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Weather Highlights of the 1950s

50s

 

What weather events/trends characterized the 1950s in New York?  The decade began with the fierce Thanksgiving weekend nor'easter of 1950.  Then four tropical systems affected the area in 1954 and 1955: Carol and Edna in 1954, and Connie and Diane in 1955.  1955 also had a torrid summer, as did 1952.  Then there was the summer of '53 that ended with an unprecedented 12-day heat wave.  Five of the six summers from 1952 thru 1957 had 100-degree readings, the greatest concentration of any decade.  The second half of March 1956 and 1958 experienced harsh winter weather while half of the Decembers during the decade had the coldest and/or snowiest weather of their respective winters. 

 

Regarding precipitation, the only snowstorm of a foot or more came at the end of the '50s when 13.7" fell on Dec. 21-22, 1959.  Finally, an extended period with below-average precipitation began at the beginning of the decade and would continue through the mid-1960s.  (Ironically, the rainiest Halloween and Easter occurred this decade, in 1956 and 1958, respectively.)  What follows, in chronological order, are nearly 100 weather highlights of the decade:

 

- 1950-

January 4 - Today's low of 59° is the mildest low temperature ever reported in the month of January, and more typical of the average low in the first week of June.  The high was seven degrees warmer, and was a record for the date (which still stands).

January 6 - The high rose into the 60s for the fourth day in a row.  Highs on these days: 60° (1/3)-66°-64°-63° (today).

January 26 - Today's high soared to 72°, the mildest reading ever reported in January (later equaled on Jan. 6, 2007).

 

72_sunny

 

February 21 - The morning low of was the coldest reading of the winter.  (The average low during the last week of February is in the upper 20s.)

March 4 - This was the seventh day since Feb. 20 with a low of 12° or colder.  Additionally, eight of the days had highs of 32° or colder.  The average high/low during this 13-day period was 32°/16°, twelve degrees colder than average. 

April 10 - For the fifth day in a row the morning low was 32° or colder.  The average low during these days was 29°, which was twelve degrees below average.

May 27 - With a high of 77° this was last of three days in a row with highs in the 70s.  It was the first time it happened this year, and is the deepest into a year of any year since 1940 (thru 2021).

July 31 - Today's high of 94° was the the last reading in the 90s this year, the earliest date for this occurrence since 1934, when it fell on 7/30 (1904 and 1903 also had their last 90 on 7/31).  In total, there were only six 90-degree days this summer. 

September 24 - Very chilly conditions, with a high/low of only 53°/43°.  Today's high, 20 degrees below average, was more typical of the second week of November.  Unseasonably chilly days like this in autumn are often caused by nor'easters, but today was dry under a mix of sun and clouds.

October 1 - One week after a very chilly high of 53°, today's high was 86° (17 degrees above average).

November 2 - Today's high was a record 83°, and was the fourth day in a row of extraordinarily mild weather.  Oct. 30 had a high of 79°, Halloween had a high of 76°, and yesterday had a record high of 84°.  Highs during this four-day period averaged 81°, 22 degrees above average.

 

83deg

 

November 25 - One of the strongest nor'easters of the 20th century lashed New York on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with winds as high as 70 mph, and 1.58" of rain that fell between 6 AM and 8 PM.  Temperatures dropped steadily during the day, from 59° to 36°.  This storm produced very heavy snowfall in Pennsylvania and the Appalachians, including 27.4" in Pittsburgh (over the course of three days).

 

Nov 25, 1950 LaGuardia Airport  

 

December 26 - Although it was just 2.9", the light snow that fell today in the morning and afternoon was the biggest snowfall during the winter of 1950-51.  It was also the coldest day of the winter, with a high/low of 22°/9°.

 

- 1951-

July 27 - Yesterday and today were the hottest days of the year, with both having a high/low of 94°/69°.

October 3 - The afternoon of Bobby Thomson's famed 3-run home run against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the bottom of the 9th inning that gave the New York Giants a come-from-behind win, and the National League pennant, was mostly cloudy with the temperature in the upper 60s.

 

Bobbythomson.homerun

 

November 7 - Although today's nor'easter wasn't the biggest rain producer of the year (that honor went to a storm on March 29-30 that brought 2.64"), the 2.01" that fell today poured down in less than six hours between 5:30-11 AM, while March's storm was over the course of 40 hours.  Besides this morning's heavy rain, winds gusted to 40 mph.  (And just four days earlier two inches of rain fell, but over the course of twenty-one hours.)

November 20 - For the second day in a row the high/low was a cold 35°/26° (16 degrees below average).

December 17 - Today's frigid high/low of 20°/8° (22 degrees below average) made this the coldest day of the winter of 1951-52.  Skies were clear.

 

- 1952 -

January 28 - Rain in the morning (when temperatures fell from the low 40s through the 30s) changed to snow early in the afternoon, accumulating 5.8" by early morning the next day - the winter's biggest snowfall.

February 21-26 - High temperatures for this six-day period: 38°-38°-40°-40°-42°-42°.  These readings were slightly below average.

March 9 - The low was 31° for the fifth day in a row (which followed two days that had lows of 32°).

April 2 - For the tenth year in a row measurable precipitation fell on this date - the longest such streak on record.  The amount of rain that fell today (during the late morning) was just 0.09", and was the same amount that fell last year on this date.

April 23 - This was the sixth day in a row with a high of 74° or warmer.  The average high during this streak was 78°, which was 15 degrees above average.

June 26 - Today's high/low was a torrid 100°/81°.  The low was New York's warmest ever recorded in June and the high was the earliest reading in the triple digits (next earliest would come in 1966 on June 27).  This heat came three days after a high/low of 64°/58°.

 

101deg 

 

September 13 - Today's high of 94° was the hottest temperature so late in the year since 1941 when the high on 10/5 was also 94°.  Today, the last day of a three-day heat wave, was also the last 90-degree reading of the year (there were 24 in total).

December 2-3 - The biggest snowfall of the winter of 1952-53 brought 4.5".  It was a sloppy snowfall, with snow changing to rain after 2.3" fell, before changing back to snow during the morning of the 3rd, when an additional 2.2" accumulated.      

December 28 - Today's high/low of 30°/12° made this the coldest day of the winter.  And there would be just one more day this winter with a sub-freezing high (Feb. 2).

 

- 1953 -

February 2 - Today was the second, and last, day of this mild winter with a sub-freezing high, with a high/low of 29°/14°.  (A typical winter has 18 days with highs of 32° or colder.)  It came the day after the high was 52°.  

March 24 - Today saw the fourth rainstorm of an inch or more in the past three weeks.  It moved in shortly after daybreak and was over by early afternoon.  Half of the day's 1.04" rainfall fell between 11 AM and noon.  At the time, March 1953, with 8.76" of precipitation measured, was the second wettest March on record (it's since fallen to fifth place).

 

Clipart_rainstorm 

July 18 - This was the second day in a row with a high in the triple digits, the first time with consecutive 100°+ readings since late August 1948, when there were three such days in a row.

July 23 - Heavy rain that fell in the morning hours between 8 AM and 1 PM amounted to 2.41", breaking the previous record amount for the date, from 1938, by 0.01".

August 24 - Today was the first day of a record twelve-day heat wave.  It followed a seven-day heat wave in mid-July.

August 28 - In the midst of a 12-day heat wave, today was the first of six days in a row with highs of 97° or hotter.

September 2 - Today's high of 102° was the hottest reading of the year, and the fourth time the mercury reached triple digits this year - a first (later duplicated in 1966).  This was also just the second time a high of 100+ occurred in September (the first was on Sept. 7, 1881). 

September 4 - Today was the twelfth day in a row with highs in the 90s - New York's lengthiest heat wave on record (a record that still stands).  The average high/low during this torrid streak was 95°/74° - fourteen degrees above average.  Today was also the seventh day in a row with a low of 75° or warmer.

 

Heat_wave

 

November 6 - Three days after the high reached 73°, 2.2" of snow fell - the earliest accumulation of two inches or more on record (4.0" fell at LaGuardia Airport).  The snow began around noon but later changed to rain (the day's high/low was 38°/30°).  This was part of an intense storm system that pummeled the City with 50 mph winds.  

November 20 - Four the fourth day in a row temperatures were very mild and nearly identical, with highs/lows of: 71°/50° today and yesterday, 72°/50° two days ago and 71°/49° on 11/17.  This compares to the average high/low of 53°/41°.

December 14 - This was the ninth day of the past eleven with temperatures ten degrees or more above average (including seven in a row between 12/4-10).  This was also a wet period, with rain falling on eight of the days, totaling 4.25", which accounted for almost all of the month's precipitation.  Today was the rainiest, with 1.46" falling during the morning from a nor'easter that moved in yesterday afternoon (dropping 0.42").  Wind gusts of 35-40 mph were reported.    

 

- 1954 -

January 10-12 - Light snow fell for 39 hours, beginning mid-afternoon on 1/10 and ending in the pre-dawn hours of 1/12.  A total of 8.4" piled up, with 2.2" falling on the 10th, 5.4" accumulating on the 11th, and 0.8" falling on the 12th.  This was the biggest snowfall in five years. 

January 16 - 12.5" of snow fell in the past seven days, with measurable snow falling on six of the days.  After today less than an inch of snow would fall for the rest of the winter.

 

NYCsnow1950s

 

January 18 - The morning low of 7° was the coldest reading of the winter.  

February 15 - Two days after the low was 11°, this afternoon's high soared to 69° under clear skies (31 degrees above average, but four degrees from the record set in 1949).

February 28 - Today's unseasonably mild high/low of 59°/41° was typical of temperatures experienced in the second half of this month.  And at 14 degrees above average, the past two weeks' high/low of 56°/38° was more typical of the first week of April.  No day during this two-week period had a temperature that went below freezing.  (At the time, this February became the mildest on record, but has since fallen to eighth.) 

April 22 - This was the third day in a row with identical, beautiful conditions - clear skies with a high of 78° every day (compared to an average high in the low 60s).

July 31 - This was the second day this summer with a high of 100° (the other was on 7/14).  Today, however, had the warmest mean temperature of the year as its low was 77°, compared to 69° on 7/14.

August 31 - Hurricane Carol made landfall on eastern Long Island and brushed the City with gale force winds and 1.71" of rain, which began last night and continued today through late morning.

 

Hurricane carol

 

September 11 - Less than two weeks after Hurricane Carol, Hurricane Edna made itself known, dumping 3.30" of rain, with most of it falling in the twelve hours between midnight and 12-noon.  This was the biggest rainfall of the year.  This was the most rain from a tropical system in 10 years, since the Great Atlantic Hurricane dumped 9.40" over the course of three days.

October 4 - Today had the third low in the 70s this month, the most ever reported in October.  This was somewhat ironic considering that the year had 18 such days in total, well below the average of 25 days (1920-1950).

October 15 - Powerful Hurricane Hazel (a 'category 4' when it made landfall in North Carolina) affected NYC's weather as it moved through Pennsylvania, on its way to Ontario, Canada.  Although it produced minimal rain in the City, most of the 0.39” that fell poured down between 6-7 PM.  Winds gusted to 40 mph in Central Park, and 66 mph at La Guardia.  

 

- 1955 -

February 2 - The biggest snowfall of the winter, 3.6", began shortly after midnight and continued thru mid-afternoon.  The temperature fell throughout the day, from 28° to 10° just before midnight.

February 3 - The morning low of zero degrees was the coldest reading of the winter.  The last time the temperature was this cold was on Jan. 31, 1948.

 

Zerodegrees

 

April 13 - A chilly high of 46° came just two days after a high of 84°.  Skies were overcast and winds out of the northeast.

August 6 - With a high of 97°, today was the tenth day in the past three weeks to have a high of 97° or hotter.

August 7 - Every day in the first week of August had temperatures in the 90s (today's high was 93°).  The average high/low during these days was 96°/75°, ten degrees above average.  The heat wave came to an end this evening when thunderstorms from mid-afternoon onward dropped nearly an inch of rain.

 

Weather_broilingsun

 

August 11-13 - Hurricane Connie flooded New York with 7.11" of rain over the course of 39 hours, with the first band of heavy rain moving through late on 8/11.  Although 8/12 had the most rain (3.62"), the heaviest sustained period of rain occurred on 8/13 from 3-9 AM when 2.50" poured down.  Rain was more of an issue than wind, which gusted between 35 and 45 mph, well below hurricane force.  This was the City's biggest rainstorm since the Great Hurricane of September 1944.  And while this ranks as one of New York's biggest rain totals, LaGuardia Airport picked up five inches more rain than Central Park.

 

Conniehurricane

August 18-19 - Less than a week after the flooding rains from hurricane Connie, another tropical system, Diane, affected the region, but compared to Connie, Diane moved relatively quickly.  The first band of heavy rain moved in late on the 18th, and by 9 AM on the 19th the rain was over; less than two inches fell, but significant flooding resulted since the ground was over-saturated from the large amounts of rain from Connie.  Sustained winds got no higher than 30 mph (but winds gusted to 54 mph at LaGuardia Airport).

August 20 - The fierce heat of the first week of August returned for one last heat wave.  Today's high reached 97°, tomorrow's was 96° and 8/22 had a high of 90°.  Nearly half of the days between July 2 and Aug. 22 had highs in the 90s - and sixteen days had highs of 95° or hotter.  (This followed a cool June.)

August 22 - Today was the 25th, and last day, this summer with a high in the 90s.  All but one of the readings occurred in July and August.  Although there have been 16 summers with more days in the 90s/100s, 1955 has the distinction of having the most days with highs of 95°+, sixteen.  (Today's high, however, was 90°.)

October 4 - Skies were sunny and the temperature in the low 70s when the Brooklyn Dodgers finally won the World Series after eight tries.  And they did it against the Yankees (in seven games), making their championship all the more sweeter.

November 29 - It was a very cold day, with a high/low of only 28°/16°, twenty degrees below average.

December 21 - This was the coldest day of the winter of 1955-56, with a high/low of 18°/5°, twenty-three degrees below average.  This followed what was the second coldest day of the winter, 20°/6°, on 12/20.

December 22 - A snowfall of 2.7" during the afternoon was produced from 0.15" of liquid, which was the most to fall during what would be the driest December on record (0.25" of precipitation).  Today's amount was the most to fall in nearly five weeks (since 11/20, when 0.37" of rain fell).

December 25 - Every day between Dec. 19 and Jan. 2 had well below average temperatures except for today, which had a high of 51° under mostly sunny skies.

December 29 - The 0.3" of snow that fell this evening was the last precipitation of the month, a month in which  only 0.25" was measured - the smallest amount ever reported in December (a record that still stands), and the third driest month of all time (now ranked fifth).  Additionally, 1955 became just the second year to have three months with less than an inch of precipitation (January and July were the other two months); the other year was 1881. 

 

- 1956 -

January 2 - Temperatures were ten degrees colder than average for the past two weeks.

March 14 - It was a windy, raw and wet day.  The 1.02" of rain that fell, mostly between 5 AM and 2 PM, was a record for the date (which still stands) - besting the old record from 1913 by 0.01". 

March 18 - Less than 48 hours after a snowfall of 6.7" an even bigger storm moved in during the afternoon.  By the time snow stopped falling 24 hours later 11.6" of new snow was on the ground (3.8" of it fell today).  And today's high/low was just 30°/21°, seventeen degrees below average.

 

Snowflakes

 

March 19 - After 3.8" of snow fell yesterday afternoon and evening, an additional 7.8" fell today (thru late afternoon).  Temperatures stayed in the mid-20s all day.  In the past four days 18.3" of snow fell from two storms (6.7" fell on 3/16-17) and temperatures were 15 degrees below average.  By contrast, until four days ago just eight inches of snow had fallen all winter.

March 24 - The 1.2" of snow that fell late this morning brought the month's snowfall above 20" (21.1").  This was the fifth, and last time, that more than twenty inches of snow was reported in March (thru 2021).

March 25 - Today's high/low of 34°/18° was eighteen degrees below average. 

April 3 - This was the 23rd day in a row with colder than average temperatures.  During this streak temperatures were nine degrees below average.

April 8 - Rain from yesterday's nor'easter turned to snow after 4 AM and by late afternoon 4.2" of snow was on the ground - yet the temperature never got lower than 33°.  This was the third significant snowfall in the past four weeks, a period in which 25" of snow fell, an unprecedented amount for so late in the season.  Up until mid-March the winter had seen just eight inches.  Not surprisingly, this snowy period was also cold, with temperatures six degrees below average.

 

Clipart_snowy

 

April 28 - Today's high of 84° was the first time in six months that the temperature rose above 70°.  This was also the latest date for a year's first reading of 70+ in the second half of the century.  And it came just two days after the high was just 47°.

June 14 - With a high/low of 99°/76°, today was the hottest day of the year.  The high was a record for the date, twenty degrees above average.  (This was the first summer since 1951 not to have a reading in the triple digits.)  Today was part of a four-day heat wave that was book-ended by a chilly high/low of 66°/56° on June 10 and 66°/55° on June 20. 

July 2 - With a high of 93°, this was the fourth year in a row in which the high reached the 90s on this date.

July 6 - Although yesterday was cool (high/low of 66°/58°), today was even cooler as the high/low was just 61°/57° under gray skies and winds from out of the northeast.  The day's high was 22 degrees below average.

October 8 - On the afternoon that the Yankees' Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in World Series Game 5 against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Yankee Stadium, skies were clear and temperatures were in the seasonable mid-to-upper 60s.

 

Donlarsenperfectgame

 

October 31 - 2.41" of rain fell, making this the rainiest Halloween on record (3.30" rain was measured at LaGuardia Airport).  And although the bulk of the rain occurred between 11 AM and 4 PM, when 1.74" was measured, rain was still falling in the evening hours (0.33" was measured between 7-11 PM).  Until today, October had received just 1.20" of rain.  This was the biggest rainstorm of the year.

November 1 - The day's low temperature was a summer like 65°, a record for the date and the mildest low reading in the month of November until 1971 (when the low on 11/2 was 67°) and 2015 (66° on 11/6).  Despite the day's mild start, the high temperature was only two degrees warmer because of showers and overcast skies.

 

- 1957 -

January 15 - Today's high/low was a frigid 12°/0°, making it the coldest day of the winter.  Light snow moved in after dark and continued until early afternoon on the 16th, accumulating 4.9" (two inches fell today).

 

Clipart.coldguy

 

January 23 - After the mercury rose to 60° during the morning, the mildest reading of the month, a slap of Arctic air slashed the temperature by 40 degrees by midnight - one of Central Park's biggest temperature drops in the course of a day.  Today was also the sixth day in a row with a high warmer than the day before (starting with a high of 23° on 1/18).

February 1 - A quick-moving snowstorm dumped 6.3" of snow between 2:00 and 11:00 PM. This was the biggest snowfall of the winter.

March 10 - For the fourth day in a row the high was 39° (eight degrees below average); however, every day had a different low temperature.  Today was the only day of the four that had sunny skies.

April 21 - This was the first Easter Sunday since 1871 to have a high in the 80s, and at 85° it was the warmest on record (until 1962).  By contrast, yesterday's and tomorrow's highs were in the mid-60s.

May 14 - I was born today in the pre-dawn hours (in the suburbs of Pittsburgh).  Although temperatures on 5/13 and 5/15 were unseasonably warm (mid-80s), today's temperatures were at seasonable levels.  Rain moved in as evening approached and it fell heavily between 9-11:00 when two inches was measured.  In total 2.55" fell and it was over before midnight (a record amount for the date until 1978).  This rainstorm accounted for two-thirds of the month's rain and was the biggest rainstorm of the year.

July 21 - Today's high reached 100°, making this the fifth summer of the past six to have at least one high in the triple digits - the highest concentration on record.  (Last year was the only year of the six not to reach 100° - its hottest reading was 99°.)  Tomorrow's high would reach 101° and would be the last 100-degree day until 1966.

 

Clipart_severe_thstorm   

 

July 22 - This was the sixth day in a row in which the high was hotter than the day before: 101° (today)-100°-97°-91°-90°-88°-83° (7/16).

December 4 - Snow that started falling late last night continued overnight, and after a five-hour break, resumed later in the morning, accumulating 8.0".  The flakes came down heaviest between noon- 3 PM, when they fell at a rate of an inch per hour.  This was the most snow to fall so early in the season since 1938, when 8.8" piled up on Nov. 24-25.  And it was the first of six snowfalls of four inches or more this winter.

 

- 1958 -

Feb. 8 - Today's high was 32°, the first of twelve days in a row in which the high was 32° or colder (today's high was the "warmest" of the streak).

Feb. 17 - It was a bitterly cold day that saw temperatures stuck in the single digits, largely due to mostly overcast skies.  The high was only 10°, which occurred shortly after midnight; the day's low of was reached 24 hours later, shortly before midnight.  This was the ninth day in a row with high temperatures colder than 30°.

Feb. 20 - Today's high was 33°, the first day since Feb. 7 with a high above freezing.  The twelve days from Feb. 8 thru Feb. 19 had a high/low of 24°/13°, thirteen degrees colder than average.

March 20 - An intense nor'easter brought winds of 35-45 mph along with heavy, wet snow that began shortly before daybreak, and continued thru midday on the 21st.  4.7" fell today and 7.1" the following day.  However, today's temperature never got colder than 33°.  Philadelphia also picked up nearly a foot of snow from this storm, which buried parts of eastern and central Pennsylvania and upstate New York with 30 to 40 inches of snow. 

April 6 - 2.19" of rain fell today, making this the rainiest Easter Sunday on record.  Most of the rain fell between 10 AM and 5 PM.

 

Heavy rain

 

June 12 - Today and yesterday had the year's first back-to-back days with highs in the 80s, the latest occurrence in the 1950-2021 period (it happened one day earlier in 1997).

July 2 - Today's high of 93° was the hottest reading of the year (and the fifth year of the past six to reach the 90s on this date).  The last time a year's hottest temperature was this low, or cooler, was in 1927, when the hottest reading was 92°.  (The next time it happened would be just two years later when the year's hottest reading was only 91°.)

July 30-August 3 - High temperatures during this five-day period were: 87°-86°-85°-84°-83°.

August 1-5 - Morning lows during this five-day period were: 67° (on 8/1)-68°-69°-70°-71° (today).

December 11 - With a high of 23°/14° (eighteen degrees below average), today was the coldest day of a 10-day cold wave (between Dec. 7-16) in which every day had a sub-freezing high temperature.  And the day seemed even colder because of overcast skies.

December 16 - This was the tenth day in a row with a sub-freezing high temperature.  During this unprecedented early cold wave the average high/low was 29°/19°, thirteen degrees below average.

December 26 - With a high of 34°/14°, today was the sixteenth day since 11/30 with a mean temperature ten degrees or more colder than average.  This nearly four-week period was nine degrees colder than average.  However, despite the cold just 3.8" of snow fell during this period.

 

- 1959-

February 2 - The morning  low of 7° was the coldest reading of the winter.

February 20 - High temperatures of the past three days: 44° on 2/18, 33° yesterday, and 22° today.  And although Feb. 2 had the coldest reading of the winter, today's high/low of 22°/8° produced the coldest mean temperature.

March 12 - A mix of snow and sleet produced the biggest accumulation of snow/ice of the winter, with 5.5" piling up by the time it ended early in the afternoon.  This icy precipitation was blown around by winds that gusted between 30 and 35 mph.

March 22 - Two days after the high reached 71°, afternoon temperatures were in the upper 20s.

June 1 - Today's chilly high of 64°, under mostly overcast skies, followed a five-day warm spell at the end of May that had highs that averaged 87° (13 degrees above average).  Today's conditions were the result of a back-door cold front that moved in from New England last night. 

June 24 - High temperatures over the past five days: 85°-84°-83°-82°-81° (today).

June 29 - Today's high of 97° was the hottest reading of the summer, but tomorrow, with a high/low of 93°/79°, had the hottest mean temperature.

July 20 - This was the rainiest day of the year, with 1.80" of rain measured.  Most of it (1.57") fell during a severe thunderstorm between 4:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon.

July 24 - All of July's rain fell during 11 of the past 15 days, amounting to 4.28".  Nearly an inch of rain fell this afternoon between 3:30 and 4:30 during a strong thunderstorm.  It was also a hot day, with the high reaching 90°

August 29 - Today was the end of a two-and-half-week period that had twelve days in the 90s (including today) and an average high/low of 89°/72° (seven degrees above average).  This hot spell, at the time, helped make this the fifth hottest August on record (it's since fallen to seventeenth).

Clipart_summertime 

September 24 - With a high of 89°, this was the third day in a row of summertime heat.  Yesterday's high was 90° and the day before that it was 89°.  The average high this time of year is in the low 70s.  Today's high was a record (which stood until 2017).

September 29 - The 0.02" of rain that fell shortly after midnight from a storm that began late last night (and dropped 0.34" from 11 PM-midnight) was the first measurable rainfall on this date since 1936.  At the time, this 22-year streak with no rain for a calendar date was the lengthiest on record, later passed by a 25-year streak on Dec. 1 for the years 1943-1967.

September 30 - After one of the hottest Augusts on record, the unseasonably warm weather continued in September, which tied Sept. 1931 as the second warmest (it's now tied for fifth).  The month's temperature patterns were divided into three ten-day periods.  The first ten days were eight degrees above average, the middle ten were six below average, and then the last ten days were nine above average.  Today, with a high of 82°/70°, was twelve degrees above average, and the low was what the average high should be.

October 1 - For the fourth day in a row the low temperature was in the 70s at a time of the year when lows are typically in the mid-50s.

October 6 - Under mostly clear skies today's high soared to 88°, twenty degrees above average, as the unseasonable warmth of August and September continued into October.  This was the hottest reading in October since 1941.

October 11 - This was the twenty-first consecutive day with above average temperatures.  During this three-week period temperatures were close to ten degrees above average, with an average high/low of 81°/65° (more like the end of August); twelve days were in the 80s. 

November 18 - Today's high/low of 33°/21° made this the coldest day of the month (19 degrees below average).  It would be five weeks before there was a colder day.

December 22 - Snow that began late in the afternoon yesterday continued thru 10 AM today, adding 10.3" to yesterday's 3.4" for a total accumulation of 13.7".  (By contrast, LaGuardia Airport picked up just 5.6".)  Snow fell heaviest between 2-7 AM when six inches accumulated.  The day's temperatures were well below average, with a high/low of 28°/17°.

 

Weather-snowy.landscape 

 

December 23 - Today's high/low of 23°/9° (eighteen degrees below average) made this the coldest day of the winter of 1959-60.

 

Oldmanwinter

And here are recaps for other decades:

Late 19th Century (1869-1899)

First Decade of 20th Century

1910s

1920s

1930s

1940s

1960s

 

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August 2021 Weather Recap: Henri Rescues August From "Dullsville"

 

 Hurricane henri aug 2021

 

August was the fourth wettest August on record, but until 8/21 the month had been a dry one, with rainfall 50% below average.  Then, Hurricane Henri produced 8.19" of rain over three days (Aug. 21-23), accounting for nearly 80% of August's 10.32" of rain.  (The other 28 days of the month had just 2.13".)  This was the second month in a row with more than ten inches of rain (July had 11.09", making it the third wettest July),  just the second time this has happened (however, the first time, in March and April 1983, is disputed since the rain gauge in Central Park wasn't functioning properly for much of the year).  Although August's rainfall was less than an inch below that of July, its number of days of measurable precipitation was half as many (nine vs. eighteen).

 

Chart - rainiest back to back months
 

One out of four Augusts have been warmer than July, and August 2021 was one of them (77.5° vs. 76.0°).  The month was 1.4 degrees above average, making it the City's 17th hottest August (out of 153).  However, there was a disparity in rankings of the average high and low, as only five other Augusts have had a warmer average low than this August (2.2 degrees warmer than average), but the average high (just 0.6 above average) was ranked much lower, at #39.  This difference in rankings wasn't unique to this August, as the trend during the 2000s has been for overnight temperatures to be more above average than daytime readings (one of the effects of global warming).

 

After the first five days of the month were five degrees below average, the rest of the month was three above average (with only five of the 26 days having cooler than average mean temperatures).  August had five readings in the 90s, one more than July, and it had five more days than July with lows of 75° or warmer.  August's days in the 90s were comprised of back-to-back days on Aug. 12-13, and a three-day heat wave two days after Henri's departure (Aug. 25-27).  The month's hottest reading was 94° on 8/13.

 

Finally, this was the eighth year in a row in which August had no readings in the 50s.  The coolest temperature was 63° on 8/2.  (Meanwhile, July's streak of 12 years with no lows cooler than 60° was broken this year). 

Henri

Here are monthly recaps for past Augusts:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

   


July 2021 - Third Rainiest July Keeps Mid-Summer Heat in Check

 Noahs ark in water

With 11.09" of rain measured in Central Park, July 2021 became the third rainiest July on record (behind 1889 and 1975), and 15th wettest month overall.  This was New York's first month with ten inches or more of precipitation since June 2013 (10.10"), and the most to fall in any month since August 2011, when 18.95" flooded the City (the greatest monthly amount on record). 

 

A little more than half of July's rain fell on three days between July 8-12: 2.27" on 7/8; 2.06" on 7/9, and 1.42" on 7/12.  The amounts of 7/8 and 7/9 set records for the dates.  8.49" of rain fell in the first 12 days of the month (and 9.14" if 6/30 is included), then 2.60" fell thereafter (which was slightly below average for that period). 

 

There were 18 days of measurable rain, which was the second greatest number of days with rain in July.  July 1871 had twenty days, but just half the amount of rain as July 2021.   (Of the 27 months with ten inches or more or precipitation, the average number of days of measurable precipitation is 13.) 

 

Besides being rainy, this was the coolest July since 2009 (and 0.1 degree cooler than July 2014).  When all Julys are considered, July 2021 is in the middle of the pack, temperature-wise, with 54% being warmer.  The combination of a warmer than average June (+2.3 degrees), and July being 1.5 degrees cooler than average, placed these two months closer together (1.7 degrees) than any June/July combo since the summer of 2001 (when July was just 0.3 degree warmer).  Looking at average high and low, July's average high of 83.0 was just 0.5 degree warmer than June's, while the low of 69.0 was 3.0 degrees milder.  Because many days had dew points in the 68°-73° range, the air often felt oppressive rather than cool.

 

So close_colbert
 Chart - july close to june

For the first time since 2009, a reading in the 50s occurred in July - 59° on 7/3.  And on 7/3, the high was only 66°, which was the first high cooler than 70°in July since 2013, and the coolest reading in July since 2005 . The month's coolest and hottest readings were three days apart as a high of 92° occurred on 7/6 (and the 59° reading came three days after June's hottest temperature, 98°, on 6/30).

 

July had four days in the 90s, half as many as June, and the fewest such days in July since 2014, which had three.  (Seven of the Julys between 2000-2009 also had four or fewer days in the 90s.)  Although the number of days of 90+ was half the average for July, the number of lows in the 70s, 16, was an average am0unt (but ten fewer than last year's record amount).

 

July had 8.47" more rain than June's 2.62", but there have been ten other instances where the disparity between two months was even greater (looking only at wet months preceded by dry ones).  The greatest difference occurred in  Sept-Oct 2005, when October had 16.73", which was 16.25" more than September's bone-dry 0.48".

 

Chart - greatest dif in precip btwn 2 mos

Finally, after suffering through sweltering heat, and a nighttime thunderstorm on the last day of June, the last day of July couldn't have been more different, as skies were clear and temperatures on the cool side (high/low of 77°/60°).  While 6/30's high of 98° (14 degrees above average) was the hottest reading on that date since 1964, 7/31's low of 60° (ten degrees below average) was the chilliest since 1956.

 

July 2021
 

Here are other July recaps:

July 2020

July 2019

July 2018

July 2017

July 2016

July 2015

July 2014

 

 

 

 

 


June Weather Recap: Two 4-Day Heat Waves Make June 2021 One of NYC's 10 Hottest

 City sunflower 2021

With a scorching high of 98° on the last day of the month (along with a heat index of 106°), June 2021 became New York's ninth hottest June.  This was Central Park's hottest temperature since 2013, and the hottest reading in June since another 98° high in June 1994.  6/30 was also the last day of the month's second four-day heat wave, which was just the second time there were two heat waves of this length (or longer) in June (the other was in June 1943, the hottest June on record). 

 

The month's eight days with 90+ highs were the most in June since June 1991 (which had nine).  Only four Junes have had more hot days: 1943 (11), 1966 (10), 1925 (9) and 1991 (which was slightly cooler than June 2021, ranking as 14th warmest).

 

The month had nine days with lows in the 70s, tying it for ninth most in June.  The month's five days with lows of 75° or warmer was the most since there were six in June 1943.  (June 1909 had the same number as this June.)  Finally, in the years since 1940, the low of 76° on 6/6 was the fifth earliest date for a low this warm.

 

Ironically, despite the month's warmth, this June had the latest occurrence of a reading in the mid-50s since 1995, occurring on 6/23 (54°).  This was the coolest reading of the month (twelve degrees below average).

 

The month's two four-day heat waves were three weeks apart - June 6-9, and June 27-30.  The first heat wave averaged a high/low of 91°/74° (13 degrees above average), the second was 94°/75° (nine above average).  Both heat waves had a day with significant rainfall at night, 0.47" on 6/8, and 0.65" on 6/30.  Without these heat waves, the other days of the month were one degree cooler than average.

 

Besides the high of 98°, the last day of June was also the rainiest day of the month (0.65").  If it hadn't been for this rainfall, this would have been the second June in a row with less than two inches of rain, something that hadn't happened since 1978 and 1979.  These nighttime thundershowers cooled the temperature to 73°, erasing the day's morning low of 80°.  (If that sultry low had remained the day's low, this would have been the seventh, rather than ninth, hottest June.) 

 

With eight days of 90+ readings by 6/30, 2021 joined 20 other years (since 1869) to have this many by that date (1991 had the most - 15).  The last time there was this many by this date was in 1994.  Prior to that, between 1923-1994, this many days in the 90s by the end of June occurred much more regularly, once every four years.

 

Finally, in an interesting contrast, while the last four days of June had highs in the 90s (eleven degrees above average), the last four days of May all had lows in the 40s (ten degrees below average).

 

Girl_cooling_off_in_fountain_ethiogrio

Here are previous June recaps:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016


May 2021 Weather Recap: Close to Average Temperature & Rainfall Despite Very Chilly & Wet End

 Wet and chilly memorial day weekend

Last May, the month's weather highlight was an Arctic outbreak in the second week of the month that produced the coldest reading in May (34°) since 1891.  May 2021, meanwhile, experienced one of the chilliest ends of any May, as May 28-31 tied May 1884 for the latest four-day streak with lows in the 40s.  This chilly ending was responsible for the coolest three-day Memorial Day weekend on record. 

 

Chart - 3 chilliest memorial day weekends

Despite the month's chilly ending, an extended period of above-average temperatures from May 15-27,  that was six degrees milder than average, kept the month close to average, temperature-wise.  And a very wet May 28-30, in which 2.57" was measured, balanced what, up until then, had been a dry May (these three wet days had as much rain as the previous six weeks).  So, when all was said and done, the month was very close to average on both the temperature and rainfall fronts (-0.3 degrees, and +0.40").

 

Before May's chilly and rainy close, six days in the 10-day period between May 18-27 had highs in the 80s.  This included highs of 89° and 88° during the weekend of 5/22 and 5/23; by contrast, the following weekend had highs of 51° on both days.  This reading (which was eight degrees colder than the average low for these two dates) tied a record for the coolest high on 5/29, and set a new record (by four degrees) on 5/30.

 

Besides the last four days of the month, which were 13 degrees cooler than average, there was an eight-day period from May 5-12 that was five degrees below average.  (However, the chilliest reading of the month, 42°, was on 5/1.)

 

Finally, the last six days of the month all had measurable precipitation, the longest rainy streak since one of eight days in May 2019 (5/10-17).  However, this year's streak had a touch more rainfall (2.68" vs. 2.56").

 

Here are recaps of the previous six Mays:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

 

May 2001


April 2021 Weather Recap: Above Average Temperatures, Below Average Rainfall.

 

 Pink blossoms new york city

April 2021 featured ten days with highs of 70° or warmer, the first time April reported this many since 2010, and just the tenth time overall.   (The average number of such days in April is six.)  This above average number of warm days resulted in the month's average high being 2.5 degrees milder than average (its average low was 0.7 degrees above average).  Of the ten Aprils with ten or more highs of 70° or warmer, just four rank among the ten mildest Aprils.  This April ranked 22nd (out of 153). 

 

Chart - aprils with 10+ 70-deg highs
 

The month's  coldest temperature was 28° (on 4/2), which was the coldest reading in April in five years.  And although this April was significantly milder than April 2020 (which was 2.7 degrees colder than average), its coldest temperature was eight degrees colder.  The warmest reading was 85°, which is close to what the warmest reading in April has averaged since 2000 (last April was an exception, with a mildest reading of just 68°).   This reading came five weeks after the year's first reading in the 80s (82° on 3/26), and it was the warmest reading since Sept. 5.  

 

The month's warmest reading was on 4/28, but the most above-average period of the month was the seven days between April 4 and 10, when temperatures were eight degrees above average (high/low of 68°/49°).  In total, the month had twelve days that were five degrees or more above average, and five that were five degrees or more below average.  

 

Another highlight of the month occurred on 4/8 when the humidity dropped to 7% during the afternoon - the second lowest level this century.  Finally, April's rainfall of 2.69" was nearly two inches below average.  All but 0.05" fell between 4/11 and 4/30.

 

Here are April recaps of the past five years:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

 Park avenue in the spring


How "Back-Door" Cold Fronts Impact New York's Springtime Weather

 

Back door cold front

 

For the most part, cold fronts move from west to east in the Northeast, but, occasionally, chilly air arrives from the opposite direction.  When it does, this occurrence is known as a "back-door" cold front.   Because such a front's winds usually come off the ocean, this type of front is often associated with overcast skies (sometimes with drizzle); its east-northeasterly winds bring damp and chilly air. 

These incursions of chilly air that come from the opposite direction occur mostly in the springtime, when their cooling effect is enhanced by the wintertime water temperature of the Atlantic Ocean.  In terms of geographic reach, these fronts mostly impact New York City, the Jersey shore, and New England; only occasionally do they extend as far inland as Philadelphia, Baltimore, or DC.

What follows are 40 instances of the more impressive back-door fronts that have come down from the cold Atlantic.  As you'll read, six of the years had two notable back-door fronts.

 

East to west

June 4, 1895 - Winds shifted from the southwest to northeast during the afternoon, breaking a five-day heat wave (its record highs on June 1, 2 and 3 are still standing).  Between 3PM and 8PM, the temperature dropped from 91° to 64°.  The following day would be overcast, with temperatures stuck in the 60s. 

April 25, 1915 - This date experienced, perhaps, the greatest temperature swings of any in New York's weather history.  After the temperature soared from 47° shortly after midnight to 91° at 3:00 PM, winds shifted to the east-northeast, and the temperature 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 back door cold front.  No rain was produced by the passage of these fronts.  Two days later, a similar scenario unfolded.  After reaching 92° shortly before 4:30 on 4/27, a back-door front moved through a few hours later, and the temperature dropped to 54° by midnight.

April 1, 1917 - In the span of just eight hours, the temperature plummeted from 83° to 44° as a back-door cold front moved through, and winds shifted from the southwest to the northeast.  This was the warmest reading of the month, with the next reading in the 80s not occurring for another seven weeks.

March 19, 1918 - After a balmy high of 76° was reached at 3 PM (a record for the date that still stands), the wind shifted from the southwest to the northeast, and the temperature dropped like a rock, and was half that reading by midnight.

May 23, 1925 - After the high reached 91°, winds shifted from the southwest to northeast late in the afternoon, and by midnight the temperature had fallen to 59°; the temperature on the afternoon of 5/24 was only in the upper 40s.

July 1, 1933 - After a high in the low 90s, a severe thunderstorm from 8:30-10:30 PM dumped 2.17" of rain.  During the storm the temperature dropped from 88° to 72°, where it stayed for much of the next 24 hours.  And on 7/3, afternoon temperatures got no higher than the mid-60s.  

March 27, 1939 - Today's high/low of 73°/39° followed one of 72°/39° three days earlier.  However, while the low on 3/24 was in the pre-dawn hours, the low today was at midnight after winds shifted to the northeast in the PM hours.  And the following day had temperatures in a narrow range of 35°-40°.

April 25, 1939 - After rising from 53° at 4 AM to 86° for a few hours in the early afternoon, winds shifted to the northeast mid-afternoon and the temperature dropped back to 52° by 11 PM.  And then, three days later, the high would be only 46° (20 degrees below average).

July 4, 1941 - Just two days after a torrid high/low of 98°/78°, and winds out of the southwest, today was rainy, foggy and cool, with winds from out of the northeast, and a high/low of just 64°/62°.  Today's high would be July 4th's coolest until 1978.

 

Reverse
  

March 22, 1945 - In the midst of the very mild second half of March, today was an outlier as the high reached only 40° (the low was a seasonable 35°).  Winds were out of the northeast, skies were overcast and light showers fell throughout the day. 

April 13, 1955 - A chilly high of 46° came just two days after a high of 84°.  Skies were overcast and winds were from the northeast.

July 6, 1956 - Although yesterday was cool (high/low of 66°/58°), today was even cooler, as the high/low was just 61°/57° under gray skies and winds from out of the northeast.  These two unseasonably cool days followed consecutive days in the 90s.

June 1, 1959 - Today's chilly high of 64°, under mostly overcast skies, followed a five-day warm spell at the end of May that had highs averaging 87°.  Today's conditions were the result of a back-door cold front that moved in from New England last night. 

April 30, 1962 - After three days of summer-like warmth (highs of 91°-89°-80°), and winds from out of the southwest, winds shifted to the northeast after midnight and daytime temperatures were only in the mid-40s. 

April 19, 1964 - The day after the high reached 86°, a "back-door" cold front moved through, and by mid-afternoon the temperature dropped into the mid-50s.  (And on 4/21 the high would be just 44°.)

May 5, 1965 - The day after the high reached 90°, today's was 62°.  Winds were from a north-northeast-easterly direction.

April 28, 1966  - It was a dreary, raw, and damp day, with light rain in the morning.  With a high/low of only 42°/39°, today had the coldest mean temperature of the month.  On 4/26 the mercury dropped from 73° late in the afternoon, to 49° by midnight.  Then the high/low the next two days was 52°/40° and 42°/39°.  Winds were from out of the north-northeast.

April 20, 1972 - The temperature at 4 PM was a quite chilly 43°, a drop of 32 degrees since midnight, and forty-three degrees from yesterday afternoon's 4 PM reading of 86°.  This was a result of winds shifting to the northeast from dawn to dusk.

May 24, 1975 - Today's high of 93° (the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend) was the year's first reading in the 90s.  However, the heat was short lived as a cold front from the northeast moved through during the evening, dropping the temperature to 61° by midnight, and into the upper 50s by the following afternoon. 

 

Overcast

Aug. 11, 1979 - The day following a high of 95°, today's temperatures in the afternoon were only in the mid-60s after the wind shifted to the northeast during the morning.  The next day was equally cool (after a chilly AM low of 57°) - and  a wet one, as 1.68" of rain fell; this was on top of 0.87" of rain that fell the night of 8/11. 

March 29, 1985 - This was the third day in a row with exceedingly mild temperatures, and today was the warmest of the three with a high of 82°.  Then a back-door cold front moved through after dark, and by midnight the temperature was down to 55°, on its way to down to 46° by daybreak on the 30th (but still well above average).  

April 19, 1985 - After the temperature soared to 88°, a back-door cold front moved through during the evening, and the temperature was down to 51° the next morning.  Then the cool air retreated on the 21st, and after two more days with highs in the 80s, winds backed around and came from the east late in the afternoon on the 22nd, cooling the temperature down to 53° by midnight.  

March 30, 1989 - After the wind shifted to the northeast, the temperature fell all day, from 76° to 50°; the next day the high/low was 50°/41°, which wasn't far from seasonable, but it was quite a cool-down from 3/29's high of 82°.

March 14, 1990 - One day after Central Park recorded its earliest 80-degree reading on record, the warm front that delivered this extraordinary warmth retreated south of the area, as winds shifted to the northeast, and by afternoon, under a bank of clouds and fog, temperatures tumbled into the mid-40s, forty degrees colder than yesterday. 

May 23-25, 1992 - It was a Jekyll & Hyde Memorial Day weekend.  Saturday had mid-summer conditions, with a high of 92°.  Then a big change came on Sunday as a strong cold front pushed through in early afternoon, and temperatures plummeted from the low 80s to 45° by midnight.  Monday felt more like October, with overcast skies and a high of just 61°. 

April 12, 1996 - The high reached 80°, and then winds shifted to the northeast late in the afternoon, dropping the temperature to 55° by midnight, and 45° by daybreak on the 13th.

May 10, 2000 - After three days with highs in the 90s, winds shifted from the southwest to the east, bringing in much cooler air, and by daybreak today, the temperature was in the mid-50s, where it stayed for the rest of the day.  

June 12, 2000 - One month after a back-door cold front cooled down a hot spell, it was replicated today, with late afternoon temperatures in the upper 50s, and winds coming from the east-northeast, 24 hours after temperatures were in the low 90s.

 

Northeasterly winds
 

April 16, 2003 - After peaking at 88°, winds shifted to the northeast and by midnight the temperature was down to 51°.  And on the 17th temperatures fell slowly all day, and it was 36° at midnight.  Winds remained out of the east-northeast for the next six days.

May 14, 2004 - The day after the high reached 86°, the temperature was only in the low 60s in the early afternoon.  However, the wind shifted later in the day and temperatures were back into the mid-80s on 5/15.

April 20, 2006 - Today's high of 83° was the warmest reading of the month.  A back-door cold front moved through during the evening, and by midnight the mercury had fallen to the mid-50s, and the mercury was mostly in the 50s for much of the next day, and stuck in the 40s on 4/22 as a developing nor'easter moved up the coast .

April 29, 2009 - The day after the high reached 90° (and dropped 25 degrees by midnight after winds shifted to the north-northeast), the temperature was in the mid-50s by daybreak.

July 19, 2012 - After yesterday's extreme heat (high of 100°) and humidity, today's high, under mostly overcast skies, was just 76°.  Never before has there been such a drop-off in temperature the day following a reading in the triple digits.  The next day the temperature was around 70° during the afternoon. 

May 28, 2014 - One day after a sultry high of 86°, today was overcast, with afternoon temperatures only in the upper 50s.  The back-door cold front passed through after 10 PM, and the temperature quickly dropped into the low 60s, then gradually falling into the 50s by daybreak, where it stayed for the rest of the day. 

June 1, 2015 - After a week of temperatures in the summery mid-80s, today was 30 degrees colder, with periods of rain, drizzle and fog.  Today's high in the 50s was chillier than any day in May - the first time this has ever occurred.  And tomorrow would have similar conditions. 

May 20, 2017 - An early, three-day heat wave came to an end last night after a shift in wind direction.  Today's afternoon temperatures were in the low 60s, which was about 30° cooler than the highs of  the previous three days.

Nov. 4, 2017 - The day after temperatures were in the mid-70s, the temperature at daybreak today was nearly 30 degrees chillier, the result of a shift in the wind direction; afternoon temperatures were twenty degrees cooler.  On the positive side, skies were mostly clear.

April 8, 2019 - After peaking at 79° at 4 PM, winds shifted from west to northeast, and by midnight the temperature was down to 49°.

October 3, 2019 - The day after the mercury soared to 93° (the first reading in the 90s in October since 1941), winds shifted overnight to a northeasterly direction, and temperatures this afternoon were only in the mid-50s.  Light showers and drizzle fell throughout the day.

 

Overcast Skies_Brooklyn Bridge_RedHanded_StockF

 

 

 

 

 


March 2021 Weather Recap: Mild & Rainy Last Two Weeks

 Daffodils of march

 

The first week-and-a-half of March 2021 was exceedingly dry, with just 0.16" falling thru St. Patrick's Day.  (3/1 was the only day with rain.)  Then, in the last two weeks of the month, regular rainfalls returned, with 3.25" measured (more than 50% above average for that period).  The beginning of the month was also on the cold side, with temperatures four degrees colder than average through the 8th (the coldest day was 3/2, with a high/low of 33°/21°).   The rest of the month was six degrees above average, largely due to the last twelve days of the month, which were nine degrees milder than average (high/low of 64°/45°).  Overall, the month was 3.3 degrees above average, and was the 13th mildest March on record (March 2020 was eighth mildest).   The average high was 4.4 degrees above average; the average low was 2.3 above average.

 

The month's highlight was the record high of 82° on 3/26 – the first reading in the 80s in March since 1998 (and the eighth year in which the first 80+ occurred in March).  Besides this first reading in the 80s, March also had the year’s first readings in the 60s (3/9), and 70s (3/11).  This was just the third year in which all three occurrences happened in March, joining 1945 and 1977.

 

82 degrees

 

For the second year in a row, there was no measurable snow in March, just the second time this has happened; the first time was in 1945 and 1946.  And for just the fifth time, February, which was one of the snowiest, was bookended by a January and March with little snowfall.

 

Chart - snowy february bookended by snow-free months

There were eight days that were ten or more degrees milder than average (including 3/26's high of 82°, which was 29 degrees above average), and two others that were more than ten degrees colder than average.  14 days were five degrees or more above average (including eight in a row, from 3/21-3/28, that were seven or more degrees above average); eight were five degrees or more below average.

 

After back-to-back months with diurnal variations below ten degrees, March's was 16.6 degrees (average is 15.1).  Additionally, the range between the coldest and highest temperatures in March was 61 degrees (21° and 82°), the widest range since 2007, when it was 67 degrees (11° and 78°).  This was in contrast to January and February, both which had variations of only 37 degrees. (The greatest range in March is 72 degrees, which was in 1990, when the temperature extremes were 13° and 85°.) 

 

The month had fifteen days with humidity levels that dropped to 25% or lower at some point in the day (usually in the afternoon), with the lowest being 12% on 3/15 at 4:00 PM (and there were two other days with lowest humidity at 13%).  Finally, ten days had a peak wind gust of 35 mph or higher, with the peak gust at 44 mph, which was clocked during the evening of the 26th (the day with a high of 82°).   

 

Here are March recaps from the five previous years:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

 

 March_2021_iphone_calendar-scaled

 

 


Marches of 19th Century Were Far More Wintry Than They Are Today

The_Dakota_1880s

 

Of all the months of the year, March has warmed up the most since the 19th century (1869-1900).  While the average annual temperature so far this century (thru 2020) has been 3.6 degrees warmer than the average annual temperature in the late 19th century, March is 6.3 degrees warmer (April is next, at +5.2 degrees).  In the 19th century, March's average temperature was 36.5°, which would be considered quite cold for March of recent times (and more typical of what February's average is); the last time it was that cold in March was in 1984.  (March 2018 was a cold one by today's standards, with an average temperature of 40.1°). 

 

Eight of the coldest Marches on record are from the 19th century (and 18 of the 25 coldest).  Additionally, 16 current record lows in March are from the 19th century, as well as 15 record-low highs.  (One outlier is March 5, 1880, which had a record high that is still in place.)   Five of the six Marches with the the most highs of 32° or colder fell between 1875-1896.

 

Chart - cold cold march of 19th century

Eleven daily snowfall records established in March during that century still stand today.  The first, third and tenth snowiest Marches occurred in 1896, 1888 and 1890.  But of all of the snowstorms of one foot or more that the City has had, just one was from the 19th century - the Great Blizzard of 1888 that buried the City under 21".  (And for nearly 60 years it was the biggest snowstorm of all time; it's now the City's fourth greatest snowfall).

 

Blizzard of 1888 (2)

 

Ten of the thirty-two Marches had at least one reading in the single digits (for a total of 16).  Since then, just five other years have had it happen.  The last time was in 1967.  The frequency of such frigid March readings dropped from once every three years, to once every generation (24 years). 

 

Here are wintry highlights of the cold Marches of the late 19th century:

March 1, 1869 - High/low of 26°/4°.

March 14, 1870 - This was the fourteenth day in a row with highs of 40° or colder (the average high was 34°); six of the days had highs of 32° or colder.  9.5" of snow fell during this two-week period.  And March 17 was the sixteenth day in a row with a low temperature in the teens or 20s.

March 5, 1872 - This morning's low was 3°, the coldest reading ever experienced in March.  This was the second of three days in a row with lows in the single digits, the most of any March.  This is the third coldest March on record.

March 21, 1872 - High/low of 27°/14° on the first full day of spring. 

March 20, 1875 - An ice storm on the first day of spring dropped 0.54" of liquid precipitation in temperatures that were below freezing all day (high/low was 31°/22°).

March 23, 1875 - Five of the past six days had highs of 32° or colder.  Average high/low during these six days was 31°/18°.

March 18-19, 1876 - Lows of 9° on both days.

March 10, 1877 - The day after the mildest reading of the month (57°), the temperature at daybreak was 21°.  This was the first of eleven days in a row in which there were no highs milder than 40°; four days in a row would see lows in the teens (coldest reading was 10° on 3/19).  The average high/low during this very cold outbreak was 32°/22°.

March 19, 1877 - Yesterday's and today's frigid highs and lows of 26°/12° and 22°/10° were comparable to the Arctic cold experienced on the same two dates the previous year (30°/9° and 27°/9°). 

March 12, 1883 - This was the tenth day in a row with highs colder than 40°.  High/low during this time was 33°/17°.  Two snowfalls during this streak amounted to 5.5".

March 30, 1883 - A snowfall of 4.5" was the sixth snowfall of four inches or more this winter (none occurred in December).

March 1-5, 1884 - The month began with five days with highs of 30° or colder, with two reporting highs of 21°, and one, a high of 18°.  Average high/low during these days was 23°/12°.

March 30, 1884 - It was a very late date for a sub-freezing high temperature (31°) at a time of the month when the average high was around 50°.

March 18, 1885 - Today's low of 8° was the 18th in the single digits or colder this winter, breaking a tie with the winter of 1872-73 for most on record (later passed by the winter of 1918, which had 20 frigid lows).

March 24, 1885 - This was the eighth day in a row with lows in the teens or colder.  The average low during this stretch was just 13°.  (March 1885 is the second coldest on record).

March 21, 1887 - Today's high of 49° was the mildest reading this March - the only March with its mildest reading below 50° (it would happen a week later as well).  By comparison, January and February each had a reading in the low 60s.

March 29, 1887 - The temperature fell slowly throughout the day, from 29° shortly after midnight to 19° nearly 24 hours later.

March 2-25, 1888 - Thirteen of the days had highs of 35° or colder, and fourteen had lows in the teens or colder.

March 12, 1888 - The Blizzard of '88 (also known as the Great White Hurricane) roared into an unsuspecting New York during the morning and brought the City to a standstill for the next few days.  16.5" of snow fell today, with an additional 4.5" falling tomorrow into the early morning hours of the 14th.  This was New York's biggest snowstorm until Dec. 1947 (it's now ranked fourth).  In addition to the large amount of snow, the storm's danger was magnified by mountainous snow drifts created by winds that gusted between 45 and 55 mph, and extreme cold, as the temperature dropped from 33° to 8°.  

March 13, 1888 - A bit more snow (three inches) fell today from the blizzard that arrived yesterday, but what stood out  was the extreme cold (even by mid-winter standards), as the high/low was just 12°/6° - the second coldest day ever experienced in March (the high/low on March 5, 1872 was 10°/3°).  With gusty winds still prevalent, wind chills were below zero.  This was the fourth March in the 1872-1888 period to have two or three days with lows in the single digits; since then it's happened in just one other year (1916).

March 19, 1890 - A late-season snowfall of six inches was the largest accumulation of the winter, beating the snowfall of Dec. 14 by half an inch.  March 1891 had four snowfalls of three inches or more; they totaled 17.1", which is the tenth greatest accumulation for the month.

March 2, 1891 - The morning low of 9° was the coldest reading all winter.  This was similar to last year when the only reading in the single digits was also in March (7° on 3/7). 

March 18, 1892 - Snow that began falling late last night continued through this morning, accumulating eight inches (the 7.2" that fell today is the most to fall on 3/18).  This was the biggest snowfall of the winter (passing a six-inch snowfall on 1/16) and came in the midst of an unseasonably cold 12-day stretch (March 11-22),  in which the high low was a cold 34°/22°.

March 15-16, 1896 - Less than two weeks after a snowfall of ten inches on March 2, an even bigger snowstorm dumped a foot of snow.  (And in between these two storms, four inches fell on 3/12.)  It began early in the afternoon of the 15th, and by midnight 6.5" had accumulated; an additional 5.5" fell the next day through midday.  Then the snow changed to rain as the temperature rose into the mid-30s.  Then on 3/23, 4.5" fell, bringing the month's total snowfall to 30.5".  This would be Central Park's snowiest month until Feb. 2010, and is now ranked third (Jan. 2011 also had more).  High/lows were 28°/15° on 3/24 and 32°/23° on 3/27.

March 11-18, 1900 - Lows were 22° or colder for eight consecutive days.  The average for these days was 16°.

 

Womens muff

 

 


A Taste of Summer: The Year's First High of 80+

 First
Since 1980, the average date of the first reading of 80° or warmer is April 21 (a month later than the average date of the first reading of 70°+).  This is about a week earlier than 1900-1979, and two weeks earlier than the 1869-1899 period.  It's happened as early as March 13 (in 1990) and as late as June 7 (in 1924).  1918, 1927, and 2010 had their first reading of 80+ occur on the same date as each year's first high in the 90s. 

 

The average high temperature on the day before the first 80+ reading has been 70°, on the day of the first 80+, it's been 83°, and the high on the day following has averaged 74°. 

 

About one-third of the years have had a day of 80° or warmer on the day following the first 80+, but 16 years didn't have their second high of 80°+ for four weeks or more.  The greatest number of days to elapse before the second 80+ reading was 57 in 1928 (April 6-June 1).  The most recent lengthy hiatus was 41 days in 2013 (April 10-May 20).

 

Eight years have had their first 80+ high in March.  The first time it happened was in 1921, the most recent occurrence was 100 years later, in 2021.  Meanwhile, a first 80+ in June has occurred just once (1924).

 

Chart - earliest and latest first 80

 

On the day with the first high of 80° or warmer, the diurnal variation has averaged 27 degrees (this compares to a 14-degree variation for any day of the year).  The  greatest variation was 43 degrees in 1929, when the high/low was 89°/46°.   The smallest variation was 16 degrees in 1908 (81°/65°).

 

Chart - greatest diurnal variation on day of first 80
 

The chilliest low on the day of  the first 80+ reading was 43° in 1936 and, again, in 1990.  The warmest low was 68° in 1898.  The chilliest day-before high was 49°, in 1977.  The chilliest day-after high was 50° in 1921, and 51° in 1939.

 

29 years (about once every five years) had a warmer reading on the day after the first 80+ reading.  The warmest day-after reading was 93° in 1988.   The last time the day-after was warmer was in 2009, when the  high was 92° (the first 80+ reading that year was 88°).  The warmest day-before reading was 79°, which has happened in four years, most recently in 1955.  (And ten other years had a day-before high of 78°.)

 

April 19 is the date that's had the most first 80+ occurrences - in ten years.  And it's happened in seven years on April 25.   The most consecutive years to have the first 80+ occur in May is six, from 1873-1878. 

 

There have been six pairs of years in which the date of the first 80+ was the same:

> April 18, in 2015 and 2016

> April 15, in 2002 and 2003

> April 19, in 1972 and 1973

> April 26, in 1969 and 1970

> May 16, 1931 and 1932 (and in 1933, the date was 5/15)

> April 19, in 1914 and 1915

 

There have been fiver pairs of years in which the dates of the first 80+ were at opposite ends of the early/late spectrum.

> 1997 - May 19/ 1998 - March 27

> 1988 - May 23/ 1989 - March 28

> 1984 - May 23/1985 - March 29

> 1945 - March 20/ 1946 - May 25

> 1920 - May 28/ 1921 - March 21

 

Finally, measurable rain has fallen on the day of the first 80+ reading in 20% of the years (similar to the day of the first reading of 70+).  The biggest rainfall on this date was 0.67" in 1984 (May 23) as afternoon thunderstorms moved in after the temperature peaked at 81°; the second most was 0.60" in 1951 (4/29).

  80 plus

 

 


Months With 20" or More of Snow

20

 

During 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)