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Building 134
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000
phone 631 344-2345
fax 631 344-3368

managed for the U.S. Department of Energy
by Brookhaven Science Associates, a company
founded by Stony Brook University and Battelle

News Release

Number: 03-01
Released: January 9, 2003
Contact: Diane Greenberg, 631 344-2347 or Mona S. Rowe, 631 344-5056

Long Island Weather of 2002 — Mild and Warm, No Hurricanes, Light Snowfall

UPTON, NY - “Beautiful!” That’s how meteorologist Victor Cassella of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory described last year’s Long Island weather. In fact, 2002 was a warm year, with an average annual temperature of 52.7oF, almost three degrees above average. The winter was particularly mild, with four days reaching above 60oF in January and February. The entire winter of 2001-2002 brought only 5.5 inches of snow, the second lowest seasonal snowfall since Brookhaven Lab started recording weather statistics in 1949.

The summer brought sunny skies, with rainfall well below average. Precipitation for the entire year, however, was 52.07 inches, above the average of 48.5 inches. “Higher than average rainfall came late in the year, in September through December,” Cassella explained. “Also, while several hurricanes came up the coast, none affected Long Island in 2002.”

Two monthly weather records were broken in 2002. February was the driest month on record, with only 1.16 inches of precipitation. The previous record was 1.18 inches of rainfall for that month in 1980. April was the warmest month on record, with an average temperature of 51.4oF, beating the previous record of 51oF set in 1991.

One record-low daily temperature and fifteen record-high daily temperatures were recorded in 2002. Those who planted their tomato plants early were worried about frost as the temperature dipped to the freezing point — 32oF — on May 19, beating the previous low temperature of 32.5oF for the date set in 1956. Records highs were recorded

in January, February, April, July and August. The most dramatic high temperatures occurred on January 29, when the thermometer hit 69.5oF, 11.5oF higher than the previous record set in 1974, and on April 16, when the temperature reached 89.5oF, also 11.5oF higher than the record set in 1976. Some Long Islanders who were viewing a parade or lounging on the beach on the Fourth of July might recall the heat of that holiday. The temperature reached 96.5oF that day, the highest maximum temperature for the year.

In contrast to last year’s paltry snowfall, the 18 inches of snow recorded so far this winter is slightly above average. “More snow than rain is a safe forecast for the coming winter months, since the coldest weeks are still ahead,” said Cassella. “I also predict we’ll also have a wetter and cooler spring than normal.”

Cassella predicted in January 2002 that the spring of that year would be wetter than usual, and he was right on target, since March through June were wetter than normal. Also a year ago, he predicted heavier than usual snowfall for the winter of 2002-2003, a forecast he still stands by, so it’s probably best to keep the snow shovels handy.