Extreme Temperature Diary- Tuesday February 9th, 2021/ Main Topic: Early February Record Scoreboard Update And Climatological Review

The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

Main Topic: Early February Record Scoreboard Update And Climatological Review

It’s time once again for our monthly climatological review. Here on this site we present monthly summaries near the 7th of each month, and each is available if you want to go back through my Extreme Temperature Diary archive. This report will be added to our climate summary and record scoreboard category on this site for these posts where you can check out reviews and statistics from prior months:


I’m repeating my mantra from last month:

January 2021 got ranked by the National Center for Environmental Information as a well above average January, temperature wise, for the lower 48 states, coming in as the 119th coolest or 9th warmest since records began being kept in 1895:


Record warmth occurred mostly across the northern tier of lower 48 states. There were a below average number of both record warm and cold record reports (average being near 2000 warm and 1000 cold):

Not one state had a below average ranking in January, just like what happened in December.

Here are my two U.S. Daily Record Scoreboards updated through 2/07/2021 (data compiled from the following NCEI site):


DHMX= Daily High Max Reports. DLMN= Daily Low Min Reports. DHMN= Daily High Min Reports. DLMX=Daily Low Max Reports.

For these data sets all monthly ratios of  > 10 to 1 DHMX to DLMN or > 10 to 1 DLMN to DHMX are in bold type. The rankings are for the lower 48 states with the warmest ranking since 1895 of average temperatures being 126 and 1 being the coldest as of 2021. Blue colors represent cold months and red warm. Those months and years with counts close to a 1 to 1 ratio of highs to lows are colored black. Boldly colored months, such as January 2020, have ratios of more than 10 to 1 daily record highs to lows or lows to highs, and are either historically hot or cold, most of which have made news.

January 2021 had approximately an 4-1 ratio of record DHMX to DLMN individual record counts, so the color I used for this month was red on the top chart.

January 2021 had approximately a 11-4 ratio of record DHMN to DLMX individual record counts, so the color I used for this month was red on the bottom chart.

Due to climate change we are seeing less blue colors on these Record Scoreboards with time, and January 2021 was typical for this trend. 

As stated, the ranking for January 2021 was 119, which was colored red. I color rankings +10 or -10 from the average ranking of 63 black, indicating that these are near average temperature wise. Record statistics matched up well with the ranking of 119 for January.

As shown on both charts we can see that February 2021 has gotten off to a warm start, but we are seeing indications that this month will be close to average if not below average due to Arctic air settling in over a good chunk of the country.

Here is much more detailed January 2021 U.S. climatology as complied by NOAA:


Assessing the U.S. Climate in January 2021

Top-10 warmest January for contiguous U.S., Great Lakes ice cover well-below average

During January, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 34.6°F, 4.5°F above the 20th-century average, tying for ninth-warmest January in the 127-year record. This was the 10th consecutive January with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th-century average for the month.

The January precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.01 inches, 0.30 inch below average, and ranked in the driest third of the 127-year period of record. Despite the dry conditions, an atmospheric river brought large amounts of rain and snow to portions of the West Coast January 27-29, which helped to alleviate some of the ongoing drought conditions in the region.

This monthly summary  from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making.

January Temperature

  • Above-average temperatures were observed across much of the West, northern and central Plains, Great Lakes and Northeast. North Dakota and South Dakota ranked third and fifth warmest on record, respectively. No state across the Lower 48 ranked below average for the month.
    • Above-average temperatures across the Great Lakes during the first two months of winter helped prevent ice from forming on the lakes. On January 24, only 2.4 percent of the entire lake surface was covered by ice. This is the lowest amount of ice coverage for this date in the last 48 years. Peak ice coverage is expected to span only 30 percent of the lake surface sometime from mid-February to early March. Average peak ice coverage is around 53 percent.
  • The Alaska average January temperature was 11.0°F, 8.8°F above the long-term mean ranking 13th warmest in the 97-year record and was the warmest January since 2016. Temperatures across the state were consistently warmer than average with widespread areas in the interior regions 5°F to 10°F above average.
    • Warm January temperatures contributed to the ninth-lowest Bering Sea ice extent in the last 43 years. This was lower than the last two years, but greater than the extent seen in 2017 and 2018.

January Precipitation

  • During January, above-average wetness was observed across portions of the West Coast, central and southern Plains and parts of the Southeast.
    • An atmospheric river, or a plume of concentrated moisture in the atmosphere, impacted the West Coast from January 27-29. More than 7 inches of precipitation fell from parts of southern California to the central California coast. The Sierra Nevada range received several feet of snow, closing down major highways. In addition to significant rain and snow, winds up to 125 miles per hour were reported near Lake Tahoe, California, as well as extensive power outages and mudslides across parts of the region. This event helped reduce some of the drought that has impacted coastal regions of the West Coast for many months.
  • Below-average precipitation occurred across much of the Rockies, Northern Tier, Great Lakes, parts of the South and the Northeast. 
  • Alaska ranked in the wettest third of the historical record for January. The interior regions were drier than average while the West Coast, Aleutians, Bristol Bay, the Northwest Gulf and the Panhandle had above-average precipitation. 
    • Fairbanks reported 0.5 inch of snow in January. This is the lowest January snowfall total on record for Fairbanks (since 1915).
    • In the Panhandle, Ketchikan accumulated 77.64 inches of precipitation over the November to January period, which is 168 percent of average and the fourth-highest total on record for this three-month period.
  • According to the February 2 U.S. Drought Monitor report, approximately 45.8 percent of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, which is approximately 3 percent less than at the end of December. Drought conditions expanded across portions of the northern Rockies and northern Plains and developed in parts of the lower Mississippi Valley. Improvements occurred across portions of the central Plains, Deep South, Southwest, and parts of the West Coast. Hawaii saw a 7 percent reduction in drought coverage, while Puerto Rico experienced some drought expansion during January.

Here is more climate and weather news from Tuesday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)

Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”

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