FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Sunshine has been easier to find this February compared to January across northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio. In fact, January 2023 was the cloudiest January since at least 1950.
In Fort Wayne, cloud cover for the month was at 90 percent. This means we only saw 10 percent of the possible sunshine for the month. This percentage was the lowest in 74 years. Zero days were classified as mainly sunny, six days were classified as partly cloudy, and 25 days were classified as cloudy.
We’ve seen quite the turnaround though so far in February. Cloud cover in Fort Wayne is down to 61 percent, which means we’ve seen 39 percent of the possible sunshine for this month. This is a 29 percent improvement from our January percentage. We’ve had three days classified as mainly sunny, 13 days classified as partly cloudy, and only four days classified as cloudy.
What are some reasons for the exceptionally cloudy January? Cloud cover in the winter is often a result of low pressure systems that track through or near our area. Air rises and condenses into cloud cover with these systems; we had several of them send clouds into our area in January. If winds are mainly northwesterly, cloud cover can be brought into our area downwind of Lake Michigan. With how warm we were in January, the lake was not frozen. As a result, air is warmed up and lifted when encountering the warm lake water and is condensed into clouds as it departs the lake downwind. A final reason is the presence of an inversion in the atmosphere. This is when cold air gets trapped in the lower levels of the atmosphere, causing the warm air overhead to be locked in with clouds. This can happen with the low sun angle and less efficient solar heating. We had a few times where this inversion situation kept us overcast in January.
February has likely been more sunny because of high pressure systems that bring us more stable air. The presence of these systems overhead or close by brings us sinking air and sunnier skies.
Despite the differences in cloud cover, both January and February have been very warm months. We’ll continue to track more mild air in the coming days. Visit our WANE 15 Forecast Page to find out the forecast for the cloud cover and the temperatures.