One of the coldest Januaries in decades refused to go away without one final slap in the face, with temperatures bottoming out near zero and wind chills driven below zero by gusty winds earlier this week.
A warming trend was expected to begin today (Thursday), with temperatures rising above freezing for the first time since Monday morning. By the weekend, the northern Cumberland Plateau can expect temperatures in the 50s, National Weather Service meteorologists said. But long-range forecasters remain uncertain on how long the milder weather will last; some point out that conditions remain favorable for intrusions of frigid arctic air into February.
As the week began, the average temperature for the month was 27.6 degrees in Oneida, according to NWS data recorded locally. That was about seven degrees colder than the 30-year average for January, which is 34.4 degrees in Oneida. And it is significantly colder than last year’s relatively mild month of January, when the average temperature in Oneida was 37.3 degrees.
At the nearest official NWS measurement site, Crossville Memorial Airport, the monthly average was an even colder 26.7 degrees entering this week. The 30-year average for January is 35.7 degrees at the Crossville airport.
The month featured the coldest temperatures experienced along the northern plateau in almost two decades. On Jan. 8 and 9, the temperature in Oneida dropped to -7 each morning, the coldest since Oneida dropped to -17 on Jan. 19, 1994. On Jan. 7, the high temperature in Oneida was 6 degrees, the single coldest afternoon since temps only rose to 3 degrees on that same day in 1994.
The month will end tomorrow without a single day in the 60s, unusual for the Mid-South even in January. According to NWS data, the high temperature for the month in Oneida was 58 on Jan. 21.
Last year, Oneida recorded its warmest January temperature ever — 66 degrees on Jan. 13, 2013.
For those weary of the winter weather, forecasters say climatology is on their side. The average high temperature in Oneida is 46 degrees today, and gradually climbs to 53 by the end of February, based on data recorded from 1981 through 2010.