Iowa’s weather during the first month of 2018 featured a lot of extremes.
State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says the statewide average temperature of 18.9 degrees was just half a degree colder than normal for a January in Iowa, but it was bitterly cold over the first half of the month and unseasonably warm over the second half.
“Temperatures were as high as 60 degrees at Ottumwa and Keosauqua on January 26 and down as low as 28-below zero back on January 2 at several places across northern Iowa – among them Sioux City, Webster City and Sheldon,” Hillaker said.
On New Year’s Day morning, a wind chill reading of 50-delow zero was recorded in Storm Lake. Conversely, there eight days during the month where the temperature climbed to at least 50 ABOVE zero somewhere in the state. It was a slightly wetter than normal January with a statewide average precipitation total of 1.03 inches.
“A great majority of that precipitation came in the form of rain and most of that came out of one storm system between the 21st and 23rd of the month,” Hillaker said. The statewide average for snowfall over the month was 4.4 inches – 3.3 inches less than usual for a January in Iowa. Most of the state’s snow fell in a blizzard that blasted northwest Iowa.
“Places like Spirit Lake, Sibley and Estherville had roughly 18 inches of snow for the month…about two-thirds of that coming in one storm centered on January 22nd,” Hillaker said. Much of the southeast half of the state received just one or two inches of snow in January.
“In some areas, there was not much precipitation at all, especially in the far southeast corner where a number of places were under a-half-inch of total amount of moisture for the month,” Hillaker said. “Places like Ottumwa, Fairfield and Mount Pleasant were very dry during the month of January.”