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November 2015

Weather Extremes That Occurred Before Global Warming Became a Concern

November1950noreaster
Runway at LaGuardia Airport flooded during the Great Nor'easter of Nov. 1950

Because we're in the grips of global warming, it seems that every weather anomaly is attributed to the rise in temperatures.  However, unusual weather is a regular part of our climate, with ferocious storms and out-of -the-ordinary heat waves not uncommon in years past.  But it's human nature to forget much of what's come before (or, more likely, to be completely unaware of past conditions).  What follows is a list of more than 50 extreme weather events that New York City experienced in the 20th century.  Today they would cause cries of alarm about global warming, but back in the 1930s, '40s and '50s New Yorkers largely accepted what Mother Nature dished out (and without the benefit of air conditioning!).

 

CRAZY WEATHER OF THE 20TH CENTURY

  • 11.63" of rain fell on Oct. 8-9, 1903.
  • An early June heat wave in 1925 (June 4-6) saw highs of 99°-99°-98° (records that are still standing).
  • Fall 1931 was the warmest on record.  (The six warmest autumns occurred more than 50 years ago.)
  • Winter of 1931-32 was the third warmest ever.  (It was the warmest until the 21st century).  On Jan. 14 the high was 70°.
  • Three of the seven warmest Januarys were in the 1930s (1932, 1933 and 1937)
  • NYC's hottest temperature on record, 106°, occurred on July 9 1936.
  • 1938's Great New England Hurricane/Long Island Express struck in late September.
  • There were 90-degree readings in October 1927, 1938, 1939, and 1941 (and the next occurrence wouldn't be until 2019).
  • The Great Atlantic Hurricane of Sept. 1944 was compared to the '38 New England hurricane; it dumped more than nine inches of rain.
  • Unusually mild March of 1945 and 1946; unusually mild October of 1946 and 1947.
  • The City sweltered through torrid summers in 1944, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1961 and 1966.
  • Three days in a row in late August 1948 had highs in the triple-digits.
  • The high reached 72° on Jan. 26, 1950.
  • November 1950 featured highs of 84° and 83° at the beginning of the month, and one of the most intense nor'easters on record, on the the Friday/Saturday after Thanksgiving.
  • The City's earliest 100-degree reading occurred on June 26, 1952.
  • Lengthy late August/early September heat waves broiled the City in 1953 and 1973 (at 12 days, 1953's is still the longest streak of 90-degree days on record).
  • A ferocious nor'easter on Nov. 9, 1953, brought 2.2" of snow, and raked the area with 55-70 mph winds.  Two weeks later there was a four-day streak of 70-degree weather.
  • Flooding rains from tropical storms Connie and Diane occurred in August 1955.
  • The Ash Wednesday nor'easter of March 1962, considered one of the most intense storms of the century, pummeled the Jersey shore and the south shore of Long Island and lasted through five high tides.  Although the City escaped heavy precipitation, gale force winds lashed it for three days, with some gusts as high as 50 mph. 
  • A four-year drought in the mid-1950s was followed by a six-year drought from 1961-1966.
  • Huge rainstorms caused flooding and major disruptions for commuters in Sept. 1966 (5.54"), Sept. 1969 (6.28"), Nov. 1972 (5.60") and Nov. 1977 (9.19").
  • Four days in a row in September 1975 had more than an inch of rain, which amounted to nearly 7.50".
  • A mid-April heat wave in 1976 saw the temperature rise to 96° on Easter Sunday.
  • December 1982 and 1984 were both nearly eight degrees milder than average.
  • 75° on Feb. 24, 1985.
  • December 1989 and January 1990 experienced a wild swing in temperature, with the third coldest December on record (10° below average) followed by the second mildest January (10° above average).
  • A high of 85° was reached on March 13, 1990 - 36 degrees above average.
  • "The Perfect Storm" nor'easter of Halloween 1991 was reminiscent of the Ash Wednesday nor'easter of 1962.
  • An intense nor'easter that struck in December 1992 featured 50-mph winds and a storm surge that flooded the FDR Drive and PATH stations in NJ during AM rush hour.
  • The March 1993 Superstorm/Storm of the Century dumped more than 10 inches of snow; heavy sleet was propelled by 50-60 mph winds.
  • The last four days of March 1998 had an unprecedented streak of highs in the low-to-mid 80s.

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