Local Weather History: January 2020 Very Wet, Unusually Gray & Mild with Below Normal Snowfall.

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Posted: Jan 31, 2020 10:24 PM
Updated: Feb 1, 2020 2:50 AM

It has been a wet January with 3.50-5" liquid over the area.

21 of 31 days saw at least a trace of precipitation at the WLFI site.

It is the wettest for the viewing area since 2005.

January 2020 precipitation anomalies:

January 2005 precipitation anomalies:

We are not within the top 20 warmest Januarys on record, but it is still the warmest since 2017.  Before that, you have to go back to 2006 to find a warmer January.  January 2012 was close to 2017, though.  What made 2012 cooler was the lack of cloudiness actually.  The clear, frosty nights occurred with many lows in the 20s (which drove down the mean), but the daytime highs reached the 40s & 50s frequently. 

January 2017 followed the 2015-16 "Super Nino" winter when one of the strongest El Ninos on record occurred.  We did not notice the effects, interestingly, in 2015-16 winter so much with temperatures slightly-below normal.  It was largely felt in the 2016-17 winter with a lack of snow & a mild January.

January 2017 temperature anomalies:

January 2020 was overall mild in our area due to the lack of really cold, clear nights.  It has been chilly recently with snow, but we have not dropped below 28 at night since January 22.  The milder nights are driving up the mean considerably.  This can be tied to the exceptional amount of cloudiness we have seen in January.

January 2020 temperature anomalies:

22 of the 31 days in January were mostly cloudy to cloudy at WLFI.  For a part of the viewing area, the sun was not been seen a single time in the last 10 days of January.

Multiple locations in the Midwest have had their cloudiest or one of their cloudiest Januarys & one of the cloudiest months on record.  This is the case from Minnesota & Iowa through Wisconsin & Michigan to Illinois.

Much of it has to do with an active storm track of rain & snow, but also mild air riding up & over a cold ground or ground with snow on it.

In Canada, most cities have seen their cloudiest January in nearly a decade.

For us, December is typically the cloudiest month of the year.  December 2019 saw a lot of gloom before Christmas, but January beats it hands-down.

In our viewing area, only January 2010 compares in terms of grayness to this January.  From my WLFI records in combo with the airport (while I was gone in Evansville, as no records were kept at the station then), you have to go back 10 years to find an January as remotely gray as this one.  2012 is the brightest of the past 10 years.

Per the Purdue Airport, January 2006 is the brightest of the past 20 years & 2005 & 2008 a near tie for the cloudiest.  17 days at the Purdue Airport were reported as "cloudy".  I had 13 "cloudy" & 8 "mostly cloudy" at WLFI.

However, January 2020 still beats them all by a couple of days.

I will re-check, but I have not been able to find a January this cloudy since January 1975.  January 1974 was similarly very gray like 1975.  1983, 1993 & 1999 all saw very gray January equal to 2005 & 2008, but to have every day rather gray except 8 is a feat.

In digging through data since 1970, these are the cloudiest of each of the months at Greater Lafayette (so far):

1.  January - 1975

2.  February - 1990, 2008

3.  March - 1974

4.  April - 1973

5.  May - 1984

6.  June - 1974

7.  July - 2009

8.  August - 1979

9.  September - 1970

10.  October - 1987

11.  November - 1985

12.  December - 1987

19 of 31 days saw fog to some degree at WLFI with 3 of those 19 with visibility of 0.25 mile or less observed.

Snow was below normal for January with 1-5" over the viewing area.  Normal is 6-9".

Although we only saw 2.2" measured at the WLFI site (below the normal for West Lafayette area of 6.5") we saw at least a trace of snow on 15 of 31 days.  Only 3 of the 15 had 0.1" or more of snowfall, showing that there was a lot of flake sputtering & spitting, but not much in the way of solid, heavier, consistent snow to accumulate. 

This is the least snowy January since 2017, when only 1" was measured for the entire month.  January 2017 also ranked in the top 10 least snowy Januarys on record list.

WLFI records for January 2020 are below.

Note: January 31 high/low was 39.7/31.0 with 0.03" liquid, 0.3" snow measured, a trace of snow on the ground at 7 p.m., a peak gust of 9 mph & a completely cloudy sky.

I just had not filled out my chart for the day before I grabbed this as we were not to midnight yet.

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Warmer, dry weather is ahead for the weekend.
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