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The Freakish Snow & Cold of March 1956, 1958, and 1967




Although many winters have a significant snowfall and a cold snap in March, it often happens in the first two weeks of the month, and is usually limited to one snow event and a few days of cold weather.  This post, however, looks at three years that fell within a twelve-year period in the middle of the 20th century that experienced freakish snow and cold in the second half of the month. 


1956 (March 12 - April 8)

During this four-week period 25" of snow fell and temperatures were 6.5 degrees below average.  There were snowfalls of 6.7" and 11.6" that occurred two days apart, on March 16-17 and March 18-19, and then a 4.2" snowfall occurred on April 8 (as well as two smaller snowfalls under two inches).  Up until these four wintry weeks just eight inches of snow had fallen for the entire winter.


Nyc-blizzard-of-1956-albert eisenstaedt

1958 (March 14-21)

On March 14 there was a snowfall of 4.1" followed a week later (March 20-21) by a nor'easter that dumped 11.8" of wet snow.  (This storm paralyzed an area from Maryland, eastern Pennsylvania and much of New Jersey with 20-40 inches.)  And while temperatures in NYC were colder than average during both snowfalls, temperatures much of the time were above freezing.  This ended up being the snowiest month of the winter.




1967 (March 15-23)

During this nine-day period 15.4" of snow fell from three storms, and temperatures were 15 degrees below average.  On the 18th, the high/low was only 20°/10°, which was 27 degrees below average.  Then, on the morning of the 19th the low fell to 8° above zero, the latest date on record for a single-digit reading.  From late afternoon on the 15th until noon on the 20th the temperature was 32° or colder.  This brutal cold was followed by a 10" snowfall on March 22.




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Ken K. in NJ

Thanks for this summary. As a kid in Brooklyn I actually do remember bits and pieces of these events. My Dad was somewhat of a weather buff too and I recall him telling me how unusual the late March snows were. It's great to see the details.

March 1960 was memorable too, although most of the cold and snow occurred in the first half of the month. That was the first year I was really into weather events and remember tracking the daily numbers in a notebook. However I think there were a couple of record lows and a snowfall or two late in the month as well.


March 1960 ranks among NYC's ten coldest (and coldest since 1916) and ten snowiest March's, and is one of two March's to be colder than the three winter months (the other was in 1890). As you said, most of its snow and cold was in the first 12 days of the month. I was just a toddler back then but my mother has photos of my brother and sister leaving for school during the snowstorm at the beginning of the month (in Pittsburgh). She told me that they had to leave from the garage because the front door couldn't be opened because of drifting snow.


Hi Rob, I enjoyed your synopsis of the months of March 1956, 1958 and 1967. But I was wondering why you didn’t include March of 1960. That month was the 8th coldest March on record (33.3 average temp.) and the 7th snowiest (18.5”). It also set two daily snowfall records (3rd & 17th, the one on the 17th was broken in 1967) and two daily record low temps (11th & 26th). The first 26 days of the month were all below normal including 11 consecutive days from the 3rd-13th with negative departures of 10 degrees or more.


Indeed, March 1960 was a harsh one - and you're the second reader to mention it! However, the brunt of that month's cold and snow occurred in the first dozen days of the month. But, as the intro to this post states, what got my attention about March 1956, 1958 and 1967 was the late dates of their cold and excessive snow. Because it was consistently cold, March 1960, probably deserves its own separate post.

Kenneth Musillo

I remember from 1960 foward

Hollis Ramsey

My brother was born in Brooklyn, NY on 22 March 1956, during the blizzard of ’56. My parents told me about how difficult it was, getting to the hospital, because of the snow. Today, 22 March 2020, marks 64 yrs since that date. Wow, time flies when you’re having life! Happy birthday, Eric. And Yes, I still love you when you’re 64.


One of my earliest memories is walking to church in the Bronx with my parents on Easter Sunday, 1967. I remember the snow and trying to understand why my face hurt that morning. I was two years old!


The 8 degree low you noted for March 19, 1967 besides being the latest in the season single-numbers low recorded at Central Park is the last time to date that a single-numbers reading occurred in March (closest since is 10-degrees on March 1, 1980 and in the 21st century 11-degrees on March 3, 2003).

The latest date since then for a single-numbers low is 9-degrees on Feb 28, 2014

Peter Sonne

Five of us high school seniors decided to go camping in Harriman State Park in the Catskills March 20-23, 1967, never expecting the snowstorm that buried us in our lean-to. Nevertheless, it only added to our adolescent sense of fun and adventure. On the way downhill to the highway to be picked up by one of our dads, we pretty much slid and tumbled down the trail.

Linda Cloer Aspromonte

I grew up in West Haverstraw Rockland County, New York and later inStony Point, also in Rockland. I don’t have any data on number or inches of snowfall but I can tell you I remember the snow being piled 10 feet high as it was cleared from the roads and did not get a chance to melt Before the next snow fall would come Around. These curb side snow mountains seemed fantastic to us. We climbed them, or used them as barricades from behind which we would hurl snowballs. I remember it as a wonderful time and place to be a child.

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