Temperature: While January may have seemed exceptionally cold, and it was at times, the monthly mean temperature was only 1.1 degrees below normal. The average daily high was 40.3 compared to a normal of 39.9 degrees. The average daily low was 16.2 compared to normal of 18.6 degrees.
Ongoing Cold Snap: By New Years Day, the local area was already two-thirds of the way through a 15-day long cold spell. Over the course of the cold snap, lasting from December 23rd through January 6th, the average daily high was 25 and the average daily low 6 resulting in a mean temperature through the period of 15.7 degrees.
New Years Day Blues: New Years Day was a good time to stay in bed as the morning low bottomed out at 9 below zero, our coldest temperature of the month. Despite clear skies and blindingly bright sunshine, the maximum temperature on New Years only reached 13 degrees. This left us with a mean temperature of 2, marking our coldest overall day of the month as well. As the center of the arctic high-pressure area moved overhead, the barometric pressure rose to an astonishing 30.86 inches on New Years, the highest barometer reading of the month.
New Years Eve to New Years day was also the timeframe during which Clinton Lake froze over solid – with the exception of a small waterfowl landing area near the dam. The surface of the lake then remained mostly frozen for the duration of the month.
Brief Thaw and Most Significant Precipitation Event: The long cold spell finally broke from the 7th through the 10th of January. In fact, three of these days reached into the 50s, maxing out at 55 on the 10th. This surge of warmer air was due to the one significant storm system that crossed drought-stricken California during the month of January. Interestingly, this was the same weather system that brought the deadly mudslides and debris flow through Montecito, California, during the pre-dawn hours of January 9th.
Exactly 48 hours later, on January 11th, this system managed to bring 54 hundredths of average precipitation across Lawrence between 2:30 AM and 7:00 AM. This marked our most significant precipitation event of the month. The tail end of this system ended with a few tenths of an inch of freezing rain and snow from about 6 to 7 AM as a strong surge of arctic air swept in behind the departing storm system. This quickly brought daytime temperatures into the teens on northwest winds gusting up to 43 MPH, marking the beginning or our second major cold spell of the month.
Second Cold Snap: The second cold spell also brought a few exceptionally cold days. Lows of 7 below zero were recorded at the airport on the 16th and 17th. On the 16th, a high of 13 degrees matched the maximum reading of New Years Day while the daily mean temperature was only one degree above that of our coldest day of the month. As the arctic high moved overhead on the 16th, the maximum barometric pressure reached a very high 30.75 inches, again almost matching that of January 1st. Over the 6 full days of this cold spell (January 12th to January 17th), the average daily high was 25 and the average daily low 4, resulting in a daily mean of 14.3 degrees.
January Thunderstorm Event: During the late evening of the 21st, a potent little weather system from the southwest brought unusual January thunderstorms to the area. A couple of small storm cells moved along the same narrow path from the south-southwest, mainly between Lawrence and Eudora, providing a vivid nighttime lightning display over the Lawrence area for several hours. One of our volunteer observers on the east side of town received 28 hundredths from these storms. Reports from the rest of Lawrence ranged from 3 to 7 hundredths. The Lawrence Airport got clipped with 13 hundredths. This system also brought our lowest barometer reading for the month of 29.44 inches.
Warmest Days: The last two weeks of January were generally mild in terms of high temperatures, though lows for the most part remained well below freezing. The warmest reading of the month was a balmy 67 on the 25th. This was followed by a 61 degree high on the 26th. The afternoon of the 21st, the day of our late evening thunderstorms, reached 64 degrees. This was also our warmest day of the month overall with a mean temperature of 50 degrees.
Maximum Wind: The maximum wind speed occurred on the 26th with a peak gust out of the south at 45 MPH, helping to bring our 61-degree high temperature that day.
Snowfall: Snowfall for the month averaged out to 3.8 inches among our volunteer observers across the city. The biggest event occurred on the 14th with amounts averaging near 2 inches. On the 22nd, an average of one inch of snow fell across town.
Monthly Precipitation: Total precipitation for the month added up to an average of 1.01 inches among our volunteer observers across the city, exactly normal for January.
February Climatology: February sees an average rise of about 7.5 degrees in mean temperature. The average high ranges from 42 on the first of the month to 50 by the end of the month. Normal lows range from 20 at the beginning of the month to 27 by the end of the month. Normal precipitation is 1.30 inches, including an average of about 5 inches of snowfall.