Cleveland climate history update (1854-2012)

Annual temperature (1855-2012)
Annual temperature (1855-2012)

2012 was the warmest year on record at Cleveland, since continuous records began in April 1855. The mean annual temperature was 54.0F, which was 0.5F warmer than the previous record warm year during the 1998.  The 1998 heat spike was associated with an unusually strong El Nino event that lead to a pronounced warming throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. The unusual warmth experienced in 2012 was associated primarily with the enhanced greenhouse effect, as atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached at or above 400 ppm in much of the Northern Hemisphere during the spring of 2013.

It’s important to note that, despite, a constant refrain from climate deniers that the warming is due to an increased urban heat effect, there is little evidence to support this contention. In fact, data quality today for Cleveland is better than at any time. During the early years (prior to 1941), temperature data were taken on top of rooftops of various tall buildings downtown. The dark rooftop surfaces (along with waste heat from the building) have been shown to produce spuriously warm high temperatures. In addition, the elevated exposure would lead to increased wind artificially limiting atmospheric decoupling and would remain above the typical morning temperature inversion, leading to spuriously warm low temperatures. Given the substandard roof exposure (the airport site remained on the rooftop until sometime in the 1960s or 1970s) versus today’s modern ground-based, aspirated ASOS units, suggests the actual warming trend would be greater, not less, than what is observed in the data.

Far from causing greater warmer, these data limitations actually would lead to a net cooling effect. This net cooling effect, superimposed on the actual climatic warming, results in the above graphic. Through 2012, the mean annual temperature at Cleveland has been increasing at a rate of 0.135F per decade, or 1.35F per century. Computer models suggest that temperatures could increase another 2 to 10F by the end of this century in the Cleveland area.

Since 1855, the top ten warmest and coldest years on record are as follows:


  1. 2012, 54.0F
  2. 1998, 53.5F
  3. 1931, 53.4F
  4. 1953, 53.0F
  5. 1921, 53.0F
  6. 1949, 52.9F
  7. 1991, 52.8F
  8. 2010, 52.7F
  9. 1938, 52.7F
  10. 1973, 52.6F


  1. 1875, 45.4F
  2. 1917, 46.3F
  3. 1856, 46.3F
  4. 1885, 46.4F
  5. 1904, 46.7F
  6. 1868, 47.2F
  7. 1963, 47.4F
  8. 1924, 47.4F
  9. 1907, 47.6F
  10. 1883, 47.6F

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Just an ordinary guy with a penchant for the weather and climate!

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