The historical record indicates that both temperature and precipitation have increased in New York State over the past century. In the northeast coastal region, from Maryland to Maine, temperature increases of up to 4°F have been observed over the last 100 years and, on average, the 1990s were the warmest decade on record since 1899. For the same region, precipitation trends also show a pattern of increase, with some areas experiencing 20% more precipitation. Furthermore, the nature of the precipitation has changed, with heavy rainfall events becoming more frequent over the last 50 years and snowfall decreasing. This change in precipitation could have wide-ranging impacts, including reservoir recharge rates and the irrigation needs of agriculture. Despite the overall increase in precipitation, changes in patterns of precipitation could result in periodic droughts as well as floods.
Source: UCS report
While it is difficult to attribute individual extreme events to changes in climate, over the last decade the Northeast has experienced several extreme weather events that have called attention to the potential vulnerability of the region. There have been six years of significant drought over the last two decades, which have increased competition for water resources. Seven major tropical storms have affected the mid-Atlantic region since 1986. During the nor'easter of December 1992, coastal New York, including New York City and its extended metropolitan area, experienced severe flooding and strong winds that affected key transportation infrastructure. With the rise in sea level expected from climate change, the flooding and damage from such storms is likely to worsen. In 2006, a heat wave in New York City was reported to be a factor in 140 deaths. The frequency of heat waves like this is expected to increase, which would have severe effects on human health.