1997 Was 25th Driest, 26th Coolest In 103 Years

January 30, 1998

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The Northeast enjoyed warmer-than-normal temperatures during December. Most states averaged temperatures between 1 and 3 degrees warmer than normal. New Hampshire was the exception on the high end, averaging 3.3 degrees warmer than its long-term normal for the month, which is 22.9 degrees. West Virginia, meanwhile, was only one-tenth of a degree warmer than its normal, which is 33.7 degrees. The area-weighted average for the entire region was 2 degrees warmer than normal, with the normal being 27.5 for the month according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.

Precipitation was below normal across the Northeast. The only significant area of above normal precipitation was along the New York/New Jersey coast into parts of upstate New York. New Jersey averaged 108 percent of their 30-year mean December precipitation amount (3.67 inches.) The remaining 11 northeast states were drier than normal. Vermont showed the largest deviation from normal with 65 percent of their December monthly average (3.28 inches.) The 12-state region average was 2.78 inches, which is 81 percent of 3.45 inches normal, according to Keith Eggleston, climatologist at the center.

There were no new weather records set anywhere in the Northeast in December 1997.

Annual Climate Summary for 1997

Precipitation: Riding the heels of the wettest year on record in 1996 in the Northeast, 1997 was the 25th driest of the last 103 years. The region overall reported a 3-inch precipitation deficit, which corresponded to 93 percent of the long-term normal. Nine of the year's 12 months were on the dry side of normal, with October being the driest (1.81 inches of precipitation, which is 54 percent of normal.) March was the wettest month with respect to normal, as Northeasterners saw 4.35 inches for the region, which is 136 percent of normal.) Rhode Island reported the largest departure from normal, with 86 percent of their normal annual accumulation. At 97 percent, Vermont had the region's smallest departure at 1.4 inches short of normal.

page - December 1997

Temperature: Although 1997 has been touted by some as the warmest year on record, this was not reflected in the Northeast. The region averaged 0.4 degrees cooler than normal during 1997, making it the 26th coolest of the last 103 years. All states were within a degree of normal. The cool weather was quite persistent through the year. Although January and February were each warmer than normal, the following nine months were near to, or colder, than normal. May was the 4th coolest on record for the Northeast. The year ended with December rebounding to an above normal level.

Cornell University

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