It is only April, but it felt more like mid-June in New York City today.
The temperature in Central Park soared to 82°F, which is a whopping 20°F above average. This was the first 80° reading the city has seen since the end of September last year.
The primary driver of this unseasonable warmth is the omega-blocking pattern centered over the eastern US. A persistent ridge of high pressure over the region is allowing warm air from the south to flow further north than it normally would at this time of year.
While it was unusually warm today, it was not a record for the city. That honor belongs to April 18, 1976 when the mercury hit 96°F. Nonetheless, after a brisk start to April this year, many New Yorkers were out enjoying the summer-like weather.
Climate change is a complex scientific subject with a plethora of data-rich reports that detail its causation and diverse impacts. But, not everyone responds to facts and figures or charts and graphs. That is why art can help broaden the public conversation and help create new pathways to understanding this critical issue.
On Friday, April 15th, I will be giving a presentation that I developed called The Art and Science of Climate Change at NYU. Blending my two passions, it introduces the basic science of climate change and explores how artists from around the globe are reacting to its various impacts and possible solutions.
Please contact me to arrange a presentation for your school or organization.
Most people often associate spring with flowers and mild weather. But as a transitional season, it can also produce some serious cold spells. Wearing shorts one day and a parka the next, you start to wonder when the cold will finally fade away.
The answer to that question largely depends on where you live. Below is a map from NOAA that shows the typical final freeze dates across the continental US. While actual weather conditions vary from year to year, the dates shown are based on climatology – a thirty-year average of temperature data.
Here in New York City, our last spring freeze usually comes in mid-April.
With unseasonably warm temperatures causing trees and flowers to bloom early across New York City, it has felt like spring here for more than a few weeks. But now, as April begins, winter has come fighting back for an encore performance.
The high temperature in Central Park on Friday was a balmy 79°F. Today, it was only 45°F and even colder conditions are expected as the week goes on. So, what’s causing this dramatic cool down? The answer lies in the changeable pattern of the jet stream.
A persistent area of high pressure had been sitting off the eastern seaboard recently, creating a ridge in the jet stream and blocking any cold air from moving southward. Now, the pattern has shifted and a trough in the jet stream is allowing cold air to spill out of Canada and across the northeast.
The first wave of chilly air moved through on Sunday and caused powerful winds to whip through the area. The NWS reported winds gusts of 45 mph in Central Park and 64 mph at JFK airport.
Another wave of arctic air is expected tonight. With the temperature projected to plummet into the 20’s, the NWS has issued a freeze warning for the city and surrounding area – bad news for all the early blooming plants and trees. The forecast high for Tuesday is only 39°F. The city’s normal high for this time of year is 57°F and the normal low is 41°F.
As spring is a transitional season, temperature swings between warm and cold are not uncommon. But, after the city’s second warmest winter and fourth warmest March on record, many folks are finding this spring cold snap more than bit jarring.
March 2016 was more like a lamb than a lion in New York City this year. With an average temperature of 48.9°F in Central Park, which is a staggering 6.4°F above average, it was the city’s 4th warmest March on record.
Overall, we had 23 out of 31 days with above average temperatures. Five of those days posted readings in the 70s and two set new daily high temperature records. Historically, our average temperature for the month is 42.5°F.
While a few warm days in March is not that uncommon, this extended pattern of sustained warmth was unusual. Driven primarily by El Niño, a persistent ridge in the jet stream over the eastern US allowed warm southern air to flow further north than it normally would at this time of year.
Given this unseasonable warmth, it is not surprising that only 0.9 inches of snow was measured in Central Park this March. On average, NYC usually receives 3.90 inches of snow for the month. Rainfall was also scarce. In all, the city received a mere 1.17 inches of rain. That is 3.19 inches below normal.
23 out of 31 days posted above average temperatures this March in NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut
March, a month where the seasons transition from winter to spring, can produce some fickle weather. But, it is probably most famous for strong winds, and they were on full display in New York City yesterday.
According to the NWS, sustained winds of 25mph were measured in Central Park and gusts reached as high as 45mph. A wind advisory was issued in the afternoon and remains in effect until later this evening.
Below is a short video of strong winds whipping a tree in a NYC backyard. Even though it is largely protected by buildings, it still moves quite a bit.
Video Credit: The Weather Gamut.
The first day of spring brought a mix of flowers and snowflakes to New York City this year.
After the Big Apple’s second warmest winter in history and a recent stretch of record warm days, many trees and flowers have already started to bloom – early by local standards. But, for the official start of the spring season, temperatures fell and snowflakes filled the sky. While only a trace of accumulation was measured in Central Park, the frosty conditions were a jarring reminder to many New Yorkers, who had acclimated to the warm temperatures, that March is a transitional month known for changeable weather in the northeast.
The high temperature on the Equinox was 43°F, which is 8°F below average and about 20°F below readings from just a few days ago. It is also interesting to note that the first day of spring was colder than this past Christmas. But, that tells you what type of winter it has been this year.
Looking ahead, temperatures are expected to rebound to above average levels over the next few days.
Christmas was warmer than the first day spring in NYC. Credit: WG
Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park is dusted with snow on the morning of the first full day of spring. Image Credit: Central Park Conservancy.
A longstanding tradition in New York City, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has marched in all types of weather without missing a beat. Below is a look at the weather history for March 17th in the Big Apple.
While the first parade is reported to have taken place in 1762, official weather records for Central Park only date back to 1876. Even without information on the earliest events, the 140 years of data that are available show that the city has experienced a wide range of weather conditions on St Patrick’s Day. But given that March is when the seasons transition from winter to spring, this is not that surprising.
Looking back, rain dampened the parade only 47 times over 140 years and snow was only noted at ten events. Temperatures were above average about 33% of the time, but the overall trend shows warming conditions through the years especially after the 1970s. The city’s average high temperature on St Patrick’s Day is 50°F and the average low is 35°F.
Below are some charts based on NWS data showing the daily records for March 17th and the temperature history for the date in NYC. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Today was another record warm day in New York City. The temperature soared to 79°F in Central Park, which is a staggering 31°F above average. The old record of 74°F was set in 2006.
These late spring-like temperatures have brought many New Yorkers out of their winter hibernation. People are wearing shorts and dining alfresco at sidewalk cafes across the city. But, it is still March – a month known for changeable weather patterns in the northeast.
Looking ahead, above average temperatures are expected to stay in place for a while. That said, the long-term outlook for the month is forecasting a few shots of cold air returning to the area during the second half of the month. So, get out and enjoy the warm weather, but don’t put those sweaters and coats away just yet.
The calendar says March, but it felt more like May in New York City today.
The temperature in Central Park soared to 77°F, setting a new record high for the date. It crushed the old record of 69°F that was set in 2000.
The last time the city saw a temperature in the 70s, oddly enough, was on Christmas Eve. But, that tells you how warm this winter has been. Last year, the first 70°F reading did not show up until April 15th. Our normal high for this time of year is 47°F.
Another record could fall on Thursday if the temperature climbs above 74°F. The forecast high is 76°F.
The primary driver of this unseasonable warmth is El Niño. Acting with global warming as a backdrop, it has produced a large ridge in the jet stream over the eastern part of the country that is allowing warm air from the south to flow further north than it normally would in early March.
Cooler conditions are expected to return by the weekend, but temperatures will still be above average for this point in the season.