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

2019: Second Wettest Year on Record for US

The defining weather story of 2019 in the contiguous United States was rain. The year was the second-wettest ever recorded in the lower 48 states. Only 1973 was wetter.

The annual precipitation total, according to a report by NOAA’s National Centers of Environmental Information, was 34.78 inches. That is 4.84 inches above the long-term average.

While above-normal precipitation was observed across much of the nation, some places were particularly wet. North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan each posted their wettest year on record. Another 18 states finished in the top ten.

Months-long flooding in the upper Midwest and Mississippi River basin caused a tremendous amount of damage to farms and homes across the region. In fact, the combined cost of the Missouri, Arkansas, and Mississippi River floods was $20 billion. That adds up to about half the total cost of the 14 different billion-dollar weather and climate disasters that occurred in the US during 2019.

Heavy rain events and flooding are nothing new, but experts say climate change is making them worse. As greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere, the air is able to hold more water vapor. With evaporation from oceans, rivers, and lakes increasing, there is more water vapor available to condense and fall as rain.

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

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

2019: A Year of Weather Extremes in NYC

New York City experienced some noteworthy weather in 2019, especially the dramatic swings between hot and cold temperatures almost every month. In the end, however, these extremes just about balanced each other out. The city’s average temperature for the year in Central Park was 55.6°F, which is 0.7°F above normal.

In the end, only four months produced below-average readings. Of those, November posted the greatest departure from average with a temperature of 3.85°F below normal. This was aided by the two record cold overnight lows that occurred that month.

On the other side of the spectrum, two months posted temperatures among their top ten warmest on record. April 2019 was the third warmest April and July 2019 was the tenth warmest July ever recorded in New York City.

The summer brought NYC a number of oppressively hot and humid days, including 15 days with temperatures in the 90s. The hottest day came during the mid-July heatwave when the mercury soared to 95°F. When humidity was factored in, the heat index or real feel temperature was in the triple digits.

On the precipitation side of things, 53.03 inches of rain was measured in Central Park. That is 3.09 inches above average. Of that soggy total, 7.09 inches came down in December, making it the fifth wettest December on record in NYC.

Snowfall, on the other hand, was somewhat scarce. Only 16.6 inches was reported in Central Park. However, it is interesting to note that the vast majority of that total, 10.4 inches, fell during the first few days of March. The city, on average, gets 25.8 inches for the calendar year.

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

Credit: The Weather Gamut

December 2019: Fifth Wettest on Record for NYC

December 2019 felt like a weather roller coaster in New York City. Highs ranged from a relatively balmy 58°F to a frigid 25°F. But in the end, these extremes nearly balanced each other out. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 38.3°F, which is only 0.8°F above average.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

In terms of precipitation, December was a month for the record books. The city received 7.09 inches of rain in Central Park, making it the fifth wettest December on record. It is also interesting to note that two different days produced rainfall totals greater than one inch. Snowfall, however, was below average. Only 2.5 inches was reported in Central Park. New York City, on average, sees 4 inches of rain and 4.8 inches of snow in December.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

November 2019: Earth’s Second Warmest November on Record

Our global temperature continued its upward trend last month with November 2019 marking the second warmest November ever recorded on this planet. Only November 2015 was warmer. The month also closed out Earth’s second warmest September to November 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 November – over both land and sea surfaces – was 56.86°F, which is 1.66°F above the 20th-century average. This November also marked the 419th 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.

The three-month period of September, October, and November – meteorological autumn in the northern hemisphere – was also unusually warm. NOAA reports that Earth’s average temperature for the season was 1.69°F above the 20th century average of 57.1°F. That makes it the second warmest such period on record. It is also important to note that the ten warmest September-November periods have all occurred since 2005, with the five warmest taking place in the last five years.

While heat dominated most of the planet this November, some places were particularly warm, including Central Europe, eastern Russia, northern Canada, and most of Alaska. For the contiguous US as a whole, November 2019 ranked in the middle third of the historical record.

These soaring temperatures are largely attributed to the long-term trend of human-caused climate change. As greenhouse gases continue to spew into the atmosphere, global temperatures are expected to continue to rise.

Year to date, the first eleven months of 2019 were the second warmest such period of any year on record. At this point, it is very likely that 2019 will finish as the second or third warmest year ever recorded. Global temperature records date back to 1880.

Credit: NOAA

First Snowfall of the Season for NYC

New York City saw its first snowfall of the 2019-2020 winter season on Monday.

According to the NWS, 1.5 inches of snow was measured in Central Park. While not a blockbuster event, it was exciting to see the flakes fill the air. With all the holiday lights and decorations on display, the snow also added to the city’s festive atmosphere.

The timing of this first snowfall was about normal for the Big Apple. On average, the first flakes of the season are seen in early to mid-December. Our earliest first snow event on record was on October 21, 1952, and our latest was January 29,1973. New York City typically gets 4.8 inches of snow in December and  25.8 inches for the entire winter season.

Credit: Melissa Fleming

November 2019: Unusually Cold and Dry in NYC

November felt like a wild ride of weather in New York City. Highs ranged from an unseasonably warm 71°F to a chilly 34°F. But, with 20 out of 30 days posting below-average readings, the cold won out in the end. The month also produced our first freeze of the season and two record cold overnight lows. Overall, the city’s mean temperature for November was 43.9°F, which is 3.8°F below average.

On the precipitation side of things, the month was unusually dry. Only nine days delivered measurable rainfall, which added up to a paltry 1.95 inches in Central Park. New York City, on average, gets 4.02 inches for the month.

Active 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Comes to a Close

The 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season officially ended on Saturday.  It marked the fourth year in a row with above-average activity.

According to NOAA, there were eighteen named storms this season. Of these, six developed into hurricanes and three were major hurricanes with ratings of category 3 or higher on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. It also posted an Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index of 129.8 An average season produces twelve named storms, six hurricanes, three major hurricanes, and an ACE of 106.

Officially running from June 1 to November 30, the season got off to an early start with Subtropical Storm Andrea forming in May. This was the fifth consecutive year to see a pre-season storm develop. The biggest names of the season, however, were Dorian and Lorenzo.

In September, Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas as a category-5 storm with winds measured up to 185mph and a minimum pressure of 910 millibars.  It was the strongest storm on record to hit the island nation, claiming the lives of at least 60 people and leaving several billion dollars worth of damage in its wake.

Dorian also marked 2019 as the fourth year in a row to see a category-5 storm develop in the Atlantic basin, a new record.

Out at sea, Hurricane Lorenzo became the second category-5 storm of the season. It was also the easternmost Category-5 storm in the Atlantic on record. As for a possible connection to climate change, it is interesting to note that twenty-eight category-5 storms have developed in the Atlantic since 1950 with fourteen of them occurring since 2003.

For the contiguous United States this season, Tropical Storm Imelda caused the most damage. Moving slowly across Texas and Louisiana, it dumped between 30 and 44 inches of rain on the area over the course of three days. It unleashed catastrophic flooding throughout the region and became the fifth wettest tropical cyclone on record in the continental US.

This active hurricane season, according to NOAA, was largely the result of above-average sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic, a stronger than normal West African monsoon, and ENSO neutral conditions in the Pacific. In other words, the combination of warm water to fuel storms and reduced wind shear across the Gulf of Mexico allowed for unhindered tropical development in the Atlantic basin.

Credit: NOAA

October 2019: Unusually Warm and Wet in NYC

October was unusually warm in New York City this year. We had 19 out of 31 days post above-average readings with one day reaching a record-breaking 93°F. This unseasonable heat helped drive the city’s mean temperature for the month up to 59.9°F, which is 3°F above normal.

On the precipitation side of things, October was rather soggy. Overall, 15 days produced measurable rainfall that added up to 6.15 inches in Central Park. Of this total, more than half fell during just two storms. On average, the Big Apple gets 4.4 inches of rain for the month. It is also interesting to note that October marked the first month since July that the city received above-average rainfall.

Credit: The Weather Gamut