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A Look Back at New York Weather History: October 24
Today in New York Weather History: October 25

New York City Marathon Weather Highlights (1970 - 2020)

Nyc_marathon

 

The New York City Marathon is one of the highlights of autumn in New York.  On Marathon Sunday the day's high/low has averaged 62/47, with the temperature at the start of the race typically in the low 50s.  Temperatures have warmed into the upper 60s or higher during fifteen of the races, and they've been in the cold low 40s or colder at start time in half a dozen years.  (Many runners consider temperatures in the 45°-55° range optimal.)  Rain has rarely been a factor as it's fallen during the race only five times - the last time was in 2017 (but it was a light mist that amounted to just 0.01") 

 

The average temperature on race day masks a difference between earlier and more recent races.  During the race's first 25 years the average high/low was 65/51, but since 1995 temperatures have been considerably cooler, averaging 56/43.  This is largely due to the fact that early races were held in September and October; now they're run in the first week of November.  What follows are weather highlights of past races:   

 

  • 1970 (Sept. 13) - The first New York City Marathon took place under sunny skies and warm temperatures.  Although the morning low was a refreshing 58°, when the race got underway the temperature had risen into the low 70s.  During the afternoon it warmed to 80°, which was a few degrees above average.
  • 1974 (Sept. 29) - This was the first Marathon to see rain as thundershowers produced 0.32" of rain between 2-3:00 PM and 0.10" between 4-5:00 PM.  It was also a warm day, with a start-time temperature of 74°.
  • 1975 (Sept. 28) - Runners breathed a sigh of relief as the City dried out from a string of rainy days that produced 8.50" of rain over eight consecutive days, ending Friday.  This included an unprecedented four days in row in which more than an inch of rain fell.  Today, however, was sunny with near seasonable temperatures (high/low of 69°/57°). 
  • 1976 (Oct. 24) - A raw, gray and damp day.  When the race started the temperature was in the upper 40s and light showers moved in after 2:00 PM.  This was the first race to go through each of NYC's five boroughs - and the first time the race was held in late October.

 

  Nyc_marathon1976

 

  • 1977 (Oct. 23) - A cold front moved through during the early afternoon, dropping the temperature from 56° at 1 PM to 44° at 4 PM.
  • 1979 (Oct. 21) - This was the marathon run in the warmest conditions, with temperatures in the 70s throughout and topping off at 80°, twenty-three degrees above average.  (At least it was cooler than the next day when the afternoon high soared to 88°.)
  • 1980 (Oct. 26) - Quite a contrast from last year's race.  Although it wasn't rainy like yesterday morning, when 1.76" fell, runners had to contend with temperatures in the 40s and winds that gusted between 25-40 mph.
  • 1983 (Oct. 23) - Rain moved in shortly before noon and 0.69" had fallen by 6:00 PM (and continued through the night).

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  • 1984 (Oct. 28) - With a high/low of 79°/62°, today was the warmest day of October and one of the warmest Marathon Sundays on record.  Besides the warm temperatures it was also on the humid side.
  • 1990 (Nov. 4) - Following a Saturday that had an unseasonably warm high of 78°, today was also very mild, with a high/low of 73°/58° - fifteen degrees above average.  Skies were a mix of sun and clouds.  
  • 1992 (Nov. 1) - With a high/low of 51°/40°, seven degrees below average, today was the chilliest Marathon Sunday in ten years.  It was also breezy, with winds coming off the ocean. 
  • 1993 (Nov. 14) - Although this was the latest date of any Marathon, the day was very mild, with a high/low of 72°/54° - 15 degrees warmer than average.  (The following day the high soared to 80°.)
  • 1994 (Nov. 6) - Although just 0.01" of rain fell, it came just as the winner of the mens' race, German Silva of Mexico, was running his last mile.
  • 1995 (Nov. 12) - This was the race with the coldest conditions as the temperature at race time was 40° and only went up a few degrees as the race went on.  Winds gusting between 30-45 mph produced wind chills in the upper 20s.
  • 1997 (Nov. 2) - A hard rain fell between 1:30-2:30 PM, amounting to 0.52".  This was the last time rain fell during the race until 2017 (but only 0.01" was measured).
  • 2003 (Nov. 2) - Today's high of 68° made this the race with the mildest temperature since the 1994 Marathon.  But although today's high was ten degrees above average, it was considerably cooler than yesterday's and tomorrow's respective highs of 77° and 79°.

 

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  • 2005 (Nov. 6) - This was the third year in a row in which temperatures rose into the upper 60s (ten degrees above average).  Temperatures wouldn't rise into the 60s on race day for another ten years. 
  • 2010 (Nov. 7) - The morning low was 36°, six degrees colder than average.  Only three race days have started out chillier.
  • 2011 (Nov. 6) - One week after a record-breaking early season snowstorm (2.9" fell), conditions were perfect for the race, with bright blue skies and temperatures in the optimal 45°-55° range.

 Nyc_marathon_runner 

 

  • 2012 (Nov. 4) - Controversy arose over this year's race as a result of it falling a week after Hurricane Sandy struck the region.  It was finally cancelled two days before race day.  If it had been held runners would have experienced weather similar to the previous two years with temperatures in the mid-to-upper 40s.
  • 2013 (Nov. 3) - Sunny and brisk with temperatures steady in the upper 40s throughout the race (10 AM thru 4 PM).
  • 2014 (Nov. 2) - Runners were buffeted by high winds, with gusts of 30-45 mph, depending on the neighborhood they were running through.  These winds resulted in the slowest times for the winners since the 1984 event (when conditions were warm and humid).  Besides the high winds it was also chilly, with a starting time temperature at 43° and wind chills in the mid to upper 30s.
  • 2015 (Nov. 1) - Weather conditions were great for runners as skies were lightly overcast and temperatures ranged from upper 50s at the start of the race to mid-60s by 4:00.  The last time temperatures were this pleasant for the event was ten years ago.   
  • 2016 (Nov. 6) - Near-perfect conditions greeted runners, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s for the bulk of the race (thru late afternoon).  Breezy conditions (20-25 mph gusts) was the only fly in the ointment.

 

2016 marathon

 

  • 2017 (Nov. 5) - The race was run in gray, foggy conditions with light drizzle moving in shortly before noon (just as the top women and men runners were finishing their races).  Temperatures held steady in the upper 50s throughout the race, with afternoon humidity above 90%.  And although it was only 0.01", this was the first measurable rain to fall in 20 years during the race (between 10 AM-4 PM).
  • 2018 (Nov. 4) - Skies were mostly clear and temperatures a few degrees chillier than average.  The day's high/low of 55°/43° is what the average temperature has been for the races of the 2010s.  The afternoon humidity was around 40%, which was more than 50% lower than that of last year's race.  The following year's conditions on race day (11/2) were very similar but a few degrees chillier (high/low of 53°/40°).
  • 2020 (Nov. 1) - For the second time in the past nine years the race was cancelled.  This time it was because of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the nation.  If the race had been run the elite runners would have been happy because most would have completed the course before rain moved in early in the afternoon (0.40" fell).  Temperatures were good for running as they were in the low-to-mid 50s.

 

Chart - marathon temp trend Chart - warmest chilliest nyc marathons

Comments

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David

In 1993 it was 72 degrees. Shouldn't that be included in the list of warmest race days?

Rob

It fell just short of 1971 and 1978 because rather than use high temperature as the determinant of the rankings, I used the average of the three time periods of 10AM, 1PM and 4PM (the report I used has temperatures at three-hour intervals; those I chose are when most runners are running). 1993's 10AM temp was 61, 1PM's was 71 and 4PM's was 70, so it came in just under my cut-off point.

Martin

You're correct, 1993 was a warm day to run the NYC Marathon. I remember it being in the 70s.

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