooling Degree Days:  0

As I stated before, the arctic air was the story of the first part of the month.  On December 31, we dropped below freezing, and we didn't get above that mark for 11 days.  That's a long time for our area.  Some shallow ponds around here have risked a major fish kill as the ice reached ~10" (as reported to me by some).  It is easy to see from the below graph that we rebounded very quickly during the second week, and stayed in a warm pattern for 10 days.

The warmer temperatures are deceiving because during that time, we were under a cloud (in it, actually) for much of that time.  Dense fog was the word through that period.  For a nine-day period (from Jan 15 - 23), we had fog, lasting all day at times!


Average January:  1.87"
Actual January:  2.47" (+0.60") 

Average January Snow:  7.2"
Actual January Snow:  5.6" (1.6")

Days with measurable precip:  5
Days with measurable snow:  3
Days with snow cover (>T):  13

For the third year in a row, January has fallen short of its snowfall quota.  After reading OSNW3's January Report, I made an interesting realization.  January is supposed to be our snowiest month, but as of late, it hasn't.  It is the same in his area (Oshkosh, WI).  We did make an improvement from last year's precipitation, thanks to a nice storm system that brought over an inch.  Our ground drank up 2"+ more water than last January.  Unfortunately, we currently do NOT need any more moisture.  I'm afraid our luck will run out this July and August with a crippling drought.



Even though we didn't get many measurable events this month, we did see snow falling from the sky 10 days.  The current outlook for the beginning of February promises a combination of a sub-tropical jet (thanks to El Nino), and northern jet stream that could converge enough to provide some interesting weather.  It'll be fun to see it pan out.

Days with Precip:

As stated before, the last three years have been lacking in the snow department.  It's interesting that we have had equal amounts of measurable precipitation days for each of the years, and although we exceeded the precip amount two out of the three months, we still didn't hit the mark with snowfall.  Looking at the NWS STL data for January 2008, I see that it wasfairly warm (3.4° above average), with the high temperature reaching 73° on the 7th! 


Other Weather Info

Days with thunder:  0
Days with fog:  9
Days with wind gust (>= 20 mph):  6


OSNW3 said...

WxWatcher, I like all the winter months. The more winter during those months, the better. January has it's ups and downs and you had both extremes this year. Was the 52 anywhere close to a record? I am guessing not.

This past month with all of our Trace days, I often saw the neighbor of our sitter sweeping her front stoop and walkway with a broom. Funny stuff. Regardless, using an actual broom to brush off your car is sweet!

I recall some friends from STL updating their facebook status talking about the fog you guys experienced. Most were wondering when Mr Golden Sun would return. I understand how sunless days can work on someone, but you just have to embrace it, because something like that fog doesn't happen all that often.

Looks like that February outlook is taking shape. I'm traveling to Crossett, AR soon (staying in Monroe, LA) and the GFS has a few rain events forecast. I am fearful of having to drive a long distance in a driving southern rain event.

As always, fantastic month summary! Great snowman, too. Haven't built one yet this year. As a matter of fact, I haven't built a snowman in quite sometime. Since 2008, I am guessing. Next snowman making snowfall, I am on it.

WxWatcher said...

LOL, thanks...the girls really enjoyed making the snowman. We have a great picture of Catherine giving the guy a hug (they're the same height!). We were concerned what she would think when it finally melted. When she asked about it, we just told her that it "went away". And that was that.

Our record high temp on 1/15 is 66°. The January record high is 77°. Still, 52° is a nice number. I was looking through last year's data after the groundhog hoopla surfaced, and we had some pretty warm days in February (near 70), and even broke 80 in March. Much could happen.

Ha! Our neighbors are from Monroe, LA (the husband actually still lives there). It does look like the bulk of the activity will be in the southern part of the country for a while. We are supposed to get impacted by the next storm this Thursday and Friday, possibly with several inches of snow if we play our cards just right.

I'm curious: Would you rather drive in driving rain, or snow? I wonder if our climate differences produce different driving preferences.

WxWatcher said...

BTW, let's see a picture of that snowman when you get it built!

OSNW3 said...

Indeed! But we'll need some new packable snow to do such a thing. Looks like you all have a nice shot at some meaningful snow.

About the driving... I'd rather not be driving in either. :)

WxWatcher said...

Yeah, confidence is building - not only for tomorrow's snow (~4" forecasted), but another storm for Monday! We should have a nice snow pack by this time next week.

The more I thought about my answer, I'd have to agree with you...neither are any fun to drive in.

OSNW3 said...

Some of the worst conditions I've ever driven in...

heavy lake effect snow bands between Marquette, MI and Munising, MI. I couldn't see where I was on the road it was so blinding... thankfully they have grooves in the road on the sides and the middle up there so drivers have some sort of idea where they're at.

and this other time I was driving over the 172 bridge in GB during a heavy summertime down pour. Having no clue that there was a foot of standing water on the hwy I did a 360 in across three lanes... it was crazy. :)