April 2017: Second Warmest on Record for NYC

Transitioning to spring, April was a month of wild temperature swings in New York City. We had highs that ranged from a chilly 48°F to a summer-like 87°F. However, with 19 out of 30 days posting above average readings, the warmth won out in the end.

The city’s mean temperature for the month was 57.2°F, which is a whopping 4.2°F above the long-term norm. That makes April 2017 the Big Apple’s second warmest April on record. Only April 2010 was warmer.

In terms of precipitation, April’s famous showers were slightly below normal with 3.84 inches of rain measured in Central Park. But of this total, the vast majority (74%) came down on three different, but very wet, days. The city usually sees 4.50 inches of rain for the month.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

NYC Monthly Summary: January 2017

January was another month of wild temperature swings in New York City. We had highs that ranged from a chilly 23°F to a  record breaking 66°F. But with 20 out of 31 days posting above average readings, the warmth won out in the end. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 38°F, which is a whopping 5.4°F above our long-term norm. That makes January 2017 the Big Apple’s 19th consecutive month with an above-average temperature, its longest streak on record.

In terms of precipitation, January was unusually wet. In all, we received 4.83 inches of rain, which is 1.18 inches above normal. The majority of this plentiful total fell during the nor’easter at the end of the month. Snowfall, on the other hand, was about average with 7.9 inches measured in Central Park. All of this precipitation put a dent in the region’s extended drought. The city, according to the latest report from the US Drought Monitor (1/26), improved from moderate drought conditions last month to abnormally dry.

January 2017 was NYC’s 19th consecutive month with an above-average 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

NYC Monthly Summary: December 2016

December felt like a weather roller coaster in New York City this year. We had highs that ranged from a cold 27°F to a relatively balmy 60°F. The warmth won out in the end, though. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 38.4°F, which is 0.9°F above our long-term norm. That makes December 2016 the Big Apple’s 18th consecutive month with an above average temperature – its longest streak on record.

In terms of precipitation, December was mostly dry. In all, we received 2.89 inches of rain, which is 1.11 inches below normal. Snowfall was also relatively scarce with Central Park reporting 3.2 inches for the month. The city usually receives 4.8 inches of snow in December. As a result of the this paltry precipitation, NYC remains in a moderate drought according the latest report (12/29) from the US Drought Monitor.

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

Climate Change Indicator: The Keeling Curve

Increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the main causes of global warming. The steady rise of this potent greenhouse gas is clearly visible on the Keeling Curve, a leading indicator of human-caused climate change.

Charles David Keeling, a researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, set up a CO2 monitoring site high atop Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii in 1958. This remote spot in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is well removed from the localized influences of both carbon sources (factories) and sinks (forests) that could skew the data. According to NOAA, it is the world’s oldest continuous carbon dioxide monitoring station.

When the data recorded at the site is shown graphically, it resembles a “saw-toothed” curve. This is because CO2 levels go up and down throughout the year with the life cycles of plants. Since most of the world’s landmass and vegetation are in the northern hemisphere, CO2 levels start to go down in spring when plants draw in the gas during the process of photosynthesis. Then, after reaching a minimum in the autumn, CO2 levels begin to go back up as plants die off and decay.

The curve’s long-term trend, however, has been definitively upward. Human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, have been releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere than natural carbon sinks (plants and oceans) can take out.

When first established in 1958, the CO2 level at Mauna Loa was 315ppm (parts per million). This autumn, it was more than 400ppm. To put this rapidly increasing number into perspective, consider that ice-core research shows that pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide held steady around 280ppm from about 1000-1750 AD.

The Keeling Curve. Credit: Scripps and NOAA

The Keeling Curve. Credit: Scripps and NOAA

NYC Monthly Summary: November 2016

November felt like a weather roller coaster in New York City this year. We had highs that ranged from a relatively balmy 72°F to a chilly 41°F. However, with 19 out of 30 days posting above average readings, the warmth won out in the end. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 49.8°F, which is 2.1°F above our long-term norm. This was the Big Apple’s 17th consecutive month with an above average temperature – its longest streak on record.

In terms of precipitation, November was unusually wet and marked the first month since July that NYC received above average rainfall.  In all, we received 5.41 inches of rain which is 1.39 inches above normal. The majority of this plentiful total fell during two separate heavy rain events. In fact, November 29th was the city’s wettest day of the year and set a new daily rainfall record with 2.20 inches measured in Central Park. Nonetheless, despite these soakers, NYC remains in a moderate to severe drought according the latest report (12/1) from the US Drought Monitor.

November 2016 was NYC's 17th consecutive month with above average temperatures. Credit: The Weather Gamut

November 2016 was NYC’s 17th consecutive month with an above average temperature. Credit: The Weather Gamut

Nov 2016 was first month since July that NYC received able average rainfall. Credit: The Weather Gamut

November was the first month since July that NYC received above average rainfall. Credit: The Weather Gamut

The Active Atlantic Hurricane Season of 2016 Comes to a Close

The 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially ends today.  Not only was it above average, as predicted, it was the basin’s most active season since 2012.

According to NOAA, there were fifteen named storms this season. Of these, seven developed into hurricanes and three – Gaston, Nicole, and Matthew – were major hurricanes with ratings of category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. An average season produces twelve named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes.

This season’s Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), which measures the intensity and duration of storms, was also above normal. On average, a season will post an ACE of 104 in the Atlantic. This year, according to hurricane researchers at Colorado State University, it was 134.

Officially running from June 1 to November 30, the 2016 season got off to an unusually early start. Hurricane Alex developed in January and made landfall in the Azores. It was the first Atlantic hurricane to occur in January since Hurricane Alice in 1955.

Of the season’s 15 named storms, five made landfall in the US –  Bonnie, Colin, Julia,  Hermine, and Matthew. Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida in 11 years, ending the Sunshine State’s so called “hurricane drought”. The biggest headliner of the season, however, was Hurricane Matthew.

Matthew was the first storm to reach category-5 strength in the Atlantic in nine years. It weakened as it moved northward parallel to the US coast, but unleashed powerful winds and a damaging storm surge in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The storm officially made landfall in South Carolina as a Category-1 hurricane, but its rain bands reached well inland and caused catastrophic river flooding in both North and South Carolina. In Fayetteville, NC – 100 miles from the coast – 14.82 inches of rain was reported.

This active hurricane season was largely the result of above average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and ENSO neutral to cool La Niña conditions in the Pacific. With warm water to fuel storms coupled with reduced wind shear across the Gulf of Mexico, tropical development in the Atlantic basin was essentially unhindered.

Despite this busy season, the US has luckily not been hit by a major hurricane since Wilma in 2005. With records dating back to 1851, it is the longest such stretch on NOAA’s books.

Source: NOAA

Source: NOAA

NYC Election Day Weather

Weather does not subscribe to any political party, but it can play a major role on Election Day. Studies show that it strongly influences how many people head out to the polls, especially if poor conditions are forecast.

Here in New York City, the weather is picture perfect this year. With blue skies and temperatures in the 60s, voter turnout is expected to be high.

The exact date of Election Day varies every year, but it is always the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. Below are some interesting local weather facts about the big day.

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The exact date of Election Day varies every year, but it is always the Tuesday after the first Monday of November. Credit: The Weather Gamut.