Midwest Climate Watch header Go to MRCC Homepage Go to Midwest Climate Watch homepage
Average Minimum Temp Accumulated Precip Departure Accumulated Snowfall Percentage

Midwest Overview - January 2014


Arctic Airs Spills Across Midwest

Temperatures were well below normal across the Midwest in January (Figure 1). Despite a warm second week, average conditions for the month ranged from 5°F to 10°F below normal due to very cold conditions in the first week and again in the last two weeks of the month.  After two straight warm winters, the temperatures reached in January were the coldest seen in years at most locations.  The most below normal areas were near the Great Lakes while areas to the west were closer to normal but still cold.  Average temperatures for the month were below freezing (Figure 2) across the nine-state region.  Minimum temperatures in January averaged 0°F or colder (Figure 3) across Minnesota and Wisconsin and in parts of Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan. Daily temperature records were mostly record lows during the month.
 

Snowy Conditions in Much of the Midwest

January precipitation was below normal for most of the Midwest (Figure 4), especially in the south and west with some above normal readings around the Great Lakes.  Totals were less than 50 percent of normal in parts of Missouri and Iowa with western Iowa totals less than 25 percent of normal (Figure 5).  Despite the lower precipitation totals, snowfall totals were above normal for much of the region (Figure 6).  Snow totals exceeded two, or even three, times normal from southern Missouri eastward into Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan.  Below normal snow totals were located in the boot heel of Missouri, western Kentucky, and much of Iowa.  Michigan had numerous stations report over three to five feet of snow downwind of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. The snowiest location was Maple City in Leelanau County with a monthly total just short of eight feet, 95.8 inches, which was more than double its normal amount for January.
 

Ice Dams on Rivers in Ohio

The persistent cold caused rivers in northern Ohio to freeze leading to ice damming.  The ice dams caused ice to pile up in the rivers and in some cases spill over the banks. Ice damming affected several rivers in northeast Ohio including the Maumee, Portage, Rocky, and Chagrin rivers. The photos were forwarded to MRCC by the NWS office in Cleveland.
 

Water Mains Burst in Iowa

Cold temperatures and a lack of the normal snow cover in western Iowa had contributed to soils freezing to more than two feet (61 cm) under sod and down to as much as four and a half feet (135 cm) under roadways.  More than 100 water mains in Des Moines (Polk County) have burst in January, already about a third of the city’s normal annual total.
 

Cold Impacts Fruit Plants

The very cold temperatures in January, both low temperatures and long stretches at such cold temperatures, may affect many types of fruits.  Damage is most likely to grape and blackberry plants.  Other fruits could also be affected as temperatures were near damage thresholds but damage is less certain in hardier fruits such as apple, pear, peach, cherry, and blueberry.
 

And the Emerald Ash Borer

The cold temperatures may also have an effect on the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive pest that has been spreading across the country.  Although the cold will not kill off the pest population, it could keep the expansion and population growth in check allowing some trees an opportunity to recover from past damage.
 

-MST-
The Indiana State Climate Office also contributed to this report.
The Iowa Climatology Bureau also contributed to this report.
The Missouri Climate Center also contributed to this report.