Assessing the Global Climate in January 2024 (2024)

Highlights:

  • Temperatures were above average over much of the globe, but the eastern United States, most of Europe and a few other areas were cooler than average.
  • There is a 22% chance that 2024 will be the warmest year in NOAA’s 175-year record and a 79% chance that El Niño will transition to neutral conditions by mid-year.
  • Northern Hemisphere snow cover was near average, but Antarctic sea ice extent was fifth lowest on record for January.
  • Global precipitation was nearly record-high in January, following on the heels of a record-wet December.

Temperature

Assessing the Global Climate in January 2024 (1)

The January global surface temperature was 2.29°F (1.27°C) above the 20th-century average of 54.0°F (12.2°C), making it the warmest January on record. This was 0.07°F (0.04°C) above the previous record from January 2016. According to NCEI’s Global Annual Temperature Outlook, there is a 22% chance that 2024 will rank as the warmest year on record and a 99% chance that it will rank in the top five.

January saw a record-high monthly global ocean surface temperature for the 10th consecutive month. El Niño conditions that emerged in June 2023 continued into January, but according to NOAA's Climate Prediction Center it is likely that El Niño will transition to ENSO-neutral by April–June 2024 (79% chance), with increasing odds of La Niña developing in June–August 2024 (55% chance).

Temperatures were above average throughout the Arctic, most of northeastern North America, central Russia, southern and western Asia, Africa, South America, eastern and southeastern Asia and Australia. Much of northwestern North America, the central and southern United States, northern and eastern Europe, northeastern Asia and Antarctica experienced near-to- cooler-than-average temperatures during January. Sea surface temperatures were above average across much of the northern, western and equatorial Pacific Ocean, as well as parts of the western Indian Oceans.

Surface temperatures for January 2024 (°C). The map shows departures from the 1991–2020 average. Red indicates warmer than average and blue indicates colder than average.

Assessing the Global Climate in January 2024 (2)

Snow Cover

Northern Hemisphere snow cover extent for January 2024 was near the 1991–2020 average. Over North America, above-average snow cover extent was observed across portions of the Cascades, central Rockies, central and southern Plains, Midwest and Appalachians. With above-normal temperatures and an unfavorable storm track for heavy snow, much of the northern Rockies and Upper Midwest experienced a snowfall deficit in January. Over Eurasia, snow cover was below-average across most of central and southern Europe, Turkey, central Asia, Nepal and western China. Meanwhile, above-average snow cover extent was observed across parts of northern Europe, southern Mongolia, northeastern China and Japan.

Sea Ice

Assessing the Global Climate in January 2024 (3)

Global sea ice extent was the seventh smallest in the 46-year record at 6.90 million square miles (440,000 square miles below the 1991–2020 average). Arctic sea ice extent was slightly below average, whereas Antarctic sea ice extent was much below average (by 420,000 square miles), ranking fifth smallest on record.

Precipitation

Global precipitation was nearly record-high in January, following on the heels of a record-wet December. Large portions of North America, Asia and Australia were wetter than average, whereas much of southern Africa and South America were drier than normal. The El Niño rainfall pattern over the central and western Pacific Ocean weakened, but patterns over Africa and the southern United States remained more typical of El Niño.

Tropical Cyclones

Six named storms occurred across the globe in January, which was around the 1991–2020 average of seven. The only major tropical cyclone was Intense Tropical Cyclone Anggrek, which remained in the central part of the South Indian Ocean and did not approach any major land masses. Severe Tropical Storm Alvaro made landfall in Madagascar at the beginning of the month resulting in significant impacts and numerous fatalities. Tropical Cyclone Belal caused extensive flooding in Mauritius and also impacted La Reunion. Tropical Cyclone Kirrily brought heavy rains and wind to northeastern Australia.

This monthly summary, developed by scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making. For a more complete summary of climate conditions and events, see our January 2024 Global Climate Report or explore our Climate at a Glance Global Time Series.

Assessing the Global Climate in January 2024 (2024)
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