Many of us find weather reports of interest because they help with the planning of our day. And historical weather information is of value as well. As publisher of this blog I regularly get e-mails from attorneys, novelists, scholars, and persons researching family history who are seeking information about past weather conditions (their questions differ from those found in the "Comments" section of the blog, where weather hobbyists make observations about my analyses or recount an experience they had during a weather event). On average I get one or two requests every month. In this post I share some of the more interesting questions I've received.
DEC. 16, 2018
SUBJECT: WEATHER ON FATHER'S DATE OF BIRTH
I‘m doing some research about my dad. He died in 1991 at the age of 49. He was from the Bronx and I’m trying to find out what the weather was like on June 3, 1942. I know this is odd – I thought it would be easy to find out – but Google has been of little help. (My dad was amazing – gay – and one of those lost to the AIDS epidemic.) I stumbled across your blog and thought you might be of help.
Thanks for any light you could shed on the weather. As I near the age he was when he died - I’m trying to trace my dad's story. And the weather seems as good a place as any to start.
MY REPLY: Hi Delia, you came to the right place for the information you were looking for. June 3, 1942 was an overcast and cool day in New York. The high/low was 70/52 (the average for early June is 75/59). The day's low was the same as that of June 1 and 2, which were the coolest readings of the month. Winds were out of the northeast (off the ocean) and that's largely the reason for the cloud cover. There were some sprinkles before sunrise but nothing consequential.
DEC. 9, 2018
SUBJECT: PLANNING AN OUTDOOR WEDDING
I saw your blog on NYC weather and had a question for you. I am getting married next fall and we are booking a venue with outdoor space in NYC. I wanted to ask you - when do you think there is less of a chance of a wash out - in mid September or mid October? And which date do you think has better chance of good weather?
Appreciate any guidance from your expertise!
MY REPLY: Hi Matt, congratulations! As you might imagine, it's not a question with an easy answer (but not as challenging as a question from a colleague at work who was planning an outdoor wedding that had flags & balloons and wanted to know the chance of high winds). No matter the date, even during traditionally drier times of the year, every calendar date has experienced significant rainfall (or snow). 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.
With this said, you'll be happy to know that the period you've chosen 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.
NOV. 25, 2018
SUBJECT: WANT SNOW!
As strange or odd as it may seem, I like snow. Living in Chicago, I especially like the way it quiets and slows down the city. I have been in NYC when it snows, most notably on the snowiest Thanksgiving Day on record, 1989, during which I enjoyed the Macy's Parade from the curb. I've accidentally experienced other Big Apple snow falls of much lesser amounts. Anyway, I know that you are a recorder of weather not a predictor of such, BUT based upon your records, what are some dates in NYC's weather history that have experienced a snow fall? My reason for asking is . . . as silly as it may be, I'd like to be in Manhattan during a snowstorm, so knowing the potential dates, based upon historical data, could help me plan. Now, yes, I know, that today's weather predictions are probably better than basing a decision upon history repeating itself, and I will keep watching TV for reports of those east coast circumstances that produce one of those famous nor'easters, but again, I was just wondering if there are any NYC dates that have been more reliable for snow than others.
MY REPLY: Hi Charles, thanks for you intriguing question. Not surprisingly, and as you suggested, I don't think any information I have is going to be of much help. Probably similar to Chicago, the prime time of snowfall in New York is from mid-December thru mid-March; however, every season is different. For instance, last winter we had four snowfalls of five inches or more, but only one of them occurred during this period. Looking at all years in which records are available for Central Park (since 1869), February is most likely to see snowfalls of six inches or more. And the four dates that have received this amount the most times are: Feb. 4, Feb. 12, Feb. 25 and Dec. 26. It's happened seven times for each date, which means about once every 21 years, so it doesn't happen all that frequently.
A word of caution. If you tried to schedule a trip when a snowstorm is predicted you might be disappointed because many predictions don't come to fruition because either the track of the storm changes slightly or the temperature in Manhattan may warm just enough to result in sleet or rain instead. Or the storm may strengthen at the last minute or the storm track may change and take us by surprise (as was the case a few weeks ago).
So there you have it. My question to you is, why not just go to Chicago for its big snowfalls? :)
NOV. 15, 2018
SUBJECT: TODAY'S SNOW - QUESTION
Quick question which I thought you might know - with today’s (11/15) relatively early measurable snowfall in Central Park - is 2018 one of the shortest periods of no-snow in NYC…. given that the city got 5.5” on April 2?
Was debating this earlier with one of my weather geek friends.
MY REPLY: Hi Mike, 2018 is tied with 1940 for eighth shortest time between last snowfall of the previous winter and the first snowfall of the next winter.
Note: Average # of days between last & first snowfall is 261 (3/21-12/8).
AUG. 12, 2018
SUBJECT: NYC DAILY HIGH TEMP DATA
Rob, I've developed a new way to visualize large chronologically-ordered data sets (US Patent #9,747,652) and was looking to test it on a simple data set. I've been trying to find a downloadable database that provides the daily maximum temperature for the Central Park weather station, which has been recording temperature data since 1869.
I know that the data exists, but I'm not able to find it (neither have the librarians who have tried to help). I found your website and thought that if you didn’t have this data, you’d know where to get it.
I've found composite information (average high & low temps, highest daily temps, etc.), but not true daily numbers. I am “simply” looking for the daily high temp reading at the Central Park NYC or the last 54,645 days. Shouldn’t be that hard, right?
MY REPLY: Hi Chris, unfortunately, none of the sources I refer to for my blog are set up in a way that makes it easy putting together all of the daily highs/lows from 1870 onward. The source I use provides daily highs/lows for individual months by each year. Double click here for the link. But, who knows, with your knowledge of spreadsheets, perhaps you can find a way to gather all of the information together.
JUNE 6, 2018
SUBJECT: SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR
I’m a writer working on a book about the build-up to the Spanish-American War. Several of the events that I’m describing took place in Manhattan in 1896 and 1897. I’d love to give an evocative description of the weather on those days, to help bring the events to life, and I came across your weather archive online. Do you think you could help me locate temperature and precipitation figures for a few dates, or point me toward a database with that information? I’d be so grateful for any help you can offer.
MY REPLY: Yes, Wil, I can help. The link (double click here) will take you to a NWS site for New York that I use frequently.
APRIL 24, 2018
SUBJECT: DEATH FROM EXPOSURE TO EXTREME COLD?
I work for NBC4 in Washington, DC and a co-worker has a question about a non-record event from 1948. She is researching her family tree and the trip down the rabbit hole has her wondering. Her grandmother’s body was found on Nov. 24, 1948 but there is reason to believe she may have died several days earlier. Foul play is not suspected in her death but cold and snow are. Is there any way to get the high/low/rain/snow data from Nov. 17-24, 1948? I checked NYC's Nat'l. Weather Service site but since no records were set during that period it’s hard to say exactly how extreme the weather may (or may not) have been. Any help pointing me in the right direction would be appreciated.
MY REPLY: Hi Chuck, the circumstances behind your friend's request are quite unique as I occasionally get requests for weather conditions for dates of births, but never one this tragic. The weather during this period (Central Park) had above average temperatures and included the warmest reading of the month, 74° Nov. 20. FYI, the month as a whole was very mild, and until 1979 was the mildest November on record.
MARCH 21, 2018
SUBJECT: COGNITIVE DISSONANCE OF OUT OF SEASON SNOWFALLS
I’m writing a blog post about the cognitive dissonance created by today’s snowstorm in NYC. The idea being that snow in spring creates dissonance because we believe it shouldn’t happen.
Interestingly, I found a journal entry in my journal from two years ago today that mentioned it snowed. I was trying to research the history of spring snow in NYC - whether minor snow showers or major storms like today (which everyone is calling major, but it’s not sticking on the sidewalks on 14th Street!). I came across your site and was fascinated by it. I saw your post about major snowstorms but was wondering if you happen to have records of all the snow in March/April - specifically after the spring equinox (so early March wouldn’t count for this). Maybe I’m just not seeing it on your site, but I'd love to point to evidence that this happens more than we think.
If it’s on your site, can you please point me to the link? If it’s not on your site but you have the info, would you mind sharing it with me.
I will of course attribute the info back to you with links (Editor's note: she didn't). If you want to check out my site, I blog at http://mymeadowreport.com.
MY REPLY: Hi Renee, significant snowfalls from mid-March onward happen infrequently in New York, especially accumulations of six inches or more, so today's snowfall stands out. The 8.4" that accumulated today in Central Park, which is a significant amount in mid-winter, is the eighth biggest snowstorm this late in the season. Before today the most recent major snowfalls so late in the season occurred in 1992 (6.2" on 3/19) and in 1982 (the blizzard of April 6 that dumped 9.6"). A lesser amount, 4.0", fell on March 29, 1970 (Easter Sunday) and again on April 7, 2003. (By the way, the snowfall you mentioned in your journal was likely the 4.5" that fell in 2015 on March 20.)
I wrote a post a few years ago that you'll likely find of interest, about the harsh winter conditions that occurred in the second half of March thru early April in 1956, 1958 and 1967. To read it please click here.
Here are snowfalls of six inches or more that have occurred after 3/15 (since 1870). You'll notice that a majority of them occurred in April.
11.8" - March 20-21, 1958
11.6" - March 18-19, 1956
10.2" - April 3, 1915 (the day before Easter)
10.0" - April 12-14, 1875
9.6" - April 6, 1982 (the Tuesday before Easter)
9.0" - March 22, 1967
8.5" - April 1, 1925 (the Wednesday before Easter)
8.4" - March 21, 2018
8.0" - April 12-14, 1892 (4/14 was the Thursday before Easter)
6.7" - March 16-17, 1956
6.5" - April 5, 1944 (the Wednesday before Easter)
6.5" - April 8-9, 1917 (4/8 was Easter Sunday)
6.4" - April 6-7, 1938
6.2" - March 19,1992
JAN 7, 2018
SUBJECT: NEW YORK CITY SKY CONDITIONS
Here is, I think, a strange request. Is there a record of sky conditions (cloudiness) for 1932?
I am pretty sure I have a memory during my first six months. I remember looking out the window from my crib at a full moon and a clear sky. I was born in January 1932 so the period of clear sky, full moon should be around July. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
MY REPLY: Robert, although your request is somewhat out of the ordinary (from the questions I usually get), you'll be happy to know that daily information is available about sky conditions for 1932. Unfortunately, for some reason the monthly summary report for July is not available from the site I use. However, looking at June and August, skies were clear on the following dates (based on the 9PM reading):
June 7 thru 10; June 17; June 20; June 22 thru 24
Aug 5; Aug 9;Aug 15;Aug 19;Aug 22 thru 26
Please keep in mind that these sky conditions are based on observations from Central Park, so they might be different elsewhere.
DEC. 22, 2017
SUBJECT: APRIL BLIZZARD IN 1961?
I was reminded of some history today when a friend sent me this link:
I was wondering how I could have missed it. I flew to San Francisco, I thought in April '61, and my plane's departure was delayed from LaGuardia by a day, thanks to a blizzard. I swore I'd never come back, and ironically wound up living in Barrow, Alaska, from 1992-1999.
I did want to check my memory, though. I couldn't find a blizzard that April on your site and went all the way back to February 7th to find one.
I also found this, but there was no date:
Can you tell if there actually was an April 1961 blizzard?
MY REPLY: Hi Frank, there was no blizzard in April 1961 (the high/low on April 6 was 53/44). However, there was a blizzard 21 years later on that date that dumped nearly ten inches of snow on NYC. The YouTube video is likely from the snowstorm of Feb 3-4, 1961, which dumped 17.4" on NYC.
NOV. 7, 2017
SUBJECT: MOVING TO NYC
My name is Gabriel and I am from Barcelona. I am so happy of having found out your website full of weather data and events in New York! There is so much information, it is amazing! I have also collected so many weather events from my country as well (but not published on the net, just notes and newspapers).
Like you, weather has been my hobby since I was 8 years old (now I am 33) and I started to collect weather data when I was 13 years old, and so far I am so proud of having a 20-year climatic record of my village!
I discovered your website because I was looking up some weather data from New York. Why New York? Because I am moving there the next year. My partner is from NYC and I have decided to move, to settle and start a new life. I hope to find a meteorology or climatology ... if not at the beginning, later on.
I will be living in Queens in an apartment. I will have to ask for permission to install a pluviometer on the terrace. Not an automated one... I want to keep measuring the rain exactly as I have done it so far - with a test tube. So that's why I have so much interest of collecting weather data from NY. The climate of NY is much more interesting than the one in Barcelona, I will be excited to be experiencing cold snaps in winter.
Do you still collect weather data in NY? Where can I find daily data from Central Park or JFK, LGA airports? Or any official observatory?
MY REPLY: Hi Gabriel, I'm always happy to hear from other weather enthusiasts. However, I'm not as motivated as you since I don't have a rain gauge, perhaps because Central Park's weather observatory is only four miles away from my my apartment.
I visited Spain ten years ago and went to Madrid and areas south (Toledo, Sevilla, Granada, Marbella), but I didn't get to see Barcelona. I suppose your weather is on the mild side, perhaps even tropical. Although I don't keep my own records of the weather anymore I still have my calendars of data when I did it as a boy in Pittsburgh.
Below are links that you'll find very helpful in understanding the climate of New York. They provide monthly reviews of weather conditions going back more than 100 years for New York City/Manhattan and more than 60 years for LaGuardia Airport and Kennedy Airport (both airports are in the borough of Queens). Central Park is the official reporting station for New York's weather information. Not only will you find monthly recaps but recaps of each year.
CENTRAL PARK (Manhattan)
LAGUARDIA AIRPORT (Queens)
KENNEDY AIRPORT (Queens)
Yes, New York's weather can be very interesting because of it being situated along the East Coast. And although our temperatures don't get extremely cold we do get our share of snowstorms. Additionally, because of our proximity to the Atlantic Ocean summers aren't quite as hot as cities further inland, such as Philadelphia and Washington DC. However, summer evenings/mornings can be very warm since all of the concrete and high concentration of office buildings prevents heat from escaping.
Again, it was a pleasure reading your message. If you have any trouble with the links, or if you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. And I hope you enjoy living in New York.
SEPT. 8, 2017
SUBJECT: Steven Fybish
Hi Rob, thanks again for your blog. Not sure if you've ever heard of or been in touch with this guy, but before the Internet, he was the only person I was aware of who was into NY weather statistics. I tired to contact him a couple of times via e-mail years ago but never heard back, although I wasn't sure if I had the right contact information.
MY REPLY: Hi Ken, yes I had heard about Steven and recall reading a Times article about him a number of years ago. Thanks for sending the link to his obituary.
JULY 27, 2017
SUBJECT: SEEKING NYC PRECIPITATION FOR DISSERTATION
I am a hydraulic engineer in Hungary and - as part of my work - I collect and analyze data of the precipitation of my home city, Budapest. I work on my PhD, the topic is of course the rainfall data collection and analysis of Budapest. In my thesis I would like to make studies on the spatial distribution and extent of heavy rainfalls. For this work I plan some comparisons of cases of cities which have extended rainfall gauge networks (in my city we manage a network of 55 gauges in cca 550 km2). By this idea I could get data from Toronto in the past months from an on-line database.
Hopefully I can get to New York City in the first half of September as a tourist, and I thought that this occasion could be supplemented by getting to know the rainfall measure network and data proceeding of NYC, even to meet some experts of this question.
Browsing on the net I've found your web site "New York City Weather Archive" so I turn to you with my request of help. Who can I seek with my interests, where can I get at least daily (hopefully more detailed) data from rainfall gauges of NYC as further data base for my study?
MY REPLY: Hi Tibor, I can provide you with helpful information to get your thesis started. In New York City, rainfall information is collected at Central Park (Manhattan), La Guardia Airport and JFK Airport. It's available by year, month, day and hour. Central Park's information goes back to 1869. (Most cities in the US collect weather data, usually at their airports.) The National Weather Service has a website that has all of this information. Click here for Central Park's information, which is arranged by month of each year.
Additionally, I've written a number of posts about excessive rainfall in New York City that you may find helpful:
Rainiest Back-to-Back Months
Greatest One-Hour Rainfalls
Unrelenting Rain: New York's Most Lengthy Rainy Spells
MAY 4, 2017
SUBJECT: MAY 1974 - SNOW?
Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for weather on your blog. I teach journalism at St. John’s University in Queens, and I’m reading a student paper in which the mother recalls stepping off a plane at JFK on May 4, 1974, emigrating from the West Indies, and seeing snow on the ground in Brooklyn. I just read your Weather Archives, both the broad views and the close-up, and see that we had record-breaking heat at the end of April that year. Is it likely that there would have been any snow that would have survived that heat? (Here in Queens, I have seen small mounds of snow on shady side streets survive late into the spring.) I wouldn’t grade this paper down, of course. I’m just fascinated by the persistence of memory, the specificity of recall, that might not have been accurate yet vivid and “true” in the mind of the mother.
MY REPLY: Wayne, I'm glad your student's paper resulted in your finding of my blog! There has never been accumulating snow in NYC in the month of May. And on May 4, 1974 the high/low at JFK was 64/49 (and the last measurable snowfall that winter was on 3/29). I also looked at the previous month in case he had the month wrong, but April 5 had a near-identical temperature, 63/50. I thought that maybe she saw hail on the ground, but there was no precipitation on May 5. Memories can play tricks on us - perhaps she was mixing up another trip to JFK that was during the winter.
MARCH 28, 2017
SUBJECT: WEATHER CONDITIONS ON NIGHT OF 1931 MURDER
Hello Rob! I enjoyed visiting your blog. I am a baseball historian from Chicago. In July 2017, I will be giving an oral presentation at the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research). I am researching a murder homicide that took place in Brooklyn during the early morning hours of Oct. 5, 1931. Two men visiting a speakeasy got into a vicious baseball argument during the 1931 World Series and a fist fight began leaving one man dead and the other incarcerated.
I was hoping that you may be able to search your archives and tell me what the weather forecast was for the early morning hours of October 5, 1931 in Brooklyn. I would be most appreciative and I will recognize you assistance by name, website, etc. when I give my presentation.
I thank you in advance for your time.
MY REPLY: Hi Matthew, I'm glad you found my website. I happen to be a baseball fan so I'm glad I can help you out. Oct. 5, 1931 came in the midst of an unseasonably warm stretch of days at the beginning of October that had temperatures that were more like August. Oct. 5 had a high of 84°, which was seventeen degrees above average. In the early morning hours of that day temperatures were close to 70° under fair skies (that's even above what the typical high should be that time of October).
MARCH 7, 2017
SUBJECT: SOLAR PANELS
Hi Rob, I would like to know if there are hour-by-hour, day-by-day records of sunny days. From January 2016 to the present. I had solar panels installed about a year ago and I feel my local utility company is fixing the numbers to their own advantage. Solar is based on direct sunlight not whether the temperature is hot, warm or cold. And in this mild winter we've had, I don't see how they justify their rates. Please let me know.
MY REPLY: This is a tricky one since cloud cover can be very different from weather station to weather station. Last summer, for instance, Central Park was much sunnier than Newark, LaGuardia or JFK. And it can be very different compared to what part of the New York metro you live in. With that said, the National Weather Service publishes monthly weather recaps featuring daily information; however, sky cover is provided for every third hour rather than hourly: 1AM, 4AM, 7AM, 10AM, 1PM, 4PM, 7PM, and 10PM. If this might be helpful to you please let me know and I'll provide you with the link and instructions.
FEB. 9, 2017
SUBJECT: SCHOOL CLOSINGS
I enjoyed reading your post about New York City snowstorms from 1950 until 2016. My wife, a former (if one from Da Bronx can ever be a "former" Bronxite) Bronx girl, claims she would walk to and from school uphill both ways in snowstorms. She says school was never closed due to weather conditions. In your research on snowstorms, did you ever find information on any school closing in the 1950s and 1960s? I would appreciate any information you may be able to give me. Thank you.
MY REPLY: Hi Michael, school closings is one aspect of NYC's weather that I haven't researched but I often hear colleagues who grew up in New York say that schools rarely closed before the 1980s. I think part of the reason is that nowadays more kids and teachers take buses, drive cars and travel greater distances compared to the years pre-1980. Also, parents today seem more protective and worried about the safety of their kids. Finally, since so many parents are working it's a challenge for their schedules if their children stay at home.
Also, especially since 2000 significant snowstorms have occurred with greater frequency than in the 1950s and 1960s. (So far, this current decade has had more snowfalls of 8"+ than any other full decade going back to when records first began in the 1870s.)
Although the this link addresses 11 school closings since the blizzard of Feb. 1978, I thought you might find it of interest nonetheless.
Sorry I couldn't provide you with any statistics to answer your question.
OCT. 19, 2016
SUBJECT: CENTRAL PARK TEMPS
As part of global warming research, I would like Central Park temps for 1am and 1pm on Oct 1, Oct 11, Oct 21, and Oct 31 for as far back in time as the data exists. How do I get it?
MY REPLY: Rod, that's quite an ambitious project you're undertaking! The link below from NOAA's Local Climatological Data website will enable you to find daily observations from Central Park going back to 1900 - with some limitations. The months going back to the early 1960s have temperatures for every day on an every-three-hours basis (lucky for you, 1AM and 1PM are two of the times that are provided). The months before 1950 provide observations for every hour. Unfortunately, the years during the 1950s thru early 1960s, and some years during the 1990s, have no hourly observations. And for some reason there are no monthly reports from the late 1940s and some years before 1920.
MARCH 31, 2016
SUBJECT: METS & YANKEES WEATHER STATS
When I was doing some research about big snowstorms in March, I happened to come across your list of weather conditions at all the Mets and Yankees home openers since 1970. Awesome work!
I’m planning to write a story about those weather patterns, along with the weather patterns for Phillies’ home openers, since we have a lot of readers in central and southern New Jersey who root for them.
I’m doing my own research on the Philly home openers, and it’s a grind!
Anyway, could I give you a call to ask you a few questions about your research? Or could you answer them in an email? I think you deserve a lot of credit for all the work you did, and I’d like to get a few comments from you.
MY REPLY: Hi Len, below you'll find my answers to your questions.
— What motivated you to do all that research on the Mets and Yankees weather conditions?
Writing a blog, generating traffic is a big motivator so I'm always thinking of new angles I can put a weather spin to. After I had written about weather highlights of every calendar date I decided it would be interesting to write about highlights of the major holidays. After I finished these I expanded my definition of holidays and included events like the day of the NYC Marathon, the Gay Pride Parade and then the home openers of the Mets and Yankees.
— How long did it take you to find all those records and sort through them?
It took a while (at least a couple of weeks), especially because I was working on the home openers of the Mets and Yankees in tandem. Not only did I have to look at the weather conditions for each date (focusing on conditions during the afternoon hours), I also examined the box scores so I could add information that would be of interest to Mets and Yankees fans. Just a few weeks ago I added the games from the 1970s. By the way, the post about the Yankees' home openers is much more popular, generating seven times as much traffic as the Mets post.
— Did you use data from the same weather observation station for both teams? (Central Park, JFK or LaGuardia Airport?) or one place for the Mets and one for the Yanks? (I’m asking this because my editors asked me to confirm some of the info on my own to make sure it matches up with yours.)
For the most part the conditions are based on Central Park's readings. However, since Shea Stadium/Citifield are very close to JFK I'd also look at those reports as well to see if there were any big discrepancies, a big consideration in the springtime since wind off the ocean can make JFK much cooler than Manhattan. In fact, I occasionally make references to that fact.
— Why are you so fascinated by the weather?
It's something I've been interested in since I was in the sixth grade. In fact, I went to Penn State with the intention of majoring in meteorology. However, after my first physics class stressed me out so much (and I'd have to take many physics classes), I switched majors - to Advertising. Note, however, that I'm not so focused on the forecasting aspect, but the historical angle. I enjoy analyzing statistics so it's easy for me to find many unique ways of looking at the years of data available. (Professionally, I work in media research for an ad agency, which puts my analytical skills to good use.)
JAN. 11, 2016
SUBJECT: PONDERING TEMPERATURE AVERAGES
When we all think of average highs and lows, they move linearly and in the same direction always. Meaning, that after the peaks of July 23 or so, the high temperature and the low temperature., when they move, move one degree at a time lower and lower…albeit very slowly at first, but with increasing speed as the earth’s tilt takes over, less daylight, etc. You never see that, for example, on December 1 the average high is 50° and then on Dec. 2, it’s 51°, and then on Dec. 3, it’s 50°. It never works that way. You know better than I do. It’ll be 50° for a few days…. then 49°….. then 48°. It always moves in the same direction, until about Jan.24 or so, and then it starts moving up again.
Climate norms use 30 year averages. The NWS in the above example uses 1981 through 2010. That means, (forgive me, I know it’s obvious), that if you added up all the high temperatures on Dec. 24 for that 30 year period, and then divided by 30, you’d get the average high.
Dec. 24 this year was truly remarkable. From 1981 through 2010, the sum of all high temperatures has to equal 41x30, or 1,230 for that date. I presume that there is some rounding in there, but not too much. For the average high temperature to be 42°, the sum of the years would have to be at LEAST 1,245, because dividing that by 30 gives you 41.5, which would round to 42. In turn, it could be as low as 1,215, which would be 40.5 degrees, which would then round up to 41 degrees.
By adding a number that is 31 degrees ABOVE normal, the daily “normal” high MUST move up a degree, creating the anomaly of having the average high temperature on Dec. 24 exceeding that of Dec. 23,when we all know the trend should be moving downward.
Let’s use my low example. Let’s say that 29 years averaged out to 40.5 degrees for December 24. 40.5*29 = 1,174.5. ADD 72 degrees to that, and you get 1,246.5. Divide that number by 30 and you get 41.55 degrees – otherwise known as 42 degrees, which is one degree higher than it was on Dec 23. And that’s using the low example. If the average is truly 41 degrees, the equation is 41*29 = 1,189 + 72 = 1,261/30 = 42.03 degrees. The high example puts us at 43 degrees when averaging.
I think you get my point, so I’ll stop with the math, but in sum, on ANY day where the high temperature is more than 30 degrees above the “normal” 30 year high for that day, it has to increase by the daily normal high by one degree and create an anomaly.
MY REPLY: Hi Robert, that's a very interesting take on the subject of season averages. I never thought about it the way you presented it. However, I believe the process of deriving the averages is a bit more complicated. If you averaged highs and lows of every day of the year I'm sure you wouldn't see a smooth transition from day to day. Based on my experience at work, graphs are created using many different data points and I'm sure NOAA's averages are based on a smoothing of all of the individual data points. Also, since each 30-year period for averages is used for ten years, 2015's won't be part of the 30-year averages for another five years, when the 1991-2020 norms are introduced.
JULY 6, 2015
SUBJECT: THANKS FOR HELP WITH MY NOVEL
I thought you might find it interesting that I just used your snowfall data for the first scene of my soon-to-be published novel, Pride's Children. It starts in Feb. 2005 (evening of the 25th), and I needed snow on the ground in enough depth to make the sidewalks slippery, with snow piled on the sides, as it gets in NYC. I moved the scene from the 11th to the 25th (for plot reasons), so I had to check the snow and the moon’s phase (shifted from new to almost full in two weeks).
So thanks for putting the data up for people like me to use.
MY REPLY: Hi Alicia, I'm delighted I was able to help, thank you for letting me know.
NOV. 8, 2014
SUBJECT: WEATHER HISTORY FOR HISTORY ABOUT AIDS
I’m a journalist, author, and filmmaker — at work currently on an in-depth history of AIDS activism in New York City. I have stumbled upon your blog, and your deep interest in local weather history. I wonder if you might allow me to ask you from time to time for information from your deep archives. For instance, the early evening of Nov. 6, 1991?
MY REPLY: Hi David, I'm happy to answer any questions you might have. Regarding Nov. 6, 1991, it was a chillier than average day (high/low of 52/34, eight degrees below average). In the early evening the temperature was in the mid-to-upper 40s under mostly fair skies.
NOV. 3, 2014
SUBJECT: INQUIRY ABOUT NYC MARATHON WEATHER
What was the temperature at the start of 1996 Marathon? Cannot find it anywhere. I ran it in 3:49.07 (after crawling over the bridge and cramping after down slope of the Manhattan bridge). Still, it was awesome!
MY REPLY: Hi Steve, the 1996 Marathon (Nov. 3) was one of the chilliest. The temperature at 10AM was just 41° (after a low of 35°) and at 1PM it had risen to 48°, which was 11 degrees colder than average. This year's Marathon wasn't quite as chilly in the AM but the high winds made it feel colder.
By the way, if you haven't already seen it, I've written a post about weather highlights of past Marathons:
AUG. 8, 2014
SUBJECT: WEATHER ON DATE OF ELLIS ISLAND ARRIVAL
Hi, I am hoping that you will be able to help me find out what the weather was like on March 15, 1913. I am writing a narrative for a client whose ancestors arrived at Ellis Island on this day. I just thought it would be great to tell them what type of day it was when he arrived.
I hope you can help. Thank you very much.
MY REPLY: Hi Diane, weather on that date had temperatures a bit above average, with a high/low of 48/34 degrees. There was also drizzle and fog for a few hours around daybreak.
JULY 29, 2014
SUBJECT: WHAT A SITE!
Hey There Rob, what a blizzard. Thanks to your site I did a search and read some articles about
it. I was a 19-year-old Canadian boy living in New York on April 6, 1982.
But what I'm interested is this...at about 3AM on April 7 I grabbed a cab at 73rd and Central
Park West for my place down in the Village. At the intersection of 7th Ave. & 33rd St., right
in front of Madison Square Garden the taxi went through a red light and slammed into a van
heading westbound on West 33rd. I went face first into the metal partition...nearly croaked,
as you can imagine.
Of course, I was in Bellevue Hospital for quite a long time and never even thought to search for any
newspaper reports or other documentation of my accident. After all my jaw being wired shut
was the least of my medical problems! So I was in no position to care at that time.
I have no idea why, but tonight I thought I'd take a look online and see what I could find
without any luck. The fact that I'm back in rural Canada and you're in New York maybe you have an idea of
where I can search for any reports of my accident. Surely there must be something out
there considering how serious it was. If you have any suggestions I'd really appreciate it if
you could get back to me. Your site seems very comprehensive, that's why I thought you
might have some leads you could let me know about. Is there such a thing as Auto Accident
There is lots of documentation on the storm of course, and some mention of auto accidents,
but nothing more specific than references to a few pile ups and motorists being stranded
on various roads.
MY REPLY: Hi Larry, that's quite a story. I'm glad you survived the ordeal. You may want to
check to see if the Daily News or New York Post have an archive of past issues. Unfortunately,
since no one was killed, and since it occurred in the aftermath of an attention-getting
snowstorm, it may not have even been reported. And although there is a database where
you can order official accident reports filed by the NYPD, it only goes back four years.
I'm curious, did you move back to Canada after the accident or did you stick around longer?
Were you here as a student at NYU?
Sorry I can't be of any further help - I have lots of sources for historical weather data, but
not this type of information.
MAY 27, 2014
How are you?? You helped me once before and I am hoping you can help me again. I need
to find out how many days it rained or snowed in Jamaica, Queens NY during the period of
11/1/2010-7/17/2011. I would also like to know other than those rain/snow days...how many
days during that same period was the temperature below freezing.
I appreciate whatever you can find out for me.
MY REPLY: Hi Christine, here is the info you were looking for. It should be pretty self-explanatory. The data come from the reporting station at JFK Airport.
MAY 22, 2014
SUBJECT: GREETINGS FROM SWITZERLAND
I am a German speaking Swiss writer and am preparing my sixth novel, which I'd like to open at the beginning of the 20th century, perhaps on New Year's Eve in 1899 and continuing through January, February, March 1900. As you might imagine, it is important to have the historical truth and to know what the weather was like, i.e., if the rivers were frozen in New York City, especially on New Year's Day in 1900. Do you know how i can get this type of information? Do you have it? Was it raining, snowy, cold, was the river frozen, windy, etc. Or the contrary, warm etc.? Are there any sites on the internet for the historical weather of New York? I would be very glad if you could help me.
MY REPLY: Hello Catalin, the end of 1899 and beginning of 1900 was historically cold. For eight days in a row, between Dec. 28 and Jan. 4, the temperature never rose above freezing (0 degrees Celsius). And there was just a little bit of snow. Here is what the day-by-day temperatures were (high/low) in Celsius:
Dec 28, 1899 -2/-6
Dec 29, 1899 -3/-7
Dec 30, 1899 -7/-12
Dec 31, 1899 -7/-12
Jan 1, 1900 -7/-10
Jan 2, 1901 -7/-11
Jan 3, 1901 -4/-7
Jan 4, 1901 -2/-7
Typical temperatures during this time of year are around 3/-3 C. (the formula for converting Celsius to Fahrenheit is: Celsius temperature x 1.8 + 32 = Fahrenheit temperature.)
Despite this cold spell it's doubtful the rivers froze completely since temperatures that December before Dec. 28 were mostly above freezing. Ice probably formed on the banks of
the Hudson or East Rivers, but not the entire river. And the peak ice formation would have been on the last day of the cold spell.
FEB. 9, 2014
SUBJECT: HELP WITH DISPUTE REGARDING SNOW REMOVAL
I live in New York city and work as property manager for a building that has plenty of square feet to cover when snow removal is necessary. This means any accumulation, even an inch of snow, requires snow removal. In the past few years I have worked many hours and responsible for snow removal. I was wondering if you can help me out, is there a website or some kind of information I can obtain for daily snow accumulation for past years? I found some monthly websites, but not daily, meaning I can not find anything on a given day of the week. Reason being, Rob, there were years where I worked with snow removal, and my employer owes me overtime pay that I must submit, but I no longer have the records for this and employer does not want to acknowledge that they have these records only because they no longer have my information. Which only means they want to avoid paying me. I know this email is out of the ordinary and please forgive me if this is not something you know, but will very much appreciate your help and guidance if you do have some information you can share with me. Thank You in advance.
MY REPLY: Not to worry, Sam, daily weather data are available for New York. Click here and you'll be taken a menu page from the National Climatic Center's website for Local Climatological Data (which is the source I use for my website). The page you'll be taken to is for New York City and is arranged by month. Every month has detailed information for every day, including snowfall. This document also provides the amount of precipitation that fell by each hour. (Please note that the information is based on NYC's official measurement site in Central Park.)
FEB. 7, 2014
SUBJECT: REMEMBERING WARM FEBRUARY TEMPERATURE
Nice site Rob! I myself am and always have been a weather buff. I was trying to navigate your site, and was wondering if you recall in the late '80s a period in February where we had temps in the '80s. (During that decade I lived in NJ in Lake Hopatcong and then Highpoint.) I think it was in the latter part of the decade. (I also recall Dec. 1964 having a warm spell.) Do you recall this? Again, nice job.
MY REPLY: Hi John, thank you for your kind comments about the blog. New York has never seen any days in the 80s in February, but you may be thinking of February 1985 when we had a high of 75° on Feb. 24. There was also a high of 76° on March 8, 1987. The earliest 80-degree reading in NYC was on March 13, 1990 when the high reached an incredible 85° (36 degrees above average). And regarding December 1964, there were three days in a row during the Christmas holiday (12/25 thru 12/27) with highs of 60° (but the month as a whole had sightly colder than average temperatures.)
JAN 29, 2014
SUBJECT: WEATHER HELP NEEDED FOR MURDER INVESTIGATION
I am working on a case that involves the murder of a livery cab driver in the Soundview section of the Bronx on Jan. 19, 1995 between 3:00 and 4AM. A witness claimed to have witnessed the shooting from her bathroom window. She even said that the window was open. Her credibility has already been destroyed and the five people who were convicted and served 18 years in prison on the basis of her lies have been exonerated and are now free. In any event I thought you might have ready access to what the weather was like in NYC at the time of the crime. Can you share that with me and also let me know your source in case I have to back up my assertions about the weather.
MY REPLY: Hi Peter, the weather in New York at that time on 1/19 was on the raw side. Skies were overcast, the temperature was in the upper 30s, with winds out of the northeast and there were some sprinkles of rain - but not enough for it to be measurable.
Please note that these were the conditions at the National Weather Service's reporting station in Central Park. This information was taken from a monthly report published by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.
JAN. 6, 2014
SUBJECT: ACADEMIC STUDY REGARDING HUMIDITY & NYC MARATHON
I am a researcher at the University of Montana and we are doing a running study and wanting to replicate the average temperature and humidity of the NYC Marathon. I found your blog online, and found it very helpful. Thank you for the post. I am wondering, however, if you know the average humidity for the races. I am thinking of just the races since '95 since we want the study to be applicable to future races.
MY REPLY: Hi John, attached are the data you asked about. In addition to each year's relative humidity, I've also included the temperature for each hour. Please note that all this information comes from NYC's official reporting site in Central Park.
If you're able to acknowledge in your study this contribution I'd be most appreciative. Also, when the study is completed might you be able to send top-line findings?
DEC. 1, 2013
SUBJECT: INQUIRY ABOUT SNOWSTORM IN 1977 IN NYC
I googled "snow storms in nyc in 1977" and was directed to your website. I am writing a memoir and I’m trying to remember if there was a snow storm in New York in 1977 where I lived at the time. I would be very grateful if you could give me any info on this inquiry or could direct me to where I might find any info.
MY REPLY: Hi Andy, there were no big snowstorms in 1977. The largest snowfall was five inches and it occurred during the afternoon and evening of Jan. 14. This preceded a major Arctic outbreak which saw the AM low go down to 2° below zero on Jan. 17. That January was one of the nation's coldest on record. The following year, however, NYC had two major snowstorms, one in January (13.6") and the other in February (17.7").
NOV. 16, 2013
SUBJECT: TEMPERATURE ON DAY OF 2003 BLACKOUT
I found your website after watching a movie on Netflix called Category 7 about a monster storm that could be shut down by cooling a city by shutting off the entire power grid. It was entirely unrealistic in terms of how quickly they showed the city cooling off but it still was an interesting point. Would a city, could a city experience ANY kind of rapid drop in temp? I doubt it. It makes me curious about whether the temperature dropped AT ALL on that colossal day of the Northeast blackout, which happened at 4:10 pm on Aug. 14, 2003.
Do you have the temperature data for that afternoon and evening? Perhaps best if it comes with data of the days before and after to see how the temp. was dropping naturally in the evenings.
I couldn't find a place on your page to search for data of particular days. Would that be hard to do? Or perhaps you know of a website that already has that feature. I tried NOAA's Data center but the site is NOT obvious as to how to access data. For one, they use a shopping cart system - but it's free!
Appreciate your help if you can.
MY REPLY: Hi Poonam, thanks for your question. The power of hurricanes is generated when they're over the ocean, fueled by very warm water. Once a tropical system moves over land it weakens considerably because it's no longer over its power source, i.e., water. Furthermore, cities are cooled by a storm's clouds and rain (even if they are still in the mild 70s), so a storm would need to be attacked while over the water to have any chance to weaken it.
Regarding the temperature in NYC during the blackout of 2003, a hot air mass was over the City so turning off the power and AC would have little effect on the temperature (especially since power was off for less than 24 hours). The day before the blackout, 8/13, the high was 87°; the day of the blackout the temperature topped out at 91°; the day after it was 89° - but I don't believe the two-degree drop was attributable to the power being out. But regardless, scientists would need to cool the ocean to reduce a hurricane's power - but that cooling might cause a chain reaction of other events that might result in other problems.
Hope this sates your curiosity. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
JULY 17, 2013
SUBJECT: IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT CLIMATE
I saw that article about you and your weather blog in today's edition of MediaPost. Very cool!
I've wondered about the availability and application of weather data archives. Our Grand Poobah of meteorology here in Chicago, namely, WGN's Tom Skilling, manages regularly to come up with dang unusual statistics about most, highest, lowest, longest stretches, biggest changes, etc., etc.
What I'd love to see is a computer or phone app that identifies a PERSONAL view of where in the US the "best" weather is. The key is everybody has a different idea of what "best" is. I want to throw things at the TV when some anchor talks about how wonderful some 87-degree day is. My personal "best" days would be: 70° +/- 8 degrees, humidity 10-30%, light breeze, 10-25% cloud, no precip.
From that, I'd love to see a list of the top 200 cities, ranked by the percentage of daylight hours that meet my criteria. Better yet, a color-coded map!
My dream wanderlust-pleasing app would add a whole wealth of other personal preferences covering everything from crime and income levels (there are plenty of real estate apps that do that stuff), plus things like walkability and count of independent (non-franchise)bookstores and Italian restaurants. And while realtors are prohibited from talking about religion or ethnicity, I wouldn't think other data suppliers would be prohibited from including that info and there is a positive case to be made for it: if you happen to be a Bolivian Mormon, you might welcome finding neighborhoods that have others of the same persuasion.
One interesting measure that Census or Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) or somebody produces is average age of mothers upon first birth. That would be very useful to home buyers who have kids. If Mom is either 22 or 40 and has young children, she may well look forward to not being the unusual one on the block compared to other Moms.
Just rambling on!
MY REPLY: Hi Kevin, thanks for your message - good to hear from you!
From what I've seen, most apps with weather info often just have very general data that, to me, indicates that the technicians don't fully understand the data. They could go much further.
Based on your criteria, I think you'd enjoy living/visiting places out West, particularly in Colorado, Utah, northern New Mexico, eastern Washington and Oregon or Idaho - but only during the springtime and autumn. And then, of course, there's always San Diego. But if you have patience you'll probably experience these sunny, mild and dry days on occasion in Chicago as well. Perhaps we enjoy them so much because they don't happen all the time. Living in the Midwest, it's the blizzards, below zero temperatures and heat waves that make these moderate days feel so good. You wouldn't want that all of the time, would you (I think I know your answer)?
FEB. 16, 2013
SUBJECT: FEB 1978 BLIZZARD
I'm revising a novel set in NYC in what i planned to make 1978. The revision has been necessitated by a piece of weather history which I overlooked until very recently: the blizzard of Feb. 5-7.
I love your weather history, but i see it only goes back to 1979. Do you by any chance have data on NYC during that storm, like when they closed and re-opened the schools, and when they closed and re-opened the subway?
Thanks for all you put into your website. Great, great stuff.
MY REPLY: Hi Susan, that blizzard hit New York the year before I moved to the City. However, that hasn't prevented me from having a good amount of information to share with you that might prove useful:
- The bulk of the snow fell over a 24-hour period between 3AM on Monday, 2/6 and 3AM on Tuesday, 2/7. There was a final period of snow between 10AM and 1PM that dropped an additional one to two inches. The snow fell heaviest from noon on Monday thru 3AM on Tuesday. And there was thunder snow in the early AM hours of 2/7!
- Gale force winds of 30-40 mph created drifts of 3-4 feet. Because this was a dry snow it drifted very easily. Winds were strongest on Monday between 10AM and 7PM.
- The total accumulation was 17.7". This came less than three weeks after another big snowstorm dumped 13.6" on 1/19-20. In fact, in less than two-months time (1/13 - 3/3), 50" of snow fell in New York/Central Park.
- Schools were closed for one day, on Tuesday. Regarding the subway, some lines with outside tracks were shut down, but not the entire system (a system-wide shutdown has occurred just twice - when Hurricane Isabel hit in Aug. 2011 and Sandy in Oct. 2012).
- I recall seeing a photo in Time Magazine showing tenor Luciano Pavarotti standing outside with a snow shovel at Lincoln Center where one of his performances was canceled due to the storm. I believe Broadway shows were also canceled on Tuesday evening.
- Although this storm was debilitating for NYC, it was Long Island, Boston and New England that were especially hard hit (similar to last week's snowstorm).
- A week later a smaller system dropped four more inches of snow (and another five inches fell in early March). There was at least one inch of snow on the ground in Central Park through March 11.
Please let me know if you have any questions. And good luck with the book.
JULY 16, 2012
SUBJECT: RAINY SUNDAYS
Love your weather history blog! But I seem unable to find out which May between 1999 and 2003 had the most rainy Sundays - and which Sundays were they? Weather matters much in the mystery I'm writing. This will be my 23d book, and no matter how fantastical some of my stories, I've tried to be accurate about the weather.
MY REPLY: Hi Nancy, not a whole lot of rain fell during this period, but here's what I found:
> The rainiest of all the Sundays was May 23,1999 when 0.30" fell, and most of it was between 9AM-8PM. This was the only Sunday in May 1999 that had rain.
> May 2000 had rain only on the 21st and it was just 0.03".
> May 2000 had rain only on the 27th when 0.08" fell.
> May 2001 had rain only on the 12th when 0.16" fell (off and on in the AM and then between 5-7PM).
> Like all the other Mays, May 2002 had rain on just one Sunday. It fell on the 25th but it was just 0.01".
MAY 21, 2012
SUBJECT: NYC TEMPERATURE ON JUNE 8, 1980
Hello from a former gay NYC dweller. I love your gay blog and I am using your weather blog in my novel, set in 1980, just before the AIDS epidemic. I left NYC that year to move to Portland, Oregon. The chapter I am currently writing takes place on June 8, 1980. From you blog I learned it rained on that date. Do you know the temperature that afternoon?
If it is somewhere on your blog, could you let me know so I don't have to bother you again. The novel is a romance about two men in 1980. I learned the Tony Awards were the night before.
Thanks for both blogs-- enjoyable, useful.
MY REPLY: Hi Jason, thanks for your nice message. I'm delighted that you're a reader of two of my blogs! Coincidentally, I've been reading a gay novel titled Running In Bed which is about a young man's life/experiences in NYC between 1977-1987.
Regarding your question about June 8, 1980, a strong cold front caused the temperature that day to plummet from 80° in early afternoon to 52° by midnight. The next morning's low was a very chilly 47° - and NYC hasn't had a June reading that low since then. (However, July/August/Sept of that year were unseasonably hot.)
If you're interested in reading weather highlights for any given year, look at the Categories box on the right hand column of the blog's page and double click the category "By Year".
MAY 16, 2012
SUBJECT: WEATHER DURING METS GAME
Hello. I was in New York for a Mets game in July 2011. I had to take an early flight home because of severe thunderstorms and missed the game. Can you clarify for me if on July 17, 2011 New York had severe storms? I can’t remember if it was that day or July 24 or July 31. I know it was one of those Sundays. Thanks for your help!
MY REPLY: Hi Rhonda, although no rain fell the date would have to have been July 17 because that was the only one of the three dates in which the Mets played at home (they played the Phillies).
FYI, a little bit of rain fell late in the afternoon on July 24, but it wasn't from a thunderstorm.