Story at a glance

  • January 2021 boasted above average temperatures for multiple parts of the U.S.
  • The Great Lakes also showed roughly 20 percent less ice coverage.

Some of the first climate data for this year is revealing troublesome trends: January 2021 temperatures were among the highest on record, tying with 1923 for the ninth-warmest January observed over the past 127 years.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration notes Monday that the average temperature for this past January was 34.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 4.5 degrees above average temperatures for January throughout the 20th century.

Some of the U.S. regions that recorded above average temperatures included the West, northern and central Plains, Great Lakes and Northeast.

Below average rainfall also occurred for some regions of the country, with parts of the South and Northeast, as well as portions of the Rockies and Great Lakes, seeing 0.30 of an inch less precipitation than usual. 

Another region that departed from historic climate trends were the Great Lakes, located along the central U.S.-Canadian border.

Just 2.4 percent of the Great Lakes’ surface were covered by ice as of Jan. 24, the smallest amount of coverage seen over the past 48 years.

Dwindling ice coverage is one of the most noticeable effects of climate change, which contribute to ecosystem damage and rising sea levels.

At peak ice coverage, the Great Lakes surface is anticipated to have about 30 percent coverage between mid-February and early March, researchers say. Typical ice coverage during this period is usually closer to the 53 percent mark.

Published on Feb 10, 2021