This year March could end up being colder than both January and February for the first time since records started being kept on Long Island.
Only once has March come in colder than February since records started being kept at Long Island MacArthur Airport, said Jessica Spaccio, climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center, based at Cornell University. That was in 1984 — coincidentally the first year of record-keeping — with February reaching 38.1 degrees and March, 34.6.
When it comes to cold, January, she said, has never been outdone by March, at least not since 1984.
After a warmer-than-normal start to 2017, “it’s going to be close” based on her calculations, Spaccio said.
As of day end Monday, the temperature for the month so far at the airport was an average 36.2 degrees, which is 2.5 degrees below normal.
That means March so far was neck-and-neck with January, which ended up averaging 36.2 degrees, which is 5.6 degrees above normal. February was a wrap with 37.8 degrees, 5 degrees above normal.
Looking at what had been forecast for Tuesday through Friday — which, of course, is subject to change — March ends up with a monthly average of 37.3 degrees, Spaccio said. Looking at what would be normal for those days, the average would be 37.2 degrees.
That means March could be “about a half a degree cooler than February, and about a degree warmer than January,” she said, based on Tuesday’s calculations.
February’s warmth was “partly due to southerly winds blowing mild air usually reserved for areas farther south to northern regions,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Climate.gov. “Helping to make that air even warmer than normal were warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures across the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.”
In a tweet on Sunday the National Weather Service in Upton pointed out that at that point the airport was colder than both January and February. But Carlie Buccola, a weather service meteorologist, said Tuesday that she was not about to speculate as to how temperatures in the coming days might affect the outcome, although she was happy to share what was in the forecast.