Trying to keep cool, Northeast cities sweated out 2023

In the Northeastern United States, warming average temperatures for most all climate data sites in December 2023 ranged from 3.6 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit above normal – making 2023 the warmest year on record for 13 of the region’s 35 major urban areas, including New York City.

A total of 28 cities in the region saw one of their top-five warmest years, according to a report Jan. 2 by the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.

“The year 2023 continues a long stretch of 26 years with above-normal temperatures,” said Art DeGaetano, professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center, which is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The last year that an annual average dipped below the 20th century average was 1997, DeGaetano said.

“In fact, the 10 warmest years since 1895 have all occurred since 1998,” he said. “It has become increasingly clear that the trend we’ve seen reflects the longer-term pattern of global climate change.”

Both Binghamton, New York, with an average temperature of 49.8 degrees, and Worcester, Massachusetts, with an average temperature of 51.6 degrees, saw their warmest-ever year, according to climatologist Samantha Borisoff of the climate center.

Other Northeastern cities seeing their warmest year on record: New York City, Central Park (2.1 degrees above average); Islip, New York (2.3 degrees); Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (2.4 degrees); Albany, New York (2.8 degrees); Newark, New Jersey (3.2 degrees); Baltimore (3.1 degrees); Dulles Airport, Chantilly, Virginia (2.9 degrees); Williamsport, Pennsylvania (2.7 degrees); Burlington, Vermont (2.4 degrees); Wilmington, Delaware (2.2 degrees) and Concord, New Hampshire (2.2 degrees).

The unusually warm year started in January, with temperatures ranging from 6 to 12 degrees warmer than normal and setting about 10 average temperature warmth records. Higher temperatures also prevailed in February, April, July and most of fall.

Cornell impacting New York State

In Caribou, Maine, where July’s average temperature is usually 66.7 degrees, the average July temperature in 2023 was 71.5 degrees, its all-time warmest month.

The entire Northeast has been running a snowfall deficit, with the largest shortfalls occurring in New England, New York and northwestern Pennsylvania, Borisoff said.

Worcester and Hartford, Connecticut recorded their least snowy December, with merely a trace, Borisoff said. Worcester saw a 14.9-inch departure from average snowfall amounts and Hartford had a 10.1-inch departure. Generally a blustery place in the winter, Syracuse, New York had a snowfall scarcity of 25.8 inches below normal in December.

Major Northeastern cities continued a longer trend of little snow. Neither Baltimore nor Philadelphia has recorded more than an inch of snow in more than 700 days (since late January 2022) – the longest such streaks on record, Borisoff said. New York City’s Central Park and Dulles Airport, in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington, have not seen more than an inch of snow since mid-February 2022 and mid-March 2022, respectively, which are record streaks.

DeGaetano is a faculty fellow at the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, and he serves on New York State’s Climate Impacts Assessment project steering committee.

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Kaitlyn Serrao