January 2014 Was Cold, Snowy But Nothing Like 1977

If you thought January 2014 was cold and snowy, you’re right. January 2014 was the 4th snowiest and 12th coldest January on record in the Queen City. Considering official weather records for January in Cincinnati go back to 1871, making it in the top 20 lists for snow and cold in January is impressive. When you have winters like 1976-1977 and 1977-1978, however, it is very hard to get to or near the top spot of the coldest and snowiest month of the year (on average).

January’s snowfall total at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport of 20.4″ was over three times the average amount of snowfall in January, but it fell well short of the January 1977 snowfall total:


The snow that fell in January felt like even more of a burden after a very snowy December. December 2013 (with a total of 10.4″ of snowfall) was the 9th snowiest December on record in the Queen City:


December’s 2013 total was 1/2″ short of January 1977’s total, and over 7″ below the December 1883 snowfall total. The National Weather Service says official snow records began in 1893; if you accept that as the start of official records (and not when other records like temperature and precipitation began in November of 1870), December 2013 was the was the 7th snowiest December on record.

January 2014 was also snowier than average by the number of days with measurable snowfall in Cincinnati:


January 2014 was also a very cold month. In meteorology, the ranking of cold is determined by calculating the average temperature of the month. The average temperature of any given day is average of the high temperature and low temperature; the average temperature of the month is calculated by averaging daily average temperatures for the entire month (did you get all of that?). By this measure, January 2014 was the 12th coldest January since official records began (in November 1870):


The average high temperature in January 2014 was colder than the 30-year average but well above of the average high temperature in 1977:


It was the same story with low temperatures: January 2014’s average low temperature was below the 30-year average but above the average low temperature of January 1977:


The temperature frequently dropped below 10° in January 2014, but the record of January nights with a low temperature below 10° went unchanged this year:


We also dropped below 0° 7 days in January 2014, but we dropped below 0° more frequently in 1977:


The cold of January 2014 was not just felt at night; we had several days where the temperature didn’t get above 32°. Despite being above the average, our count of days with a high temperature below 32° fell way short of the 29 days with a high below 32° in January 1977:


Regardless of how you measure it, January was a very cold, snowy month; the king of cold and snow continues to be 1977. More waves of snow and cold are on the way in the month ahead. Our snowfall total since last summer now stands at 33.7″; we need need just over 20″ to get to the all-time fall/winter/spring snowfall record set in – you guessed it – 1977 through 1978.

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