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February 2021 Recap: New York Trudges Through One of Snowiest Februarys On Record

 

Feb 1 snowstorm nbc nightly news

 

February 2021 was 1.1 degrees colder than average, and the eighth snowiest February on record, with 26.0” measured.  More than half of the snow fell on Feb. 1, when 14.8” piled up (in total, the storm produced 17.4”).  This was the largest accumulation ever reported on the first day of February.  Another highlight of the month was the severe Arctic outbreak in the middle of the month that plunged Texas, the southern Plains, Midwest and Ohio Valley into the deep-freeze, but barely brushed New York.  Although the month was colder than average, the coldest reading was just 17° (the month's only reading in the teens).  The month's colder than average status was driven by the average high, which was 2.7 degrees colder than average; meanwhile, the average low was slightly above average (+0.5 degree).  Finally, with 5.13" of precipitation, the month was among the ten wettest Februarys since 1930 (and 21st wettest going back to 1869).

 

This was New York's coldest February since 2015 and the first colder-than-average month since May 2020. It was also the first year since 2015 in which neither January or February had any readings of 60° or milder.  The 15-day period between Feb. 7 and 21 was five degrees colder than average (high/low of 35°/25°), with all but one of the days colder than average (10.2" of snow fell during this period).  Temperatures rebounded during the last six days of the month, and were six degrees milder than average (high/low of 48°/38°); temperatures were above freezing for the entire period.

 

Like January, there was just a 37-degree range between February's coldest and mildest readings (17° and 54° in February, 14° and 51° in January).  Since 1950, the typical range has been 49 degrees (11° and 60°); during these year just six other Februarys have had a smaller range, most recently in 2010 (29 degrees).  Meanwhile, the month's average diurnal variation (the difference between the high and low temperature) was just 9.5 degrees (February's average is 13.5 degrees), making it just the fourth February with a diurnal variation less than 10 degrees.  (The others were in 2010, 1969 and 1869.)  This was only the second Jan./Feb. in which both months had diurnal variations less than ten degrees.  (The other time it happened was in 1869.)  Jan./Feb. 2021’s diurnal variation of 9.7 degrees beat out 1869's by 0.1 degree for smallest variation.

 

Chart - smallest diurnal variation jan_feb

 

This winter’s December-February combo was the ninth snowiest on record.  It joined four other pairs from this century (the other five happened before the winter of 1962).

 

Chart - snowiest dec_feb combinatons

 

February 2021 joined sixteen other Februarys that had 20 inches or more of snow.  It was milder than all but two of them (February 1983 and 2006).

 

Chart - mildest februarys with 20 inches of snow

 

Looking at December thru March, February 2021 ranks as the fifteenth snowiest month, just 0.1" behind Feb. 2003, Jan. 1996 and Feb. 1894.  This February's hefty snow accumulation was quite a contrast to last February, which saw just a trace.

 

Chart - snowy feb preceded by no snow feb

Here are other February recaps:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2015

 

 


Snow Creates Excitement, But Rain Gets No Love

 Sled riding in central park_time out ny

Pity the rain.  It doesn't generate anywhere near the levels of excitement accorded snow.  (In a Brady Bunch analogy, rain is Jan, snow is Marcia.)  Perhaps it's because snow is a seasonal treat confined mostly to four months of the year (in New York), while rain has a year-round presence.  Snow is also limited by geography, so persons from warm climates get a thrill when they encounter snow.  Sure, kids may enjoy jumping in puddles, and it can be comforting hearing the pitter-patter of rain on the roof, but rain never enthralls us the way snow does.  It possesses a certain "je ne sais quoi" that rain simply doesn't have.

 

Marcia-marcia-marcia

Perhaps the enthusiasm for snow comes from childhood memories, e.g., sled riding, making snow angels, building forts, school closings, Christmas.  And although rain may generate feelings of gratitude from farmers, it doesn't inspire the fevered anticipation of a snowstorm.  No sporting events have been inspired by rain, nor does anyone think back wistfully about rain that fell on someone's wedding day; or a downpour that washed out a summertime barbecue; or a deluge that rained out a baseball game (football games, by contrast, are rarely cancelled because of snow). 

 

There's also something magical about how a snowfall muffles the din of the City, and how its shimmering silver-white color scheme can light up a winter night.  Rain, on the other hand, leaves behind a muddy residue and litters the sidewalks with broken umbrellas.  (And when I was growing up in suburbia, worms would appear on the streets after a rainfall.)

 

Snow transforms the cityscape as it piles on top of railings, mailboxes and cars, and beautifully etches tree branches.  (I've always been amazed that snow is able to accumulate on Manhattan's busy streets.)  With rain, everything basically looks as it did before the rain started, except that surfaces take on a sheen when wet (especially at night).   Another contrast is that snow depths can be easily gauged by sight, but not so much with rain.  While it's easy to tell the difference between a few inches of snow and a foot of it, can you tell the difference between a quarter-inch rainfall and one of one inch?  (OK, perhaps there are more puddles.)

 

Winter 2017 - snow blindness

I can attest to the draw of snow since my most popular posts, by far, are those that analyze snowfall, with audience-traffic many times greater than posts about rain.  (I've written 30 posts about various aspects of snow, double the number I've penned about rain.)

 

It should be noted that the love for snow doesn't extend to sleet.  And rain's attempts at a brand extension, i.e., freezing rain, gets even less love than rain.  Despite the accolades it receives, snow is by no means perfect.  Shoveling can bring on a heart-attack; flights are cancelled; plows push snow back onto recently shoveled sidewalks; eyeglasses get broken during snowball fights, and dogs whimper from the sting of rock salt on their paws.  But, like a favored child, these personality flaws are largely overlooked.  

 

The weather hobbyists among us pore over snowfall totals, fixating on every tenth of an inch of accumulation.  We become infuriated whenever a forecast doesn't deliver on its promise, and, oh, how we dread a changeover to sleet, or, God forbid, rain!  By comparison, there is very little grousing when a rainstorm "fizzles" out. 

 

Central Park's weather station is held in low regard by many because it seems to report lower snow totals than surrounding sites.  For some reason, it tends to have the least efficient water: snow ratio.  It may very well be a gross generalization (albeit based on years of observation), but it just seems that if Central Park and each of the area's three airports receive an inch of liquid precipitation, this amount will produce eight inches in the park, a foot at Newark, and and an amount somewhere in between at LaGuardia and JFK.  Who knows why?  (Detractors of Central Park's weather station suggest incompetence.)

 

One area in which rain and snow seem to get equal treatment is automobile advertising, where cars on rain-slicked streets seem to be featured just as often as those shown bounding through snow-covered country roads.

 

Car advertisement in rain

 Car ad in snow_audi

Finally, the snow experience in Manhattan is different from that of the suburbs.  The beauty of the snow lasts for just a day - two days max.  The sound of snowplows scraping the streets can be grating, and the transformation of snow into slush at street corners is dispiriting.  And be on the lookout for snow crashing down from the tops of buildings!  On the positive side, snow often results in suspension of alternate side of the street parking regulations, and those of us who are apartment dwellers aren't tasked with shoveling, so we can walk around taking selfies to our heart's content, or put on cross-country skies and pretend to be on a ski weekend.  And perhaps the best thing of all is that the hustle-bustle of the City is silenced for a brief time.

 

Snow selfie dec 2020

 

Snow vs rain

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


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)

 


February 2020 Weather Recap - Mild & Snow-Free

8th place

 

After a January that was the eleventh mildest on record, February ranked even higher, at #8 (and it was the third mildest Leap Year February, behind 2012 and 1984).  This was the third February of the past four to rank among the ten mildest.  But despite it being the mildest of this winter's months it had the coldest temperature of winter, 14° on 2/15.  (However, the coldest day of winter continued to be Dec. 19, which had a high/low of 25°/16°.)  In addition to being the seventh mildest February (4.8° degrees above average) it was the sixth February with no measurable snow (the last time was in 2002).  Other observations:

 

  • Similar to December and January, February had just one day with a high of 32° or colder (and each month had four days with highs of 35° or colder).  By comparison, a typical meteorological winter has a sixteen days with highs of 32° or colder.  Speaking of the winter, winter 2020 was the sixteenth to have December as the coldest of the three months.  And this was despite December's average temperature being slightly above average.
  • Three-quarters of the month's 2.54" of rain fell between Feb. 6-13.
  • After being nine degrees above average during the first thirteen days of the month, the rest of February had temperatures closer to the norm - two degrees above average.
  • Although it was milder, February had one more day with a low of 32° or colder than January.  Despite the month's mild temperatures just two days were in the 60s.  The highs on these days, 61° (on 2/4) and 62° (2/24), were not nearly as mild as January's mildest highs of 69° and 68°.
  • This was the driest January-February since 2009.  (February was the driest in three years, January was the driest in eighteen years.)  Jan-Feb 2020 ranks among the twenty driest first two months of a year.
  • After January missed by a small margin being the tenth mildest, February missed by an even tinier margin of being seventh mildest.

 

Chart - Jan Feb Photo Finishes

(If Leap Year Day hadn't been so chilly, with a high/low of 35°/25°, February 2020 would have finished as seventh mildest rather than eighth.)

 

Previous February recaps:

2019

2018

2017

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

 

 

 


February 2019 Weather Review: Largely Uninspiring

Meh redFebruary 2019 was one of the least interesting months, weather-wise, in a while.  In fact, it was so uneventful I was tempted to not even bother with a monthly recap.  Although its average temperature was slightly above average (+0.9 degree) it was the coldest February since 2015.  Just 2.6" of snow was measured, the smallest amount in February in seven years (ironically, the milder February's preceding it all had more snow).  And although the amount of snow was well below the average of 9.2", the month's total precipitation (3.14") was an average amount (which is 3.09").  The coldest and mildest readings of the month occurred during the first week: 11° on 2/1, 65° on 2/5. 

 

Although the month wasn't too far from average, just three days had mean temperatures that were average.  Nineteen days were five or more degrees above or below average.  There were half a dozen days with highs of 35° or colder (three were 32° or colder) and four with highs of 55° or warmer.  The mildest stretch was the six days from 2/3 thru 2/8, which were 12 degrees above average (high/low of 54°/37°).  The coldest temperatures were experienced at the beginning and end of the month, with the first two days 13 degrees below average (28°/14°), and the final three days eight degrees colder than average (35°/25°). 

 

Chart - february 2019 weather

 

Although only 2.6" of snow fell (during what, on average, is the snowiest month of the winter) an amount this small isn't all that rare, happening about once every four or five years.  However, the last time a February as chilly as this year's had less snow was in 2004, which was 0.4 degrees above average and had just 0.7" of snow.  Finally, the only excitement about snow this February was the 1.2" snowfall on the 12th, which was the first snowfall of an inch or more in nearly three months (since the snowstorm of 11/15).  And it fell on the date most likely to have a snowfall of one-inch+. Chart - cold febs with little snow


Previous February recaps:

2018

2017

2015


Weather Highlights of Presidents' Day

Presidents day holiday

 

Since the Presidents' Day holiday was first observed on the third Monday of February in 1971, temperatures have ranged from 3° in 2015 to 64° in 2008.  There have been three consecutive Presidents' Days with highs of 32° or colder (1977-1979) and four in a row with highs of 50° or warmer (1981-1984).  The three coldest (based on mean temperature) were in 2015 (high/low of 21°/3°), 1987 (32°/7°), and 2003 (26°/14°).  The three warmest Presidents' Days were in 2008 (64°/40°), 1976 (60°/43°) and 1994 (53°/42°).  Here are some additional findings:

 

  • The biggest temperature difference between two consecutive Presidents' Days was in 2007 and 2008 when a high/low of 30°/12° in '07 was followed by a high/low of 64°/40°.  The closest in temperature was in 2009 and 2010 when the respective highs/lows were 40°/28° and 40°/27°, and in 1981 and 1982 when the highs/lows were 57°/34° and 56°/33°, respectively.
  • The most years in a row with lows above freezing is five, from 1981 thru 1985.  Ironically, this streak was preceded by the coldest streak, the four-year period from 1977 thru 1980.  A five-year period from 2003 thru 2007 was also quite cold.
  • Three of the coldest and two of the mildest readings on Presidents' Day have fallen on Feb. 16.  Additionally, five of the seven coldest readings have occurred during the 21st century.  Furthermore, three years in a row (2015-2017) had readings that were either among the coldest or mildest (2015, coldest on record; 2016, fourth coldest; and 2017, sixth mildest).  Lastly, the consecutive years 1981 and 1982 had two of the mildest high temperatures while 2003 and 2004 had two of the coldest lows. (See chart below.)
  • Measurable snow has fallen in just five years, but two of these snowfalls were major snowstorms.  In 2003 16.5" fell (and 3.5" fell the night before) while in 1979 12.7" fell.  The other three snowfalls were in 2005 (3.5"), 2011 (3.2") and 2016 (1.4").
  • The most consecutive years with measurable precipitation on Presidents Day is only two, and it's happened three times: 2018 and 2019; 2010 and 2011; and 1975 and 1976.  The most years in a row with no precipitation is six, from 1980 to 1985.
  • Looking at the three-day Presidents' Day weekends, 1979 was the coldest one, averaging a high/low of 19°/7° (along with a 12.7" snowstorm).  The two next coldest were in consecutive years: 24°/6° in 2016 and 26°/8° in 2015.  These were followed in 2017 by the mildest Prez Day weekend: 61°/42°; 1994 is second mildest, with a high/low of 59°/39°.  There have been six years in which the lows for each day of the weekend were all 32° or milder (most recently in 2017) and four in which the highs were all 32° or colder (most recently in 2015).
  • Finally, Presidents' Day weekend 2018 has the distinction of being the only one that reported measurable precipitation on all three days.  At the other end of the spectrum, the most holiday weekends in a row with no measurable precipitation on any of its days is three, 1981-1983.

  Chart - coldest-mildest presidents day weekends

 

 


Snowstorms From Back in "The Good Old Days" (1900 - 1949)

1910s snowstorm in newyrok_XXHistoricSnow-AST-8-superJumboBy far the most popular posts on this site are about snowstorms.  And after reading a recent photo essay in the New York Times about snowstorms of the distant past I was inspired to write another - this one about those that crippled New York in the first half of the 20th century.  It's worth noting that back then snow removal was on the primitive side, largely dependent upon on manual labor, so relatively modest accumulations created problems that might happen nowadays with significantly greater accumulations (i.e., six inches in 1910 might be comparable in inconvenience to what a foot or more of snow creates today).  Furthermore, since the work ethos of that era was different than what it is today, employers weren't as forgiving when treacherous weather conditions made it difficult for workers to get to their jobs.

 

WINTER OF 1901-02

Feb. 17, 1902 - This storm dropped 10".  (Similar to a few other winter storms in the first decade of the century, I was unable to find details about when the snow fell, what the hourly amounts were or what the wind speed and direction were for each hour of the day.)

 

WINTER OF 1902-03

Dec. 25, 1902- This was the second significant snowfall in the past two weeks.  After 6.4" fell on Dec. 12-14 (most of it falling on the 13th), 6.5" fell today. 

Feb. 15-17, 1903 - This was a snow and sleet storm, which began mid-day on the 15th, continued through much of the 16th, and ended mid-day on the 17th.  In total 9.8" accumulated (accounting for all of February's snow).  During the first two days temperatures ranged between 28° and 30° then fell into the teens around daybreak on the 17th.

 

WINTER OF 1903-04

Jan. 2-3, 1904 - All but a half-inch of the storm's eight inches fell today during the afternoon and evening.  Temperatures fell slowly thru the day, dropping from 26° to 13°. 

 

WINTER OF 1904-05

Dec. 17-18, 1904 - Bringing to mind December 1902, two significant snowfalls fell in the course of a week as seven inches fell on Dec. 12-13 and a half foot fell today.  Snowfall from both was pretty evenly split between the two days of each snowfall. 

Jan. 3-4, 1905 - Seven inches of snow fell between mid-afternoon on 1/3 and mid-morning the following day.  After passage of a cold front mid-morning on the 3rd (with winds shifting from the northeast to the northwest) temperatures fell from the low-40s to mid-20s, when snow began falling, and were in the mid-teens when the snow came to an end.  The snow was blown around by winds gusting between 25-30 mph. 

Jan. 24-25, 1905 - Snow began falling after 9PM and continued for 24 hours, accumulating 11".  It was a fluffy snow with just 0.54" of water content.  During the course of the storm the temperature dropped from mid-20s to low teens.  Snow fell heaviest between 8AM and noon on the 25th when an Arctic front moved through.  Besides the cold and snow, the afternoon also featured gusty winds (25-30 mph).

 

Vintage-snow-removal-in-the-new-york-city-late-19th-century-05

 

WINTER OF 1905-06

Feb. 8-9, 1906 - Six inches of snow fell, much of it during the morning of the 9th.  Temperatures were mostly in the 31° to 33° range.  Snow changed to sleet and freezing rain shortly after daybreak on the 9th and continued through mid-day. 

March 15, 1906 - This cold, late winter storm had temperatures that were only in the mid-20s (typical high for mid-March is mid-40s) as a half-foot of snow piled up.  Snow began falling shortly before daybreak and continued until 10PM.  Despite the cold temperatures it was a wet snow, with 1.09" of liquid measured.

 

WINTER OF 1906-07

Jan. 17, 1907 - It was very cold during this quick-moving six-inch snowfall, with temperatures in the mid-teens when the snow began, rising into the low 20s during the afternoon.  The snow fell during the daylight hours, coming down heaviest in the early afternoon.

Feb. 4-5, 1907 - Snow began around noon and continued for nearly 24 hours, accumulating 11".  It fell heaviest between 8PM and 4AM.  Temperatures stayed in a narrow range of 19° to 22°.  This storm followed a snowfall of four inches on the first two days of the month.

 

Snowy central park 1910s

 

Feb. 24, 1907 - Six inches of snow piled up between 1PM and 10PM.  Temperatures rose steadily, from low 20s when the snow started, to the mid-30s when it changed to rain and sleet in the final few hours.

March 10, 1907 - Much of today's six-inch accumulation fell between 1:00 and 5PM.  Temperatures ranged between 27° and 30°.  This was the winter's fourth snowfall of six inches or more since mid-January.

 

WINTER OF 1907-08

Jan. 23-24, 1908 - A 10-inch snowstorm began after dark on the 23rd, with three inches measured thru midnight, and an additional seven inches during the morning of the 24th.

 

Snowstorm 1908 by-9-E-14th-St-Jan-24-1908-300x214

 

Feb. 5-6, 1908 - The day began bitterly cold with a low of 1° above zero (the coldest reading of the winter).  Then the temperature rose all day and was 32° by midnight.  Snow began falling in the afternoon and continued into the next day with four inches falling on each day.  After 8" had fallen the snow changed to rain as the temperature rose to 40° (it tumbled back to 29° by midnight).  This snowstorm came almost one year to the day of an 11-inch snowstorm.

 

WINTER OF 1909-10

Dec. 25-26, 1909 - Snow began mid-afternoon on Christmas Day and fell for nearly 24 hours, accumulating eight inches.  Much of the snow fell on the 25th, and in above-freezing temperatures.

Jan. 14, 1910 - The biggest snowfall of the winter blanketed the City with 10" (0.5" of it fell on 1/15).  This came three weeks after a snowfall of eight inches.  Snow began falling shortly after midnight and fell steadily through late afternoon.  After the temperature rose to 33° late in the morning it fell steadily until 9PM when it was 20°.

 

WINTER OF 1911-12  

Dec. 4, 1911 - A morning snowfall of seven inches ended up being the biggest snowfall of the winter.  Precipitation began yesterday evening as rain but changed to snow overnight. The day's high/low of 33/19 made this the coldest day of the month.

 

WINTER OF 1912-13

Dec. 24, 1912 - A morning snowstorm dumped 11.4", making this Christmas Eve's biggest snowfall on record.  Snow fell heaviest between 4-9AM, when it fell at a rate of 1.5" per hour.

 

Snowstorm_NYCApril1915

 

WINTER OF 1913-14

Feb. 13-14, 1914 - On the 13th the temperature rose from -1° to the mid-20s by midnight.  Snow began falling after 7PM, fell heavily through the overnight hours and then changed to sleet around daybreak as the temperature rose into the low 30s.  9.7" accumulated.  Then on 2/16 there was a five-inch snowfall during the morning in temperatures that were in the teens.

March 1, 1914 - Rain in the morning changed to snow around lunchtime and by midnight 13.5" had accumulated (an additional inch fell after midnight on 3/2).  It was a very heavy, wet snow with a high water content (2.65") until around 9PM when Arctic air moved in.  This was the century's first snowstorm of a foot or more, and the first since February 1899, when 16 inches piled up.  This remains the longest period between snowstorms of 12 inches or more.

 

January 13 snowstorm in nyc

 

WINTER OF 1914-15

April 3, 1915 - The biggest snowfall of the "winter" blanketed the City on what was Easter Saturday as ten inches of heavy snow fell between 9AM and 11PM (eight inches fell between 11AM and 6PM).  During the storm winds from out of the north gusted to 25 mph and temperatures hovered around 30°, producing wind chills in the teens.

 

Weather - NYC snowstorm April1915

 

WINTER OF 1916-17

Dec. 15, 1916 - A snowstorm dumped 12.7" of snow between 7AM-9PM, with nearly ten inches on the ground by mid-afternoon.  The snow was very powdery, produced from just 0.59" of water (and by daybreak on 12/16 it had packed down to nine inches on the ground).  The day's high was 28°, the first of five days in a row with highs in the 20s.

April 9, 1917 - One of April's biggest snowstorms dumped 6.5" (0.1" of it fell late last night).  This brought the winter's total snowfall to 50.7" for the second year in a row.  The snow was over by 7AM and by noon the temperature was in the upper 30s, where it stayed for the remainder of the afternoon.  Combined with sunny skies, substantial melting took place and by nightfall there was less than two inches on the ground in Central Park.

 

WINTER OF 1917-18

Dec. 13, 1917 - The biggest snowfall of the winter began late in the afternoon and by the time the snow ended in the early hours of 12/14 9.5" had accumulated (eight inches fell today).  The temperature rose into the mid-30s as midnight approached, making it a very wet snow, with rain mixed in at times. 

 

1917-snowstorm-New-York-cars-trapped-833x900
 

WINTER OF 1919-20

Feb. 4-7, 1920 - One of New York's most extended onslaughts of winter weather of all time brought 72 hours of snow, sleet and freezing rain (beginning after 2AM on 2/4 and ending around dawn on 2/7).  During this punishing storm, 4.41" of liquid precipitation fell, 17.5" of it in the form of snow (five to six inches of snow fell on 2/4, 2/5 and 2/6); the rest was sleet and freezing rain.  For much of the storm temperatures were in the 20s, and winds gusted between 35 and 45 mph, with wind chills in the single digits.

 

February1920_XXHistoricSnow-AST-6-superJumbo

 

WINTER OF 1920-21

Feb. 20, 1921 - The winter's biggest snowfall amounted to 12.5".  Beginning shortly after midnight as rain, it quickly changed over to snow after 1AM and continued until early evening; it was a very wet snow, with 2.68" of liquid precipitation measured.  The temperature fell slowly through the day, from 35° to 22° (on the way to 14° by daybreak on the 21st).  Winds gusted to 41 mph.

 

WINTER OF 1921-22

Jan. 28-29, 1922 - New York was on the northern fringe of a winter storm that became known as the "Knickerbocker Snowstorm", named after a movie theater in Washington, DC whose roof collapsed from the weight of snow the night of 1/28, killing 98 moviegoers.  And although NYC escaped the paralyzing amounts of snow that piled up in Virginia, DC, Maryland and southeastern PA (6.5" fell in Central Park, the biggest snowfall of the winter), gale force winds clocked at between 35 and 50 mph howled for nearly 24 hours, beginning mid-day on the 28th.  Temperatures throughout the storm were in the 29° to 31° range, with chills in the low teens.

 

WINTER OF 1922-23

Jan. 3-4, 1923 - The biggest snowfall of the winter began this afternoon and continued until daybreak on the 4th, accumulating nine inches.  The temperature fell slowly through the storm, dropping from 33° to 29°.

Jan. 14, 1923 - Snow began falling after 10AM and by 5PM 7.8" had accumulated; then it changed to light rain for the next three hours as the temperature rose into the mid-30s.

 

Snowy street in nyc_1923

 

March 6-7, 1923 - Snow began falling around 10AM and continued light and steady for the next 24 hours, accumulating 7.3" (along with a mix with sleet and freezing rain after 4PM). This was the tenth snowfall of three inches or more this winter.  Besides the snow/ice, winds gusted to 30-35 mph, and temperatures were very cold on the 6th, with a high/low of only 25/19.

 

WINTER OF 1923-24

April 1, 1924 - It was no April Fool's joke as 8.5" of heavy, wet snow fell from mid-afternoon through 9PM.  Interestingly, snow fell mostly with temperatures two or three degrees above freezing.  Besides the snow, gale force winds gusted to 35 mph.

 

WINTER OF 1924-25

Jan. 2, 1925 - A blizzard dumped close to a foot of snow (11.5").  Snow began falling around daybreak and lasted until 11PM.  In addition to snow there were also periods of heavy sleet in the early afternoon.  Temperatures throughout the storm were in the mid-20s, but howling winds gusting between 35-40 mph produced wind chills in the single digits.

 

Trolley-stuck-in-snow-1925-photo-Acme

 

Jan. 20, 1925 - A fierce storm dumped seven inches of snow and ice, with much of the snow falling between 1:00 and 8AM before it changed to sleet, which was driven by winds that gusted close to 40 mph. The sleet came down heaviest during the mid-day hours as the temperature rose above freezing briefly before falling back into the 20s.  Snow returned in the storm's last few hours. 

 

WINTER OF 1925-26

Feb. 10, 1926 - Less than a week after a fierce blizzard brought 10.4" of snow and sleet (accompanied by wind gusts of 40-45 mph) another snowstorm dumped a foot on the City, much of it falling this morning between 3:00 and 9:00 (light snow began last night and accumulated 1.6").  Winds from this storm gusted between 30 and 35 mph.  Temperatures in the morning held steady in the low 20s and then fell slowly during the afternoon, reaching 11° by midnight.  (In a similar fashion, two snowstorms of 9.2" and 12.8" occurred just three days apart in early February during the winter of 1994.)

 

Snowstorm in 1926

 

WINTER OF 1926-27

Dec. 5, 1926 - 7.9" of snow fell on a very cold day, which had a high/low of just 24/11.  Snow fell heaviest from 1PM until 7PM.  This was the biggest snowfall of the winter and was the snowiest 12/5 until 2003, when 8.0" fell.

 

WINTER OF 1928-29

Feb. 21, 1929 - More than half of the winter's 13.8" of snow fell today as eight inches accumulated between 5AM and 2PM.  Temperatures were in the low-to-mid-twenties during the storm.

 

WINTER OF 1932-33

Dec. 17, 1932 - Snow that began late in the morning continued through the early AM on 12/18 and amounted to 7.2".  It was also a very cold day, with a high/low of only 20/11.  (The snow was gone by Christmas Day, which had a high of 59°.)  The next measurable snowfall wouldn't be for another seven weeks (on 2/4).

Feb. 11, 1933 - In just eight hours (1-9:00 AM) ten inches of snow fell, the biggest snowstorm in seven years.  Sleet mixed in during the final few hours even though temperatures were in the low 20s.

 

Snow in new york 1933

 

WINTER OF 1933-34

Dec. 26, 1933 - A little more than 24 hours after temperatures were in the mid-50s, a snowstorm swept into the City shortly after daybreak and by early afternoon ten inches had fallen, and temperatures were in the mid-20s.  An additional inch of snow fell in the early evening, bringing the day's snowfall total to 11.2". (Much larger accumulations would later fall on this date in 1946 and 2010).

Feb. 25, 1934 - On a brutally cold day (high/low of 16/9) light snow began falling mid-afternoon and fell steadily thru the following afternoon, accumulating 9.3".  This was the third snowfall of 7.5" or more this month and brought February's total snowfall to 27.9" (the other major snowfalls were on 2/1 and 2/19-20).  At the time this was the second snowiest month on record (now ranked sixth) and the snowiest February (since topped by Feb. 2010 and 2014).

 

WINTER OF 1934-35

Jan. 22-23, 1935 - This was a two-stage storm.  On 1/22 precipitation began in the morning as rain which changed to snow around mid-day as the temperature fell from the low 40s into the upper 20s; five inches was measured.  Then after a 13-hour break, winds shifted from the northwest to northeast and heavy snow returned late on the morning of 1/23.  Between 1:00 and 7PM it fell at a rate of an inch or more per hour and accumulated nearly thirteen inches.  Flakes fell until the wee hours of the next day.  Temperatures fell slowly throughout the day, dropping from 26° to 18° (and they'd continue to fall slowly the following day).  This was the first snowstorm of a foot or more in nine years. 

 

Weather - winter-storm-1935 

 

WINTER OF 1935-36

Jan. 19, 1936 - A winter storm brought heavy snow, sleet and gusty winds.  After beginning as light rain late last night, nine inches of snow piled up in the morning (mostly between 3:00-9:00) and the afternoon saw an onslaught of sleet that was propelled by 25-35 mph winds, producing wind chills in the single digits (the air temperature was in the mid-20s).  The sleet accumulated 2.5".

 

Snow storm before 1950s

 

WINTER OF 1937-38

April 6-9, 1938 - This was a sloppy four days of weather, with 6.4" of snow falling on April 6 and 7 (the biggest snowfall of the winter) and 0.95" of rain on April 8 and 9.  During these days temperatures were mostly in the 30s.  The low of 28° on 4/6 was the only April day in the 1930s with a low in the 20s.

 

WINTER OF 1938-39

Nov. 27, 1938 - Just six weeks after the latest 90-degree reading on record, back-to-back snowstorms dropped nearly 13 inches of snow in four days.  The first, on 11/24-25  measured 8.8" (3.9" on Thanksgiving Day, 4.9" the day after) while the snowfall that ended before dawn today (and began late last night) brought an additional four inches.  The high/low during these four days was 32/20, which was 18 degrees below average.  This was the snowiest month of the winter and the third snowiest November on record (after Nov. 1898 and 1882).

Jan. 13, 1939 - Beginning mid-afternoon, a snowfall of 8.8" (1.0" fell on 1/14) tied the Thanksgiving snowstorm of 11/24-25 as the biggest snowfall of the season.

 

WINTER OF 1939-40

Feb. 14, 1940 - It was a wintry day, as wind-blown sleet and snow fell throughout the day, accumulating 7.7" (an additional 1.3" fell overnight).  Late in the morning winds gusted to 50 mph.  Temperatures fell slowly, from the low-30s in the morning to low-20s by midnight.

 

WINTER OF 1940-41

March 8, 1941 - A fierce winter storm that began late last night brought heavy snow, sleet and high winds during the morning.  By 11AM 18.1" of snow had fallen (15.7" of it fell today); the precipitation then changed to light drizzle in the afternoon (the day's high was 33°).  At the time this tied with a snowstorm in January 1935 as New York's second biggest snowfall (it's now ranked tenth).

 

Weather.1941marchsnowstorm

 

WINTER OF 1942-43

Jan. 28, 1943 - The winter's nastiest storm dropped 7.1" of snow and sleet, which was accompanied by northeasterly winds that gusted to 34 mph.  Precipitation began at daybreak and continued through early evening.

 

WINTER OF 1943-44

April 5, 1944 - Four days before Easter Sunday a late season snowstorm dumped 6.5".  Beginning as rain a little after midnight, it changed to snow around 2AM and mixed with sleet around lunchtime before ending in mid-afternoon.  The snow came down heaviest between 3-5AM when three inches accumulated.  The day's high/low was 34/29.

 

WINTER OF 1945-46

Dec. 19, 1945 - An afternoon/evening snowstorm dropped 8.3" (all but 0.3" fell today).  This would be the biggest snowfall of the winter (and since March 1941).  Besides the snow, temperatures were also quite cold, with a high/low of just 23/20 (fifteen degrees below average).

 

WINTER OF 1946-47

Feb. 21, 1947 - Snow that began yesterday evening (accumulating 4.2" by midnight) continued through this morning and piled up an additional 6.5".  This 10.7" snowfall was the biggest in six years.  Temperatures were very cold, with a high/low of 24/14, sixteen degrees below average.

 

Nyc snow fort 1940s 

 

WINTER OF 1947-48

Dec. 26, 1947 - Snow began falling around 3:30 AM on the 26th and fell steadily all day, at times at a rate of two inches per hour (the forecast at daybreak called for a five-inch accumulation).  Winds gusted as high as 36 mph during the evening and temperatures hovered around 29° for much of the storm.  By midnight 25.5" had piled up and an additional 0.9" fell after midnight, breaking the previous snowfall record of 21" set by the great blizzard of March 1888; it would remain the City's greatest snowfall of all time until 26.9" fell in February 2006 (it now ranks third).  This storm came three days after a snowfall of 2.5".

 

Blizzard of 1947-time magazine

 

WINTER OF 1948-49

Dec. 19, 1948 - One year after the record-setting 26.4" snowstorm of Dec. 26 another formidable snowstorm crippled the City with 16.0".  At the time this was the shortest length of time between major snowstorms.  Since then there have been seven pairs of major snowstorms (of one foot or more) that have occurred with less than 12 months in between (the shortest time between being four weeks in January and February 1978.)

 

Weather - 1948 snowstorm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


February 2018 Pushes Past February 2017 to Become Mildest on Record

Warmest february on record in new-york-citySome weather records for warmest and coldest month have been in place for decades.  For example, the warmest January, March and June have been on top since 1932, 1945 and 1943, respectively.  But this February was an extremely rare instance in which a new record broke the one that was  established just one year earlier (October 1946 also lost its crown 12 months later as did August and November 1895).  With an average temperature of 42.0, February 2018 was 6.7 degrees above average.  This was 0.4 degrees milder than Feb. 2017, and just 0.5 degrees below a typical March. 

 

The highlight of the month was the June-like high of 78° on 2/21.  Not only was it the eleventh time a 70-degree reading occurred in February, it was the warmest reading ever reported in February, besting the previous record (in 1930 and 1985) by three degrees.  (But within 24 hours the temperature fell into the more seasonable upper 30s.)  This was also the second February in a row with a high in the 70s - the only time this has happened.  Additionally, for the first time three Februarys in a row ('16, '17, '18) had five or more days with highs in the 60s or warmer.

 

78

 

Compared to last February, this February was also much wetter, with more than twice as much precipitation (5.83" vs. 2.48").  At one point during the month there was a stretch of twelve days (Feb. 14-25) in which every day but one had measurable precipitation, one of the greatest concentrations on record.  However, the amount of precipitation was a relatively modest 2.01", which was just a little more than what fell from the rainstorm of Feb. 10-11 (1.79").

 

There were 17 days of measurable precipitation, tying it with February 1884 as the most ever for the month.  However, despite this high frequency the month didn't rank among the ten wettest (nor did Feb. 1884, which had an inch less precipitation than 2018).  However, it still had nearly twice as much precipitation than average (5.83" vs. 3.04") and ranks as thirteenth wettest February (placing it among the top 10% of the years since 1869).  Lastly, this was the wettest February in eight years.

17days 

There were a few touches of winter during the month, with the coldest day, on 2/3, having a high/low of 31/16 (coldest day of the month).  In total there were eight days with colder than average mean temperatures (two more than Feb. 2017).  4.4" of snow fell on 2/17 despite the temperature not being 32° or colder while the snow was falling.  This snowfall came at the end of a week that had three days with highs in the low 60s and was followed a few days later by days with highs of 67° and 78°.

 

Old man winter

 

February 1998, which shared the title of mildest February with 1984, and later 2002, until 2012, still has the mildest average low temperature of any February, 0.4 degrees warmer than either February 2018 or 2017.

 

Chart - mildest februarys

 

From Feb. 11 thru Feb. 28 temperatures were eleven degrees above average.  Last February, during the very same period, temperatures were nine degrees above average.

 

Finally, February's record warmth came just four months after the warmest October on record and one month after New York experienced one of its longest stretches of high temperatures of 32° or colder (fourteen days).  And just three years ago one of the coldest Februarys on record had an average high that was more than two degrees colder than this February's average low (32.1 vs 34.5). 

 

Feb 2018 v 2017

Other recaps of past Februarys:

February 2017

February 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 


Longest Streaks of High Temperatures of 32 Degrees or Colder

IceageSince the winter of 1940 there have been ten streaks of ten days or longer with high temperatures that were 32° or colder (streaks of this length occur, on average, once every eight years).  The most recent, a streak of fourteen days, occurred in the winter of 2017-18 (Dec. 26 thru Jan. 8).  It was the third longest on record, behind a sixteen-day streak in the winter of 1961, and a fifteen-day streak in the winter of 1881.  This winter's streak closely mirrored one during the winter of 2001 that also started in December and ended in January.  (However, it's temperatures weren't as cold and was one day shorter.)  What follows are some other interesting observations about New York's longest cold streaks (nine days or longer):

 

 

  • As mentioned above, the longest streak came in the winter of 1961 when the City shivered through sixteen days in a row of sub-freezing highs from Jan. 19 thru Feb. 3.  The "warmest" temperature during this time frame was 29°.  It would be seventeen years before another streak of ten days or longer occurred.
  • No winter has had two of these lengthy streaks, but 1958 had one in February of twelve days and a ten-day streak in December.  Additionally, there have been numerous winters with two or more smaller streaks of four, five or six days.
  • The earliest of the streaks occurred at the beginning of the winter of 1957-58 when there was a ten-day streak from Dec. 7 to 16.  The latest streaks were in February 1958 (Feb. 8-19) and February 1979 (Feb. 9-19).  What was remarkable about the 1979 streak was the fact that, not only was it late in the winter, but it had the most days with lows in the single digits - eight.  It followed closely behind a nine-day streak in January 1968 as the coldest of the cold waves; Feb. 1979, however, had the coldest average high (20.5) while Jan. 1968 had the coldest average low (6.4).
  • There were extended streaks in the consecutive winters of 1977, 1978 and 1979 (and there was one in 1981).  1977's streak was book-ended by smaller streaks of five days before (broken up a day with a high of 41°) and four days after (broken up by a day with a high of 36°).  In total, 18 of the 20 days between Jan. 5-24 saw highs at freezing or below.  There was also another cluster of winters with lengthy cold waves, during the winters of 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
  • Thirteen of the seventeen streaks of nine days or longer saw some mornings with lows in the single digits or colder (three had sub-zero readings).
  • Three of the streaks of nine days or longer had snowstorms of 12 inches or more. 1961's cold wave nearly had two snowstorms but two-thirds of the 17.4" accumulation from the snowstorm on Feb. 3-4 fell on the day when the 16-day streak ended as the high reached 34°.  

 

Chart - snowstorms during cold waves

 

  • The 13-day steak during the winter of 2000-01 had the highest mean temperature. 

 

 Chart - Longest Cold Streaks in NYC