2019 WINTER WEATHER

The cold, hard numbers behind our polar vortex

If only it were 30 years ago when January was like fall

Water vapor rises last Wednesday from the Cedar River around the Veterans Memorial Building as the sun rises. The city broke a record the next day for coldest on record — 30 below, not counting the wind chill factor. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Water vapor rises last Wednesday from the Cedar River around the Veterans Memorial Building as the sun rises. The city broke a record the next day for coldest on record — 30 below, not counting the wind chill factor. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Think back to Jan. 31, 1989. At a high of 65 degrees that day in Cedar Rapids, you may have been wearing shorts.

Thirty years later, you’d be looking for the long johns.

With the polar vortex swooping down from the North Pole, it got down to 30 below — a record — on this Jan. 31.

Here is some other data from the National Weather Service on what January wrought:

TEMPERATURES

l Cedar Rapids: The average temperature for the month was 16.2 degrees. That’s 3.3 degrees lower than the normal 19.5 average for the month. There were 24 days where the highest temperatures were 32 degrees or lower. And there were 11 days where the lowest were at zero or below.

l Iowa City: The average temperature for January was 19 degrees, or 3.1 degrees lower than the normal 22.1 degrees. There were 20 days where the highs were at 32 or lower, and nine days when the lows were at zero or below.

WINDS

l Cedar Rapids: The average wind speed for the month was 11.9 mph. But on Jan. 8, wind speeds were 38 mph. and gusts were at 50 mph.

l Iowa City: The average wind speed for January was 9.3 mph. Like in Cedar Rapids, Jan. 8 saw the strongest wind speeds of the month — 33 mph and gusts of 50.

 

SKY CONDITIONS

l Cedar Rapids: There were 21 days with fog. nine with visibility under a quarter mile.

l Iowa City: There were 18 days with fog, one with visibility under a quarter mile.

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The weather service defines “normal” as the average during the 1981 to 2010 period and the “record” from measurements dating to 1891.

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