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Warmth dominated out west during January 2018, with scattered areas of excessive rainfall across the country. We also saw quite dry areas of the nation, especially in parts of the South. In this edition of D.J.’s PraeDigits, we take a look back at January 2018 across the nation.

Western Heat In January 2018

A ridge built out west during January 2018, leading to a very warm month for many locations. Overall out west, 33 long-term climate sites saw their top ten warmest January on record. Two locations ended up seeing their warmest January on record – Long Beach, CA and Tucson, AZ.

In Tucson, they saw 19 days with a high of 75+, marking the most on record for the month of January. Meanwhile, in Phoenix (which saw their third warmest January on record), they recorded 80+ degree highs on each of the last four days of the month. That is the earliest first four day stretch of 80+ temperatures (previous record: January 31-February 3, 1954).

San Juan also saw a top ten warmest January on record. Here’s a partial list of those that were in the top ten:

  • Long Beach, CA: 62.6° (1st warmest)
  • Tucson, AZ: 59.1° (1st warmest)
  • Las Vegas, NV: 53.6° (2nd warmest)
  • Portland, OR: 45.6° (2nd warmest)
  • Pocatello, ID: 34.4° (2nd warmest)
  • Reno, NV: 42.4° (2nd warmest)
  • San Diego, CA: 61.5° (2nd warmest)
  • Salt Lake City, UT: 39° (2nd warmest)
  • Los Angeles (LAX), CA: 61.9° (3rd warmest)
  • Phoenix, AZ: 61.2° (3rd warmest)
  • San Juan, PR: 78.9° (3rd warmest)
  • Elko, NV: 35.8° (4th warmest)
  • Redding, CA: 50° (4th warmest)
  • Yuma, AZ: 63° (4th warmest)
  • Los Angeles (CQT), CA: 62.2° (5th warmest)
  • San Francisco, CA: 53.5° (5th warmest)
  • Boise, ID: 37.8° (6th warmest)
  • Seattle, WA: 45° (6th warmest)
  • Medford, OR: 43° (7th warmest)
  • Sacramento, CA: 50° (8th warmest)
  • Lewiston, ID: 40.2° (9th warmest)

A Cold Eastern U.S. Led To Only A Couple Locations In The Top Ten

While the western United States was warm in January, many areas of the eastern U.S. saw cooler than average weather. Numerous cities even saw their coldest first week of January on record.

Even with the cooler than average air, only two long-term climate cities ended up recording a top ten coldest January on record. Those locations were:

  • Elizabeth City, NC: 37.4° (7th coldest)
  • Gainesville, FL: 50.1° (8th coldest)

Scattered Heavy Precipitation

Areas of the eastern United States saw heavy precipitation during the month of January, with over 4″ of liquid falling in areas. This was due to numerous storm systems bringing precipitation (some of it in a wintry form) across portions of the region throughout the month. The wet season continued as well in the Pacific Northwest, with heavy precipitation falling.


Ten long-term climate locations saw a top ten wettest January. These locations, which were scattered across the country, were:

  • Caribou, ME: 5.30″ (2nd wettest)
  • Beaumont, TX: 10.33″ (3rd wettest)
  • Bangor, ME: 5.53″ (4th wettest)
  • Daytona Beach, FL: 6.46″ (5th wettest)
  • Quillayute, WA: 22.1″ (6th wettest)
  • Waterloo, IA: 2.24″ (7th wettest)
  • North Platte, NE: 1.05″ (7th wettest)
  • Wilmington, NC: 6.82″ (8th wettest)
  • Las Vegas, NV: 1.47″ (10th wettest)
  • Providence, RI: 6.49″ (10th wettest)

Dry Weather In The Southern U.S.

Precipitation departures of at least 2″ were common across portions of California – especially across the Sierra, which had snow pack that was far below average for this time of year as of February 1st. We also saw drier than average weather across parts of the South and Southeast in January 2018, which is typical of a La Nina winter pattern.

With the dry weather across parts of the South, we did see 23 long-term climate sites across the lower 48 with a top ten driest January on record. Amarillo, TX, saw no precipitation last month, bringing their run of consecutive days with no rain (through February 5th) up to 115 days. That’s the longest on record, completely shattering the old record of 75 days that ended on January 3rd, 1957. Some of the locations with a top ten driest January on record in 2018 included:

  • Abilene, TX: 0″ (1st driest)
  • Amarillo, TX: 0″ (1st driest)
  • Clayton, NM: 0″ (1st driest)
  • Del Rio, TX: 0″ (1st driest)
  • Lubbock, TX: 0″ (1st driest)
  • Chattanooga, TN: 1.17″ (3rd driest)
  • Bristol, TN: 1.57″ (3rd driest)
  • Baltimore, MD: 0.96″ (4th driest)
  • Washington, DC (DCA): 0.94″ (4th driest)
  • Wichita Falls, TX: 0.01″ (4th driest)
  • Aberdeen, SD: 0.04″ (5th driest)
  • Austin, TX (AUS): 0.25″ (5th driest)
  • Birmingham, AL: 1.35″ (5th driest)
  • Knoxville, TN: 1.54″ (5th driest)
  • Muscle Shoals, AL: 1.78″ (7th driest)
  • San Angelo, TX: 0.01″ (7th driest)
  • Dallas, TX (DAL): 0.35″ (10th driest)
  • Tulsa, OK: 0.26″ (10th driest)

What Could The Month Of February Hold?

In February, the Climate Prediction Center is expecting warmer than average weather across the southern and western United States, with the highest probabilities occurring in the Southwest. The probabilities are in favor of cooler than average weather from the Northern Plains into New England.

Dry weather is expected to continue according to the Climate Prediction Center across the southern United States, including in California. Many of these areas are currently under drought conditions. Wetter than average weather is possible from the northern Plains and Rockies into New England.

Remember you can catch more PraeDigits on our twitter page (@PraedictixWX) or by searching #PraeDigits on twitter!

– Meteorologist D.J. Kayser

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