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July 2014

New York's 25 Biggest Weather Stories (1970 - 2014)

Weather_sandys.fury

 

On our odyssey through New York's top 100 weather stories (1970 through 2014), here we are at the top 25.  This is where the great debates are most likely to occur.  Although choosing the top story was easy, positioning the rest was a challenge, with constant re-evaluation, adjustments and gnashing of teeth.  As a reminder, when determining rankings emphasis was placed on the disruptions caused and duration of the effects (e.g., lack of electricity). 

(Editor's note: Since writing this post in the summer of 2014. a number of weather events have occurred, e.g., NYC's biggest snowfall of all-time in January 2016, and the 14-day cold wave of Dec. 2017/Jan. 2018, that will appear on this list when it's eventually updated.)

 

25.  Three Tropical Storms in September 2004

Three downgraded hurricanes produced more than ten inches of rain in a three-week period between Sept. 8-28: Frances (3.76” on 9/8); Ivan (2.18” on 9/18) and Jeanne (4.66” on 9/28-29).  This rainfall helped make this the wettest September since 1934.  The rapid succession of these storms fueled a media frenzy about how this was the new norm.

Trio

24.  Bitterly Cold January 1977

January 1977 was the second coldest on record.  An especially brutal day was Jan. 17, with a high/low of 12°/-2°.  35 of the 43 days between Dec. 27 and Feb. 9 had highs of 32° or colder.  And the ten-day period between Jan. 7-16 saw snow fall on seven of the days, with 11" of accumulation.

 

Time.mag.deepfreeze

 

23.  The Sizzling Summer of 1993

1993 and 1991 both had 39 days in the 90s (or hotter), which is the most on record (thru 2020).  However, 1993's were more concentrated (occurring in a 130-day period vs. 163 in 1991), and the 90-degree days were hotter, averaging 93.5° v 92.7° in 1991.  July 1993 had twenty 90+ days, including three in a row with triple-digit readings (July 8-10).  It joined 1948 as the only other year to have three consecutive days in the 100s.

 

Clipart_frying_pan

 

22.  Summer of 2002's Back-to-Back Heat Waves

In a 3-week period between July 29 and Aug. 19, there were two extended heat waves of eight days and nine days.  The average high during each was 95°.  Some summers don't see one heat wave of five days, so this was rather extraordinary.

 

21.  February 2010 Becomes Snowiest Month on Record

36.9" of snow fell in February 2010, the most of any month.  And this was without the benefit of the blizzard of Feb. 4 that dumped two to three feet of snow on DC, Baltimore, Philly, and south Jersey, but stopped at our doorstep (Staten Island had a few inches).  There were four snowfalls of an inch or more: 1.0" on Feb. 2-3; 10.0" on Feb. 10; 5.0" on Feb 16; and the granddaddy of them all, 20.9" on Feb 25-26.  (In contrast, December, January and March of 2010-11 contributed 14.5" of snow.)

 

Weather.dec.2003snow

 

20. Hurricane Gloria (September 1985)

Gloria was the first hurricane to take aim at the region since hurricane Belle in August 1976.  It made landfall on Long Island at the Nassau/Suffolk Co. line the morning of Sept. 27, which was a Friday.  The City picked up a little more than three inches of rain, mostly between 8-11 AM.  Because of its timing schools and most businesses were closed.  Skies cleared shortly after 1 PM and the afternoon was beautiful.  (Some mistook the sunshine as the eye of the storm not realizing we were well west of the storm's center.)  Suffolk Co. bore the brunt and many towns went a week or more without power.  Meanwhile, out on Fire Island, Calvin Klein lost the roof of his beach house.

 

Hurricane_gloria

 

19.  NYC's Biggest Snowfall of All Time Comes in Midst of Mild Winter

The winter of 2006 had been a mild one, so the record setting snow of 26.9" that fell on Feb. 11-12 was especially shocking.  (The previous record was 26.4" on Dec. 26-27, 1948.)  It accounted for two-thirds of the winter's total snowfall.  Unlike some of our other big snowstorms, New York was in the bulls-eye for this one.  Interestingly, I didn't think this snow was any deeper than the blizzards of Jan. 1996 or President's Day 2003, which dumped about 20 inches.  It could have been that those storms dropped more snow in my neighborhood than what Central Park received.  This storm's ranking was hurt somewhat by the fact that it occurred on a Saturday/Sunday.  (16 months after writing this post, the blizzard of Jan. 23, 2016 piled up 27.5" of snow to become the City's biggest snowstorm.) 

 

Greenwich_Village_in_Blizzard

 

18.  Ice Storm of December 16-17, 1973

What made this storm even more treacherous was the fact that the temperature never went higher than 31° - nor the three days that followed.  Ice was more than an inch thick and was devastating to trees and shrubs.  This may have been the ice storm that inspired the 1997 indie film The Ice Storm (starring Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline, and Joan Allen).  Football fans across the country got a chance to witness the storm as the Jets game at Shea Stadium was televised.

 

Ice_on_branches

 

17.  July 1999 is Hottest Month on Record/June & July Suffer Thru Record Dry Spell

The month had eighteen days in the 90s, eleven which were 95° or hotter and three days at 101°.  The month ended with an 11-day heat wave from July 23 thru Aug. 2, second longest on record.  Ironically, the last 90-degree temperature of the year was on Aug. 5, one of the earliest dates for this occurrence.  The summer’s twenty-seven days of 90+ (50% above average) were concentrated in a two-month period (June 2 thru Aug. 5).

Besides the searing heat, June and July were the driest consecutive months on record with just a combined 1.03" of rain falling (the normal amount is around eight inches).  And for 35 days between May 25 and June 21 no measurable rain fell.  These dry conditions actually lasted for ten weeks, beginning May 25 and continuing thru Aug 4.  The previous driest two months was in the winter of 1981 when 1.16" fell in Dec. 1980 and Jan. 1981 (#55 on the top-100 list). 

 

16.  Summer of 2010 Is Hottest Ever

Each month was well above average:  June 3.5 degrees above average; July +4.9 degrees; and August +2.4.  In the 4-week period between July 15 and Aug. 11 every day but one had a high of 85° or warmer.  There were 37 days in the 90s/100s in 2010, the third most after 1991 and 1993 (the 12th and 4th hottest summers, respectively).  31 of these days came after July 1.  And sixteen were between July 4-27, including back-to-back days in the triple digits (July 6& 7).  This summer was preceded by the mildest spring (and NYC's earliest 90 degree day, on April 7), and was followed by a warm September.  Previously, 1966 had been the hottest summer.

 

Nycskyline_sunset

 

15.  Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow! (Winter of 2014)

In a 30-day period between Jan. 21 and Feb. 19, 42.1" of snow fell, a record amount for 30 days.  There were snowfalls of 11.5" on Jan. 21-22; 8.0" on Feb. 3; 4.0" on Feb. 5; and 12.5" on Feb. 13-14.  It was also very cold with temperatures nearly seven degrees below average.  This period accounted for nearly 3/4 of the winter's 57 inches of snow.  After this 30-day period, the snow-making machine was shut off for the rest of the season (March, the coldest in thirty years, had just 0.1").

 

Weather_two_people_in_snowstorm

 

14.  August 2011 is Rainiest Month Ever

May and June 1989 and 2013 are on this list, and deservedly so, for having a combined 19 inches of rain - which is what August 2011 had in one month.  And over a six-week period it saw 25.40".  Seven inches came from hurricane Irene.

 

13.  The Monsoon-Like Rains of October 2005

In a two-and-a-half-week period (Oct. 8-25) 17 inches of rain fell (a period when 2.50" would be typical).  Seven days picked up an inch or more, including three days in a row.  Ironically, this followed one of the driest Septembers on record.

 

12.  The Harsh Winter of 1994

The City was still catching its breath after the March 1993 Superstorm when the winter of 1993-94 came calling.  Between Jan. 3 and March 10, sleet or freezing rain lashed the area on 19 occasions, with the ice storm of Jan. 7-8 particularly severe (the worst since the ice storm of Dec. 1973).  In addition to this frozen precipitation, there was plenty of snow, with 53.2" measured in Central Park, the most since the winter of 1960.  The worst of it came during the first week of February, when 21.8 inches fell from two storms (#63 on the top-100 list). 

In addition to the abundance of snow and ice, there were cold temperatures to contend with.  Temperatures in the seven weeks between Dec. 26 and Feb. 11 were 6.7 degrees below average (and nineteen of the days were 10 degrees colder than average).  The morning of Jan. 19 was the most frigid of all, with a low of -2°

 

Ice.covered.hudsonriver
The view from my office of the ice-covered Hudson River on Jan. 19, 1994.

 

11. USAir Flight 405 Crashes During Snowy Evening

3.2" of snow fell on the evening of March 22, 1992 when USAir Flight 405 crashed.  Bound for Cleveland, the plane was about to take off from La Guardia Airport but was unable to gain altitude because it hadn't been de-iced properly; it went into Flushing Bay, and 27 of the 51 passengers and crew on board died.  (Circumstances were similar to the crash of Air Florida Flight 90, which plunged into the Potomac River during a snowstorm in Jan. 1982).

 

Usair.flight405.1992

 

And now, ladies and gentlemen, here are New York's top-10 weather stories ...

 

Top10

 

10.  March Superstorm

Also referred to as the "Storm of the Century", this monster of a storm moved into the area on Saturday, March 13, 1993.  Winds gusted over 60 mph, making sleet that mixed with the snow in the afternoon really sting (I know from personal experience).  This wind-blown sleet produced a crashing sound on my apartment windows that was maddening - and it lasted all afternoon.  A changeover to sleet and rain kept snow totals in the City down by about six inches.  When the sub-freezing cold returned after midnight the mounds of snow coated with sleet and saturated with rain made it difficult to shovel/plow.  This storm would have found itself even higher in the top-10 if not for the changeover to sleet/rain and the fact that it struck on a Saturday.

 

1993Superstorm

 

9.  Two Fierce Nor'easters in March 2010

On average New York sees two or three nor'easters every year, but two strong ones in a single month is rare.  On the 17th anniversary of the 1983 March Superstorm (March 13), a fierce nor'easter dumped close to four inches of rain and was accompanied by winds that gusted to 50-75 mph.  The rainfall was the most ever measured in a 24-hour period in March.  Six persons were killed in the metro area by falling trees, and hundreds of thousands of homes were left without power.  Then less than three weeks later (March 29-30) a second nasty nor'easter struck with another 4-inch rainfall flooding the area.  This one-two punch followed NYC's record-setting 36.9" of snow in February.

 

Weather_tree_blown_down

 

8.  Blizzard of January 1996

Snow began falling late Sunday morning (Jan. 7) and continued thru early afternoon on Monday.  20.2" piled up in Central Park, with totals 8-12 inches greater in many parts of New Jersey.  Besides the snow and wind, temperatures were very cold, mostly in the upper teens (and a wind chill around zero).  At its most intense, the blizzard dumped five inches between 5-7 PM.  Once the snow had ended, vehicles parked on city streets were hemmed in by walls of snow three and four feet high from drifting and plowing.  It was tough getting around for the rest of the week, and high temperatures didn't get above freezing until Friday (when a few more inches of snow fell).  At the time this was the City's third biggest snowfall (it's now fifth).

 

Blizzard.of.1996-westside.highway
Rush hour on the West Side Highway.

 

ParkAve_snowstorm
The day after, on Park Ave./46th St.

 

7.  Winter of 1996 is Snowiest on Record

With a 4.6" snowfall on March 2, the winter of 1996 became New York's snowiest on record (passing 1947-48, which had 63.2").  And ten inches more would fall in the next five weeks.  The final snowfall, on April 10, brought the season’s total to 75.6”.  There were seven snowfalls of 4” or more, with four being 6”+.  Even without the January blizzard, 55.4" of snow fell.

 

Snow_centralparkP

 

6.  Pre-Halloween Snowstorm of 2011

This storm produced New York's largest October snowfall on record, 2.9" of heavy/wet snow that didn't accumulate much on streets but weighed down trees that still had their leaves.  Conditions in the suburbs were even worse because of greater accumulations, causing widespread tree damage; fallen branches pulled down power lines, leaving communities without electricity for days.  This storm has been somewhat forgotten because one year later Sandy struck on practically the same date.

 

Freak_october_snowstorm

 

5.  June 1975 Thunderstorm Responsible for Disastrous Plane Crash

On the afternoon of June 24, 1975, Eastern Airlines Flight 66 was approaching JFK Airport during a thunderstorm when a tremendous wind shear hit it, causing it to crash.  124 passengers and crew were killed (12 survived).  This crash is ranked higher than the USAir crash because it wasn't caused by human error, and its death toll was much higher.

 

4.  Christmas Blizzard of 2010

The storm actually began the afternoon of Dec. 26.  It was so debilitating because, besides the fact that 20" of wind-driven snow fell, it was somewhat of a last-minute storm, which caught the City largely unprepared vis-a-vis snow removal.  Many residential streets were impassable for days and the airports had days of cancelled flights during a time of heavy holiday traffic.  (My flight from Pittsburgh to JFK, which was scheduled two days after the blizzard, was cancelled and Jet Blue arranged chartered buses to bring us back to New York.)

 

Christmas_blizzard_2010

 

3.  Snowfall on Steroids

Between Dec. 26, 2010 and Feb. 2, 2011, a mere 39 days, New York received an incredible 57.6" of snow - more than double a typical winter's snowfall.  Although the bulk came from two blizzards, 20" on Dec. 26-27, 2010, and 19" on Jan. 26-27, 2011, an additional 17" fell from six other snow events, including snowfalls of four and nine inches.  And while this amount was 19 inches less than the record-breaking total of the winter of 1996, that amount fell over the course of 134 days.

 

Snowy_7thavesouth

 

2.  Hurricane Irene

Never before had the City shut down its entire transportation system until Irene approached at the end of August 2011.  Although the storm didn't strengthen as much as expected, and its center moved further east, sparing NYC higher winds and severe storm surge, close to seven inches of rain fell.  Still, there was sporadic flooding, destruction from waves and extensive tree damage.  One factor that made it a bit less of a problem was that it occurred on a weekend.

 

Weather_taxi_bicyclist_flooded_streets

 

1.  Superstorm Sandy

There was no doubt that this would be the top story.  Sandy was New York's most destructive storm in its history, with close to $20 billion in damage (Irene's damage was less than $500 million).  It was also deadly (44 deaths), and plunged the lower portion of Manhattan into darkness for five days (even longer in many suburbs).  Like Irene, the City's transportation system was shut down beforehand.  Schools were closed all week and the NY Stock Exchange was closed for two days.

Unlike Irene, Sandy struck during a weekday (Monday), and it was as powerful as predicted (and it struck close to high tide during a full moon).  Interestingly, of all the tropical systems that have affected New York since 1970, Sandy produced the least rainfall - less than an inch.  It was the wind and unprecedented storm surge (nearly fourteen feet on the East River) that proved so catastrophic.

Because there was no power in lower Manhattan, the famed Greenwich Village Halloween parade was cancelled - as was the NYC Marathon on Nov. 4 (after plans to hold it were met with a backlash).  And the timing of the storm couldn't have been worse for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  Pundits say it mortally wounded his campaign after President Obama received extensive news coverage while touring the storm stricken Jersey shore with New Jersey's Republican governor Chris Christie.  (The election was held eight days after Sandy struck.)

 

Weather_sandy_flooding_nyc

 

Sandy.submerged.taxicabs

 

Sandy_darkened_streets
Greenwich Village was plunged into darkness for five nights.

 

 

If you missed them, here are links to the other installments of NYC's Top-100 Weather Stories (1970-2014):  

#26 thru #50

#51 thru #75

#76 thru #100

 

Newyorkcity.weatherarchive

 

 

 

 

 


New York's 100 Biggest Weather Stories (1970-2014): #26 Thru #50

Brrr3 Clipart_sweating_thermometerThe excitement builds as we climb higher up the chart remembering more of New York's most high profile weather stories.  Debate may be sparked over how deserving some of the rankings are for these notable storms and extreme weather events.  And right off the bat we begin this post with a controversy ...

 

(Since writing this post in the summer of 2014 a number of weather events have occurred, e.g., NYC's biggest snowfall of all-time in January 2016, and the 14-day cold wave of Dec 2017/Jan 2018, that will appear on this list when it is eventually updated.) 

 

50.  Central Park Rain Gauge Controversy of 1983

In my opinion this is the "skeleton in the closet" of New York climatological history, a measurement issue that NYC meteorologists seem content to leave largely unacknowledged.  1983 is supposedly the wettest year on record, with 80.56" measured, more than 30 inches above average.  However, at the end of that year it was revealed that the rain gauge in Central Park had malfunctioned earlier in the year.  This should have disqualified the rain total,  or at least warranted an asterisk, but most meteorologists blindly credit it as the wettest year.  (In fact, the page in NOAA's Local Climatological Data's Annual Summary showing monthly precipitation totals for every year was left blank for 1983.)  This became an issue in 2011 when that year's rainfall came in at 72.81", ranking it second to 1983, but some believe it should be considered the rightful holder of the crown. 

 

Skeleton.in.closet

 

To gauge how rainy 1983 was elsewhere in the area I checked precipitation totals at Newark, La Guardia and JFK airports.  All three had much above average rainfall (and 1983 was JFK's wettest year), but the totals were 11 to 25 inches less than Central Park.  Additionally, the water levels at New Yokr's reservoirs north of the City were significantly below average during much of 1983.

49.  The Extreme Wet & Dry Halves of 1998

If you look at 1998's rainfall total, you see that an average amount fell (48.69"); however, this masked two very different rainfall patterns.  After the first half of the year saw 36 inches of rain, which was 50% above average, it was followed by extremely dry conditions in the next six months, with less than 13 inches measured.  These extremes balanced each other out, and the year's total precipitation was average.

48.  Record Warmth of October 2007

Temperatures during the first three weeks of the month were 11 degrees above average, with 14 days 10 degrees or more above average.  Nine days had highs in the upper 70s or warmer, including five in a row in the 80s (peaking at 87° on 10/7).  This ended up being the mildest October on record.  This warm stretch actually began back on Sept 25.

47.  Winter of 1973 - Least Snowy on Record

Only 2.8" of snow fell, with measurable snow falling on just three occasions, one each in January (1.8"), February (0.8") and March (0.2").  But, unlike other winters with little snow (e.g., 2001-02), 1973 wasn't characterized by overly mild temperatures.  And the lack of snow wasn't due to the winter months being dry, as rainfall was plentiful (60% above average).

 

Weather_snowless_winter

 

46.  The Year Without A Winter

The winter of 2001-02 was the mildest ever.  December was the mildest on record (until 2015), and Jan/Feb was among the ten mildest (and the winter months were preceded by the mildest November on record).  This winter also had the second least amount of snow, all of which fell within a 12-day period in January.  Furthermore, it was a very dry season, as just 4.91" of precipitation was received, making it the second driest winter on record.  This dry spell actually started in October 2000, as just 0.66" fell that month, and 1.36" in November.  This ranks as the driest five-month period on record (6.93" vs. 19.30" average).

45.  Blizzard of April 1982

This is New York's only April snowstorm to be officially designated a blizzard.  Precipitation began as rain in the pre-dawn hours of April 6, a Tuesday, and changed over to snow after most commuters were at work.  By evening close to 10" of wind-driven snow had fallen - and 12 to 15 inches in the suburbs of NJ and Westchester Co.  (This was following a Feb/March in which just 1.1" had fallen.)  Besides creating a commuting nightmare, the blizzard also forced cancellation of the Yankees home opener.  By midnight the temperature had plunged to 21°, half the average low for the date.  The next day had a high of only 30°, the latest date for a sub-freezing high.  This happened to be the week leading up to Easter.

 

April1982nyc_blizzard_nypost

 

44.  The Refreshing Summer of 2009

A cool summer in New York isn't a bad thing because it means comfortable conditions (and lower A/C bills).  June and July 2009 were the coolest since 1903.  During the 45-day period between June 13 – July 27, no day had an above average mean temperature.  The warmest high reading in June was just 84°, and in July it was just 86°.  Between July 2 and 14, only two days had highs in the 80s.  The two months were also very wet, with 17 inches measured (double the average amount).  Summer, however, made a comeback in August with temperatures a bit above average, and five days had highs in the 90s.

 

Refreshing.polarbear

 

43.  In a Squeaker 2012 Wins Title as Warmest Year on Record

As 2012 started, there were three years tied for mildest year - 1991, 1993 and 1998.  From March thru October, 2012 was warmer than those years, but then a colder than average November knocked it to second place, behind 1991.  But then it pulled ahead when December was 1.9 degrees chillier than Dec. 1991.  So 2012 ended as mildest year by 0.1 degree.  A margin that small might cause some to scoff at 2012's "title," but gold medals at the Olympics are won by equally tiny margins.

 

Photo.finish 

 

42.  Fourteen Consecutive Months With Above Average Temperatures

Beginning in April 2011, and continuing thru May 2012, every month was warmer than average - an unprecedented streak.  These fourteen months encompassed New York's second mildest winter and spring.  The entire period was 3.3 degrees above average, with five months in a row exceedingly above average: Nov. 2011 (+4.8 degrees); Dec. 2011 (+6.0); Jan. 2012 (+4.7); Feb. 2012 (+5.6); and March 2012 (+8.5).  Full year 2012 became the warmest year on record, and 2011 tied for tenth.

 

14.crown

 

41.  Flooding Rains of November 1972 and 1977

On Nov. 8, 1972, 5.60" of rain poured down in just 12 hours, creating havoc because it affected both the morning and evening rush hours.  At the time, it was the third greatest daily amount reported in Central Park.  Then, five years later, one day short of the 5-year anniversary of the 1972 deluge, an even bigger rainstorm hit, as rain fell for 30 hours on Nov. 7-8, flooding the City with more than nine inches of rain.

40.  Blizzard of February 11-12, 1983

Earlier in the week this storm wasn't cause for much concern among forecasters in New York, but as the week went on its track began changing, bringing it closer and closer to the City.  Finally, a winter storm warning was issued Friday AM, and snow began falling around 2:00 in the afternoon; by 5 AM Saturday, 17.6" of snow had piled up - just 0.1" less than the blizzard of Feb. 1978.  The blinding snow fell in temperatures that hovered around the 20-degree mark.  Fortunately, there was the weekend to dig out - and afternoon temperatures in the upper 30s both days helped in the removal.

 

Snowy_Street_GreenwichVillage

 

39.  Hottest Daily Mean Temperature Broils the City on July 22, 2011

It was a hellish Friday, with an inferno-like high of 104° (and the "feel-like" temperature was 112).  This was the hottest temperature in Central Park since another 104 was reached during the summer of 1977 (on July 21).  The only reading hotter than today's was 1936's all-time high of 106°.  (Meanwhile, Newark hit 108°, its hottest temperature ever.)  Combined with a sultry morning low of 84°, the day's mean temperature of 94° was the hottest on record.  (On the day the mercury reached 106° in 1936, the low was 77°, so the mean was "only" 91.5 degrees.) 

 

Clipart_hotsun

 

38.  Sleet Storms of February & March 2007

Valentines's Day, and the day before St. Patrick's Day both experienced all-day sleet storms that hampered vehicular and pedestrian traffic, and crippled air traffic, especially Jet Blue, which suspended all flights for nearly a week after the storm in February.  If the precipitation from these storms had been snow, the accumulations would have been very significant, as nearly an inch of liquid precipitation fell on Feb. 14, and two inches on March 16.  The high on Feb. 14 was 29°, and the following two days also had sub-freezing highs.  For much of the day on March 16 the temperature was below freezing, but highs the following two days were in the upper 30s.

 

Weather.sleetstorm_feb2007

 

37.  The Searing Heat & Tropical Downpours During the Summer of '88

This hot summer (at the time, the 5th hottest on record ) had two lengthy  stretches of hot weather - nearly two weeks in June (12-23) and six weeks between July 6 and Aug. 15.  There were 18 days in a row with high temperatures of 87° or hotter between July 29-Aug 15, and 24 days in a row with highs of 85+ between July 25-Aug 17.  

1988 is also remembered for the serious drought that affected large parts of the country, and New York was no exception.  However, from July 9 to 28, not only was it hot, but rainy, with tropical downpours occurring on 15 of the 20 days, amounting to 8.14” (making this the wettest month in more than four years).  This was more than the previous three months combined.  Dry conditions returned in August and September, which had a combined 4.53".

36.  Heat Wave of July 2013

This heat wave has the distinction of having the highest mean temperature of any heat wave of seven days or longer.  However, what made it a record breaker wasn't its high temperatures, but its very warm low temperatures, as seven days in row had lows of 75° or warmer - an all-time record.  It beat out a seven-day heat wave in August 1988 by 0.1 degree, and a nine-day heat wave in July 1977 (ranked #28) by 0.3 degrees.

 

Heat_wave

 

35. President's Day Blizzard of 2003

Beginning Sunday night, and continuing until early Monday afternoon (Feb. 17) 19.8" of snow piled up.  When the snow began, temperatures were only in the mid-teens, with wind chills around five below zero.  Winds that gusted to 46 mph in Central Park created drifts that were three to four feet deep.  (Another President's Day snowstorm hit the City twenty-four years earlier, but that one dropped "only" 12.7".)

 

Rob.frydlewicz.prezday.blizzard2003
This is me venturing out as the blizzard was winding down.

 

34.  Bitterly Cold February 1979

Since 1934 no February has been colder than this one.  The most frigid stretch occurred between Feb. 9-18, when eight of the ten days had lows in the single digits.  This included a low of zero degrees the morning of Feb. 18.  And the cherry on top was the snowstorm on President's Day, which dumped 12.7".

33.  1973's Late Summer Heat Wave

This eight-day heat wave began on Aug. 28, and lasted thru Sept. 4.  High temperatures ranged from 93° to 98°, and included every day of Labor Day weekend.  It closely resembled New York's late summer heat wave of 1953, which, at twelve days (Aug. 24 thru Sept. 4), is the City's longest heat wave on record.

 

Weather-bermudahigh

 

32.  Biblical Rains of May/June 1989 and May/June 2013

It wasn't 40 days and 40 nights of rain, but it was close.  In May and June of 1989 more than nineteen inches of rain fell, while in 2013 those same two months saw just over eighteen inches.

In 1989, 10.24" of rain fell in May, and 8.79" in June.  There were eight rainstorms of one-inch or more, and half of the days reported measurable rain.  The longest stretch with no rain was five days.  The 68-day period between April 29 and July 5 had 21.59" of rain, more than twice the typical amount.

In 2013, the two-month deluge didn't begin until May 8 when a storm dumped three inches (and 0.52" more after midnight the next day).   Seven storms produced rainfalls of an inch or more, the most from the flooding rains of tropical storm Andrea, which dropped 4.77" in the first week of June.  Most of the rain (17.60") fell in just a 38-day period between May 8 and June 14 (normal for that period is 5.50").  With 1.45" more falling in the first three days of July, total rainfall between May 8 and July 3 was 19.55".

(Note: These rainy periods were topped in the summer of 2021, when July and August had more than 21 inches of rain, and a little more than 29 inches fell between June 30 and Sept. 1.) 

 

Clipart_noahs_ark

 

31. Blizzard of February 1978

Less than three weeks after 14 inches of snow snarled the City, the blizzard of Feb. 6-7 dumped nearly 18 inches.  What made it even more problematic was that it occurred on a Monday and Tuesday.  Also, snow removal techniques back then weren't as sophisticated as they are today (e.g., melting devices and chemicals), so it took longer to get streets and highways cleared.  Although it caused major disruptions, New York got off easy compared to eastern Long Island and New England, which had two to three feet of snow.  At the time this was Central Park's fifth biggest snowfall (it's now ranked 13th).

 

Weather_snowypedestrians

 

30.  Bitter Cold December Followed by Very Mild January

December 1989, the third coldest December on record (10.3 degrees below average) was followed by the second mildest January (9.6 degrees above average), the most dramatic swing in temperatures between two months ever experienced in New York.  Seventeen days in December had highs of 32° or colder (and every day except Dec. 31 had below average temperatures), while January had none. 

Despite December's cold there was very little snow (less than two inches), or any precipitation in general.  Going into December it appeared 1989 was going to become New York's wettest year on record.  Although just 2.79" was needed (a below average amount), just 0.83" fell (and almost all of it on the last two days of the month).  February 1990 would also continue January's very mild pattern, with temperatures 6.4 degrees above average (at the time the fifth mildest).

29.  Frigid January 2004

In the years since 1920, only January 1977 was  colder.   From Jan 11 thru 31 temperatures were 11 degrees below average, with eight mornings having lows in the single digits.  Every day in the 4-week period between Jan. 6 thru Feb. 2 had colder than average temperatures.  And making it even more wintry, 5.7" of snow fell on Jan. 14-15, and 10.8" on Jan. 27-28.

 

Frigid_nyc

 

28.  July 1977 Heat Wave Forever Linked With Blackout of 7/13

The first day of the nine-day heat wave was July 13, the day that New York's infamous blackout occurred (beginning at 9:34 PM).  The average high during the heat wave was 97° - making it the hottest of any heat wave seven days or longer (ranked by high temperature).  The last day had a high of 104°, the second hottest temperature (later tied in the summer of 2012). 

 

Time.mag.1977blackout

 

27.  September 2010 Tornado Wreaks Havoc in Outer Boroughs

Manhattan was largely spared the chaos created by thunderstorms on Sept. 16 that spawned tornadoes in Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens (0.43" of rain fell in Central Park in just 10 minutes).  The storm barrelled through at the height of Thursday's evening rush hour, largely between 4:30 and 5:30.  Service on the Long Island Railroad was suspended for the night because of fallen trees on tracks.  A few commuters were killed by tree limbs that fell on their cars.

 

Sept16_2010_storm

 

26.  December 1992 Nor'easter

The brunt of this storm hit during AM rush hour on Friday, Dec. 11.  A storm surge flooded the FDR Drive, and also flooded the PATH station in Hoboken (something experienced at a much greater magnitude 20 years later during superstorm Sandy).  Winds of 50-60 mph made office, and high-rise apartment buildings sway noticeably, causing some elevators to malfunction.

 

Dec1992noreaster

 

To read about the stories ranked #76-100 and #51-75, click here (76-100) or here for 51-75.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


New York's 100 Biggest Weather Stories (1970-2014): #51 to #75

Weather snowy_night

 

Moving up the Top-100 list of NYC weather stories (since 1970), the group of twenty-five found below includes names such as Diana Ross, the Yankees and Mets, tropical storm Floyd and Jekyll & Hyde.  As I mentioned when I published the first group of weather stories (those ranked #76-#100), rankings were determined based on: 1. degree of disruption and destruction caused; 2. duration of the event/how long-lasting was its impact; 3. extremes of precipitation or temperature; 4. uniqueness, or how unseasonable; and 5. national media attention.

 

(Since writing this post in the summer of 2014 a number of weather events have occurred that will replace some of the stories in the top 100 in an update planned for the near future.)

 

75.  Winter of 2000's Biggest Snowfall Catches Forecasters Off Guard

This storm dumped large amounts of snow on parts of North Carolina (including a record 20.3" in Raleigh), Virginia and Delaware but it wasn't expected to impact NYC.  But just before daybreak on Jan. 25, a Tuesday, snow began falling and by 9 AM four inches had accumulated.  It then changed over to light sleet and freezing rain before ending with an additional 1.5" of snow later that afternoon/evening.  New Jersey picked up more snow, with many places reporting ten inches or more.  Traffic was snarled and many commuters stayed home from work.  This ended up being the biggest storm of the winter.

 

Surprise

 

74.  Two-Stage Snowstorm in Early December 2003 Dumps 14"

The storm's first half arrived late Friday morning on Dec. 5 and continued thru the afternoon, with snow accumulating eight inches by evening.  (By coincidence, six inches of snow fell on the same date the previous year.)  After a 15-hour break, the snow resumed on Saturday morning and by late afternoon another six inches had piled up.  Despite the rather lengthy gap in precipitation it all came from one sprawling storm system.  This break helped road crews keep streets passable. 

73.  A Half-Month's Worth of Rain in An Hour!

An intense evening thunderstorm on Aug. 10, 2006 dumped 2.46” of rain in the hour between 6:11-7:11 PM, the greatest amount to fall in an hour in the years since 1970.  This topped the 2.09" that fell in an hour on July 17, 1995 (#96).  Besides torrential rain the storm also produced winds that gusted close to 40 mph.

72. April 2007 Super Soaker

A nor'easter dumped 7.57" of rain on Sunday, April 15, and an additional 0.91" fell after midnight on Monday.  The amount that fell on Sunday was the second greatest daily amount on record (the largest amount is 8.28" in Sept. 1882).  Three inches fell between noon-4 PM (including 1.19" in a one-hour period); another period of torrential rain dumped an additional 1.70" between 9-11 PM.  In between these two deluges there was a period of calm, even a bit of clearing, somewhat resembling the eye of a hurricane.

71.  Christmas 2002 is Wettest on Record, 2nd Snowiest

1.30" of precipitation fell on Christmas Day 2002.  Starting as light rain in the morning (the temperature was in the mid-30s), it changed over to a heavy, wet snow in the afternoon and accumulated five inches by 6:00.  This was the most snow to fall on the holiday since seven inches fell in 1909.

70.  Four Days In a Row See One-Inch+ Rainfall

From Sept. 23 thru 26, 1975 more than an inch of rain fell on each day.  Totaling 7.43", 2.30" fell on Sept. 23; 2.26" on the 24th; 1.05" on the 25th and 1.82" on the 26th.  This is the only time New York has experienced a waterlogged streak of this many days.

 

One_inch 

69.  20th Century Goes Out with Cold Snap, Snowstorm

Beginning Dec. 22, 2000 and continuing thru Jan. 3, a period of 13 days, high temperatures never rose above 32°, the longest streak since Jan/Feb 1961.  Temperatures weren't brutally cold as highs ranged from 27° to 32°, and the coldest low was 14°.  Still, these temperatures were 8.5 degrees colder than average.  And in the midst of this frosty period, a foot of snow fell on Dec. 30 - the biggest December snowfall since 1960.

 

Rob.frydlewicz.presidentsdayblizzard2003
Yours truly, morning of Dec. 30, 2000

 

68.  Rain Washes Out Two World Series Games in 1986 & 1996

Fans of the Yankees and Mets are loathe to share but there are good reasons for them sharing this ranking.  Although the Yankees game had the more compelling weather story, the Mets were playing a game with much more at stake.

On the one hand, the nor'easter that lashed the area on Oct. 18, 1996, causing Game 1 of the '96 World Series between the Braves and Yankees to be postponed, was a much more serious weather story than the steady light rain that postponed Game 7 of the 1986 World Series between the Red Sox and Mets.  The nor'easter dumped 4.35" of rain (half of it between 2-5PM) while the rain in 1986 was much lighter, amounting to just 0.65".  At the time the 4.35" was the 10th greatest daily rainfall amount on record.

On the other hand, Game 7's in general are of much more interest than a Game 1, and this was even more so in 1986.  First, the Red Sox were hoping to win their first World Series in 68 years.  Second, with Boston on the verge of winning the Series, they lost Game 6 when the Mets made an amazing extra-inning comeback.  Some feared the postponement might break the Mets' momentum (but it gave Mets fans an extra day to savor Game 6).  Despite this break, the Mets went on to win Game 7 on the following night.

 

86worldseriesgame7.rainout

 

67.  1970's Easter Snowstorm

Easter was very early in 1970, on March 29.  Much like the April 1982 blizzard (#50), precipitation began as rain in the AM but changed over to snow after 10:00 and continued through mid-afternoon.  Four inches fell, the most ever on Easter Sunday.

 

Easter_snow

 

66.  Hot Summer of 1983 Extends Into Autumn

Between Sept. 5 and Sept. 20 high temperatures heated into the 90s on seven days, including a high of 99° on Sept. 11 - the hottest reading in a year with a hot summer.  Only two other years have had a hotter reading in September, in 1953 (102° on Sept. 2) and in 1881 (101° on Sept. 7).

99

 

65.  May 2001 Begins With Four Record Highs

The four days between May 1-4 all set record highs: 87°, 90°, 90° and 92°.  The typical high on these days is in the upper 60s, which was pretty much what the lows were on these days.  Despite this torrid start the month ended up just 0.9 degree above average, the result of the month's second half being five degrees cooler than average.

64.  Thanksgiving Snowstorm of 1989

4.7 inches of snow fell during the pre-dawn hours on Thanksgiving Day (0.3" of it fell late Wednesday night), the biggest snowfall to take place on the holiday.  Snow had stopped falling by the time the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade began, but parade goers (and participants) had to contend with below freezing temperatures - and they remained below 32° all day.

 

Willard_scott_macys_parade

 

63.  The Back-to-Back Snowstorms of February 1994

The winter of 1994 (#11) had an overabundance of storms with frozen precipitation, but NYC finally got two healthy doses of snow in early February - and just four days apart.  The first storm on Feb. 8-9 dumped nine inches (in addition to some frozen precip); then on Feb. 11 another 12.8" of snow piled up.  If this two-storm total of 21.8" had been one storm it would have ranked as the City's second biggest snowfall.  This event's ranking was boosted by the fact that both occurred on weekdays (Tuesday/Wednesday, and Friday).

 

Stpatricks_in_snowstorm

 

62.  Tropical Storm Floyd Produces Flooding Rains

Five inches of rain fell during the day and evening of Sept. 16, 1999 from Floyd, whose heavy rains caused catastrophic flooding in North Carolina and Virginia while it was a hurricane.  This created major commuting problems and some subway lines were shut down.  At the time this was NYC's fifth greatest daily rainfall amount (it's now eighth).  The Philadelphia area saw 2-3 inches more than New York.

 

Floyd

 

61.  The Summer of 1971 - Raindrops Kept Falling on Our Heads

The summer of 1971 ended on a very rainy note as nearly 13 inches fell in less than three weeks between Aug. 27 and Sept 14 (ten inches more than normal).  Nearly ten inches of it came from two tropical systems, Doria on Aug. 27 (5.96") and Heidi on Sept. 14 (3.76").

 

Rain_rain_rain

 

60.  August 2009 Thunderstorm Topples Hundreds of Trees

A thunderstorm tore through northern Manhattan at around 9 PM on Aug. 18 and knocked down more than 500 trees in Riverside and Central Parks.  Despite the extensive damage in the parks the storm was very localized.  In fact, I noticed very little rain or wind in my Greenwich Village neighborhood that night.

 

Weather.downedtree.centralpark

 

59.  Near Identical April Heat Waves in 1976 & 2002

These very early heat waves both occurred in mid-April, lasted four days and had identical high temperatures (but in different order).  1976's heat wave fell between April 17-20 with high temperatures of 91° on April 17; 96° on the 18th (which was Easter Sunday); 92° on the 19th, and 89° on the 20th.  The heat wave in 2002 began April 16 and had highs of 92°, 96°, 91° and 89°.  (My memory of 2002's heat wave was that I had taken my air conditioner in for servicing the day before the hot weather began so it would be ready for the summer!) 

58.  The Jekyll & Hyde January of 2005

Seventeen days in a row with above average temperatures (beginning Dec. 29) was followed by seventeen days in a row with below average temperatures (thru Jan. 31).  Temperatures during the mild half were 11 degrees above average, with every day but one completely above freezing.  The cold half was 10 degrees colder than average, with eight of the eleven days between Jan. 18-28 reporting lows in the single digits.  And on Jan. 22-23, 13.8" of snow fell, but its impact was mitigated somewhat by being a weekend event.

 

Jekyll.hyde

 

57.  Exceedingly Warm & Dry September 2005

Sept. 30 was the only day of the month that had a below average mean temperature  The month also included the end of a 35-day streak with highs of 80° and warmer that began in August (8/21-9/23).  It was also a bone dry month, with just 0.48” measured.  This was New York's second warmest, and fourth driest September.

56.  Macy's Balloons Grounded by High Winds

A nor’easter on the morning of Thanksgiving Day 1971 produced wind gusts over 40 mph, forcing officials of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade to ground the the balloons for the first and only time in parade history, making for a rather dull TV telecast.

55.  A Frigid Start to Winter 1980-81

During the 5-week period from Dec. 14 to Jan. 18, two-thirds of the days had highs of 32° or colder.  Temperatures during these weeks were 9.4 degrees colder than average.  This persistent cold resulted in the Hudson and East Rivers around Manhattan becoming almost completely ice-covered.  Snow fell throughout the period, with five snowfalls of an inch or more producing close to 11".  However, the amount of liquid precipitation that fell in December and January was just 1.16", with both months receiving the identical amount (0.58").  This was the City's driest two-month period until 1995.

 

Oldmanwinter2  

 

54.  August 1995 Goes Down to the Wire for Crown as 'Driest Ever'

August 1995's chance of becoming the driest or second driest of any month ended by the 6th of the month, but chances at third place became a definite possibility when no rain fell for the next 24 days.  And the record for driest August remained.  However, both appeared in jeopardy late on Aug. 31 as a line of strong thunderstorms approached the City after 10 PM.  Just 0.07" of rain was needed for the distinction as driest August to slip away, and 0.06" to lose out as third driest of any month.  The storms, however, dissipated dramatically and produced just 0.02" (it seemed to have rained a lot more in my Greenwich Village neighborhood).  Besides being bone dry, it was also a hot month (at the time third warmest August), with 13 days in the 90s.  The dry conditions extended east to Suffolk Co., where the Hamptons experienced its worst brush fires in years, disrupting service on the Long Island Railroad late in the month.     

53. Pre-Dawn Thunderstorm Spawns Tornado, Floods Subway

On Aug. 7, 2007 a tornado touched down in Brooklyn and two inches of rain fell during the severe thunderstorm that spawned a twister.  This deluge shut down much of the subway system, preventing many commuters from getting to work that day.

52.  Summer of 1982's Tiny Window of 90-Degree Days

The first 90-degree reading of 1982 came very late, on July 8, and the final 90 came very early, on July 27.  However, during this brief period of twenty days there were eleven 90-degree days, including days with highs of 94°, 96° and 98°.  The mean temperature during these twenty days was 4.5 degrees above average.

51.  The "Diana Ross Thunderstorm" of July 1983

This is the only weather story on this list driven by sheer star power.  It was a steamy July 21 when Diana Ross gave a free concert in Central Park before a crowd estimated at 450,000.  Temperatures that Thursday reached the mid-90s, and severe thunderstorms approached just as the concert was set to begin at 6:00.  Miss Ross performed valiantly in the lashing rain before the concert was postponed after 45 minutes because of danger posed by lightning.  The aftermath became notorious when groups of teens marauded through the exiting masses.  Happily, the next day's weather was sunny and dry and the concert was held again.

 

Dianarossconcert-dailynews

 

If you'd like to read about the stories ranked #76-100, double click here.


New York's Top 100 Weather Stories (1970-2014): #76 to #100

Weather.lightningstrike Drawing up a list of memorable weather events is a relatively easy task.  Ranking them is what poses a challenge (and deciding which to leave out).  To help me determine my rankings of New York's 100 top weather stories since 1970 I used the following criteria: 1. degree of disruption and destruction caused; 2. duration of the event/how long-lasting was its impact; 3. extremes of precipitation or temperature; 4. uniqueness, or how unseasonable; and 5. national media attention.  As you'll see the stories include events that occurred on a specific date as well as those that covered a week's time, a month, multiple months, even a year.  

 

Rather than overload you with all one hundred at once, this post shows those that rank #76 and #100 (starting with #100).  This first group shouldn't be interpreted as the "losers" since nearly 250 stories/events were considered.  For the most part they are ranked lower because they caused a lower degree of disruption to day-to-day life.  (Since writing this post in the summer of 2014 a number of weather events have occurred that will replace some of the stories in the top 100 in an update planned for the near future.)

 

100.  Thunderstorm Disrupts 1992 Democratic Convention

On July 15, the opening of the third night of the convention (at Madison Square Garden) was delayed by a strong thunderstorm that moved in after 4:30, and continued for two hours (0.89" of rain fell, with 0.37" falling in the ten-minute period between 6:37-6:47).  The storms were triggered by a cold front moving into hot/humid air; the high that day had reached 92°.  And while it was just a run-of-the-mill storm, it merits a top-100 ranking due to its disruption of the convention.

 

Clinton.gore.1992

 

99.  Hangin' Onto Summer - 88° in October 1979

The latest date for a 90-degree reading in October is the 17th, which occurred in 1938, but another late date for a high almost as hot occurred five days later in 1979,  when the high on the 22nd reached 88° (27 degrees above average).  Fortunately for runners, this hot temperature came the day after the running of the NYC Marathon - which was still run in the warmest temperatures in race history, as the high reached 80°.  

98.  Winter of 1998 Fails to Become The Least Snowy

It appeared the winter of 1998 would go down as NYC's least snowy.  Just 0.5" had fallen, and it was going into late March.  Then, a surprise five-inch snowfall occurred overnight on March 22, resulting in the winter of 1997-98 ending up as the fifth least snowy (it's now ranked seventh after just 3.5" fell in 2001-02, and 2019-20 had 4.8").

97.  Late December 1984 Snowfall Followed by 70-Degree High

4.8" of snow fell on Dec. 27, and two days later the high soared to 70°.  Ironically, since the month overall was very mild, it was the snowfall that seemed out of place. 

 

Clipart_metlingsnowman3

 

96.  July 1995 Thunderstorm Produces Tremendous Downpour

Between 10 PM-1 AM on July 17, 1995, 3.36" of rain flooded the City.  At its most intense, two inches fell in an hour.  That evening, a Monday, I was at a performance of Hamlet at the Belasco Theater on West 44th St.  Shortly after the second half of the performance began, water started dripping steadily onto the stage.  When the show was over, many in the audience tried to wait out the storm in the theater lobby, but we were eventually shooed out by staff.  (This would have ranked higher if it happened five hours earlier during rush hour.)

95.  The Clear Blue Skies on 9-11

On the evening of Sept. 10, a cold front produced strong thunderstorms, and ushered in a dry air mass.  The clear blue skies that greeted the City the morning of 9-11 served as the backdrop for the horror that was about to unfold.  This fine weather is inextricably linked with the day and is often commented upon whenever New Yorkers talk about their memories of 9-11.

 

Blue.skies.on.9-11

 

94.  Torrential Rain During 1980 Transit Strike

This deluge on April 9, 1980, totaling 3.49”, was made worse by the fact that two inches of it poured down during that day's evening rush hour - in the midst of NYC’s transit strike.  There were a lot of unhappy pedestrians out on the streets (I was one of them) who got soaked while walking home, since there were no buses or subway cars to stay dry in.

 

Broken_umbrella

 

93.  Memorial Day 1999 - The Most Perfect 3-Day Holiday Weekend Ever? 

Each day was sunny, quite warm, and with relatively low humidity.  High temperatures were 87°-88°-89°, thirteen degrees above average.  Of course, there have been other nice holiday weekends (1991 was even hotter), including Labor Day, but this one stands out because of bright sunshine each day, and comfortable levels of humidity. 

92.  Unseasonable Warmth of Late February 1997

Between Feb. 19-27, three days had extraordinarily warm temperatures, all records: 66° on Feb. 19; 69° on Feb 22; and 72° on Feb. 27.  These highs were about 25 degrees above average, and more typical for the first half of May.  Each day was also characterized by windy conditions (gusts of 25-35 mph).  Interestingly, in the midst of this unseasonable warmth, one day, Feb. 25, reverted back to winter, with a high/low of 33°/19°.  This was the coldest day of the month.

91.  Super Bowl XLVII Escapes Grip of Harsh Winter of 2014

In the midst of a very harsh winter, Lady Luck shined on the NYC area on Feb. 2, the day Super Bowl XLVIII was played in northern New Jersey (the first time a Super Bowl was held in an uncovered stadium in a northern climate).  Amazingly, skies were sunny, and the afternoon temperature rose to 56°, the mildest day in February.  However, winter returned with a vengeance the next day, with an eight-inch snowfall.

 

Superbowl.2014

 

90.  2005 March Madness

A nor'easter and an Arctic front worked together to produce wild conditions in the PM hours of March 8, 2005.  Although precipitation was far from excessive, the pressure gradient between the two systems produced gale force winds of 40-50 mph.  Rain changed to snow that accumulated 1.5" in the afternoon (and 4-5" in the suburbs), creating a commuting nightmare on this Tuesday evening.  Temperatures fell from 57° in the pre-dawn hours, to 18° by midnight.  The howling wind alone would make walking a challenge, but combined with surfaces that had turned to ice, and you had near impossible conditions.

89.  Springtime in December

In December 1998 highs of 69°, 74° and 75° were recorded on Dec. 3, 4 and 7 - all were records at the time.  These were 26 degrees above average, and more typical of late May.  And between Nov. 29 and Dec. 22 temperatures were 11 degrees above average.  This is the only December to have two days in the 70s.

88.  Earliest 80-Degree Reading

On March 13, 1990 the temperature soared to a summer-like 85°, 36 degrees above average.  (Three years later on this date, the City was buried by 10 inches of snow from the March Superstorm).  Then, overnight, the winds shifted to the northeast, and the temperature the next day got no higher than 46°.  Then, on the 15th and 16th, the warm front responsible for the warmth of the 13th, moved north of the City again, and record highs of 77° and 82° were reported, respectively.   

87.  Fourth of July Washout in 1981 Ends in Time for Fireworks

July 4th 1981 was this summer holiday's rainiest on record, with 1.78" falling between 11 AM and 8 PM.  However, the rain ended in time for the Macy's fireworks exhibition on the Hudson River.  A close second in dreariness on 7/4 came was three years earlier, when 1.19" fell during the morning (after 1.72" fell the day before).  And despite a dry afternoon, overcast conditions and a damp breeze off the water produced a high of only 62°.

86.  April 2014 Ends With a Gully Washer 

April 30 was one of three calendar dates that had never had a rainfall of an inch or more.  That more than ended in 2014, when nearly five inches poured down, with more than half of it falling after 6 PM.  The 4.97" that fell was the ninth greatest daily amount on record (now ranked tenth).  Besides the rain, it was also a very raw day, with temperatures only in the 40s.  Then May 1 dawned bright and sunny, and the afternoon temperature soared into the upper 70s.

 

Weather.nycthunderstorm

 

85.  The Flash Freeze of January 1985

New York experienced one of its coldest days ever on Jan. 21, 1985, when the high/low was 9°/-2°, 27 degrees colder than average.  The high was the coldest since 1943.  This event isn't ranked higher because the Arctic blast was short-lived.  (Five weeks later, on Feb. 24, the high reached 75°, tying with Feb 25, 1930 as the warmest February temperature - later broken in 2018.)

84. August Day in 2007 Bares No Resemblance to Dog Days of Summer

A summer day is considered cool if it has a high in the mid-70s, but August 21, 2007 wasn't close to that, as the high was only 59° - only the second time a temperature this cool was recorded in August (the other occurrence was in 1911, on 8/31).  This was 23 degrees below average and more typical of the second week in April.  It was a gray day, with winds off the ocean and a steady all-day rain that amounted to 1.27".  The low, fortunately, was only three degrees below that.  And one other saving grace was that it happened on a weekday.  The temperature the next day "recovered" to 65°.

83.  Sunny & Hot on Day of August 2003 Blackout 

The day of NYC's third major blackout, beginning mid-afternoon on Aug. 14, 2003, was sunny with a high of 91°.  Although not as torrid as the day of the July 1977 blackout (ranked higher), it still made a night without A/C, fans, or ice pretty unbearable.

 

2003blackout

 

82.  End of March 1998 Goes Out Like a Roasted Lamb

Five days after five inches of snow fell (see #100), an extraordinary five-day stretch began in which every day between March 27-31 had highs in the 80s: 83°, 80°, 81°, 82° and 86°.  The average high/low of this warm spell was 82°/61°, twenty-six degrees above average.  The next 80-degree day wouldn't be for another six-and-a-half weeks (May 15).  March 31 also happened to be the home opener for the New York Mets .

81.  Santa Delivers a Lump of Frigid Air on Christmas Day 1980

A blast of extremely cold Arctic air moved through on Christmas Eve night, dropping the temperature from 20° at midnight on Christmas Day, to one below zero at daybreak.  If the air temperature wasn't bad enough, 40-50 mph winds produced wind chills around -25°.  This was the first sub-zero temperature in December since 1942 (and there have been none since).

 

Frozensantaclaus

 

80.  Rare Triple-Digit Heat in August

The last four days of a six-day August heat wave in 2001, between Aug. 5-10, had highs of 99°-99°-103°-97°.  The high of 103° on Aug. 9 was the hottest reading since July 1977 - and the first triple digit reading in August since 1952.

 

103

 

79.  Autumn 1970 Heat Wave

Four of the five days between Sept. 22-26 had highs in the 90s: 94°-93°-87°-90°-91° (highs on the 25th and 26th set records).  And the year’s highest mean temperature, 85 degrees, occurred on Sept. 23 (93°/77°, 20 degrees above average).  The 91-degree reading on 9/26 was the latest 90-degree reading since 1941.

78.  All But One Inch of Winter 1995's Snow Comes From One Storm

Although just 11.8" of snow fell during the winter (normal is 28"), almost all of it fell on Feb. 4, making it memorable.  A winter storm on this Saturday dumped 10.8" of heavy, wet snow that fell at a furious pace during the morning hours (nearly half of it fell in the three hours between 6-9 AM).  Before the precipitation ended, it changed to rain for a few hours in the early afternoon, when temperatures rose into the mid-30s.  Then Arctic air moved in after dark and transformed streets and sidewalks filled with snow and slush into blocks of hard ice.

 

Weather.heavywetsnow

 

77.  Record Rainfall Falls on Consecutive Summer Saturdays

The summer of 1984 saw record rainfalls on Saturday, June 30 and the following Saturday.  June 30 was a washout, with 3.07" of rain falling between 5 AM-7 PM.  In the hour between 7:43 and 8:43 AM, 1.36" fell.  A week later, on July 7, 3.13" fell, but it was confined to the AM hours (2-11:00).  This shorter time span created more flooding problems.  And in between these two weekend deluges, 1.31" fell.

76.  The "March Lion" That Wasn't 

That's what The Weather Channel billed it as.  However, predictions of 12"-18" of snow on March 5-6, 2001 came to naught when the storm developed later and further north than expected.  Only the eastern half of Long Island received appreciable snowfall (NYC picked up 3.5" over two days.)  However, because of the dire forecast, City schools were closed on Monday before the first flakes fell, and many businesses told employees to stay home, or let them leave early.  It's the disruptions caused by this dud of a storm that powered it onto the top 100.

 

NYC's Top Weather Stories:  #51-75

NYC's Top Weather Stories: #26-50

NYC's Top 25 Weather Stories

 

 

 

 

 


June 2014 Weather Recap: No 90-Degree Days, But Warmer Than Average

June

2014 is the first year since 1985 to have no 90-degree days during its first six months.  And June joined eighteen others since 1872 with no such days (a typical June has three).  But despite this lack of "hot" days, June 2014 was 1.0 degree above average.  (Its mean temperature was similar to that of the previous three Junes, which had three to five 90-degree readings.)  In fact, it was the warmest of any of the Junes without 90-degree readings.  Here are the five warmest:

 

5 Warmest Junes With No 90s  
       
    Mean   
June   Temp  
2014   72.4  
1960   71.8  
1917   70.3  
1877   70.2  
1935   70.1  
Source: NY Local Climatological Data

 

Besides having no 90-degree days, what made this June stand out was that it had only three days with lows in the 50s (the average number is eight).  Since 1970 only June 1981 had fewer (two).  

 

Average2What also made June 2014 interesting was the fact that it had an unusually high number of days with daily mean temperatures that were close to average.  In a typical month six days have a mean temperature that falls between one degree above and one below average.  This June had 13 such days.  No other June since 1970 (as far as I went back) has had that many.  And only one other month had more, July 1975 with 14. 

 

Additionally, of the days with cooler than average temperatures, the most below average was just -4 degrees (there were three such days), whereas there were above average days of +7 (two), +8 and +11.

 

90degreesSo how many 90-degree days might we expect for the rest of the summer?  In those years in which the first 90 didn't come until after July 1 they averaged nine 90-degree days, which is about half of the number of an average year.  (The average number of days after July 1 is 12.)  The most 90-degree days for one of these "late summers" was fifteen in 1911 and fourteen in 1972.  

 

 

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