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January Record Extremes

The first month of 2014 has left us a nation divided by hot versus cold weather. The polar vortex has been the big story for the eastern half of the country while the ridiculously resilient ridge has brought warm, dry weather to most states west of the Rockies.

Record temperatures have been set on both ends of the spectrum in January across the U.S. Preliminary numbers indicate that 2,387 daily records were set or tied for lowest daytime highs while 793 daytime high records were set or tied through January 30.

Notable record lows from the first Arctic blast include Mobile, AL which topped out at 35°F on January 7 and Orlando, FL, which saw a high of 48°F that same day. Monthly record lows were also set on that same day at a number of locations from Arkansas to Wisconsin. The coldest record set was a bone chilling -18°F in Laona, WI.

While teeth were chattering east of the Mississippi, sunglasses and t-shirts were the norm for a number of locales out West, especially California, Oregon, and Nevada. The mercury hit 73°F at San Francisco International Airport on the 15th, which set an all-time high for the month of January at that station and went on to tie the newly set record the very next day. Farther inland, Sacramento hit 79°F on January 24. That’s 2°F shy of the all-time January record high.

Another area under the influence of the monster West Coast ridge was Alaska, where record high temperatures were also being set. In Port Alsworth, AK, the temperature reached 62°F on January 27. This ties the official January Alaska record.

Overall, monthly records echo the daily picture. There have been 44 monthly record highs set and 16 monthly high minimum temperatures to date in January. Meanwhile, there have been 60 monthly record low maximum temperatures marked with just six monthly record lows.