The Alabama Climate Report

Brought to you by the Office of the Alabama

Volume 8, Number 11, January 2018

Trying to sum up January ...

Alabama had two snow events in January, including a mid-month storm that shut down much of south and central Alabama for a day or maybe two. The one-tenth of an inch of snow in Mobile on Jan. 17 was the city’s second recorded snowfall this winter. (The other Gulf Coast snow storm this winter was in early December, when Mobile got a full inch of snow.)

According to the NWS, that was only the second time in Mobile’s climate record that the city had two measurable snowfalls in one winter. The first time it happened was in 1977, when measurable snow fell twice in January.

January 2018 in Alabama was generally drier than normal and colder than normal. We saw almost four dozen daily low temperature records broken, although it also hit a Jan. 12 record 75° at Bankhead Lock and Dam.

In other words, it was January in Alabama.

While the Jan. 16-17 snow might not have been as ìrobustî as the Dec. 8 snowfall, it was at least as widespread, stretching from Mobile in the south to the northeastern corner of Alabama. Some spots got up to 3 inches of snow, while much of the region got from a trace to 1 inch.

Butler, which recorded 7.5 inches of snow in December, got another inch and a half during the January 17 storm. It has probably been a year or two since Butler got nine inches of snow in one winter.

But it wasn’t just the snow. For instance, Dothan reported only two-tenths of an inch of snow, but a portion of that melted and refroze into a layer of ice that turned many streets into impromptu ice rinks for the kids — and for anyone trying to drive. Streets and roads were closed due to icy conditions across large portions of the state.

Both January storms brought with them bitter cold. Daily record low temperatures were recorded on Jan. 1 on Dauphin Island (27°) and in Fairhope (20°). Single digit lows chilled North Alabama for several days, including record daily lows of 6∞ as far south as Sylacauga.

Alabama’s coldest January temps, however, were reported in Addison, which is tucked alongside a southeastern edge of the Bankhead National Forest in Winston County. Addison saw temperatures drop to zero twice, on Jan. 17 and 18, and fall to 1° on both Jan. 2 and 3. Fort Payne also saw a 1° low on Jan. 17.

On average, however, the state’s four biggest cities averaged only 3.6° colder than normal for January. That means January had several days of windbreaker or even shirtsleeve weather to balance out those record lows. Huntsville, for instance, had highs of 60° or warmer seven times in January, including two days when it hit 70°.

Yep. January in Alabama.

- John Christy
The Alabama State Climatologist