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Winter 2015 Recap - Global Warming Takes a Holiday

February 2015 - One of New York's Coldest Months on Record

Ice.surrounds.manhattan

 

Through mid-February, it appeared this would be the coldest February since 1979, but as incursions of Arctic cold continued unabated through the second half of the month, it ended up being even colder than that February.  (February 1979 was brutally cold until the last six days of the month when temperatures were eight degrees above average.)  Most who experienced February 2015 probably don't need convincing that it was an unusually frigid month, but for those who need statistical proof, read on:

 

  • It was 1) New York's coldest month since January 1977; 2) the coldest February since 1934 (which is NYC's coldest month on record); and 3) the third coldest February overall.  Among all months it was the tenth coldest (see chart below). 
  • February 2015 joins four other months in the past 25 years that rank among their respective month's 10 coldest (all of which have occurred since 2000):  July 2000, January 2004, June 2009 and July 2009.
  • There were nine days in a row (Feb. 13-21) in which the mean temperatures were 10 degrees or more below average (the longest streak since one of 11 days in February 1979).  Overall, sixteen days were ten degrees or more below average, the most since December 1989.  Five days were 20 degrees or more below average.
  • Despite there being no sub-zero readings, the month was characterized by its consistent cold.  The temperature got no higher than 43° (the only Februarys with lower "warmest" temperature were in 1978, when the maximum temperature was just 41°, and 1934, when it was 42°.)  This continued a streak that began on Jan. 6 and became the longest such streak on record (and it continued thru the first week of March).

 

Frozen.bryantpark.fountain.
Frozen fountain in Bryant Park

 

  • Every day had a low of freezing or below; every day but one, Feb. 22, had a below average mean temperature.  Fifteen days had highs of 32° or colder (a typical winter averages eighteen in total).
  • The coldest day of the entire winter was Feb. 20, with a high/low of 19°/2°, 26 degrees below average.
  • There were no big snowstorms, but 13.6" accumulated, four inches above average. (This total reflects a revision made by the National Weather Service in late March that increased Feb. 2's snowfall from 3.3" to 5.0").  This came mostly from three snowfalls in the three to five-inch range.  These snowfalls, along with the cold weather, helped maintain a snow cover in Central Park of at least six inches for the entire month.  And although total precipitation for the month was just 2.04", there have been six Februarys since 2000 with less.

 

NEW YORK'S TEN COLDEST MONTHS
         
  Mean      
  Temp Snow Coldest Warmest
Feb 1934 19.9 27.9" -15 42
Jan 1918 21.7 13.2" -4 53
Jan 1977  22.1 13.0" -2 44
Feb 1885 22.7 14.5" -2 46
Jan 1888  23.0 11.0" 0 54
Jan 1920  23.4 8.2" -1 51
Jan 1912  23.7 13.0" -3 54
Jan 1893  23.7 16.0" 1 52
Jan 1875  23.8 14.5" -3 40
Feb 2015 23.9 13.6" 2 43
Source: NOAA Local Climatological Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ken K. in NJ

Thanks for this analysis, it certainly was a month to remember. 2nd coldest in all but the oldest New Yorkers lifetimes.

Rob

I'm still somewhat stunned by how cold this month was. Midway through it I figured it would come in with an average temperature around 26.0 degrees. I never thought there would be no thaw. Tomorrow I'll be issuing a review of the winter.

Harry Mandel

There is a website called NOWdata where one can get daily info for a weather station going way back. I went on there and I think I can "fill in the gaps" for your "NA"s for warmest temperature of the month:

Feb 1885 - 46

Jan 1888 - 54

Jan 1893 - 52

Jan 1875 - 40 (I think this is the lowest "maximum temp" of any month.

Here's the website: https://w2.weather.gov/climate/xmacis.php?wfo=okx

Rob

Thank you Harry. Last year I discovered this site but haven't had a chance to fill in all of the observations from my posts that can be enhanced by having these data from the 19th century, so thanks for adding these temperatures.

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