Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News
Haleigh Payne, left, and Alyssa Payne cruise down a modest sledding hill near the Bell Tower on the BYU campus in Provo on Monday.

Don't look for a "January thaw" this year.

According to the Salt Lake office of the National Weather Service, it will likely not warm up enough this month for that to happen.

"We're the coldest in four years," Alex Tardy, National Weather Service meteorologist said. "We're colder than we expected. ... It doesn't look like a January thaw will happen."

In fact, the Salt Lake International Airport dipped to 2 degrees below zero Tuesday morning, while nowhere else in the valley was sub-zero.

Tardy said the coldest air just sank there. This morning's temperature at the airport could also be in the same low range, with little cloud cover expected.

Today is expected to be partly sunny in Salt Lake City, with a high near 29, and an east-southeast wind at 8 mph becoming northwest. By tonight it will be mostly cloudy, with a low around 15.

Thursday's daytime high will bounce up to 38 degrees, as a south wind blows and a storm arrives with a 30 percent chance of snow, moves in. However, by Friday the high will return to about the freezing mark or slightly above and stay there. By Monday, the furthest the Weather Service predicts, it will be only 32 degrees for the day's high. A chance of snow is predicted through the weekend.

Salt Lake City's average high temperature for Jan. 21 is 38 and average low is 21. That contrasts with Monday's actual readings of 30 and 9 degrees.

Tardy agreed that this time of year in Salt Lake City, either inversions or a series of steady storms keep things active.

"We've kept things mixed," he said.

"We've had a lot of cold systems from the north," Tardy said as perhaps the most unusual factor this winter. "We are a little bit colder."

Salt Lake City has been 3.8 degrees below average in temperatures so far for the month of January. On nine of 21 days, the day's high was below freezing. In December, Salt Lake City was 3.2 degrees below normal, on average.

He said it is a myth that the air temperature has to warm up for it to snow. The snow becomes drier as the temperature goes down, but several storms this January have come in with temperatures in the 20s.

Tardy said long-term forecasts have Utah on the edge of a pattern. But it looks like for February and March we may have slightly above normal temperatures and normal precipitation — though it could stay stormy in the north longer than the south.

"In February and March things can turn around," he cautioned.

Another early spring, a trend in recent years, is likely again.

Salt Lake City has received 45 inches of snow this winter. That compares to just 28 inches by this time last year.

Also, the Salt Lake Airport had a record snowfall on Monday — the greatest amount ever received for any previous Jan. 21, with 6.1. inches. That broke the old record of 4.5 inches, set in 1953.

Tardy said another unusual factor is that all of Utah's mountains have snowpack at or above normal. Usually at least some areas are below normal, but not so far this winter.


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