Contact: Diane Greenberg or Mona S. Rowe
Upton, NY - Remember the summer of 1997? It was one of the best for Long Islanders, in terms of weather. According to meteorological records kept at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, the period from June 1 through September 30 brought only 8.97 inches of rain - 5.45 inches less than average for the period. Meteorological data have been recorded at Brookhaven Lab since 1949.
"That translated to a lot of clear, sunny days last summer," said Brookhaven Lab meteorologist Victor Cassella. "Also, summer days were two degrees warmer than average, while summer nights were two degrees cooler. It was great beach weather."
Overall, 1997 was a dry year, with 40.04 inches of precipitation, which is 8.09 inches below the average of 48.13 inches. In contrast to the previous winter, which brought Long Island a record-breaking 90.8 inches of snow from October 1995 through April 1996, the same period for 1996-97 brought only 18 inches of snow. The average yearly snowfall recorded at Brookhaven is 30.2 inches.
While the average temperature for 1997 was only 0.6ºF above average, the month of February was the second warmest on record, with an average temperature of 36.5ºF, a full six degrees above normal. The previous record for a warm February was set in 1984, at 37.1ºF. On February 19, 1997, a new high was set at 62ºF, beating the old record of 56ºF set in 1981.
The thermometer hit two new highs on July 14 and 15 - 95ºF and 96.5ºF, respectively. The previous records were 93.5ºF set in July 14, 1954, and 96ºF set on July 15, 1983. Also, highs of 91.5ºF and 90.5ºF were set on August 16 and 17, consecutively, while the previous highs for those dates were 90.5ºF in 1995 and 90ºF in 1987. On October 6, the temperature zoomed to 85ºF, which was two degrees higher than the record set in 1983. On November 19, the temperature fell to 18ºF, which tied for the lowest temperature on that date, with the previous record set in 1950.
No hurricanes hit Long Island in 1997, although tropical storm Danny on July 24 and a northeaster on December 29 each brought wind gusts of up to 35 miles per hour to the area. The December storm lasted 24 hours - twice as long as Danny.
According to Mr. Cassella, El Niño should bring warmer, wetter weather to Long Island in 1998. He said, "Warmer weather will make storms more intense, and if the storms travel east of Montauk, Long Island, in the winter, they could bring more snow. Storms that move west of Long Island will be milder, bringing rain."