March 2020: Seventh Warmest on Record for 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. In New York City this year, however, that tradition was turned on its head as March came in like a lamb and more or less stayed that way until a few chilly days arrived at the end of the month.

Of its thirty-one days, the month produced twenty-one with above-average readings, including two days in the 70s. This unseasonable heat helped drive the city’s mean temperature for the month up to 48°F, which is 5.5°F above normal. That means March 2020 now ranks as the city’s seventh warmest March on record.

The city had its warmest March in 1945, when the average temperature for the month was 51.1°F.

In terms of precipitation, rainfall was slightly below normal. In total, Central Park reported 3.78 inches of rain, which is 0.58 inches below average for the month. Snowfall was also below average. In fact, it was non-existent. But given the warm conditions that dominated the month, this is not that surprising. March, on average, typically brings the city 3.9 inches of snow.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

Earth Posts 2nd Warmest February and 2nd Warmest Dec-Feb Season on Record

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month. February 2020 marked not only the second warmest February, but also closed out the planet’s second warmest December – February season on record.

According to the State of the Climate Report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for February – over both land and sea surfaces – was 55.91°F, which is 2.11°F above the 20th-century average. This February also marked the 422nd consecutive month with a global temperature above its long-term norm. That means the last time any month posted a below average reading was December 1984.

It is also important to note that the ten warmest Februarys have all occured since 1998.

The three-month period of December, January, and February – meteorological winter in the northern hemisphere – was also unusually warm. NOAA reports that Earth’s average temperature for the season was 2.02°F above the 20th century average of 53.8°F. That makes it the second warmest such period on record.

While heat dominated most of the planet this season, some places were particularly warm, including much of Europe and Asia. Here in the contiguous US, it was the sixth warmest winter on record.

Coming on the heels of 2019, Earth’s second warmest year on record, these soaring temperatures are largely attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change.

In fact, February’s temperature marked the highest departure from average for any month during ENSO neutral conditions. That means neither El Niño nor La Niña was present in the Pacific to influence temperatures.

Global temperature records date back to 1880.

Credit: NOAA

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

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

Contiguous US Posts Fifth Warmest January on Record

January, the so-called Dead of Winter, was unusually mild across much of the United States. No state in the Lower 48 ranked average or below average for the month, according to NOAA.

Taken as a whole, the mean temperature for the contiguous states was 35.5°F.  At 5.4°F above the 20th-century average, January 2020 now ranks as the country’s fifth warmest January on record.

Regionally, the Northeast and Great Lakes were of particular note. Temperatures were much above average in both areas, with the Northeast posting its tenth warmest January and a large portion of the Great Lakes remaining unfrozen.

Credit: NOAA

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

2019: Second Warmest Year on Record for Planet Earth

Its official, 2019 was the second warmest year ever recorded on this planet. Only 2016 was warmer.

According to a report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the year – over both land and sea surfaces – was 1.71°F above the 20th-century average.

2019 also marked the 43rd consecutive year with a global temperature above its long-term norm. That means every year since 1977 has posted a warmer than average annual temperature.

Looking at the map below, it is clear to see that heat dominated most of the planet last year. The only continent that did not post an annual temperature among its top three highest was North America. It ranked fourteenth. The state of Alaska, however, experienced its warmest year on record.

The exceptional warmth of 2019 is largely attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. While a weak El Niño was present at the beginning of the year, it dissipated by July with ENSO neutral conditions prevailing afterward.

Credit: NOAA

Looking at the bigger picture, the five warmest years on record have occurred since 2015, and nine of the ten warmest have taken place since 2005. The only year from the last century included on the top ten list is 1998, which ranks tenth.

As greenhouse gases – the main driver of global warming – continue to spew into the atmosphere, temperatures will continue to rise and records will likely continue to fall.

Global temperature records date back to 1880.

2019 was Earth’s second warmest year on record. Credit: NOAA

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