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Northeast records warmest October on record

A composite image taken by NOAA's newest weather satellite, GOES-16 on Jan. 15, 2017.
A warming planet is leading to more weather extremes.

Month continued warm and wet trend

The Northeast United States saw its warmest October on record, according to average temperatures reported by the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

This follows a very wet summer and early fall in the region.

It’s the consequence of a warming climate, say scientists.

WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill spoke with Michael Rawlins, associate director of the Climate System Research Center at UMass Amherst.

Michael Rawlins
October was record warm. For the Northeast US as a whole as an average. The departure from normal was a 5.7 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a pretty substantial departure from normal temperatures for October.

Paul Tuthill 
And were a number of of of temperature records set in different locations in the Northeast in October?

Michael Rawlins
Yeah, a number of states had record or near record temperatures. Maryland saw its warmest October, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island had their second warmest October and, and all the remaining states in the region had their third warmest October. Temperatures average between about four to around eight degrees Fahrenheit above normal across the region. And these warm temperatures in October, were driven largely by warm morning lows, overnight low temperatures.

Paul Tuthill 
Why is that significant that it was the overnight low temperatures that contributed to the record warm.

Michael Rawlins
Well, this is indicating possible connection with the warm ocean waters in the western Atlantic. But also there was just a lot of mornings that had, we had a lot of precipitation and rain. So the environment, there's more moisture in the atmosphere. And that makes it harder for the morning lows to cool off as much. We look at what we were seeing over the past few days in the Northeast with these morning lows getting really cool because of the dry air. Well, we didn't have that in October, the atmosphere was more moist. And so a lot of the morning lows were much more above normal compared with the daytime highs.

Paul Tuthill 
So overall, the long, the long term trend here has been warmer and wetter, right?

Michael Rawlins
Yes. And so in the Northeast us the trends have been over the past few decades, past century, if you will, have been toward warmer temperatures and more precipitation, more precipitation in each season, and more total rainfall over the year. And these increases in precipitation are also coming with increases in most extreme events. So we're seeing a much of the precipitation come in the heaviest events that's been increasing. And then of course, the warming temperatures in all seasons. And with that an increase in the extreme heat events. And so we're heading into a season now where we're looking like it's likely that it'll be one of the warmer autumns on record. At least top five, likely, when we conclude November.

Paul Tuthill 
What are your takeaways from the global climate slap us the Global Climate Summit that's taking place in Glasgow?

Michael Rawlins
Well, it's good to see the countries coming together and renewing and increasing their pledge amounts for their commitments to reducing greenhouse gases. I also do feel, though, that it's good to see some of this movement, some of this anger, some of the youth movement, that some of the lack of commitment to some of the some of the goals that have been set to keep our warming under 1.5 or even two degrees Celsius. Possibly more concerning is some report that there's been a lack of transparency in accounting for greenhouse gases. Some countries may be under reporting their greenhouse gas emissions, there's been reporting by some media organizations, and that's a bit of a concern and hopefully there will be some follow up into ensure that greenhouse gas emissions by each country are accurately reported.