Easter 2017: Second Warmest on Record for NYC

The calendar said Easter, but it felt more like the Fourth of July in New York City on Sunday. The temperature in Central Park soared to a sweltering 87°F, which is a staggering 25°F above average.

According to the NWS, this was the second hottest Easter on record for the Big Apple. The warmest was April 18, 1976, when the temperature hit 96°F. Unlike Christmas, Easter falls on a slightly different date every year. It is the first Sunday after the first full moon that occurs after the spring equinox.

While the heat was not ideal for the holiday’s famous chocolate eggs, the city’s parks were filled with people enjoying the warm weather. However, if you are not quite ready for summer, fear not. More spring–like conditions are expected to return this week.

Credit: NWS

NYC Hits 80°F for the First Time this Year

It felt more like June than April in New York City on Tuesday. Building on the prior day’s spring heat, the temperature in Central Park soared to 80°F, marking the city’s first 80-degree day of the year.

Topping out at 20°F above average, the day was unseasonably warm. However, it was not a record breaker. That honor belongs to April 11, 1955, when the mercury soared to 84°F. On average, the city’s first 80-degree day does not show up until April 26.

Wearing short sleeves and enjoying lunch alfresco, many New Yorkers took full advantage of this summer preview. Some even celebrated the clash of the seasons by ice-skating in shorts at the rink in Rockefeller Center (photo below). More seasonable conditions are expected to return later this week.

Ice-skaters wore shorts at the rink in Rockefeller Center as the temperature soared to summer-like levels. Credit: Melissa Fleming

Spring has Sprung in NYC

After a cold March and a chilly start to April, spring has finally sprung in New York City!

With a high temperature of 74°F in Central Park, Monday was the warmest day the city has seen since last October. Our normal high for this time of year is 59°F.

The primary driver of these balmy conditions is a strong Bermuda High off the mid-Atlantic coast that is funneling warm southern air into the region.

These warm temperatures, which are more common in late May than early April, are expected to last for a few days. Enjoy!

Trees and plants are starting to bloom in NYC. Credit: Melissa Fleming

March 2017 was More of a Lion Than a Lamb in NYC

There is an old saying that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It refers to the transition from winter to spring that takes place during the month and the change in weather that usually follows. However, in New York City this year that tradition went out the window as March turned out to be colder than February.

This type of temperature flip-flop, according to NWS records, has only happened five other times in NYC history. The last time was 1984.

This March, twenty-one out of thirty-one days posted below average temperatures. Five of those days had highs that did not get above freezing. In the end, the city’s mean temperature for the month was 39.2°F, which is 3.3°F below normal.

In terms of precipitation, the city was unusually wet in March. In all, we received 5.25 inches of rain, which is 0.89 inches above average. Snowfall was also abundant, with 9.7 inches measured in Central Park. Of that total, 7.6 inches fell during a nor’easter in the middle of the month. March, on average, usually only brings the city 3.9 inches of snow.

This plentiful precipitation, according to the latest report from the US Drought Monitor (3/30), has erased the abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions that have plagued the city for months.

March was colder than February in NYC this year. Credit: The Weather Gamut

Wintry Mix Replaces Blizzard in NYC

After a mostly mild winter in the northeast, a late season snowstorm blasted the region on Tuesday. In New York City, the storm was less intense than originally forecast but still packed a punch.

According to the NWS, 7.6 inches of snow was measured in Central Park setting a new daily record. The previous record of 4.1 inches had been in place since 1958. Strong winds were also part of the storm with gusts reported up to 38mph. The criteria for blizzard conditions, however, were not met in the Big Apple.

Developing from two different systems that merged off the southeast coast, this nor’easter intensified as it moved northward. In weather lingo, it underwent bombogenesis. The storm’s central pressure dropped from 1007mb on Monday night to 974mb on Tuesday afternoon.

While the storm’s precipitation was plentiful, it was more of a wintry mix than a full on snow event in NYC and other cities along the I-95 corridor. This was because the storm was an “inside runner”. It tracked west of the 40/70 benchmark and pulled warmer marine air onshore. More specifically, a shallow zone of air with a temperature warmer than 32°F was wedged between zones of subfreezing air around 5000 feet above the surface. This set-up allowed the snow to melt then refreeze as sleet before hitting the ground.

For areas further inland, to the north and west, the storm lived up to its hype. Numerous communities across eight states received more than 20 inches of snow. Hartwick, NY reported an impressive 48.4 inches, the highest snow total from the storm.

NYC went from 70°F to 7.6 inches of snow in just two weeks. Credit: Melissa Fleming

NYC Posts 6th Warmest Winter on Record

The spring equinox is still a few weeks away, but meteorological winter (December, January, and February) has officially ended and it was the sixth warmest on record in New York City.

The season, with daily highs ranging from 23°F to 70°F, felt like a temperature roller coaster. But in the end, the warmth came out on top. The city’s average temperature for the season, according to the NWS, was 39.3°F. That is an incredible 4.2°F above normal.

In all, fifty-three days posted above average readings and every month was warmer than its long-term norm. In fact, February 2017 was the city’s warmest February on record.

In terms of snowfall, the city received 20.5 inches in Central Park, which is only 0.5 inches below average. Of this total, 9.4 inches fell during February’s single, quick hitting nor’easter when conditions were briefly cold enough to support snow.

This winter’s pattern of prolonged warm spells separated by a few short-lived blasts of cold air was largely driven by the North Atlantic Oscillation’s positive phase occurring more often and lasting longer than its negative phase.

The city’s warmest winter on record was the 2001-2002 season when the average temperature soared to 41.5°F.  Central Park weather records date back to 1869.

February 2017: NYC’s Warmest February on Record and 20th Consecutive Month with an Above Average Temperature

February 2017 was New York City’s warmest February on record. Its mean temperature of 41.6°F was a staggering 6.3°F above the long-term norm. Moreover, February was the city’s 20th consecutive month with an above-average temperature.

Overall, we had nineteen out of twenty-eight days that were warmer than normal. Seven of those produced readings in the 60s and one even hit 70°F, marking the first time the city has seen that type of heat in February in twenty years. Two record warm minimum temperatures were also set during the month. On February 19th and 24th, the Big Apple only cooled down to 53°F and 58°F respectively. The average low for those dates is 30°F.

While a few warm days in February are not uncommon, this extended pattern of sustained warmth was very unusual. Driven largely by a persistent positive phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation, warm southern air was funneled northward almost continuously throughout the month.

February is usually the city’s snowiest month on the calendar, and this year, despite the unseasonable warmth, it did not disappoint. Central Park received 9.4 inches of snow, which is 0.2 inches above average. All of it fell during a single, quick hitting nor’easter when the air was briefly cold enough to support frozen precipitation.

Rainfall, on the other hand, was not as abundant. Only 2.48 inches was reported, which is 0.61 inches below normal. The city, according to the latest report from the US drought monitor (2/23) remains abnormally dry.

New York City weather records date back to 1869.

Feb 2017 was NYC’s warmest Feb on record and 20th straight month with an above average temperature. Credit: The Weather Gamut.

NYC Hits 70° in February for the First Time in Twenty Years

It is only February, but it felt more like May in New York City on Friday. The temperature in Central Park soared to 70°F, which is a whopping 26°F above average.

According to the NWS, this was the first time in twenty years that the city had a reading in the 70s during the month of February. However, it was not a record breaker. That honor belongs to February 24, 1985 when the mercury hit 75°F.

The primary driver of these balmy conditions is a strong Bermuda High off the east coast of the US that is funneling warm southern air into the region.

Many New Yorkers got out to enjoy this early spring preview and described it as “amazing” or “unbelievable”. Personally, it felt a little surreal to see rowboats out in Central Park during a month when sledding and ice-skating are usually the norm.

That said, a chilly change will be in the air later this weekend when temperatures are expected to return to more seasonable levels.

Rowboats on The Lake in Central Park on Feb 24, 2017 when the temperature hit 70°F in NYC. Credit: Melissa Fleming

A Spring-like February Weekend in NYC

Between picnics in the park and overflowing crowds at local ice cream shops, it felt more like late April than mid-February in New York City this holiday weekend.

The temperature in Central Park soared to 63°F on Saturday and 65°F on Sunday. Both days missed setting a new record high by only a few degrees. Overnight lows were also unusually mild. According to the NWS, a new record warm minimum temperature was set on Sunday with a reading of 53°F. The previous record of 49°F was established in 1997.

The city’s normal high for this time of year is 43°F.  Its normal low is 30°F.

Any snow that was left over from the storm earlier this month was no match for these spring-like temperatures.  More abnormally warm conditions are expected later this week, so keep that frisbee handy.

Not much snow left in NYC after a weekend with temperatures in the 60s. Credit: Melissa Fleming

Love of Winter

Today is Valentine’s Day, a holiday when images of cupid and hearts abound. But for me, it is George Bellows’ Love of Winter that always comes to mind as we mark the mid-point of what is usually New York City’s snowiest month of the year.

A longtime personal favorite, this 1914 painting captures the spirit of those who embrace the season. Filled with the blurred movement of skaters on a frozen pond and accented with spots of bright color that pop against the snow, it conveys the joy of being out in nature on a cold winter day.

While Bellows is better known for depicting scenes of boxing matches and urban life, art historians say he enjoyed the challenge of painting the varied lighting conditions produced by a snow-covered landscape. In fact, he wrote a letter to a friend in January 1914 complaining about the lack of snow in NYC that winter. He said, “There has been none of my favorite snow. I must paint the snow at least once a year.” Then, about a month later, his wish for snow was granted and this picture was created.

Love of Winter is part of the Friends of American Art Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.

“Love of Winter”, 1914 by George Bellows. Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago