With the last weekend’s clock change, and the sudden downward plunge of the thermometer, we’re not in Kansas anymore. We had a nice summer and fall, but the fun and games are over. If you just moved here from, say, New York City, you might imagine that our region has similar conditions. But you’d be wrong.
The mid-Hudson region, including Saugerties, Woodstock, Kingston and New Paltz, is a sunnier place than central and western New York, but we’re cloudier than the Big Apple – and much colder. Here is a month-by-month rundown of what to expect:
November begins our darkest quadrant of the year. This is our gloomiest three-month period. On the 15th of this month, we get nine hours and 49 minutes of sunshine, with the Sun only one-quarter of the way up the sky at noon. That lowness yields a very weak solar intensity. We also have an average 66-percent cloud cover: far more clouds than sun. Climatologically, on that date we can expect a high of 55 degrees and a low of 33.
One month later, on December 15, we’ve sunk to just nine hours and eight minutes of daily sun. Our normal high is 43 degrees with a low of 25. The Sun is at its weakest of the year. Exposed skin simply cannot tan or burn with such a low Sun angle, even if you could sunbathe every minute of the day. The cloudy season is now fully upon us. Typically, too, we get our first measurable snowfall. This is also the month with the darkest afternoons: the only month with sunsets consistently earlier than 4:30 p.m.
On January 15, the typical high is 35 degrees and the low is our year’s nadir of 16. Daily sunshine has increased by 20 minutes, but is still less than 9 ½ hours. This is the month with the darkest mornings: The Sun doesn’t come up until 7:22 a.m.
By February 15, our nightly lows have scarcely budged from their winter nadir, and now average 17 degrees, but the highs have moved up slightly to 38. Global warming is measurably boosting those lows, even if the outlook is for our daily highs to remain pretty static. It’s still very cloudy. The big change is an additional full hour of daily sunshine to ten hours and 37 minutes.
The Ides of March see a high of 45 degrees and a low of 23, and for the next three months the mercury will climb ten degrees per month: the quickest boosts of the year. Daily sunshine also increases by more than an hour each month. In mid-March it’s just a few minutes shy of day and night being equal. On April 15 the daily high is 58 degrees, the low 34, with 13 hours and 22 minutes of daylight.
May 15 sees a lovely average high of 69 degrees, although the lows are still a chilly 44. There are 14 hours and 34 minutes of daily sunshine. The midday Sun is now extremely high and capable of delivering burns in under half an hour. The long season of cloudiness now dissipates. For the next six months, there will be between 50 to 65 percent clear skies. Moreover, the type of clouds now changes radically. The overcast stratus of winter gives way to the individual, interestingly shaped, puffy cumulus of our warm season. Rainbows return, too, especially after 5 p.m. each day.
Mid-June gives us 15 ¼ hours of daily sunshine, and the midday Sun misses the overhead point by just 18 degrees. It’s super-strong. Our typical daily high is 78 degrees, with the lows 54. The Sun rises at 5:20 a.m. and sets at 8:34 p.m. Since twilight is now also at its longest of the year, full darkness is with us for a mere seven hours nightly.
Mid-July delivers our warmest annual temperatures, with expected highs of 84 degrees and lows of 60. With still over 15 hours of daily sunshine, this month concludes the quadrant of the year with the greatest solar strength.
Superimposed on these reliable yearly patterns, the National Weather Service’s newest long-range forecasts call for our region’s upcoming winter and spring to be slightly more likely than not to have warmer-than-normal temperatures, along with average precipitation. We’ll grab that.
Want to know more? To read Bob’s previous “Night Sky” columns, visit our Almanac Weekly website at HudsonValleyAlmanacWeekly.com.