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Why have we seen warm and dry conditions to begin the year?

Record high temperatures have been set so far this year in Arkansas as the typically coldest part of year feels more like spring. The La Niña is partly to blame.

ARKANSAS, USA — The last couple of weeks to end 2022 felt like the north pole as temperatures got below zero in Arkansas and Oklahoma. But since January 1st, multiple 70 degree days have been logged with multiple daily record highs. We will have some more rain this upcoming week (Tap HERE to check the radar) but below average precipitation rates are also in effect so far this month. Why is this?

2023 SO FAR...

Temperatures this month have been well above average. The normal high temperature for Fayetteville is around 47 degrees for the first two weeks of January but so far, the average high this year has been 59.4 degrees.

Fort Smith has not caught a break either. The average high so far this year has been 61.2 degrees, which is over ten degrees warmer than the typical high for January.

On top of the warmth, Arkansas and Oklahoma have been dry to begin the year. Both Fayetteville and Fort Smith are below average in terms of precipitation.

Credit: KFSM


This pattern that has struck the south is on par with expected conditions during a La Niña in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Generally, when experiencing a La Niña winter, the south receive less rainfall and warmer temperatures.

Credit: KFSM

In other sections of the country, wetter and cooler conditions would be expected. The west coast has been slammed with storms to begin the year, and above average rainfall along the west coast is more common during a La Niña winter than a normal one.


A La Niña is the name for a phase in the El Niño/Southern Oscillation cycle in which ocean temperatures along the equator off the coast of South America are cooler than normal. This results in abnormal weather in the Pacific which impacts weather in North America as well.

Credit: KFSM


The weather to start the year has been on the extreme side and not normal. But, knowing there is currently a La Niña in the Pacific Ocean helps explain why it has been so abnormally warm and dry to begin the year. Conditions will likely trend closer to average as January wraps up.

- 5NEWS Weather Team

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