January colder than average winter

Published 11:13 am Saturday, January 22, 2011

Caroline Ratcliffe, 4, leans on a snowman while visiting her grandparents in Franklin over Christmas. She is the daughter of Lee and Judy Ratcliffe, Garner, N.C.

FRANKLIN—This has been one of the coldest winters that lifelong Western Tidewater resident Bill Banks can remember.

And while his 8-month old black lab loved the foot of snow that fell at Christmas, the 59-year-old isn’t happy with this winter’s heating bills.

“I’ve been through two tanks of propane,” Banks said Friday. “Usually I go through one or one-and-a-half. It’s kicking me.”

The salesman for Blake Ford in Franklin can thank a jet stream for the abnormally cold January and above-average winter snowfall that has plagued much of the East, said Paul Walker, senior meteorologist with Accuweather.com in State College, Pa.

The average January temperature for Western Tidewater is 41.6 degrees, Walker said. This January, the average has been 35.3.

“Those are daytime highs and lows all averaged together,” he said. “The Eastern United States has a jet stream that’s keeping the cold air.”

The cold in Western Tidewater will continue with highs of 38 expected for Saturday and Sunday and lows in the high teens for Saturday night and mid-20s for Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service in Wakefield. On Monday, it will be near 40 with a 30 percent chance of rain and sleet overnight; the chance of rain increases to 50 percent Tuesday with a high near 45. The chance of precipitation on Tuesday night will be 60 percent with a low around 32.

Walker couldn’t predict if there will be an accumulation of snow next week.

“There is a possibility for another storm Tuesday,” he said.

Western Tidewater gets an average of 8.1 inches of snow for the winter; that includes an average of .4 inches in December, 2.6 inches in January, 3.8 inches in February and 1.3 in March.

So far this winter, the area has received 18.8 inches of snow, Walker said.

The snowiest months on record include December 1958 when 14.7 inches fell, January 1966, 14.2 inches; February 1989, 24.4 inches; and March 1980, 13.7 inches.