How Cold has this January been in the U.S.?
The temperature fell to -9°F at Ocean City, Maryland and -5°F at Salisbury this morning (January 30th). For this part of Maryland these were the coldest temperatures observed since at least 1987. Two powerful cold waves have swept across the eastern half of the country, the strongest since 1996 or 1994. The coldest January on record were those of 1977 and 1979. How does this January rank so far?The January average annual temperature for the entire contiguous U.S. from 1895-2013. January 1979 was the coldest January nation-wide and 1977 the 2nd coldest. IF January 2014 manages to average 1°F below average, then it will be the coldest since 1991.
Actually, this January’s average temperature nationally has probably been close to normal since the western half of the nation has been almost as much above average as the eastern half was below average. The only region that will most likely have experienced a TOP 10 coldest January will be the Upper Midwest. Detroit is on track for its 6th coldest January on record, followed by Chicago (9th), Indianapolis (9th), Fort Wayne, Indiana (9th), and, at the top of the list, South Bend, Indiana where this may have been the 5th coldest.
Compared to 1977, which was the coldest January for the Ohio Valley and places like Chicago and Detroit, this January can hardly compare:Comparison (average monthly temperature departures) between January 1977 and January 2014 (through Jan. 28). As one can see, there has been no part of the U.S. that has been colder this month than in 1977.
Also, there have been few significant cold records broken this past month, such as all-time record minimums or all-time monthly minimums. This, of course, can’t be said about the warmth in the West, where numerous all-time monthly maximums have been set in California, Oregon, and Alaska.
Christopher C. Burt