2012-03-08 / Outdoors

January climate stats

A west-to-east flow of relatively mild pacific air prevailed again in January for the fourth month in a row, boosting the monthly mean temperature across Upper Michigan to four to seven degrees above the 30-year normal at several locations. January 2012 ended up as one of the top 10 warmest first months on record.

Although the relatively infrequent invasions of arctic air cut down on lake effect snow in January, an active pattern that featured the passage of a larger scale of low pressure systems caused monthly precipitation to run a bit above average at most places. Water equivalent precipitation reached four inches or more at a couple of locations, but was not much more than an inch across much of the south central. Overall snowfall averaged not far from the monthly normal with the accumulation ranging between only about five inches over the far south central to as much as 88.7 inches over the higher terrain of the west at Twin Lakes in Houghton County.

Since the seasonal snow accumulation at Menominee through January was just 7.9 inches and there were frequent thaws, the ground was bare over the far south central at times in January, especially during the warmest week from Jan. 5-12. Most of the time there was less than three to six inches of snow on the ground along and south of U.S. 2 from Manistique to Escanaba and Iron Mountain.

October 2011 through January 2012 is one of the top 10 warmest October through January periods on record at most places in the U.P.

Total snowfall during these four months was also well below normal and among the top 25 lowest for any October through January at some locations. The 31.1 inches of snow that fell in Marquette during this time is the fifth lowest on record for any October through January there since 1885.

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