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Weather Analysis: The First 60-Degree+ Reading of the Year

60

 

There are a number of ways to gauge how cold a winter has been: mean temperature; the number of days with sub-freezing highs or single-digit lows; streaks of days with below average temperatures; or a dearth of mild readings.  For instance, after the brutal winter of 2015 New York didn't experience its first 60-degree day until March 26.  That's more than seven weeks later than the average date for this occurrence (Feb. 3) - and the latest date since 1982.  Here are more interesting tidbits about the first reading of 60+:

 

  • In the 19th century (1869-1899) the average date of the first 60+ reading in Central Park was March 8, and then between 1900-1970 the average date moved up to Feb. 23.  Since 1970 the average date has been three weeks earlier.
  • Between 1900-1970 the first 60+ day occurred on March 1 or later in half of the years, but since 1971 it has occurred after March 1 just 20% of the time.
  • Since 1900 the first 60-degree day has occurred on New Year's Day five times: 1919, 1966, 1973, 1979 and 2005.  (In 1966 the year's first 60+ reading followed 1965's last 60+ reading on New Year's Eve.)
  • Looking at all years the latest date for the first 60+ reading was April 15, in 1877.  And nine other years had their first reading in the 60s between April 5 and April 13 (see chart below); the most recent year to have a date that late in 1970 (April 8). 
  • Once every 10 years the first 60+ reading has occurred in the first three days of January, while once every 23 years the first 60 occurred on April 1 or later.
  • In 2007, not only was the first 60-degree reading of the year very early (Jan. 5), it was followed the next day by the year's first high in the 70s (72°), the earliest ever. 
  • In 1997 and 1998 the first 60+ temperature occurred on the same date, a very early Jan. 3.  And 1906 and 1907 had their first 60s on Jan. 4 while 2017's and 2018's  was on Jan. 12 (in 2020 it fell on Jan. 11).  At the other end of the spectrum, 1962 and 1963 both shared March 25 as the date of their first 60.
  • For four years in a row, 2005-2008, the first 60-degree reading occurred in the first nine days of the year.
  • In 1943 the year's first 60-degree temperature, 63°, came just five days after the morning low was 8° below zero.
  • The coldest temperature to occur on the same day as the first reading of 60+ was in the winter of 1957 when an Arctic front knocked the temperature down to 20° after the mercury reached 60° earlier in the day (on Jan. 23).
  • The biggest jump in temperature from the day before the first 60+ reading was 25 degrees, in 1954, when the high jumped from 44° to 69° the next day.  The biggest increase in temperature the day following the first 60+ was 21 degrees, and it happened in 1917, when the high reading the day after rose to 83°.  Lastly, the biggest drop in temperature after the first 60+ was 33 degrees and it happened in three years: 1957 (from 60° to 27°); in 1939 (62° to 29°); and in 1913 (63° to 30°).
  • The date of the first 60+ reading in five years was also the date of the first 70+ reading: in 1987 (March 7); 1969 (March 18); 1964 (March 5); 1963 (March 25) and 1893 (April 1).  Nine other years had their first 70+ reading the day after the first 60+, the last time being in 2007.

 Chart - earliest_latest first 60s

Comments

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Ethan

I know that the first 70°+ day of the year has also been the first 80°+ day (even the first 90°+ day) but has the first 60°+ day ever been the first 70 or 80. If so when did it happen and what was the temperature?

Rob

Hi Ethan, it appears the first 60+ reading was 70 or warmer in five years, the most recent being 1987 when the high was 71 on 3/7.

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