January 2008: Cool and Wet West Contrasts a Warm Northeast
February 14, 2008
The average temperature across the contiguous U.S. during January 2008 was near average (ranking the 49th coolest) and the 31st warmest on record globally, according to an analysis by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Temperatures throughout most of the western U.S. were cooler than average and warmer than normal in the Northeast.
Complete analysis is available online.
U.S. Temperature Highlights
- In the contiguous United States, the average temperature for January was 30.5°F (-0.8°C), which was 0.3°F (0.2°C) below the 20th century mean of 30.8F (-0.7°C), based on preliminary data.
- The Northeast had its 20th warmest January on record while the western regions (Southwest, West and Northwest regions) had cooler-than-average temperatures.
- Uncharacteristic warmth in the Northeast reduced energy demand for heating and kept the nation’s overall temperature-related residential energy demand near average. Based on NOAA’s Residential Energy Demand Temperature Index, contiguous U.S. temperature-related energy demand was approximately one percent below average.
U.S. Precipitation Highlights
- An average of 2.21 inches (56.1 mm) of precipitation fell across the contiguous U.S., which is only 0.01 inch (0.26 mm) below average.
- The West and parts of the Midwest were generally wetter than average, while drier-to- much-drier-than-average conditions affected the Plains and areas from the Southeast and mid-Atlantic to the Northeast.
- Texas had its fourth consecutive drier-than-average month. By the end of January, moderate-to-severe drought had developed throughout much of the state, aiding in the development of many early-season wildfires.
- January was wetter than average for much of the drought-plagued West, with heavy rainfall in areas that included Southern California and much snowier-than-average conditions in the Cascades and mountains of the Southwest.
- In contrast to the past several years, western snowpack was average to above average at the end of January throughout most of the region.
- Wetter-than-average conditions in parts of the Southeast were beneficial to some drought-affected parts of the region. However, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, near the end of January, 26 percent of the contiguous U.S. remained in some stage of drought. This was approximately four percent less coverage than at the beginning of the year.
- The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for January was the 31st warmest on record, 0.32°F (0.18°C) above the 20th century mean of 53.6°F (12.0°C).
- La Niña, the cold phase of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, persisted in the equatorial Pacific. The global average ocean surface temperature in January was the 17th warmest on record, with a monthly anomaly of 0.45°F (0.25°C) above the 20th century mean.
- While large parts of China struggled with a series of severe winter storms that crippled transportation at the start of the Chinese New Year holiday, it was the warmest January on record in Australia. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, temperatures were 3-4°C (5-7°F) above average across large areas in Western and Central Australia. The January 2008 average temperature for Australia was 2.21°F (1.23°C) above the 1961-1990 mean, which exceeded the previous record of 2.09°F (1.16°C) set in January 1999.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.