Sun dogs and Icebows

By Russell Russ

The month’s low temperature of 5 degrees below zero was observed on January 3. The high temperature of 57 degrees was observed on January 8. The average temperature this month was 25.0 degrees. This was 4.7 degrees above the normal January average. A wind chill temperature of 26 degrees below zero was recorded during the early morning of January 3.

The low temperature of 5 degrees below zero observed during the early morning of January 3 tied a record low for that date. It was also 5 degrees below zero back on January 3, 1981. Four days later on January 7 we tied a record high temperature for that date with 52 degrees, the same high temperature that was recorded back in 1946. The 57 degrees observed on January 8 set a record high for that date, beating the old record high of 52 degrees set back in 1937.

The total precipitation recorded for the month was 2.37 inches. This was 1.64 inches below normal. Interestingly, December’s total precipitation was exactly 1.64 inches above normal. There were a few flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder on the morning of January 11. January’s snowfall total was 19.2 inches which was 2.5 inches below normal. The snowstorm that began during the late evening of January 13 and ended during the day on January 14 was by far the biggest, dumping a total of 9.8 inches at the station. As in December, there was a snow cover on the ground at the station every day this month. The snow cover ranged from a low of just 3 inches to a maximum of 13 inches with a daily average of 9 inches.

A beautiful icebow was observed on the morning of January 3. A unique phenomenon, which also occurred to a lesser extent on January 22, that generally occurs in colder climates. When the air temperature is very cold and there are high thin clouds the light from the low on the horizon sun refracts through the ice crystals in the clouds resulting in a band, or bow, of color. A parhelion, or sun dog, is formed under somewhat similar circumstances, but only appears as a colored luminous spot to either side of the sun. When conditions are right a parhelion can form on both sides of the sun. At the weather station this month there were seven days when a parhelion was observed.