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

2014: Warmest Year on Record for Planet Earth

Its official!  2014 was the warmest year ever recorded on planet Earth.

According to a report released today by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, Earth’s combined average temperature for the year – over both land and sea surfaces – was 58.24°F.  That is 1.24°F above the 20th century average. It surpassed the previous annual record held by both 2005 and 2010 by 0.07°F.  2014 also marked the 38th consecutive year that our global temperature was above its long-term norm.

Rising ocean temperatures, according to NOAA, helped fuel this record warmth. The globally averaged sea surface temperature for 2014 was 1.03°F above the 20th century average of 60.9°F.  That is the highest on record, breaking the former record set in 1998 and tied in 2003 by 0.09°F.

It is interesting to note that ENSO-neutral conditions were present during all of 2014. That means El Niño, the warm phase of ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) did not influence this record warm year. Scientists, while acknowledging the decrease in the rate of warming over the past decade, say this fact undeniably confirms the continuation of global warming.

While heat dominated most of the planet in 2014, including parts of Alaska and the western United States, the eastern two-thirds of this country was one of the few cold pockets. Overall, the contiguous US experienced its 34th warmest year on record. This highlights the fact that climate change is a complex global phenomenon that involves much more than what is happening in our own backyards.

With records going back to 1880, nine of this planet’s top ten warmest years on record have all occurred since 2000. The only exception was 1998. As greenhouse gases – which drive our global temperature upward – are continuously emitted into the atmosphere, scientists say we can expect global temperatures to continue to rise and more warm records to be broken.

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

Warmest December on Record for Planet Earth

Like most of the US, including here in NYC, temperatures across the globe soared last month.  In fact, December 2014 was Earth’s warmest December on record.

According to the latest report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, the planet’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 55.39°F.  That is 1.39°F above the 20th century average. December 2014 also marked the 6th month this year to break a global temperature record.

The calendar year of 2014 (January – December), is now ranked as the warmest year on record for planet Earth. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

201412

Credit: NOAA

NYC 2014: A Year of Weather in Review

New York City experienced some noteworthy weather in 2014, especially extreme precipitation events and multiple extended arctic outbreaks.

Starting off brutally cold, the first week of 2014 produced a new record low temperature in Central Park when January 7th posted a minimum reading of only 4°F.  In fact, temperatures were so cold that first month that the Hudson River was filled with ice.  Several arctic outbreaks kept cold conditions in place for most of the winter and the term polar vortex went viral. When summer finally arrived, temperatures hovered around average and not a single heat wave developed. The city typically sees 15 days per year where the temperature reaches 90°F or higher, but 2014 produced only 8. Despite the year’s memorable extended cold snaps, the city’s average temperature for 2014 was 54.37°F.  That is only 0.38°F below our long-term norm.

Precipitation was erratic in NYC during 2014. We had a number of significant rain events, but April 30th really stood out.  It brought the city 4.97 inches of rain – more than a month’s worth – in a single day making it the 10th wettest day on record in NYC. We also fluctuated between extremes like our wettest July in five years and our driest September in nine years. Overall, though, we were more wet than dry. The city received a total of 53.57 inches of rain for the entire year.  That is 3.63 inches above normal.

Snowfall was also abundant. February 2014 was our second snowiest February on record with 29 inches of snow measured in Central Park. January also delivered an above average snow total with 19.7 inches.  For the calendar year as a whole, the city accumulated 50 inches of snow, which is a staggering 24.9 inches above average. In terms of the meteorological winter (December 2013 to March 2014), it was the city’s 7th snowiest winter on record.

On the storm front, the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season was fairly quiet and left NYC unscathed. We felt only some nominal impacts like rain and rough surf from Hurricane Arthur over the July 4th holiday weekend as the storm moved north parallel to the coast after it made landfall in North Carolina.

Looking forward 2015!

2014-temps

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NYC Monthly Summary: December 2014

December was unseasonably warm in New York City this year. We had 14 days post above average readings, including Christmas Day, which produced a high temperature of 62°F tying the record for the city’s third warmest Christmas. Several stretches of unusually balmy weather brought the city’s mean temperature for the month up to 40.5°F which is 3.5°F above normal.

On the precipitation side of things, the city had 16 days with measurable rainfall.  In all, we received a remarkable 6.04 inches of rain, which is 2.04 inches above normal. Of this impressive total, 2.54 inches fell in a single day, December 9th, and set a new daily rainfall record for the date. Snow, however, was scarce. With unusually warm temperatures in place for most of the month, only 1.0 inch was measured in Central Park.  On average, NYC usually receives 4.8 inches of snow in December.

Dec2014-temps

DecRain-2014