A Late Summer Warm Up in NYC

It’s the last week of August and it finally feels like summer in New York City. The high temperature in Central Park has been in the upper 80’s for the past few days and today it soared to 90°F. This is worth noting, because high heat has been something of a rarity in the Big Apple this summer.

This season to date, NYC has only had five days reach 90°F or higher. On average, we typically get fifteen. Looking back, every month this summer brought a noticeable dearth of extreme heat. June had zero days with temperatures at or above 90°F, July had three and August (so far) has only had two.

The most 90-degree days that the city has ever had in one year, according to NWS records, was thirty-nine. That happened in both 1991 and 1993. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 1902 only had one day hit the 90°F mark.  Last summer, we made it to 90°F or higher seventeen times.

Fourth Warmest July on Record for Planet Earth

This past July was fairly mild in the eastern United States, including here in New York City. For the western states and much of the rest of world, however, it was hotter than normal. In fact, the average temperature for the Earth as a whole soared into the record books yet again.

According to a report released this week by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, July 2014 was the fourth warmest July ever recorded for the entire planet. Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 61.55°F. That is 1.15°F above the 20th century average. July 2014 also marked the 353rd consecutive month that our global temperature was above its long-term norm.

While above average heat dominated most of the planet this July, the Scandinavian countries were particularly warm. With a monthly temperature 7.7°F above normal, Norway marked not only its warmest July on record, but also its all-time highest monthly temperature for any month.   In the western U.S., several states posted a July temperature in their top ten warmest.

While the Earth’s atmosphere is warming overall, July’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, according to the report, 2014 is currently tied with 2002 as the Earth’s third warmest year on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

NCDC_2014_07

Image Credit: NOAA/NCDC

Record Rainfall Floods Long Island

Record rainfall swamped New York’s Long Island on Wednesday morning. Flash floods prompted evacuations, submerged cars on major roadways, and even uprooted trees. Local officials have also reported one weather-related death.

One of the hardest hit areas was Islip in Suffolk County, where 13.27 inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours. That is more than the town would normally get for an entire summer season and is nearly double its previous daily record of 6.7 inches set in August 1990. The storm also shattered the record for 24-hour rainfall in New York State. The previous record was 11.6 inches, which was measured in Tannersville, NY during Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.

The intensity of this rain event, according to the NWS, was caused by a few factors. First, several different weather systems came together over Long Island and were fed by moisture from the Atlantic Ocean. Then, the storm essentially stalled in place for hours.

While Suffolk County bore the brunt of the rain, flash flooding also caused problems in nearby sections of New Jersey and Connecticut. Here in New York City, we were mostly unscathed. JFK airport (in Queens) reported 3.2 inches of rain, but less than an inch was measured in Central Park.

Flood waters strand cars on Sunrise Highway in Valley Stream on Long Island, NY.  Credit: wpix11

Flood waters strand cars on Sunrise Highway in Valley Stream on Long Island, NY.                 Image Credit: pix11

Warmest June on Record for Planet Earth

This past June ranked as the 33rd warmest for the United States. The average temperature for the Earth as a whole, however, soared to a record high for a second straight month.

According to a report released on Monday by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, June 2014 was the warmest June ever recorded for the entire planet.  Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 61.2°F.  That is 1.3°F above the 20th century average. June 2014 also marked the 352nd consecutive month that our global temperature was above its long-term norm.

Rising ocean temperatures, according to NOAA, helped fuel this record warmth. In fact, the June global sea surface temperature was 1.15°F above its long-term average of 61.5°F. That is the highest for any June on record and the highest departure from average for any month. Large parts of both the Pacific and Indian Oceans either hit record-high temperatures or posted readings that were significantly above normal.

The report also noted that, year to date, 2014 is currently tied with 2002 as the Earth’s third warmest year on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

NYC’s First 90-Degree Day of the Year

Summer officially began last month, but the season’s heat is just now getting into full swing in New York City.

In Central Park today, the temperature soared to 91°F. That marks the city’s first 90° day of the year.   While readings in the 90s are not unusual for the Big Apple in July, they typically premiere earlier in the season. In fact, with records dating back to 1869 for Central Park, the NWS reports that only nineteen years have failed to produce a 90°F day before the end of June.

On average, according to the NWS, the city generally sees its first 90°F day by June 3rd. Its earliest was April 7, 2010 and its latest was July 26,1877. Last year, NYC’s first 90°F reading was on May 30th.

Warmest May on Record for Planet Earth

This past May was fairly warm across most of the United States, including here in New York City. The average temperature for the Earth as a whole, however, soared into the record books.

According to a report released on Monday by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, May 2014 was the warmest May ever recorded for the entire planet.  Earth’s combined average temperature for the month – over both land and sea surfaces – was 59.93°F.  That is 1.33°F above the 20th century average. May 2014 also marked the 351st consecutive month that our global temperature was above its long-term norm.

The report also noted that four of the five warmest Mays on record have occurred in the past five years: 2010 (second warmest), 2012 (third warmest), 2013 (fifth warmest), and 2014 (warmest); 1998 holds fourth place. Additionally, it highlighted the fact that this past meteorological spring (March, April, and May) was the planet’s second warmest on record. For the same period, only 2010 was warmer.

Year to date, 2014 is currently ranked as the Earth’s fifth warmest year on record. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

2014_05

Image Credit: NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center

The Great Lakes Finally Thaw

It is now June, the first month of meteorological summer, but it seems winter is only just coming to a close on the Great Lakes.

For the first time since November, according to NOAA, the Great Lakes are ice-free. This marks the latest total thaw on the lakes since record keeping began in the 1970s. Back in March, during one of the coldest winters the region has seen in decades, more than 92% of the Great Lakes were covered by ice. That was the second highest percentage on record.

While a recent string of warm days in the area helped to melt the lingering ice, the U.S. Coast Guard also played a key role. They have reported conducting over 2000 hours of ice-breaking operations throughout this past winter and spring.

Only recently thawed, water temperatures in the lakes are expected to remain rather chilly for most of the summer.

GreatLakes

After a frigid winter, the Great Lakes are finally ice-free. Image Credit: NOAA

NYC Monthly Summary: April 2014

April 2014 felt like a weather roller-coaster in New York City. We had highs that ranged from a chilly 47°F to a balmy 77°F.  All together, though, these extremes balanced each other out and produced an average monthly temperature of 52.3°F.  That is only 0.7°F below normal.

In terms of precipitation, April’s famous showers were intense this year. The city received a remarkable 7.85 inches of rain in Central Park. Of this impressive total, 4.97 inches fell in a single day – April 30th. According to the NWS, that is the 10th highest daily rainfall total on record for NYC. The Big Apple normally gets 4.50 inches for the entire month.

The city also received a trace amount of snow this April. While this is normally nothing to get excited about, it is worth mentioning as it came on the heels of our warmest day of the year so far. What a month of extremes!

Graph Credit: The Weather Gamut

Graph Credit: The Weather Gamut

A Day of Drenching Rain in NYC

April is famous for its showers, but yesterday’s precipitation was extreme. Torrential downpours brought New York City more than a month’s worth of rain in a single day.

According to the NWS, 4.97 inches of rain was measured in Central Park. Not only is that a new daily record for the date, it was the 10th rainiest day ever recorded in NYC. On average, we normally get 4.50 inches of rain for the entire month of April.

Up until yesterday, the city’s rainfall total was running below average for the month. So, while the rain was beneficial for the area, the rate at which it came down and its extended duration caused a number of localized flooding problems.

Scientists say the frequency of extreme rain events like this one will increase as global temperatures rise and our climate changes.

Near Record Ice Cover on the Great Lakes

Persistent frigid temperatures this winter across the Mid-West and Northeast have caused many rivers and lakes to freeze.  These include the Great Lakes – the largest group of fresh water lakes on the planet.

According to NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, 91.8% of the Great Lakes are currently covered with ice.  That is the second highest percentage on record.  The largest was 94.7% in 1979. On average, peak ice coverage each winter is roughly 51%.

This extensive ice cover has its pluses and minuses.  On one hand, it has reduced the amount of lake effect snow – the heavy precipitation produced when cold air blows across the expansive and relatively warm lake water.  When the lakes are frozen, moisture cannot be evaporated and this process shuts down.  On the other hand, it has slowed shipping traffic, which has economic impacts.  Also, given their massive size, the frozen lakes will likely keep regional temperatures cooler than average this spring.

While this year’s ice cover on the Great Lakes is near record-breaking, researchers say the ice extent varies annually and that there has been an overall decline since the early 1970’s.

Ice covers more than 90% of the Great Lakes. Image Credit: NOAA/Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Ice covers more than 90% of the Great Lakes.                                                                                      Image Credit: NOAA/Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.