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Months With 20" or More of Snow

20During the winter of 2021, February became the 36th month (since 1869) to have 20 inches or more of snow fall in Central Park.  This was the seventeenth February to gain this distinction, by far the most of any month (January's had eight occurrences; December's had six; and March, five).  Thirty winters have had one of these snowy months, and three have had two (winters of 1978, 1996, and 2011).  19 of the months with 20"+ had more than 25" (including Feb. 2021).  And four had 30" or more.  The snowiest month of them all is February 2010, which reported 36.9".  Below are more observations about these snow-choked months:

 

  • The first month with 20" or more snowfall was December 1872, when 27.0" was reported.  Despite February being the month most likely to have 20"+ snow, it didn't have its first overly snowy month until 1894, which was later than the first 20"+ occurrence for December, January or March.  (November and April have never had 20" or more; however, November 1898 came very close, with 19.0".  The most snow in April was in 1875, when 13.5" was measured.)
  • The most consecutive winters to have a month with 20"+ snow is just two, which has happened five times, most recently during the winters of 2010 and 2011.  The most consecutive winters without one of these snowy months is twelve, from 1936 thru 1947.  And there have been three ten-year gaps.

 

Chart - consecutive winters with 20 inches

  • The most days of measurable snow during a month with 20"+ is eleven, which occurred in March 1916 (25.5" fell) and February 1920 (25.3").  The fewest days of measurable snow during a 20"+ month is two, in February 2006, when one storm accounted for all of the month's 26.9" (at the time, New York's biggest snowfall on record).  And in January 2016 there were three days of snow, with 27.5" of the month's 27.9" falling on two of the days (which supplanted February 2006's snowfall as New York's biggest of all time).

 

Chart - most days of snow in month

 

Snow at radio city

 

  • Nine of the thirty-six excessively snowy months had no snowfalls of a foot or more; five had biggest snowfalls that were less than ten inches.   The smallest biggest snow was 7.0" in Dec. 1904, followed by March 1916, whose biggest accumulation was 7.6".
  • In a winter with a month of 20"+ snow, the least total snowfall for the entire winter was the winter of 1979, which had 29.4"; the 20.1" that fell during February of that winter comprised slightly more than two-thirds of the winter's total.  And in the winter of 1925,  29.6" of snow fell, of which January 1925 accounted for all but 2.2".
  • Two of New York's ten snowiest winters had no months with 20" or more: 1874-75 is ranked seventh,  and 1960-61 is the City's ninth snowiest winter.

 

Chart - snowiest winters with no 20-inch months
 

  • All but five of the thirty-six months were colder than average, including the coldest month on record, February 1934 (which had 27.9" of snow), the coldest March on record (1888, 22.3"), and fifth coldest December (1872, 27.0") and March (1916, 25.5").   The most above-average month to have more than twenty inches of snow is December 1948 (+3.9 degrees), followed by February 1983 (+3.0 degrees); January 2016 (+1.9 degrees);  February 2006 (+0.4 degrees); and February 1994 (+0.2 degrees).
  • Finally, "honorable mentions" go to December 2003, which had 19.8", and January 2014, which had 19.7".

 

Feb 1 snowstorm nbc nightly news

 

Here are a number of other posts I've written which discuss snowstorms in New York:

Comparing New York's Three Biggest Snowstorms

A History of Back-to-Back Snowstorms

New York's Snowiest 30-Day Periods

Remembering New York's "Snowmageddon" of Winter 2011

Survey of New York Snowstorms by Winter (1950-2021)

 


Analysis of Back-to-Back Days With the Same High & Low Temperatures

The sameIn the years I've spent poring over New York's daily weather data, I'd notice pairs of days with the same high and low.  This analysis is the product of my curiosity about how common such pairings are.  On average, two occur each year (2.3 to be exact).  The most has been ten, which happened in 1931 and 2010.  There have been ten years with five or more pairs, including 2020.  Twelve years have had none.  (Of course, if temperatures were reported to one decimal place, these type of days would be even rarer than they already are.)  Here are some more interesting findings:

 

 

  • There have been three streaks that had three consecutive days with identical highs/lows - in 1988 (Aug. 3-5, all with a high/low of 89°/76°); 1984 (May 5-7, highs/lows of 69°/53°), and 1879 (May 8-10, 69°/49°).  And during the summer of 2013, after a high/low of 83°/67° on July 30-31, there was another day with the same high/low two days later, on Aug. 2.
  • There have been 23 pairs that missed by one degree of having a third consecutive day with the same high/low.  The most recent occurrence was in December 2010, when 12/7 had a high/low of 36°/30° after a high/low of 35°/30° on 12/5 and 12/6.  And each of the streaks of three-days (mentioned above) narrowly missed being four-day streaks:
    • Aug. 3-5, 1988's streak missed being a four-day streak when the high/low on Aug. 6  was 89°/75° instead of 89°/76°.
    • May 5-7, 1984's streak of 69°/53° was followed on May 8 by a high/low of 69°/55°.
    • The day before 1879's streak of May 8-10, with highs/lows of 69°/49°, the high/low was 70°/50°.
  • There have been three back-to-back pairs of days: July 28-31, 2010 (89°/74° on 7/28-29 and 85°/66° on 7/30-31); March 3-6, 1952 (pairs of 36°/32° and 42°/31°); and Aug. 17-20, 1906 (pairs of 85°/71° and 87°/77°).  And there has been one instance of three consecutive pairs of days: Dec. 16-21, 1901 (26°/20° on Dec. 16-17; 28°/20° on Dec. 18-19; and 26°/19° on Dec. 20-21).  (March 1952's and August 1906's streaks narrowly missed having three consecutive pairs.)
  • Of the 12 years with no pair of days, only one occurred after 1956 - 2000.  The other years: 1956, 1954, 1943, 1934, 1930 1924, 1916, 1903, 1889, 1881 and 1869.
  • There has been one instance of back-to-back years having the same pair of dates with the same high/low.  It occurred on July 27-28, in 1897 and 1898.  (The pair of highs/lows in 1897 was 67°/64°, and 80°/74° in 1898.)  And there have been five instances of pairs of the same dates being two years apart, most recently in 2018, when it and 2016 each had a pair of days on Dec 23-24.
  • July 27-28 has had the same high/low in six years, the most of any pair of dates: 2007, 1988, 1939, 1910, 1898, and 1897.
  • May 18-19, 1932 and 2005 had the same pairs of highs/lows (70°/53°).
  • There have been four pairs of 85°/70° highs/lows, which is the most frequent of any pair  (occurring on July 4-5, 2017; May 27-28, 2015; June 25-26 2014; and June 27-28, 1994).
  • July and August are the months most likely to have seen pairs of days with the same high/low (48 and 51 occurrences,respectively); February and October are the months least likely to report a pair of these days (with just 12 each). 
  • Hottest pair: 100°/79° on July 9-10, 1937; Coldest pair: 23°/14° on Jan. 28-29, 1986.

 Chart - back to back days_same high low

 

 


Dry Months in New York

Drier than normalFor the purposes of this analysis a dry month is one that had less than two inches of precipitation.  In the years since 1869, 18% of all months have been this dry, or about two months each year.  The most dry months in one year is six, which happened in 1910, 1946 and 1965.  The most consecutive months with less than two inches measured is four, which occurred in 1881 from July thru October.  Finally, there have been 15 years in which no month had less than two inches - most recently in 2018 (two of these 15 years were consecutive, in 2010 and 2011).

 

 

Graph - precip of less than 2 inches by month

 

CONSECUTIVE DRY MONTHS WITHIN A YEAR

The most consecutive months with less than two inches of precipitation is four, which happened in 1881 between July-October (1.25", 0.86", 0.97" and 1.60").  There have been nine other years that had three dry months in a row, the most recent being in 1993.  The smallest amount of rain during one of these streaks was 2.98" in 1910 (July-Sept.).

 

Chart - 3 months in a row with less than 2 inches

 

Two of the three years that have had six months with less than two inches of precipitation, 1910 and 1965, are among New York's ten driest years, but the third, 1946, is ranked 27th.

Five Octobers in a row from 1946-1950 had less than two inches of rain.  And there have been three other months that had this little precipitation in four consecutive years: January 1954-57; May 1902-05 and September 1884-87.  And seven of the nine Novembers between 1901-09 had two inches or less.

 

LESS THAN ONE INCH OF RAIN

Nearly one out of four dry months had less than one inch of rain, or about once every two years.  The greatest number of these very dry months in one year is three and it's happened twice, in 1881 and 1955.  The most years in a row to have the same month report less than one inch is two, which has happened three times: July 1954 (0.96") & 1955 (0.51"); Sept. 1884 (0.21") & 1885 (0.41"); and Oct. 2000 (0.68") & 2001 (0.66").

 

DRIEST MONTH OF EACH YEAR

On average, the driest month of a year has had 1.24" of precipitation (and most likely to happen in October).  About 40% of all years have had less than an inch of precipitation during their driest month.  June 1949 is the driest month of all time, with just 0.02" measured; the driest month in recent years is October 2013, which had just 0.36". The most consecutive years with a driest month reporting less than an inch is four, which was between 1999-2002.  

Thirteen years have had more than two inches as their driest month.  And two of them had more than three inches: 3.04" in 1975 and 3.03" in 2011. 

In both 1980 and 1981 the driest month had 0.58" of precipitation, and it was in consecutive months - Dec. 1980 and Jan. 1981.  And later in 1981, August had 0.59".  Two other years' second-driest month also had just 0.01" more than the driest month (1900 and 1975), while 1926's second driest month had 0.02" more.  And in 2000, 2001 and 2002 the driest months had 0.68", 066" and 0.71", respectively.

In the three consecutive years between 1903-1905, May was the driest month, and in the three consecutive years 1945-1947, October was the driest month.  Finally, in the four-year period 1967-1970 three of the years had January as their driest month (1967, 1968 and 1970).

 

Graph - driest month of year since 1869

 

Arid


Notable December Cold Snaps

The weather outside is frightful

Nearly 40% of Decembers since 1869, or 59, have experienced cold snaps/cold waves that lasted five days or longer (about half were seven+ days).  The most recent occurred in 2017.  In addition to the five-days+ qualifier, a cold snap needed to have an average high temperature of 32° or colder to be part of this analysis.  The longest of them lasted 15 days, in 1876; six have had sub-zero readings; six had twelve inches of of snow or more; and six had no snow whatsoever (not even a trace).  Finally, six Decembers had two periods of Arctic cold.

 

COLDEST

The coldest December cold wave occurred in 1917, when the six days between Dec. 17-22 had an average high/low of 17°/2°.  Most recently, the last six days of Dec. 2017 had an average high/low of 23°/15°, which tied for ninth coldest.

 

Chart - coldest december cold snaps

LENGTHIEST

Fifteen Decembers have had cold waves lasting ten or more days.  The lengthiest was 16 days in Dec. 1904 (average high of 32°/22°), followed by a 15-day stretch in 1876 (27°/17°).  The coldest of these lengthy cold waves was one of 10 days in 1872 (24°/10°).

 

Chart - lengthiest december cold waves

 

TWO IN ONE MONTH!

Six Decembers had two significant cold snaps.  The last time it happened was in 1955, with one of five days and the other lasting six days (they were three days apart).  The two in 1917 covered 15 days (eight days apart).

 

Chart - decembers with two cold snaps

 

COLD SNAPS MORE PREVALENT 100+ YEARS AGO

The greatest concentration of Decembers with cold waves was between 1876 and 1904, when 20 of the 29 Decembers had at least one cold snap.  The most consecutive Decembers to have a cold snap is four, which has happened four times: in 1901-1904, 1914-1917, 1932-35 and 1942-45; there have also been four three-year streaks, with the most recent being 1958-1960.  The most consecutive years without a cold snap is eight, and it's happened twice, in 1981-1988 and 2001-2008.  And there was a seven-year hiatus from 2010 to 2016.

 

SNOWIEST & LEAST SNOWY

Six cold snaps received more than 13 inches of snow.  The most was 22.5" in 1883 and 21.5" in 1872.  The most recent was in 2000 when 13.3" fell.  Five of the Decembers had snowstorms that dumped a foot or more, with the most being 18.0" on Dec. 26, 1872.  And although December 1942, with 6.0", isn't found on the "most snowy" list below, it's worth mentioning because it had measurable snow on six of the cold wave's ten days.

 

Chart - snowiest december cold snaps

 

At the other end of the snow spectrum, ten December cold snaps had no measurable snow.  Eight of them were five or six days in duration, but December 1870 and December 1989 lasted 11 and 10 days, respectively.

 Chart - december cold snaps with no snow

BELOW ZERO READINGS

Seven of the Decembers had at least one sub-zero low.  The most recent was in 1980 (on Christmas Day).  These cold waves accounted for all of the twelve sub-zero lows that have been reported in December.  And although December 1872 had no below-zero readings, it had the distinction of having six days in a row with lows in the single digits (ranging from 4° to 8°).  At the other end of the spectrum, the coldest temperatures of five December cold snaps was a relatively mild 18° or 19° (most recently in 1970).

 

Chart - subzero readings in december

 

 

Frigid-cold-blast-to-strike-usa


The Coldest Day of New York Winters

Frozen bryant park fountainSince 1900 the average high/low on the coldest day of each winter has been 19°/6° (in the last third of the 18th century it was 14°/2°; in the 21st century it's risen to a relatively temperate 20°/9°).  The coldest day has occurred as early as Nov. 30 (winter of 1875-76) and as late as March 15 (winter of 1931-32).  Nearly half of the coldest days of New York's winters have occurred in the four-week period between Jan. 9 and Feb. 6.  For this analysis "coldest day" is based on daily mean temperature (average of high/low), not just the low temperature.

 

 

Chart - warming of coldest winter day

 

THE SPECTRUM OF THE BIG CHILL

The dates of the most frigid coldest winter day and the mildest coldest winter day are, in their respective years, one day apart.  The coldest of them all fell on Dec. 30, 1917, when the high/low was 2°/-13°.  At the other end of the spectrum, the mildest reading to have the distinction of being the coldest day of a winter was 31°/20° in the winter of 2001-02 on Dec. 31, 2001January 18 is the date to see the most coldest days of winter - six.  Three dates in February have been the coldest for five winters each: Feb. 2, Feb. 5 and Feb. 17.

 

Chart - coldest day jan 18
 

TWO MEASURES OF "COLDEST"

Although the coldest day is usually the same date as the coldest temperature, they have occasionally occurred on different dates (on average, in one out of four winters).  For instance, although the coldest reading of all time is -15°, the coldest day of all time, based on mean temperature, had a low of -13°.  Although this is two degrees "warmer" than the coldest reading, the day's high of 2° was six degrees colder than the high on Feb. 9, 1934, so it ended up with a mean of -5.5° compared to a -3.5° in 1934.  (The most recent instance was the winter of 2019-20 as its coldest day was on Dec. 19, with a high/low of 25°/16°, while the coldest reading was 14° on 2/15.)

 

SIMILAR DATES

A number of consecutive years, or a few years apart, have had their coldest day on practically the same date.  And in one interesting case the coldest day of winters one hundred years apart (1916 and 2016) occurred on the same date - Feb. 15.  And the coldest day of the winters of 1884 and 1984 were two days apart, on 12/23 and 12/25, respectively.

 

Chart - coldest day same date

Chart - coldest day same date - 2

Chart - coldest day same date 100 years apart 

FRIGID HOLIDAYS

The coldest day of some winters has fallen on a holiday.  The one exception is Christmas Eve day.

 

Chart - coldest winter day on holidays

 

"COLDEST COLDEST, MEET MILDEST COLDEST!"

Of course, the coldest winters have a lot of very cold days that that would easily qualify as the coldest dates of many of the winters with average or above average temperatures.

 

Chart - coldest coldest day of winter 
 Chart - mildest coldest day of winter

 

SOMETIMES IT SNOWS

Snow falls very infrequently on the coldest day of the winter - just six winters have had an inch or more of snow on this day.  However, a few were significant, with the stand out being the 12.5" accumulation on the coldest day of the winter of 1966-67 (Feb. 9, which had a high/low of 16°/7°).

 

Chart - snowy coldest days of winter

 

Finally, the coldest day of the winter of 1963-64 was preceded by a snowstorm that dumped 11.5" the day before, while three storms that followed the coldest day of winter by one day dumped more than ten inches.  The storm in February in 2003 dumped 16.3", but started on the coldest day of the winter, with 3.5" falling that evening.

 

Chart - snowy day before and after coldest day

   

 

Frigid

 

 

 

 

 


Spring Awakening - The Year's First High Temperature in the 70s

70+

 

So far this century, the average date for the first reading of 70° or warmer in Central Park has been March 19 (and in the past five years it's been March 5).  This is four weeks earlier than what the average date was during 1869-1899; and during the 20th century this first occurrence was at the end of March.  The earliest date for a 70+ reading has been Jan. 6, which happened in 2007 (joining two other "first 70s" in January, in 1932 and 1950); the latest date is May 9, which happened in 1875 (and it's happened in May in five other years, the last time being in 1940).

 

Chart - earliest first 70s

Chart - latest first 70

 

The average high temperature on the day of the first 70+ has been 74°; the average low on that day, 48° (this diurnal variation of 24 degrees is much wider than the typical daily variation of 15 degrees).  The average high of the day before the first 70+ is 60°; the average high on the day following the first 70+ day  is 66°. 

 

11 years' first 70+ reading also served as those years' first 80°+ reading, with the most recent occurrence being in 2003.  And in 1927 the year's first 70+ served not only as the first 80+, but as the year's first reading in the 90s.  Meanwhile 15 other years had their first 80+ come the day after the first 70+ (the last time this happened was in 2013).

 Chart - warmest first 70s

 

Back-to-back years with very early dates for the first 70+ are 1949 (Feb. 15) and 1950 (Jan. 26), and 2017 (Feb. 21) and 2018 (Feb. 24).  And there have been two periods of three consecutive years with very late dates: 1883 (May 3), 1884 (May 2) and 1885 (April 21); and 1875 (May 9), 1876 (May 6) and 1877 (April 23).

 

The greatest difference in high temperature between the day before and the day of the first 70+ is +34 degrees, in March 1935 (from 43° to 77°), and +33 degrees in April 2001 (from 45° to 78°).  And the biggest decline on the day after occurred in March 1934, -35 degrees (from 71° to 36°), and -34 degrees in Feb. 1874 (from 72° to 38°).  Lastly, the biggest increase on the day after is +14 degrees in 1902 (from 70° to 84°).

 

Chart - biggest temp diff day before first 70

 Chart - biggest temp drop after first 70

The greatest diurnal variation on the day of the first 70+ is 42 degrees, with a high/low on March 13, 1990 of 85°/43°.  The coldest reading to occur on the day of the first reading of 70+ is 30° on March 18, 1934.  It came after the high of 71° was reached and a cold front moved thru mid-afternoon.  (This is the also the only time a reading of 32° or colder occurred on the same day as the first 70°+.)

 

After a reading of 70°+, the average number of days before the next reading of 70°+ has been 11, with the greatest hiatus being 80 days in 1932 (when the first 70+ was on 1/14).  Not surprisingly, the most days to elapse before the next 70+ high have occurred in Jan/Feb -  with the average hiatus being 43 days.  In about one-third of the years the first 70°+ was followed the very next day by another high of 70+, with the longest streak being eight days, in April 1896 (including highs of 87°, 88° and 90°).  The longest streak in the years since 1900 has been six, set in April 1952.  

 

Spring awakening
 

 

An early first 70+ isn't predictive of a hot summer as some very hot summers had their first 70+ at a late date.  This includes the year with the second hottest summer, 1966, which didn't see its first 70+ until April 25.  And the fifth and sixth hottest summers, in 1983 and 1993, didn't have their first 70+ until April 25 and April 19, respectively.

 

About 20% of the dates of the first 70+ reported measurable rain; two-thirds of these years had amounts less than 0.10".  (By contrast, 40% of the days with the first 60+ reading had rain.)  Just one date had more than an inch, on April 6, 1937.  On that day, 1.02" of rain fell before dawn and ushered in mild air (the high reached 72°).

 

And, finally, some more interesting occurrences:

> In 2018, after a high of 78° on Feb. 21 (the warmest reading ever in Jan/Feb), more than seven weeks passed before the mercury rose above the low 60s.

> In 1998 the first 70+ reading was 83° and it was the first of five days in a row in the 80s - at the end of March (March 27-31), when the average high is in the mid-50s. 

> The first high of 70+ in 1988, 76° on 3/24, came just two days after a low of 17°

> The day of 1980's first 70+ followed a big rainstorm of 3.42" the day before.

> In 1967, a week after the first 70+, on March 11, there was a week of harsh winter conditions, with an average high/low of only 31°/20°, including a reading of 8° on 3/19; and three snowfalls produced 15.4" of snow. 

> 1947's first 70+ on 4/6 was the day after nearly two inches of rain fell. 

> In 1929 the first 70+ came three days after a low of 12°.  (In 2009 a low of 12° in March came four days before the year's first 70+.)

> In 1874, two days after a high of 72° on Feb. 23, 7.5" of snow fell. 

 

Springtime in central park

 

To read an analysis about the first readings of 60+ each year, double click here.

 

 

 


A Look at New York City's Hottest Weekends of All Time

WaterskiingOn the one hand, if you work a Monday-Friday schedule and have access to a beach or pool, a hot weekend can be delightful.  On the other, if you don't have access to a body of water hot weather can be brutal, especcially if you have outdoor plans or a wedding to attend.  This summer, the weekend of July 18-19 had highs/lows of 91°/72° and 94°/77°.  Hot, yes, but far from the most torrid weekends of all time in New York.  This analysis looks at conditions in two ways - by mean temperatures and by high temperatures.  In order to qualify, both Saturday and Sunday had to have highs in the 90s or hotter and lows in the 70s or warmer. 

 

Looking at mean temperature, the two hottest weekends were Aug. 13-14, 1988 (highs/lows of 96°/79° and 99°/80°) and Aug. 8-9, 1896 (95°/79°, 98°/82°).   Last summer (2019) had the third hottest weekend, with highs/lows on July 20-21 of 95°/82° on Saturday and 95°/80° on Sunday.  Focusing on high temperatures reveals that the five hottest weekends are different from the top-five based on mean temperature, with the hottest occurring on July 3-4, 1966 (highs of 100° and 103°), followed by July 20-21, 1991 (100° and 102°).  These are the only weekends in which both days saw highs in the triple digits; four other weekends had one day of 100°+.

 

Hot weekend

 

And here are a few other findings of note. 

  • The earliest and latest scorching hot weekends occurred in the same year - 1895 (in the before-air conditioning era).  On June 1-2 the highs/lows were 96°/77° and 96°/76°; on Sept. 21-22 the highs/lows were 95°/77° and 95°/75°. 
  • Besides 1895, 1953 also had two sizzling weekends. The most consecutive summers with a hot weekend were in 1943, 1944 and 1945.

Chart - summer 1943 1944 1945

  • The weekend of July 20-21 has been very hot in three summers: 1957, 1991 and 2019.
  • Finally, the first weekend with lows in the 80s on both days occurred in 2019 (82° and 80°).  However, the weekend of July 23-24, 2011 had the warmest low of these select weekends - 83° on Saturday.

 

 Chart - 10 hottest mean temps in july

 

Chart - 10 hottest highs in july

 Scorching hot


Here are other heat-related posts:

Revisiting New York's Hottest Summers

"Super" Heat Waves (95°+)

Hot, Wet New York Summer

Low Temperatures of 70° or Warmer

The Heat is On: New York's "Hell Week"


Remembering New York's Top Weather Stories of 2019

Annual reviewAfter pondering the various weather events that occurred in New York over the course of 2019, my choice as the year's biggest story is a sizzling hot day in October.  Although there had been 90-degree readings in October before, they were a long time ago - in 1927, 1938, 1939 and 1941.  (By comparison, April had fifteen readings in the 90s in the years after 1941.)  But on Oct. 2 the mercury soared to 93°.  It was somewhat ironic that this hot autumn day occurred in 2019 because the year's first 90-degree reading wasn't until the end of June, which was a month behind schedule, and there were no 90-degree readings in September.  What follows are the other meteorological highlights that were candidates for top story of 2019:

 

HOT & COLD

Two days in January had especially cold readings: 14°/4° on Jan. 21, 16°/2° on Jan. 31.  These were among the five coldest days in the past 25 years.  At the other end of the thermometer, the year's hottest reading was 95°, which happened during a July weekend, 7/20-21.  (LaGuardia, JFK and Newark topped out at 100°, 99° and 99°, respectively).  Both days also had lows in the 80s (and during the afternoon of 7/22 the dew point reached an absurdly high 79°, the highest in nearly 40 years.)  Although this reading was well below the hottest temperatures experienced in past summers, the month ended up being New York's 11th hottest July on record, due largely to consistent warmth throughout the month, not only during the daytime but at night as well (the month had July's fifth warmest average low).

 

SNOW DROUGHT

2019 wasn't a snowy year, with just 16.6" measured, the least snow since 2012 (the years 2013-2018 averaged 40 inches of snow).  Much of the year's snow was concentrated in the first four days of March, all which had an inch or more of snow - the first time a streak of this length occurred in any month of any year.  The 10.4" of snow that accumulated on these four days accounted for well over half of calendar year 2019's snowfall .

 

DAYS OF PRECIPITATION WELL ABOVE AVERAGE FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW

After 2018 established a new record for most days with measurable precipitation, 2019 followed with the fourth greatest number of days.  But while 2018 was the fourth wettest year on record 2019 ranked 28th.  May had 19 days of precipitation, which was the second most for any month (the most is 20 days, in July 1871 and May 1888); this followed 18 days of precipitation in April (most ever for that month).

 

MOTHER'S DAY HAD WORST WEATHER OF ANY HOLIDAY

A nor'easter brought a cold, all-day rain that amounted to 1.32".  Temperatures fell into the 40s around daybreak and stayed there for the rest of the day; this meant afternoon readings were 25 degrees colder than average.

 

JULY RAINSTORMS BROUGHT BIGGEST RAIN TOTALS

The year's two biggest rainstorms came five days apart in July as 2.33" poured down on July 17-18 (from tropical storm Barry) and 2.19" fell on July 22-23.

 

THANKSGIVING WEATHER

Blustery conditions on Thanksgiving Day (winds gusted between 25-37 mph) forced officials in charge of Macy's Thanksgiving Parade to order its famous balloons be flown much lower than usual, with some nearly scraping the pavement.  (For most parade goers, however, the wind was more bearable than the previous year's frigid temperatures.)

 

DRY MOMENTS

Despite all of the days of precipitation, and three months with more than six inches of rain, there were moments when the air dried out.  For instance, September was among the ten driest on record, with just 0.95" measured - the first month with less than an inch of rain in six years.  Then there were a number of days with extremely low afternoon humidity levels: March 24 and 26 (13% and 14%), Sept. 19 (15%) and Nov. 16 (13%).  Lastly, despite December being one of the ten wettest, it also had a ten-day period with no rain or snow, tying a ten-day period in September for longest precipitation-free streak of the year.

 

YEAR ENDS WITH WET DECEMBER FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW

Finally, December was the wettest month of the year (7.09"), just the third December to gain this distinction.  The first two weeks were particularly soggy, with five inches measured - the third greatest amount to fall in the first two weeks of December. 

 

Here are other annual recaps:

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

(For more detailed information about each month's weather, choose Monthly Recaps in the Categories box in the left margin.)


December 2019 Repeats December 2018's Wet Conditions

Dec 13 grand central wreathDecember 2019 was the wettest month of the year and fifth wettest December on record (7.09" was measured).  Much of its precipitation fell in the first two weeks of the month.  In fact, the 5.05" that was measured during this period was the third greatest amount to fall in the first two weeks of any December.   Looking at temperature, the month was slightly above average (+0.8°).  Although Dec. 1-22 was 2.5 degrees colder than average, the rest of the month was mild enough (+9 degrees), to push the entire month into the above average column.  The mildest reading of the month was 58° (on 12/10), making this the first December since 2005 not to have any readings of 60° or warmer.  The coldest reading, 16° on 12/19, was three degrees colder than the typical coldest reading of December.  The 19th was also the only day that had a high of 32° or colder (25°).

 

Despite the month's surplus precipitation there were ten consecutive days with no measurable precipitation (Dec. 19-28).  This matched a 10-day stretch in September - the longest dry spells of the year.  (September 2019 had just 0.95" of rain, making it the eighth driest September on record).  Coincidentally, last year's wet December (ninth wettest) also had a ten-day stretch with no precipitation.

 

Being the wettest month of a year is rare for December.  Before 2019 only two other years had December as their wettest month - in 1957 (when 5.26" was reported) and in 1973 (9.98" was measured).  Another distinction for Dec. 2019 is that it was just the 13th month to have more than seven inches of rain as well as a streak of 10 or more days without any measurable precipitation.  (The longest streak during one of these months was thirteen days in June 2006).

 

Chart - 7 inches monthly rain

 

In addition to the soggy first two weeks, other December highlights included the season's first measurable snowfall on 12/2 (1.3" fell) and an out of the ordinary snow squall of 10-15 minutes during the afternoon of 12/18 that ushered in the coldest weather of December (0.4" accumulated, and an additional 0.3" fell from a snow shower a few hours later).  Additionally, the first four days of the month had highs/lows stuck in the 30s, just the sixth time there's been a streak of this length or longer.

 

Snow squall dec 19 2019

 

Finally, December 2018 and 2019 joined December 2008 and 2009 as the second pair of consecutive years to be among the ten wettest Decembers (2009 is #4; 2019 is #5; 2008 is #9; and 2018 is in tenth place). 

 

Previous December recaps:

2018

2017

2016

2015

 

 


In a Rut: Temperatures Stuck in the 30s

30s

 

This post was inspired by the first four days of December 2019, all which reported highs and lows in the 30s.  The last time there was a streak of this length was in January 1998, when there was one of five days.  Although days "stuck in the 30s" aren't rare, as a typical year sees a half dozen of them, strings of three days or longer happen infrequently, about once very five years.  Not surprisingly, nine out of ten of these days have occurred from December thru March, with December having the most. (They've occurred as early as Oct. 26 and as late as April 11).

 

Chart - days in 30s by month

 

More than half of these days have reported measurable precipitation (57% to be exact); one in four have reported measurable snow.  Since many of these days have temperatures around freezing (two-thirds have a reading of 32° or colder for at least part of the day) the type of precipitation that falls is a mixed bag (i.e., rain, freezing rain, sleet and wet snow).  Often the type of snow that falls doesn't readily accumulate on paved surfaces if the temperature is above freezing.  And although temperatures in the 30s are far from frigid, the fact that they're often accompanied by overcast skies or precipitation makes these days feel raw and colder than the air temperature. 

 

Snow and rain

 

The most precipitation to fall on one of these "stuck" days was 2.03" on March 29, 1984 (high/low of 36°/34°); 1.8" of the precipitation was snow.  Additionally, there have been four other storms that produced two+ inches of liquid precipitation that crossed over to other days - in Jan. 1987, March 1967, Dec. 1930 and Dec. 1914 (all days were in the 30s).  The biggest of them all produced 3.49" of precipitation and lasted three days during the first week of March 1967; two inches of snow fell on the first day of the storm. 

 

Speaking of snow, the most to fall on a day with temperatures in the 30s for its entirety was ten inches on Feb. 10, 2010 (high/low was 34°/30°).  And 11.8" fell from a storm that crossed over into a second day on March 21-22, 1956.  In addition to these snowfalls there have been nine others that dropped six to ten inches (most recently on March 21, 2018 when 8.2" fell on a day in which the high/low was 39°/31°). 

 

Shoveling slust

 

In the years since 1900, the longest streak of days stuck in the 30s is five, which has happened three times: in Jan. 1998, Dec. 1970 and in Dec. 1914.  The most days in one winter was 20, which occurred in the winter of 1997-98.  Every winter except one, 1924, has had two or more days stuck in the 30s. (The winter of 1924 had one day.)  Finally, the most in one month is eight, which has happened twice - in January 1987 and January 1998.  (December 2019 had seven.)

 

Chart - stuck in the 30s

Chart - stuck in 30s by winter

 

If this analysis leaves you cold, I also posted one last year about days stuck in the 70s.

 

Stuck in a rut