The year kicked off with the hottest January on record in Tucson, to no one’s surprise, beating out January 1986 for the top spot by half a degree.
The average temperature last month was 59.1 degrees Fahrenheit, 6½ degrees higher than a normal January.
While the north and eastern parts of the country were hunkering down during the “Bomb Cyclone” of snow and bitter cold, we were removing Christmas lights in T-shirts and shorts. January’s average monthly high here was 73.6 degrees.
Twenty days in January had highs of 75 degrees or higher at the Tucson International Airport, another monthly record for January, beating out 2003’s record of 14 days. The last three Januarys from 2015-2017 combined had only sixteen days of 75 or above.
We reached 80 degrees or higher on the 14th and during several days at the end of the month. The hottest day was the 30th at 82 degrees.
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base was the national high on Jan. 5 and Jan. 8 at 82 and 80 degrees, respectively.
This, again, seems to be part of a larger warming trend. Six of the 10 hottest Januarys on record have occurred in the last 15 years.
Two instances of valley rain and mountain snow on Jan. 10 and Jan. 20 cooled things down a bit.
Despite some rain, it was still a dry month. Only 0.02 of an inch fell in Tucson, 0.92 inches short of normal. Mount Lemmon also saw less snowfall than normal.
Parts of Southern Arizona, including the Tucson area, are in a severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor for Arizona.
“La Niña has been large and in charge over the last six weeks,” said Michael Crimmins, a UA climate researcher, contributing to the heat and dryness.
This pattern is expected to continue into February, Crimmins said. Although there’s an equal chance for normal precipitation in the next few weeks, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“What that really means though is that there’s no confidence in either direction,” Crimmins said.