Extreme Temperature Diary- Monday February 13th, 2023/Main Topic: U.S. January Record Scoreboard and Climatological Review

The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary 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: U.S. January Record Scoreboard and Climatological Review

Dear Diary. It’s time once again for our monthly climatological review, although this month we are a tad late in doing so due to the NCEI site malfunctioning. Their system is now fixed. Here on this site, we usually present monthly summaries near the 8th of each month, and each is available by clicking the link below:


Every January climatologists do an annual review for the prior year, which is our main subject for today. As usual in this day and age of climate change, the prior year was highly skewed towards warmer than average conditions.

I’m repeating this mantra every month:

January 2023 using 1901-2000 mean data got ranked by the National Center for Environmental Information for the lower 48 states as 6th warmest, or 124th coolest since records began being kept in 1895:


I recently wrote a post entitled “Winter Disappeared for Many Across the U.S. and Europe.” Indeed, residents of the Northeast were scratching their heads about the lack of snow and cold times. All of New England and New Jersey had their warmest January on record. No state had below average temperatures.

Brief summary for January 2023: Most reports of record warmth came from the Midwest and Northeast throughout the month. Most reports of record chill came from the Intermountain West during the mid-month period. It was cold enough to produce 6 reports of all-time record low mins and low maxes in the West.

Here are my two U.S. Daily Record Scoreboards updated through 2/13/2023 (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.

Bold red-, blue- or purple-colored months, such as January 2020 and June 2021, that have ratios of >10 to 1 daily warm low records or <1 to 10 daily warm to low records are either historically hot or cold, most of which have made news. NCEI rankings are for the lower 48 states with the warmest ranking since 1895 of average temperatures being 127 (for ties) or 128 and 1 being the coldest as of 2022. 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. All-time record hottest or coldest months and years are boldly colored in purple. NCDC rankings have been color coded (under tabs in each file) such that values of 54 to 74 are black representing neutral months or years (+ or – 10 from the average ranking of 64).

*New for this report: I have come up with new programmed files such that daily record counts for Alaska are subtracted from NCEI values for the United States as a whole. This will enable us to better compare apples to apples values for the lower 48 states and NCEI average temperature rankings for the lower 48 states since 1895. These new files should be better, but they aren’t perfect since Hawaii and other U.S. tallies from all territories are still included in total counts. However, since the bulk of reporting stations outside of the lower 48 do come from Alaska, this is a good first fix. From what I can tell so far, differences between ratios of total U.S. tallies and those minus Alaska are minor.*

Record numbers statistically matched up well during January of 2023 with that month being the 6th warmest January on record, but I’m a little surprised that there were not more reports of record warmth coming from the Northeast.

January 2023 had approximately a 28 to 23 ratio of record DHMX to DLMN individual record counts, so the color I used for this month was blue on the top chart.

January 2023 had approximately a 21 to 13 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 fewer blue colors on these Record Scoreboards with time, and January 2023 was an exception to this trend. 

As stated, the ranking for January 2023 was 124, which was colored red since it was above average.

I color rankings of +20 or -20 from the average ranking for the lower 48 states of 64 black, indicating that these are near average temperature wise. The top warmest ranking for 2023 would be 129 since rankings began in 1895.

February 2023 has gotten off to a warm start, which will continue well into the month looking at meteorological models. We should continue to see well above average temperatures across much of the eastern half of the U.S. with near or slightly below average temperatures in the West, similar to what we saw in January.

Here is much more detailed climatology for January 2023 as complied by NOAA:

Assessing the U.S. Climate in January 2023 | News | National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) (noaa.gov)



Assessing the U.S. Climate in January 2023

Atmospheric Rivers ushered in record rain and snow to parts of the West; Much of the Northeast had a record warm January

Courtesy of Getty Images


Key Points:

  • The average temperature of the contiguous U.S. in January 2023 was 35.2°F, which is 5.1°F above average, ranking as the sixth warmest January on record. New HampshireVermontMassachusettsRhode IslandConnecticutNew Jersey and Maine each had its warmest January on record.
  • January precipitation for the contiguous U.S. was 2.85 inches, 0.54 inch above average, ranking in the wettest third of the historical record. 
  • A series of nine Atmospheric River events from December 26 to January 17 caused significant flooding, power outages and mudslides in California that resulted in at least 21 deaths, 1,400 rescues and 700 landslides.
  • For the first time since 2017 and only the third time since 1950, over 100 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service during the month of January. 
  • According to the January 31 U.S. Drought Monitor report, about 42.7% of the contiguous United States was in drought. Severe to exceptional drought was widespread from the Great Basin to the Pacific Coast and across much of the Great Plains to Mississippi Valley, with moderate to severe drought in parts of the Great Lakes and Southeast and moderate drought in parts of the Northeast and Hawaii.

Other Highlights:


Generally, temperatures were above average across much of the contiguous U.S. east of the Rockies with near- to below-average temperatures from the central Rockies to the West Coast. New YorkPennsylvania and Indiana each ranked second warmest, with 17 additional states experiencing a top-10 warmest January on record. 

The Alaska statewide January temperature was 10.9°F, 8.7°F above the long-term average. This is the 13th-warmest January in the 99-year period of record for the state. Temperatures were above average across most of the state, while parts of western Alaska and the Aleutians experienced near- to below-average temperatures for the month.


Precipitation was above average from California to the Great Lakes, from the southern Mississippi Valley to New England and in parts of the Southeast. Precipitation was below average from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Plains and in the Florida Peninsula and parts of the southern Plains and Mid-Atlantic. On the dry side, North Dakota experienced their 13th driest January in the 129-year record. Conversely, an abundance of precipitation received during the month resulted in Nebraska ranking third wettest on record. Massachusetts ranked fourth and Rhode Island ranked seventh wettest on record, with four additional states experiencing a top-10 wettest January on record.

Monthly precipitation averaged across the state of Alaska was 3.06 inches, 0.33 inch above average, ranking in the middle third of the 99-year record. Conditions were wetter than average across the North Slope, West Coast, southeast Interior and in parts of the Panhandle. Much of the Gulf of Alaska and northeast Interior experienced near-average conditions while much of central Interior Alaska and the western Aleutian Islands experienced below-average precipitation for the month. 

Other Notable Events

A series of nine atmospheric river events from late December into mid-January dumped a record amount of rain and mountain snow across parts of the western U.S., hitting California particularly hard and causing significant damage to the region including power outages. In California:

  • The perpetual deluge resulted in at least 21 deaths and prompted more than 1,400 rescues throughout the state.
  • California’s Geological Survey mapped more than 700 reported landslides due to rainfall.
  • The San Francisco Bay area experienced its wettest three-week period in 161 years.

January had several notable weather systems that brought severe thunderstorms and an unusually high number of tornadoes to portions of the United States. Over 100 tornadoes have been confirmed by the National Weather Service.  This is the third time since 1950 that January had more than 100 tornadoes during the month.

  • On January 2-4, a tornado outbreak occurred across portions of the southern Plains, Southeast and Illinois. A total of 61 tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service. The tornadoes and severe thunderstorms with hail caused significant damage to the region. Nine of these confirmed tornadoes occurred in Illinois on January 3 – the highest number of tornadoes in January for the state since 1989.
  • On January 12, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes swept through parts of the Midwest and Southeast. The National Weather Service confirmed 69 tornadoes during this outbreak including two EF-3 tornadoes.
  • On January 16, two tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in Iowa – the state’s first January tornadoes since 1967.


According to the January 31 U.S. Drought Monitor report, about 42.7% of the contiguous U.S. was in drought, down about 3.6% from the beginning of January. Drought conditions expanded or intensified across portions of the southern Plains, the Florida Peninsula and parts of the Rockies, Pacific Northwest, Midwest and Hawaii. Drought contracted or was eliminated across large parts of the West and Midwest, and portions of the Plains, Great Lakes, Southeast, Northeast and Puerto Rico.

Monthly Outlook

According to the January 31 One-Month Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center, areas from the southern Plains and Great Lakes to the East Coast and Alaska Peninsula favor above-normal monthly mean temperatures in February, with the greatest odds in southern Florida. The best chances for below-normal temperatures are forecasted from the central Rockies to the West Coast. Much of the eastern U.S. and portions of the Northwest and northern Plains as well as southwestern Alaska are favored to see above-normal monthly total precipitation. Below-normal precipitation is most likely to occur across the southern Southwest, south Texas and much of Florida. Drought is likely to persist across much of the West, Plains and portions of the Southeast Coast. Some improvement and/or drought removal is likely to occur across portions of northern California, Oregon, eastern Oklahoma, southeast Kansas,, Michigan and Hawaii. Drought development is likely across parts of Texas and in the Florida Peninsula.

According to the One-Month Outlook issued on February 1 from the National Interagency Fire Center, portions of Texas, Georgia and Florida have above normal significant wildland fire potential during February.

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. For more detailed climate information, check out our comprehensive January 2023 U.S. Climate Report scheduled for release on February 13, 2023.

Here are some “ET’s” recorded from around the planet the last couple of days, their consequences, and some extreme temperature outlooks, as well as any extreme precipitation reports:

Here is some more new January 2023 climatology:

Here is more climate and weather news from Monday:

(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.)

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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