January Feed

As Seen on TV ...


Occasionally, 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 :   


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.


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


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).
























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. 

Greatest Rebounds in Temperature Following Sub-Zero Cold



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.



Latest Dates for First 32-Degree High Temperature



This winter (2015-16) the first day to have a high of 32° or colder wasn't until Jan. 5, which is about three weeks behind schedule.  It was the tenth winter of the past 100 years to have the first such day occur in January (and the previous winter's first freezing high was on Dec. 31).  At the other end of the spectrum, the earliest date for the first 32° high temperature occurred in 1942 on Nov. 14.  The last time New York City had a high this cold in November was just two winters ago, on Nov. 24, 2013.  The chart below lists the ten winters that had their first 32° high in January:



  Date of 1st

    32° High





     Jan. 20    

 Jan. 14

  Jan. 09

  Jan. 06

  Jan. 05

  Jan. 05

  Jan. 04

  Jan. 03

  Jan. 03

  Jan. 01























It should be noted that a late start to the winter doesn't necessarily translate into a continued mild season.  Although the winters of 1919, 1975, 1998, 2008, 2012 and 2016 were very mild (2016 and 2012 were the second and third mildest, and 1998 was fifth), four of the winters on the chart above had periods of frigid temperatures and snow:

Winter of 1987 - Two days after the winter's first high of 32° or colder (on 1/20), a snowstorm dumped 8.1" of snow, which was then followed by five days with highs below freezing.  In the four weeks following the first high of 32°, temperatures were 2.5 degrees below average, and 14.4" of snow fell.

Winter of 1985 - In the four weeks that followed the first 32° high (on 1/9), temperatures were five degrees below average.  A major Arctic outbreak produced one of New York's coldest days in recent memory, with a high/low of +9°/-2° on Jan. 21.  And in the 3-week period between Jan. 17 and Feb. 6, there were three snowfalls between four and six inches.  

Winter of 1972 - A few days after the first high of 32° (on 1/6) there was a streak of five days in which temperatures were 16 degrees above average.  Then an Arctic outbreak moved in mid-January that dropped the temperature to +5° on Jan. 16.  February was cold and snowy, with eighteen inches of snowfall.  Between Feb. 5 and 23 temperatures were four degrees below average and, similar to the winter of 1985, there were three snowfalls between four and six inches.

Winter of 1924 - Although January had average temperatures, there were four mornings with lows in the single digits (two lows of 5°, and two of 7°).  February was cold (five degrees below average) and 8.5" of snow fell on April 1.




New York's Winter Snow Totals Revised Upward for 2015 & 2016


If the winter of 2015 wasn't tough enough, on March 24 the New York office of the National Weather Service issued a statement announcing that the season's snowfall in Central Park had been revised upward by 3.3".  This is the only time I can recall weather records being changed so significantly weeks after the fact.  The official announcement can be found here.  I would have loved to have been privy to the discussions that led to this decision.  I'm especially curious how NWS pinpointed the three snow events that were under-reported (Jan. 6, Jan. 24, and Feb. 2). 


For quite a few years weather hobbyists, myself included, questioned the measurements from Central Park since it consistently reported lower accumulations than Newark Airport, LGA and JFK (yet it often had higher rainfall); therefore, it was gratifying to see the issue addressed.  Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the other reporting locations are at airports (perhaps tree branches in the park were blocking snowflakes?).  A post from New York Metro Weather addressed the subject and its implications for confidence in future snow totals.




A number of other revisions have resulted from the NWS announcement:

  1. With 50.3" the new total, the winter of 2015 moves from 22nd to 18th snowiest.
  2. Feb. 2's snowfall of 5.0" (revised from 3.3") ties it with 1874 as the snowiest Feb. 2.  This new amount also increased the winter's number of snowfalls of four inches or more to six, tying it with last winter.
  3. With Jan. 6's total snow revised from 0.5" to 1.0", the number of snowfalls of an inch or more this winter increased to 13, which is one more than last winter (which had seven inches more total snowfall) and the most since the winter of 1994.
  4. Winter 2015 is now the fourth of the past six to see 50" or more of snow.  By comparison, the average is one such snowy winter every ten years.


Then the following winter there was revision made to that season's snowfall - and this one had more of an implication.  On Jan. 23 a blizzard dumped 26.8" of snow, putting it just 0.1" behind the biggest accumulation of all time from ten years earlier.  Then three months later the National Weather Service announced that snow from a final band, which amounted to 0.7", had been omitted.  This additional accumulation upped the storm's total to 27.5" and made it New York's biggest snowstorm.


These revisions brought to mind 1983 when it was announced at the end of that year that Central Park's rain gauge had been broken since May.  This was an especially crucial matter since 1983 reported the most rain on record, but was it valid?  This put the NWS in a sticky spot, but rather than address it they let it linger for years.  The issue resurfaced in 2011 when that year received the second greatest annual rainfall.  However, some thought it could lay claim as rainiest because of 1983's shaky measurement.  Pressed, the NWS finally decided that the 1983 record would stand - although previous NOAA climate reports left monthly rainfall totals for 1983 blank and noted the equipment malfunction.  I wasn't convinced by their argument.



Persistent Cold Characterized Winter 2015, With No January OR February Thaw



Even the coldest winters occasionally see temperatures rise into the 50s for a few days in a row in January and February.  (The mildest reading during these months is typically in the upper 50s.)  The winter of 2015, however, was marked by persistent cold.  Between Jan. 6 and March 7, a period of nearly nine weeks, the temperature never rose above 45° - an unprecedented stretch.  This streak beat the old record, set in the winter of 1948, by four days.  Temperatures during these days were eight degrees below average, with a high/low of 34°/19°; and temperatures were 13 below average between Feb. 13 and March 7.  Additionally, 44.7" of snow fell, 70% more than what falls in a typical winter in its entirety.


(Since 1910)
  # of   Average  
Winter Days Date Range High Low Below Snow
2015 61 Jan 6-Mar 7 33.8 19.3 -8.0 44.7"
1948 57 Dec 19-Feb 13 31.6 20.0 -6.4 56.6"
1977 52 Dec 21-Feb 10 29.4 17.8 -8.7 22.0"
1981 43 Dec 14-Jan 25 31.5 18.9 -7.3 10.8"
1978 43 Jan 27-Mar 10 31.8 18.5 -7.3 28.0"
1969 43 Feb 1-Mar 15 38.5 23.3 -1.8 22.2"
1925 43 Dec 20-Jan 31 34.4 21.1 -3.7 28.2"
1996 42 Dec 7-Jan 17 33.7 23.1 -5.5 36.7"
2011 41 Jan 3-Feb 12 34.6 24.3 -2.8 33.6"
1985 40 Jan 3-Feb 11 33.0 22.0 -4.1 18.4"
1936 40 Jan 16-Feb 24 29.1 15.7 -8.6 20.3"
1923 39 Jan 22-Mar 1 32.8 20.2 -5.0 25.4"
1945 38 Jan 2-Feb 8 32.2 18.3 -5.7 16.6"
2004 36 Jan 5-Feb 9 30.4 18.0 -7.6 18.0"
1970 35 Dec 13-Jan 16 30.2 21.1 -6.9 11.7"
Source: NOAA Local Climatological Data


Winter 2015 Recap - Global Warming Takes a Holiday



The winter of 2015 started off  mild, but then cold weather established itself in the second week of January and didn't loosen its grip.  (This analysis is based on meteorological winter, which begins on Dec. 1 and ends on Feb. 28.)  Despite the relatively mild temperatures of December (three degrees above average), this was the coldest winter since 2003, as January was 2.7 degrees below average and February 11.4 below average.  This frigid January and February combo was the coldest since the winter of 1920 - and the tenth coldest overall (eight of the top 10 occurred more than 100 years ago).  February was the coldest since 1934, and the tenth coldest of any month.


The winter had no sub-zero days but there were nine days with lows in the single digits, the most since 1994 (which was also the last winter to have a sub-zero reading).  Of course, there were a number of days in which with wind chills were in the -5° to -15° range.  


Last winter, also a harsh one, was characterized by a record amount of snow in a 30-day period (42 inches).  This winter was characterized by persistent cold, which resulted in a new record for most consecutive days in which the temperature never rose above 43°.  The streak began on Jan. 6 and continued for the rest of the winter, a period of nearly eight weeks (and it continued into the first week of March).  During these days the mean temperature was nearly eight degrees colder than average.




In January and February, a series of snowstorms were forecast that didn't live up to their potential, or ended up bypassing us (burying Boston instead).  However, even with these fizzled snowstorms Jan/Feb picked up a healthy 30.5" of snow, which was well above the average of 16.2".  There was a snow cover of two inches or more for the last five weeks of the winter. 




In total, there were nine snowfalls of an inch or more (and one other that amounted to 0.9").  The largest accumulation came from the snowstorm of Jan. 26-27, which brought 9.8".  This storm had originally been forecast to dump 24"-36" on the City.  In February there were three with accumulations of between three and four inches.  


Twice this winter I appeared on PIX-11's 5 o'clock newscast to comment on the frigid conditions.


  Mean Temperature
Winter Jan Feb Jan/Feb
1875 23.8 25.2 24.5
1904 25.3 25.4 25.3
1918 21.7 30.4 25.8
1920 23.4 28.5 25.9
1888 23.0 29.3 26.0
1912 23.7 28.8 26.2
1885 29.4 22.7 26.2
1893 23.7 29.4 26.4
1881 24.7 28.7 26.6
2015 29.9 23.9 27.1
Source: NWS New York, NY  

January 2015 - Not as Cold & Snowy as Last Year, But Sill Cold & Snowy

January 2015

Compared to last January, January 2015 wasn't as cold or snowy, but it was still colder and snowier than average, with a mean temperature 2.7 degrees below average, and snowfall more than double the month's average (16.9" vs. 7.0").  It was also the wettest January since 1999.  What follows are the four key stories of the month:


  • A typical January is five degrees colder than December, but this year it was 11 degrees colder as December was on the mild side (3.2 degrees above average).
  • There was a "January thaw" of just one day, on Jan. 5 when it was 56°/41°.  After that day the "warmest" temperature for the rest of the month was just 43°.  By contrast, January 2014 had a thaw of five days.
  • The rainstorm of Jan. 18, which drenched the area with 2.10", was the biggest rainstorm in January since 1999.
  • Of course, the biggest story of the month was the blizzard that fizzled during the last week of the month, giving the City "just" 9.8" rather than 24"-36" that had been predicted the day before the storm moved in.




JANUARY 2015 vs. JANUARY 2014
  2015 2014 Average
Average High (+/-) 36.1 (-2.2°) 35.4 (-2.9°) 38.3
Warmest Reading 59° 58° 59°
Average Low (+/-) 23.6 (-3.3°) 21.8 (-5.1°) 26.9
Coldest Reading
Mean Temp (+/-) 29.9 (-2.7°) 28.6 (-4.0°) 32.6
Highs of 32 or Colder 13°
Precipitation 5.23" 2.79" 4.13"
Snowfall 16.9" 19.7" 7.0"


Biggest January Rainstorms

Weather_rainy_dayNot only was the 2.10" deluge on Jan. 18, 2015 a record for the date, it was New York's biggest January rainstorm in sixteen years (since Jan. 3, 1999, when 2.42" fell).  This makes it the biggest January rainstorm of the 21st century.  And in the years between 1999 and 2015 there were four January's that had about this amount of rain for the entire month.  Since 1970 this was the eighth biggest January rainstorm (ranked ninth if snowstorms are added to the mix).  Other findings:


  • Of the eleven storms in January since 1970 that produced more than two inches of precipitation, two are snowstorms - the blizzard of Jan. 7-8, 1996 and the snowstorm of Jan. 26-27, 2011.
  • Among the rainstorms, 2014's had the coldest temperatures, which ranged between 34 and 42.  Seven of the other rainstorms had temperatures rise into the 50s.
  • 1979 has two rainstorms on the list, and they occurred just three days apart. 
  • Six of the storms occurred between Jan. 23 and Jan. 28.
  • 2014's precipitation was concentrated in 13 hours; only the 1999 storm had a shorter duration, 12 hours.  Most of the other storms lasted 18 hours or more.


Date Amount Hours Range Comments
Jan 20-21, 1979 3.98" 19 54/27 Began as 0.5" of snow
Jan 26-28, 1976 2.89" 28 56/35  
Jan 4, 1982 2.73" 15 58/36  
Jan 23-24, 1998 2.65" 20 47/34  
Jan 3, 1999 2.42" 12 51/35  
Jan 24-25, 1979 2.32" 16 53/35  
Jan 25-26, 1978 2.25" 18 58/35  
Jan 7-8, 1996 2.16" 25 23/16 All snow 20.2")
Jan 18, 2014 2.10" 13 42/34  
Jan 25-26, 1986 2.07" 23 51/38  
Jan 26-27, 2011 2.06" 21 32/29 All snow (19.0")
Source: NOAA, Local Climatological Data




Winter Festival: A Celebration of Snow As Portrayed by Covers of The New Yorker

The-new-yorker-logo.jpgBefore it turns to slush, newly-fallen snow in New York brings a blanket of serenity even to the great metropolis.  And wintertime covers of The New Yorker perfectly capture the ineffable beauty of the season.  Here are a few dozen of my favorites (captions are mine) ...


New Yorker Jan 29 1927
Snowstorm Meets Roaring Twenties (Jan. 29, 1927)


Snow Beautiful (Jan. 16, 1932)


Wintry Tableau (Feb. 27, 1937)


Little Siberia (Feb. 2, 1946)


The Excitement Builds (Jan. 21, 1950)


Eager Anticipation (Jan. 20, 1951)


Sisyphus In Winter (Jan. 7, 1956)


Hibernation, Manhattan Style (Jan. 21, 1956)


Manhattan on Ice (March 2, 1957)


Polar Express (Jan. 11, 1958)



Flight Delay (Jan 8, 1966)


Old Man Winter's Calling Card (Jan. 7, 1967)


Veil of White (March 2, 1968)


Mantle of White (Jan. 4, 1969)


A Cold Winter's Night That Was So Deep (Jan. 22, 1979)


In Winter's Grip (Jan. 7 1974)


Cozy Inside (Jan. 12, 1976)


Travel Advisory (Feb. 7, 1977)


Snow Day (Jan. 29, 1979)


Serenity (Jan. 26, 1981)


Rush in Slush (Dec. 13, 1982)


Neither Sleet nor Snow ... (Feb. 16, 1987)


Winter Gridlock (Jan. 28, 1991)


Cold Comfort (March 6, 1995)


Fashion Statement (March 1, 2010)


Cold Reality (Dec. 20, 2010)


50 Shades of Gray (Jan. 23, 2012)


Double Duty (March 10, 2014)



New yorker - december 22 2014

 New yorker - flat iron building - march 9 2015


I've written a similar post about my favorite summertime covers.  Large reproductions of these covers, as well as every New Yorker cover (nearly 5,000), are available for purchase on Conde Nast's website.  (And small versions are sold by street vendors throughout midtown Manhattan.)


Weather Analysis: The First 60-Degree+ Reading of the Year



There are a number of ways to gauge how cold a winter has been: mean temperature; the number of days with sub-freezing highs or single-digit lows; streaks of days with below average temperatures; or a dearth of mild readings.  For instance, after the brutal winter of 2015 New York didn't experience its first 60-degree day until March 26.  That's more than seven weeks later than the average date for this occurrence (Feb. 3) - and the latest date since 1982.  Here are more interesting tidbits about the first reading of 60+:


  • In the 19th century (1869-1899) the average date of the first 60+ reading in Central Park was March 8, and then between 1900-1970 the average date moved up to Feb. 23.  Since 1970 the average date has been three weeks earlier.
  • Between 1900-1970 the first 60+ day occurred on March 1 or later in half of the years, but since 1971 it has occurred after March 1 just 20% of the time.
  • Since 1900 the first 60-degree day has occurred on New Year's Day five times: 1919, 1966, 1973, 1979 and 2005.  (In 1966 the year's first 60+ reading followed 1965's last 60+ reading on New Year's Eve.)
  • Looking at all years the latest date for the first 60+ reading was April 15, in 1877.  And nine other years had their first reading in the 60s between April 5 and April 13 (see chart below); the most recent year to have a date that late in 1970 (April 8). 
  • Once every 10 years the first 60+ reading has occurred in the first three days of January, while once every 23 years the first 60 occurred on April 1 or later.
  • In 2007, not only was the first 60-degree reading of the year very early (Jan. 5), it was followed the next day by the year's first high in the 70s (72°), the earliest ever. 
  • In 1997 and 1998 the first 60+ temperature occurred on the same date, a very early Jan. 3.  And 1906 and 1907 had their first 60s on Jan. 4 while 2017's and 2018's  was on Jan. 12 (in 2020 it fell on Jan. 11).  At the other end of the spectrum, 1962 and 1963 both shared March 25 as the date of their first 60.
  • For four years in a row, 2005-2008, the first 60-degree reading occurred in the first nine days of the year.
  • In 1943 the year's first 60-degree temperature, 63°, came just five days after the morning low was 8° below zero.
  • The coldest temperature to occur on the same day as the first reading of 60+ was in the winter of 1957 when an Arctic front knocked the temperature down to 20° after the mercury reached 60° earlier in the day (on Jan. 23).
  • The biggest jump in temperature from the day before the first 60+ reading was 25 degrees, in 1954, when the high jumped from 44° to 69° the next day.  The biggest increase in temperature the day following the first 60+ was 21 degrees, and it happened in 1917, when the high reading the day after rose to 83°.  Lastly, the biggest drop in temperature after the first 60+ was 33 degrees and it happened in three years: 1957 (from 60° to 27°); in 1939 (62° to 29°); and in 1913 (63° to 30°).
  • The date of the first 60+ reading in five years was also the date of the first 70+ reading: in 1987 (March 7); 1969 (March 18); 1964 (March 5); 1963 (March 25) and 1893 (April 1).  Nine other years had their first 70+ reading the day after the first 60+, the last time being in 2007.

 Chart - earliest_latest first 60s