Northeast heat wave and tornado storms — a month of weird weather across the US
Seven northeastern states saw their warmest January on record, a federal report has found.
The unseasonal temperatures were just one aspect of January’s broader pattern of weird weather, according to a report published on Wednesday by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and Maine all broke average temperature records for the usually frigid month, NOAA reported on Wednesday.
Those records came amid a winter heat wave that pushed national temperatures to 5 degrees above average, NOAA found.
Most of the U.S. east of the Rockies experienced higher-than-average temperatures, and New York, Pennsylvania and Indiana each had their second-warmest January on record.
The warm winter — which also brought a snow-free winter to New York — was part of a more extensive system of weird weather this January.
The unseasonal temperatures also led to below-average consumption of natural gas, dropping prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on Tuesday.
But the unseasonal temperatures were just one aspect of January’s broader pattern of weird weather.
More than 100 tornadoes struck the U.S. in January — a milestone that has happened only three times since 1950, according to the federal government.
Sixty-one tornadoes hit the southern U.S. during a single storm in early January, NOAA reported.
Those tornadoes were fueled by an enormous region-spanning storm, which was “part of the same system” as the succession of nine atmospheric rivers that pummeled California in December and January, National Weather Service meteorologist Allison Santorelli told Reuters in January.
Those storms resulted in at least 21 deaths, 1,400 rescues and 700 landslides.
Despite the lethal damage, the storm helped recharge California’s beleaguered snowpack, a natural “battery” that is the source of much of the state’s water.
As of press time, snowpack levels ranged from 168 percent to 236 percent of their normal January levels, according to the state Department of Water Resources.
But even these repeated downpours — which helped raise U.S. national precipitation totals to half an inch above average — were not enough to make a serious dent in the drought.
About 43 percent of the U.S. is in drought, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported last month.
That’s better than how things looked at the start of the month. Heavy rains contracted or ended the drought across much of the Midwest, South and West — helping to decrease the portion of the U.S. in drought by 3 percent over January.
But these gains were offset as the drought expanded over the southern Plains, the Florida Peninsula, the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the Midwest.
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