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January breaks records for frigidity

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By Scot Johnson

January’s weather was unexpected in many ways. The mean temperature was 5 degrees below normal and a mere 2.8 degrees warmer than the coldest month ever measured in Los Alamos: January 1930. January was wetter than normal, also unexpected since the strong La Nia conditions in place were supposed to reduce precipitation this winter. And January was windy, a condition we don’t expect until spring.The interesting weather began around Jan. 7 when a southwest-to-northeast moving system pushed out of Arizona and into New Mexico, not unlike the storm earlier this week. The storm delivered only a glancing blow to Los Alamos but favored the Jemez and left Los Alamos with more than 7 inches of snow. The storm was followed by a series of cold fronts, hitting in succession to turn cold days into even colder days. The strongest cold front came Jan. 15 along with sustained northwesterly flow that drove the high temperature on Jan. 17 below the day’s normal low temperature.The final week of January brought a series of two similar storms, both of which dropped along the Pacific coast and then crossed the southwest traveling west to east. The first storm was cold and dry. The second was warmer but brought enough moisture to catapult the month’s total precipitation beyond normal.