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February 2024 Weather Recap: Mild, on the Dry Side

 


Feb 2024 calendar

 

February 2024 was 4.2 degrees milder than average, becoming New York's 10th mildest February (and the fourth Leap Year February to rank among the 10 mildest Februarys).  Following a January that was 3.3 degrees milder than average, and a December that was +5.5 degrees, these three months produced the fourth mildest meteorological winter on record.  And it followed the third mildest winter last year.

 

Additionally, the number of days completely above freezing this winter, 59, was the second most of any winter.  The most?  Last winter, which had 60 days. (The average number is 36 days.)

 

Chart - 5 mildest winters (including 2023-24)

The month’s coldest and warmest readings occurred three days apart.  The coldest reading, 23° on 2/25, was the mildest coldest reading on record of any February.  (February’s coldest reading is typically in the low teens; last year it was 3°).  The month’s mildest reading, 62°, happened during the night of 2/28.  This was the 14th February to have this reading as its mildest temperature, tying it with 58° as the most-occurring mildest reading in February.  (Also on the night of the 28th, Central Park clocked a wind gust of 49 mph as a cold front passed through.)  

 

Not only was the coldest low temperature not very cold, neither was the coldest high.  On average, the coldest high in February is 26°, but this February it was 36°, the mildest coldest high on record.  (Before this year, the mildest coldest high in February was 33°, in 2002, 1998, and 1997.)

 

The month was among the top 20% driest Februarys, with 2.05” of precipitation measured (making it the 31st driest February).  More than half of the precipitation fell on two days, 0.77” on the 13th and 0.52” on the 28th

 

The month had 5.2” of snow, which fell on 2/13 (3.2") and 2/17 (2.0").   Of the four weather stations in the metro area, Central Park reported the smallest amount, as 10.4" fell at JFK, Newark had 9.1”, and LGA measured 6.6”.  Although JFK and CPK had comparable amounts of liquid (0.98” and 0.95”, respectively), JFK had twice as much snow.

 

Feb 17 snowfall

 

Like January, February had one week that was on the cold side (but not quite as cold as January's).  While Feb. 14-20 was two degrees colder than average, the month's other three weeks were six degrees milder than average.

 

Finally, a streak of 22 days with above average mean temperatures ended on 2/13.  Only three other streaks this century have been longer.

 

Here are other February recaps:

2023

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2015

 


Disputing Central Park's Last 1-Inch Snowfall

 

 Snowfall

 

For the past month I've been scratching my head over the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel touting that Central Park hasn’t had a snowfall of an inch or more in nearly two years (since Feb. 13, 2022).  But that’s simply not true, and their observation appears to be based on a flawed understanding of what a "snowfall" is.

 

Last winter, Central Park had a snowfall of 1.8” on Feb. 27-28, with 0.9” falling on 2/27 (in the evening) and another 0.9” on 2/28 (in the wee hours of the morning).  As I see it, the entirety of the snow event determines a snowfall amount, not the confines of a calendar date.  (Snowflakes don’t abide by boundaries of calendar dates, as half of significant snowfalls since 1950 have begun on one date and ended the next day.)

 

Many of us are well aware that last winter was the least snowy on record, so scraping together an artificial factoid isn't needed for us to appreciate the lack of snow in New York. 

 

 

1.6 inches of snowWRONG!

 


February 2023 Weather Recap: 3rd Mildest, 10th Driest


Mild

 

Following the mildest January on record, February 2023 was the third mildest February (behind Feb. 2018 and 2017).  One anomaly was an Arctic flash-freeze which saw the temperature drop to 3° on 2/4.  (By contrast, January’s coldest reading was 28°.)  Overall, the month was 5.2 degrees milder than average (January was 9.8 degrees above average), which was largely due to a 13-day period between Feb. 8-20 that had temperatures that were 12 degrees above average. 

 

The month was 2.4 degrees colder than January.  While the two months had similar average highs (48.6° in Feb., 48.7° in Jan.), February's average low was 4.6 degrees colder (33.6° vs. 38.2°)

 

The range in temperature during the month was 67 degrees (from 3° to 70°), which was the greatest range in February since 1961 (-2° to 65°).  Average range in February is 48 degrees (13° to 61°).  The reading of 70° on 2/16 was the twelfth time a reading of 70+ was reported in February and a year’s earliest date for a reading of 70+ since 2007.

 

Feb. 1 had the first measurable snow of the winter (0.4"), the latest date on record.  The next snowfall was nearly four weeks later (Feb. 27-28) when 1.8" fell.  32 other Februarys have had less snow than February 2023's 2.2", including last February and February 2020, which had 2.0" and a trace, respectively. 

 

1.28” of precipitation was reported, an amount that made it the tenth driest on record (0.01" less than February 1872, which was pushed out of the top 10).  The greatest amount from a storm was 0.55" on 2/27-28.  

 

The winter of 2023 was the third mildest on record (behind the winters of 2002 and 2016, but January and February 2023 became the mildest first two months of any year, easily beating Jan-Feb 1990.   Finally, the winter of 2023 was the 18th in which December was the coldest month.

 

Chart - 5 mildest winters

 Chart - 5 mildest jan-feb combo

Here are other February recaps:

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2015


Super Bowl Sunday Weather Highlights in New York City

 

 Super bowl party

 

Over the course of its 57-year history Super Bowl Sunday has slowly evolved to become, more or less, a national holiday.  Played in the midst of winter it has been scheduled as early as Jan. 9 (in the early years) and as late as Feb.15.  And while New York has had its share of cold temperatures on this day snow didn't have much of a presence until 2021 when 4.5" accumulated (and 1.6" fell the following year). 

 

Although most of the games have been played in the South or on the West Coast, the Super Bowl of 2014 was played in northern New Jersey.  And although that winter was cold and snowy, the day of the game had mild temperatures.  (But harsh winter weather returned the next day as eight inches of snow fell.)  

 

In addition to that Super Bowl, there have been six other Super Bowls of great interest to residents of New York City because of the participation of New York teams - and they won five of them.  The New York Jets were in one, Super Bowl III (1969), while the New York Giants have played in five between 1987 and 2012 (winning four).  None of these games had precipitation in NYC.  Coldest of the Giants/Jets Super Bowls in NYC was 1987's game (high/low of 25°/8°).  The mildest reading was 49°/33° in 2008.  

 

The 36 Super Bowls played in January had slightly colder than average temperatures in New York, averaging a high/low of 37°/24°, while the 21 played in February have been on days that were slightly above average, with a high/low of 44°/30°.

 

In terms of conditions in cities where the Super Bowl has been played, the coldest temperature for a Super Bowl occurred in 1972 when the game time temperature in New Orleans for Super Bowl VI was in the upper 30s (the coldest outside temperature for a game played in a domed stadium was 20° in Detroit in 1982).  Meanwhile, 1973's Super Bowl VII in LA was played with temperatures rising to 84° and thirty years later the game in Tampa saw a high of 82°.  Rain fell in Houston in for Super Bowl XVI in 2007 when Prince played in a steady rain during halftime.  The game played in Atlanta in 2000 had to contend with two ice storms during the week leading up to the game.  Finally, 1970's game in New Orleans had a threat of tornadoes while 1985's game in Stanford Stadium had to contend with foggy conditions.

 

Prince at super bowl 2007

 

The charts below focus on extreme weather conditions in New York on Super Bowl Sunday.

 

MILDEST

Four Super Bowl Sundays have had highs of 55° or milder.

  • 59° on Jan. 12, 1975
  • 58° on Jan. 28, 1990
  • 56° on Feb. 2, 2014
  • 55° on Feb. 5, 2006

 

COLDEST

Five Super Bowl Sundays had lows in the single digits, the last time being in 1987.  Eight Super Bowl Sundays have had highs of 25° or colder (the last time was also in 1987)

  • 4° on Jan. 20, 1985
  • 5° on Jan. 16, 1972 (also had the coldest high, 15°)

 

SNOWIEST

Nine Super Bowl Sundays have had measurable snowfall; five of them picked up an inch or more.  The most was 4.5" on Feb. 4, 2021 (during the daytime hours), the second most was the following year.

  • 4.5" on Feb. 4, 2021
  • 1.6" on Feb. 13, 2022
  • 1.5" on Jan. 30, 2000
  • 1.3" on Jan. 26, 1992
  • 1.0" on Feb. 6, 2003

 

RAINIEST   

Three Super Bowl Sundays had an inch or more, and another had 0.96"

  • 3.45" on Jan. 21, 1979 (before 7 AM)
  • 2.19" on Jan, 26, 1986 (before 9 AM)
  • 1.30" on Jan. 14, 1968
  • 0.96" on Feb. 4, 2018

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF SELECTED SUPER BOWL SUNDAYS

Jan. 15, 1967 - The first Super Sunday had above average temperatures, with a high/low of 49°/37° in Central Park. Skies were a mix of sun and clouds.  (At the time, the game wasn't called the "Super Bowl".)

Jan. 16, 1972 - The morning low of 5° (coldest reading of the winter) came less than two days after the temperature reached 62° (at 10 PM on Jan. 14).  Combined with a high of only 15°, this was the coldest day of the winter.  (Only a handful of days have had a high temperature this cold.)

Jan. 9, 1977 - This was the first Super Bowl Sunday to receive measurable snow.  It began snowing at around 9 PM and by midnight 0.8" had been measured. 

Jan. 21, 1979 - 3.45" of rain fell, mostly before 7 AM.  This was the most rain to ever fall in a 24-hour period in the month of January.

Jan. 22, 1984 - High/low was 24°/9° and came at the end of an eight-day streak with highs of 32° or colder (and 11 of the past 12 days were 32° or colder).

Jan. 20, 1985 - This was the second year in a row in which the low was in the single digits, but this year it came after dark (on its way to a low of -2° the next morning).  The reading of 4° is the coldest reading NYC has had on the day of the Super Bowl.  Snow showers late in the morning produced a half-inch of snow.

Jan. 26, 1986 - 2.19" of rain fell, a record for the date, with much of it falling before 9 AM, but a second round of rain, from another low pressure system, moved in after 10 PM. 

Jan. 26, 1992 - The winter's first snowfall of an inch or more fell in the wee hours of the morning, accumulating 1.3".  This was also the first time an inch or more of snow fell on Super Bowl Sunday.  The daylight hours were mostly sunny but cold, with a high/low of 31°/20°.

Feb. 6, 2011 - Although the day had above-freezing temperatures for its entirety (high/low of 45°/37°), there was still 15" of snow left on the ground in Central Park from the 32" of snow that fell since 1/11.

Feb. 2, 2014 - Today's high of 56° made this the mildest reading of the month.  And fears that today's outdoor Super Bowl in northern New Jersey would be played in cold and/or snowy conditions were allayed when the game time temperature was in the upper 40s.  The following day conditions reverted to the nasty winter of 2014 with a snowfall of eight inches.

Feb. 4, 2018 - Nearly an inch of rain fell tonight, mostly between 5-11 PM. 

Feb. 7, 2021 - Periods of heavy snow fell between 9 AM and 6 PM, accumulating 4.5".  Central Park was low man on the totem pole as most surrounding locations reported six to eight inches.  The temperature didn't fall to freezing until early afternoon which likely kept the City's accumulation down. 

Feb. 13, 2022 - 1.6" of snow fell the day after the high reached 59°.  This was the first time measurable snow fell on consecutive Super Bowl Sundays, and this year's amount was the second biggest accumulation, behind last year's.  

 

 Super bowl trophy

 


February 2022 Weather Recap: Minimal Snow, Wide Variation in Average High & Low


Feb 2022

 

Last winter, February had much more snow than January (26.0" vs. 2.1"), but this winter the tables were turned as February had just 2.0" compared to January's 15.3".  Although snowfall was minimal, there have been 31 other winters with even less snow in February (and two-thirds of those had less than an inch). 

 

Temperature patterns were also reversed, as February of last year was 1.7° below average and  January was 1.1° above, while this winter February was 1.4° above average and January was 3.4° below.  Feb. 2022 was the 21st mildest on record.  Five recent Februarys in 2020, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2012, were milder.

 

Chart - mild februarys of 21st Century

 

Another very big difference between Feb. 2022 and 2021 was in its diurnal variation, i.e., the difference between the daily high and low temperature.  Last February's was just 9.5 degrees, which tied for the second smallest reported in February.  This year's however, was 16.9 degrees, which was the widest variation in February since 1990, and the third widest for any February (average variation is 12.7 degrees).  Part of the reason was that it had three days with temperature variations of 30 degrees or more; only February 1918 has had more (four). 

The difference between the average high and low of Feb. 2022 and 2021 is fascinating, as this February's average high was 6.9 degrees milder than last February, but its average low was 0.5 degrees chillier.

 

Chart - feb greatest diurnal variations

 

February's above average temperature was driven by the average high, which was 3.5 degrees above average; by contrast, the average low was 0.6 degrees below average.  Eight days had highs of 55° or milder, with four of them above 60°, including two climbing to 68° (on 2/17 and 2/23).  The first 68° was a record for the date. 

 

Looking at cold conditions, eight days had highs in the 30s or colder, and four of these days had highs of 32° or colder.  Similar to the month's warmest reading, the coldest reading (16°) was also reported on two days, 2/14 and 2/15.   (January's coldest reading also occurred on back to back days).

 

Eleven days were 10 degrees or more above or below average (seven were above, four were below).  The most above average was +23 degrees on 2/17, when the high/low was 68°/49°; the most below average day came three days before that, with a high/low that was 15 degrees below average (25°/16°).  

 

During the three weeks between Feb. 4-24, four dramatic swings in temperature occurred:

  • Feb. 4-5: From 8° above average (high/low of 57°/26°), to 11° below average (27°/19°)
  • Feb. 12-14: From 16° above average (59°/42°), to 1° below average (42°/25°), to 15° below average (25°/16°)
  • Feb. 15-17: From 13° below average (30°/16°), to 3° above average (49°/28°), to 23° above average (68°/49°)
  • Feb. 23-24: From 15° above average (68°/35°), to 6° below average (35°/29°) 

 

Finally, precipitation was very close to average, with 3.23" measured (vs. an average of 3.19").  The days with the most precipitation were Feb. 3 and Feb. 20, with 0.72" and 0.74", respectively.  The month's measurable snow fell on two days: 2/13 (1.6") and 2/25 (0.4").  Of the Februarys with two inches of snow or less, Feb. 2022 had the fourth biggest drop-off from January.

 

Chart - feb vs jan snowfall

 

Here are other February recaps:

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2015

 

 


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

 

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)

 


The Coldest Day of New York Winters

 

Frozen bryant park fountain

 

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

 

Chart - warming of coldest winter day

 

THE SPECTRUM OF THE BIG CHILL

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

 

Chart - coldest day jan 18
 

TWO MEASURES OF "COLDEST"

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

 

SIMILAR DATES

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

 

Chart - coldest day same date

Chart - coldest day same date - 2

Chart - coldest day same date 100 years apart 

FRIGID HOLIDAYS

The coldest day of some winters has fallen on a holiday.  The one exception is Christmas Eve day (but that may change in the winter of 2022-23 which had a Christmas Eve high/low of 15°/7°.) .

 

Chart - coldest winter day on holidays

 

"COLDEST COLDEST, MEET MILDEST COLDEST!"

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

 

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

 

SOMETIMES IT SNOWS

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

 

Chart - snowy coldest days of winter

 

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

 

Chart - snowy day before and after coldest day

   

 

Frigid

 

 

 

 

 


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