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Balmy weather jolts Northeast in weird winter

The National Weather Service reported record or near-record temperatures across the Northeast Saturday after a long warm spell.
/ Source: The Associated Press

As Marie Goff drove up the muddy access road to the top of the bobsled track at Mount Van Hoevenberg on Saturday, the thermometer on the dashboard caught her eye.

“Unbelievable, 51 degrees,” said Goff, a driver for the Olympic Regional Development Authority. “Thank goodness it stopped raining and thank goodness the track is refrigerated.”

The balmy winter, which has sap running, tree buds sprouting and dogs shedding their winter coats, has been unlike any other in Goff’s memory, and she’s 83.

The National Weather Service reported record or near-record temperatures across the region Saturday after a long warm spell.

Albany International Airport hit 71 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The temperature at Boston’s Logan International Airport was 69 degrees at about 2:30 p.m. In New Jersey, records set in 1950 were broken in Newark, Trenton and Atlantic City. And in New York City’s Central Park, the thermometer hit 72, tying January’s all-time high. The city, and much of the region, has seen no snow this winter.

“I can remember a thaw at Christmas many times, but not for the length of time we’ve had this year,” said Goff, who was ferrying passengers at the Chevrolet Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, a competition on ice by racecar drivers.

Two percent warmer
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projected that December, January and February would be about 2 percent warmer in the Northeast than the 30-year average, citing both the oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific, or El Nino, as well as long-term climate trends.

A cold front coming into the Northeast was expected to begin lowering temperatures Saturday night, said Neil Stuart, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

Eight of the 12 warmest years on record have happened since 1990, and the big culprit for the overall trend has been global warming, said David Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist at Rutgers University.

“You can’t explain this without including the enhancement of greenhouse gases,” Robinson said.

The weather is bad news for some businesses. Kelly Belli, 34, a secretary at Aero Snow Removal’s office in Newark, N.J., said worrying wasn’t going to solve the lack of business, she said.

“You can’t change the weather,” she said. “It is what it is.”