WunderBlog Archive » Weather Extremes

Category 6 has moved! See the latest from Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson here.

The Amazing January 2014 Heat Wave in California

By: Christopher C. Burt, 9:10 PM GMT on February 07, 2014

The Amazing January 2014 Heat Wave in California

Although the weather news for California has (rightly) been focused on the enduring drought, with January likely to go into the books as the state’s driest on record, little mention has been made about the extraordinary warmth of the month as well. In fact, the maximum temperature anomalies were unparalleled for many locations and several all-time monthly heat records were broken. Here are a few examples.


The average maximum temperature for the past month in Sacramento was 66.1°, crushing the former record for such of 62.1° set in January 1976. Keep in mind that temperature records for downtown Sacramento date back to 1877. The all-time January record high of 79° on January 24th smashed the previous record for such by a whopping 5°: 74° set on January 31, 1976. Daily record highs were set for 12 of the month’s 31 days:

No other month in Sacramento weather records has set so many daily record highs in a single month.

San Francisco

San Francisco Airport (POR since 1927) had an average maximum temperature of 64.1°, a record and some 7.6° above normal, one of the most anomalous monthly temperature departures on record for the site. Seven days observed record daily highs with two of them all-time monthly highs: 73° on January 15th and 16th (previous record was 72° set on three previous occasions including on January 14th, 2014). Amazingly, the downtown site of San Francisco (with a temperature POR back to 1874) did not see any days ranking in the top 10 warmest thanks to cool breezes coming trough the Golden Gate and off the bay.

Other California sites that observed all-time monthly heat records

Below is a selection of sites across the state (arranged from north to south) that recorded their all-time monthly record high temperatures for January. This data is from the NCDC’s NOW DATA. Some of the POR’s appear very short (like Oakland). However, checking the actual entire POR’s for these sites, the records set in January 2014 still stand.

Map of California showing locations of the cities listed below.


What is amazing is that some locations not only broke their all-time record highs for the month in January 2014, but also saw their 2nd and 3rd places for such.

The warmest temperature observed in the state during January appears to be 91° set at several sites, the most northerly being San Luis Obispo. This was also their all-time record besting the 88° set on January 17, 1976 (POR since 1893 at SLO Polytec).

The Drought Situation

As I write this, a major winter storm—a so-called ‘Pineapple Express’-is closing in on the northern two-thirds of the state. Up to 10” of rain is expected to fall in the normally favored locations in the coastal mountain ranges, with a general 1-3” soaking for the lower elevations and the metropolitan San Francisco region. If the forecasts verify over the weekend, this will be the first significant rainstorm to strike the area since mid-December 2012 (and the wettest since mid-March 2012, when the last ‘pineapple’ express’ made landfall in California.)

I will update the impact of this weekend’s storm on the precipitation deficits on Monday.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather Heat

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

We couldn't enjoy it one bit. Worried too much about the drought. Rain, please, rain... let's just get back to "normal".
Sacramento: "Daily record highs were set for 12 of the month’s 31 days."


Interestingly enough, according to the UAH Satellite numbers, the continental U.S. (48 contiguous states plus Alaska) was actually warmer than normal in both December and January. In fact, pretty substantially so last month. January 2014 was +0.35C above the 1981-2010 mean temperature.


Even just counting the contiguous 48 states, it wasn't particularly cold last month (just -0.19C below the 1981-2010 mean). If you convert that to the 1951-1980 base period used by GISS or the 1901-2000 period used by NCDC, it would probably actually end up above normal! It will be interesting to see what the official surface data shows.

Of course, you won't hear any of this in the media.
you are amazing....have you ever written a piece on below normal temps???????......
Quoting 4. brian44ky:
you are amazing....have you ever written a piece on below normal temps???????......

Yes I have. In fact almost as many blogs on cold records as heat records. There just haven't been quite so many worthy cold records worthy of mention as heat records since I began blogging in 2010. You can find them here:

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian /category.html#Cold
Can anyone explain to me, what the daily effects of heavy metal spraying that has been underway for over a half decade in the pacific region " in between Hawaii and CA, Alaska down to Panama"  You can see these images in NOAA's database stretching back for years on there satellite images. Perfect grid patterns covering thousands of square miles. It's called Geo-engineering and they use nano sized particles of alumina and barium and they saturate the stratosphere. I have personally been checking these satellite images and even in there history databank you can see this same spray/ grid pattern again and again ... It appears to have started in 2002 but it became daily in 2007 I'm not sure what there/we are attempting to accomplish or " Combat " meaning that since several other countries and doing this too i.e.  Russia, China, and the U.N.... I may not be a climatologist but I am an Electrical Engineer and I do know that such heavy metal particles and in such volume can starve the upper atmosphere of water vapor at least temporarily. Hence why the eastern U.S.A. has had a massive deluge of rain and snow 5X there norm. SO MY QUESTION, can someone explain to me why the U.S. air force has had this massive 10,000+ tanker plane spray campaign over half of our region of the Pacific ocean and what are the adverse effects on ocean acidification and water vapor starvation within the atmospheric river " Massive drought" ?  Thank You, your friend from N.J. Dustin
Southern California was cooler than normal with record lows in the prior months. The record lows were in undeveloped rural areas in San Diego County and are rarely recorded at the airport in developed Orange County. Warm winter weather in California is not unusual; it is a function of high pressure over the Great Basin and records are common when high pressure randomly occurs due to the relatively short period of record keeping. What was unusual was the length of the stationary high pressure.
weatherhistorian has created a new entry.