Very mild, dry January concludes, but month falls outside 15 warmest


The average temperature in January 1950 compared to January 2012 at Reagan National Airport

Related: Winter temperatures: what a difference a year makes

Precipitation was 0.62” below normal with a notable 3.9” snowfall deficit.

2012 broke the string of three straight colder than average Januarys (from 2009-2011), and was more comparable to the mild Januarys of 2006-2008. 2012’s 40.8 average temperature in January at Reagan National was slightly warmer than 2007’s 40.7 and 2008’s 40.0, but considerably cooler than 2006’s 43.1.

None of these recent warm years compare to the warmest January on record: the torching 48.0 from January 1950. That was a full 12 degrees above normal - a stunning anomaly for a monthly average.

You can see how much warmer January 1950 was compared to this year in the daily average comparison chart above.

Yesterday’s high of 66 brought the monthly total of 60+ days to 6. In 1950, we had 14, including an incredible 6 days of 70 or higher.

2012 tied for 13th (with six other years) for most 60 degree days.

Here are the 60+ counts for other years (years since 2000 in bold):

1950: 14
1913: 12
1932: 10
1890, 1916, 1974, 2006: 9
1998: 8
1874, 1876, 1937, 1947: 7
1949, 1951, 1952, 1967, 1990, 2007, 2012: 6


Percentage of days with low temperature (left) and high temperatures (right) in different 10-degree bins at Reagan National Airport (DCA)

In terms of records, Dulles hoarded them all, setting three for warm temperatures. On January 26 and 27, it tied the records for warmest low temperature (from 1967 and 1974), only dropping to 40 and 39. And on January 31, it set a new high temperature record of 66 (old record 65 from 1993).


Major pattern features during January 2012

A look ahead to February

As both Wes and Greg wrote recently, some signs of changes ahead could give us better opportunities for at least some cold and even more snow in the weeks ahead. Wes’ former employer, the National Weather Service is less enthused as they favor a warm month with little guidance on precipitation (equal chances of anything happening).

Link: National Weather Service February outlook

Additional information

The National Weather Service publishes nice monthly assessments usually within a week of the close of each month (should be available shortly):

Reagan National
Dulles
BWI

Historical Washington, DC data provided by Speedwell Weather and NOAA

Related: Ian’s comprehensive overview of January weather and climate in Washington, D.C.

(Jason Samenow and Ian Livingston contributed to this post)

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