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1976 Weather Highlights for New York
1977 Weather Highlights for New York

Unbearably Warm Summer Nights in New York

Hot_nights_nyc_firehydrant

 

It used to be that New York's most stifling overnight temperatures in the summer fell into the upper 70s - but lows of 80° or warmer were few and far between.  However, this began to change in the late 1970s.  Since then, lows of 80° or warmer have occurred 38 times (thru 2020) - still infrequent, but no longer unheard of.   As Sandy and Danny sang to each other so famously in Grease, "Oh, those summer nights!"

 

  • Looking at the years from 1950 onward, only 1952 and 1957 registered 80-degree lows before 1978.  But since 1978, nineteen years have had lows of 80+.  To put it another way, there were no 80-degree lows in the twenty year period between 1958-1977, but they've occurred every two or three years since 1978.
  • The most 80-degree lows were experienced during the summer of 2002, when there were four.  Four other summers have each had three such stifling readings: 2013, 2010, 1988 and 1980.
  • The warmest low temperature, 84°, has occurred four times, most recently on July 22, 2011 and July 15, 1995 and twice during the summer of 1908.  (2011's high was two degrees hotter than 1995: 104 vs 102; both days in 1908 had highs of just 93°).  Interestingly, on the day of New York's hottest temperature on record, 106° on July 7, 1936, the morning low was 77°.  Therefore, July 22, 2011 is the day with New York's hottest mean temperature (94°).

 

84LumberLogo

 

  • With the exception of 1952, when an 80-degree low occurred on June 26, all other 80-degree lows have occurred in July or August.  The latest date for such a warm low is Aug. 30, 2018.  This broke the previous record, in 1985 and 1988, by 14 days.
  • The summer of 1995 reported the most low temperatures of 77° or warmer, eleven - one which was 84° and the remaining ten were between 77°-79°.  It was followed by 1999 and 2002, with ten.
  • The biggest rise in temperature on a day with a low of 80° or warmer was 22 degrees, which happened on July 10, 1993 (102°/80°) and was equaled on July 6, 2010 (103°/81°).  The smallest rise in the past 100 years is eleven degrees, which was reported on Aug. 30, 2018 when the high/low was 92°/81°. However, there have been seven even smaller variations in the years before 1911, with the smallest being seven degrees, which occurred during the summers of 1906 and 1908, both with a high/low of 87°/80°.

 

Chart - smallest diurnal variation on hot days
 

  • A low in the upper 70s or warmer doesn't guarantee the afternoon high will soar into the 90s.  There have been fourteen instances where the high has stayed below 90° (three of them occurred in 2015, two in 2016).  The two days that failed to reach 90° with the warmest low occurred on July 26, 1979, when the high struggled to 87° after a low of 79°, and on July 15, 2016 when the high reached 88° after the same low.  The smallest diurnal variation when the low was 77° or warmer was seven degrees - and it also happened during the summer of 1979.  On Aug. 4, under a thick haze, the high struggled to reach 84°.
  • Twelve years since 1950 haven't had a low of 77° degrees or warmer.  The coolest "warmest" low was 74° degrees, which occurred in the summers of 1996, 1976 and 1962.
  • Between 1950 and 1977 the typical year had twenty-eight days with lows of 70° or warmer.  Since 1978 the average number of such day has risen to thirty-seven.  The most was 60 days in 2005; the fewest was eight in 1962.

 

80-Degree Lows
(1950-2012)    
  Daily Minimum Temp
Year 80+ 77-79 Total
2002 4 6 10
2010 3 5 8
1988 3 5 8
1980 3 3 6
2011 2 2 4
1999 2 8 10
1993 2 2 4
1952 2 2 4
2006 1 5 6
2005 1 6 7
2001 1 3 4
1995 1 10 11
1985 1 2 3
1982 1 1 2
1981 1 4 5
1978 1 1 2
1957 1 1 2

Note: Chart does not yet include 2013's three 80-degree lows, 2015's one or 2016's two.

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William

2018 had fourteen lows of 76° or warmer. when all years are considered, only four of them have had at least this many such lows. 1876 (with 15), 1906 (with 16), 1908 (with 22) and 2010 (with 17).

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