The Washington Post

January 2013: 5th warmest and 5th wettest since 2000

What a difference a year doesn’t make as January 2013 looked a whole lot like January 2012 for the final numbers. It was only 0.4 degrees Fahrenheit colder and .34 inches wetter than last year.

Despite the closeness in final result, there was certainly more volatility in 2013 vs. 2012. I think we can all agree that the wild swings these past few weeks were quite notable.

January 2013 had both the warmest and coldest extremes compared to last year. We also had three days completely below the freezing mark with none last year. However, from a snow standpoint, these two January months were virtually twins.

Looking at the rankings for the 2000s shows January 2013 to be the 5th warmest and 5th wettest of the batch. We’ve had lots of fairly dry January months during this new century with only three of the fourteen going over 3 inches (liquid equivalent).

This January’s average temperature of 40.3F is still almost eight degrees colder than the warmest January on record set back in 1950. Our warmest January of the 2000s was seven years ago.

Looking at records, Washington National only managed to tie one record- a record high minimum of 52F tied with 2002’s same result. Otherwise, Dulles had a daily precipitation record (January 30), two record high minimums, and a record high of 72F set just last week on Jan 30.

Despite the increased temperature volatility vs. last year, the warmer-than-normal days handily outperformed the colder days as seen on the daily “blue vs. red” chart below.

From a daily precipitation standpoint, most occurred around two events toward the middle to end of the month. See below.

While more volatile overall, we saw more warm upper level ridging over the Eastern U.S. than anything else, which dominated the monthly average as shown below.

Looking ahead

Will February continue the string of winter warmer-than-normal temperatures? The National Weather Service punted on their call for the East Coast cities in their final February forecast issued last Thursday and linked. It notes “EC” for the East Coast which means Equal Chances of anything (above, below, normal) verifying for temperatures.

Your author is also less than certain on the February result as we are already seeing a colder-than-normal start, then watching a warmer second week emerging, and then foreseeing another cold spell to initiate around the time of the President’s Day holiday weekend.

Given the variances of this winter, the odds may be better for another warm period at the end of the month with a marginally warm result overall. Perhaps the most confident aspect of this month ahead is that it will probably be volatile again with intermittent warm and cold periods (not the nice binary world in which the Groundhog lives).

More information

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

You can click on your closest airport location here:

Reagan National (DCA)

Dulles Airport (IAD)

Baltimore-Washington (BWI)


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