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July 2018 Weather Recap: Hot Temperatures, Followed by Torrents of Rain
Lackluster Heat Waves

Stuck in the 70s

Gray skies new york skyline

 

Despite what the headline suggests, this post isn't about people obsessed with 1970s pop culture.  Rather, it's a discussion about days that have had both their high and low temperatures in the 70s.  These type of days have occurred infrequently - about once or twice each year.  33 years (since 1869) have never registered such a day, 53 have had one instance; the most days in one year was ten, which happened in 1905.  In 2017 and 2018 there were five occurrences, joining just ten other years that have had five or more (see chart below).  Temperatures stuck in the 70s usually occur when tropical air is in place, the day is hazy/overcast and rain is in the air. 

FURTHER DETAILS

  • The warmest low in the 70s to be accompanied by a high temperature below 80° is 74°, which has happened twice - first in August 1901 and then seventy-two years later in August 1973.  Both dates had a high of 79°.  (For reference, the average high when lows are between 70°-74° is around 86°).
  • The most consecutive days with temperatures in the 70s all day was five, in 1905 (Aug. 30-Sept. 3).
  • The most consecutive years without any "all-70" days is four, from 1962 to 1965 (and six out of seven years from 1962 to 1968).  By contrast, there were 21 of these days in the three-year period 1905, 1906 and 1907; they had ten, five and six of these days, respectively.
  • The first decade of the 20th century had more "stuck in the 70s" days than the next three decades combined (38 vs. 37).  The 1890s had the second greatest number - 34. The decade that just ended, i.e., the 2010s had 26 occurrences.
  • The latest occurrences for a high/low in the 70s were in 2017, on Oct. 8 and 9 (at the time the 9th was the latest date for a low in the 70s - until the following year).  The earliest occurrences were on June 4 and 5 in 1960.
  • The dates most likely to have experienced a day entirely in the 70s are 7/23, 7/29, 8/9 and 8/12, all of which have had seven such occurrences.
  • One out of four of these days either had no measurable rain (half were before 1935) while another one out of four received more than a half-inch of rain.  The greatest rainfall to occur was in 1990 when 4.64" fell on Aug. 10 (the high/low was 76°/70°).  Three other days with substantial rainfall were associated with Hurricanes Connie and Irene, in Aug. 1955 (2.70") and Aug. 2011 (2.88"), respectively, and tropical storm Fay in July 2020 (2.54").

 

Chart - stuck in the 70s

 

Stuck_in_the_70s_button-r0f7cc4f51c6543a9893da93dbb3d5e21_k94rk_307

Comments

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William

this analysis deserves a shout out to July 23, 1906 and August 6, 1908 (both of which had a high/low of 87/80) since they are the only "stuck in the 80s" kind of days.

Harry

Regarding this topic and William's comment, I noticed something interesting.

NWS NYC recently updated the climate portion of their website. They are now claiming the warmest low temperature in Central Park is 87 on July 2, 1903; and increduously says it was a high of 91 and a low of 87 that day which would be by far the warmest day with such a narrow temperature range.

I think this is a serious error of some sort but it would be interesting if it were true given that the 1800s and first decade of the 20th century had an unusual number of "stuck in the 70s" days. Also in the vein, what I think is the "real" record high low temp of 84 occurred TWICE in 1908 (but never before and not again until 1995 and 2011) so maybe that 87 in 1903 is reality but I think it would've been noted well before now.

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