March Feed

How "Back-Door" Cold Fronts Impact New York's Springtime Weather

 

Back door cold front

 

For the most part, cold fronts move from west to east in the Northeast, but, occasionally, chilly air arrives from the opposite direction.  When it does, this occurrence is known as a "back-door" cold front.   Because such a front's winds usually come in from the ocean, this type of front is often associated with overcast skies (sometimes with drizzle); its east-northeasterly winds bring damp and chilly air. 

These incursions of chilly air that come from the opposite direction occur mostly in the springtime, when their cooling effect is enhanced by the wintertime water temperature of the Atlantic Ocean.  In terms of geographic reach, these fronts mostly impact New York City, the Jersey shore, and New England; only occasionally do they extend as far inland as Philadelphia, Baltimore, or DC.

What follows are 40 instances of the more impressive back-door fronts that have come down from the cold Atlantic.  As you'll read, six of the years had two notable back-door fronts.

 

East to west

June 4, 1895 - Winds shifted from the southwest to northeast during the afternoon, breaking a five-day heat wave (its record highs on June 1, 2 and 3 are still standing).  Between 3PM and 8PM, the temperature dropped from 91° to 64°.  The following day would be overcast, with temperatures stuck in the 60s. 

April 25, 1915 - This date experienced, perhaps, the greatest temperature swings of any in New York's weather history.  After the temperature soared from 47° shortly after midnight to 91° at 3:00 PM, winds shifted to the east-northeast, and the temperature plunged to 52° by midnight.  This was the result of a strong warm front moving through for about ten hours (9 AM-7 PM), then being displaced by a back door cold front.  No rain was produced by the passage of these fronts.  Two days later, a similar scenario unfolded.  After reaching 92° shortly before 4:30 on 4/27, a back-door front moved through a few hours later, and the temperature dropped to 54° by midnight.

April 1, 1917 - In the span of just eight hours, the temperature plummeted from 83° to 44° as a back-door cold front moved through and winds shifted from the southwest to the northeast.  This was the warmest reading of the month, with the next reading in the 80s not occurring for another seven weeks.

March 19, 1918 - After a balmy high of 76° was reached at 3:00 PM (a record for the date that still stands), the wind shifted from the southwest to the northeast, and the temperature dropped like a rock, and was half that reading by midnight.

May 23, 1925 - After the high reached 91°, winds shifted from the southwest to northeast late in the afternoon, and by midnight the temperature had fallen to 59°; the temperature on the afternoon of 5/24 was only in the upper 40s.

July 1, 1933 - After a high in the low 90s, a severe thunderstorm from 8:30-10:30 PM dumped 2.17" of rain.  During the storm the temperature dropped from 88° to 72°, where it stayed for much of the next 24 hours.  And on 7/3, afternoon temperatures got no higher than the mid-60s.  

March 27, 1939 - Today's high/low of 73°/39° followed one of 72°/39° three days earlier.  However, while the low on 3/24 was in the pre-dawn hours, the low today was at midnight after winds shifted to the northeast in the PM hours.  And the following day had temperatures in a narrow range of 35°-40°.

April 25, 1939 - After rising from 53° at 4:00 AM to 86° for a few hours in the early afternoon, winds shifted to the northeast mid-afternoon and the temperature dropped back to 52° by 11:00 PM.  And then three days later the high would be only 46° (20 degrees below average).

July 4, 1941 - Just two days after a torrid high/low of 98°/78°, and winds out of the southwest, today was rainy, foggy and cool, with winds from out of the northeast, and a high/low of just 64°/62°.  Today's high would be July 4th's coolest until 1978.

 

Reverse
  

March 22, 1945 - In the midst of the very mild second half of March, today was an outlier as the high reached only 40° (the low was a seasonable 35°).  Winds were out of the northeast, skies were overcast and light showers fell throughout the day. 

April 13, 1955 - A chilly high of 46° came just two days after a high of 84°.  Skies were overcast and winds were from the northeast.

July 6, 1956 - Although yesterday was cool (high/low of 66°/58°), today was even cooler as the high/low was just 61°/57° under gray skies and winds from out of the northeast.  These two unseasonably cool days followed consecutive days in the 90s.

June 1, 1959 - Today's chilly high of 64°, under mostly overcast skies, followed a five-day warm spell at the end of May that had highs averaging 87°.  Today's conditions were the result of a back-door cold front that moved in from New England last night. 

April 30, 1962 - After three days of summer-like warmth (highs of 91°-89°-80°), and winds from out of the southwest, winds shifted to the northeast after midnight and daytime temperatures were only in the mid-40s. 

April 19, 1964 - The day after the high reached 86°, a "back-door" cold front moved through, and by mid-afternoon the temperature dropped into the mid-50s.  (And on 4/21 the high would be just 44°.)

May 5, 1965 - The day after the high reached 90°, today's was 62°.  Winds came from a north-northeast-easterly direction.

April 28, 1966  - It was a dreary, raw, and damp day, with light rain in the morning.  With a high/low of only 42°/39°, today had the coldest mean temperature of the month.  On 4/26 the mercury dropped from 73° late in the afternoon, to 49° by midnight.  Then the high/low the next two days was 52°/40° and 42°/39°.  Winds were from out of the north-northeast.

April 20, 1972 - The temperature at 4:00 PM was quite chilly, at 43°, a drop of 32 degrees since midnight, and forty-three degrees from yesterday afternoon's 4:00 PM reading of 86°.  This was a result of winds shifting to the northeast from dawn to dusk.

May 24, 1975 - Today's high of 93° (the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend) was the year's first reading in the 90s.  However, the heat was short lived as a cold front from the northeast moved through during the evening, dropping the temperature to 61° by midnight, and into the upper 50s by the following afternoon. 

 

Overcast

Aug. 11, 1979 - The day after a high of 95°, today's temperatures in the afternoon were only in the mid-60s after the wind shifted to the northeast during the morning.  The next day was equally cool (after a chilly AM low of 57°) - and  a wet one, as 1.68" of rain fell; this was on top of 0.87" of rain that fell the night of 8/11. 

March 29, 1985 - This was the third day in a row with exceedingly mild temperatures, and today was the warmest of the three with a high of 82°.  Then a back-door cold front moved through after dark, and by midnight the temperature was down to 55°, on its way to down to 46° by daybreak on the 30th (but still well above average).  

April 19, 1985 - After the temperature soared to 88°, a back-door cold front moved through during the evening, and the temperature was down to 51° the next morning.  Then the cool air retreated on the 21st, and after two more days with highs in the 80s, winds backed around and came from the east late in the afternoon on the 22nd, cooling the temperature down to 53° by midnight.  

March 30, 1989 - After the wind shifted to the northeast, the temperature fell all day, from 76° to 50°; the next day the high/low was 50°/41°, which wasn't far from seasonable, but it was quite a cool-down from 3/29's high of 82°.

March 14, 1990 - One day after Central Park recorded its earliest 80-degree reading on record, the warm front that delivered this extraordinary warmth retreated south of the area, as winds shifted to the northeast, and by afternoon, under a bank of clouds and fog, temperatures tumbled into the mid-40s, forty degrees colder than yesterday. 

May 23-25, 1992 - It was a Jekyl & Hyde Memorial Day weekend.  Saturday had mid-summer conditions, with a high of 92°.  Then a big change came on Sunday as a strong cold front pushed through in early afternoon, and temperatures plummeted from the low 80s to 45° by midnight.  Monday felt more like October, with overcast skies and a high of just 61°. 

April 12, 1996 - The high reached 80°, and then winds shifted to the northeast late in the afternoon, dropping the temperature to 55° by midnight, and 45° by daybreak on the 13th.

May 10, 2000 - After three days with highs in the 90s, winds shifted from the southwest to the east, bringing in much cooler air, and by daybreak today, the temperature was in the mid-50s, where it stayed for the rest of the day.  

June 12, 2000 - One month after a back-door cold front cooled down a hot spell, it was replicated today, with late afternoon temperatures in the upper 50s, and winds coming from the east-northeast 24 hours after temperatures were in the low 90s.

 

Northeasterly winds
 

April 16, 2003 - After peaking at 88°, winds shifted to the northeast and by midnight the temperature was down to 51°.  And on the 17th temperatures slowly fell all day, and it was 36° at midnight.  Winds remained out of the east-northeast for the next six days.

May 14, 2004 - The day after the high reached 86°, the temperature was only in the low 60s in the early afternoon.  However, the wind shifted later in the day and temperatures were back into the mid-80s on 5/15.

April 20, 2006 - Today's high of 83° was the warmest reading of the month.  A back-door cold front moved through during the evening, and by midnight the mercury had fallen to the mid-50s, and the mercury was mostly in the 50s for much of the next day, and stuck in the 40s on 4/22 as a developing nor'easter moved up the coast .

April 29, 2009 - The day after the high reached 90° (and dropped 25 degrees by midnight as winds shifted to the north-northeast), the temperature was in the mid-50s by daybreak.

July 19, 2012 - After yesterday's extreme heat (high of 100°) and humidity, today's high, under mostly overcast skies, was just 76°.  Never before has there been such a drop-off in temperature the day following a reading in the triple digits.  The next day the temperature was around 70° during the afternoon. 

May 28, 2014 - One day after a sultry high of 86°, today was overcast, with afternoon temperatures only in the upper 50s.  The back-door cold front passed through after 10 PM, and the temperature quickly dropped into the low 60s, then gradually falling into the 50s by daybreak, where it stayed for the rest of the day. 

June 1, 2015 - After a week of temperatures in the summery mid-80s today, was 30 degrees colder, with periods of rain, drizzle and fog.  Today's high in the 50s was chillier than any day in May - the first time this has ever occurred.  And tomorrow would have similar conditions. 

May 20, 2017 - An early, three-day heat wave came to an end last night after a shift in wind direction.  Today's afternoon temperatures were in the low 60s, which was about 30° cooler than the highs of  the previous three days.

Nov. 4, 2017 - The day after temperatures were in the mid-70s, the temperature at daybreak today was nearly 30 degrees chillier, the result of a shift in the wind direction; afternoon temperatures were twenty degrees cooler.  On the positive side, skies were mostly clear.

April 8, 2019 - After peaking at 79° at 4 PM, winds shifted from west to northeast, and by midnight the temperature was down to 49°.

October 3, 2019 - The day after the mercury soared to 93° (the first reading in the 90s in October since 1941), winds shifted overnight to a northeasterly direction, and temperatures this afternoon were only in the mid-50s.  Light showers and drizzle fell throughout the day.

 

Overcast Skies_Brooklyn Bridge_RedHanded_StockF

 

 

 

 

 


March 2021 Weather Recap: Mild & Rainy Last Two Weeks

 Daffodils of march

 

The first week-and-a-half of March 2021 was exceedingly dry, with just 0.16" falling thru St. Patrick's Day.  (3/1 was the only day with rain.)  Then, in the last two weeks of the month, regular rainfalls returned, with 3.25" measured (more than 50% above average for that period).  The beginning of the month was also on the cold side, with temperatures four degrees colder than average through the 8th (the coldest day was 3/2, with a high/low of 33°/21°).   The rest of the month was six degrees above average, largely due to the last twelve days of the month, which were nine degrees milder than average (high/low of 64°/45°).  Overall, the month was 3.3 degrees above average, and was the 13th mildest March on record (March 2020 was eighth mildest).   The average high was 4.4 degrees above average; the average low was 2.3 above average.

 

The month's highlight was the record high of 82° on 3/26 – the first reading in the 80s in March since 1998 (and the eighth year in which the first 80+ occurred in March).  Besides this first reading in the 80s, March also had the year’s first readings in the 60s (3/9), and 70s (3/11).  This was just the third year in which all three occurrences happened in March, joining 1945 and 1977.

 

82 degrees

 

For the second year in a row, there was no measurable snow in March, just the second time this has happened; the first time was in 1945 and 1946.  And for just the fifth time, February, which was one of the snowiest, was bookended by a January and March with little snowfall.

 

Chart - snowy february bookended by snow-free months

There were eight days that were ten or more degrees milder than average (including 3/26's high of 82°, which was 29 degrees above average), and two others that were more than ten degrees colder than average.  14 days were five degrees or more above average (including eight in a row, from 3/21-3/28, that were seven or more degrees above average); eight were five degrees or more below average.

 

After back-to-back months with diurnal variations below ten degrees, March's was 16.6 degrees (average is 15.1).  Additionally, the range between the coldest and highest temperatures in March was 61 degrees (21° and 82°), the widest range since 2007, when it was 67 degrees (11° and 78°).  This was in contrast to January and February, both which had variations of only 37 degrees. (The greatest range in March is 72 degrees, which was in 1990, when the temperature extremes were 13° and 85°.) 

 

The month had fifteen days with humidity levels that dropped to 25% or lower at some point in the day (usually in the afternoon), with the lowest being 12% on 3/15 at 4:00 PM (and there were two other days with lowest humidity at 13%).  Finally, ten days had a peak wind gust of 35 mph or higher, with the peak gust at 44 mph, which was clocked during the evening of the 26th (the day with a high of 82°).   

 

Here are March recaps from the five previous years:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

 

 March_2021_iphone_calendar-scaled

 

 


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

 

 


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

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


Spring Awakening - The Year's First High Temperature in the 70s

70+

 

So far this century, the average date for the first reading of 70° or warmer in Central Park has been March 19 (and in the past five years it's been March 5).  This is four weeks earlier than what the average date was during 1869-1899; and during the 20th century this first occurrence was at the end of March.  The earliest date for a 70+ reading has been Jan. 6, which happened in 2007 (joining two other "first 70s" in January, in 1932 and 1950); the latest date is May 9, which happened in 1875 (and it's happened in May in five other years, the last time being in 1940).

 

Chart - earliest first 70s

Chart - latest first 70

 

The average high temperature on the day of the first 70+ has been 74°; the average low on that day, 48° (this diurnal variation of 24 degrees is much wider than the typical daily variation of 15 degrees).  The average high of the day before the first 70+ is 60°; the average high on the day following the first 70+ day  is 66°. 

 

11 years' first 70+ reading also served as those years' first 80°+ reading, with the most recent occurrence being in 2003.  And in 1927 the year's first 70+ served not only as the first 80+, but as the year's first reading in the 90s.  Meanwhile, 15 other years had their first 80+ come the day after the first 70+ (the last time this happened was in 2013).

 Chart - warmest first 70s

 

Back-to-back years with very early dates for the first 70+ are 1949 (Feb. 15) and 1950 (Jan. 26), and 2017 (Feb. 21) and 2018 (Feb. 24).  And there have been two periods of three consecutive years with very late dates: 1883 (May 3), 1884 (May 2) and 1885 (April 21); and 1875 (May 9), 1876 (May 6) and 1877 (April 23).

 

The greatest difference in high temperature between the day before and the day of the first 70+ is +34 degrees, in March 1935 (from 43° to 77°), and +33 degrees in April 2001 (from 45° to 78°).  And the biggest decline on the day after occurred in March 1934, -35 degrees (from 71° to 36°), and -34 degrees in Feb. 1874 (from 72° to 38°).  Lastly, the biggest increase on the day after is +14 degrees in 1902 (from 70° to 84°).

 

Chart - biggest temp diff day before first 70

 Chart - biggest temp drop after first 70

The greatest diurnal variation on the day of the first 70+ is 42 degrees, with a high/low on March 13, 1990 of 85°/43°.  The coldest reading to occur on the day of the first reading of 70+ is 30° on March 18, 1934.  It came after the high of 71° was reached and a cold front moved thru mid-afternoon.  (This is the also the only time a reading of 32° or colder occurred on the same day as the first 70°+.)

 

After a reading of 70°+, the average number of days before the next reading of 70°+ has been 11, with the greatest hiatus being 80 days in 1932 (when the first 70+ was on 1/14).  Not surprisingly, the most days to elapse before the next 70+ high have occurred in Jan/Feb -  with the average hiatus being 43 days.  In about one-third of the years, the first 70°+ was followed the very next day by another high of 70+, with the longest streak being eight days, in April 1896 (including highs of 87°, 88° and 90°).  The longest streak in the years since 1900 has been six, set in April 1952.  

 

Spring awakening
 

 

An early first 70+ isn't predictive of a hot summer as some very hot summers had their first 70+ at a late date.  This includes the year with the second hottest summer, 1966, which didn't see its first 70+ until April 25.  And the fifth and sixth hottest summers, in 1983 and 1993, didn't have their first 70+ until April 25 and April 19, respectively.

 

About 20% of the dates of the first 70+ reported measurable rain; two-thirds of these years had amounts less than 0.10".  (By contrast, 40% of the days with the first 60+ reading had rain.)  Just one date had more than an inch, on April 6, 1937.  On that day, 1.02" of rain fell before dawn and ushered in mild air (the high reached 72°).

 

And, finally, some more interesting occurrences:

> In 2018, after a high of 78° on Feb. 21 (the warmest reading ever in Jan/Feb), more than seven weeks passed before the mercury rose above the low 60s.

> In 1998 the first 70+ reading was 83°, and it was the first of five days in a row in the 80s - at the end of March (March 27-31), when the average high is in the mid-50s. 

> The first high of 70+ in 1988, 76° on 3/24, came just two days after a low of 17°

> The day of 1980's first 70+ followed a big rainstorm of 3.42" the day before.

> In 1967, a week after the first 70+, on March 11, there was a week of harsh winter conditions, with an average high/low of only 31°/20°, including a reading of 8° on 3/19; and three snowfalls produced 15.4" of snow. 

> 1947's first 70+ on 4/6 was the day after nearly two inches of rain fell. 

> In 1929 the first 70+ came three days after a low of 12°.  (In 2009 a low of 12° in March came four days before the year's first 70+.)

> In 1874, two days after a high of 72° on Feb. 23, 7.5" of snow fell. 

 

Springtime in central park

 

To read an analysis about the first readings of 60+ each year, double click here.

 

 

 


March 2020 Weather Recap - 8th Mildest on Record

Nyc-covidjpg

 

March 2020 was 5.5 degrees milder than average, becoming the eighth mildest March on record.  By coincidence, this  followed an eighth place ranking for February 2020.  Only one day had a low of 32° or colder (a typical March has twelve such days), occurring on the first day of the month when the mercury fell to 25°.  The month's warmest reading was 77° on 3/20.  For the third month in a row precipitation was below average, but the 3.78" that was measured was the most of the three months.  The year's rainiest and second rainiest days, so far, occurred on March 23 (1.19") and March 19 (0.93").  Like February, just a trace of snow was reported, only the second winter in which this occurred (the other winter was in 2002).

 

 Chart - 10 mildest marches

  Chart - least snow feb-mar

 

Here are previous March recaps:

2019

2018

2017

2016

 

 

 


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

 

 

 


March 2019 Weather Recap - Old Man Winter Makes a Memorable Exit

March green background

 

March began with a continuation of unseasonably cold temperatures that arrived in the last three days of February.  This extended Arctic outbreak persisted through the first eight days of the month; the average high/low during these days was 36°/25°, nine degrees colder than average.  This included three days in a row with highs of 32° or colder - the longest such stretch in March since 1984.  Besides the cold, an inch or more of snow fell on each of the first four days of the month - the longest streak of its kind.  The 10.4" that fell more than doubled the amount of snow from the previous four months (10.1"), making this the fourth winter of the past five in which March was the snowiest month. 

 

After March's harsh beginning, temperatures recovered and the rest of the month was two degrees above average, with the coldest reading being 32° (on two days) - and there was no measurable snowfall.  The month's mildest reading was 75° (26 degrees above average, two degrees shy of the record for the date), which occurred on 3/15.  A second day in the 70s came two weeks later (70° on 3/30).  Overall, the month was 0.8 degree below average, making it the sixth March of the past seven that was colder than average (but of the six years, 2019 was closest to average).

 

75 degrees
 

Like the temperature, the month's precipitation (3.87") was also slightly below average. The biggest rainfall of the month, and so far this year, occurred on 3/21-22 when 1.43" was measured.  This rainstorm was book-ended by three days before and five days after that had unusually low humidity; the lowest was reported on 3/24 and 3/26 when a few hours in the afternoon had readings of 13% and 14%, respectively. 

 

The 11-day stretch between Feb. 26 and March 8 saw the most wintry conditions of the winter.  The five-inch snowfall on March 3-4 was the second biggest on record to fall in temperatures that stayed above freezing (the greatest accumulation in above-freezing temperatures happened last year when 5.5" fell the morning of 4/2).

 

Chart - winter 2018_2019

 

Of all the Marches since 1950, March 2019 ranks among the ten with the coldest starts.

 

Chart - coldest starts to march

 

Finally, although last March was colder than March 2019 (2.4 degrees below average vs. 0.8 below average) it had no days with temperatures colder than 27°, while this March had four such days (its coldest reading was 18°).  However, this March had eight days with highs of 55° or milder while last March had only three.

 

Other March recaps:

2018

2017

2016


 

 

 


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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


March 2018 Weather Recap: Chronic Chill Follows Mildest February

Slushy new york march 2018For the second year in a row March was colder than February (both which were the mildest on record), a rarity that occurred just once before, in 1890 and 1891.  March 2018 will also be remembered for the four nor'easters that lashed the area in a three-week period as well as a 22-day streak with below-average temperatures.  This was the fifth March of the past six that was colder than average.  However, despite the chronic cold there were no Arctic outbreaks; the coldest low was just 27° (the coldest reading in March is typically in the upper teens) and the coldest high was 39° (the typical coldest high is around 32°).

 

FOUR NOR'EASTERS IN QUICK SUCCESSION

Nor'easter #1 (March 1-2) - This was a rain event, with 2.24" measured.  Colder air moved in as the storm exited in the early evening, briefly changing the rain to wet snow, but it didn't produce a measurable accumulation.

Nor'easter #2 (March 9) - This storm produced wet snow which accumulated 3.2" in the afternoon and evening.  Despite a prediction of 8-10" the accumulation was kept down because temperatures stayed above freezing.  Total liquid precipitation was 1.41".

Nor'easter #3 (March 13-14) - This was the least consequential of the storms.  Despite a prediction of significant snowfall there was no measurable accumulation, and just 0.36" of rain.  Curiously, Central Park was the only reporting site in the metro that didn't have measurable snow (JFK had 1.2" while LaGuardia and Newark both reported 0.3").

Nor'easter #4 (March 21-22) - This was the only storm of the four in which the temperature was 32° or colder for much of the duration.  As a result, a significant amount of snow, 8.4", piled up, making it one of the City's ten largest snowfalls after March 15. 

All but 0.11" of the month's 5.17" of precipitation came from these nor'easters.  This was the second month in a row with more than five inches of precipitation, the first time it happened since Dec. 2014/Jan. 2015.  The combined 11.00" that was measured was close to 50% above the average amount of precipitation for the two months (7.45").

 

MORE CHILLY THAN COLD

The 22-day streak with below average temperatures (March 7-28) was the fifth longest in the years since 1950.  But while it was one of the longest below-average streaks on record it wasn't a particularly cold one.  At 4.5 degrees below average it was the least below-average of any streak of 15 days or longer.  Another curious aspect about this March was that it shared some characteristics with Marches that were milder than average, i.e., very few lows in the 20s (just two), a coldest high that was around 40°, and no days that were ten degrees or more colder than average. 

Overall, March 2018 was 2.4 degrees colder than average, which was 1.8 degrees colder than February.  By comparison, March 2017 was 3.3 degrees below average and 2.4 degrees colder than February.  Typically, March is 6.2 degrees milder than February.

 

Chart - most days in a row below average

 Chart - 5 of 6 marches cold

 

Other March recaps: 2017 and 2016