Well, January’s a wrap.
The month ended with above normal average temperatures, and above normal precipitation — with a big wink at the above normal snowfall, most of it delivered by a crippling storm that impacted much of the East Coast.
While six days did see high temperatures right at or below freezing, the month, on whole, averaged out at 33.3 degrees, which is 2.7 degrees above the monthly norm, according to data from the National Weather Service’s Upton office.
Several days saw a trace of snow — one day even a smidgen over an inch. The higher than normal monthly snowfall was attributed to the much-anticipated nor’easter — officially deemed a blizzard for the Island — that arrived Jan. 23 and dropped a total of 23.7 inches at Long Island MacArthur Airport.
The correspondingly higher precip of 4.47 inches, in turn, is credited with getting Long Island out of the moderate drought category, where it had been stuck since May. That’s according to the most recent weekly update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, which now places the Island in the abnormally dry category.
Indeed, meteorological winter — December through February — has been right on target with expectations for a mild but wet winter from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Climate Prediction Center, as indicated in November in its updated winter weather outlook. Such mild and wet conditions in the Northeast have been seen in other winters that have been impacted by strong El Niño events, with the recent one especially strong, weather experts have said.
El Niño, the warm phase in a complicated climate cycle, involves warmer than normal sea surface temperatures in the east and central tropical Pacific, which, in turn, can contribute to shifts in weather patterns worldwide.
Looking to February’s kickoff, the first five days of the month are forecast to be considerably milder than for that time frame last year, the weather service says.
Monday’s high hit a daily record 64 degrees at the airport. Last year’s Feb. 2 to 5 saw highs of 34, 24, 40 and 38, with the coming four days forecast to reach 47 on Tuesday, 57 on Wednesday, 46 on Thursday, and 39 on Friday, Barthold said.
As for the entire month, the prediction center said the area that includes Long Island is tilting slightly — 33 percent to 40 percent — in favor of above normal temperatures, with a similar tilt toward above normal precipitation.