Cold? What cold? Odd January ends with no frigid days, little snow

It never got colder than 13 degrees in Dayton this January, marking the first time in 14 years that a January here had no days with single-digit or below-zero temperatures.

Friday’s final day of the month is forecast for a high of 40 and low of 30.

Last January had seven days below 10 degrees (including three sub-zero days), and January 2018 had 11 (with six sub-zero). This year, Jan. 19-22 were the only four January days where Dayton’s temperatures even went below 20, according to National Weather Service data.

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Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs said the biggest drivers of winter weather are El Niño and La Niña patterns, and those aren’t present this year. Another factor is whether the Arctic Oscillation is positive or negative.

“In its positive phase, the winds are stronger and it keeps the colder air up there. Once it goes to negative, then we start to see those lobes of cold air pushing southward,” Vrydaghs said. “All winter long, we’ve been in positive phase, so we have not seen those big dips in the jet stream allowing the colder Arctic and Canadian air to surge southward.”

For the past 20 years, Dayton has averaged about seven days each January dipping below 10 degrees. Dayton’s only recent year with a warmer January was 2006, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called the warmest January in U.S. history.

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For this entire fall/winter, Dayton’s coldest days have been a low of 5 degrees on Nov. 13 and a low of 8 degrees on Dec. 19. Schools have had more fog delays this January than delays for snow or extreme cold.

It doesn’t need to be extremely cold to snow, but Dayton’s January has lacked snow as well. The entire month of January had 0.6 inches of snow through Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service, compared to 14.4 inches last January.

The only significant snowfalls this winter have been 2.7 inches on Nov. 11-12, and 3.8 inches of snow on Dec. 15-16.

Vrydaghs said there’s a chance for minimal snowfall in the northern Miami Valley on Friday, but the overall pattern is likely to stay warmer for the next couple of weeks. A greater chance of cold weather comes in late February.

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In the meantime, high temperatures are forecast in the 50s early next week.

“In the first few weeks of February, it doesn’t look like we’re going to have much of a winter blast,” Vrydaghs said.

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