Climate Crisis

Warming Trend Continues in Southern New England


Despite ending on a frigid note, 2017 was a warm year for southern New England, and the planet.

Globally, a European Union climate agency calculates that 2017 was 2.16 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than pre-industrial temperatures, to earn the second-warmest year on record after 2016; 2015 was the previous second warmest.

Locally, 2017 was the eighth warmest for Rhode Island and Connecticut, and the 10th warmest for Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service and the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.

Driving up the temperatures was a record-warm February, which was 6.6 degrees above normal and the highest for the Northeast since 1895. Feb. 23 set a record of 66 degrees in Providence. The Bay State also had the distinction of having its first February tornado, which touched down in western Massachusetts.

It was the warmest October ever for New England. Massachusetts and Connecticut had their warmest autumns since data were taken. Providence had a record October, with an average temperature of 61.3 degrees, 7.7 degrees above normal.

Data from the National Weather Service show that Providence had an average temperature of 52.9 degrees in 2017. The state had an average temperature of 51.5 degrees; 2012 was the warmest year in Rhode Island since 1905, with an average of 52.9 degrees, and 2016 was the second warmest for the state, with an average temperature of 52.2 degrees.

Summer 2017 temperatures in Providence were slightly below average at 71.1 degrees, 1.35 degrees below the mean. Last spring had average temperatures, but last winter was the eighth warmest at 35.1 degrees, 3.3 degree above the average.

February was the seventh warmest in Providence, with an average temperature of 35.7 degrees. April was the third warmest in Providence, with an average temperature of 52.6 degrees, 3.5 degrees above average. May 18 reached a record 95 degrees. May 19 reached 91 degrees, breaking a record of 89 degrees set in 1906.

Winter 2017 was the eighth warmest in Providence. Jan. 12 hit a record 60 degrees, and January had an average temperature in Providence of 34.8 degrees, 5.6 above the mean.

Last spring was the fifth wettest for Providence, as April and May had nearly 14 inches of precipitation. In all, 2017 was close to the average for precipitation in southern New England. But 2018 began with record snowfall on Jan. 4, with 14.1 inches in Providence, 13.4 inches in Boston, and 10.2 inches in Hartford.


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