When January gets colder for us

It’s been a warm month so far

Back-and-Forth temps tennis game!
Back-and-Forth temps tennis game!

If you’re thinking January is more like June-uary, you’d be right. Our average high each day for this month ranges from 62-64 and while we’ve had a few “average” days, look at the abundance of much higher than normal temps, including Tuesday’s 79F!

10 of 14 Days above normal, including the next three!

So what’s going on? First, the mighty Polar Vortex is strong, meaning it has locked up the cold air at the north pole. We’ll get back to that. Second, the ocean temperatures are just plain warmer than normal:

The Pacific and Atlantic are warmer than normal
Orange indicates warmer than normal water!

And while cold air can always move down from Canada and Alaska, the Jet Stream this week is in the wrong position for that:

That is the WRONG way to get cold air!

However, the Polar Vortex is trying to weaken a bit and the pattern flips next week. You can read plenty about this in Judah Cohen’s blog, but I’m warning you it’s a pretty “heavy” read. The bottom line is that by Monday, the Jet does this number:

For cold air, that's the CORRECT Jet direction!

And so we go from our 70s/60s pattern of highs and lows this week, to a pattern of 50s/40s next week. But I have to tell you, through the END of this month, I have a warmer than normal weather pattern over all with NO freezing temperatures for Houston. So even with a flipped jet stream pattern, the warmer air is winning. NOAA comes out this afternoon with their official 2019 Global Assessment of Climate and Temperatures and here is the promised update. 2019 was the second hottest year on record globally and the hottest on record for Alaska! Here are a couple of graphics:

2019 hottest since 2016
Alaska came in extremely warm

In the meantime, keep driving safely and enjoy a cooler weekend ahead!


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About the Author:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.