Oct. 16, 1998 ITHACA, N.Y. -- To date, 1998 is running ahead of 1953, the Northeast's warmest year on record, according to the climatologists at the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University. If warm temperatures continue in the current pattern through the rest of the year, 1998 may surpass 1953 as the warmest year, says Keith Eggleston, senior climatologist at the center.
Eggleston says that the temperature for the Northeast needs to average 1.5 degrees above normal for October, November and December in order to beat the old high-temperature mark of 49.5 degrees Fahrenheit for the year.
For the first nine months of this year, the period of Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 1998 ran second to 1921 as being the warmest such period on record, but only by a smidgen -- three-tenths of a degree. However, in the same period, the 12-state Northeast region averaged 3.2 degrees warmer than normal, or 52.6 degrees, and stands second to 1921's 52.9 degrees on the list of the Northeast's warmest January-September periods. (The normal average temperature is based on a 30-year period: 1961 to 1990.)
Eggleston explains that while 1998 is running ahead of 1953 for the Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 period, the last three months of 1953 were very warm and pulled the year's average temperature up.
During September, warmer-than-normal conditions dominated. The area-weighted average temperature for the region was 2.5 degrees warmer than the normal 60.3 degrees, and it was the 16th warmest September in 104 years of record-keeping. West Virginia averaged 3.5 degrees warmer than the normal 64 degrees, while New Hampshire recorded a departure that was 1 degree warmer than the 30-year normal of 57 degrees.
Precipitation in September was similar to that of July and August: It was below normal in every state except Vermont. The area-weighted state average for Vermont was 3.92 inches of rain, which is 113 percent of normal. Elsewhere, precipitation ranged between 46 percent (1.67 inches) of normal (3.64 inches) in Delaware and 80 percent of normal (3.50 inches) in Maine.
For September, the 12-state region overall averaged 2.55 inches of rain, which was 71 percent of normal, making it the 23rd driest September on record.
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