Feb. 3, 2004

b-b-b-Boston and b-b-b-Bridgeport go brrrrrrr through the coldest January in 50 years

Toss another log on the Yankee fire. This was the coldest January for Bridgeport, Conn., and Boston in a half century, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.

Boston's average temperature for the month was 20.7 degrees Fahrenheit and for Bridgeport it was 21.7 degrees, says Keith Eggleston, a senior climatologist at the center. The normal average January temperature for Boston is 29.3 degrees and for Bridgeport it is 29.9 degrees.

New York City, Syracuse, N.Y., Binghamton, N.Y., and Worcester, Mass., each had the second-coldest January in the past 50 years. New York City's average temperature was 24.7 degrees Fahrenheit, second only to 1977, when the month's average in the city plummeted to 22 degrees. The normal average January temperature for New York City is 32.1 degrees.

Syracuse January temperatures averaging 14.7 degrees, only slightly higher than the 12.6-degree average in 1994. The normal January average for Syracuse is 22.7 degrees. In Binghamton, the average temperature fell to 13.4 degrees in January, balmy compared to the average of 12 degrees set in 1977. Binghamton's normal January average is 21.7 degrees. January's average temperature in Worcester was 15.1 degrees, slightly warmer than the frigid average of 14.9 degrees set 34 years ago. Worcester's average January temperature is 23.6 degrees.

Moving farther north in the Northeast region, the average January temperature in Caribou, Maine, was 3.2 degrees this year, compared with the normal average for the month of 9.5 degrees. The city's coldest January average temperature in recorded history was 0 degrees in 1994.

"This has been a pretty persistent cold," says Eggleston, explaining that January started warmer than usual before the jet stream plunged the region into a deep freeze for four weeks.

When will it warm up? Eggleston says that with the jet stream entrenched, the bitter cold could remain in the Northeast through February and March. He says the region could see the same jet stream pattern as the bitter cold winter of January through March, 1994. However, he points out that the Northeast stands an equally strong chance of warming up, which is what happened in December 2000, followed by climbing temperatures in January and February 2001.

January 2004 temperatures in perspective

Station                     Avg.Temp  Rank   Coldest Jan     Last time it
                             Jan 04                           was colder

Boston                        20.7     1     20.7 in 2004          -
Bridgeport, Conn.             21.7     1     21.7 in 2004          -
Binghamton, N.Y.              13.4     2     12.0 in 1977     12.0 in 1977
Syracuse, N.Y.                14.7     2     12.6 in 1994     12.6 in 1994
Worcester, Mass.              15.1     2     14.9 in 1970     14.9 in 1970
New York City, NY             24.7     2     22.0 in 1977     22.0 in 1977
Caribou, Maine                 3.2     3      0.0 in 1994      0.0 in 1994
Scranton, Pa.                 18.6     3     15.0 in 1977     15.0 in 1977
Burlington, Vt.                8.8     4      3.6 in 1970      7.0 in 1994
Buffalo, N.Y,                 17.4     4     13.8 in 1977     17.2 in 1994
Hartford, Conn.               18.7     4     16.8 in 1970     17.8 in 1981
Providence, R.I.              21.4     4     19.6 in 1970     20.3 in 1981
Newark, N.J.                  24.2     4     20.9 in 1977     24.1 in 1982
Baltimore                     27.5     4     22.9 in 1977     27.0 in 1994
Rochester, N.Y.               17.2     5     14.9 in 1994     14.9 in 1994
Wilmington, Del.              25.4     5     20.8 in 1977     24.8 in 1984
Albany, N.Y.                  14.6     6      9.7 in 1970     12.7 in 1994
Portland, Maine               15.0     6     12.1 in 1971     14.0 in 1994
Ithaca, N.Y.                  15.8     6     13.0 in 1977     13.8 in 1994
Williamsport, Pa.             20.6     6     14.9 in 1977     18.5 in 1994
Philadelphia                  26.1     6     20.0 in 1977     24.7 in 1982
Atlantic City, N.J            26.8     6     19.7 in 1977     26.7 in 1985
Washington, D.C.              30.5     6     25.4 IN 1977     28.8 IN 1994
Allentown, Pa.                22.0     7     18.6 in 1977     20.6 in 1994
Pittsburgh                    22.0     9     11.4 in 1977     21.4 in 2003
Concord, N.H                  14.2    10     10.6 in 1977     12.6 in 2003
Cleveland                     21.6    12     11.0 in 1977     21.2 in 2003
Erie, Pa.                     21.8    13     12.5 in 1977     20.7 in 2003
Elkins, W.Va.                 24.8    15     15.0 in 1977     22.3 in 2003
Charleston, W.Va.             30.8    16     18.5 in 1977     28.2 in 2003

All comparisons are for the 50 years 1955-2004. Data compiled by the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.