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January 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

By: Christopher C. Burt, 7:36 PM GMT on February 18, 2014

January 2014 Global Weather Extremes Summary

January featured cold waves and snowstorms across the eastern and Midwest portions of the U.S. while record warmth and drought affected California. A series of powerful extra-tropical storms brought record rainfall and high winds to the U.K. Extreme summer heat predominated in Australia and Argentina.

Below are some of the month’s highlights.


January saw extreme contrasts between the eastern half of the nation and the western half. It was one of the coldest and snowiest Januaries on record for portions of the Upper Midwest and the Southeast whereas it was the warmest and driest January on record for most of California. It was unusual mild in Alaska as well, in fact their 3rd warmest on record.

Temperature (top) and precipitation (bottom) state rankings for January 2014. Overall, the temperature extremes across the contiguous U.S. balanced themselves out, resulting in a near average month nationwide (just 0.1°F below average). However, the month ended up being the 5th driest January on record overall nationwide. Maps from NCDC/NOAA.

The biggest weather-wise news stories were the extreme drought and heat in California and the extreme cold and snow-ice storms in the Midwest and Southeast.

Snow rollers were observed over a wide area of Ohio and Pennsylvania following a snow and wind storm on January 27. This image was taken in Green Camp, Ohio. Photo posted on wunderground.com by Gordanian.

Atlanta was paralyzed by a 2-3” snowstorm on January 28th (although it was poor planning rather than the snowfall amounts that lead to the chaos) and Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina saw the temperature fall to -24°F (-31.1°C) on January 7th, its 2nd coldest temperature on record. It was the 3rd coldest January on record in Birmingham, Alabama and Macon, Georgia and between the 5th to 9th coldest such for most cities in the Upper Midwest. Meanwhile, in California, virtually no rain fell during what is normally the state’s wettest month of the year and Palmer Index (drought measurement) reached its lowest on record. Numerous all-time monthly heat records were set as well, see my blog for details about this. The same held true for central Alaska, see for details on the Alaskan heat wave. It was also unusually mild in Greenland where the Summit site failed to register a temperature below -50°C (-58°F) for perhaps its first time for a January.


Extreme heat continued for Argentina and southern Brazil. It was the warmest January on record for Sao Paulo, Brazil with an average of 25.0°C (77.0°F). The only hotter month on record was that of February 2003 when the average was 25.4°C (77.7°F). Buenos Aires, Argentina tied its warmest night on record on January 24th when the temperature fell to only 28.2°C (82.8°F). Rosario, Argentina fell to just 29.1°C (84.4°F), breaking its all-time max minimum.

Floods in Bolivia claimed at least 50 lives during the last week of the month following weeks of torrential rainfall. The worst affected regions were those around La Paz, Beni, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba.

Floods in Bolivia during late January left at least 50 dead. Photo from AP.


It was the wettest January on record for England and Wales and 3rd wettest for the U.K. as a whole. A series of powerful storms lashed the nation bringing wind gusts up to 106 mph at the low-elevation site of Needles Old Battery on the Isle of Wight on January 3rd. The warmest temperature observed in the U.K. during the month was 14.1°C (57.4°F) at Bude, Cornwall on January 5th and the coldest -6.6°C (20.1°F) at Altnaharra, Sutherland on the 5th as well. The heaviest 24-hour precipitation observed was 68.6 mm (2.70”) at Cluanie Inn, Highland on January 6-7.

Precipitation averaged over 200% of normal for much of southern England and Wales. Their wettest January on record. Map from U.K. Met Office and Crown copyright.

Iceland was exceptionally warm and for the first time on record some sites (two to be exact) never fell to freezing or below for the entire month: Vattarnes where the minimum was +0.4°C (32.7°F), and Stórhöfði in Vestmannaeyjar where the minimum was +0.3°C (32.5°F).

It was also a very mild month across most of Western Europe from the far north where temperatures averaged 10°C (18°F) above normal in the Svalbard archipelago of Arctic Norway to Spain where many days reached 25°F (77°F) or warmer including Murcia where the temperature peaked at 26.2°C (79.2°F) on January 26th. Amsterdam measured its warmest January temperature on record when it hit 14.0°C (57.2°F) on January 6th. Winter didn’t arrive until the last days of the month when cold and heavy snows finally began to fall in Eastern Europe.

Flooding rains in the French Riviera of up to 203 mm (8”) on January 18-19 caused flash floods in Saint- Tropez and in Provence resulting in the deaths of three people.


The hottest temperature observed in the northern hemisphere during January was 42.1°C (107.8°F) at Matam, Senegal on January 13th.

Cyclone Deliwe struck southwestern Madagascar on January 18th killing at least five and leaving hundreds homeless.

The track of Cyclone Deliwe January 18-20 that formed in the Mozambique Channel and then brushed the coast of Madagascar with high winds and torrential rains. Image from JRC.


Deadly flooding occurred in both the Philippines and Indonesia during mid-January leaving at least 20 dead in the Philippine regions of Compostella and Davao Oriental, and 13 dead on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia.

Unusually cool weather affected portions of Southeast Asia for much of January. All-time record low temperatures were observed in southern Thailand at Koh Samui 17.8°C (64.0°F) and Nakhon Sri Thammarat 15.5°C (59.9°F), and in Malaysia with 16.1°C (61.0°F) at Chuping (but a short POR here back to just 1979). The central Philippines also saw some all-time record lows with 17.2°C (63.0°F) at Puerto Princessa and 14.2°C (57.6°F) at Ambulong. In Laos temperatures as low as -2.2°C (28.0°F) were observed at locations on the plateau of the Plain of Jars, the coldest readings observed since December 1999 when it reached -3.3°C (26.0°F).

The coldest temperature observed in the northern hemisphere and the world during the month was -58.5°C (-73.3°F) at Yarol in Russia’s Siberia on January 7th.


It was another blistering month for much of Australia with several intense periods of heat affecting virtually every state at one time or another. Perth, Western Australia recorded its warmest night in 116 years of records when the temperature fell to only 29.7°C (85.5°F) on January 12th.

Precipitation (top) and temperature (bottom) deciles for Australia during the month of January. Maps courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

The hottest temperature measured in Australia, the southern hemisphere, and the world during January was 49.3°C (120.7°F) at Moomba Airport, South Australia on January 2nd and the coldest -4.3°C (24.3°F) at Perisher Valley, New South Wales. The greatest calendar day rainfall was 221.4 mm (8.72”) at Wollogorang, North Territory on January 15th.


It was a fairly cool month for New Zealand. The warmest temperature measured during January was 33.8°C (92.9°F) at Leeston (near Christchurch), South Island on January 19th and the coldest -2.7°C (27.1°F) at Waiouru, North Island on January 27th. The maximum daily rainfall was 220 mm (8.66”) at North Egmont, North Island on January 4th.

A powerful CAT 2 cyclone (named Ian) struck the Pacific Island of Tonga on January 11th destroying buildings and killing at least one person on Lifuka Island. Another cyclone (named June) sideswiped New Caledonia on January 20th lashing the island with torrential rains. The storm’s remnants went on to affect the North Island of New Zealand with high winds knocking out power to some localities.


The coldest temperature in the southern hemisphere during January was –48.0°C (-54.4°F) recorded at Dome Fuji on January 28th.

KUDOS Thanks to Maximiliano Herrera for global temperature extremes data and Jeremy Budd and NIWA for New Zealand data.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Extreme Weather

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

Thank you for the very useful and interesting world-summary, weatherhistorian Christopher!

This is, what our German National Weatherservice had to say today:

Forecasters: Winter is over, 14C highs this week
The Local, published: 18 Feb 2014 09:30 GMT 01:00

Winter is unlikely to come back to Germany with the spring-like temperatures set to continue, meterologists said on Tuesday. Snow and ice will not return making this winter one of the warmest since 1881.
Gerhard Lux from national weather service DWD said he could see no signs that chillier weather would be returning. "Not a lot can come from here on," he said.
He added that it appeared winter had left without really arriving in the first place. This season there was very little snow compared with an average German winter.
"For the time of year it was 2.5C warmer than it normal," he said. In the states of Thuringia, Saxony and Bavaria, it was 3C warmer than it should have been.
The winter of 2012/13 saw snow fall on 36 days and 58 frosty days - while this year there were only 35 days of frost. Five of these were frosty for the entire day while the year before there were 28 days of full frost. "From where I'm standing today this winter was unusually mild," Lux added. Sun and showers are forecast for much of Germany on Wednesday. Temperatures on Thursday will reach a high of 14 degrees C in the south and south-west of Germany. It will also be sunny in the east, but wet in the north west of the country.

Germany comes to aid of USA

The extremely harsh winter which has hit some US states means supplies of grit have been running out - whereas in Germany the mild winter has left a surplus of grit. To help out, Germany has sent a ship carrying 26,000 tons of road salt from Wismar in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania across the Atlantic, the Bild newspaper reported on Tuesday. It is the heaviest shipment that has even been transported from that harbour. The ship will take ten days to reach the US, where it will land New York and be used to grit roads.
It was also unusually mild in Greenland where the Summit site failed to register a temperature below -50C (-58F) for perhaps its first time for a January.

Iceland was exceptionally warm and for the first time on record some sites (two to be exact) never fell to freezing or below for the entire month: Vattarnes where the minimum was 0.4C (32.7F), and Strhfi in Vestmannaeyjar where the minimum was 0.3C (32.5F).

These two events are a strong message .

Another extreme event :
Arctic Wildfires In Winter: Norway Experiences Freakish Historic Wildfires In January

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