“Today in Weather History” Makes This Week Look Boring – Enjoy It While It Lasts

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Apart from some chilly weather in the northern regions, we’re enjoying a relatively quiet week across the U.S. weather-wise and from coast to coast just about everyone I’ve asked has said they’re enjoying a break from the extremes.  Whatever the reason – and I chalk it up to rampantly improved technology and a 24-hour news cycle – we do seem to bounce from one end of the temperature and precipitation spectra a lot more violently than we used to.  But not this week.  This week for most of us is mostly placid, pleasant and almost a little dull.

So let’s take a look back at what we experienced in years past this same week of January.

2008's wild California (middle-right) storm. Image: NWS, Hanover, CA

  • In 2008, a wild storm was overtaking the West Coast bringing feet of snow and the sickening threat of dozens of mudslides.
  • In 2010, Seoul was experiencing phenomenal snowfall and most of the U.S. was far chillier than we are this week.
  • Last January we were in the middle of a deep chill across most of the nation while Australia was still bailing out.

A few more to ponder from a bit longer ago courtesy of The Weather Company:

  • In 1893, thirteen inches of snow fell in Little Rock.  Little Rock, is that a lot of snow or what?
  • Early 1949 experienced seven weeks of nearly continuous blizzards across the American Great Plains.  Temperatures plummeted to as low as -50F.  The death toll reached 200 and the loss of livestock was staggering:  150,000 head of sheep and cattle perished during the storms.  (Although cattle losses during that event were nothing compared to our current drought.)
  • In 1961, a major ice storm produced a glaze up to eight inches thick across northern Idaho, quite possibly a U.S.

    Thankfully not today. Photo: NOAA Photo Library

    record. The icing was caused by widespread fog which deposited the ice on trees and power lines layer after heavy layer.

  • In 1989, a rare F4 tornado struck Allendale, IL, destroying a large part of the town. The storms occurred as record warmth lead to an unusually unstable and volatile air mass for this time of year. Not only did this air mass spawn the F4 tornado but it also resulted in 25 record high temperatures.
  • In 1997, Europe’s worst cold in 30 years continued to grip the continent for the eleventh consecutive day. Over 200 deaths were blamed on the cold temperatures. Parts of the Thames River in England froze for the first time since the end of World War II.
  • But then in 1998 . . . For some reason, there is often a period of warmer than normal temperatures across the U.S. between January 7th and 10th. It was true that year as temperatures ran as much as twenty-seven degrees above normal over the eastern U.S.  The morning low of 65 degrees at Dulles International in Washington, DC was actually warmer than the previous record high temperature for the date. Cherry blossoms actually bloomed in the nation’s capital.

For the first couple of weeks of January 2012, enjoy the relative mild while it lasts.  It’ll change soon enough.


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