[This view captured by NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite shows a powerful nor’easter pounding the eastern U.S. on January 29, 2022. In this snow/cloud composite imagery, snow on the ground appears as white, low clouds appear as pale yellow and high clouds appear as light pink.]
Written by NOAA and NOAA NCEI] The contiguous U.S. kicked off 2022 with its coolest January since 2014. However, the month still ranked nearly a degree warmer than average across the nation. January 2022 was also the driest January in eight years and among the top-15 driest Januarys on record.
Here are more highlights from NOAA’s latest monthly U.S. climate report:
Climate by the numbers
The average January temperature across the contiguous U.S. was 31.0 degrees F — 0.9 of a degree above the 20th-century average — ranking in the middle third of January months in the 128-year record.
Temperatures were below average from the Midwest and Tennessee Valley to the Northeast and were associated with a persistent trough of low pressure across the region. Temperatures were above average across much of the West and parts of the northern Plains. California saw its ninth-warmest January on record.
January precipitation for the contiguous U.S. was 1.60 inches (0.71 of an inch below average), tied with 2009 for 14th-driest January on record. It was also the driest January since 2014.
Precipitation was below average across much of the West, High Plains, Deep South, Great Lakes and Northeast. California and Nevada had their second-driest January, while Utah saw its third driest. Precipitation was above average across portions of the Colorado High Plains, northern Plains, Tennessee Valley and Mid-Atlantic.
Other notable climate events for January 2022
- “Bomb cyclone” batters Northeast: A type of nor’easter known as a bomb cyclone rapidly intensified off the East Coast from January 28-30. The storm dumped 1-2 feet of snow and brought blizzard conditions along the coastline from Delaware to Maine. On January 29, Boston, Massachusetts, tied its greatest one-day snowfall record — 23.6 inches.
- Several other significant snow events occurred throughout the month, including the January 4 event that brought a blanket of snow from Arkansas to Delaware and stranded motorists for as long as 24 hours on I-95 in Virginia. A snow event on January 16-17 brought significant snowfall from the southern Appalachians to Maine with portions of New York state reporting 18-24 inches of snow.
- Drought intensified last month: According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, approximately 55.2% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought by the end of January, up 0.4% from the beginning of the month. Drought conditions expanded or intensified across portions of the Great Plains and lower Mississippi Valley. Drought severity lessened across portions of the West and the Carolinas.
Edited for WeatherNation by Mace Michaels