COLUMBIA – December is turning out to be cold and nasty, but look for a welcome warming of winter weather in January.
“The January outlook calls for above-normal temperatures for much of the United States east of the Rockies, including all of Missouri,” said climatologist Pat Guinan, with the MU Extension.
The average low temperature for January is 21 degrees, and the average high is 30 degrees.
The amount of precipitation for the coming January is more uncertain, according to a report from the National Climate Prediction Center.
“Basically, the model calls for a toss-up for above- or below-normal precipitation,” Guinan said. Average precipitation for the month is 2 inches.
During the past 15 years, Missouri winters have been warm and wet, Guinan said. Ten of the past 15 winters have been warmer than normal. Eleven of those 15 winters saw more rain than normal, but Missouri snowfall has been below normal. With warmer temperatures, there were fewer chances for frozen precipitation.
The past winter was an exception with both above-normal snowfall and colder temperatures, Guinan said. Portions of northwest Missouri received more than 50 inches of snow last winter, making it the snowiest winter in 30 years.
So far, December weather this year has been colder than usual. A large area of low pressure east of the Rockies drew cold winds and frigid temperatures from the Arctic.
The average low temperature this month has been 17.5 degrees, or 5 degrees below normal. Highs average 36.9 degrees, or 6 degrees below normal, according to National Weather Service data.
The average temperature on Sunday in Columbia was 7 degrees; on Monday, it was 12 degrees.
In north Missouri, severe wind chill factors accompanied by ice and snow have created unsafe conditions for livestock. Ice-covered pastures cut short the winter-grazing season and caused difficulties for farmers feeding hay to their livestock, Guinan said.
The corn harvest, delayed by high moisture content from late plantings in the spring, stopped with the icy conditions in some areas.
With 2008 going into the records as one of the wettest for the state, water resources are above-normal and livestock ponds are full, Guinan said.
Ground water is in good shape for the start of next year. “Soil moisture levels range from sufficient to above-normal for the next growing season,” he said.