January 2014: Much Colder and Wetter than Normal

January 2014 Climate Summary for Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia -

After a warmer than normal start to the winter in December, the jet stream took a much farther dip to the south across the Southeast U.S. for much of the month and this led to generally colder than normal temperatures and with the storm track across the region for portions of the month, much of Northeast Florida and Coastal Southeast Georgia had wetter than normal rainfall. Even though much of the month was colder than normal, Gainesville, FL and Jacksonville, FL did not break any record low minimum temperatures, although the "polar vortex" cold air outbreak on January 7th did set daily record lows of 18 and 20 degrees for Alma, GA and St. Simons Island, GA, respectively. It was interesting to note that the storm track across the region brought much more cloudiness and rainfall than usual and the lack of sunhsine during the cold air outbreaks actually helped to keep nocturnal minimums from getting too cold, while also keeping daytime highs in the 30s and 40s for several times during the month and eight new daily record low maximum temperatures were set at the four climate sites (JAX, GNV, AMG, SSI) this month. While this month will go down in the Top 15 coldest January's it must be noted that quite a roller-coaster of temperatures was still experienced as several cold fronts continued to cross the region most of the month, and the hard freeze experienced the morning of January 7th with temperatures in the teens and lower to middle 20s was followed 3 to 4 days later with the warmest temperatures of the month into the mid/upper 70s and lower 80s on the 10th and 11th. The quick moving cold airmasses that were not allowed to settle in place and abundant high clouds set the stage for multiple sub-freezing nights, but not many hard freeze events. All of the climate sites experienced multiple freeze events with 8 and/or 9 at Jacksonville, Gainesville and St. Simons Island, while Alma, GA recorded 15 freeze events and all of these numbers were  above the normal number of freeze events for the month of January. The final arctic cold airmass of the month combined with enough atmospheric moisture to produce light accumulations of snow, sleet and freezing rain across Southeast Georgia on the 29th and multiple reports of isolated pockets of sleet and snow flurries across Northeast Florida. This event produced multiple school closures as bridges and overpasses across Southeast Georgia and along the I-10 Corridor of North Florida became icy in some locations due to the sub-freezing temperatures that allowed lingering wet roadway surfaces to freeze the morning of the 30th.

The jet stream track closer to the region allowed for cold fronts and low pressure systems to pick up moisture off the Gulf of Mexico and deposit higher than normal rainfall totals of 5 to 8 inches across much of Northeast Florida along the I-10 Corridor and just across the Florida/Georgia border and along the Southeast Georgia coastline. Lesser amounts of 3 to 5 inches fell across North Florida south of a line from Gainesville to St Augustine, while the driest region this month was across Inland Southeast Georgia, north and west of Waycross where only 1.5 to 3 inches fell and was only 25 to 50 percent of January normal values as seen in the rainfall images below. The wetter conditions across the region were just spaced out enough throughout the month to prevent much in the way of any significant flooding and the Minor River Flooding that was experienced along the Altamaha River was due to the routing of flow from river basins upstream across Central Georgia. The latest version of the U.S. Drought Monitor continues to show NO current areas of drought across Southeast Georgia and Northeast Florida.

Jacksonville, FL (JAX): January, 2014 Monthly Observed Precipitation Valid at 2/1/2014 1200 UTC - Created 2/1/14 21:37 UTC

Jacksonville, FL (JAX): January, 2014 Monthly Percent of Normal Precipitation Valid at 2/1/2014 1200 UTC - Created 2/1/14 21:39 UTC

January 2014 Climate Data
Average Temp (Departure) (Rank) Monthly High Monthly Low Days <=32F (Normal) Monthly Precipitation Daily Max Highest Wind Gust
Jacksonville, FL (JAX)
   49.2 F (-3.9 F)    15th Coldest
81F on 11th 22F on 7th 8 days (6) 6.97" (+3.67")   6th Wettest 1.87" on 2nd 44 mph on 11th
Gainesville, FL (GNV)     50.6 F (-3.7 F)      8th Coldest 79F on 10th 25F on 7th 9 days (6) 5.20" (+1.89") 17th Wettest 1.35" on 14th 37 mph on 11th
Alma, GA (AMG)     45.3 F (-5.4 F)      7th Coldest 75F on 11th 18F on 7th 15 days (8) 1.61" (-2.65")  15th Driest 0.64" on 2nd 37 mph on 11th
St. Simons Island, GA (SSI)     47.6 F (-3.9 F)      9th Coldest 74F on 11th 20F on 7th 8 days (5) 4.59" (+1.37") 14th Wettest 1.32" on 2nd 37 mph on 11th

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecast for the month of February is calling for greater than normal chances of ABOVE normal average temperatures and EQUAL CHANCES of above, below or near normal precipitation totals. The CPC forecast for the Spring months (March, April, May) is calling for greater than normal chances of ABOVE normal average temperatures and greater than normal chances of BELOW normal precipitation totals. The CPC spring forecast could enhance the fire weather threat as we move into this time frame.

Jason Hess - Climate Focal Point


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