January will go down in the weather history books as the fourth-warmest on record.
No matter how brutal the winter was in North America, especially the Eastern half, it was balanced by warm temperatures elsewhere on the planet.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climate Data Center says that last month marks the 38th consecutive January and the 347th consecutive month (almost 29 years) that global temperatures have been above the average for the 20th century.
The last time the average temperature was below-average in January was in 1976 and the last time there was a below-average month was February 1985. Record keeping goes back to 1880.
NOAA says the combined global land and ocean surfaces for last month was 54.8°F (12.7°C), or 1.17°F (0.65°C) above the 20th century January average of 53.6°F (12.0°C):
"Most areas of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, with the most notable warmth across Alaska, western Canada, southern Greenland, south-central Russia, Mongolia, and northern China. Parts of southeastern Brazil and central and southern Africa experienced record warmth, contributing to the warmest January Southern Hemisphere land temperature departure on record at 2.03°F (1.13°C) above the 20th century average. Temperature departures were below the long-term average across the eastern half of the contiguous U.S, Mexico, and much of Russia. However, no regions of the globe were record cold."
The Weather Channel asks "in a warming world, how can it be so bitterly cold?"
"Deke Arndt, a scientist at the National Climatic Data Center explains, 'We see more evidence that we will continue to have cold air outbreaks as the climate continues to warm. Cold air outbreaks, like the type we saw in January, over time, have become statistically more uncommon.'"
"Even though it was generally colder than average east of the Continental Divide and in parts of Siberia, it was warmer than average elsewhere."
"Take Alaska for example. The Last Frontier is normally frigid this time of year, but looking at the map it's clear that temperatures were well above average for January."
"January's average monthly high temperature for Fairbanks, Alaska is 1.1°F. But the average January high temperature in Fairbanks this year was nearly 15 [degrees] higher than normal, at 16.4°F. At one point, the afternoon high temperature in Fairbanks hit 45°F, which was a tie for its sixth warmest January day on record."