Mar 22, 2012: Record Warmth Ends Tomorrow

Forecast Highlights:

– Typical March pattern to return this weekend, next week
– Some, but not a lot of rain expected this weekend
– Colder by next week; sub-freezing lows possible inland


Record highs on Thursday, March 22, 2012:

Central Park, NY
78 degrees (previous record: 77 degrees – 1929 / 1938)
LaGuardia, NY
76 degrees (previous record: 75 degrees – 1948)
Islip, NY
73 degrees (previous record: 68 degrees – 2003)
Bridgeport, CT
71 degrees (previous record: 63 degrees – 2003)


Today’s Observations:

After a round of dense fog last night and this morning, cloud cover became partly sunny as temperatures quickly went up, setting up what became yet another record-extending warm day for the region. As the peak of the unusually warm air mass moved through the region, today ended up as the warmest day for most of the area, with high temperatures surging into the upper 70s for many locations north and west of NYC, peaking at 79 degrees in Teterboro and Newark in New Jersey, with highs reaching the upper 60s to mid 70s in most of Long Island and southern CT. Four record highs were officially broken across the area today, with Newark ending up just shy of its record high of 80 degrees, set in 1938. JFK Airport was also 2 degrees below its record high. Today’s temperatures ended up nearly identical to yesterday’s forecast, with very minor differences such as in southern Long Island.

Tomorrow will be the last very warm day for a while, as a back door cold front moves through, bringing temperatures back towards where they should be around this time of the year, in the 50s and 60s through the weekend and next week, with some rain expected this weekend. As some changes take place in the pattern, however, colder than average temperatures will return for parts of next week, and in direct contrast to this week, when unusually warm weather took place with plants and trees growing, the potential is there for sub-freezing temperatures in the interior parts of the area by next week.

Tomorrow’s Outlook:

With the back door cold front moving through, what’s left of the warmth will affect the area tomorrow, with partly cloudy skies, likely mostly cloudy/cloudy early in the day closer to the coast. Some fog is expected towards Long Island and CT, but will not be as widespread as the fog last night and this morning. Temperatures are currently expected to warm up into the lower to mid 70s across most of the area with upper 60s in parts of Long Island/S CT and mid 70s in some areas west and SW of NYC.

Weekend Outlook: Colder And Rainy

The cutoff low that has been stuck over the central US for the last few days will slowly drift east, reaching the region by Saturday with cloudy skies and isolated showers. SE winds are expected to continue, with highs in the upper 50s to lower 60s inland and the lower to upper 50s for the eastern parts of the area. The cutoff low will track to the south of the area, keeping the heaviest rain to the south as well, but occasional showers will continue throughout the day on Sunday and into Sunday night. At this time, it appears that at least 1/2 inch of rain could fall in general, but amounts could end up locally higher, closer to 1 inch, while other isolated areas do not see much rain during the weekend. Sunday will also be slightly cooler with the more widespread rain, with highs in the lower to mid 50s across most of the area, reaching the upper 50s in parts of northern NJ.

Next Week: Colder; Sub-32 Temperatures Possible Inland

Once the cutoff low moves offshore, temperatures may briefly warm up, with highs in the mid 50s to lower 60s expected on Monday, along with windy conditions, with gusts up to 30-35, possibly 40 mph, possible. During that time, however, the cutoff low is likely to phase and move towards Newfoundland, possibly stalling there with the help of the minor changes in the pattern, such as a much weaker cold air mass over Greenland. In that scenario, a strong trough will drop into the region, also affecting NYC but with the coldest temperatures focused over New England. There is some uncertainty with the exact temperatures, and the latest models are likely overestimating the intensity of the cold air mass as they often tend to do during cold spells, but near to possibly below average temperatures are expected for Tuesday and Wednesday. Both days are expected to bring mostly sunny skies with highs likely in the upper 40s to lower 50s for most places, getting up to 55 degrees closer to NYC.

It is possible that the models may trend weaker with the phasing, resulting in a weaker cool spell and more warmth into later next week. Assuming that the storm does stall close to Newfoundland, the next approaching storm on Thursday would weaken and be forced to track ESE through the Northeast, resulting in perhaps 1-2 days of 60 degree weather at most followed by a return to highs in the 50s. Light rain is also likely to fall on Thursday, but once again, no significant rain amounts are expected, keeping the dry pattern in place. There are still signals showing up that a cooler pattern may continue into early April, but this does not appear to be any sustained stronger cold pattern, and while the return of snow is possible, if not likely, in the higher elevations of New England, this pattern does not appear to be the right one for a late season snowstorm in the area. Stay tuned for more information on the longer range.

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