#97-02
Mailed 1/10/97

WEATHER OF '96

THE WHITEST AND ALMOST THE WETTEST
YEAR ON RECORD


Upton, NY -- Long Islanders had the whitest winter in almost a half-century in the 1995-96 winter season. According to meteorological records kept at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, the period from October 1995 through April 1996 brought the area a record-breaking 90.8 inches of snow. The previous record for the most snowfall, set in 1966-67, fell short of that amount by 15.9 inches. Meteorological data have been recorded at Brookhaven Lab since 1949.

With 60.2 inches of precipitation, 1996 was the third wettest year on record. Two previous records were set in 1983 and in 1989, with 63.8 and 68.7 inches of precipitation, respectively. Also, 1996 brought the wettest December on record, with 8.66 inches of precipitation. This beat the previous record, set in 1957, by two-tenths of an inch.

"It could have been worse in December," said Brookhaven Lab meteorologist Victor Cassella. "On average, every one inch of rain equals ten inches of snow, so if all that rain were snow, we would have had a snowfall of 86 inches."

While the average temperature for the year was only 0.4F above average, four new high temperatures and one new low temperature were set for 1996. The thermometer hit two new highs on May 20 and 21 97.5F and 91F, respectively. The previous records were 86.5F set in 1975 for May 20 and 87F set in 1992 for May 21. Also, highs of 68.5F for November 7 and 57.5F for December 24 broke previous records for those dates of 67F set in 1975, and 57F set in 1982, respectively. A new low of 2F was set on March 10, beating the previous record set in 1972 by 3F.

There was good weather news for local residents, too. While 1996 had an active hurricane season, with 13 hurricanes hitting the Atlantic basin, Long Island was spared from these storms.
Mr. Cassella predicts Long Island will probably get much less snow in 1997 than it did last season. "From the time we began keeping records to the present, this is the ninth season in which we have gotten only one-half inch of snow, or less, by January 1 and during seven of these years, we've had less than 20 inches of snow for the whole season," he said.

But don't put away your shovels or snowblowers. Mr. Casella makes no guarantees on his very long-term weather predictions.

Brookhaven National Laboratory carries out basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences and in selected energy technologies. Brookhaven is operated by Associated Universities, Inc. a nonprofit research management organization, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.

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NOTE TO EDITORS: The graph shows the record-breaking snowfall of the 1995-96 snow season. The ground remained white for almost half a year, since each month from November through April brought from two to 15 times as much snow as normal.