By Roscoe Shaw and Heidi Sonen
January finished a wicked six degrees colder than normal and was the coldest month here since January of 1994. Our pond froze up on the 4th and stayed iced over all month except for a brief mid-month thaw.
So, how cold was it? Here are some of the stats. Only one day, the 11th, did not drop below freezing. Seven days dropped into the single digits including a low of 3 degrees on the 7th. The average high for the month was just 41 and the average low was 19.
Historically, last month ranked as the 12th coldest in 100 years of records. The “King of Cold” was January 1977, when it was a full 5 degrees colder than this year. Back in ’77, the warmest days only reached the 40s and it didn’t rain at all. Everything that fell was snow.
January of 1994 was the second coldest month ever and other notable cold months occurred in 1912, 1917, 1989, 1982, and 1978.
You might think that cold weather leads to lots of snowfall but I find that’s not the case around here. Snow is more of a random event. If everything comes together just right, we can get dumped on, even if it we aren’t in much of a cold snap. Back in 2010 when we had the record snows, the winter wasn’t particularly cold, but the snowstorm formula just kept coming together perfectly. This year has been much colder, but nowhere near the snowfall.
We had only 4.0 inches of snow last month, which is below the average of 5.3”. It didn’t seem like four inches fell because it took nine different days of wintry precipitation to add up to that much. We probably set a world record for “Most school ever missed from four inches of snow,” but that’s a whole different issue.
Almost all the monthly precipitation fell in two big rainstorms between the 5th and 11th and then the rest of the month was mostly dry. Our water table is in great shape heading into the growing season, with our highest groundwater index since 2004.
Monthly Precipitation Totals:
- Crozet 2.91”
- Old Trail 2.81”
- Charlottesville Airport 2.25”
- Univ. of Virginia 2.76”
- Nellysford 3.15”
- White Hall 2.25”
- Waynesboro 2.17”