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December 2018

Weather Highlights of the 1910s in New York

Winter 1910 flatiron building


The 20th century's second decade was characterized by colder than average winters and springs, especially the winter of 1918, which has the distinction of being the coldest on record.  There were also back-to-back winters (1916 and 1917) with 50.7" of snow, and an unprecedented four consecutive Aprils with significant snowfalls (1914-1917).  Additionally, the summers of 1914 and 1915 were among the coolest on record.  Still, there were a number of hot weather highlights, including the hottest temperature on record, at the time, 104°, in August 1918 (just seven months after a low of -13°).  Then there was the brief, but scorching, four-day heat wave the previous summer (July 30-Aug 2) in which one day had a high of 100° and the other three days reached 98°.  And in 1914 and 1915, late season heat waves occurred in consecutive Septembers.  Finally, looking at precipitation, 1910 was New York's driest year until 1964, while Oct. 1913, with nearly 13 inches of rain, ranks as one of the ten wettest months on record.  Highlights of each year follow:


> 1910 <

January 14 - The biggest snowfall of the winter covered the City with an accumulation of 10" (0.5" of it fell on 1/15).  This topped a snowfall of eight inches three weeks earlier.


Snowy central park 1910s

February 27 - Today's high of 51° was the first in the 50s since Dec. 14, a span of nearly eleven weeks.

September 1 - After today's rainfall of 1.20",  just 0.22" fell for the rest of the month (and none from 9/10 thru the first week of October).  This was more rain than what fell in the entirety of August (1.07"), and was associated with what was left of the season's first tropical storm.

October 6 - Today was the twenty-seventh day in a row with no measurable rain.  This would be the longest rain-free streak on record until 1924 (it's now ranked third).  This streak contributed to 1910 being New York's driest year, until 1964.  The day was also unseasonably warm, with a high/low of 84°/71°.  At the time, this was the latest date for a low in the 70s (and would remain so until 2005, when there was a low of 70° on 10/7).

November 24 - Today's high of 53° was the only high in the 50s between Nov. 11 - Dec. 28.

December 16 - The coldest day of the winter was today, with a high/low of 21°/11°. 


Winter 1910s


December 19 - Today was the first day this month with a low temperature above 32°.

Christmas Day - Today was the thirteenth (and last) day this month with a high of 32° or colder.


> 1911 <

March 16 - Today's frigid high/low of 20°/13° made this the second coldest day of the winter, three months after the coldest day (21°/11° on 12/16).

March 25 - On the day of New York's deadly fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in Greenwich Village (147 mostly female laborers died), skies were clear and temperatures cold, with a high/low of 40°/20°.




April 2 - Today's high/low was a winter-like 35°/24°, seventeen degrees below average.  The high was a record for the date (that still stands). 

May 24 - This was the ninth day with measurable rain this month, all which had less than 0.10" (as well as April's last two days with rain).

July 6 - This was the fourth day in a row with a stifling low of  77°.  The highs on these four days were also very similar: 100°-97°-97°-98° (today).

August 31 - This was the seventh day in a row with measurable rain.  3.76" poured down today, more than the combined amount of the previous six days (3.57").  Additionally, today's high/low was a very cool 59°/55°.  This would be the only time until 2007 that a day in August had a high in the 50s.

November 12 - After reaching a high of 69° in the early afternoon, the temperature nosedived and was down to 33° as midnight approached.  The mercury would continue to fall to a record low of 26° the following morning.

December 4 - A snowfall of seven inches ended up being the biggest snowfall of the winter.  The day, with a high/low of 33°/19°, was also the coldest day of the month.


> 1912 <

January 25 - This was the start of a three-week period with frigid temperatures, in which all but two days had highs of 32° or colder.  The average high/low during this period was 27°/15°.

Valentine's Day - After having no high of 32° or colder this winter until 1/4, today was the thirty-first day in the six weeks since than to have a high that cold (three-fourths of the days).  Today was the end of a seven-day streak with highs of 32° or colder (and eleventh day of the past twelve).  It would be followed fifteen days later by another seven-day streak.


Winter clothing in 1910s


February 20 - Yesterday and today had the first back-to-back lows above 32° in eight weeks (since Dec. 26-27).

March 6 - The first six days of March all had highs colder than 32° (and 2/29 had a high of 32°).  The average high during these days, at a time when highs are typically in the mid-40s, was 28°.  From Jan. 4 thru today, a period of nine weeks, 60% of the days had highs of 32° or colder.

March 24 - Highs of the past four days: 34° (3/21); 35° (3/22); 36° (yesterday); and 37° (today).  All were well below the average high, which is around 50°.

August 10 - This was the eleventh day in a row in which the high was in the 70s (the average at this point in the summer is around 83°).  This came about three weeks after a streak of eleven days in a row with lows in the 70s (July 8-18). 

December 24 - A morning snowstorm dumped 11.4", Christmas Eve's biggest snowfall on record.  Snow fell heaviest between 4-9 AM, when it fell at a rate of 1.5" per hour.


> 1913 <

March 7 - Today's high/low of 20°/12° made this the coldest day of the winter, passing 2/13, which had a high/low of 25°/11°.

March 9 - The day's high of 65° followed a low of 12° the previous day.

April 16 - In the past six days, 4.58" of rain fell.  Today was the rainiest of the days, with 1.25" of rain measured (with almost all of it falling in the morning).  4/11 had 1.10", 4/12 had 0.89", 4/13 had 0.21", and yesterday's rainfall (which fell during the afternoon and evening), amounted to 1.13".   This rainy period accounted for 3/4 of the month's total rainfall.

May 10-11 - One week after back-to-back highs of 89° (both were records until 2001), yesterday's and today's lows were in the 30s.  The low of 36° on May 11 was a record that still stands.

September 30 - Today was the 15th day this month with a high cooler than 70°, the most of any September in the years since 1890 (thru 2021).  Before 1890, five years that had this many, or more (Sept. 1871 and 1876 had 17 such days.)

October 1 - 4.98" of rain fell today, much of it (3.34") in just two hours during mid-afternoon (3-5 PM).  At the time, this was the third greatest daily rainfall (it's since fallen to ninth).  In addition to this tremendous amount of rain, eight inches more would fall this month, making this, at the time, the third wettest month on record (it's now ranked seventh).


> 1914 <

February 12 - One month after a frigid high/low of 9°/-3° (on 1/13), today was a near repeat, with a high/low of 10°/-3°.  And both days were followed by another below zero reading.

February 25 - Today, with a high/low of 26°/1°, was the 15th day of the past eighteen with a high of 32° or colder.  Average high/low during this period was 26°/12°, thirteen degrees below average.  Additionally, 17.3" of snow fell during this 18-day period.

March 1 - Rain in the morning changed to snow around lunchtime, and by midnight 13.5" had piled up (an additional inch fell after midnight.  It was a very heavy, wet snow with a high water content (2.65" of liquid) until around 9 PM, when Arctic air moved in.  This was the century's first snowstorm of a foot or more, and the first since February 1899, when 16 inches accumulated.  This remains the longest period between snowstorms of 12 inches or more.




March 7 - In a little less than four weeks, 35.2" of snow fell.  Twelve days had measurable snow, including snowstorms of 9.7" on Feb. 13-14 and 14.5" on March 1-2.  This was preceded by a five-week period in which just 0.1" of snow fell (Jan. 6-Feb. 9). 

April 16 - This was the third day of the past six to have an inch or more of rain (another day had 0.89")  In total 4.30" of rain was measured.

July 29 - Today's low of 59° is the only time a low has been in the 50s on this date.  This, and Aug. 1, 1964 have the distinction of having the mildest readings that are record lows.  (However, at the time, July 26th's record reading was 60°, but it would be broken in 1920 when a low of 55° was reached.)

September 15 - The average high/low of the past eight days was an unseasonably cool 68°/51°, nearly ten degrees below average.  This cool period wasn't associated with wet weather, as just 0.01" fell.

September 23 - This was the last day of an out-of-season three-day heat wave that saw highs of 94°-95°-92° (23 degrees above average).  This came a week after an eight-day period of very cool weather.  The 95° reading on 9/22 was the year's hottest temperature.


Nannies in park 1910s

November 24 - For the eighth day in a row the low was 32° or colder - the longest such streak in the month of November in the 20th century.

December 7 - A cold rain fell (1.81") on a day that had a high/low of only 36°/32°. 

December 9 - For the fourth day in a row the high was 36°.  And three of the four days had lows of 30°.

December 26 - A bitterly cold day, with a high/low of just 15°/3°.

December 29 - Today was the eighth day this month with measurable snow, but all had accumulations of less than one inch.


> 1915 <

January 25 - This was the ninth day in a row with measurable precipitation, totaling 2.75".  (It was also the twelfth day in the past two weeks with precipitation, totaling 6.21".)  Today's temperatures stayed in the 30s all day (high/low of 38°/30°), but the precipitation was in the form of rain, which amounted to 0.41".

January 31 - This was the fifteenth day this winter to have measurable snow, but it was the first to have an accumulation of an inch or more.  However, the 1.6" that fell in the first half of the afternoon changed to rain and was washed away.  (A more substantial snowfall, of 4.4", would occur two days later.)

February 6 - From Jan. 12 through today 10.62" of precipitation fell (0.41" of rain fell today).  Nineteen days had measurable precipitation, including ten days with snow (8.2" in total).  This winter would be the wettest on record until the winter of 1978-79.

April 3 - The biggest snowfall of the "winter" occurred today, Easter Saturday, as ten inches of heavy snow fell between 9 AM and 11 PM (eight inches fell between 11 AM and 6 PM).  During the storm, winds from out of the north gusted to 25 mph and temperatures hovered around 30°, producing wind chills in the teens.




April 4 - Many spent Easter Sunday digging out from yesterday's 10-inch snowstorm.  However, by afternoon, the mercury rose into the low 50s, twenty degrees warmer than yesterday, greatly promoting melting.  And skies were mostly sunny.

April 25 - Today saw perhaps the greatest swings in temperature of any date in New York's weather history.  After first soaring from 47° shortly after midnight to 91° at 3 PM, the temperature then plunged to 52° by midnight.  This was the result of a strong warm front moving through for about ten hours (9 AM-7 PM), then being displaced by a backdoor cold front.  No rain was produced by the passage of these fronts. 

April 27 - Two days after the temperature soared into the 90s, they did so again today.  But after reaching 92° shortly before 4:30 (one degree hotter than 4/25), a cold front moved through a few hours later and the temperature dropped to 54° by midnight. 

June 9 - Today's high/low of 81°/58° was preceded by two days with a high/low of 77°/60° and would be followed by two days with highs/lows 77°/59° and 77°/60°.

June 30 - 1.93" of rain poured down late tonight, which was 0.01" more than what fell during the first 29 days of the month.  1.27" of tonight's rain fell between 11 PM-midnight.  (In reality, this torrential rain fell between midnight-1 AM on 7/1, but since the National Weather Service uses Standard Time year-round for its official records, the rain is credited to 6/30.)

August 4 - The remnants of what was the first hurricane of the season produced 3.25" of rain, a record for the date (which still stands); most of the rain fell between 6-10 AM. 

August 9 - Each of the first nine days of August had some rain, totaling 5.14" (3.25" fell on 8/4 from a tropical storm that tracked over the area).  This was the second time this year there were nine days in a row with measurable precipitation (the first was Jan. 17-25).

September 17 - This was the last day of a four-day heat wave, the second year in a row that had one in the second half of September - the only time this has happened.  The highs during these four days were 90°-91°-93°-91°.

December 17 - Today was the 18th consecutive day in which highs got no warmer than 43°.  Although this period was seven degrees colder than average, there was no extreme cold (i.e., readings colder than 20°, and only three days with highs of 32° or colder).

> 1916 <

January 27-28 - Yesterday's and today's highs of 69° and 66°, respectively, were records that are still standing.  These  very mild temperatures came less than two weeks after back-to-back days with lows in the single digits.

February 1 - This was the fifth day this week with a high in the 60s.  But after today's high of 60°, it would be eight more weeks before the next reading above 60° occurred.  And nearly 40" of snow would fall during this 8-week period.

March 6 - For the third year in a row (and the fifth time in the past six years), an inch or more of snow fell on this date.  The 7.6" that accumulated this year was the greatest amount; the other four years reported 6.9" in 1915; 2.9" in 1914; 1.0" in 1912; and 2.8" in 1911.  Today's snowfall was one of eleven days with measurable snow from March 2 thru 22.  In total 25.5" fell. 

March 17 - What was a very cold day (high of 26°) became even colder when a reinforcement of Arctic air moved in after dark, and by 11 PM the temperature had fallen to 9°.  This was the first single-digit reading in March in the 20th century (there were 15 occurrences between 1872 and 1891; there would be five more this century, including the next day, with a low of 7°; the most recent was in 1967).  Winds gusting close to 30 mph at night produced sub-zero wind chill readings.  

March 22 - Today's snowfall of 2.9" followed a snowfall of 2.1" yesterday, and was the sixth in the past three weeks of two inches or more (the month had eleven days with measurable snowfall).  This was also the fourth storm to produce significant sleet.  In total, snow/sleet amounted to 25.5" this month, making it New York's second snowiest March after March 1896.  (It would also be the fifth coldest March on record, and the coldest of the 20th century.)




May 16-17 - The remnants of the year's first (and very early) tropical system produced a record amount of rain for the date (2.66"), with almost all of it falling after 4 PM.  And an additional 0.30" fell in the pre-dawn hours of the 17th. 

June 11 - This was the fourth day of the past five with afternoon temperatures only in the 50s.  All five days were overcast with light winds out of the northeast.  The typical high temperature in the second week of June is in the upper 70s.

December 15 - A snowstorm dumped 12.7" of snow between 7 AM-9 PM, with nearly ten inches on the ground by mid-afternoon.  The snow was very fluffy, produced from just 0.59" of water (and by daybreak on 12/16 it had packed down to nine inches on the ground).  The day's high was 28°, the first of five days in a row with highs in the 20s.


> 1917 <

March 5 - This was the fifth day of the past six, and the fourth day in a row, to have measurable snowfall.  In total 13.9" fell.

April 1 - In the span of just eight hours the temperature plummeted from 83° to 44° as a "backdoor" cold front moved through and winds shifted from the southwest to the northeast.  This would be the warmest reading of the month.  The next reading in the 80s wouldn't occur for seven weeks (May 20).  Today's high reading came the day after the high was 62°, the year's first reading of 60°+.




April 9 - One of April's biggest snowstorms dumped 6.5" (0.1" of it fell late last night).  This brought the winter's total snowfall to 50.7" for the second year in a row.

June 29 - Showers during the pre-dawn hours, and late in the afternoon, amounted to 0.18", bringing the month's total rainfall to 3.83" - the same amount that was measured in May.  This was the first time for such an occurrence (it's happened four other times since then: Nov./Dec. 1945; Dec. 1980/Jan. 1981; June/July 1985; and Sept./Oct. 1997). 

August 2 - Although the summer had just six days with temperatures of 90+, the high today was 98° and the previous three days saw highs of 98° (8/1), 100° (7/31) and 98° (7/30). Today's high has the distinction of being the hottest of any year's last 90+ reading (before or after this year).




September 3 - The low was 64° for the third day in a row, and would be the mildest low temperature of the month - the "coolest" reading for warmest low temperature in September on record (later tied in 1935).  This broke the previous record set in 1871 and 1883.

November 27 - For the third day in a row the high was colder than 32° (average high at the end of November is in the upper 40s).  Highs/lows of the three days: 30°/21°, 31°/21°, and 31°/19° (Nov. 27).

December 1 - Today's high of 47°, seasonable for the beginning of December, would be the mildest reading of what would be the second coldest December on record.  Not surprisingly, this was the chilliest reading to be the mildest reading of any December.

December 13 - The biggest snowfall of the winter began late in the afternoon, and by the time the snow ended in the early hours of 12/14, 9.5" had accumulated (eight inches fell today).  The temperature rose into the mid-30s as midnight approached, making it a very wet snow, with rain mixed in at times.  (Between today and 1/11 there would be an inch or more of snow on the ground in Central Park.)  This was the third year in a row to have a significant snowfall in mid-December. 

December 28 - Beginning today, and continuing through Jan. 4, record lows were set on seven of the eight days - and all of them are still standing.  (Only 1/3, with a low of zero degrees, didn't set a record.)

December 29 - Beginning at 5 PM and lasting thru 2 PM on 12/30 (21 consecutive hours), the temperature was below zero.  Today's low, at midnight, was -6°, while tomorrow's would be -13°.  This would be New York's coldest reading of all time until the winter of 1934.  

December 31 - The year ended on a bitterly cold note, one of New York's coldest days on record, as the high/low was only 6°/-7.  When the ball dropped in Times Square, the temperature was one degree above zero - by far the coldest ball-drop temperature (the second coldest reading, 9°, occurred 100 years later).  And the wind chill was around -20°.


> 1918 <

January 2 - At 4 PM the temperature reached 10°, ending a streak of 114 hours (since 10 PM on 12/28) in which the temperature was in the single digits or colder.  But it fell back into the single digits an hour later.

January 4 - This was the eighth day in a row with a low temperature in the single digits or colder, the longest such streak on record.  The average high/low during this streak was 13°/-3°.  Six of the days had lows of zero degrees or colder, including today (-3°).  Also, today's high of 18° was the "warmest" reading since 12/28.


Winter of 1917-18


January 13 - In a span of little more than 24 hours the temperature plummeted from 53° yesterday at 6:30 AM to 6° above zero this morning at 8 AM.  This was the tenth low in the single digits or colder in the past 30 days, and there would be ten more in the next six weeks.

February 7 - This was the first day since 12/24 to be completely above freezing.

February 20 - After soaring to 59° shortly before daybreak (the mildest reading in three months), the temperature fell sharply all day and was at 18° by midnight (on its way down to 8° by 8 AM on the 21st).

February 21 - This was the nineteenth day this winter with a low in the single digits, which established a new record (breaking a tie with the winter of 1885).  And tomorrow would be the twentieth day with a reading below 10°.  A typical winter sees six such days (based on 1869-1917 records).

March 19 - After a balmy high of 76° was reached at 3 PM (a record that still stands), the temperature dropped like a rock and was half that reading by midnight.

April 17 - This was the third day in a row with a high of 74° (fourteen degrees above average).  These warm days came less than a week after three cold days with highs of 38°, 35°, and 42° (twenty degrees below average).

June 23 - During a time in June when highs average around 80°, today's temperature got no higher than 59°.  And the low of 49° was a record (which still stands).

August 7 - In the midst of a five-day heat wave, today's high of 104° was, at the time, the hottest reading on record (later topped during the summer of 1936).  This was the only day of the heat wave to have temperatures in triple digits.

Aug. 31-Sept. 3 - Highs of this four-day period were 80°-79°-78°-77° (9/3).

October 30 - This was the fifth day in a row in which highs were in the 70s and lows in the 60s; the average high/low at this time of year is in the upper 50s/low 40s.

November 11 - The day of the signing of the armistice (in France) that ended World War I was overcast and a bit chillier than average, with a high of 49°/38°.


Armistice day in new york nov 11 1918


> 1919 <

January 2 - Quite a contrast in how this year and last year started, as the first two days of this year had highs in the low 60s, while last year the first two days had highs of 10°.

January 25 - This was the twelfth day in a row with the high temperature stuck in the 40s (42°-47°).

March 14 - Today saw the winter's first snowfall of one inch or more as 1.3" accumulated in the early afternoon.  This would be the latest date for the first snowfall of an inch or more until the winter of 1998 ( when it occurred on March 22).  Until today, a total of 1.1" had fallen this winter from four snowfalls.  When today's snow was falling temperatures were only in the mid-20s. 

March 28 - 1.4" of snow fell in the afternoon, the biggest snowfall of the winter (coming two weeks after 1.3" fell).  This was the last snowfall of the winter, which had just 3.8" of snow - the least snow until the winter of 1973 when 2.8" fell (and later passed by the winter of 2002).  Temperatures during the afternoon were only in the mid-20s, half of what the usual afternoon temperatures are at the end of March.  

March 29 - Today's high was just 31°, twenty-two degrees below average and the coldest high temperature since 1/12.

April 2 - This was the sixth day in a row with a low in the 20s.  The average reading during these days was 24°, fifteen degrees below average.  This morning's low of 22° was a record that still stands.

April 25 - It was a cold day, with temperatures more like winter than the middle of the spring.  The high/low was just 43°/29°, nineteen degrees below average.  And tomorrow's readings would be very similar (of 44°/31°).  Both morning lows were records (that still stand).  Both days also had winds that gusted to 25 mph, making it feel like the temperature was in the 20s.

May 6 - Today's high of 61° was quite a contrast to yesterday's high of 88°.

July 23 - For the ninth day in a row measurable rain fell.  Total rainfall during this streak amounted to 5.81", one-third more than what falls in a typical July.


Rainy day in the 1910s


August 18 - More than twelve inches of rain fell in the past five weeks.  During this period, measurable rain fell on twenty-two days.  Today's rainfall was the fifth rainstorm of an inch or more.  Besides significant rainfall, today (1.74") it was also very cool, with a high/low of 65°/63°.

October 28 - Today's high of 83° was a record, and 24 degrees warmer than average.  However, a strong cold front moved through later in the day, dropping the temperature to 48° shortly before midnight (which is what the average low is for the date).

December 17 - Four days after the temperature reached 61° (at 9 PM), tonight at 11 PM it was all the way down to +1°.  This was the first of fifteen days this winter with lows in the single digits or colder.

December 18 - The morning low was -1°, New York's earliest date for a sub-zero reading.  The high rose to 11° in mid-afternoon and then stayed at 10° degrees for the rest of the day.

December 19 - Today's 1.9" of snow brought the season's snowfall to 4.0", which exceeded last winter's total of 3.8" (the least snowy winter until 1973).  Besides the snow it was also very cold, with a high/low of 20°/10° - but this was bearable compared to yesterday's 11°/-1°.



December 30 - Last winter the biggest snowfall was 1.4".  By contrast, in the past two weeks four snowfalls exceeded that amount: 2.1" on Dec. 16-17; 1.9" on Dec. 19; 2.8" on Dec. 24-25 and 2.0" today.


To read about weather highlights in other decades:

Late 19th Century (1869-99)

First Decade of 20th Century








Weather Considerations When Planning an Outdoor Wedding

Rainy wedding at Brooklyn-Botanic Garden


Readers contact me occasionally to ask what the best time of year is to plan a rain-free outdoor wedding.  But since this advice is asked months ahead of the event, any guidance is more or less a crap shoot.  (Of course, if one had the luxury of planning just a week ahead of the ceremony, the risk would be much less.)  However, even after choosing optimal dates based on historical averages, no outdoor wedding is risk-free as every calendar date has had precipitation fall in some years.  And there's not just rain to consider - heat, humidity, wind, fog, gray skies, threatening skies, even vermin, can present challenges.  The best advice is to have a back-up plan, i.e., an indoor space, a large tent at the ready, or umbrellas to hand out to guests. 


Another thing to keep in mind is that weather conditions can be very different just a few apart, especially with thunderstorms (the bane of summertime plans of all kinds).  For instance, a couple at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden might be blessed with sunny skies while at the very same time another couple is waiting out a downpour soaking the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.


And while having a dry day is considered the ultimate gift of Mother Nature, a sunny day with hot temperatures may prove as challenging as a rain shower, with the wedding party contending with sweat-soaked outfits (not to mention the increased chance of someone fainting).  With this in mind, the best week to avoid to reduce chances of experiencing temperatures in the 90s, or hotter, is the week of July 16 (what I refer to as "Hell Week").  But discomfort isn't restricted to temperatures in the 90s (or hotter) as sauna-like conditions can occur in lower temperatures if the humidity is high. 


Outdoor wedding_Tanler_Davis_Danya_Jimenez_Photography


Here is how I answered the most recent request for weather guidance, from a couple considering a fall wedding between mid-September and mid-October:

I get this type of question every now and then and, as you yourself acknowledged, it's not one with an easy answer (but not quite as challenging as a question from a colleague at work who was planning an outdoor wedding that incorporated flags and balloons and wanted to know the likelihood of high winds).  No matter the date, even during traditionally drier times of the year, every calendar date has experienced significant rainfall.  However, on average, a calendar date sees measurable precipitation in NYC in one out of three years; however, this considers precipitation that's fallen anytime during the day, so this means the chance of precipitation during a particular time of day would be less than that. 
To point out the limitation of depending on historical averages, if, based on the fact that no rain had fallen on Sept. 12 for 20 years in a row from 1988-2007, you had planned a wedding in 2008 on that date, imagine how crestfallen you'd have been when the streak was broken and light rain fell throughout the afternoon.  There are no guarantees when planning so far in advance.  
With this said, you'll be happy to know that the period you're considering for the wedding is the time of year in New York that tends to have the most dates least likely to see rain.  In fact, half of the 25 driest calendar dates have occurred between Sept. 8 and Oct. 17, including eight of the ten driest dates. 
Finally, and not to end on a negative note, there have been years in which major rainstorms occurred between mid-September and mid-October.  For instance, in  1985 hurricane Gloria struck in late September; tropical storm Floyd flooded the City with five inches of rain on 9/16; in the second half of Sept. 2004 tropical storms Frances and Ivan produced close to seven inches of rain; in October 2005 more than 13" of rain fell from 10/7 thru 10/14; and a tornado tore through Brooklyn and Queens during the evening of Sept. 16, 2010.  Finally, in 1987 I attended a friend's outdoor wedding in Westchester County on 9/13 that had to be moved under a tent because of an all-day rain (the first time in 13 years that rain fell on that date).
And I shared with them the calendar dates least likely to have had measurable precipitation in New York (those shaded in blue are those that fall, approximately, in the date range they were considering):
 Chart - least rainy dates
 Wedding planner2






Early Snowstorm Takes New York City By Surprise: What Happened?

Snow covered long island expressway


The surprise snowstorm that crippled New York and its suburbs during the late afternoon and evening of Nov. 15, 2018 accumulated 6.4" in Central Park - the earliest date on record for a snowfall of six inches or more.  Snow began falling heavily shortly before commuters headed home from work, snarling rush hour traffic for hours; countless tree branches, many still laden with leaves (at least in New York's five boroughs), snapped from the weight of the snow, creating a hazard for pedestrians, drivers and commuter trains alike.  What was so surprising was how readily the snow piled up on the streets and sidewalks. 


Damaged tree


The morning after the snowfall found me a bit sheepish because 24 hours earlier I had dismissively told a number of co-workers not to expect much in the way of accumulation in the City because the ground was still too warm for snow to lay on the pavement.  From the 14th floor of my office building I've often seen snow falling heavily, but it doesn't necessarily mean it was laying on the cement surfaces at street level.  Figuring this would be the case with this snowfall, imagine my surprise when I left work at around 6:15 and saw that snow had piled up not only on the sidewalks but on the streets as well.  (Fortunately for me, I live in Manhattan so my subway commute home wasn't affected by the snow.)

So, what made this snowfall so disruptive?

  1. Novelty Factor. It was the first snowfall of the season, which always throws people for a loop.  (And, on average, first snowfalls are usually less than two inches.)  The fact that it occurred a month earlier than the typical first snowfall added to the siege mentality.  
  2. Lack of Warning.  There was no warning of a snowfall this significant for the City.  And although 1-2" inches had been predicted, even that amount was downplayed.
  3. Bad Timing.  Schools were letting out and commuters were leaving work early as the heaviest snow moved in.  (If this snowfall had occurred before daybreak, while children and workers were still at home, it would have caused only minor inconvenience.)
  4. Snow Intensity.  Although 6.4" doesn't seem like an amount that would bring things to a standstill, most of the accumulation occurred in a four-hour period, which meant that snow fell at a rate of one to two inches per hour (reducing visibility, which was another hindrance for drivers). 
  5. Colder Than Expected.  The coastal low pulled more cold air into the region than was expected, with the temperature dropping from 36° to 28° in just a few hours.  In March the area had been buffeted by a series of nor'easters that forecasters warned would bring heavy accumulations of snow, but temperatures in Manhattan hovered around 32° and 33° so the snow was more slushy than frozen, which inhibited accumulation.  And while the March 22 nor'easter produced a snowfall of 8.4", it fell over the course of nearly 24 hours.


As debilitating as it was, this snowfall may not go down in City weather folklore like the great blizzard of 1888, the Lindsay snowstorm of February 1969 or the post-Christmas blizzard of 2010 (to name just a few).  After all, unlike these classic snowstorms, the snow from this one, at least in the City, was mostly gone 12 hours after the first flakes fell as the temperature rose above freezing once the snow stopped, rain fell overnight, and the mercury was in the 40s by daybreak on 11/16. 


Nov 15 snowstorm



November 2018 Characterized By An Early Taste of Winter

November placard


After a mild start, with highs of 70°, 72° and 65° during the first three days of the month, the rest of November contended with unseasonably cold temperatures.  Overall, the month was 3.3 degrees below average, making it the coldest November in six years and the fifth coldest since 1960.  (Excluding the mild readings of Nov. 1-3, which were 11 degrees above average, the rest of the month was nearly five degrees colder than average.)


In addition to the unseasonable cold, November 2018 was also unusually wet, with half of its days reporting measurable precipitation.  With 7.62" measured this was the wettest November in 30 years - and the seventh wettest on record.  It was also the third month of 2018 to have more than seven inches of precipitation (the other two months were July and August), joining eight other years that have had three or more months with this much precipitation.  The crowning achievement of the month's rainfall occurred on 11/26 when the day's rainfall was enough to place 2018 among New York's ten wettest years (going back to 1869).  


Besides this excessive rainfall, the month will also be remembered for two other weather events: 1) the surprise afternoon/evening snowstorm of 11/15, which dumped 6.4" of snow, and 2) the bone-chilling cold on Thanksgiving Day and the day after. 

  • The snowstorm of 11/15, the earliest date on record for a snowfall of six inches or more, snarled the evening rush hour in a big way for most commuters.  This was the greatest snowfall in November since 1938 (when 8.8 inches fell on Nov. 24-25).
  • One week after the snowstorm Arctic air descended upon the region.  The high/low of 28/17 on Thanksgiving Day made it the coldest holiday since 1901.  And the following day the low fell to 15°, the coldest reading in November since 1932.  These cold readings, which would be well below average even during mid-winter, came near the end of a sixteen-day streak (Nov. 9-24) with below average readings that were nearly nine degrees colder than average.


Chart - coldest novembers since 1960

Other November recaps: