72° in New York City; Avalanche rips Colorado highway

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:12 PM GMT on January 06, 2007

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The heat is on in New York City! The temperature soared to 72° at New York's Central Park Saturday, tying their all-time warmest January temperature ever. New York City has hit 70 degrees in January only twice before since record keeping began in 1869--on January 4, 1932 (70°), and on January 26, 1950 (72°). The 72° reading is a full 34° above their normal high of 38. Records were smashed all over the Northeast today. Philadelphia reached 73° and Newark hit 72°. The all time record for January warmth was 74 °in both cities, set on January 26, 1950. Hartford, Connecticut hit 72,° besting their warmest January temperature ever--70, °set on January 14, 1932. How unusual is this winter? La Guardia airport broke their all-time record for the date (59) °at 6am this morning, when the minimum temperature is usually measured! La Guardia went on to post their warmest January temperature ever, 72°. New York City has not seen a single flake of snow this winter, surpassing the winter of 1877-1878 for the longest stretch without snow (a trace of snow was finally measured on January 4, 1878 that winter). New York City averages 22.4 inches of snow per year. While the current weather forecast does show some colder air moving into New York and most of the U.S. over the next week, no snow is forecast for New York City for at least another week.

The reason for the warmth? A moderate El Nino event is adding a tremendous amount of heat to the globe this winter, and has helped displace the jet stream farther to the north than usual. Global warming is also partly to blame, along with natural variability in the Earth's weather. I also believe that the on-going melting of the Arctic Ice Cap may have contributed to this winter's warmth, although it is difficult to know how much so without doing detailed model studies. Record low levels of sea ice in the Arctic in November and December have exposed much larger areas of open water than usual. The open ocean water provides a tremendous source of heat to the atmosphere, and the extra moisture from the open ocean areas creates cloud cover that insulates the surface. This has allowed less cold Arctic air than usual to form over the Northern Hemisphere. However, now that we are well into the coldest part of winter, the Arctic sea ice has frozen up more. This, combined with the natural cooling due to the 24-hour darkness that continues over the pole, is allowing a large area of cold air to form over the pole. The latest runs of the GFS computer model show that this Arctic air will plunge southwards over North America during the next two weeks, bringing near-normal winter conditions to the U.S. and Canada during the second and third weeks of January. However, exceptionally warm conditions will continue over most of Europe and Asia during this period.

Colorado's tough winter continues: huge avalanche buries cars
Denver's third major snowstorm of the winter brought up to 8 inches of snow to the Denver area today. The heavy snow triggered a major avalanche 60 miles west of Denver that buried a 200-foot wide section of U.S. Highway 40 to a depth of 15 feet. Two cars plunged over the edge, but all eight people inside were rescued. The avalanche occurred near 11,307-foot-high Berthoud Pass. Colorado has had a lot snow, thanks to a kink in the jet stream that has put the predominant storm track over the state. However, the weather has not been very cold--the average temperature in Denver during December was 1.4° above normal, thanks to warm weather that moved into the region before and after each major storm. About 95% of the U.S. had above-normal temperatures in December.

2007 to be warmest year on record?
There is a 60% chance that 2007 will be the warmest year on record, according to a forecast issued by the United Kingdom Meteorological Office on January 4. The forecasters cited the combined influence of the continuing global warming trend, and the presence of a moderate El Nino event. "Even a moderate (El Nino) warming event is enough to push the global temperatures over the top," said Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research unit at the University of East Anglia. The warmest years on record were 2005 and 1998, when the global average temperature was 1.2°F higher than the long-term average of 57°F. Given the remarkable warmth across not only North America this January, but also Europe and Asia, I think that a 40% chance of a warmest year ever is a reasonable forecast, but 60% might be too high. Not all El Nino events create a big increase in global temperatures.

I'll talk more about the amazing warmth of this winter on Tuesday afternoon, when the National Climatic Data Center releases their U.S. statistics for December of 2006.

Jeff Masters

Where is Winter? (CarmelHillHopson)
Daffodils coming up, temperatures 30 degrees above normal, and spring like thunder showers. Not bad for the 15th day of winter.
Where is Winter?
Where is Winter? (CarmelHillHopson)
Daffodils coming up, temperatures 30 degrees above normal, and spring like thunder showers. Not bad for the 15th day of winter.
Where is Winter?
January daffodils (wsmorris)
I know some daffodils bloom early, but I've never seen them bloom outdoors on January 7!
January daffodils

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344. hurricane23
6:39 PM EST on January 08, 2007
Besides highly unfavorable conditions Here is a view at the bone dry air that's in place across entire caribbean and parts of the atlantic.It takes alot more than warm SST'S for developement of a tropical cyclone.I think 2006 showed that.


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343. weatherboykris
11:30 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
looks like I missed all the good discussion
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342. DocBen
11:09 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
tstorm2 - I am certain the magnitude of ice you could get would be insuffucient to accomplish much cooling
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341. Tazmanian
2:38 PM PST on January 08, 2007
GFS had TOTALLY lost it half a foot of snow for sac? the bule is snow and look how far up it is

lol
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340. stormchasher
4:25 PM EST on January 08, 2007
yeah theres nothing devoloping for a long time!!:)
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339. hurricane23
3:46 PM EST on January 08, 2007
Looks like a sharp trof axis over that area.Ive been looking over that area over the past 2 days but conditions are very hostile and look to remain that way for a while.NHC mentioned last night in there discusssion that there was some type of cyclonic spin in that area.Maybe in a few months.Very unfavorable conditions dominate the atlantic basin for the next couple of months.
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337. anvilhead
8:51 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
STL come to my blog
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336. Tazmanian
12:51 PM PST on January 08, 2007
why you say that STL???????
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334. Tazmanian
12:48 PM PST on January 08, 2007
nic looking wave dont you

lol
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333. anvilhead
8:46 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
Taz, thunder and hurricane come to my blog
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332. Thunderstorm2
8:46 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
23 what do you think about the current condition of El Nino
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
331. hurricane23
3:41 PM EST on January 08, 2007
Iam still expecting Neutral conditions across the atlantic basin come time for hurricane season.
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330. Thunderstorm2
8:44 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
thats a good one
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
329. Tazmanian
12:42 PM PST on January 08, 2007
nic looking wave dont you all think?
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328. Tazmanian
12:41 PM PST on January 08, 2007
now what is this??? looks good and do well dont you think?

lol
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327. Thunderstorm2
8:37 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
Was there ever an answer to the question 'Is it possible to move icebergs into the pacific to cooldown El Nino?'
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
326. Thunderstorm2
8:27 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
the forecast is still expecting El Nino to stay till May but it might dimminish sooner than that
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
325. Tazmanian
12:02 PM PST on January 08, 2007
bump
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324. Tazmanian
11:54 AM PST on January 08, 2007
El Nino is on the way out!!!
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323. Tazmanian
11:53 AM PST on January 08, 2007
Thunderstorm2 nop it is not
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322. Tazmanian
11:51 AM PST on January 08, 2007
snowboy no snow yet high in the 70s in some parts of the valley and foothills today with a big turn a round forcast with snow on the valley floor but this strom may not be march of any thing but this cold but we will see
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321. Thunderstorm2
7:50 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
Its still expected to lat till May
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
320. snowboy
7:48 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
I would agree Taz, that El Nino is on the way out. Hey, do you still have snow in your forecast?
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319. Tazmanian
11:44 AM PST on January 08, 2007
her is what dr m has to say when i e mail him

El Nino has peaked, and is probably starting to decline
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318. Thunderstorm2
7:31 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
so much for the temp forecast
74 F | 23 C
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
317. Thunderstorm2
7:20 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
Here is the current forecast for orlando
80 F / 27 C
Overcast
Humidity: 58%
Dew Point: 64 F / 18 C
Wind: 10 mph / 17 km/h / 4.6 m/s from the WSW
Pressure: 30.00 in / 1016 hPa
Heat Index: 82 F / 28 C
Visibility: 10.0 miles / 16.1 kilometers
UV: 2 out of 16
Clouds: Overcast 7500 ft / 2286 m
(Above Ground Level)
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
316. snowboy
6:43 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
Caffinehog, the total loss of year-round polar sea ice (which will happen within a few decades max at the current rates of loss) will be a catastrophe. There are many species (not to mention polar peoples who depend on these species) adapted for the presence of sea ice. Its loss will push them in the direction of extinction. More importantly, the loss of year-round polar sea ice will add a huge positive feedback loop to the global warming which is already occurring, will wreak havoc on ocean currents, which will turn screw up the weather and climate even more.

Our entire industrial modern civilization has been based on and blessed with benign and relatively steady climatic conditions - a major shift to these conditions could undermine the foundations for much of what we take for granted (like sufficient rainfall in crop-growing regions, plentiful food, reasonable weather, steady sea levels etc.).

It's like humankind is conducting a huge moronic experiment with our planet's climate, seeing how far we can push it before it shifts to a new and for us much more hostile equilibrium. When the shift has occurred, it will be unmistakeable and it will mark an end to the good life we've enjoyed until now. The survivors will think back in wonderment to how good life was before, and will ask themselves "how could we be so stupidly short-sighted to allow this to occur"?
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314. Thunderstorm2
6:54 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
orionRider, Thats a fair point, My friend still lives in Scotland and he says that in some parts the summer fruit is still growing. A
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
313. Caffinehog
6:43 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
OK, I have a way for Canada to lead the world in carbon reduction: Stop mining the Athabasca oil sands for crude.

If the country with the second largest oil reserves in the world, second only to Saudi Arabia, stopped producing crude oil, then there would be a real impact.

If Canada's politicians aren't willing to do that, then they're all talk and no substance.

We'll find out soon enough, and I have little doubt as to what will, (or will not,) happen.
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312. orionRider
6:45 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
[...]Scotland UK and at the start of December the temps there were hot enough for a summer fruit to still grow

Thunderstorm2:
Scotland is very much maritime compared to Belgium ;-) and yes, Belgian apples have been known to grow at the start of December, but never in January.
It has not been snowing or even significantly freezing here (yet). That is unheard of and has far reaching consequences on crops, bugs, birds and water supplies, not to mention my ski vacation...
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311. Tazmanian
10:43 AM PST on January 08, 2007
any way it is going to get down right cold her in the foothills of ca and there is a ca that snow levels could fall to all valley floors not this the mts valley floors i mean like sac stockton ca and so on
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309. Caffinehog
6:38 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
Snowboy - what signs of a catastrophe have you seen?

I agree that you have seen many signs of change, but what signs of catastrophe have you seen?
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308. Thunderstorm2
6:35 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
That is usefull on the rules of determining seasons
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
306. snowboy
6:12 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
Up here in Canada the weather is the talk of the country. We are spooked by the warming we've been seeing over the past decades, especially in the Arctic. The ongoing loss of year-round sea ice has the makings of an environmental catastrophe, not just for Canada but for the whole world.

The main issue our next federal election will likely be the global warming issue, and the need for Canada to become a world leader in reducing carbon emissions.
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305. Thunderstorm2
6:25 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
Why can't they just say a date to start and end the seasons
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
303. Patrap
12:24 PM CST on January 08, 2007
Im a Roman...LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128871
301. Patrap
12:18 PM CST on January 08, 2007
Superdome this AM..7
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128871
300. Patrap
12:17 PM CST on January 08, 2007
or the Spring Equinox..if you prefer.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128871
299. Tazmanian
10:16 AM PST on January 08, 2007
oh i see now so how strong is it dos not look vary strong to me at all
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298. Thunderstorm2
6:16 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
When the month changes then the map will be updated
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
297. Patrap
12:17 PM CST on January 08, 2007
Winter ends March 21st..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128871
295. Thunderstorm2
6:12 PM GMT on January 08, 2007
that is a good graph because it does really show you how strong El Nino is
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
294. Tazmanian
10:12 AM PST on January 08, 2007
STL i see that map all the time and evere time i see it it says the same thing that map has not been update in weeks
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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