Weather Analysis: A Tale of Three Junes
Weather Analysis: Monthly Averages Can Deceive

A History of Drought in New York




Because New York is situated on a number of major storm tracks, it's never suffered a drought so serious that it resulted in tumbleweeds blowing through Times Square.  Of course, dry periods do occur, with the most prolonged being between 1954-1966, but nothing approaching the severity experienced in places like the Great Plains.  Since New York began compiling weather statistics in 1869, there have been 72 months that have received less than an inch of rain (monthly precipitation, on average, is about four inches).  That's about once every two years.  Here are some other dry facts (figuratively speaking) to ponder:


  • The last time less than an inch of rain fell in a month was in October 2013.  With just 0.36", it also has the distinction of being the driest month this century.  The second driest month this century was September 2005 when just 0.48" of rain fell.  Interestingly, it was followed by one of New York's rainiest months on record as 16.73" fell in October.
  • Back-to-back-months with less than an inch of rain have occurred only three times: Aug.-Sept. 1881; Dec. 1980-Jan. 1981; and June-July 1999.  The two months in 1999 have the record for the least amount of rain in two consecutive months, 1.03". 
  • Although a month with less than inch of rain occurs about once every two years, the longest stretch was 93 months which, oddly, occurred during the extended dry period in the 1950s and 1960s (Jan. 1956 thru Sept. 1963).
  • The most consecutive months with less than two inches of rain is five, which occurred between October 2001 and February 2002.  The most consecutive months with less than three inches of rain is eleven, which occurred between March 1965 and January 1966.  1965 is also the only year that had less than thirty inches of precipitation (26.09" was measured, about twenty inches below average).
  • October is the month most likely to get less than an inch of rain, having occurred in 13 years (including 2013).  Conversely, it's happened just once in April.
  • The closest a month has come to having no rain was in June 1949 when just 0.02" fell.  However, there have been two rain-free periods that have been longer than 30 days.  The first was 36 days in the fall of 1924 (Oct. 9 - Nov. 13) and the second occurred in 1999 when no measurable rain fell for a 35-day period between May 25 and June 28.  A rainless streak of two weeks or longer occurs, on average, about once every 13 months.
  • Looking at the driest 3-month periods, the driest occurred between July-September 1910 when a total of 2.98" of rain fell.  Three of the top-ten driest occurred in the consecutive years of 1964, 1965 and 1966.  Finally, among the top ten, listed below, the most recent was in 2001. 


(Since 1900)        
Year Months 1st Month 2nd Month 3rd Month Total
1910 July-Sept  0.49 1.07 1.42 2.98"
1964 Aug-Oct  0.24 1.69 1.73 3.66"
1908 Sept-Nov  1.91 1.38 0.71 4.00"
1946 Oct-Dec  0.85 1.66 1.61 4.12"
1965 May-July 1.58 1.27 1.33 4.18"
1900-01 Dec-Feb 2.01 1.66 0.55 4.22"
2001 Oct-Dec  0.66 1.36 2.27 4.29"
1966 Jun-Aug  1.17 1.25 1.89 4.31"
1929 Jun-Aug  1.90 1.21 1.47 4.58"
1993 May-July 1.56 1.49 1.70 4.75"







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