Since the winter of 1940 there have been ten streaks of ten days or longer with high temperatures that were 32° or colder (streaks of this length occur, on average, once every eight years). The most recent, a streak of fourteen days, occurred this winter (Dec. 26 thru Jan. 8). It was the third longest on record, behind a sixteen-day streak in the winter of 1961, and a fifteen-day streak in the winter of 1881. This winter's streak closely mirrored one during the winter of 2001 that also started in December and ended in January. (However, it wasn't as cold and was one day shorter.) What follows are some other interesting observations about New York's longest cold streaks (nine days or longer):
- As mentioned above, the longest streak came in the winter of 1961 when the City shivered through sixteen days in a row of sub-freezing highs from Jan. 19 thru Feb. 3. The "warmest" temperature during this time frame was 29°. It would be seventeen years before another streak of ten days or longer occurred.
- No winter has had two of these lengthy streaks, but 1958 had one in February of twelve days and a ten-day streak in December. Additionally, there have been numerous winters with two or more smaller streaks of four, five or six days.
- The earliest of the streaks occurred at the beginning of the winter of 1957-58 when there was a ten-day streak from Dec. 7 to 16. The latest streaks were in February 1958 (Feb. 8-19) and February 1979 (Feb. 9-19). What was remarkable about the 1979 streak was the fact that, not only was it late in the winter, but it had the most days with lows in the single digits - eight. It followed closely behind a nine-day streak in January 1968 as the coldest of the cold waves; Feb. 1979, however, had the coldest average high (20.5) while Jan. 1968 had the coldest average low (6.4).
- There were extended streaks in the consecutive winters of 1977, 1978 and 1979 (and there was one in 1981). 1977's streak was book-ended by smaller streaks of five days before (broken up a day with a high of 41°) and four days after (broken up by a day with a high of 36°). In total, 18 of the 20 days between Jan. 5-24 saw highs at freezing or below. There was also another cluster of winters with lengthy cold waves, during the winters of 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
- Thirteen of the seventeen streaks of nine days or longer saw some mornings with lows in the single digits or colder (three had sub-zero readings).
- Three of the streaks of nine days or longer had snowstorms of 12 inches or more. 1961's cold wave nearly had two snowstorms but two-thirds of the 17.4" accumulation from the snowstorm on Feb. 3-4 fell on the day when the 16-day streak ended as the high reached 34°.
- The 13-day steak during the winter of 2000-01 had the highest mean temperature.