Warmer than usual Temperatures lead to a Gorgeous Autumn in the Northeast

Fall color in the NortheastThe first half of fall 2013 was warmer than usual in the Northeast. During the period from September 1 to October 15, 2013, 34 of the 35 major climate sites were recording warmer than normal temperatures. In fact, 10 climate sites ranked the first half of fall among their top 20 warmest autumns ever recorded. Elkins, WV was the climate site with the greatest departure above average temperature, by 3.1°F, while Atlantic City, NJ, was the only site that had a cooler than normal average temperature, by 0.1°F.

Precipitation was lacking at some sites and abundant at others during the first half of fall 2013. Twenty-three sites were drier than normal, with 6 ranking the period among their top 20 driest ever recorded. Newark, NJ, had the greatest departure of the dry sites at 34 percent of normal. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 12 sites were wetter than normal, with 5 ranking the period among their top 20 wettest. Harrisburg, PA, was the wettest site at 201 percent of normal.

Click image for larger view.

Click image for larger view.

Long-term data confirms that our climate is warming, and these patterns are consistent with climate change. As the latest draft National Climate Assessment (NCA) Report notes, U.S. temperatures will continue to rise, with the next few decades projected to see another 2°F to 4°F of warming in most areas, meaning fall temperatures will be much warmer than they used to be in the Northeast. More rainfall will occur in short, hard downpours, while extended dry periods will be more common in between those events, leading to an increase in possibility of short-term drought. There may also be opportunities with climate change, as seen in this year’s fall growing season in New York. Local vegetable farmers indicated it was one of their best growing seasons ever, since many crops were still producing vegetables well into October because of the warmer temperatures and the delay of the first freeze date.

For more information on weather and climate change trends in the Northeastern United States, see the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.

Category: What's With the Weather

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