2018: A Year of Weather Extremes in NYC

New York City experienced some noteworthy weather in 2018, especially the swings between extreme cold and extreme heat. However, the warmth won out in the end. The city’s average temperature for the year in Central Park was 55.89°F, which is 0.97°F above normal.

The year started bitterly cold. It was only 9°F when the ball dropped in Times Square for the New Year celebration. Moreover, the arctic weather stuck around for a while. With 14 consecutive days with temperatures below 32°F, it was the city’s third longest sub-freezing cold streak on record.

Then things warmed up dramatically in February. The temperature in Central Park soared to 78°F on February 21, setting not only a new record high for the date but marked the warmest February day ever recorded in the Big Apple. In fact, February 2018 went on to be the warmest February on record for the city.

March was rather turbulent, with four nor’easters hitting the city in just three weeks. Spring, overall, was a bit chilly. In fact, the spring equinox brought the city 8 inches of snow. However, May ushered in another extreme temperature swing. It was the city’s fifth warmest May on record.

The summer brought NYC a number of oppressively hot and humid days, including 18 days with temperatures in the 90s. The hottest day came on July 1, when the mercury soared to 96°F. When humidity was factored in, the heat index, or real feel temperature was in the triple digits. The season also produced a relatively rare tornado for the city. Rated EF-0, it barreled through Queens on August 3.

The autumn remained relatively warm until November rolled around, which was unusually cold. It also produced an early season snowstorm that brought down many trees around the city that still had their leaves. On November 16, Central Park reported 6.4 inches of snow, setting set a new daily record for the date. It was also the earliest 6-inch one-day snowfall on record for the city and the largest one-day November snowfall since 1882. Moreover, that one snow event was enough to make November 2018 the city’s fourth snowiest on record.

Snowfall, overall, was plentiful in 2018. For the calendar year as a whole, the city accumulated 39.6 inches of snow, which is 13.8 inches above average.

The main precipitation story for the year, however, was rain. Several months posted top ten rainfall totals and only four months produced below average precipitation. In the end, NYC received 65.52 inches of rain in Central Park for the entire year. That is a staggering 15.58 inches above normal and makes 2018 the city’s fourth wettest year on record.

Records for the Central Park Climate Station date back to 1873.

 

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About Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming is an environmental communicator and visual artist working at the intersection of art and science. She is passionate about exploring, learning, and sharing information about the natural world. She has presented her interdisciplinary work in a variety of mediums at venues and conferences around the world.