Cold Temperatures Arrive But Still Above Normal for the Month
On the heels of four straight warmer-than-normal months, including a record warm December, January brought the first taste of bitterly cold weather across the region. The coldest temperatures of the season came into the region during the middle of the month, with below-zero temperatures recorded in every Midwest state. Despite this shot of cold weather, warm weather early and late in the month brought the January region-wide average temperature to slightly above normal. Most of the region averaged within a degree of normal,
with the upper Midwest above normal by a few degrees, and Kentucky and southern Ohio a couple degrees below normal. (Figure 1)
Drier Weather Welcome in January
Following a record wet December, January was below-normal for precipitation across the region (Figure 2). All nine states reported below-normal totals for the month on a statewide basis despite pockets of above-normal precipitation in the northern states. Statewide, Michigan had about 90% of normal precipitation, but the other states ranged from 75% of normal down to about 40% of normal. The drier conditions helped to draw down rivers which were pushed out of their banks by December rains. By the middle of the month, most of the flooding had moved downstream, beyond the Midwest. Drought was not reported in the region during January, and less than 10% of the region was reported to be abnormally dry according to the U.S. Drought Monitor
Snow Accumulates for Parts of the Region
Despite the low precipitation totals, some areas had above-normal snowfall in January (Figure 4). Lake-effect snows in Michigan dropped two to three feet of snow downwind from the Great Lakes. Late in the month, a large storm brought heavy snow to Kentucky (Figure 5), and then developed further as it moved eastward, bringing even more snow to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. This late January storm brought snow totals in much of Kentucky to between 10" and 20" of snow.
Snow storms played a role in major multi-vehicle accidents that closed Midwest interstate highways during January. On the 12th, several separate incidents in Indiana closed I-64, I-74, and I-70. Then on the 17th, I-94 was closed for most of the day due to an accident that involved nearly 200 vehicles, injured more than 20 people, and caused one fatality. The highway was completely closed in both directions for more than 14 hours, and was not completely reopened for 2 days.