New York City experienced some noteworthy weather in 2015, especially swinging between the extremes of record cold and record warmth. In the end, though, the warmth won out. The city’s average annual temperature in Central Park was 56.7°F, which is 1.7°F above normal. That means 2015 tied 2010 as NYC’s 7th warmest year on record!
Starting off brutally cold, the winter of 2015 brought the city a number of extended arctic outbreaks and the term polar vortex seemed to be on everyone’s lips. The coldest day of the year came on February 20th when the temperature dropped to 2°F – a new record low for the date. Visible signs of the prolonged cold conditions were seen all over the city, from frozen fountains to ice filling both the Hudson and East Rivers. In the end, February 2015 ranked as our 3rd coldest February on record.
When the summer finally arrived, there were a number of very warm and humid days, but the first official heat wave – 3 consecutive days with readings of 90°F or higher – did not develop until August. The city typically sees 15 days per year with temperatures in the 90s, but 2015 produced a sweltering 20 – mostly in August and September. The hottest day did not arrive until September 8th when the mercury soared to 97°F in Central Park. After August 2015 became the city’s third warmest August on record, the heat just kept coming. September, November, and December were all record warm.
Precipitation was also erratic in NYC during 2015. While we had a number of heavy rain events, including some that broke daily rainfall records, such as the 2.10 inches that came down on January 18th, the city was mostly dry. Overall, we received 40.97 inches of rain in Central Park for the entire year. That is 8.97 inches below normal. This dearth of rain caused a moderate drought during the last few moths of the year. Snowfall, however, was abundant. March 2015 was our 6th snowiest March on record with 18.6 inches measured in Central Park. January and February also delivered above average snow totals with 16.9 inches and 13.6 inches, respectively. For the calendar year as a whole, the city accumulated 49.1 inches of snow, which is an astounding 23.3 inches above average.
Given that El Niño conditions developed and strengthened in 2015 and are forecast to last through the winter months of the new year, it will be interesting to see what type of weather events 2016 will bring.