2012 sets record for Northeast's hottest year ever
ITHACA, N.Y. -- No surprise for Northeast residents sweating out the summer after a winter barely touching their snow shovels: This is the hottest year on record in the region so far.
The Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University reported Tuesday that the average temperature in the 12-state region was 49.9 degrees from January through July. That's the warmest seven-month period since 1895, the year systematic record keeping began.
While it makes for sweaty nights, not everybody's complaining.
"The heat is definitely a blessing for us after coming off the warm, dry winter without a lot of weather events," said Alan Ayers, general manager at Crisafulli Brothers Plumbing and Heating Contractors in Albany.
The 73-year-old company has seen an 18 percent increase in new installations over last year and has its 16 technicians working long hours to install, replace and repair air conditioning units taxed by the swelter.
The second-warmest comparable period was 1921, when the seven-month average was 49.2 degrees.
The data come after the Northeast endured a sweltering July with record-breaking temperatures around the region. Syracuse hit 101 on July 17, and Washington's Reagan National Airport recorded 105 degrees on July 7.
On a single day, July 18, LaGuardia Airport in New York City hit 101 degrees; Baltimore and Newark, N.J., recorded 104 degrees; and Philadelphia 100 degrees, according to the climate center.
Areas around the United States this summer have suffered through blistering heat waves, wildfires and droughts -- the sorts of extreme weather events that experts have predicted will come with climate change. But Kathy Vreeland, a climatologist at the Cornell center, cautioned against reading too much into a small set of data covering a single region.
"It could be global climate change. It could be an anomalous year, or anomalous run of years," she said.
Ayers said the heat tests his crews' people skills, as well as their technical ability.
"Any time you have more work than normal, it does wear down on the men, and the customers as well," he said. "Due to the continued warm weather, some of new customers tend to be a little less patient."
Breaking the warm spell down by state, it was the warmest first seven months of the year in the six New England states, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. It was the second warmest such period in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
It also was the warmest 12-month period in the Northeast through July.
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