January broke all kinds of weather records

News Photo by Julie Riddle Hilary Gilleand of Alpena chips a layer of ice off of her windshield in downtown Alpena on Wednesday. January’s uneven weather is expected to lead to ice and more cold weather over the next week to 10 days.

ALPENA — Unexpectedly warm temperatures at the beginning of January gave no hint of the full force of winter that would hit Northeast Michigan at the end of the month.

The warmest days of January fell near the beginning of the month, with three days of 40-degree-or-above temperatures falling between Jan. 4 and 8. The month’s high of 46 degrees on Jan. 5 was 13.9 degrees above the normal temperature for that day, repeating a trend of significantly higher-than-average temperatures all that week.

The unusual warmth at the beginning of January changed to frigid temperatures by month’s end. The coldest day of the month was Jan. 26, with the thermometer pointing to an icy 25 degrees below zero, before wind chill was factored in.

The daily low temperature in Alpena fell below zero 13 days of the month, with seven of those days falling in the last seven days of January.

The average low temperature for the month was 5 degrees, cooler than the normal low of 11.5 degrees.

Last year’s coldest temperature was 16 degrees below zero, recorded on Jan. 6. The high was a balmy 51 degrees, recorded only five days later, on Jan. 11.

This year, January started out with little wintry precipitation, with zero snow accumulation on five out of the first 11 days of the month. That lack of snowfall was made up for at the end of the month, with 21.3 inches of accumulation in the last 10 days. A fluffy 11.8 inches of that amount fell on Jan. 28, a new record for that day, breaking the old record of 8 inches set in 1949.

The month’s total snowfall, helped by the end-of-the-month flurries, was 33.6 inches, exceeding the normal snow accumulation for January of 21.3 inches.

By month’s end, Alpena had reached a snow depth of 18 inches.

January boasted 26 days of at least a trace of snow, significantly more than the normal 15.7 days.

One other record was broken in Alpena in January. On Saturday, Jan. 26, a record-low temperature of 25 degrees below zero at 8:06 a.m. had Alpena shivering, breaking the old record for that day of 22 degrees below zero, set in 1939.

The next few weeks should bring near- to below-normal temperatures, according to Mike Boguth, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Gaylord. The coldest temperatures will be centered to our west.

The current active weather can be expected to continue another seven to 10 days. Alpena is expected to experience significant freezing rain on Thursday, with up to two-tenths of an inch of ice accumulation. Power line and tree damage are a possibility, and roads could be hazardous.

A similar system should reach Alpena Tuesday or Wednesday of next week, Boguth said, possibly resulting in a few inches of snow accumulation.

Bitter cold, similar to recent very low temperatures, is not expected in the next few weeks, but Friday will be very windy and chilly.

A calm weekend of above-freezing temperatures should be a welcome break for area residents before the next wintry blast blows through early next week.

Meanwhile, across the Midwest on Wednesday, freezing rain left roads slippery, cut power to thousands of homes and businesses, and prompted officials to close hundreds of schools, while flooding caused by ice jams prompted evacuations in Michigan and Illinois.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory warning of freezing rain, snow and another round of cold weather from Nebraska through Michigan. The warnings also come in the wake of snow, ice and shivering cold hitting normally mild cities in the West.

School districts, including Detroit’s, were closed Wednesday, as was Wayne State University after residents awoke to a thick coating of ice covering streets, driveways and vehicles. Freezing rain in Kansas and Missouri created icy roadways blamed in two separate crashes that killed three people. The icy conditions prompted officials to cancel classes at dozens of schools in both states.

In mid-Michigan, flooding caused by an ice jam along the Grand River in Portland prompted officials to evacuate about 50 people from homes near the river. Jim Hilligan told the Lansing State Journal that emergency response officials went door-to-door evacuating residents.

“They weren’t rushing, but they were like, ‘You guys got to get out of your house, the river has broken the banks,'” Hilligan said.

Major utilities reported more than 50,000 customers were without power early Wednesday in the state, mostly in western Michigan, after freezing rain brought down trees and power lines.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Julie Riddle can be reached at 989-358-5693 or jriddle@thealpenanews.com.