May 2015: Warmest May on Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued to rise last month. In fact, May 2015 was the warmest May ever recorded for the entire planet.

According to a report by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 60.17°F. That is 1.57°F above the 20th century average. The previous record was set last year. NOAA also said the May 2015 global temperature “ties with February 1998 as the fourth highest monthly departure from average for any month on record. The two highest monthly departures from average occurred earlier this year in February and March.”

While heat dominated most of the planet last month, some places were particularly warm. Here in the US, five states – Alaska, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island – each had a record warm May.

Rising ocean temperatures, according to NOAA, helped fuel the month’s record warmth. The global sea surface temperature for May was 1.30°F above the 20th century average of 61.3°F.  That is the warmest on record for any May surpassing the previous record set just last year. It should be noted, however, that moderate El Niño conditions were present across the central and eastern Pacific Ocean last month.

Year to date, the first five months of 2015 were the warmest of any year on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

May 2015: Wettest Month Ever Recorded in US

When it rains, it pours – this old adage was literally proven to be true last month. With national weather data dating back to 1895, May 2015 was the wettest month ever recorded in the contiguous United States.

According to NOAA, an average of 4.36 inches of rain fell across the lower 48 states, which is 1.45 inches above average. The vast majority of this impressive total came down in the southern plains. Colorado experienced its wettest May on record. Texas and Oklahoma each had their single wettest month ever, with rain totals that were more than twice their respective long-term averages.

For people living on the either the west or east coasts of the country, this news may come as a bit of a surprise. California continues to be plagued by a devastating drought and many states along the eastern seaboard saw drier than average conditions for the month with six states recording a top-ten driest May.

While the torrential rain in the south central US caused deadly and destructive flooding this spring, it also abruptly ended the region’s multi-year drought. Nationally, the latest report from the US drought monitor shows that only 24.6% of the country is in some form of drought. That is down from 37.4% at the end of April. It is also the smallest national drought footprint since February 2011.

There were many factors that contributed to May’s excessive rainfall, including El Nino – a natural oceanic-atmospheric phenomenon that tends to bring wet weather to the southern part of the country. However, the National Climate Assessment, a US government report that came out last year, says that climate change has caused heavy rain events to become heavier and more frequent across most of the US. Experts expect this trend to continue, but as we saw last month the distribution of rainfall is not likely to be equal.

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

NYC Monthly Summary: May 2015

May was unusually warm and dry in New York City this year.

With 26 out of 31 days posting above average highs, including 18 days with readings in the 80s, May felt more like summer than spring. Overnight lows were also well above average throughout most of the month. All together, the city’s mean temperature for the month was 68.5°F, which is 6.1°F above average.  That makes May 2015 the city’s 3rd warmest May on record.

In terms of precipitation, May was exceptionally dry. Coming on the heels of a parched April, the city, according to the latest report (5/28) from the US Drought Monitor, is currently in a state of moderate drought. All told, the city received a mere 1.86 inches of rain in Central Park. Of this meager total, 1.46 inches fell in a single day – the last day of the month – and caused localized flash floods. May, on average, typically brings NYC 4.19 inches of rain.

Graph Credit: The Weather Gamut

Graph Credit: The Weather Gamut

Graph Credit: The Weather Gamut

Graph Credit: The Weather Gamut

Warmest March on Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued to rise last month. In fact, March 2015 was the warmest March ever recorded for the entire planet.

According to a report released on Friday by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 56.4°F. That is 1.53°F above the 20th century average. The previous record was set in March 2010. NOAA also said, “The March 2015 global temperature was the third highest monthly departure from average on record for any month.”

For those living in the northeastern United States, this news may come as a bit of surprise. Many cities in the region, including New York City, experienced an unusually cold and snowy March this year. This difference in local and global conditions, however, highlights the fact that climate change is a complex phenomenon that involves much more than what is happening in our own backyards.

Year to date, the first quarter of 2015 (January, February, and March) was the warmest of any year on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

Credit: NOAA/NCDC

Credit: NOAA/NCDC

NYC Monthly Summary: March 2015

March 2015 was a bit of a weather rollercoaster in New York City. We had highs ranging from a chilly 27°F to a relatively balmy 62°F. In the end though, with 23 out of 31 days posting below average readings, the cold won out. The extended cold snaps helped lower the city’s mean temperature for the month to 38.1°F, which is 4.4°F below normal. That makes March 2015 the coldest March the city has seen in 31 years.

In terms of precipitation, March 2015 was unusually snowy. In fact, according to the National Weather Service, it was NYC’s 6th snowiest March on record. The city measured 18.6 inches of snow in Central Park, which is a staggering 14.7 inches above average. We even had snow falling on the first day of spring.

Rainfall was also abundant. The city received 4.72 inches, which is 0.36 inches above average for the month.

Credit: The Weather Gamut.

Credit: The Weather Gamut.

Winter 2014-15: Warmest on Record for Planet Earth

Looking back at the winter of 2014-2015, conditions here in the northeastern United States were exceptionally cold and snowy. Globally, however, it was a record warm season!

According to a recent report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, the meteorological winter of 2015 (December, January, and February) was the warmest winter ever recorded on this planet. Earth’s combined average temperature for the season – over both land and sea surfaces – was 55.22°F. That is 1.42°F above the 20th century average.  It surpassed the previous record set in the winter of 2006-07 by 0.07°F.

Rising ocean temperatures, according to NOAA, helped fuel the season’s record warmth. Between December and February, the average global ocean surface temperature was 61.67°F, which is 0.97°F above average and the third highest ever recorded for the three month period.

In the contiguous United States, this past winter was the 19th warmest on record with an average temperature of 34.3°F. That is 2.1°F. above the 20th century average. NOAA says the record warmth in the West outweighed the cold in the East.

While the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are warming overall, this winter’s temperature anomalies (both above and below average) highlight the fact that climate change is a complex global phenomenon that involves much more than what is happening in our own backyards.

Year to date, 2015 is off to a record warm start. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

Image Credit: NOAA/NCDC

Temperature Anomalies for Dec 2014 through Feb 2015. Image Credit: NOAA/NCDC

Image Credit: NOAA/NCDC

One of the only cold spots this winter was the northeastern US. Image Credit: NOAA/NCDC

Second Warmest February on Record for Planet Earth

Temperatures around the globe soared last month. In fact, February 2015 was the second warmest February ever recorded for the entire planet.

According to a report released by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 55.38°F. That is 1.48°F above the 20th century average. The warmest February on record occurred in 1998, when the temperature was 1.55°F above average and El Niño conditions were in place.

For those living in the northeastern United States, this news may come as a bit of surprise. Many cities in the region experienced a frigid February this year. Here in New York City, it was the 3rd coldest on record. But, this difference in regional and global conditions highlights the fact that climate change is a complex phenomenon that involves much more than what is happening in our own backyards.

Global temperature records date back to 1880.

Global temperature departures from average for February 2015.  Image Credit: NOAA/NCDC

Temperature departures from average for February 2015. Image Credit: NOAA/NCDC

NYC Monthly Summary: February 2015

February was frigid in New York City this year! With an average monthly temperature of 23.9°F, it was the city’s 3rd coldest February on record.

We experienced several arctic outbreaks that caused fountains to freeze and ice to form on both the Hudson and East Rivers. Overall, we had 15 out of 28 days where our high temperature did not get above freezing. We also had 7 days where our low temperature dropped into the single digits, including February 20th when the mercury plummeted to 2°F in Central Park, marking a new record low for the date. Our normal high for the month is 42°F and our normal low is 29°F.

These relentlessly cold conditions were produced by an almost continuous deep dip in the jet stream that allowed arctic air to dive south into our region. Some scientists suggest there may be a connection between these extended periods of extreme cold and climate change. They say as the Arctic warms, the jet stream slows down creating a wavier configuration that allows weather systems to stay in place longer.

In terms of precipitation, February is usually a snowy month in the Big Apple and this year was no exception. The city had 11.9 inches accumulate in Central Park, which is 2.7 inches above average. The month did not bring us a single blockbuster snow event, but rather a string of small storms. Rainfall, on the other hand, was lacking.  The city only received 2.04 inches, which is 1.05 inches below normal for the month.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

Credit: The Weather Gamut

Record-Breaking Cold in NYC

After getting off to a relatively slow start, winter has kicked into high gear. For the second time in less than a week, a massive arctic outbreak has sent most of the eastern U.S. into a deep freeze.  From Michigan to Florida, many communities are dealing with record cold conditions.

Here in New York City, the temperature dropped to 2°F in Central Park early Friday morning – a new record low for the date.  The previous record of 7°F was set in 1950. Factoring in the wind-chill, it felt like -15°F. Our normal low temperature for this time of year is 30°F.

As cold as it was on Friday, it was not the coldest day the Big Apple has ever experienced. That dubious honor, according to the NWS, belongs to February 9, 1934, when the air temperature reached a brutal low of -15°F.

This current arctic invasion is being dubbed “The Siberian Express”, as its bitterly cold air originated in Siberia in northern Russia. As it retreats later this weekend, temperatures are expected to moderate a bit before another cold shot heads our way. Remember, these types of frigid conditions can be life-threatening. Stay warm!

Second-Warmest January on Record for Planet Earth

Last year, 2014, was the hottest year ever recorded on this planet. January 2015 continued the trend, ranking as the second-warmest January on record.

According to a report released by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 54.99°F. That is 1.39°F above the 20th century average. The warmest January on record  occurred in 2007, when the temperature was 1.55°F above the long-term norm.

While heat dominated most of the planet last month, some places were particularly warm. China had its warmest January on record since 1961. In the contiguous US, seven western states – California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming – each experienced a January rated in their top ten warmest.

Global climate records go back to 1880.

Image Credit: NOAA/NCDC

Image Credit: NOAA/NCDC