There were stretches where the weather in January felt genuinely miserable.
However, as it has been for so many recent months in the past, the new weather normal in our region was January that had above normal temperatures. January 2013 ended up nearly six degrees above the average high for the month according to the numbers provided by The Weather Channel’s website.
The average high this January was 28.96 degrees F. The historic average for a St. James January is 23 degrees.
We must be getting spoiled or use to these ‘balmy’ January temps, because this month had several days that felt downright unpleasant.
Part of why we might be getting spoiled is last winter. In January of 2012, the average high for the month was just under 34 degrees. That was 11 degrees above the average daily January temperature.
I’ve been reporting on the weather story for the last 14 months. In that stretch of time, St. James has had one below average month, one month at average (a couple of hundredths of a degree below average) and the rest of the months had noticeably above average temperatures.
Back to January 2013, as far as low temperatures went, we did not experience a double digit below zero night.
We had a stretch between the 21st through the 24th where the low temperature was below zero every night. The coldest night in that stretch was seven below zero. That is the coldest night of this winter in St. James - so far. The ten day forecast into the middle of February has no below zero nights predicted.
Last winter St. James did not experience a teens below zero night. If the weather patterns holds, this will mark the second winter in a row without a teens below zero night for St. James.
The above average temps for St. James translates to Minnesota, which tied its warmest year on record in 2012.
What St. James experienced, what Minnesota experienced is also what the earth experienced in 2012.
According to Minnesota Public Radio’s Updraft blog, “The year 2012 was the 10th warmest year since records began in 1880.
“This marks the 36th consecutive year (since 1976) that the yearly global temperature was above average. Currently, the warmest year on record is 2010.
“Including 2012, all 12 years to date in the 21st century (2001-2012) rank among the 14 warmest in the 133-year period of record. Only one year during the 20th century - 1998 - was warmer than 2012.
“Think about that for a second. Every year since 2001 is in the top 14 warmest on record globally. In a ‘normal’ climate system, we might expect four cooler than average years, four ‘near average’ years and four warmer than average years in the past 12 years.
Page 2 of 2 - “Instead we have the two hottest years on record globally (2005 and 2010) and all 12 in the top 14 years going back to 1880. The odds of that as a natural occurrence? Incredibly remote.”
Another pattern that has persisted in our region is the drought. January was another month with below average precipitation. The average for January is .77 inches and we had only .52 inches of precipitation. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Watonwan County remains in a phase of extreme drought.
When it comes to the weather there’s science and then there is a particular rodent.
It’s been reported that Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog did not see his shadow last Saturday.
So if Phil’s saying it’s going to be an early spring, then I’d be OK with that. Even a mild Minnesota winter is still a Minnesota winter!
I’d also be happy with a wet spring. The soils need water, as do the river systems and the lakes of Minnesota.
The more scientific National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center has a forecast that says our region might experience above average precipitation in the next one to three months. It also predicts we have an equal chance of having near average temperatures in the next one to three months.