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Ken K. in NJ

Hi Rob. I actually remember that trace of snow on 5/9/77. I was looking out the window of my office on 17th street and for a few minutes it came down fairly heavily, mixed with some rain almost the whole time. My recollection is that it was in the late morning, maybe around 11 AM or so. I knew I was witnessing something historic, I believe there had been only one other May snowfall until that point, and I don't think it has occurred since.


Ken, on that day I drove from Pittsburgh to University Park for an awards dinner and I remember seeing small amounts of snow on the ground in Central PA (but not in Pittsburgh). But eleven years earlier there was a significant snowfall in Pittsburgh as three inches fell that evening. I was in the third grade and remember walking to school the next morning (the low was 27 degrees) on freshly plowed streets.


also in 2020, this was the latest date on record for a reading this cold, besting the previous record from 1891 by three days (when the low was 32°). this was the coldest reading since March 22 earlier this year, when the low was 33°. this was also the third coldest May reading on record, behind 1874, when the coldest low was 33°, and 1891, when the coldest low was 32°.


Since Ken asked on this date in 2015 about whether May 9, 1977 was the only May snowfall (until today), he mentioned one other, it's a tricky answer:

The NWS website for NYC is inconsistent on this. In their "almanac" section, they list 3 other May trace snowfalls, one on May 1, 1956 and one on May 4, 1946. and more controversially May 29, 1995. However all except the 1977 date (and today) had temperatures that were borderline or too warm for snow (May 29, 1995 had a high of 80 and a low of 58! The other two dates had temperatures that were in the upper 40s and 50s) so it's believed what happened on those 3 dates was actually hail! (NWS officially declared hail to be a trace of snow starting in 1988, which has produced the weird case of many weather stations recording occasional traces of snow in the summer....they count it for "daily" snowfall records like the dates I just gave but do not count it toward "monthly" snowfall records or things like earliest or latest in the season snow ever....so NWS still declared this tied with 1977 for "latest snowfall of the season ever" and not May 29, 1995.

However, we actually came close to a late May snowfall on May 27, 1961. Temperatures were in the 40s in NYC and 30s not too far north and a trace of snow did fall as close as Bridgeport, CT and White Plains, NY (Westchester County Airport). And it was two days after a high of 85!

As such, I feel that May 9 of both 1977 and today are the only true May snowfalls in NYC. Channel 4 news without saying why has said the same thing. What makes this more phenomenal is the next latest date for NYC snow is April 29, 1909 (also a trace).


Thanks Harry. Another maddening inconsistency is that the NWS's weather.gov site reports that 0.5" of snow fell on April 29, 1874. And a Weather Underground post about late season snow reports this.


That is great information! Is more amazing how cold it was yesterday when you consider how warm it was this winter. Also not having be 34 or lower since March 22nd till yesterday must be a record!

I remember the snow in 1977 the local media said it was the first time it ever snowed in Central Park in May!

I also did not know that Hail was considered snow as far as record keeping.

Thanks again!


You're all welcome. Rob, I did not know about April 29, 1874 thanks on that.


1878 is the only other year where May’s coldest reading was colder than April's coldest reading. April’s coldest reading was 42° (which happened on six different dates) and May’s coldest reading was 40°. 2010 is the only other year where April had no reading that was colder than 40°.


by the way, Rob, you may be interested in knowing that May’s coldest reading of 40° in 1878 actually would have happened on your birthday if you were alive in the late 1800s. the high was 57° (thirteen degrees below normal) and no rain fell.

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