August 7, 2012

It's official: It's been hot in the Northeast

No surprise for Northeast residents sweating out the summer after a winter barely touching their snow shovels: this is the hottest year on record in the region so far.

The Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University reported Tuesday that the average temperature in the 12-state region was 49.9 degrees from January through July. That's the warmest seven-month period since 1895, the year systematic record keeping began.

The second-warmest comparable period was 1921, when the seven-month average was 49.2 degrees.

Breaking the warm spell down by state, it was the warmest first seven months of the year in the six New England states, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. It was the second warmest such period in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

It also was the warmest 12-month period in the Northeast through July.

"We've had a long stretch of warm," said Kathy Vreeland, a climatologist for the center.

The data comes as the Northeast endured a sweltering July with record-breaking temperatures around the region. Syracuse hit 101 on July 17 and Washington's Reagan National Airport recorded 105 degrees on July 7.

On a single day, July 18, LaGuardia Airport in New York City hit 101 degrees, Baltimore and Newark, N.J., recorded 104 degrees and Philadelphia 100 degrees, according to the climate center.

Areas around the United States this summer have suffered through blistering heat waves, wildfires and droughts -- the sorts of extreme weather events that experts have predicted will come with climate change. But Vreeland cautioned against reading too much into a small set of data covering a single region.

"It could be global climate change. It could be an anomalous year, or anomalous run of years," she said.

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