A Record Warm February Day in NYC

Walking around New York City on Wednesday, it was difficult to remember that it was still February. The temperature soared to 62°F in Central Park, setting a new record high for the date. The previous record of 61°F had been in place since 1965.

This was the second time this winter that a daily high-temperature record was broken in the Big Apple. The city’s normal high for this time of year is 40°F.

Venturing out without coats and enjoying lunch alfresco, many New Yorkers took full advantage of the unseasonable warmth. These spring-like conditions, however, will be short-lived. The city’s first major snowstorm of the season is expected to hit early Thursday morning. Get ready for weather whiplash!

Temperatures soared to record levels in NYC on Feb 8th. Credit: The Weather Gamut

2016: Earth’s Third Consecutive Warmest Year on Record

It’s official, 2016 was the warmest year ever recorded on this planet.

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 58.69°F. That is a staggering 1.69°F above the 20th-century average and surpasses the previous annual record that was set just last year. That makes 2016 the third year in a row to break a global temperature record.

As remarkable as this feat is, it does not come as much of a surprise. During the year, eight new global monthly temperature records were set.

A strong El Niño event influenced this record warmth, but it does not tell the whole story as it dissipated in June and was replaced by its cooler counterpart, La Niña, in the autumn. Therefore, the long-term trend of human-caused climate change was also a key factor. NOAA reports that 2016 marked the 40th consecutive year that our annual global temperature was above its long-term norm.

While heat dominated the planet last year, some places were particularly warm. Here in the contiguous US, it was our second warmest year on record.

Looking at the bigger picture, all sixteen years of this century rank among the seventeen warmest ever recorded and five were record breakers (2005, 2010, 2014, 2015, and 2016). As greenhouse gases – the main drivers 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.

2016 was Earth’s third consecutive warmest year on record. Credit: NOAA

A Look at Why Death Valley is the Hottest, Driest, and Lowest Place in US

Death Valley National Park is famous for being the hottest, driest, and lowest place in the United States. The interesting thing about all these extremes, as I learned during a recent visit, is how they interconnect.

Situated in eastern California near the Nevada border, the park’s topography is known as basin and range. This is where the earth’s crust is rifting apart, creating mountains in some areas and deep basins in others. Death Valley is a long, narrow basin that reaches a depth of 282 feet below sea level. It is also in the rain shadow of four different mountain ranges to the west – the Coastal Range, the Sierra Nevada, the Argus Range, and the Panamint Range.

As storms move inland from the Pacific, they must rise up and over each range. In doing so, they cool and their water vapor condenses into rain or snow that falls on the western side of these mountains. By the time a storm system reaches Death Valley, it has lost most of its moisture. The average annual rainfall in the park, according to NOAA, is just 2.36 inches.

These dry conditions, along with the valley’s below-sea-level elevation, help to produce the park’s famous heat. With cloud free skies and sparse vegetation, a maximum amount of sunlight can reach the ground. The rocks and parched soil absorb the heat and radiate it into the air. The warm air rises but becomes trapped by the steep valley walls. After cooling slightly, it is recycled back toward the valley floor where it is heated even further by atmospheric compression. During the summer months, this process generates hot winds and sizzling temperatures. The average high temperature in the park ranges from 67°F in January to 116°F in July. The hottest temperature ever recorded was 134°F on July 10, 1913 – a world record.

Looking ahead, as the climate changes, the southwestern region of the US is expected to become even hotter and drier. It seems like only a matter of time before Death Valley breaks its own heat record.

At 282 feet below sea level, Basin in Death Valley National Park is the lowest point in the US. Credit: Melissa Fleming

A Record Warm January Day in NYC

The calendar says January, but it felt more like April in New York City on Thursday. The temperature soared to 66°F in Central Park, setting a new record high for the date. The previous record of 64°F stood since 1890. The overnight low temperature of 47°F was also record warm.

The city’s normal high this time of year is 38°F, but a “January thaw” is not unusual. Nevertheless, after getting 6.3 inches of snow over the weekend and temperatures only reaching the mid-20s on Monday, these spring-like conditions felt like weather whiplash.

Many New Yorkers enjoyed the unseasonable warmth, while others were sad to see the snow melt away. It is, however, still January. So, regardless of opinions, keep your winter gear handy.

January 12th brought NYC a record high temperature and a record warm low temperature. Credit: The Weather Gamut

2016 was Second Warmest Year on Record for US

2016 was the second-warmest year ever recorded in the continental US.

The average annual temperature of the lower 48 states, according to NOAA’s National Centers of Environmental Information, was 54.9°F. That is a whopping 2.9°F above the 20th century average and only 0.4°F shy of the record that was set in 2012. This also marks the 20th consecutive year that the annual average temperature for the contiguous US was above its long-term norm.

From coast to coast, every state posted one of their top-seven warmest years. Georgia was record warm and Alaska, the nation’s northern most state, had its third consecutive warmest year on record. “The breadth of the 2016 warmth is unparalleled in the nation’s climate history,” NOAA said. “No other year had as many states breaking or close to breaking their warmest annual average temperature.”

Credit: NOAA

2016 was also notable for its unusual number of weather and climate disasters that each totaled more than $1 billion in damages. In all, fifteen such events collectively caused $46 billion in direct costs and claimed the live of 138 people across the US. These incidents included drought, wildfire, four inland floods, eight severe storms, and a tropical cyclone. Only 2011, with sixteen events, produced more billion-dollar disasters.

Credit: NOAA

The exceptional warmth of 2016 was driven by a combination of strong El Niño conditions at the beginning of the year and the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. These soaring temperatures, however, were not limited to US borders. Later this month, NOAA is expected to announce that 2016 was the planet’s warmest year on record for the third year in a row.

Weather records for the contiguous United States date back to 1895.

2016 Ties for 3rd Warmest Year on Record in NYC

New York City experienced some noteworthy weather in 2016, especially swinging between the extremes of record cold and record warmth. In the end, however, the warmth won out. The city’s average annual temperature in Central Park was 57.2°F, which is 2.2°F above normal. That means 2016 tied 1998 for NYC’s third warmest year on record!

With a strong El Niño in place at the beginning of the year, the city experienced its second warmest winter ever recorded. That said, a number of arctic outbreaks sent temperatures plummeting a few times throughout the season. The coldest day of the year came on February 14 when the temperature dropped to -1°F – a new record low for the date.

When summer rolled around, it brought the city a number of very hot and humid days. The city typically sees 15 days per year with temperatures in the 90s, but 2016 produced a sweltering 22. The hottest day came on August 13 when the mercury soared to 96°F in Central Park. When humidity was factored in, the heat index or real feel temperature was in the triple digits.

While El Niño gave readings a boost early in the year, it dissipated in spring and was replaced by its cooler sister, La Niña. Nonetheless, every month of 2016 posted an above average temperature in NYC.

Precipitation was also erratic. While there were a number of heavy rain events, including some that broke daily rainfall records such as the 2.22 inches that came down on November 29, the city was mostly dry. Overall, NYC received 42.17 inches of rain in Central Park for the entire year. That is 7.77 inches below normal. This dearth of rain caused moderate to severe drought conditions across the city.

Snowfall, ironically, was abundant. During one of the year’s arctic blasts, a large amount of moisture was also in place to produce a major show event. Dubbed the “Blizzard of 2016”, this one storm dumped 27.5 inches of snow on the city. It was the Big Apple’s biggest snowstorm on record. For the calendar year as a whole, the city accumulated 35.3 inches of snow, which is 9.5 inches above average.

Records for the Central Park Climate Station date back to 1873.

Every month of 2016 posted an above average temperature in NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut

Only four months of 2016 produced average to above average rainfall in NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut

November 2016: Fifth Warmest November on Record for Planet Earth and Second Warmest Autumn

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with November 2016 marking not only the fifth warmest November on record but also closing out the second warmest meteorological autumn ever recorded for the entire planet.

According to a report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for November – over both land and sea surfaces – was 56.51°F. That is 1.31°F above the 20th-century average and only 0.41°F shy of the record that was set last year.

The three-month period of September, October, and November – known as the meteorological autumn in the northern hemisphere – was also one for the record books. With the season posting an average temperature that was 1.39°F above the 20th century average, it was the Earth’s second warmest September to November period on record.

While heat dominated most of the planet these past three months, some places were particularly warm. Here in the contiguous US, the autumn of 2016 was our warmest on record. Nearly every state experienced above average temperatures and eight were record warm – Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Texas, and Wisconsin.

These soaring temperatures are attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. Whereas El Niño gave global temperatures a boost earlier in the year, it dissipated in June. In fact, its cooler counterpart, La Niña, prevailed across the tropical Pacific Ocean this November.

Year to date, the first eleven months of 2016 were the warmest of any year on record. It is now almost certain that 2016 will surpass 2015 as the Earth’s warmest year ever recorded. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

Rainstorm Brings NYC its Wettest Day of the Year

A rainy day in New York City is typically nothing to write home about, but Tuesday’s precipitation was extreme. Heavy downpours brought the city more than half a month’s worth of rain in a single day.

According to the NWS, 2.2 inches of rain was measured in Central Park. Not only is that a new daily record for the date, it was the wettest day the city has seen so far this year. On average, we normally get 4.02 inches of rain for the entire month of November.

Suffering through moderate to severe drought conditions for several months, this rainstorm was largely beneficial for the area even if did put a damper on the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. That said, even more rain is needed to bust this drought completely. Year to date, the city’s rainfall deficit is 7.24”.

This type of heavy rain event, according to NOAA, is expected to become more common in the northeast as global temperatures rise and precipitation patterns change.

Warmest August and Warmest Summer On Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with August 2016 not only marking the warmest August on record but also closing out the warmest meteorological summer ever recorded for the entire planet.

According to a report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for August – over both land and sea surfaces – was 61.77°F, which is 1.66°F above the 20th-century average. It surpassed the previous record set just last year by 0.09°F.

August 2016 also marked the 16th month in a row to break a monthly global temperature record – the longest such streak on NOAA’s books. Moreover, it was the 380th consecutive month with a temperature above its long-term norm. That means the last time any month posted a below average reading was December 1984.

The three-month period of June, July, and August – known as the meteorological summer in the northern hemisphere – was also a record breaker. NOAA reports that Earth’s average temperature for the season was 1.60°F above the 20th-century average.  That is 0.07°F above the previous record that was set in 2015.

While heat dominated most of the planet from June to August, some places were particularly warm, including Asia and Africa where continent-wide temperature records were broken. Here in the contiguous US, the summer of 2016 tied with 2006 as our fifth warmest on record. While every state in the lower-48 experienced above average temperatures, California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island were each record warm. Alaska posted its second warmest summer on record.

These soaring temperatures are attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. Whereas El Niño gave global temperatures a boost earlier in the year, it dissipated in early June. ENSO-neutral conditions have since prevailed across the tropical Pacific Ocean.

Year to date, the first eight months of 2016 were the warmest of any year on record. This increases the likelihood that 2016 will surpass 2015 as the Earth’s warmest year ever recorded. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

 Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

July 2016: Warmest Month on Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with July 2016 marking not only the warmest July on record, but also the warmest month ever recorded for the entire planet.

According to a report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 62.01°F. That is 1.57°F above the 20th century average and 0.11°F above the previous record that was set just last year.

July 2016 also marked the 15th month in a row to break a monthly global temperature record – the longest such streak on NOAA’s books. Moreover, it was the 379th consecutive month with a temperature above the 20th century average. That means the last time any month posted a below average reading was December 1984.

Since July is climatologically the Earth’s warmest month of the year, the July 2016 global temperature was also the highest temperature for any month on record.

While heat dominated most of the planet last month, some places were particularly warm, including various countries in Asia and the Middle East where temperatures hit record levels. Here in the contiguous US, it was our 14th warmest July on record. Florida and New Mexico were each record warm.

These soaring temperatures, scientists say, were driven by the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. While El Niño gave global temperatures a boost earlier in the year, it has since dissipated. In fact, ENSO neutral conditions prevailed across the tropical Pacific Ocean this July.

Year to date, the first seven months of 2016 were the warmest of any year on record. This increases the likelihood that 2016 will surpass 2015 as the Earth’s warmest year ever recorded. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

July 2016 was the warmest July and warmest month on record for planet Earth. Credit: NOAA

July 2016 was the warmest July and the warmest month on record for planet Earth. Credit: NOAA