Temperature departure Precip percent of normal Snow Depth Jan 31 Snowfall Percent of Normal

Midwest Weekly Highlights - January 24-31, 2006

The last week of January has continued where the first three weeks of January started...warm!  Anomalously warm weather and several record high temperatures were one of the biggest stories this week, and is reflected in average temperature departures across the region for the third week of January (Figure 1).  Average daily mean temperatures for the final week of January ranged from near normal to 4°F above normal in southern Kentucky to 20°F above normal across north central Minnesota.  The remainder of the Midwest saw average daily temperature departures between 8°F and 18°F above normal, with much of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and northern Illinois experiencing departures greater than 10°F above average this week.

Precipitation for the week was far more homogeneous across the Midwest than it has been for the past several weeks.  This week, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and the upper peninsula of Michigan and much of western and northern Illinois experienced precipitation surpluses ranging from 150 to 400% above normal, while much of Ohio and eastern Kentucky saw generally less than 50% of the normal precipitation (Figure 2).  Due to the warmer than average temperatures again this week, precipitation was mainly in the form of rain, and the snow depth map on January 31 clearly shows the general lack of snow across the Midwest (Figure 3).  In addition, the total snowfall for the month of January is significantly lower than average (Figure 4).  Despite the welcome precipitation across portions of the Midwest this week, large long-term precipitation deficits remain.  Consequently, there was little change in the drought status this week (Figure 5).  

January Ends Like a Lion

On January 24, an area of deepening low pressure moved southeast out of Canada, sweeping a cold front across the Midwest (Figure 6).  Very strong winds were associated with this area of low pressure, and a host of wind advisories were posted across the Midwest (Figure 7).  A summary of the peak wind gusts are provided in the following table:

Ames, IA 69 m.p.h.
Washington, IA 59 m.p.h.
Decatur, IL 56 m.p.h.
Fairfield, IA 55 m.p.h.
Champaign, IL 53 m.p.h.
Springfield, IL 52 m.p.h.
Waukesha, WI 49 m.p.h.
Milwaukee, WI 49 m.p.h.
Dexter, MN 48 m.p.h.
Mauston, WI 46 m.p.h.
Arlington, IA 46 m.p.h.

Across central Iowa, a man sitting in the lobby of the Polk County Human Services building was injured when the wind dislodged a plate glass window.  In addition, a semi-tractor trailer was blown over on I-35 just north of the Missouri border, and another was blown over on Iowa-14, just south of Newton, IA.  Finally, the mile-long bridge across the Saylorville Dam, just northwest of DesMoines, IA, was closed for forty-five minutes because the bridge was swaying heavily in the gusty winds.  

Quiet and seasonable weather prevailed for much of the final week of January.  Just prior to the end of the month, however, a powerhouse storm system barreled through the Midwest on January 28-29 (Figure 8), bringing copious rain and thunderstorms to parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky, while snowy conditions were found further north across extreme northern Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  Snowfall values were generally on the light side, between 2 and 4 inches, with a maximum in the lee of Lake Superior greater than 5 inches (Figure 9).  Moderate rain fell across Missouri and Illinois (Figure 10) during the daylight hours on the 28th, and this area of rain headed east and north into Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio on the 29th (Figure 11).  A large area of the Midwest saw over 0.50" of rain from this storm system (Figure 12), and much of it fell across the drought stricken areas of eastern Iowa and northern Illinois.

Winter Warmth Continues to Set New Records

The last week of January saw more record high maximum temperatures (and high minimum temperatures) than any week yet this month!  The following table clearly demonstrates the expanse and magnitude of the warmth across the Midwest this week:

January 26 Kansas City, MO 67°F 66°F, 2002
Preston, MN 51°F tie 51°F, 1973
January 27 Duluth, MN 42°F 39°F, 1989
LaCrosse, WI 54°F tie 54°F, 2002
Marquette, MI 49°F 37°F, 1989
International Falls, MN 44°F 43°F, 1989
Eau Claire, WI 50°F 45°F, 2002
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 53°F 52°F, 2002
Appleton, WI 52°F 43°F, 1947
Oshkosh, WI 52°F 51°F, 2002
Stevens Point, WI 52°F 51°F, 2002
Green Bay, WI 51°F 46°F, 2002
Decorah, IA 54°F 48°F, 1944
Duluth, MN 30°F (high minimum) 28°F, 1944
Rochester, MN 31°F (high minimum) 30°F, 1968
Green Bay, WI 33°F tie (high minimum) 33°F, 1934
Des Moines, IA 42°F (high minimum) 38°F, 1934
January 28 Moline, IL 41°F (high minimum) 35°F, 1930
January 29 Moline, IL 37°F (high minimum) 36°F, 1989
Antigo, WI 28°F (high minimum) 25°F, 1931
Green Bay, WI 33°F (high minimum) 29°F, 1892
Manitowoc, WI 32°F tie (high minimum) 32°F, 1911
Marshfield, WI 29°F tie (high minimum) 29°F, 1983
Merrill, WI 30°F (high minimum) 27°F, 1931
Oshkosh, WI 34°F (high minimum) 32°F, 1917
Rhinelander, WI 27°F (high minimum) 25°F, 1932
Stevens Point, WI 34°F (high minimum) 30°F, 1931
Sturgeon Bay, WI 32°F (high minimum) 31°F, 1917
Wisconsin Rapids, WI 31°F (high minimum) 30°F, 1931
Flint, MI 52°F 47°F, 1975
Waterloo, IA 33°F (high minimum) 32°F, 1989
Des Moines, IA 36°F (high minimum) 36°F, 1927

Where is the cold air?  Will it spill into the Midwest during the first week of February?  Find out in next week's edition of the Midwest Climate Watch.


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