What is it with December 16? Northeast sees anomalous weather two years in a row

Children try out the climbing wall at the opening of Battery Playscape in Lower Manhattan, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, a day on which the high temperature in New York City almost broke a record and records across the Northeast fell.(Diane Bondareff/AP Images for The Battery Conservancy)

On Dec. 16, 2020, parts of the Northeast were buried under a historic early-season snowfall. On the same day one year later, the Northeast enjoyed a beautiful fall day with temperatures breaking records and rising into the 60s. Such is the dramatic difference that a year can make when it comes to the weather.

The mercury shot to 62 degrees in Central Park on Dec. 16 this year, while last year the park was slammed by a storm that brought the first double-digit snow totals in almost five years to the Big Apple as 10 inches accumulated in Central Park, with the impressive snowstorm more than doubling the 2019-2020 season's snowfall total alone.

The unusual heat continued in the New York City area on Friday, with LaGuardia Airport reporting a high-temperature record for Dec. 17 before the sun even came up.

Last year, the City of Brotherly Love got its biggest snowfall in more than 1,000 days, with nearly half a foot, or 5.7 inches, reported in Philadelphia on Dec. 16. This year, the weather around the city was tranquil with an April-like high temperature of 65 degrees.

In Binghamton, New York, an unprecedented total of 40 inches piled up in less than 24 hours, destroying the city's previous two-day snowfall record of 35.3 inches, set in March of 2017.

Snow fell at a staggering rate of 4 to 5 inches per hour as a band of significant snow on the northwestern side of the storm sat overhead for hours, leaving mountains of snow in its wake. The incredibly heavy band of snow ended up unloading feet of snow from central Pennsylvania, across upstate New York and into interior New England through Thursday. The band of heavy snow was so intense that it spawned thunder and lightning, a phenomenon known as thundersnow.

Newark Valley, New York, located just northwest of Binghamton, reported the highest snowfall total, measuring 44 inches, just shy of the 4-foot mark, with the snowfall there piling higher than people's waists.

Snow is cleared after a heavy snowfall on a street in Binghamton, N.Y., Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. Binghamton Airport reported 39.1 inches of snow from Dec, 16-17, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Impressive snow totals were also reported in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, home to the Little League World Series, with 24.7 inches of snow measured following last year's massive snowstorm, which became the biggest single snowstorm in the city's history.

But, the forecast for Binghamton looked very different yesterday, when Binghamton's temperature climbed to 60 degrees Thursday, smashing the former record of 54 degrees set back in 1971.

Elsewhere in the region, Syracuse, New York, hit 67 degrees, crushing the old record high of just 55 degrees, also set in 1971. Williamsport, too, shattered its all-time high record for the day when the mercury topped out at 65, besting the previous record high of 58 for the day set exactly 50 years prior.

Record highs were hit as far south as West Virginia, where the temperature in Charleston shot up to 72 degrees.

The warmth is expected to dissipate for parts of the interior Northeast by Saturday, with snowfall expected for parts of the area. An area of low pressure is forecast to develop along a cold front entering the United States while an area of high pressure in Quebec will work to funnel colder air into New England. This will lead to the potential for snow to fall in portions of southern Ontario, upstate New York and New England, just days after experiencing record-setting heat.

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