Northeast Weather Summary: January 2020

February 10, 2020 // Article by: Cody Hewitt

Where did winter go? That was the question most asked despite being in the heart of the season. Outside of central and northern New England, much of the region fell well behind their seasonal totals. This was partly because of a pattern regime that not only prevented cold air from pouring in, but also hindered many systems from turning into well-organized storms on the coast.

Right off the bat, the month began with abnormally warm temperatures in the 40s and 50s, which were about 10 to 15 degrees above normal. This would set the stage for an unusually warm month. It wasn’t exactly dry, but New England and the northern Mid-Atlantic did fall below their precipitation normals. Most systems were more wet than white, and were not quite soakers. 

The first series of events that extended beyond the northwestern elevations fell between the 5th and 8th which coincidentally, sent temperatures just below normal. There were two storms in particular that clipped much of the region, even down to far northern Virginia. Even with this though, totals only amounted to an inch or two at best. Interior Pennsylvania south of the Lehigh Valley and into northern Maryland actually saw a few inches more from the first storm on the 7th. Interestingly this same system clipped Cape Cod with up to 2-3” as well before departing.

Immediately after that, any semblance of cold air skirted out of the Northeast, giving us the warmest stretch by the second week. Temperatures soared up to 20 and 30 degrees above normal! The 11th and 12th broke records across almost all major I-95 cities, with many temperatures in the upper 60s to lower 70s. In particular, Boston, MA topped everyone else at 74 degrees on the second day!

Garden State Parkway in New Jersey on January 18th. 

Temperatures moderated some, but still ran above normal until the third week. Surrounding the 18th was the “biggest” storm of the month with 3-6” across northern New Jersey and into New Hampshire. This was ended up being a mixed bag of precipitation due to sleet and some ice mixing in. Accumulations were seen down into Maryland though most, even up in the hills, saw less than an inch.

The “cold” stretch that followed still only brought seasonable weather. It warmed up slightly again for the last week before closing out with another lackluster storm that dropped minor accumulations along and north of the I-95 corridor. By the end of January, the major cities typically average between 6 and 12 inches but ended up between a few tenths to around 3 inches at best. The few tenths being Washington, D.C., where the airport only recorded 0.2 for the month! 

Overall, the interior cities of New England such as Albany, NY and Hartford, CT saw over a 6 inch surplus for the season so far (through the end of January), the former of which was thanks to a massive storm back in December. The rest of the major cities are running deficits in the opposite direction, with southeast Pennsylvania, southern NJ, and Maryland well below normal in snowfall. The month was an absolute torch as well as monthly temperatures were 6 to 9 degrees above normal. Nearly all cities landed in the top 10 for warmest January on record with Boston, MA seeing their warmest ever at 38 degrees.