January Weather

"A summerish January indicates a winterish spring"

January 2, 2018| Categories: Eye on the Sky, Mark Breen, Skywatch Almanac Weather, Weather

Winter deepens in thought and deed each January, even though there is a noticeable change in the daylight by month’s end.  Average minimum temperatures are near zero, the temperature at which snow begins to squeal and creek underfoot, and daytimes are most often below freezing as well, making January home to many types of ice.  At these very low temperatures, lake ice thickens rapidly, expanding as it does so to make resounding “booms” and sharp “cracks”.  During extended spells of cold, rivers form “anchor ice”, the ice forming where the river’s motion is least along the bottom near various rocks.  And in spite of the cold, the sun has just enough strength to cause eves to drip, which then freeze into a delicate fringe of icicles, sparkling in the late afternoon sun.

These averages are based on measurements collected at the Fairbanks Museum’s weather center for over 100 years.


1 – 1990:  Second warmest January on record, following coldest December recorded; Vernon above freezing each day through the 13th.

8 – 1841: A January thaw, following 3 inches of rain in Hanover, NH, left the Connecticut River high and choked with ice.

9 – 1998: Severe ice storm; up to 4 inches of ice causing widespread power outages and severe tree damage  in northern New England.

18 – 1996:  The “snow-eating” thaw of ‘96; Marlow, NH went from 26 inches down to 3, Island Pond, VT dropped from 3 feet to 8 inches, and most extreme, Grafton, NH went from 48 inches to bare ground!

22 – 27:  Typical dates of the January Thaw.

23 – 1792: Colonial cold in northern New England; Rutland -29, Bennington -28.

26 – 1888:  “First” Blizzard of 1888;  20 foot drifts in Charlotte, VT shutting down the Rutland Railroad for 4 days.

Records and Averages

Warmest:  28.5°F in 1932

Coldest:  6.4°F in 1970

Wettest: 6.80 inches in 1979

Snowiest: 47.0 inches in 1954

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.”

– Christina Rossetti

Eye on the Sky

Eye on the Sky weather forecasts are produced at the Fairbanks Museum and broadcast by Vermont Public Radio.


Tags: Fairbanks Museum, ilovermont, january, Mark Breen, Northeast Kingdom, Saint Johnsbury, skywatch almanac, St. Johnsbury, vermont, Vermont weather, winter