January off to a warm start in Lawrence but could flip to colder than normal
photo by: Nick Gerik
January weather in Lawrence is off to a warmer-than-normal start, but it could flip the other way before the end of the month, said Mary Knapp, a climatologist at Kansas State University.
Temperatures in Lawrence reached the high 50s and low 60s on Sunday and Monday. Similar weather is expected for Tuesday, said Bryan Baerg, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Topeka.
Those temperatures are well above the average winter in Kansas, Knapp said.
Lawrence for Jan. 6 has a historical average temperature of 28.7 degrees. But this year, the average for the day, which was Sunday, was 44.5 degrees, a little more than a 15-degree difference, she said. This year’s temperature for Jan. 6 is pretty close to the highest on record, which occurred in 2012 with 45.5 degrees.
But when it comes to daily averages, there can be very big swings from year to year, Knapp said. In 2014, the average temperature for Jan. 6 was minus 1.
“It’s just a matter of what atmospheric conditions prevail in a particular year,” she said. “Right now we have a high-pressure system in play that’s giving us the clear skies and very mild temperatures.”
While Lawrence was warmer on Monday, other parts of the state were not. Western Kansas was experiencing freezing temperatures with snow still on the ground, Knapp said.
“You can go from really, really mild in the eastern part to really, really cold in the western part,” she said.
One reason the Lawrence area may be feeling a warmer start to January is a developing El Niño, Knapp said. El Niño, which is warmer-than-normal ocean water near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, causes mild winter weather in the southern and central plains of the United States, she said.
“It’s trying to develop,” Knapp said. “It hasn’t completely crossed the bounds of a full blown El Niño.”
The weather development could be why climate predictions have temperatures warmer than normal throughout the next two weeks, Knapp said. But after that, the weather in Lawrence could flip the other way to colder-than-normal temperatures. She said the predictions did not show exactly how much colder just yet.
“So we may have a warm start to January and a cold end to January,” she said. “That is not at all uncommon in Kansas during the winter. So enjoy (the warmer weather) while it lasts.”