January weather preview: Early predictions, record events and more


Ah, the January letdown — back to school, back to work, back to bills.

And yet the month — named for the double-faced Roman god who simultaneously looks ahead and behind — might be the most optimistic of the dozen. When else is it so fitting to at least attempt to embark on a new course, even if the effort will be as short-lived as footsteps in new snow just before a thaw?

On Long Island, January also is a month of contrasts when it comes to the weather, at least in the last few days of the month.

History shows that is when 3 feet of snow has fallen. And yet in another year, thermometers threatened to hit 70 degrees.


Brrr pretty much sums it up.

Expect below normal temperatures for almost all of the northern United States, from the northern part of Delaware to the northeast corner of Wyoming, according to the College Park, Maryland-based Climate Prediction Center.

There is a 33% to 40% chance that Long Island will have a rather cold January, the agency predicted.

Those seeking warmer than normal temperatures will have several choices: Alaska, Oregon, Washington, northern California and Nevada, western Idaho, and southernmost Texas and Florida.

The precipitation outlook for January, meanwhile, is cloudier.

There are equal chances of normal, or above or below normal, amounts of rain, sleet, hail, snow and combinations thereof for Long Island, and almost all of the rest of the country.

Southern New Jersey, however, along with the other mid-Atlantic states, and much of the South — though not Florida — to as far west as the eastern half of Texas, all could be in for extra snow or downpours, the Climate Prediction Center said.

Some drenching weather also looks likely for Washington, Oregon and western Alaska, it said.

“For remaining areas of the United States, which constitutes a significant portion of the country, there are either conflicting or weak precipitation signals warranting a forecast of Equal Chances,” the center said.



The mean temperature in January is 30.6 degrees — just five degrees colder than December’s mean, according to the National Weather Service, which began keeping records in Islip in 1963.

For the entire month, the warmest January was 39.1 degrees in 1998. The coldest was 20.8 degrees in 1977.

The warmest January day was in 2002, when thermometers brushed 69 degrees.

The record low of minus 8 degrees dates back to 1965.

Thanks to the winter solstice, which started on Dec. 21, the days already are growing longer, and by the end of January, there will be about an extra hour of daylight.

10 hours, 4 minutes of daylight by month’s end with sunrise at 7:04 a.m. and sunset at 5:08 p.m.


The normal amount of rain is 3.64 inches — almost exactly the same as in December.

The wettest January was in 1979, with 10.3 inches of rain, the weather service said. The driest was in 1970, when there was only about half an inch.


Normal is 6.7 inches. The snowiest January day occurred in 2016, when a rather memorable 23.4 inches fell on the 23rd day of the month.


Jan. 23, 2016 ‘The worst I’ve ever seen’

That wild January blizzard, which four years ago enveloped Long Island — and much of the region — in snow prompted airlines to cancel thousands of flights and led Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to declare a state of emergency, halting all mass transit service and banning all but emergency vehicles from Long Island roads.

“We’ve had bad experiences in the past when people have been stuck on the Long Island Expressway when they shouldn’t have,” Cuomo said at a Melville news conference. “Plows can’t keep up.”

As much as 6 inches of snow fell per hour, sometimes accompanied by thunder, lightning and hail.

Long Islanders endured wind gusts up to 58 mph and blizzard conditions for 8 hours.

Local schools were shut, municipalities canceled scores of meetings, subways and Amtrak limited service, and PSEG Long Island sought to hire hundreds of extra linemen.

The system was mammoth, dropping snow from the Gulf Coast to New England. By afternoon, areas near Washington, D.C., had surpassed 30 inches, according to the weather service’s running totals.

The heaviest unofficial report was in a rural area of West Virginia, not far from Harpers Ferry, which recorded 40 inches.

Five area storm-related deaths were reported by police, with two on Long Island.

Gary Puetzer, 54, a heavy-equipment operator for the city of Glen Cove, told Newsday the storm was among the most treacherous he had seen in 15 years of driving snowplows. “As far as visibility, it’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” he said.

Jan. 29, 2002 Early spring break

One of the most opposite weather extremes occurred on Jan. 29, 2002, when winter took an early spring break, and the balmy temperature — just below 70 degrees — persuaded Islanders to abandon coats, scarves, hats, gloves and even shoes and hit the beach, at least briefly.

Not everyone was a fan. “I’m hoping for colder weather,” said Caroline Kaing, who trained master gardeners with the Cornell Cooperative Extension-Suffolk County.

Like others in her profession, she feared buds would be fooled into opening far too early, only to freeze when winter resumed its grip.

“For the plants’ sake and even for people. I enjoy the weather, but somehow I don’t feel it’s right,” she said.

In some warm spots, viburnum flowered and insects and ticks became active, according to Mike Graham, owner of Frankenbach’s Deerfield Nursery in Water Mill, who noted that the past November and December had been the warmest recorded for Long Island and New York City.

But not everyone believed the warm spell would last. At the time, Mike Catapano, who ran Catapano Brothers Nursery in Hicksville said: “Winter ain’t over yet.”

With the AP

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2019-12-31 21:00:00