Warmest May and Warmest Spring on Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with May 2016 marking the warmest May ever recorded on this planet.

According to the State of the Climate report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, 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 and 0.04°F above the previous record that was set in 2015. Moreover, May marked the 13th consecutive month to break a global temperature record – the longest such streak on NOAA’s books.

The three-month period of March, April, and May – known as meteorological spring in the northern hemisphere – was also a record breaker. NOAA reports that Earth’s average temperature for the season was 1.91°F above the 20th century average of 56.7°F.  That is 0.40°F above the previous record that was set just last year.

While heat dominated most of the planet this spring, some places were particularly warm, including large parts of North America. Here in the US, Alaska marked its warmest spring ever recorded while Washington and Oregon posted their second and third warmest, respectively.

These soaring temperatures, scientists say, were fueled by a combination of El Niño, which has now dissipated, and the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. Research by Climate Central’s World Weather Attribution Program shows that while El Niño gives global temperatures a boost, the majority of the temperature increase is due to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It should also be noted that no other strong El Niño event has produced temperature anomalies as large as the ones seen recently.

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

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May 2016 was the warmest May on record, globally. Image credit: NOAA

2016 is on track to being the next warmest year on record. Image credit: NOAA

2016 is well on track to being the next warmest year on record. Image credit: NOAA

April 2016: Warmest April on Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with April 2016 marking the warmest April ever recorded on this planet.

According to the State of the Climate report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 58.68°F. That is a staggering 1.98°F above the 20th century average and 0.5°F above the former record that was set in 2010. This temperature was also the fourth highest departure from average for any month on record, behind March 2016, February 2016, and December 2015. Moreover, April marked the 12th month in a row to break a monthly global temperature record – the longest such streak on NOAA’s books.

While heat dominated most of the planet last month, some places were particularly warm, including large parts of the Arctic and Southeast Asia. Here in the US, Alaska marked its warmest April ever recorded and Idaho, Oregon, and Washington each posted their second warmest on record.

These soaring temperatures, scientists say, were fueled by a combination of El Niño, which is now fading, and the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. Research by Climate Central’s World Weather Attribution Program shows that while El Niño gives global temperatures a boost, the majority of the temperature increase is due to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It should also be noted that no other strong El Niño event has produced temperature anomalies as large as the ones seen recently.

Year to date, the first four months of 2016 were the warmest such period on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

April 2016 was the 12th consecutive month to break a monthly global temperature record. Credit: NOAA

April 2016 was the 12th consecutive month to break a monthly global temperature record. Credit: NOAA

Revised Numbers Show January 2016 Blizzard was a Record Breaker in NYC

After further review, it turns out that the Blizzard of January 2016 – also known as Winter Storm Jonas – was a record breaker for New York City.

According to the NWS, the storm dumped 27.5 inches of snow in Central Park and not the previously reported 26.8 inches. That makes it the city’s biggest snowstorm on record. The previous reading was a tenth of an inch shy of the now old record that was set in February 2006.

The error was found during an investigation launched in the wake of the historic storm. Snow measurement techniques at eight different sights along the east coast were questioned, as storm totals seemed too high in some places and too low in others. In a statement, NWS Director, Louis Uccellini, said, “Snow measurements are extremely difficult to take because precipitation is inherently variable, a problem compounded by strong winds and compaction during a long duration event.”

In NYC, the mistake stemmed from a communication issue rather than a problem with measurement technique. The Central Park Conservancy, the group responsible for measuring snowfall in Central Park, called their numbers into the NWS office by phone and one of the measurements was written down incorrectly.

In the grand scheme of this massive storm, an extra 0.7 inches of snow may not sound like a lot, but every fraction counts when it comes to records.

Blizzard 2016, NYC. Credit: Melissa Fleming

New Yorkers enjoy the record 27.5 inches of snow dumped on the city by the Blizzard of 2016. Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park, NYC. Credit: Melissa Fleming

March 2016: Warmest March on Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with March 2016 marking the warmest March ever recorded on this planet.

According to the State of the Climate report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 57.1°F. That is a staggering 2.20°F above the 20th century average and 0.54°F above the former record that was set last year. This temperature was also the highest departure from average for any month on record, surpassing the previous record that was set just last month.  Moreover, March 2016 marked the 11th month in a row to break a monthly global temperature record.

While heat dominated most of the planet, some places were particularly warm, including much of North America and Scandinavia. Here in the contiguous US, it was our 4th warmest March on record.

These soaring temperatures, scientists say, were fueled by a combination of El Niño, which is now fading, and the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. Research by Climate Central’s World Weather Attribution Program shows that while El Niño gives global temperatures a boost, the majority of the temperature increase is due to rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It should also be noted that no other strong El Niño event has produced temperature anomalies as large as the ones seen recently.

Year to date, the first three months of 2016 were the warmest such period on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

march 2016 was the 11th consecutive month to break a monthly temperature record. Credit: NOAA

March 2016 was the 11th consecutive month to break a monthly global temperature record.  Credit: NOAA

Warmest February and Warmest Winter on Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with February 2016 marking the warmest February on record and closing out the warmest meteorological winter ever recorded for the entire planet.

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 56.08°F, which is a staggering 2.18°F above the 20th century average. This marks the highest departure from average for any month on record, surpassing the previous record set just two months ago in December 2015 by 0.16°F.  February 2016 was also the 10th month is a row to break a monthly temperature record.

The three-month period of December, January, and February – known as meteorological winter in the northern hemisphere – was also a record breaker. NOAA reports that Earth’s average temperature for the season was 2.03°F above the 20th century average.  That is 0.52°F above the previous record that was set last year.

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

These soaring temperatures, scientists say, were fueled by a combination of the current El Niño – a natural periodic climate phenomenon in the Pacific that boosts global temperatures – and the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. While not to discount the strong influence El Niño has on the climate, it should be noted that no other El Niño event of comparable strength has produced temperature anomalies as large as the ones seen recently. Also, it is important to remember that fifteen of the sixteen warmest years on record have occurred this century and they were not all El Niño years.

Year to date, the first two months of 2016 were the warmest such period on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

Credit: NOAA

February 2016. Credit: NOAA

Winter 2015-2016. Credit: NOAA

Winter 2015-2016. Credit: NOAA

Another Record Warm Day for NYC

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.

A Spring Preview in NYC

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.

Winter 2015-16: Warmest Winter on Record in Contiguous US

Its official!  Winter 2015-2016 was the warmest ever recorded in the continental US.

The average temperature of the lower 48 states this meteorological winter (Dec-Feb), according to NOAA’s National Centers of Environmental Information, was 36.8°F. That is a whopping 4.6°F above the 20th century average and surpasses the previous record of 36.5°F that was set in the winter of 1999-2000. The considerable warmth in both December 2015 (warmest December on record) and February 2016 (7th warmest February on record) helped boost the season’s overall average.

Across the country, 46 states posted above average seasonal temperatures and no state was cooler than normal. In New England, it was particularly warm with all six states in the region reporting record high temperatures. Alaska – considered separately from the lower 48 by NOAA – saw its second warmest winter on record.

This exceptional warmth, scientists say, was driven by strong El Niño conditions in the Pacific acting on top of continued global warming.

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

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

January 2016: Warmest January on Record for Planet Earth

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with January 2016 marking the warmest January ever recorded for the entire planet.

According to the State of the Climate report by NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 55.47°F, which is a whopping 1.87°F above the 20th century average. It surpassed the previous record set in January 2007 by 0.29°F. It also marked the second highest departure from average for any month on record, trailing only December 2015 which was 2°F above its long-term norm.

Continuing the trend from 2015 – the warmest year ever recorded – January 2016 was the ninth consecutive month to set a monthly temperature record. It was also the fourteenth consecutive month that the global temperature ranked in the top three for its respective month.

This record warmth, scientists say, was fueled by a combination of continued global warming and El Niño.  Not to discount the strong influence El Niño has on the climate, it should be noted that no other El Niño year has produced temperature anomalies as large as the ones seen recently.

Global temperature records date back to 1880.

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

Weather Whiplash for NYC

In any given winter season, a few cold snaps and an occasional warm spell are not that uncommon. This year, however, the temperatures in the northeastern US have been swinging from warm to cold to warm again as if on relentless rollercoaster. This week the region saw another round of this type of weather whiplash, albeit more dramatic than usual.

Here in New York City, the temperature went from a record low of -1°F on Sunday to a high of 54°F on Tuesday. That is a 55° difference in just two days. Our normal high for this time of year is 42°F and our normal low is 29°F.

For the past two winters, multiple extended artic outbreaks courtesy of the polar vortex kept the region colder than average for most of the season. This year, with a strong El Niño in place over the Pacific, warmer than normal conditions have made a strong showing. But, it seems like neither El Niño nor the Polar Vortex has been able to maintain a leading role this winter in the northeast. Rather, they seem to be alternating their appearances leaving us somewhat uncertain as to what will come next.

Dramatic Temperature Swing in NYC this week. Credit: The Weather Gamut

Dramatic Temperature Swing in NYC this week. Credit: The Weather Gamut