Record-Setting Start to the Year

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You may have seen Mike Maze's post on the last day of January that gave a nice rundown on how warm the month turned out for central North Carolina, with RDU racking up the 5th warmest monthly average temperature since records began there in 1948. However, the balmy pattern was not confined to just our area, or even our state. In fact, while North Carolina as a whole finished out with the 9th warmest January statewide average temperature since 1895, a large group of states in the plains, midwest and Great Lakes region had the warmest temperatures on record for the entire 112 year period, leading to a new January extreme for the contiguous United States as a whole. Here's a map showing how each state ranked this year compared to the 112 year record, where "1" would represent the coldest recorded and 112 the warmest.
Since then, of course, we've had a pattern change sufficient to drive our temperatures back to below normal, as we're standing at an average of 41.8 degrees for February so far, which is a negative anomaly of 1.2 degrees. We'll likely cut that departure a little this week, though, as at least 3 days of significantly above normal temperatures appear to be in the cards for Wednesday through Friday.

For many more details on the record warmth of January, visit the January 2006 National Overview page at the National Climatic Data Center. A number of national climate summary graphics can be found here.