January 2014: Colder and snowier than average

January 2014 was a very cold month and featured very active weather to start the month before things quieted down in terms of rain or snow at least, although wind and wild temperature swings were plenty active for most areas.   Kansas City fell to -11 on January 6th and St. Louis down to -8.  Overall temperatures were 2-4 degrees below average.

Temperatures were well below average at Kansas City and St. Louis.  Bitterly cold air early in the month gave way to wild swings between warm and cold for the last half of the month, with temperatures reaching the 60s.

Temperatures were well below average at Kansas City and St. Louis. Bitterly cold air early in the month gave way to wild swings between warm and cold for the last half of the month, with temperatures reaching the 60s.

January is typically a “dry month” and that was certainly the case.  Even with the heavy snow, liquid equivalent precipitation in St. Louis was still 3/4″ below average.  Kansas City did not even manage to get half an inch this month.  January 2013 had 1.03″, while the very dry January of 2012 only recorded 0.06″.

2014-01-31-2303

Kansas City starts 2014 where it leaves 2013: Below average precipitation.

Kansas City starts 2014 where it leaves 2013: Below average precipitation.

Snow was the big story.  Not so much in Kansas City, although a series of light and one moderate event pushed the snowfall total for the month and season to slightly above average. St. Louis, the eastern Missouri Ozarks and SW Illinois got their second big snow of the season, almost exactly one month after their December big snow. St. Louis had 15.8″ for the month and over 21″ for the season.

Kansas City recorded above average snow for the month, mainly in a series of minor snowfalls.  The city has yet to see a major storm this season.  Seasonal snow is also running near to slightly above average.

Kansas City recorded above average snow for the month, mainly in a series of minor snowfalls. The city has yet to see a major storm this season. Seasonal snow is also running near to slightly above average.

Snowfall was much above average for St. Louis, with total winter snow also much above average.  Were no more snow to fall this year, 2013-2014 would still go down above average in terms of snow.

Snowfall was much above average for St. Louis, with total winter snow also much above average. Were no more snow to fall this year, 2013-2014 would still go down above average in terms of snow.

This next series of maps shows actual, average and difference from average  precipitation for January.

Observed January precipitation across the district.

Observed January precipitation across the district.

Departure from average January precipitation across the district, more areas were below average than above -even considering the heavy snow.

Departure from average January precipitation across the district, more areas were below average than above -even considering the heavy snow.

Departure from average January precipitation across the district, more areas were below average than above -even considering the heavy snow.

Departure from average January precipitation across the district, more areas were below average than above -even considering the heavy snow.

A wider view shows the cold weather was not limited to the local area.

Cool weather in January was noted over most of the U.S. east of the Rockies, while warmth was noted out west.

Cool weather in January was noted over most of the U.S. east of the Rockies, while warmth was noted out west.

Global temperature difference from average for January.

Over the Northern Hemisphere in January, north central and east central North America, eastern Europe, northern Eurasia and the southern Middle east were cool, while China, western/northwestern/ northeastern North America, southern and western Europe and North Africa were warm.

Over the Northern Hemisphere in January, north central and east central North America, eastern Europe, northern Eurasia and the southern Middle east were cool, while China, western/northwestern/ northeastern North America, southern and western Europe and North Africa were warm.

Weather Summary: Snow

Kansas City’s most “significant” snow of the month was in the first week, and produced a 2-4″ band along and north of the Kansas/Missouri Rivers.

The most "significant" snow of the month for Kansas City fell early in the month and on the extreme outer fringes of the storm that buried SE Missouri/ SW Illinois and St. Louis.

The most “significant” snow of the month for Kansas City fell early in the month and on the extreme outer fringes of the storm that buried SE Missouri/ SW Illinois and St. Louis.

The major snow which impacted St. Louis, the eastern Missouri Ozarks and SW Illinois early in the month.

High resolution snowfall depth map showing the snow put down by the weekend storm.  The shaded areas represent general snowfall totals, keep in mind small scale areas can have more or less and this image does not include drifts which have been reported as high as 4 feet in rural areas. We'll have a blog post on the winter storm later today with specific snowfall totals.

High resolution snowfall depth map showing the snow put down by the weekend storm. The shaded areas represent general snowfall totals, keep in mind small scale areas can have more or less and this image does not include drifts which have been reported as high as 4 feet in rural areas. We’ll have a blog post on the winter storm later today with specific snowfall totals.

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Satellite image showing the snow covered ground of E MO Ozarks/STL/S Illinois.  Much less snow fell in SE Missouri. The second image shows a wider view of the Midwest and Plains showing the expansive snow cover.

Taking a tour via satellite over the region shows the snow over SE Missouri and SW/SC Illinois. You can easily pick up features such as rivers and streams.  Snowfall rapidly drops off further SE over far S Illinois, W Kentucky and the Missouri Bootheel. The Mississippi River floodplain of SW IL/SE MO stands out in sharp relief,

Taking a tour via satellite over the region shows the snow over SE Missouri and SW/SC Illinois. You can easily pick up features such as rivers and streams. Snowfall rapidly drops off further SE over far S Illinois, W Kentucky and the Missouri Bootheel. The Mississippi River floodplain of SW IL/SE MO stands out in sharp relief,

Skies are clear over the Midwest, which makes it easy to see the snow on the ground.  The snake-like clouds over Kentucky and Tennessee are cloud streets caused by the frigid air moving across the warm waters of the rivers and lakes and condensing into clouds.

Skies are clear over the Midwest, which makes it easy to see the snow on the ground. The snake-like clouds over Kentucky and Tennessee are cloud streets caused by the frigid air moving across the warm waters of the rivers and lakes and condensing into clouds.

Weather Summary: Cold

Bitterly cold temperatures followed the snow, and the snow allowed temperatures to fall to levels not seen in quite a while.  Wind chills of -35 to -45 made for life threatening conditions.

Morning temperatures (7AM) over Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana. The whites, pinks and hot pinks are temperatures at or below zero (see scale to the left).

Morning temperatures (7AM) over Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana. The whites, pinks and hot pinks are temperatures at or below zero (see scale to the left).

Morning temperatures (7AM) over the greater Midwest and Plains. The whites, pinks and hot pinks are temperatures at or below zero (see scale to the left).

Morning temperatures (7AM) over the greater Midwest and Plains. The whites, pinks and hot pinks are temperatures at or below zero (see scale to the left).

Since late November, a pool of relative warmth has governed the weather over North America and this has given us our much colder and snowier (for some) winter.

The sea surface water temperature difference from average. Very warm water in the NE Pacific is the driving force. Last year, the warmth was south of Greenland, which drove last winter's weather patterns.

The sea surface water temperature difference from average. Very warm water in the NE Pacific is the driving force. Last year, the warmth was south of Greenland, which drove last winter’s weather patterns.

This warm water had forced the jet stream into this configuration in January.

The predominate weather pattern in January with a deep low, the polar vortex, over the Great Lakes or SE Canada, and a huge ridge out west.  This led to a period of frequent Alberta Clippers delivering snow to the Great Lakes and Northeast, bitter cold alternating with warmth in the center of the country and dry and warm weather out west.

The predominate weather pattern in January with a deep low, the polar vortex, over the Great Lakes or SE Canada, and a huge ridge out west. This led to a period of frequent Alberta Clippers delivering snow to the Great Lakes and Northeast, bitter cold alternating with warmth in the center of the country and dry and warm weather out west.

The jet stream being locked into place, resulted in these general weather trends for the month.

The predominate weather in January. Mild to warm and very dry out west; mild with occasional chill over the Rockies, southwest Plains and south; wild swings in temperatures over the central and east central U.S.; unrelenting chill and snow for the lakes and Northeast.

The predominate weather in January. Mild to warm and very dry out west; mild with occasional chill over the Rockies, southwest Plains and south; wild swings in temperatures over the central and east central U.S.; unrelenting chill and snow for the lakes and Northeast.

Frequent temperature changes brought lots of wind, especially for Kansas City.

The KC area in particular, endured a windy month with those temperature swings.  This map of the wind speeds in knots on Jan 26th shows the powerful NW winds behind an advancing Arctic cold front, which took temperatures in the 50s down to near 0.

The KC area in particular, endured a windy month with those temperature swings. This map of the wind speeds in knots on Jan 26th shows the powerful NW winds behind an advancing Arctic cold front, which took temperatures in the 50s down to near 0.

The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center called for “Equal Chances” of above/average/below temperatures and precipitation in January.

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