Overall, January was quieter than the frenetic finish to 2015. Still, several strong weather systems rolled across the nation, and a few—including a mid-Atlantic blizzard—brought reminders that it was still the middle of winter. The storms, in part fueled by a strong El Niño, further dented Western drought and maintained generally adequate to locally excessive soil moisture across the central and eastern United States.
In early January and again at month's end, a southward shift in the storm track brought significant precipitation to Southern California and the Southwest. For much of the remainder of January, storms primarily crossed the Northwest, with meaningful precipitation sometimes falling as far south as northern and central California. By the end of January, the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack stood at 20 inches, around 115% of average for the date.
Weatherwise Contributing Editor BRAD RIPPEY is the U.S. Editor of the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin of the Joint Agriculture NOAA Weather Facility.
Weatherwise Contributing Editor JEFFREY B. HALVERSON is Professor of Geography at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.