ITHACA, N.Y.—In many ways, 2022 was a tumultuous year. It was the year we attempted to crawl back to pre-COVID lifestyles, dealt with record inflation and it always seemed like some place in the nation or world was experiencing a natural disaster.
Yet, while it may not have felt like it, with the heat waves and cold snaps, the dry runs and wet spells, Tompkins County ended up with a year that was nearly perfectly average in temperature and precipitation.
The findings are confirmed by data recorded by the Northeast Regional Climate Center, which is based out of Cornell University’s campus. Now, it should be noted that a year of weather data averaging out to perfectly ordinary is really rather extraordinary, even on a regional level.
Taking a look at temperature, there was a pretty clear divide in the Northeast between those with abnormal heat, and those left out in the relative cold. Much of New England experienced an unseasonably mild year, while the Northern Appalachians were cooler than its long-term average.
Of the 35 first-order weather stations in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, 26 had a top 20 for warmest years on record, and most of these stations have records dating back for well over a century. Only six were below average (two were perfectly normal, and Scranton’s equipment was out of commission for an extended period, and is excluded from analysis). In fact, four stations — Worcester, Philadelphia, Boston and Hartford — had a top five warmest year on record.
However, in Ithaca, there seems to have been a balance between the coolness that impacted the Appalachians and the relative balminess to the east. The average temperature in 2022 for Ithaca at the Cornell Game Farm Road weather station in Dryden clocked in 46.7 F. That’s the slightest of margins below the mean of 46.87 F recorded from 1893 to 2022, but a hair above the median temperature of 46.6 F.
As statistics buffs recognize, that slight disparity, of which 2022 is nestled between, means that the warmest years tend to be more anomalously warm than the cold years tend to be anomalously cold, the same way one mansion sold alongside a bunch of small cottages can skew the average sales price of that group upward.
Meanwhile, on the precipitation side of the equation, much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic experienced below normal precipitation — in fact, some readers may recall drought advisories and brushfires in the Catskills and New England. Inland regions tended to be closer or a little above normal, especially Northern New York and Northern Maine.
For the 35 major climate sites, 19 were on the dry side of normal, one was perfectly normal and 14 were wetter than normal (once again, Scranton excluded due to equipment issues). Four stations had a top 20 driest, while eight stations had a top 20 wettest.
As for the city of gorges, in the 129 years of relatively complete records (with 1988 being discarded because the station’s rain gauge was down 16 days), 2022 clocks in at 62nd. The climate period’s annual average precipitation is 35.50″, and the median is 35.18″. Notably, in recent years, the applied long-term average, generally defined as the 1981-2010, is higher, at 37.30″, so the long-term trend is upward, and more variable overall. But 2022? 35.37″. Once again, perfectly nestled between the mean and median of the overall hundred-plus year record.
So in a year of eventful weather activity — powerful holiday storms, arctic blasts, heat waves and flash floods — it all came out to an uneventful amount of average temperature and precipitation. 2023 is off to a warm and wet start, and we’ll see what the rest of the year brings.