Weather Facts

What is the weather like during the month of January in Hampton Roads?

January is the coldest month on average in Hampton Roads. It can be a very active month as the jet stream frequently brings low pressure systems across the Mid-Atlantic States. Of course, every January is different and some are stormier than others, but it usually is a month that gives forecasters many challenges. Extremely cold arctic or polar air masses frequently plunge down from Canada and depending on factors such as a blocking pattern and the positioning and strength of the jet stream to name a few, these air masses can bring very cold temperatures to Hampton Roads for a prolonged period of time. Low pressure systems sometimes develop along the frontal systems and when they move to the south of Hampton Roads, significant snowfall is a possibility. With the relatively warm ocean nearby, wind direction plays a key role in our chances of snow. (See my weather fact entitled “Predicting Snow in the Hampton Roads Area... Why is it so challenging?”) Speaking of wind, January can be (and usually is) a very windy month. But when the winds are calm due to a large arctic high pressure system being overhead, temperatures can drop quite low by morning since the nights are very long. Many times during January, low pressure systems intensify as they near the coast or when they move offshore. This can bring large intense storms such as nor’easters to the region. “Bombogenesis” occurs many times during January. (See my weather fact entitled “What does Bombogenesis mean?” for more details.) A period of milder weather sometimes occurs during January and this is called “The January Thaw”. Basically, the thaw is caused by the jet stream taking a more northerly course allowing milder air to come up from the south or southwest. On the positive side, you may start to notice the days getting a little longer by the end of the month.