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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144. Wishcasterboy
7:43 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
Well for us Northwesterners, lets just say it's out of the norm. I really doubt it will happen though.
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142. Patrap
1:42 PM CST on January 07, 2007
A ying..will always follow a Yang ..usually.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
141. Wishcasterboy
7:40 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
I have detailed information on this in my blog, St Simon.
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139. Patrap
1:41 PM CST on January 07, 2007
Guys..xtremes r possible..weather dosent follow the average or NORMS..all the time.Esp in a EL Nino year...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
137. Wishcasterboy
7:38 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
Two extreme snowstorms at the same time, doubtful to say the least.
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135. Wishcasterboy
7:35 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
It's just too far out to say anything, but it's mentioning
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133. Wishcasterboy
7:35 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
I swear the GFS is on speed or something. This just can't be right

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132. Patrap
1:31 PM CST on January 07, 2007
SEVERE T-STORM WARNING ALABAMALink
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
127. Patrap
10:41 AM CST on January 07, 2007
T storms approaching Baton Rouge,La..Live traffic camLink
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
126. Patrap
10:40 AM CST on January 07, 2007
Tstorms approaching..Man the Conn!..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
125. Thunderstorm2
4:27 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
Three INVESTS now in the Southern Hem
98S
97S
96S
all at 15kts
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
124. Wishcasterboy
4:17 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
He pronounces it "Colbare Repore" for reasons I do not know.

Perhaps he's French, LOL!
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123. Thunderstorm2
4:14 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
Luck them getting some snow, ive got a temperature of 80 degrees here right now
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
122. fredwx
11:13 AM EST on January 07, 2007
The sea surface temperatures are generally above normal across the North Atlantic while the East Pacific is mostly below normal.

SST Chart
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121. Patrap
10:17 AM CST on January 07, 2007
er,its Colbert Report..LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
120. Wishcasterboy
4:14 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
truthiness

Somebody's been watching too much Colbare Repore, LOL!
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119. Patrap
10:14 AM CST on January 07, 2007
USA temp Map...Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
118. Patrap
10:13 AM CST on January 07, 2007
USA current snow COVER...Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
117. Thunderstorm2
4:13 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
or clold weather
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
116. Thunderstorm2
4:11 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
its still hot where i am so anybody who is getting snow right now please let me know
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
115. Patrap
10:11 AM CST on January 07, 2007
Take all models..especially those with xtremes..as "truthiness"...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
114. aquak9
11:03 AM EST on January 07, 2007
Good morning to everyone on the Good Dr.'s blog. Turtle, very nice to see your screen name. I know you must stay very busy, but glad to know you are here...I don't even want to start speculation on the 2007 Season.

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113. Wishcasterboy
4:04 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
Either i'm going crazy, or the GFS is, LOL! That looks like way too much snow for Portland on the 10th. I don't know, I guess it's possible?
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112. fredwx
11:02 AM EST on January 07, 2007
In addition to a moderate El Nino and the reduced ice cover there is also the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) which is in a positive phase. All 3 may be contributing to the current warmth.

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111. turtlehurricane
3:58 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
Also, the east coast, as well as Florida, is about to get a cold front, which should break the pattern. Read more on my blog or

Florida Weather
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110. turtlehurricane
3:57 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
It is an interesting pattern. We hit 90 degrees here yesterday.
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109. Wishcasterboy
2:41 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
Good morning everyone. For reasons not understood my body didn't permit me to sleep any more than three hours. I think it's the aspect of snow keeping me up.



Look at those temps, i'd say worse than what we got back in 98!
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108. sandcrab39565
8:38 AM CST on January 07, 2007
Link

Heads up Pat its on the way oh and good morning all.
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107. Thunderstorm2
2:19 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
Rain is hammering the east coast then that cold front should come in
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
106. Patrap
7:52 AM CST on January 07, 2007
Rain
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
105. Patrap
7:45 AM CST on January 07, 2007
Live Video feed..Truck Port Terminal New Orleans...Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
104. Patrap
7:45 AM CST on January 07, 2007
Exit cam Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
103. Patrap
7:44 AM CST on January 07, 2007
Big time rains my exit now..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
102. Patrap
7:42 AM CST on January 07, 2007
It looks anomalous due to El Nino..thats all......plus ..Pacific..is divided into 3 tropical Zones..only the West-pac still winding down.East and Central..done for 5mths...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
101. Patrap
7:41 AM CST on January 07, 2007
That happens every January...
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
100. weatherboykris
1:40 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
A very small spot of cool ocean anomalies has developed near the equatorial Pacific
January 5 Anomalies
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
99. Patrap
7:39 AM CST on January 07, 2007
My rain..again....Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
98. Thunderstorm2
12:17 PM GMT on January 07, 2007
bigtrucker,now you just need to get that message around the world.
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
95. FormerAussie
10:42 AM GMT on January 07, 2007
Latest from the UK met office website:

December 2006 summary:
Mean temperatures, 1 to 2 C above average, which confirmed that 2006 was the warmest year on record for most areas (areal series back to 1914). Very wet over most of western Scotland and also parts of NW England and N Wales, with many stations reporting over double the average rainfall. In contrast, some eastern coastal areas saw below average rainfall, with well below average rainfall in the Aberdeen area. Sunshine exceptionally above average across much of eastern Scotland and northeast England.
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94. 1900hurricane
12:07 AM CST on January 07, 2007
Ice Storm!?!?!?

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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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