Dry Week Three
The vast majority of the Midwest was below normal in precipitation during the third week of January
(Figure 1). Southwest of a line from southwest Iowa to western Kentucky no precipitation fell. Amounts ranging from a quarter to three-quarter inch fell along a swath from northern Minnesota to the Ohio-Kentucky state border (Figure 2). A few isolated areas in northern Minnesota and near Lake Superior and Lake Michigan picked up an inch or more of precipitation. Most of the areas with above normal precipitation were in Minnesota with locations in northern Minnesota picking up several times their normal weekly precipitation for this time of year
(Figure 3). Snowfall totals in northern Minnesota and from eastern Iowa to southeast Ohio and eastern Kentucky ranged from two to five times normal for the week (Figure 4). Some daily snowfall records and precipitation records were set.
More Arctic Air
More shots of cold, Arctic air pushed across the Midwest in week three, bringing back cold conditions similar to those seen in week one. Temperatures were below normal across the region
(Figure 5). Minimum temperatures of 8°F to 12°F below normal affected most of the region (Figure 6). Daily temperature records were mostly record lows later in the week as temperatures fell bring sub-zero reading to all but the southern reaches of the Midwest
Another Deadly Multi-vehicle Pileup
On the afternoon of the 23rd, a crash involving more than 40 vehicles shut down eastbound Interstate 94 in northwest Indiana. Semi-trucks and passenger vehicles piled up as whiteout conditions reduced visibility. Four people died and dozens were hurt. The highway was closed both directions following the crash and the eastbound lanes remained closed through the following morning until cranes and wreckers could untangle the mess.
Frost Goes Deep in Iowa
Iowa saw more very cold temperatures during the week continuing a stretch of consistently cold temperatures extending back to mid-October. That along with the lack of snow cover
(Figure 8) has led to soils freezing deeply this winter. Reports of frozen soils a foot or two below the surface come from NWS observations while Department of Transportation reports are indicating frost down as much as four feet below roadways in the state. The deeply frozen soils have contributed to more than 100 water main breaks in Des Moines in 2014, already a third of the typical annual total of 300.
The Iowa Climatology Bureau also contributed to this report.