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From snowflakes to scorching heat, May has been a weather roller coaster across the Northeast

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 5/29/2020 Mark Puleo
a lake surrounded by snow © Provided by AccuWeather

April showers first brought snow then record-breaking heat to the Northeast over the course of a wacky May. During the final week of the month, in areas across the region and into Canada, high-temperature records fell by the bundle.

The heat began ramping up at the start of the week with towns in Ohio, such as Mansfield and Youngstown, setting new daily highs by reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time this year. In Pennsylvania, the northeastern town of Avoca, located in the Greater Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, set a new daily high of 93, topping the old mark of 92 from 2010. Across the state, Erie matched its record for May 26 of 87 that was last set in 1955.

Farther north, the records continued to fall throughout New York and Vermont along with above Lake Ontario into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

On Wednesday, Quebec City reached 92 F, tying their daily record for May 27, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews. In Montreal, the weather was even hotter, as the mercury reached 98 F, a new all-time record for May in the city. The only day that was hotter in Montreal's history was Aug. 1, 1975 when the temperature reached 100 F.

In the neighboring province of Ontario, Ottawa reached a steamy 95 F, the second-highest temperature on record for May in the nation's capital.

Andrews' colleague, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson, who specializes in producing forecasts for Canada, said the position of the jet stream was a big factor behind the record warmth.

"The near-record heat over portions of Ontario and Quebec this week has been caused by a strong ridge of high pressure that strengthened across the region," Anderson said. "This forced the jet stream well to the north, which in turn opened the door to a direct shot of very warm air coming up from the south-central United States."

The sweltering heat comes less than three weeks after many of those same areas in the Northeast recorded record-breaking cold temperatures. Binghamton, New York, reported a 79-degree low to high-temperature swing just 18 days apart. On May 9, Binghamton, set an all-time May record low of 9 degrees. On Tuesday, the city set a daily record high of 88 degrees, knocking off the old record of 87 from 2010.

Syracuse also set a record on Tuesday with a high of 93 F, besting the previous mark of 90 from 2011. From May 6-9, the city's daily low hovered around the freezing mark and a trace of snow was measured on multiple days.


Along with Erie's high temperature, the Great Lakes region proved to be a sweltering spot for Buffalo, New York, as well. According to the National Weather Service, the city endured a 64-degree swing from May 9, when it recorded a record of 29, to May 26, when the mercury reached a new record high of 93 F. Only once before, in March 2003, has the city undergone a bigger temperature swing in a single month.

Farther east, temperatures were highest around the inland region of Vermont and northwestern New Hampshire. Several weeks after snowflakes were flowing around town, Burlington, Vermont, set a new all-time record high for May when the mercury reached 95 F on Wednesday, one day after the city tied its daily record high for May 26 of 92 degrees on Tuesday.

Saranac Lake, New York, sweltered under 93-degree heat on Wednesday, shattering the long-standing record of 88 set back in 1914. On May 9, the temperature failed to make it above freezing in the village.

The topsy-turvy weather the region has experienced this month isn't finished just yet. Prior to the start of June, an unusually late cold snap will trigger another case of weather whiplash in the Northeast.

Residents on both sides of the border will get a reprieve from the heat, although the temperatures could plummet to unusually low readings in some spots.

Temperatures are expected to drop about 5-15 degrees below normal in some parts of the Northeast, and some locations may have to deal with a late May frost or freeze -- something that's not completely unheard of but also isn't typical.

"We are concerned about frost in the normally cold spots from Virginia and West Virginia northward to New York state and northwestern New England from later Sunday night to early Monday morning," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Randy Adkins.

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