January Feed

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

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


January 2021 Weather Recap - Winter Makes Late Appearance

Late bloomer

 

If you're not a "winter person", then the first three weeks of January 2021 were tolerable, as temperatures were six degrees above average (with every day but two above average), and there was no snow (average high/low was 43°/33°).  Then, the jet stream shifted, and the last nine days of the month were five degrees colder than average (high/low of 33°/22°).  On the last day of the month conditions became even more wintry.  Up until the 31st, it appeared the month was going to be among the five least snowy Januarys on record, as just 0.1" had fallen.  But then, the opening volley of snow from a snowstorm that would bury the City on Feb. 1 dropped two inches between 6:00 and midnight - the most snow to fall on this date since 1898. 

 

Despite being 2.2 degrees above average, January's mildest reading was just 51° (on Jan. 2).  This was, by far, the mildest January to have its warmest reading this cool.  Previous Januarys with mildest readings that were either 50°, 51°, or 52°, had an average monthly temperature of 28.9°, which is is 5.9 degrees colder than January 2021 (34.8°). 

 

The coldest day of the month was the 29th, with a high/low of 25°/14° (thirteen degrees colder than average).  This was the coldest day in two years (since a high/low of 21°/11° on Feb. 1, 2019).  

 

With just 2.1" measured, this was the third consecutive January with snowfall that was well below average (January 2019, had 1.1", January 2020 had 2.3").  It was the fifth string of low-snow Januarys.

 

Chart - minimal snow consecutive januarys

 

With an average high of 39.7°, and an average low of 29.8°, January's diurnal variation was just 9.9 degrees, making this just the third January whose average high and low was less than ten degrees apart.  The two others were in 2017 and 1869 (variations of 9.4 and 9.8 degrees, respectively).  This narrow diurnal variation was largely due to the month's average low being notably more above average than the average high (+2.9 degrees vs. +1.4 degrees, respectively).

 

Here are previous January recaps:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

 

 

 


January 2020 Weather Recap: Mild, Dry, Largely Uneventful

Mild

 

January 2020 was the 11th mildest January on record (6.4 degrees above average).  Only six days had below average temperatures; just one had a high of 32° or colder, joining 10 other years with either no such days or one.  The month's highlight was the May-like temperatures during the second weekend of the month when record-setting highs of 69° and 68° were reached.  The coldest reading was 20°, which happened on three days (January's coldest temperature is typically around 9°).  Looking at precipitation, this was the driest January since 2002, with a little less than two inches measured (half the typical amount).  As for snowfall, only 2.3" was measured (but double last January's total).  

 

A typical January is five degrees colder than December, but January 2020 was 0.8 degrees warmer - the 31st time January has been milder than December; the previous time it happened was during the winter of 2006.  Besides being slightly milder than December, its snowfall was a touch less as well (2.3" vs. 2.5").  Although the month had a minimal amount of snow, there have been 36 Januarys with smaller amounts.  

 

Three consecutive Saturdays had very different conditions:  Saturday, Jan. 11 had the mildest reading of the month (69°); Saturday, Jan. 18 had the biggest snowfall (2.1"); and Saturday, Jan. 25 had the biggest rainfall (0.85").

 

Mild weekend in january
Basking in the springlike temperatures of Jan. 11
 
Record mild weekend january 2020
Temperature map during the very mild weekend of Jan. 11-12

 

The month began with a continuation of a streak of above-average temperatures that began on Dec. 22 and continued thru Jan. 8.  This 18-day streak equaled the longest above-average streak of 2018-19, which happened at roughly the same time of the year (12/20-1/6).  Then, after one day with below average temperatures, there were seven more consecutive days with above average temperatures.  The entire 26-day period from 12/22 thru 1/15 was ten degrees above average.

 

A streak of six days in a row with mean temperatures ten degrees or more above average (Jan. 10-15) was closely followed by six consecutive days with lows in the 20s (Jan. 17-22).  Although this was far from frigid, it equaled last winter's longest streak with lows colder than 30°. 

 

January continued the pattern of one month wet, the next month dry, a trend that started in September.

 

Chart - 5-month precip trend sept 2019-jan 2020

 

Finally, this January missed being among the ten mildest January's by the smallest of margins as it was 0.08° degrees chillier than January 1880 (39.15° vs. 39.23°).  And although January 1880 had two days with lows in the teens (both were 17° readings) and its warmest temperature was four degrees cooler than this year, it had five more days with highs of 50°+ (14 vs. 9).  Both years had nearly identical snowfall (2.3" in 2020, 2.5" in 1880) and precipitation (1.93" in 2020, 2.02" in 1880).

 

Here are analyses of the previous six Januarys:

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014


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

 

 

 


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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


January 2019 Weather Recap: Average ... But With a Few Flourishes

Brutal cold january 31 2019

 

January 2019 was average in terms of temperature and precipitation, but this masked the fact that it had two of the five coldest days of the past 25 years.  It was also one of the least snowy Januarys on record.  After the first nine days of the month averaged seven degrees above average, the rest of January was three degrees colder than average, with respective highs/lows of 45°/35° and 37°/23°.  (The month began with a high/low of 58°/39° and ended with a high/low of 16°/2°.)  Despite the month being average overall, the month's high temperature was 0.7 degree above average while the low was 0.9 below average. 

 

Barely any snow fell in January, with just 1.1" measured from three snowfalls (if you can call them that), making this the least snowy January since 2008.  Furthermore, January tied January 1870 as the 16th least snowy January on record.  But what made this year's paltry amount somewhat unique is that past Januarys with little snow tended to be on the mild side, but January 2019 was 4.4 degrees colder than these months. (Fun fact: The four Januarys between 1930 and 1933 each had less than an inch of snow.)

 

Wheres-the-snow-2

 

The month's two wickedly cold days, Jan. 21 and Jan. 31, had highs/lows of 14°/4° and 16°/2°, respectively.  And although January had three days with lows in the single digits, only five days had highs of 32° or colder (there were also seven days with highs between 33° and 35°).  Typically, Januarys with two to four days with lows in the single digits average 11 days with highs this cold, while it's the months with no lows in the single digits that average five days with highs of 32° or colder.

 

Chart - coldest days of past 25 years

70% of January's 3.58" of precipitation fell during two rainstorms that occurred less than a week apart: 1.17" fell on Jan. 18-19 and 1.33" fell on 1/24 (which also had the mildest reading of the month - 59°).  The rest of the month had just a little over one inch of precipitation. 

 

When 0.5" of snow fell on 1/18 (the month's "biggest" snowfall) it was the first snowfall since the "surprise" snowstorm of Nov. 15.  This was the second longest hiatus between a first and second snowfall (lengthiest was 12 weeks in 2011-12).  Furthermore, December/January was the fifth least snowy on record, with just 1.1" measured in Central Park (no measurable snow fell in December).  Perhaps Old Man Winter took pity on us after his surprise 6.4" snowfall back in November.  Interestingly, the winter of 1918-19, one hundred years ago, had even less snow in Dec/Jan.

 

Chart - least snowy dec_jan

 

Salt on steps
Aggressive salting of streets, steps and sidewalks somewhat substituted for the lack of snow in January.

Previous January Recaps:

2018

2017

2016

2014


January 2018 Weather Recap - Early Cold Wave Followed by Three Uneventful Weeks

Snowy streetsJanuary began the way December ended - bitterly cold.  A nearly unprecedented cold wave of fourteen-days, all with highs colder than 32°, began on Dec. 26 and continued through Jan. 8.  But after shivering through the first eight days of the month, which were 16 degrees colder than average (the coldest start of a year since 1968), the remainder of the month was almost five degrees above average (but there were three days with highs of 32° or colder and one with a high of 33°).  This milder stretch of days made the month just slightly below average (-0.9 degree).  For the entire month there were sixteen days that were either ten degrees or more above or below average (there were eight of each), the most in January since 2004.  Finally, not only were the first eight days frigid, but a snowstorm on Jan. 4 dumped nearly ten inches of snow on the City (then just 1.4" fell in the next four weeks).  Here are some other observations: 

 

  • The month was on the dry side, with 2.18" of precipitation measured, comparable to what fell in November (1.58") and December (2.21").  The three months received about half of the typical amount of precipitation (5.96" vs. 11.67").  Additionally, the past seven months have all had below average rainfall.
  • December/January combined were the coldest in seven years, since the winter of 2010-11.
  • Jan. 6 was the coldest day of the cold wave, with a high/low of just 13/6.  And while Feb. 14, 2016 had a colder mean temperature (high/low of 15/-1), 1/6's high was the coldest since Jan. 16, 1994, when it was just 10°.  Then five days after the low was 5° on 1/7 (22 degrees below average), the high on 1/12 soared to 61° (23 degrees above average).
  • On Jan. 15 the high of 30° was the nineteenth of the winter that was 32° or colder, the most by mid-January since the winter of 1981.  (The typical number for an entire winter is seventeen.)  In the past 100 years only three winters had more freezing or colder high temperatures by 1/15: 1977 (25), 1918 (23) and 1981 (21).
  • January and December both had eight days with highs of 50° or milder, but January had more days of 55+ (five vs. three) and 60+ (two vs. one).
  • Although January's temperature was below average this was due to the low temperature being 2.2 degrees colder than average.  The average high was actually 0.4 degrees above average.  This 2.6-degree disparity between the high and low was the greatest since 1994, when it was 3.0 degrees (the high was 4.4 degrees below average and the high was 7.4 degrees below).

 

Chart - Longest Cold Streaks in NYC

 Chart - 12 Coldest Starts of A Year

Here are links to previous January recaps: 

January 2017

January 2015

January 2014

 

 

 


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

 


Photo Gallery: Snowfalls of Winter 2017

 

Feb9 hedges (2) Feb9 trafficTaking a break from weather statistics and analyses, here's a gallery of this winter's snowfalls in New York as captured through the lens of my smartphone. (There have been eight snowfalls thru mid-March - oops, I slipped a statistic in there!) 

 

 

 

Dec11 first snow
0.4" of snow fell the evening of Dec. 11

 

Dec11 snow by streetlight
Snow in lamp light on Barrow St. (Dec. 4)

 

Dec17 boot n slush
Nearly 3" of snow fell the morning of Dec. 17.  This photo shows the slush that resulted when the temperature rose into the upper 30s during the afternoon.

 

1christmas 2016
Dec. 17, Hudson St. (Greenwich Village)

 

Jan7 greenwich village snow
5.1" of snow fell on Saturday, Jan. 7. These apartment buildings are on West 10th St., off of Seventh Ave. South.

 

Jan7 sheridan square
Of all the photos chosen for this post, this one of famed Village Cigar may be my favorite

 

Jan7 snowy seventh ave south
Looking north on 7th Ave. South from the  second floor of my gym (Jan. 7)

 

Jan7 snow covered car
I found the white & gray of the snow & steel on this parked on Washington Place aesthetically pleasing (Jan. 7)

 

Jan7 snowy steps
West 23rd St. (evening of Jan. 7)

 

Jan7 snowy night
The park on the corner of 7th Ave. and Greenwich Ave. (Jan. 7)

 

Jan7 snowy door
This is the front door of my apartment building (Jan. 7)

 

Jan14 dusting of snow
Two days after a record high of 66 degrees, afternoon temperatures on Jan. 14 were below freezing and about an inch of snow fell.  This photo was taken at Sheridan Square Park.

 

Jan14 snowcovered balloons
Snow-covered balloons outside of my gym (Jan. 14)

 

Geese2
Geese foraging in Hudson River Park (Jan. 15)

 

Jan15 wintry sunset
Wintry sunset at Bloomfield Place in lower Manhattan (Jan. 15)

 

Jan31 snowy lexington and 42nd st
An inch of snow fell late in the morning of Jan 31. This photo (looking at the Grand Hyatt) was taken near the corner of Lexington Ave. and 42nd St.
 
Feb9  washington place (1)
9.4" of snow fell the morning of Feb. 9, the day after a high of 62 degrees. I took this photo as I was walking to the subway.

 

Feb9 washington place
This was the sight that greeted me when I stepped out of my apartment building on Washington Place
 
Feb9 jefferson library (1)
The clock tower of Jefferson Market Library on Sixth Ave. in Greenwich Village.  Visibility for much of the morning was less than 1/4 mile (Feb. 9).

 

Feb9 hedges (1)
In front of the NY Public Library on Fifth Ave. (10AM on Feb. 9)
 
Feb9 patience and fortitude (1)
Profiles of famed lions, Patience and Fortitude, who guard the NY Public Library (Feb. 9)

 

Feb9 chrysler building
The obscured Chrysler Building, looking east on 42nd St./Fifth Ave. (Feb. 9)
 
Feb9 patience and fortitude (2)
On a snowy day like this it's more appropriate to call this a "Trudge" sign (Feb. 9)

 

Feb9 blue umbrella
Corner of Madison & 42nd St. (Feb. 9)

 

Feb9 near office (2)
At the height of the snowstorm's fury (Feb. 9)
 
Feb9 capital grille
Steakhouse across the street from my office building (150 E. 42nd St.)
 
Feb9 near office (1)
Lunchtime, Lexington Ave. near the corner of 42nd St. (Feb. 9)

 

Feb9 slush as modern art
Slush & snowmelt at sidewalk's edge on Lexington Ave. brings to mind modern art (Feb. 9).

 

Feb9 snow drift
Snowdrifts in Greenwich Village, night of Feb. 9 (Sheridan Square Park, along Christopher St.)

 

March14 patio
Tribeca patios prepared for evening cocktails (March 14)

 

Fiorello laguardia
Snow-covered statue of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia on LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village (March 14)

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January 2017 Weather Recap: Snowy ... for a Mild Month

January 2017The first month of 2017 was no different from the 18 preceding months, i.e., it was warmer than average.  And it was well above average, by 5.4 degrees, with only seven days colder than average (and eleven were 10 degrees or more above average).  It ranks as the 13th mildest January on record.  The period between 1/11-1/29 was especially mild, with temperatures ten degrees above average.  During this period there were thirteen days in a row in which the temperature stayed above 32° and sixteen days in a row with above average mean temperatures.  The warmest reading occurred on 1/12, when the high reached a record-setting 66° - the warmest reading in January in ten years.  Other highlights:

 

RECORD SNOWFALL

The month had 7.9" of snow, which came from four snowfalls; much of it fell on 1/7 when 5.1" piled up.  The monthly total was an inch above average, but what's noteworthy is the fact that this was the snowiest January of any of the 25 mildest (which averaged 2.3" of snow).  Additionally, four of New York's coldest Januarys had less snowfall than January 2017 (and three had a similar amount).

 

Snowiest of Mild Januarys

 

SMALL VARIATION BETWEEN HIGHS AND LOWS

Also noteworthy was the month's diurnal variation in temperature, which, at 9.4 degrees was the smallest of any January (the 50-year average is 12.3 degrees).  It was also the only January to have a diurnal variation less than 10 degrees (January 1960 and 2011 had DVs of 10.1 degrees).  Seven days had variations of of five degrees or less; however, one outlier was 1/13, which had a 30-degree difference between its high and low (62/32).

 

Diurnal Variation in January

 

NOR'EASTER PRODUCES NEARLY HALF OF MONTH's PRECIPITATION

A nor'easter on 1/23-24 brought winds that gusted to 47 mph and 2.34" of rain.  This storm arrived on the one-year anniversary of New York's biggest snowfall (27.5").  And that storm's liquid precipitation was practically the same as this year's amount (2.32").

 

OLD MAN WINTER'S BRIEF APPEARANCE

A few days before the record high of 66° there was a three-day period with temperatures that were quite cold, with every day having highs only in the mid-20s.  (In a span of three days the high temperature went from being fifteen degrees below average to twenty-eight degrees above average.)  Average high/low during this cold snap was 25/17, eleven degrees below average.  This included the coldest reading of the month, 14° on 1/9.  The 5.1" snowfall fell during this cameo appearance of Old Man Winter.

 

Sheridan square jan 7 2017
Sheridan Square, Jan. 7, 2017

 

 

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