January ended with an unseasonable warm-up and high temperatures Saturday in the lower 60s in parts of southern Iowa. It’s a big change from the rest of the month, which was colder than usual, according to state climatologist Harry Hillaker.
Hillaker says the statewide average was about 4 degrees below normal with the coldest January since 1994 and the coldest of month overall since December or 2000. Parts of eastern Iowa were 6 to 7 degrees colder than normal. This past January was Iowa’s 33rd-coldest January in 136 years of recordkeeping. Hillaker says it was also a notable month for snowfall.
Iowa had an average snowfall of 10.5 inches during January with east-central Iowa getting the most snow. Parts of Iowa around Cedar Rapids had 20-inches during the month. It makes this Iowa’s 22nd-snowiest January on record. December was also a very snowy month in Iowa, so the two months combined make for the fifth snowiest December-January on record.
The famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, came out today with his prediction of six more weeks of winter. Hillaker had this reaction following the groundhog’s appearance. "Don’t know if I know much about his forecasting abilities but to be in Iowa, you’re almost guaranteed six more weeks of winter this time of the year," Hillaker says, chuckling. He says there may be a bit of a break from the bitter cold this week but the long-range forecasts indicate February will be a colder than normal month.
During this past weekend’s warm-up, Hillaker says the snowcover melted across much of the southern two tiers of counties, though parts of northern Iowa still have a good foot of snow on the ground.