January 2023 ranks 3rd wettest across the US

Central Florida’s drought conditions worsen

Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash (Unsplash)

It was a tale of two coasts during the month of January.

While the West Coast dealt with a historic atmospheric event keeping temperatures cooler than normal, the East Coast saw several states with the warmest January on record.

National January temperature recap:

Overall, the average across the contiguous U.S. ran 5.1° F above average, with an average temperature of 35.2° F. This places January 2023, as the sixth warmest January on record.

New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and Maine each had their warmest January on record.

National January rainfall recap:

The biggest story of the month is not so much the temperatures, but the amount of rainfall across a big swath of the country.

For the first half of January, the West Coast experienced a series of nine atmospheric river events, causing significant flooding, power outages and mudslides causing at least 21 deaths.

All the added rainfall did help in the drought category.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor report, about 42.7% of the U.S. was in a drought by the end of January. Although that percentage seems high, it is down about 3.6% from the start of the year. And the overall intensity of drought conditions has improved significantly.

Along with rain, came a record number of tornadoes in the first month of the year. There were officially 132 confirmed tornado touchdowns, marking the third time since 1950 where 100 tornadoes occurred during January.

NOAA Significant Events in January 2023

Central Florida January recap:

Several cold fronts pushed through during the month. Although the fronts brought blasts of cold air, the cold snaps were short-lived. This led to more dominant near-to-above normal temperatures during the month, ending between 2 to 4 degrees warmer than normal.

The rain that came in along these fronts produced rather meager rainfall amounts, keeping accumulated rainfall totals to around an inch or less for many reporting stations.

The lack of rainfall across the month, led to worsening drought conditions for Central Florida. In early January, the state had about 43% of areas within drought criteria. But by the end of the month, that number grew to 73%. Although the area of drought conditions expanded, the severe drought improved to a moderate drought for those in the panhandle.

Drought conditions worsening for Florida during January 2023

Rainfall Rankings:

  • Orlando: 1.01″ (-1.47″ below normal)
  • Sanford: 0.75″ (-1.61″ below normal)
  • Melbourne: 0.43″ (-2.20″ below normal) *10th driest January on record*
  • Daytona Beach: 1.01″ (-1.72″ below normal)
  • Leesburg: 1.22″ (-1.29″ below normal)

Temperature Rankings:

  • Orlando: 64.4° (+3.8° above normal)
  • Sanford: 63.2° (+2.8° above normal)
  • Melbourne: 64.6° (+1.3° above normal)
  • Daytona Beach: 62.2° (+3.4° above normal)
  • Leesburg: 63.0° (+3.6° above normal) *10th warmest January on record*

About the Author:

Candace joined the News 6 team as the weekend morning meteorologist and reporter. She comes to Central Florida from Miami.