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January 2023

  • Monthly Summary

January 2023 Overview – Midwestern Regional Climate Center


The average January temperature for the Midwest was 29.5◦F, which was 7.1◦F above the 1991-2020 normal. The Midwest had the 4th warmest January on record. Average temperatures were well above normal across the entire region (Figure 1). Statewide average temperatures ranged from 4.8◦F above normal in Iowa to 8.9◦F above normal in Indiana (Figure 2). Rankings indicate January average temperatures were among the top six warmest for seven Midwestern states: Indiana (2nd), Michigan (3rd), Ohio (4th), Kentucky (4th), Illinois (5th), Wisconsin (5th), and Missouri (Tied-6th). Warm minimum temperatures were especially notable, with most of the region along and east of the Mississippi River having monthly minimum temperatures 9-15◦F above normal (Figure 3). Monthly minimum temperatures for most cities were among the top five warmest on record. Muskegon, Michigan (119 years of data) and Akron, Ohio (134 years of data) measured the warmest minimum January temperature on record. Chicago, Illinois and Indianapolis, Indiana had the 5th warmest January minimum temperatures, with records going back 151 years and 152 years, respectively. Over 700 daily high maximum and minimum temperature records were broken or tied in January (Figure 4).


January precipitation totaled 2.43 inches for the Midwest, which was 0.49 inches above normal, or 125 percent of normal (Figure 2). Precipitation was near or above normal for most of the region, with only northwestern Minnesota below 50 percent of normal. The wettest regions (exceeding 175 percent of normal precipitation) were from western Iowa to northwest Wisconsin, and along the Ohio River (Figure 5). Statewide precipitation totals indicate that all nine states were wetter than usual, ranging from 0.11 inches above normal in Michigan to 1.20 inches above normal in Kentucky (Figure 2). Iowa had the 9th wettest January on record.


January snowfall was 25-75 percent of normal for most of the region due to persistent above-normal temperatures throughout the month (Figure 6). Most of Kentucky and southeast Ohio had less than 25 percent of normal snowfall. Lake-effected areas of northern and western Michigan, northwest Indiana, and northern Ohio had snowfall deficits of 10-25 inches for the month. Only areas in northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, and southern Missouri had over 125 percent of normal snowfall. Numerous snow-producing systems traversed Iowa and Minnesota, resulting in Minneapolis measuring its 9th snowiest January on record (139 years of data) and Sioux City measuring its 14th snowiest (134 years of data). The above-normal snowfall in Missouri, conversely, was from a single heavy-snow-producing system on January 25 that dumped 4-10 inches across the southern stretch of the state.


Drought conditions were variable across the Midwest in January. Timely precipitation and mild temperatures helped to erase nearly all traces of drought in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, leaving just patchy areas of dryness across the lower Midwest (Figure 7). Drought held firm in southeast Michigan with 30 percent of the state in moderate to severe drought and virtually no change throughout the month. Drought also persisted in intensity and spatial extent in Iowa and across Minnesota. By month’s end, 54 percent of Iowa and 37 percent of Minnesota were in drought.

Severe Weather

There were 19 preliminary tornado reports across the Midwest in January, which was about three times higher than the 2000-2021 median (Figure 8). Tornadoes were reported on five separate days, affecting three Midwestern states (Illinois, Iowa, and Kentucky). The two tornadoes in Iowa marked the first January tornadoes to impact the state since 1967.

Winter Storm January 24-25

A large storm system tracked across the region from Missouri to Ohio on January 24-25 blanketing the lower Midwest with rain, sleet, and snow (Figure 9). Snowfall totals ranged from 1-10 inches, with the highest totals measured in southern Missouri and southeast Michigan. With temperatures near freezing, the water content of the snow was extremely high, leading to very heavy, wet snow. The National Weather Service in Indianapolis reported snow-to-liquid ratios that ranged from 3:1 to 5:1 across central Indiana. Slick roadways and reduced visibility created dangerous travel conditions and widespread closures of schools and businesses.

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