NYC Monthly Summary: August 2017

August was unusually mild in New York City this year. Of the month’s thirty-one days, nineteen posted below average readings, including an unseasonably cool 68°F on August 29. Furthermore, the month typically produces four days with readings in the 90s, but this year we only had one. In the end, the city’s mean temperature for the month was 74°F, which is 1.2°F below average.

In terms of precipitation, August was mostly dry. Overall, 3.34 inches was recorded in Central Park, marking the fourth month this year and second in a row to deliver below average rainfall. The city usually gets 4.44 inches of rain for the month.

August 2017 was unusually mild in NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut

NYC Monthly Summary: July 2017

July was a month of extremes in New York City. It delivered five days with temperatures in the 90s and the city’s third heat wave of the season. However, it also produced a few unseasonably cool days. On July 14, the high only reached 73°F, tying the record low maximum temperature for the date that was set in 1963. The average high for the date is 84°F. Nonetheless, the heat and the chill balanced each other out in the end. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 76.8°F which is only 0.3°F above average.

July is usually the city’s wettest month, but this year precipitation was slightly below normal. Only eight of thirty-one days produced measurable rainfall. Overall, 4.19 inches was recorded in Central Park. Of this total, 1.78 inches (42% of the total) fell in a single day. On average, the city gets 4.60 inches for the entire month of July.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

What are the Dog Days of Summer?

The “Dog Days” of summer have arrived. This popular saying refers to what are traditionally the hottest and most oppressive days of the season.

Rooted in astronomy, the phrase is linked to Sirius, the brightest star seen from Earth. As part of the constellation Canis Major, it is known as the Dog Star.  During most of July and August, Sirius rises and sets with our Sun. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed it acted like a second Sun, adding extra heat to summer days. Today, we know that light from this distant star does not affect our weather, but the name has endured.

Varying by latitude around the globe, the so-called “Dog Days” of summer typically run from July 3 to August 11 in the United States.

Sirius, the “Dog Star”.  Credit: EarthSky/Tom Wildoner

Aphelion 2017: Earth Farthest from Sun Today

The Earth will reach its farthest point from the Sun today – an event known as the aphelion. It will officially take place at 20:11 UTC, which is 4:11 PM Eastern Daylight Time.

This annual event is a result of the elliptical shape of the Earth’s orbit and the slightly off-centered position of the Sun inside that path. The exact date of the Aphelion differs from year to year, but it’s usually in early July – summer in the northern hemisphere.

While the planet’s distance from the Sun is not responsible for the seasons, it does influence their length. As a function of gravity, the closer the planet is to the Sun, the faster it moves. Today, Earth is about 152 million kilometers (94 million miles) away from the Sun. That is approximately 5 million kilometers (3 million miles) further than during the perihelion in early January. That means the planet will move more slowly along its orbital path than at any other time of the year. As a result, summer is elongated by a few days in the northern hemisphere.

The word, aphelion, is Greek for “away from the sun”.

Earth is farthest from the Sun during summer in the northern hemisphere. Credit: TimeandDate.com

June 2017: A Temperature Roller Coaster in NYC

June 2017 felt like a temperature roller coaster in New York City. Highs ranged from an unseasonably cool 58°F to a balmy 94°F. June also brought the city its second heat wave of the year. In the end, however, the cold and warmth balanced each other out. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 72°F, which is only .06°F above average.

 

In terms of precipitation, the city was wetter than normal. Overall, 4.76 inches of rain was measured in Central Park. Of this total, 84% fell during three separate heavy rain events that each produced over an inch of rain. On average, the Big Apple gets 4.41 inches of rain for the entire month of June.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

Hot Temperatures and Strong Winds Fuel Western Wildfires

Summer is wildfire season in the American West and this year it is off to an explosive start.

As of Wednesday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, thirty large wildfires – defined as greater than 100 acres – are burning in ten western states.  These include Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

The largest is the Brian Head Fire in southern Utah. It has burned approximately 50,000 acres and forced the evacuation of nearly 1500 people. Ignited on June 17, the massive blaze is only 10% contained.

Another hard hit state is Arizona, where six large fires are currently burning. The governor, Doug Ducey, has declared a state of emergency in Yavapai County in response to the Goodwin Fire, which has burned more than 20,000 acres near the Prescott National Forest. Local officials have ordered the full evacuation of the town of Mayer, AZ.

These huge fires are being fueled by extremely hot and dry conditions that have left the region’s vegetation susceptible to any type of spark. Just a few days ago, excessive heat advisories were in effect for a large swath of the area as temperatures soared into the triple digits. Now, high winds are fanning the flames and helping the fires to spread.

Year to date, 2.7 million acres in the US have been charred. The country’s worst wildfire season on record was 2015 when more than ten million acres burned.

Brian Head Fire, UT. Credit: Desert News

Summer Solstice 2017

Today is the June Solstice, the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. The new season officially began at 04:24 UTC, which is 12:24 AM Eastern Daylight Time.

Our astronomical seasons are a product of the tilt of the Earth’s axis – a 23.5° angle – and the movement of the planet around the sun. During the summer months, the northern half of the Earth is tilted toward the sun. This position allows the northern hemisphere to receive the sun’s energy at a more direct angle and produces our warmest temperatures of the year.

Since the winter solstice in December, the arc of the sun’s apparent daily passage across the sky has been moving northward and daylight hours have been increasing. Today, it reached its northernmost position at the Tropic of Cancer (23.5° north latitude) marking the “longest day” of the year. This observable stop is where today’s event takes its name. Solstice is a word derived from Latin and means “the sun stands still”.

While today brings us the greatest number of daylight hours all year (15 hours and 5 minutes in NYC), it is not the warmest day of the year.  The hottest part of summer typically lags the solstice by a few weeks. This is because the oceans and continents need time to absorb the sun’s energy and warm up – a phenomenon known as seasonal temperature lag.

Earth’s solstices and equinoxes. Image Credit: NASA

NYC Monthly Summary: September 2016

Summer had an extended stay in NYC this September. Overall, 21 out of 30 days posted above average temperatures. These included three days with readings in the 90s, which is two more than what we typically see in September. With overnight lows also running mostly above normal, the city’s mean temperature for the month was 71.8°F, which is 3.8°F above average. That creates a three-way tie with September 1983 and 1884 for NYC’s 8th warmest September on record.

On the precipitation side of things, September was unusually dry and marked the sixth month this year that NYC received below average rainfall. All told, the city received a mere 2.79 inches of rain in Central Park, which is 1.49 inches below normal. As a result, according to the latest report (9/27) from the US Drought Monitor, the city remains in a moderate drought.

September was unusually warm in NYC this year. Credit: The Weather Gamut

September was unusually warm in NYC this year. Credit: The Weather Gamut.

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

Weather Gamut Writer Talks About Unseasonable Heat in NYC on WUTV

It was both an honor and a thrill to be asked back to The Weather Channel’s WUTV show tonight for my 6th appearance!  As a personal weather station owner based in New York City, we discussed the unseasonable heat and humidity that has been baking – or should I say steaming – the Big Apple the past few days.

The show, which dives into the science behind different weather events, airs weeknights from 6 to 8 PM EST on The Weather Channel.

Weather Gamut writer, Melissa Fleming, talks with Mike Bettes on WUTV. September 9, 2016. Credit: TWC and Melissa Fleming

Weather Gamut writer, Melissa Fleming, talks with Mike Bettes on WUTV. September 9, 2016. Credit: TWC and Melissa Fleming.