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BY GEORGE: January Outlook

January is one of the two months that are at the “heart” of the winter season. On average, January comes out to be the coldest month on average for most of the country, with February sometimes close in competition. Locally, January is usually by far the coldest of the three winter months (Dec., Jan., Feb.). 

This January promises to be warmer than average over the southwest part of the country, with a good bet of a rather cold month (even compared to average, that is), over the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. Slightly below average temperatures are possible over the far Northeast. Elsewhere, the overall pattern will end up giving us near-normal temperatures for the month, again with great variety, as was the case in December. Long periods of excessive cold or warmth are not likely. 

On average, Wilmington’s high temperature is 56-57 degrees throughout the month, with an average low in the middle 30’s. Record highs have taken us all the way up to 82 degrees on the last day of January in 1975, to as low as 5 degrees on the 21st of the month in 1985. Also, by the way, the long-term average coldest stretch of the year is from January 5th through the 12th. 

It looks like a wetter and whiter than normal January over the northwestern quarter of the country, as well as the Upper Midwest, and from the Lower Mississippi Valley through the Deep South, Tennessee and Ohio Valley’s. Near to a little above normal rain and snow is likely over the Southeast. Below average rain and snow can be expected over the southwestern part of the country. Elsewhere, close to average amounts of precipitation is likely. 

Locally, we average around 3.76 inches of precipitation, and yes, a tiny bit of snow averages into that.  However, we’ve had as much as 10.22 inches of precipitation in January 1991, making it the wettest January on record. 

We have definitely had more snow days during January in the region than any other winter month, so we do get the white stuff every so often. Mainly, the most significant and frequent snows occur inland, away from the moderating influences of the ocean. 

Wilmington itself had an 8.6 inch snowfall on the 13th (actually 8.4”, with .2” falling on the 14th) in 1912. That was the greatest recorded during January. However, there have been numerous days with lower amounts than that over the years.

By: George Elliott