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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 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 lows 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 (this was despite the fact that no measurable snow fell 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 is 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 third 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 yesterday's blizzard, 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 (in 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 and accumulated 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" fell; 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 of 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 low was 16°.

 

Womens muff

 

 


Notable December Cold Snaps

The weather outside is frightful

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

 

COLDEST

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

 

Chart - coldest december cold snaps

LENGTHIEST

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

 

Chart - lengthiest december cold waves

 

TWO IN ONE MONTH!

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

 

Chart - decembers with two cold snaps

 

COLD SNAPS MORE PREVALENT 100+ YEARS AGO

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

 

SNOWIEST & LEAST SNOWY

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

 

Chart - snowiest december cold snaps

 

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

 Chart - december cold snaps with no snow

BELOW ZERO READINGS

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

 

Chart - subzero readings in december

 

 

Frigid-cold-blast-to-strike-usa


The Coldest Day of New York Winters

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

 

SIMILAR DATES

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

 

Chart - coldest day same date

Chart - coldest day same date - 2

Chart - coldest day same date 100 years apart 

FRIGID HOLIDAYS

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

 

Chart - coldest winter day on holidays

 

"COLDEST COLDEST, MEET MILDEST COLDEST!"

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

 

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

 

SOMETIMES IT SNOWS

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

 

Chart - snowy coldest days of winter

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

 

Chart - snowy day before and after coldest day

   

 

Frigid

 

 

 

 

 


Longest Streaks of High Temperatures of 32 Degrees or Colder

Iceage

 

Since 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

 


December Weather Recap - 2017 Ends With Harsh Cold Wave

Frigid new years eve in times squareAlthough 2017 featured two months, February and October, that were the warmest on record, the year may be best remembered for December's Arctic outbreak that moved in on Christmas Day and stayed locked in place through the first week of 2018.  On Dec. 28 the high/low of 18/11 made it the coldest day of the year (based on mean temperature), followed on Dec. 31 by the coldest temperature of the year, when the mercury fell to shortly before the ball-drop in Times Square.  The last five days of the month had highs of 25° or colder, the first streak of this length since January 2004.  Here are some other observations:

 

  • The first six days of December were six degrees above average while the final six days were 15 degrees below average.  Overall the month was 2.5 degrees colder than average and was the coldest December in seven years (and the third coldest in 20 years).  Until the Arctic front moved through on Christmas Day the month had close to average temperatures.
  • For the first time since 2002 December was the coldest month of the year, just the 15th time since 1900 that this has happened.  
  • The month had 2.21" of precipitation, joining three other months in 2017 with less than 2.50" of precipitation.  This was the driest December since 2006 (when 2.15" was measured).  The biggest rainfall, 0.75", was on Dec. 5, pouring down that night.  This was also the mildest day of the month, with a high/low of 61/50.
  • Measurable snow fell on four days, totaling 7.7".  The first snowfall, on Dec. 9, was the biggest, with 4.6" measured.
  • In addition to the Arctic outbreak at the end of the month, there was a cold snap mid-month that had three days in a row with highs of 32° or colder (Dec. 13-15).  During this outbreak there were two 1.2" snowfalls on consecutive days (Dec. 14 and 15).
  • The month's nine days with highs of 32° or colder was the most in December since 2000 (which, like this December, ended with an extended Arctic outbreak, the second longest on record, that lasted 13 days, from Dec. 22 to Jan. 3).
  • The six-day streak with highs of 32° or colder is behind eight streaks in December of seven days or longer.

 

December Cold Streaks

  • Finally, the high of 18° on Dec. 28 was just the fifth time since 1960 that there was a high in the teens in December.

 

Coldest december high temps

Here are other December recaps:

December 2016

December 2015 

 

 


As Seen on TV ...

Pix11On occasion I've been asked to provide my point of view about weather events on New York TV station WPIX.  PIX-11 news reporter James Ford came across my blog back in 2014 and has contacted occasionally to get my historical perspective on weather conditions.  (What's made it easier for both of us is the fact that PIX's office is conveniently down the street from my office on 42nd St.)  Here are the nine appearances I've made (so far) including links to each :   

 

 

Revised.wpix
Nov. 10, 2014.  In my first appearance I was asked to comment about an approaching Arctic front that would drop temperatures to more than 10 degrees below average between the 13th and 22nd. At its coldest, the high/low on Nov. 19 was 36/22, eighteen degrees below average.

 

Rob.frydlewicz.wpix.jan8
Jan. 8, 2015. Talking about another Arctic air mass (which had me wearing earmuffs).

 

RobFrydlewicz_deepfreeze_pix11
Feb. 16, 2015. Here I am in front of my apartment building (it was President's Day) commenting about the coldest February since 1930.  As you can tell by the pained expression on my face, it was very cold, with a wind chill of 5° below zero at the time of the interview.

 

8.me on tv
May 6, 2016.  Commenting about the cool, damp and overcast conditions during the first week of May.

 

Me again on tv
July 22, 2016.  And here I am in front of Penn Station (my train to Lancaster, PA was leaving in 15 minutes) giving my perspective about a heat wave that I thought was over-hyped.

 

 

Me on pix
March 14, 2017 - I was asked to comment about the snowstorm that brought "only" 7.6" of snow rather than the 12-18" that was predicted (the storm produced a lot of sleet) and on the admission by the National Weather Service that it knew this was going to happen but decided not to lower snow totals.

 

Pix interview july 13
July 13, 2017 - On the 40th anniversary of the Blackout of 1977 I was asked to provide some perspective about the heat wave that coincided with the event (which was one of the City's most intense).

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Rob frydlewicz on pix-11 jan 30 2019
Jan. 30, 2019 - After an 18-month absence I was asked to comment about an approaching Arctic front. Shortly after this interview a blinding snow squall its arrival and the temperature plummeted from the low 30s to 6° above zero by midnight.

 

 

August 2019 on pix
Aug. 19, 2019 - On the second day with a high of 90° and dew points in the low-to-mid 70s, I was asked to comment on the hot weather. As I've said before this was far from the heat waves we had in 2010, 2011 and 2012. However, it's the warmer nights that were worthy of note. 

Winter 2016 Recap - Mild, With Cameo Appearances by Old Man Winter

Winter2016This was a most unusual winter.  It began with the mildest December on record, followed by the second biggest snowfall of all time in January, and then capped off in February by the City's first sub-zero temperature in more than 20 years.  (Ironically, last winter was much harsher but it couldn't boast of a monster snowstorm nor did it have any readings below zero.)  However, despite January and February's brief flings with Old Man Winter, December set the tone for the entire season, which ended up as the second mildest meteorological winter on record (behind the winter of 2002).  And although it wasn't the mildest, it has the distinction of having the most days with highs of 50°+ of any winter.

 

DECEMBER

December was the warmest on record by a wide margin (following the mildest November).  No day had a temperature of 32° or colder - a first for December.  Eleven days had highs of 60° or warmer.  The warmth peaked on 12/24 when the high/low was an incredibly mild 72/63 (33 degrees above average).

Milddecember2015  

JANUARY

The first measurable snow of the winter didn't fall until 1/17, and then it was just 0.4".  Then less than a week later, on 1/23, a paralyzing weekend blizzard stopped the City, burying it under 27.5" (considerably more than had been predicted).  This made it the biggest accumulation on record, surpassing the previous record from February 2006, when 26.9" fell.  (However, at the time of the storm the total was reported as 26.8".  It wasn't until the end of April that the National Weather Service revised the total upward to reflect a final band of snow that moved through after midnight on 1/24 that, inexplicably, went unaccounted for.)

 

Nyc.blizzard2016

 

FEBRUARY

A rather mild, uneventful month was upended mid-month when the Northeast was plunged into the deep-freeze, with the temperature dropping to 1° below zero at daybreak on Valentine's Day (wind chills were between -10° and -20°).  Not only was this the first sub-zero reading since the winter of 1994, it was the first below-zero reading in February since 1963, and the latest date for a sub-zero reading since 1943.  This Arctic outbreak was experienced in a month that had 11 days with mean temperatures 10 degrees or more above average, giving this February the distinction of being the mildest of any month with a below-zero reading (there have been 36 such months).

 

Bittercold

 

 Winter2016Recap

 

And although meteorological winter is over, the calendar has a mind of its own as March has been known to act as a refuge for Old Man Winter on occasion - 2015 and 2014 being perfect examples.

 


 


Greatest Rebounds in Temperature Following Sub-Zero Cold

Rebound

 

This post was inspired by the winter of 2016, when the high reached 61° on Feb. 20, six days after a frigid low of -1° (the only sub-zero reading so far this century).  In researching other big rebounds following a sub-zero reading I uncovered one that was even more dramatic.  It occurred in February 1943 when the temperature soared to 63° just five days after a low of -8° (the first of five days in a row in the 60s).  However, winter 2016 can lay claim to a tie for the quickest rise to 50° after a sub-zero - two days later (it also happened in the winters of 1934 and 1918).  The chart below looks at the shortest and longest rebounds to temperatures in the 50s since 1900.

 

  TemperatureRebounds


Record Highs & Lows: The Home Runs of Weather Reporting

Record.cold Record.heatBecause of the excitement they generate I like to think of record high and low temperatures as the home runs of the weather world.  Since weather records for New York go all the way back to 1869 it's a challenge for new ones to be set.  Still, since 2000 (thru 2018) there have been 82 records set or tied, which is about four every year (in 2018 two new record highs were established and two were tied).  However, only nine of the 82 were record lows (most recently on Nov. 11, 2017).  Here are some other interesting facts about New York's temperature extremes:

 

  • The oldest-standing record is the record low of March 1 which goes all the way back to the first year of record keeping, 1869.  The oldest-standing record high occurred nearly as far back, on Jan. 23, 1874.  The newest record (thru the end of 2018) was set on May 3, 2018 when the high reached 92°.
  • 22 record highs and 91 record lows stand alone, i.e. not shared with other years.  The most years tied for a record on one date is six, for record lows on three dates: March 3 (11°), June 2 (48°) and Sept. 8 (54°).  (Ties would be less prevalent if daily temperatures were reported to one decimal point.)
  • There are 21 current records that broke a record set the previous year (12 for lows, nine for highs).  The most recent occurrence was in 1994 when the record high on June 19 broke the previous record set the year before.

 

Ice.surrounds.manhattan

 

  • The most that a record beat the previous record by was 19 degrees on Sept. 7, 1881 (101° vs. 82°).  There are 31 current high temperature records that beat the previous record by 10 degrees or more.  The most recent happened on Feb. 21, 2018 when the new record high was 10 degrees above the previous record (78° vs. 68°).  Eight record lows exceeded the previous record by 10 degrees or more, with the largest difference being 14 degrees on Dec. 18, 1919 (-1° vs. 13°).
  • Of the 150 years since 1869, three had no record highs or lows: 1870, 1958 and 1992.  The year with the most records was 1888 when 49 were set (38 were record lows, 11 record highs).  In recent years the year with the most records was 2001, which had 15 (14 record highs, one record low).  These figures reflect records that may no longer be valid, with many broken in subsequent years.  Looking at records that are still standing, 1888 still has the most, but the figure is 18; it's tied with 1875.  
  • The mildest reading for a record low is 59°, and it has occurred twice - on July 29 (in 1914) and on Aug. 1 (1964).  The lowest temperature for a record high is 54°, which was set on Feb. 7, 1938.  
  • Finally, New York's all time hottest and coldest temperatures occurred just two years apart, in 1934 (-15° on Feb. 9) and in 1936 (106° on July 9).

 

Hotday.newyork.washsquarepark

 

Chart - record highs and lows

 

(This post was inspired by an in-depth compilation of data supplied by Eugene De Marco, another New York City weather hobbyist.)

 

     

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First Three Months of 2015 Were Second Coldest of Past 100 Years

In the past 100 years only 1920 had a January thru March that was colder than 2015's.  What placed 2015 this high was February's extraordinarily cold conditions (11.4 degrees below average).  However, when all winters going back to 1870 are considered 2015 falls to thirteenth coldest (but this still among the top 10%).  Where 2015 stands out is in its snowfall.  Among the twelve colder years 2015 was the snowiest, with snowfalls in Jan-Feb-March amounting to 49.1", which was nearly ten inches more than the second highest total.

 

Old.man.winter

  

COLDEST FIRST 3 MONTHS OF YEAR
           
  Mean Temperature  
  Jan Feb Mar Average* Snow
1888 23.0 29.3 30.0 27.1 36.3"
1885 29.4 22.7 30.6 27.7 23.2"
1875 23.8 25.2 34.1 27.8 34.3"
1904 25.3 25.4 36.4 29.1 25.9"
1883 25.2 30.2 32.7 29.3 29.5"
1893 23.7 29.4 35.5 29.5 39.9"
1872 28.8 29.9 30.5 29.7   9.9"
1895 29.8 24.1 35.4 30.0 22.5"
1912 23.7 28.8 37.6 30.1 20.0"
1881 24.7 28.7 36.7 30.1 22.6"
1920 23.4 28.5 39.9 30.7 38.8"
1886 26.8 27.5 37.6 30.7 19.8"
2015 29.9 23.9 38.1 30.9 49.1"
Source: NOAA, Local Climate Data  
*Weighted to reflect Feb's 28/29 days