Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Long Hot Summer

Hi it’s Rebecca again. This post will be on the long hot summer. I’m not talking about the 1958 movie staring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. I’m going to talk about the hot summer of 2012.

It’s been warm:

There is no doubt it’s been warm. Last year we had a very mild and snowless winter. In fact the winter of 2011-2012 was the fourth warmest on record. Following right on its heels, The contiguous US saw the warmest spring on record. During the March, April, and May time period 31 states had their warmest spring on record. Record and near record warmth dominated the eastern two thirds of the country. The Northeast saw temperatures that the region hadn’t seen in over 117 years. In fact, the spring of 2012 averaged temperatures 5.2 degrees F above long term average, and surpassing the previous warmest spring 1910 by 2 degrees. 

untitledtemps For those of you who thought it was hot this summer, you were right. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) has listed the Summer of 2012 as the third warmest on record for the continental US. The hottest summer on record was in 1936 with a seasonal average of 74.6 degrees F. The summer of 2011 averaged 74.5 degrees F, for the season. This year had a nationally averaged temperature of 74.4 degrees F, 2.3 degrees F above the 20th century average. Across the Northeast seven states had an extremely warm summer.


The Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University stated, this is the hottest year on record for all 9 states in the Northeast. The entire Northeast saw a January through July temperature average of 49.9 degrees; this far surpasses the second warmest seven month period in 1921, which averaged 49.2 degrees.

August was the the 15th consecutive month of above average temperatures across the country. The summer of 2012 would most likely have gone down as the hottest on record if not for August. The warm temps weren’t quite as extreme as we saw back in July. But still August was ranked 16th warmest since 1895. 

Stats for Albany, NY:

There have been 17 straight months where Albany has seen above average monthly temps compared to the 30 year mean. The Monthly mean is the average of a months daily high and low temperatures.

During  June, July, and August of this year, Albany recorded 11 days where the daily high was 90 or higher, and 7 days where the daily high was 89. Here is a table that shows how 2012 has stacked up to the average mean. The mean average came from the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Month Average Mean This Years Mean Departure
January 22.2 28.6 +6.4
February 25.0 32.1 +7.1
March 35.0 45.9 +10.9
April 46.6 48.1 +1.8
May 58.1 63.1 +5
June 66.3 67.5 +1.2
July 71.1 74.8 +3.7
August 69.0 72.2 +3.2


January thru August time-frame was the 14th driest such period on record for the contiguous US. As of the end of August 63% of of the lower 48 continue to experience drought conditions.The national precipitation mean shows this summer was the 18th driest on record.

According to the Palmer Drought Index, 55.1 % of the Contiguous US is in moderate to extreme drought. The 2012 drought is exceeded only by the droughts of the 1930’s and 1950’s. Now while the northeast hasn’t seen drought conditions like the Midwest; The entire Northeast has seen year to date mean precipitation totals among their ten driest.

untitled Here is how the June through August precipitation worked out across the lower 48. But this only shows part of the story. If you take into account the snowless winter of 2011-2012. it’s easy to see why over 60% of the country is in dry or drought conditions. As of September 4th, most of New York State was abnormally dry or under moderate drought conditions.  Even though dryness is fairly rare in New England, northern Vermont and all of Massachusetts and Connecticut  are in abnormally dry conditions. 

Looking ahead into the Fall and Winter:

Droughts are slow to start and slow to depart. With this in mind, I don’t think we will get out of our precipitation deficit any time soon. As I’ve said, in past blogs and on my weather page, we’re going into a weak El Nino. During a normal El Nino, the jet stream often goes into a split pattern. The southern track becomes very active, while the northern jet stays rather weak. This kind of pattern is often good for the Northeast precipitation wise. That is as long was we can get some kind of Greenland block to set-up……As I said in the last blog…I’m not 100% sure we will see a long lasting block this year …The block will depend on what the NAO does.…But other than my thoughts on the NAO,  the other indexes are showing we will see a decent winter. So we should see at least an average winter for 2012-2013. Lets hope this is the case, because if we see another winter anywhere close to the one we saw last year, we will be in trouble.

Well that’s it for this blog installment. I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.



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