A March Day That Felt Like May in NYC

The month of March has only just begun, but it felt more like mid-May in New York City on Monday.

In Central Park, the temperature soared to 72°F. While unusually mild, it was not a record breaker for the date. That honor belongs to March 9, 2016 when the high reached 77°F. Nonetheless, this Monday marked the warmest day the Big Apple has seen since last November.

The city’s average high for the date is 47°F.

The primary driver of this unseasonable warmth was a large ridge in the jet stream. Sitting over the eastern part of the US, it allowed warm air from the south to flow further north than it normally would at this time of the year.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

A Record Warm Low Temperature for NYC

After a very brief cold snap over the weekend, temperatures in New York City have returned to the above average levels that have dominated most of this winter season.

The temperature in Central Park soared to an unseasonably warm 59°F on Tuesday. While that is 14°F above normal, it was the relatively balmy overnight low that hit record territory. According to the NWS, the temperature only cooled off to 49°F, which tied the maximum minimum record for the date set in 1991.

The normal low temperature in the Big Apple at this time of year is 32°F.

Winter 2019-2020: Seventh Warmest on Record in NYC

The spring equinox is still a few weeks away, but meteorological winter (December, January, and February) has officially ended and it tied the winter of 1990-91 as the seventh warmest on record in New York City.

The season, with daily highs ranging from 25°F to 69°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 39.2°F. That is an incredible 4.1°F above normal.

In all, sixty-three out of ninety-one days posted above average readings and every month was warmer than its long-term norm. In fact, February 2020 was the city’s fifth warmest February on record.  

In terms of snowfall, the city received a paltry 4.8 inches in Central Park, which is a staggering 16.5 inches below average. That makes the winter of 2019-2020 the fourth least snowy winter on record for the Big Apple.

This winter’s pattern of prolonged periods of warmth separated by a few short-lived cold snaps 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 with an average temperature of 41.5°F.  Central Park weather records date back to 1869.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

Feb 2020: Above Average Temps and Below Average Snow in NYC

February 2020 was not only a month of weather whiplash in New York City, but it was also a month for the record books in terms of above-average temperatures and below-average snowfall.

Of its twenty-nine days, twenty-two produced above-average temperatures, including one that was record warm. This unseasonable heat helped drive the city’s mean temperature for the month up to 40.1°F, which is 4.8°F above normal. That means February 2020 tied February 1954 as the fifth warmest February on record in the Big Apple. The top spot belongs to February 2018, when the average temperature for the month was 42°F.

February is usually the city’s snowiest month on the calendar, but this year only a trace of snow (less than 0.1 inches) was measured in Central Park. That makes February 2020 the second least-snowy February on record. Only 1998 produced less snow, with a definitive 0.0 inches. On average, February brings the city 9.2 inches of snow.

Rainfall was also somewhat scarce. Only 2.54 inches was reported. That is 0.55 below normal for the month.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

Cold Snaps are Getting Shorter

Winter is the fastest warming season in the United States. In the northeast, it has warmed three times faster than summer. That said, cold snaps – periods of unusually chilly weather – are still happening, but less often.

According to a study by Climate Central, the frequency and duration of these frosty events in the contiguous US  have been declining as the overall climate warms. Looking at data from cities across the country, the non-profit news organization found that some places, such as Las Vegas, NV, have lost cold days faster than others. Here in New York City, the average reduction was 5 days since 1970.

Credit: Climate Central

Little Snow for NYC this Winter

February is usually the snowiest month on the calendar in New York City, but to date this year we have not seen a single flake. This shortfall of snow is indicative of the weather pattern that has dominated the region for most of the 2019-2020 winter season.

To produce snow, you need moisture and cold air in place at the same time. While the city has had a few cold snaps this winter, they have not lasted very long. Consequently, the storms that have rolled through the area dropped mostly rain. In fact, the city currently has a rain surplus and snow deficit.

Here is a look at the current stats for the season (December 1 to present):

All measurements in inches. Credit: The Weather Gamut

The spring equinox is still a month away, so things could change. If you are a snow-lover, keep your finger crossed.

Record Warm February Day for NYC

The calendar says February, but it felt more like April in New York City on Friday.

According to the NWS, the high temperature in Central Park hit 56°F, setting a new record high for the date. The previous record of 54°F had been in place since 1938.

The normal high for this time of year is 40°F.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

January 2020: Tenth Warmest January on Record for NYC

January is usually the coldest month on the calendar for New York City, but this year it was relatively balmy.

Of its thirty-one days, the month produced twenty-four with above-average readings, including two that were record warm. This unseasonable heat helped drive the city’s mean temperature for the month up to 39.1°F, which is 6.5°F above normal. That means January 2020 now ranks as the city’s tenth warmest January on record. The city saw its warmest January in 1932, when the average temperature for the month was 43.2°F.

In terms of precipitation, January was uncommonly dry. The city only received 1.93 inches of rain, which is 1.72 inches below normal. Most of this modest total fell during a single storm. Snowfall was also scarce. On average, the city gets 7 inches of snow for the month. But this year, only 2.3 inches was measured in Central Park.

January 2020 was the 9th warmest January on record for NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut

Early Spring Preview Brings Record Warmth to NYC

The calendar says January, but it felt more like early May in New York City this weekend.

In Central Park, the temperature soared to 69°F on Saturday and hit 68°F on Sunday, setting new record highs for both dates. According to the NWS, the previous records of 63°F for January 11 and 66°F for January 12 were set in 1975 and 2017, respectively.

It is also interesting to note that the overnight low temperatures for both dates (51°F and 43°F) were warmer than the normal high. The average high for the city in mid-January is 38°F and the average low is 27.

The primary driver of this unseasonable warmth was a large ridge in the jet stream. Sitting over the eastern part of the US, it allowed warm air from the south to flow further north than it normally would at this time of the year.

But, as with most things that go up, they must also come back down. The temperature is expected to moderate over the next few days but remain above average. More seasonable temperatures are expected to return by the end of the week. So, don’t put your winter coats away just yet.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

“Weather the Weather” Art Exhibition Extended

Art and science have come together at the New York Hall of Science to highlight the fascinating world of weather. In a group exhibition titled Weather the Weather, artworks of various mediums explore the different ways we understand and experience the forces of nature.

Curated by Marnie Benney, this SciArt Initiative exhibition features the work of twenty-one artists from around the world. Honored to be one of them, images from my American Glaciers: Going, Going, Gone and Wildfires series are on display.

The exhibition will be on view through February 20, 2020 at The New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Queens, NY. For hours and directions visit www.nysci.org

Credit: NYSci