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January 9, 2002

Electronic newsroom



Long Island Weather of 2001 — A Blizzard in March, Blossoms in December

UPTON, NY - Long Island felt more like Florida for much of November and December of 2001, when blossoms appeared on forsythia bushes and crabapple trees. According to meterological records kept at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, November’s average high temperature was a record-breaking 59.3 degrees F. The previous record of 58 degrees F for the month was set in 1994. December brought an average high of 50 degrees F, which was 0.4 degrees F higher than the record set in 1984.

In fact, with an average yearly temperature of 52.3 degrees F — some 2.3 degrees F above normal — 2001 was the fifth warmest year since Brookhaven started recording weather statistics in 1949.

Despite the balmy weather in late fall, the 2001 snow season, from October 2000 through April 2001, brought 51.2 inches of snow, some 21.6 inches more than normal for the period. The sole blizzard of the year brought 15 inches of snow on March 5 and 6. The total of 19 inches of snowfall was three times the average for the month.

March was the wettest month on record, with 10.37 inches of precipitation (including snow, which is melted for measuring), topping the previous record for the month of 10.36 inches set in 1953. But, overall, 2001 was a dry year. Total precipitation for the year was 45.5 inches, while the norm is 48.4 inches. The last third of the year was the driest. October and November both had precipitation that was three inches below the norm at 1.04 inches and 0.74 inches respectively. With 4.6 inches of precipitation, December was two inches below the norm.

No hurricanes hit Long Island in 2001. The biggest storm occurred on July 11, when hail, heavy rain, and 60-mile-per-hour winds hit parts of the Island.

The year brought the hottest June and August ever in 53 years with average monthly temperatures of 70 degrees F and 74.3 degrees F, respectively. The previous record for June was 69.9 degrees F set in 1994, and 73.4 degrees F for August, set in 1988.

Twelve record-high daily temperatures were recorded in 2001. The thermometer hit 76 degrees F on April 9, one-half degree more than the record 75.5 degrees F set on that date in 1970. The beginning of May brought three consecutive days of unprecendented heat — 89 degrees F on May 2, beating the record of 83 degrees set in 1952; 89 degrees F again on May 3, a full 13.5 degrees higher than the record set in 1980, and 91.5 degrees F on May 4, some 2.5 degrees more than the 1965 record. August also brought three record-breaking daily temperatures on consecutive days — 95 degrees F on August 7, beating the 1983 record by two degrees; 98.5 degrees F on August 8, a full eight degrees higher than another 1983 record; and 99.5 degrees F on August 9, some 3.5 degrees F warmer than the record set in 1949.

The record-breaking high for October 25 was 76 degrees F, a half-degree higher than the record set in 1963. The November 30 high of 65.5 degrees F beat the record set in 1962 by two degrees. Early December brought three record highs. December 1 brought a high of 69.5 degrees F, some 3.5 degrees higher than the 1962 record for the date, and December 5 and 6 each brought highs of 68.5 degrees F, beating the 62 degrees F record for the 5th, set in both 1973 and 1999, and the 67.5 degrees F. record for the sixth set in 1998.

What’s the predicition for 2002 and 2003? Brookhaven Lab meteorologist Victor Cassella predicts that if the winter stays fairly warm, spring of 2002 may bring more precipitation than usual, especially a lot of thunderstorms. He has also observed that mild falls often lead to severe, snow-filled winters a year in advance, so, he warns, watch out for the winter of 2002-2003.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies. Brookhaven also builds and operates major facilities available to university, industrial, and government scientists. The Laboratory is managed by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited liability company founded by Stony Brook University and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.