Today in New York Weather History: December 19
Today in New York Weather History: December 21

Today in New York Weather History: December 20


1874 (Sunday)

Ten inches of heavy snow piled up after precipitation started as rain.  As the temperature dropped below freezing (from a high of 36°), the rain changed over to snow.  Total liquid precipitation for the day was 1.92".  (Both amounts are records for the date that are still standing.)

1884 (Saturday)

The day before the winter solstice began would be the coldest day of this winter, as the high/low was only 7°/-3°.  Later this winter, Feb. 11 (1885) would come close with a high/low of 11°/-2°. 

1903 (Sunday)

Today's rainfall of 1.34" made 1903 New York's wettest year on record, passing 1889 (which had 57.16").  This would remain New York's wettest year until 1972 (it's since fallen to eleventh place).

1936 (Sunday)

Today's rainstorm was the third in the past three weeks to produce more than an inch of rain, and the sixth with more than half-an-inch.  Beginning last night, more than half of the 2.08" that fell poured down between midnight and 3 AM today.  In total, seven inches of rain fell during these three weeks, making this, at the time, the wettest December on record (it's now ranked third).




1983 (Tuesday)

Today's high was a teeth chattering 25° (seventeen degrees colder than average), and was the first high of freezing or below of the season. 

1988 (Tuesday)

This was the 22nd consecutive day with no measurable precipitation.  This dry spell began at the end of November, a month in which 8.90" of rain fell.  December would end with just 1.13" of precipitation.

2004 (Monday)

Brrr, today's high/low of 21°/11° was twenty degrees colder than average and was the coldest day of the month.  (The temperature had fallen from 47° yesterday afternoon.)  This was the coldest day in December in eleven years, since a high/low of 20°/10° on Dec. 27, 1993.  It was also the first day this winter to be completely below freezing.  Additionally, 0.5" of snow fell in the wee hours of the morning.



2014 (Saturday)

It was a cold day under slate gray skies, with just three degrees separating the high and low (33°/30°).

2018 (Thursday)

Light rain moved in during the evening, making this the record-setting 153rd day this year with measurable precipitation, breaking a tie with 1996.  And there would be five more days of precipitation (all rain) before the end of the year (which amounted to nearly four inches).





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1871, 1893, 1894, 1904, 1997 and 2018 are the only six years with no days in the sixties from November eighth to December twentieth.

Ken K. in NJ

Hi Rob. Can you check something for me if you have the data? December 20 was my late Mom's birthday. My sister and I were discussing today one year, probably in the early 80's. We took her out to Dinner in Brooklyn for her birthday and when we got out it was snowing with an inch or two on the ground.

It's a fond memory for us because Mom was always nervous about us driving in the snow, but this night, after a few glasses of wine she actually asked me to drive her around to look at Christmas lights in the snow. We were trying to narrow down the date, possibly as early as 1979, but not later than 1982.

Thanks Rob, and Happy Holidays!


Hi there, Ken. Although it didn't happen on the 20th, and the snow was mostly over by 4PM, you may be thinking about the snowfall of 3.5" on Dec. 19, 1979. And I didn't come across any other snowy days in the few years prior to 1979 that were around 12/20.

Ken K. in NJ

Hi Again Rob. Thanks for doing the research, even if it did throw a curveball into Family Lore. It certainly must have been December 19,1979. Re-thinking it, it may have been a late lunch, I do recall a couple of Mom's Church-lady friends joined us...not a nighttime crowd. It's conceivable that we left the restaurant around 4:15, it was already getting dark, and there were still flurries in the air in Bay Ridge. Thanks again.


That's a nice story, thanks for sharing it. I have a soft spot in my heart for this snowfall because it was the first I experienced as a New Yorker. Actually, I was living in Bayonne, NJ at the time, but I worked in Manhattan; I moved to Manhattan at the end of February 1981. My first snowfall as a NYC resident was the 8.6" snowstorm of March 5, 1981.

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