Notable December Cold Snaps

The weather outside is frightful

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



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


Chart - coldest december cold snaps


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


Chart - lengthiest december cold waves



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


Chart - decembers with two cold snaps



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



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


Chart - snowiest december cold snaps


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

 Chart - december cold snaps with no snow


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


Chart - subzero readings in december




The Coldest Day of New York Winters

Frozen bryant park fountain


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


Chart - warming of coldest winter day



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


Chart - coldest day jan 18


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



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


Chart - coldest day same date

Chart - coldest day same date - 2

Chart - coldest day same date 100 years apart 


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


Chart - coldest winter day on holidays



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


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



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


Chart - snowy coldest days of winter

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


Chart - snowy day before and after coldest day









November 2020 Reigns As Mildest November On Record




November 2020 was 5.2 degrees warmer than average and became the warmest November on record, supplanting November 2015 by 0.2 degrees.  Sixteen days had highs in the 60s or 70s (one fewer than the 1931 record).  What stood out was a streak of six days with highs in the 70s from Nov. 6-11, the longest streak of its kind to occur in November.  (And the seven days between Nov. 4-10 had clear or mostly sunny skies.) Conditions on Thanksgiving Day were noteworthy as well.  Although the high of 65° wasn't the warmest on record (it tied for third warmest), its low of 55° was.  (Just two years ago Thanksgiving Day had a high/low of 28°/17°.)  It was also one the seventh rainiest Thanksgiving, with 0.79" falling in the morning.  What follows are a few other observations:


  • Typically, November is 5.4 degrees cooler than April.  This year, however, it was 2.4 degrees milder and became just the tenth November to be milder than April.  (Nov. 1975 was warmer than April by the greatest margin, +4.4 degrees.)
  • The eight-day period between Nov. 5-12 was 14 degrees above average.  The rest of the month was two degrees above average.  These 22 days included four days that were ten or more degrees above average, and two other days that were ten or more below average.  Overall, the month had nineteen days that were five or more degrees above average.
  • At 3.99", the month's rainfall was an average amount, and that was thanks to a rainstorm that brought 0.98" on the last day of the month.  It was also the month's biggest rainstorm.  This storm was accompanied by gusty winds.  The peak gust was 35 mph, which was the seventh day of the month to report a peak gust of 30 mph or greater (the area's three major airports, LGA, JFK and EWR had gusts of 30 mph+ on ten, twelve and nine days, respectively, and their peak gusts were much higher).


Chart - wind gusts nov 2020 

  • The three warmest Novembers have all occurred in the 21st century, as well as half of the ten warmest, and half of the top 12.
  • Despite being the warmest November on record, this November is tied with Nov. 2011 for warmest average high and tied for fourth mildest average low.  Additionally, Nov. 2020 had two days with sub-freezing low temperatures (both were 30°) while half of the ten mildest Novembers had coldest readings that were above freezing.
  • Besides this November, Nov. 1994 and Nov. 1975 also had six days in the 70s (but they weren't consecutive).  But they rank second behind Nov. 1953, which had seven such days.

 Chart - 10 mildest novembers2

Here are five previous November recaps:







 Nov 7 high rises on hudson



Weather Highlights of the Late 19th Century (1869-1899)


New york late 19th century


Central Park's first three decades of weather records, from the latter part of the 19th century, reveal that New York was significantly colder than what we've been accustomed to in the past 40 years.  These decades account for twelve of New York City's fifteen coldest years - and all of the ten coldest springs and nine of the ten coldest falls.  On average, the typical temperature of months back then was three to four degrees chillier than they are now, with March and April showing the biggest differences (6.1° and 5.4° colder, respectively).  Of course, this is not to say there weren't interludes of unseasonable warmth that wouldn't have been out of place in the 2000s.  What follows are year-by-year highlights.



- 1869 -

January 1 - The year had a snowy start with nine inches piling up - a record for the date that, amazingly, still stands.

February 15 - The City's longest-standing daily precipitation record was set today in 1869 when 2.60" of rain fell.  (This amount contributed to February 1869 being the wettest on record - and 151 years later it still is.)

February 26 - A snowfall of six inches was the third snowfall of six inches or more in Jan./Feb., joining another six inch snowfall on Jan. 19 and the nine inch snowfall on New Year's Day.  Today's snow was of the wet variety as it fell in temperatures that hovered around the freezing mark.

September 17 - Showers (0.73" was measured) and clouds kept the day's rise in temperature very minimal, as the high and low were just one degree apart (66°/65°).

October 2-3 - Four inches of rain was produced by a hurricane that struck Cape Cod (1.84" fell on the 2nd, 2.16" on the 3rd).


- 1870 -

February 8 - A snowfall of eight inches was the only measurable snow in February until the last day of the month (when 1.1" fell).  This was also the biggest snow of the winter.

March 17 - This was the sixteenth day in a row with a low in the teens or 20s.  The average was 25°, with readings ranging from 19° (today) and 29°.




July 25 - 11 of the past 15 days had highs of 88° or hotter, including seven days in the low 90s (during heat waves of three and four days).  Additionally, every day had a low of 70° or warmer, and six had lows of 77°+ (one of which was 82°). 

September 30 - After going five weeks with less than an inch of rain, 1.63" fell today.  This was the biggest daily rainfall of the year until 10/12 (when 1.91" fell).


- 1871 -

February 5 - For the second day this winter the high was a frigid 11°.  The other occurrence was on 1/23.  Lows on these days were 2° and 0°, respectively.

11 degrees
March 21 - This was the fifteenth day of the past nineteen to have measurable precipitation, and today's amounted to 1.97", making this the rainiest of them all.  In total, 4.76" was reported (0.1" was snow).

March 27 - For the fourth day in a row the low temperature was 33°.

April 8 - Today's high of 85°, the warmest reading of the month, came just two days after a low of 33°, which was the chilliest reading of the month (tied with 4/2).  It would be another seven weeks before the next reading of 85° or warmer occurred.

July 16 - This was the eighth day in a row with a high of 85° or warmer (just one of the days was in the 90s) and the twelfth day in a row with a high of 84°+.

August 30 - This was the eighth day in a row with measurable rain, which totaled 3.85".  Two of the days (8/25, 8/26) had about an inch.


Umbrella 19th century

September 30 - Today's high was 61°, making it the eighth day since 9/14 with a high in the 56°-62° range; average high during this time of September is in the 70°-73° range.  These unseasonably cool days helped September 1871 become the coolest September on record (a mark that still stands).

October 10-11 - Just four days after the biggest rainstorm of the year (2.72" on 10/6) a low pressure system brought nearly the same amount (2.65", of which 2.44" fell on the 10th).

December 1 - This was the fourth day in a row with highs in the 20s and lows in the mid-teens.  The average high/low of these four days was 25°/16°, twenty degrees below average.  This would be the longest such streak this winter.

December 21 - The first day of winter had the coldest reading of the entire winter, two degrees below zero.  (Two days later the temperature jumped to 55°.)


- 1872 -

March 5 - This morning's low was 3°, the coldest reading ever experienced in March.  This was the second coldest reading of the winter (coldest was -2° on 12/21).


July 5 - This was the sixth day in a row with highs in the 90s, and was the City's longest heat wave until one of ten days broiled New York in the summer of 1896.

October 26 - The center of circulation from a dissipating hurricane got very close to Manhattan as it moved northeastward, dropping 1.56" of rain.

November 6-11 - High temperatures during this six-day period exhibited to following pattern: 55°-55°-50°-50°-55°-55°.  These readings were at seasonable levels.

December 26 - On a day with frigid temperatures (the high/low was just 12°/6°) New York City experienced its first of four crippling snowstorms on 12/26 (the others would be in 1933, 1947 and 2010).  Eighteen inches piled up, making this New York's biggest snowstorm until the Great Blizzard of March 1888.  (It's now ranked twelfth.)

December 27 - The morning low of 6° was the sixth day in a row with a low in the single digits.  There would be eight more days with lows of ten degrees or colder this winter, which ranks as New York's seventh coldest winter on record.


- 1873 -

February 24 - Today, with a low of -1°, became the latest date for a sub-zero low - a record that remains intact. This sub-zero low came about four weeks after another reading of -1° on Jan. 30.


Minus 1

February 27 - A snowfall of four inches was the fifth this month of two inches or more.  (The month's snowfall amounted to 18.9".)

March 10 - The 0.3" of snow that fell today was the last measurable snow of what was New York's snowiest winter for the next 50 years, with 60.3" measured.  (The winter of 1923 would top it by 0.1").  It's now ranked fifth.


- 1874 -

January 7 - The 3.14" of rain that fell today was the greatest daily rainfall in January for more than 100 years (until 1979).  It was also a mild day, with a high of 56°.

April 30 - The last three days of the month had lows of 32° or colder, joining eight other days with lows this cold.  No other April has had this many days with lows of freezing or colder, which contributed to this being the coldest April of all time.  (The following April, and April 1943, would have nine such days, the second most.)

September 29 - What was once the season's sixth hurricane moved over New York as a tropical storm and dropped 0.64" of rain on Central Park.  This was considerably less than the seven inches of rain that flooded the City from Sept. 16-18 from a non-tropical system.

December 20 - Ten inches of heavy snow piled up after starting out as rain.  As the temperature dropped below freezing (from a high of 36°) it changed over to snow.  Total liquid precipitation for the day was 1.92".  (Both amounts are records for the date that are still standing.)


- 1875 -

January 4 - Today's high of 40° was the mildest reading of the month, making it the chilliest mildest reading of any winter month.  (January 1875 would be the coldest January until 1888, and has since fallen to seventh coldest.)

February 23 - Today had the first low above 32° this year - the deepest into the year for this occurrence (a mark that still stands).  The reading of 42° was the mildest since Nov. 17th's low of 43°.

March 20 - 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 - Five of the past six days had highs of 32° or colder.  Average high/low during these six days was 31°/18°, seventeen degrees colder than average.

April 13 - A heavy snowfall totaling ten inches began today and ended in the wee hours of the morning of the 14th.  However, the snow didn't stick around for very long as tomorrow's temperature rose into the low 50s after dark.

April 17-18 - An Arctic high delivered mid-winter cold, with highs/lows of 33°/27° and 32°/25°.  These highs were 25 degrees below average. 

April 22 - This was the sixth day in a row with a low in the 20s (average low this time of the month is in the low-to-mid-40s).  This helped this month become the second coldest April on record (behind April of last year).




April 25 - Less than two weeks after a snowstorm of ten inches, another significant snowfall dropped three more inches - despite the fact that the temperature got no lower than 34°.  This is Central Park's latest measurable snowfall on record.

July 26 - For the first time this year a daily rainfall of an inch or more fell - the latest date on record for this occurrence (a record that still stands).  Typically, the average date for the first one-inch+ precipitation total is in the first week of February (it's happened on New Year's Day in seven years).

August 8 - This was the fifth day in a row with very similar highs/lows: 82°/68° (8/4)-82°/69°-82°/67°-82°/70°-81°/71° (8/8).

October 24 - This was the third day in a row with a high of 71° and it came a month after another three-day streak of 71° highs (Sept. 27-29).

November 5 - The first five days of the month had close to winter-like temperatures, with an average high/low of just  42°/33° (twelve degrees colder than average).

November 30 - It was a bitterly cold day with a high/low of just 14°/5° (31 degrees below average).  This was the earliest date for a reading in the single digits and a high in the teens.  It was also colder than any day of the winter to come (based on mean temperature).


- 1876 -

February 4 - Eleven inches of snow fell from a storm that began last night and continued into today, when most of the accumulation occurred.  This was by far the biggest snowfall of the winter as only 7.3" fell from eight other snowfalls.

September 17 - Heavy rain from a minimal hurricane that raced inland through North Carolina and Virginia dumped 3.37" of rain in Central Park (a record for the date that still stands).

October 15 - 0.5" of snow accumulated, the earliest measurable snowfall on record (a record that still stands).  The day's low of 32° was also a record.

Nov. 30-Dec. 2 - For the second year in a row (on the very same dates) the City was in the grips of an early incursion of Arctic air.  This year, however, temperatures were a bit "milder" (average high/low of 27°/18° vs. 23°/10°).


- 1877 -

January 1-2 - The year started with a snowstorm that dumped 13.0" on the City (4.8" on New Year's Day, 8.2" on the 2nd).  This amount was more than the five snowfalls in December that totaled slightly more than twelve inches.  Both days of the snowstorm had highs of 24°.

March 10 - 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° (eleven degrees colder than average).

March 19 - 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°). 

April 21 - Lows of the past six days exhibited the following pattern: 40°-42°-41° and 40°-42°-41°.

October 4 - A dissipating tropical storm dumped 4.05" of rain in Central Park (a record for the date that still stands).


- 1878 -

January 18 - This was the third day in a row with a high of 32°.

February 1 - Today's two-inch snowfall was the last measurable snow of the winter (sleet was also part of the mix).  This would be the earliest date for a winter's last snowfall until 2002, when the last snowfall happened on 1/19 (and it occurred on 1/18 during the winter of 2020).  In total 8.1" of snow fell during the winter of 1878. 

March 25 - A mild March was interrupted by one day of mid-winter temperatures as the high/low was only 30°/13° (twenty degrees below average); the previous day with a high of freezing or colder was five weeks ago.  The low was a record for the date (which still stands).  

April 18 - Today was the sixth day this month with a low of 42°, which was the chilliest reading of the month.  This is the mildest reading to have the designation as the chilliest temperature of any April.  (In the years between 1869-1899 the coldest reading in April was typically in the upper 20s).

October 23 - The center of the dissipating "Gale of 1878" moved west of Manhattan.  Shortly after daybreak winds gusted over 50 mph and 0.73" of rain was measured in Central Park.




- 1879 -

January 16 - A snowstorm during the morning and afternoon produced an accumulation of thirteen inches.  Temperatures were quite cold, with a high/low of 20°/13°.

May 10 - This was the third day in a row with a high/low of 69°/49°.  This was the first time for this type of streak, and has since been replicated just two other times (in May 1984 and August 1988).

August 18 - 3.95" of rain flooded the City from bands of heavy rain produced by a hurricane that struck North Carolina this morning and moved up the coast during the day.  This amount was a record for the date (a record that still stands).

October 18 - Today's low of 63° was the thirteenth low in the 60s or milder this month, the most such days on record for October (October 2007 and 2017 would have 12). 

November 5 - 1.5" of snow fell on a day with a low of 23° - both are records that still stand.  This was also the third day in a row with a high only in the 30s (typical high in early November is in the mid-50s).


- 1880 -

April 14 - Today's high of 80° came just two days after a record low of 26° (since eclipsed in 1976).  This was the first reading above 64° since 3/5 (when it was 72°).


Pedestrians on FifthAve-48thSt_NYPublicLibraryCollection


September 9-10 - Rain from a hurricane moving north from South Carolina started late on the 9th (0.67" of rain fell) and continued into the morning of the 10th (adding 0.54"). 

November 28 - This was the eighth day in a row with a high of 32° or colder.  The average high during the unseasonably cold streak was 29°/18°.  (Average high temperatures during this time in November are in the upper 40s.)

December 1 - The 1.5" of snow that fell today is the only time an inch or more of snow fell on this date.

December 4 - This was the fourth day in a row with a high of 38° (but each day's low temperature was different). 


- 1881 -

February 11 - Today's high of 52° was the first in the 50s in three months (since Nov. 12).

April 6 - During the past eight days the mildest high temperature was just 41°.  And the last two days of this streak had highs below 32° (more than twenty degrees below average).

September 7 - Today's high of 101° was the first time on record that a high in the triple digits occurred in September.  More than one hundred years later it continues to be the latest date with a high of 100°+.  (There has been only one other date with a high in the 100s in September - Sept. 2, 1953).


101 degrees


October 1 - Today's summer-like high/low of 87°/72° featured the first low in the 70s in the  month of October.  (It would be another 17 years until the next low this mild happened in October; in total, nine years have had lows in the 70s in October, with the last time being in 2018.)


- 1882 -

February 4 - A snowfall of nine inches followed a snowfall of eight inches on Jan. 31.  (Eight of the inches fell today.)  Temperatures were quite cold, with a high/low of 22°/13°. 

April 4 - Today had the first 80°+ reading of the year, which followed the first reading in the 70s yesterday (75°) and first reading in the 60s the day before that (61°).


Central park 1890s

September 11 - Rain from a tropical storm amounted to 3.23", with much of it (2.57") falling today.

September 23 - Less than two weeks after heavy rains from a tropical storm soaked the City, another tropical system brought more flooding rains to the Mid-Atlantic states and drenched New York with its greatest rainfall for any calendar date - 8.28".  And in the preceding two days 3.52" of rain fell.  With a total of 16.85" of rain for the entirety of September (most of which fell between the 11th and 23rd), this would be the wettest month on record - until August 2011 (when 18.95" was measured).

November 18 - Today's high was 63° and would be the last day of 60° or milder for four-and-a-half months, until 4/1 next year (when the high reached 70°).

November 29 - A snowfall of nine inches came four days after a 4.5" snowfall.  And with a high/low of 27°/23°, today was the fourth day in a row with a high of 32° or colder. 

December 31 - After 14 inches of snow fell in November (the second snowiest November), December had no snow at all, not even a trace (just one of six Decembers to have this distinction).  This was despite the fact that it was a cold December (17th coldest on record), with 23 days with highs below 40° and 24 days with lows of 32° or colder.  


- 1883 -

February 10-11 - Eight inches of snow piled up, the second biggest snowfall of the winter (one inch less than the snowstorm of Nov. 29).  However, today's snow changed to rain as the mercury rose to 36° while November's snowstorm had much colder air in place (the high was just 27°).

February 24 - High temperatures today and the previous four days: 34° (2/24)-35°-36°-37°-38°(2/20).  These were below the seasonable average of 40°.

March 12 - This was the tenth day in a row with highs colder than 40°.  (This followed the mildest reading of the month, 60°).  High/low during this time was 33°/17°, ten degrees below average.  Two snowfalls during this streak amounted to 5.5".

March 30 - 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).

April 24 - 0.5" of snow accumulated, the second latest date on record following 4/25 in 1875 (when three inches fell).  Despite the snow the temperature got no lower than 34° (similar to 4/25/75). 

July 28 - The 0.08" of rain that fell today was the last rainfall of the month, bringing the month's total to 3.21", which was the same amount as last July.   Since then, it's happened two more times: Dec. 1916 and 1917 both had 4.25", while Dec. 1960 and 1961 both had 3.04".

September 4 - The earliest date for a reading in the 40s occurred today when the low fell to 47°.  The average date for this occurrence is a few days after the first day of autumn.  The high was also on the cool side, 68°, which was one degree higher than yesterday.  (Sept. 1883 is the third coolest September on record.) 

December 17-25 - Five snowfalls during this nine-day period produced 22.6" of snow, the second greatest amount of any December (now ranked third).  A little more than half fell on 12/24 and Christmas Day, when 12.3" piled up from two different snowfalls.  This nine-day period had an average high/low of 28°/17°.

December 23 - It was a frigid, frigid day with a high/low of just 10°/-1°.




- 1884 -

February 29 - The day after an Arctic front changed rain to snow that accumulated five inches, today's high/low was just 12°/4° (twenty-seven degrees below average).  This was the second coldest day of the winter after 12/23 and its high/low of 10°/-1°.  The next five days (March 1-5) would have moderating temperatures but all had highs below freezing (the average high of these five days was 23°/12°).

March 30 - 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°.

May 30 - It was a chilly Memorial Day, with a record low of 42° (a record that still stands).  And the day's high of 55° was also a record for chilliest high for the date.

June 26 - Almost all of June's 4.98" of rain poured down from a rainstorm that began yesterday evening and continued today.  In total, 4.74" of rain was measured, with 4.29" of it falling today.  Today was also unseasonably cool, with a high/low of 67°/58°.

September 11 - This was the eighth unseasonably warm day in a row, with afternoon highs that ranged from 88° to 91° and lows that were between 71° and 77°.  The average high/low during this period, 89°/75°, was 14 degrees above average.




September 30 - The last three days of the month accounted for all of September's rain, and it was very little - 0.21", making this the driest September on record (a dubious honor that it still holds).

October 22 - Today's 0.89" rainfall was comparable to the amount that fell in the previous seven-and-a-half weeks (since 8/31), a period that would typically receive about 6.50".

November 23 - Today's high of 61° tied 11/5 and 11/6 as mildest reading of the month, which was on the cool side for the distinction.  And yet it would be nineteen weeks before a milder reading was reported (66° on 4/3).

December 20 - The day before the winter solstice began was the coldest day of the winter as the high/low was only 7°/-3°.  Feb. 11 (1885) would come close with a high/low of 11°/-2°. 


- 1885 -

February 11 - Although it was brutally cold, with a high/low of only 11°/-2°, there was an even more frigid day earlier in the winter - on 12/20, which had a high/low of just 7°/-3°.

March 18 - 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 - This was the eighth day in a row with lows in the teens or colder.  The average low during this stretch was just 13°, twenty degrees below average.  (March 1885 is the third coldest on record).

May 31 - Today's rainfall of 0.11" brought this spring's total rainfall to 4.95", making it the driest meteorological spring on record (a record that still stands).  And the month of June would continue these dry conditions, with just 1.32" measured. 

July 21 - Today's high was 99° and came in the midst of a sweltering eleven-day period between 7/16 and 7/26 in which eight days were in the 90s.

October 13 - A tropical storm moved northward through central Pennsylvania and dropped 1.50" of rain in Central Park. 


- 1886 -

January 15 - This was the tenth day in a row with sub-freezing highs (including five days in a row with lows in the single digits).  The average high was 22°, ranging between 8° and 31°.   There was one snowfall during this cold stretch - five inches on Jan. 9.

February 8 - This was the 34th day in a row with highs colder than 40°.  Twenty-one of these days had highs of 32° or colder.  Nearly 19" of snow fell from six snowfalls.  This would be the longest such streak until 1945, when there was a streak that was one day longer (Jan. 5-Feb. 8).


Winter during victorian era

May 28 - For the eighth time this month the low was 51°.

June 23 - A tropical storm passing to the south of New York, dropped 1.20" of rain.  Cloud cover and rain kept the temperature in the 60s all day (the high/low was 66°/62°).


- 1887 -

March 21 - 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 - The temperature fell slowly throughout the day, from 29° shortly after midnight to 19° nearly 24 hours later.

April 18 - Rain changed to snow, accumulating 3.0".  This followed a two-inch snowfall on April 1-2.  Today's snow was a week earlier than the latest measurable snowfall on record, in 1875, where there was a three-inch snowfall on 4/25.

June 1 - After experiencing what, at the time, was the driest May on record (0.34" was measured; it's now ranked second after May 1903), June began with a rainfall of 2.60", which was more than what fell in the previous six weeks.  It was also a record for the date (which still stands).

July 31 - The final week of the month had high temperatures that ranged between 88° and 91°.  In total. the month had 17 days of 88°+.  And there were 18 days with lows of 72° or warmer.  At the time this was the third hottest July on record, and it would be among the five hottest until 1949 (it's now ranked 28th).

September 25 - This morning's low of 40° was the second earliest date for a reading this chilly in September (earliest date was on 9/21 in 1871; 1887 has since fallen to third earliest).




- 1888 -

January 1 - The first day of the year was quite a rainy one as 2.05" fell.  This was the first year (since record keeping began in 1869) to have rainfall of an inch or more on New Year's Day, and it's the record for the date.  (Six other years have since had an inch or more on 1/1, the most recent being in 2007.)

March 12 - 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°.  200 people died in the City, many from exposure to the elements. 

March 13 - A bit more snow (three inches) fell today from yesterday's blizzard, but what stood out today 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 days with lows in the single digits; since then it's happened in just one other year (in 1916).


Blizzard of 1888

August 21 - The remnants of a hurricane that first struck south Florida, then Louisiana a day later soaked the City with 4.12" of rain (a record for the date that still stands) as it traveled just to the north of the City on its way to New England.

September 8-21 - In a two-week period (including a six days in a row, between Sept. 8-13) measurable rain fell on eleven of the days, amounting to nearly seven inches.  Three days (today was one of them) had more than an inch, another three had between 0.50"-0.99".

October 5- Today's high of 66° was the warmest reading this month - the only October to have its warmest reading cooler than 70°.  (Three Octobers' warmest readings have been 70°, most recently in 1977.)


- 1889 -

January 10 - Although every one of the first 10 days of January had lows in the 30s, none were 32° or colder.  The average of 36° was twelve degrees above average.

May 10 - The first reading in the 90s this year (91°) was very early but after today there would be just one more (on June 9).

August 1 - The wettest July on record (11.89" was measured) continued into the first day of August, which was the third day in a row to have more than an inch of rain.  In total 5.68" fell during these three days (1.70" fell today).

August 14 - Since July 15 nearly fourteen inches of rain fell.  Six days had an inch or more.

September 10-13 - A dissipating hurricane stalled off the Delmarva Peninsula and brought bands of rain over the course of four days, amounting to 4.46", with much of it (3.34") falling on the 12th and 13th.  Except for one hour during the afternoon of the 13th the temperature was stuck in the 60s.  These four days were the start of streak of nine days in a row with rain (and ten out of eleven); total rainfall during this period was around six inches.


Rainy evening 1890s

September 18 - This was the ninth day in a row with measurable rain.  In total 5.93" fell, with more than half (3.34") falling on the 12th and 13th.

December 19 - This was the last day of precipitation this year, bringing 1889's total to 57.19".  At the time this was rainiest year on record, and it would hold the crown until 1903 (it's now ranked 14th.) 


- 1890 -

March 19 - A late season snowfall of six inches was the largest accumulation of the winter, beating the snowfall of Dec. 14 by half an inch.

September 4 - Today's high of 88° made this the warmest reading in September.  This was the sixth year in a row in which there were no 90-degree readings in September, the longest such streak on record.


City streets in summer late 1800s


December 26 - Seven inches of snow fell today.  A month later (1/25) it would be edged out as the biggest snowfall of the winter when eight inches piled up.


- 1891 -

January 25 - After precipitation started as cold rain, it changed to heavy snow which accumulated eight inches.  This was the biggest snowfall of the winter, overtaking a seven-inch snowfall on 12/26.

March 2 - 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).

May 6 - The day's low was 32°, the latest date for a low of freezing or colder in Central Park.  (Three days later the high was 82°.)


- 1892 -

March 18 - 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 temperatures were 12 degrees degrees below average (high/low of 34°/22°).


Snow in union square by childe hassam


July 29 - Today was the end of a five-day heat wave that saw the last two days reach highs of 97°.  The average high/low during these five days was 95°/76°.  (The two days preceding the heat weave had highs of 89°). 

November 9 - Rain changed to snow and then back to rain as midnight approached.  During the time when the snow fell 2.3" accumulated, making this the earliest snowfall of two inches or more (until 1953, when 2.2" fell on 11/6).  Because of the rain that fell afterwards the snow didn't stay on the ground for long; in addition, the temperature got no colder than 35°. (The following day would see 1.31" of rain.)

December 31 - This was the eleventh day in a row with highs of 32° or colder.  The average high during this streak was 26°.  This chill, however, would end on New Year's Day when the temperature rose into the low 50s after nightfall.


- 1893 -

January 1 - 1.32" of rain fell, which was 0.02" more than what fell in all of December.  Last year, 1892's first rainfall of an inch or more occurred on Jan. 2 (1.02" was measured).  Today's high of 52° would be the mildest reading of the month.

January 17 - Today was the seventh day in a row with a high in the teens.  The average high/low during this streak was 17°/8°.  This streak of bitter cold was embedded in a 13-day streak with highs of 30° or colder.

February 17-18 - A snowstorm dumped 9.1", with much of it falling on the 17th.  This was the biggest snowfall of the winter (in total there were five snowfalls of four inches or more).  Both the 17th and 18th had a high/low of 28°/17°.

March 9-10 - This was the first time since Dec. 16-17 to have back-to-back days with lows above 32°.

August 19-20 - A hurricane moved over New York City, just the second time this has happened.  A wind gust of 85 mph was clocked and 3.81" of rain fell (1.34" on 8/19 and 2.34" on 8/20).




August 24 - Just four days after a hurricane lashed the City a tropical storm passed to the west and dumped 3.61" of rain.

October 23 - A shield of heavy rain from a tropical storm that passed over the Delmarva Peninsula soaked the City with 2.46".


- 1894 -

February 26 - Today's snowfall of eight inches joined snowfalls of seven inches, six-and-a-half inches, and four inches in the past 30 days.  Today's snowstorm came the day after the coldest reading of the winter, 1° above zero (a record that was later tied in 1914).  After today the next snowfall wouldn't be until 4/12, when an inch fell.

May 25 - This was the eighth day in a row to receive measurable rain.  In total, 2.40" was measured during this streak (with about half falling on the 21st and 23rd). 

July 10 - This was the fourth day in a row with a low in the 50s (59°-56°-58°-56°).  These readings were ten degrees cooler than average.  The low on the 8th is a record that still stands. (By contrast, there have been no readings in the 50s in any July between 2010 and 2020.) 

August 20 - Today's 0.08" rainfall was the last rainfall of what would be the driest meteorological summer until 1966.  Just 4.36" was measured, which was 1/3 the average amount (the summer of 1966 received 0.05" less).

September 19 - A rainstorm that moved in yesterday evening and continued through today dumped more rain (5.16") than what fell all summer (the second driest on record).  Today's rainfall of 4.30" was a record for the date (that still stands).  At the time this was the third greatest daily rainfall (now ranked 16th).

September 20 - All of September's 8.68" of rain fell in a 13-day period ending today (with nearly half of it falling yesterday).

November 5 - Today was the fifth day in the past four weeks to pick up an inch or more of rain (1.67" on 10/10; 1.69" on 10/24; 1.06" on 10/31, 1.60" on 11/3; and 1.12" today). 


- 1895 -

February 28 - This was the only day of this very cold month (the second coldest February at the time, now ranked fourth) with a low above freezing.  And it was the first above freezing low since 1/16.

June 3 - This was the last day of an early season heat wave, which lasted five days.  After starting with a high of 90°, three highs of 96° followed; and today's high reached 95° (but after a cold front moved thru the temperature dropped to 63° by midnight).  The highs of June 1-3 were all records that are still standing.


Bathing beauties 1890s

June 4 - The day after the heat wave ended, today's temperature got no higher than 67°, twenty-eight degrees cooler than yesterday's high.

September 23 - A four-day heat wave, the latest on record, ended today, with a high of 97°.  This is the hottest reading ever reported in the second half of September.

November 1 - For the second day in a row the high/low was 52°/41°, and followed another pair of identical high/lows on these same dates five years earlier (high/low of 50°/37°).

December 31 - The mildest reading of the month was 60° and this was the fifth day this month that it was reached - and all were since 12/20.  It wouldn't be this mild again until 3/31.


- 1896 -

February 17 - With a high/low of 7°/-5°, today was the coldest day of the winter, moving ahead of the previous coldest day this winter, Jan. 6, with its high/low of 12/-2°.

March 15-16 - Less than two weeks after a snowfall of ten inches on March 2 an even bigger snowstorm dumped a foot of snow.  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.


Clip art snowflakes

April 18 - For the first time since record-keeping began Central Park had its first reading in the 90s in April (it was also the first day in the 90s to have a low in the 50s; the second such occurrence would be three weeks later).  This followed highs of 87° and 88° on the two preceding days.  1896 would have 24 days in the 90s, which would be the most in one year until 1936.

April 20 - This was the last day of a seven-day streak with very mild temperatures, with an average high/low of 81°/61°.  This followed a six-day stretch ending 4/8 that experienced a cold average high/low of 41°/29°.




August 11 - Today was the third day in a row with a low temperature in the 80s, the first time for this occurrence.  There have been four other streaks of this length since then: one in 1906, two in 1908 and one in 2013. 

August 13 - 1895's record for most days in the 90s, twenty-three, was broken today when the high reached 90°.  This number of hot days wouldn't be surpassed for 40 years.  Today was also the last day of a ten-day heat wave, still one of the lengthiest on record.  Four of the days had afternoon heat indexes in the 110°-115° range and nine days in a row had lows between 76°-82°.  This lengthy period of heat and humidity was responsible for the deaths of 1,500 persons in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states.


Kids swimming in 19th century


November 30 - The City was shoveling out from a five-inch snowfall (that started the day before) three days after the high reached 72° (a record that still stands).

December 22-23 - One week after a snowfall of seven inches, six inches fell beginning tonight and continuing through the morning of the 23rd, followed by another round during the evening after an Arctic front moved through.  What was curious about this snowfall was the fact that it had a very low liquid content (0.25" water was measured) despite temperatures that were 32° or above last night through daybreak of the 23rd, and rain was mixed with the snow at times.


- 1897 -

January 28 - Snow began falling after 9 PM on the 27th and continued thru mid-day today, accumulating ten inches.  The temperature was in the low 20s throughout the storm.

February 12 - Today's snowfall of 8.5" was the fourth of six inches or more this winter.  Snow started falling shortly before daybreak and was mostly over by mid-afternoon.  The snow fell heaviest between 11 AM and 1 PM when three inches accumulated.  Temperatures were mostly in the mid-20s.

October 16 - Today's high of 87°, twenty-five degrees above average, was the warmest reading in October in the years of Central Park measurement in the 19th century (since 1869).  Although this temperature would be matched in 1919 and exceeded in 1922 (89°), this year's occurred thirteen and eleven days later than 1919's and 1922's, respectively.

December 26 - Today's three-inch snowfall was the eighth time since 1872 that an inch or more fell on this date, an average of once every three years.  Thereafter, however, the rate slowed to once every fifteen years.  (12/26 is the date in December most likely to see one-inch+ of snow.) 


- 1898 -

July 3 - Today's high reached 100°, the first reading in the triple digits in 17 years.  However, the wait wouldn't be nearly as long for the next reading in the 100s (July 1, 1901).

July 4 - This year's high of 96° followed July 4th highs of 85° in 1897, 78° in 1896 and 69° in 1895.

July 28 - For the the second day in a row the high/low was 80°/74°.  Coincidentally, the same two dates last year also had the same high and low (67°/64°).

September 5 - This was the last day of a six-day heat wave, with highs ranging from 90° to 93° (and the next two days had highs of 88°).  Lows on these six days were between 75° and 79°.

November 30 - Just three days after a snowstorm dumped ten inches, a snowfall of six inches accumulated today.  (And three inches had fallen on 11/24.)  The nineteen inches of snow that fell this month is the most to ever fall in November.


- 1899 -

January 1 - The year started snowy and quite cold as three inches fell between 2:00 and 8:00 this morning and the temperature slowly fell throughout the day, dropping from 18° to 8°.  Breezy conditions (gusts of 15-20 mph) created wind chills in the zero to -5° range.

February 12 - This was the third day in a row in which temperatures failed to rise above 9°.  Highs/lows on these days were 7°/-6° (2/10); 9°/-2° (yesterday); and 9°/4° (today).  Today was also on the snowy side with snow falling most of the day; by midnight 5.3" had accumulated.


Frozen man


February 13 - This was the fifth day in a row of a memorable cold wave in which highs were between 6° and 11° and lows between -6° and +6°.  In addition to the bitter cold, a blizzard that began yesterday continued today burying the City under sixteen inches of snow (10.7" fell today on top of yesterday's 5.3").  Winds that gusted between 25 and 35 mph produced wind chills around -10°.  At the time this was New York's third biggest snowfall (now tied for 17th place).  This snow came five days after a snowfall of 6.5".


Blizzard of feb 1899

April 6 - This was the sixth day in a row with a low of 32° or colder, tying two other six-day streaks in 1875 and 1891 as the longest on record in April (and there have been none of this length since then).  

May 4 - Today had the season's last reading in the 40s (the low of 48° was seasonable for the date), the earliest date on record for this occurrence (which still stands).  In the 19th century, the average date of this occurrence was 5/28 (in the 21st century, the date is ten days earlier).

June 20 - Today was the seventh day this month with a high in the 90s, the most of any June until 1923 (when there would be eight).  These hot days contributed to making this, at the time, the hottest June on record (until 1923; it's now tied for tenth). 

October 18 - It was a very mild day, with a high/low of 79°/67° (twenty degrees above average).  This was the sixth day of a seven-day streak in which every day's low was in the 60s, which was comparable to the average high during this time of the month (low 60s).

December 27 - The 0.1" of snow that accumulated today was the first measurable snowfall of the winter, a winter that would have 13.4" of snow in total, the least since the winter of 1878.


Here are recaps of decades of the 20th and 21st centuries:








Year-by-Year Review (1970-2019)

October 2020 Weather Recap: 'Mother Nature' Dresses Up as 'Jack Frost' for Halloween

New york in fall 2020


October 2020 was slightly milder and wetter than average in New York.  The month's first week-and-a-half was uneventful, with just 0.06" of rain.  Then three significant rain events soaked the City, each bringing more than an inch of rain: 1.30" fell on 10/12-13; 1.36" on 10/17 and 2.17" on 10/29-30.  The first and third rainmakers were from remnants of hurricanes Delta and Zeta.  The month ended up with 5.05" of rain, 0.65" above average.  Overall, the month was one degree above average, making it the 11th October in a row that was milder than average.  The low was nearly two degrees above average while the high was just about average (+0.1 degree). 


Until the end of the month the chilliest reading had been 44°, which would have been one of the mildest readings for this distinction in October (October 1946's and 1971's coolest reading was 45°; October 2007's was 44°; last October's was 43°).  But then a shot of Arctic air followed the rainstorm of 10/29-30 and Halloween morning dawned with a low of 32°, the coldest reading in October since 1988.  This was three weeks earlier than the average date of the first freezing or colder reading in Central Park.




The month's mildest reading was 74° (on 10/7), which was the coolest warmest reading in October since 2009, which also had a mildest reading of 74° (October 2009 was the last time the month was chillier than average).  The last time the warmest reading was cooler than this was in 1987, when it was 72°.  (By contrast, last October's warmest reading was a sizzling 93°.)  There were just six days with highs in the 70s (the October average is nine), none of which occurred back-to-back.  This was just the third time this has happened in October in the past 100 years.  And this October was the only one of the three that was above average temperature-wise.


Chart - back to back 70s in Oct

Although the month was one degree milder than average, both the warmest and chilliest readings of October were six degrees cooler than what the average warmest and chilliest readings are in October.


Finally, there were just eight days with mean temperatures five degrees or more above average, and four days that were five degrees or more below average.  The lengthiest streak of days that were five degrees or more above average was five (10/20-24); this streak was nine degrees above average (high/low of 69°/58°).  There were no extended periods of significantly chillier than average temperatures, but the last two days of the month were twelve degrees below average (high/low of 47°/34°).


Geese on the pier


Here are previous recaps of October's weather:









September 2020 Weather Recap: Cool & Dry Conditions Sandwiched Between Mild & Wet

September 2020


September 2020 was a touch milder than average (+0.8 degree), with close to an average amount of rain (3.94").  The month's story can be told by three eight-day periods: Sept. 3-9 was four degrees above average, Sept. 23-30 was six degrees above average, and the middle of the month (Sept. 15-22) was six degrees chillier than average, and rain-free.  Nearly all of the month's nearly four inches of rain was produced by three storm systems: 0.71" on 9/3, 1.20" on 9/10 and 1.61" on 9/29-30. 


The month's near average rainfall belied a 16-day streak with no measurable rain (Sept. 11-26).  This was the longest dry streak since the fall of 2017.  These dry conditions were largely due to a strong high pressure system that anchored itself over the Northeast for about a week.  It prevented moisture from hurricane Sally and tropical storm Beta from moving into the area and brought chilly air into the region, delivering the City's earliest lows in the 40s in seven years (49° on 9/21, 48° on 9/22).


Just seven days had highs of 80° or warmer, joining ten other Septembers since 1970 with this few.  The warmest reading was 85°, occurring on 9/3 and again on 9/4 (a typical September's hottest reading is around 90°).  The month's average high of 75.5° was the coolest since 2009.  And although the month's average temperature was a touch above average, it was the coolest September since 2013.


Chart - septembers by decades


Finally, although highs in the 80s/90s and lows in the 70s occasionally occur in October, if 2020's final reading of 80°+ remains at 9/10, it will be one of the earliest dates on record for this occurrence.  Meanwhile, the 58 lows of 70°+ is the third most after 1906 (61) and 2005 (60). 

Here are previous September recaps:








Weather Highlights of the First Decade of the 20th Century (1900-1909)


On the beach_charles hoffbauer


The decade started with the first back-to-back triple-digit highs (summer of 1901) and ended with the snowiest Christmas Day (1909).  In between were two of New York's coolest summers (1902 and 1903), and two of its coldest winters (1903-04 and 1904-05).  1904 would also gain the distinction of being the fifth coldest year on record (where it remains).  Other highlights included a tropical storm in October 1903 that flooded the area with more than eleven inches of rain; unusually warm nights during the summers of 1906 and 1908; and, at the time, the hottest July on record in 1908 (until 1952).  Finally, the 1900s is the only decade that had no snowstorms of a foot or more.  


- 1900 -

March 16 - The day after a five-inch snowfall, today saw an onslaught of freezing rain.  0.89" of liquid precipitation fell in temperatures that were mostly at freezing or colder (the day's high/low was 33°/22°).

July 4 - Today's high was 91°, making this the third year in a row with a high in the 90s on the 4th of July - the longest such streak for this holiday.


Beach 1900s


September 6 - Today was the 21st day this year with a high in the 90s, twice the average number.  The next time there were this many hot days wouldn't be until 1929.


- 1901 -

February 26 - Today's high of 42° was the mildest reading of the month, and the mildest since 1/22.

March 21 - Although today's high was just 53°, it was the mildest temperature in March and would be the chilliest reading to be the warmest of any March in the 20th century (a distinction that has continued in the 21st century). 

April 12 - A year after the first reading in the 60s occurred on April 6, this year it occurred six days later - the third latest date for this occurrence (behind 4/15 in 1877 and 4/13 in 1891).

June 23 - This month's paltry 1.00" of rain (today was the last day with rain) was sandwiched between four months that each had more than six inches (April, May, July and August).

July 2 - For the second day in a row the high reached 100°, the first time on record there were back-to-back days in the triple digits.  It would be 25 years before this happened again.  (Since then, there have been seventeen occasions with consecutive days, or more, with triple digit readings, with the last time being in 2011).


City Baths 1900s


November 28 - Today would have been quite cold even by the standards of mid-winter as the high/low was only 26°/19°, making this the coldest Thanksgiving Day of the 20th century (based on mean temperature). 

December 4-6: This three-day period had very similar, very cold highs and lows: 27°/21°, 27°/19°, and 27°/17°.

December 15 - After mild temperatures in the overnight hours, and a hard rain in the morning that amounted to 1.16", the temperature plummeted from 60° to 22 °.

December 16-21 - This six-day period had three pairs of days with identical highs/lows: 26°/20° on Dec. 16 and 17; 28°/20° on Dec. 18 and 19; and 26°/19° on Dec. 20 and 21.

December 23-28 - This six-day period had very similar, slightly above average high temperatures: 42°-43°-43°-42°-43°-44° (today).


- 1902 -

January 1 - This morning's low of 13° was the coldest reading of the winter - the first winter since 1871 not to have any lows in the single digits or colder.  A typical winter's coldest reading in this era was typically around 2° or 3° above zero.

July 9 - Today was the only day of the year with a high in the 90s, making this the only summer (going back to 1869) with just one 90-degree reading.  And the mercury went no higher than 90°.

July 28 - An evening thunderstorm between 6:45-8:30 PM flooded the City with 3.08" of rain, with almost all of it (3.00") falling in an hour (and two inches fell in a 30-minute period).  At the time this was Central Park's greatest 60-minute rainfall on record (until a storm on Sept. 5, 1913 dropped 3.31").

August 6 - Just ten days after a tremendous short-duration deluge flooded the City, another one occurred today at daybreak.  Of the 2.21" of rain that fell from 5:15 to 7:45 AM, almost all of it (1.91") was concentrated in a 30-minute period.

September 2 - Today, with a high of 82°, was the last day to report a high in the 80s (or warmer) this year - the earliest date for this occurrence (a mark that still stands).  Typically, the last 80+ reading is during the last week of September. 

September 9 - Today's rainfall of 0.86" was enough to be a record for the date, a record which still stands.  Only one other record daily rainfall is less than one inch (0.91" on April 29, 1909).

November 29 - Today's low of 34° was the coldest reading of the month, making this the first November whose coldest low wasn't 32° or colder.  (A typical November between 1870 and 1900 averaged eight such lows.)

December 9 - It was a bitterly cold day, with a high/low of only 17°/8°, which was 25 degrees colder than average.


- 1903 -

January 1-6 - The first six days of the year had very similar high temperatures: 40°-41°-42°-40°-42°-40° (today).  This was slightly milder than average. 

February 16-17 - A snowfall of 9.5" was the biggest accumulation of the winter - and occurred on the same date as the previous winter's biggest snowfall (10").

June 24 - This was the sixteenth day of the past eighteen to have measurable rain.  Nearly seven inches fell during this period, coming after a 15-day stretch with no rain (and just 0.30" fell in the prior seven-and-a-half weeks).  During these wet days there was also an eight-day streak (6/13-20) in which highs were only in the 60s (highs are typically in the upper 70s).

June 29 - A rainstorm that began at daybreak continued until 1 PM and dumped 2.57" of rain (a record amount for the date).  Much of it (1.90") poured down between 11 AM and 1 PM.

July 3 - This was the 20th day of the past 27 (since 6/7) to report measurable rain, totaling 10.37".

September 16 - A category 1 hurricane made landfall on the Jersey shore in the morning and brought a brief period of heavy rain to New York between 11 AM-2 PM, with 1.63" measured.

October 8-9 - A stalled hurricane (that weakened to tropical storm status), and a low-pressure system that formed along an approaching cold front, combined to create a tremendous rainstorm that produced 11.63" over 26 hours.  The deluge started late in the morning of the 8th (4.30" was measured) and continued thru mid-afternoon on the 9th (when 7.33" fell).  Rain fell at a rate of an inch every two hours for a large portion of the storm; at its most intense, 2.54" fell from 9-11 AM on the 9th.  At the time the rainfall on the storm's second day was New York's second greatest daily amount (behind Sept. 23, 1882's 8.28"); it's now ranked fourth.

November 29 - For the fifth day in a row the high was 32° or colder (average high in late November is in the mid-40s).

December 16 - This was the third day in a row with a high of 26°.  Lows on these three days were 21° (12/14), 20° (12/15) and 19° (12/16).  This streak followed a high of 54° on 12/13.

December 20 - Today's rainfall of 1.34" made 1903 New York's wettest year on record, passing 1889 (which had 57.16").  This would remain New York's wettest year until 1972 (it's now fallen to eleventh place).


- 1904 -

January 6 - Ten of the past eleven days had highs of 32° or colder.  The average high/low during this time was 25°/13°.  Yesterday had the coldest reading, -4° (the only sub-zero reading of the decade).  And Jan. 2 had eight inches of snow (2.3" of snow accumulated from two other snowfalls in late December).

February 9-19 - One month after an extended cold wave, another one of identical length moved in.  Ten of the eleven days had highs of 32° or colder.  The average high/low during these days was 25°/11°, twelve degrees colder than average.  The coldest reading during this period was 2° on Feb. 16, and two snowfalls produced five inches of snow.



August 20 - Today's 3.63" of rain was a record for the date (that still stands), with much of it falling between 1-10 AM and nearly half (1.73") fell in an hour. 

September 13 - Although it was just 0.01", today's rain broke a three-week dry spell.

September 14-15 - After three weeks in which just 0.01" of rain fell, 3.84" poured down from a hurricane that crossed the eastern end of Long Island and tore 19 barges from their moorings in New York Harbor.  The rain was split pretty evenly between the evening of 9/14 and the following morning.

November 3 - Today's high of 60° would be the last high of 60+ for more than four months (until a high of 67° on March 18).

December 17-18 - Six inches of snow fell four days after a snowfall of seven inches.


New-york-winter 1900s vintage photography


December 22 - This was the last day of a two-week period with unseasonably cold weather.  The average high/low of 32°/21° was ten degrees below average.  Eight of the days had highs that were 32° or colder. 


- 1905 -

January 1 - With a high/low of 53°/42°, this was the first time since 1889 that New Year's Day was completely above freezing.  And the day's high would be the warmest for eleven weeks (thru March 18).

January 25 - Steady snow that began last night continued until 9 PM tonight and accumulated 11 inches, the biggest snowfall since the blizzard of February 1899.  Temperatures fell from the mid-twenties in the early morning to low teens by the time the last flakes fell.  This was the fourth snowstorm of six inches or more since mid-December.




January 28 - With a high of 33°, today was the only day in the two-week period from Jan. 23 to Feb. 5 to have a high above freezing.

February 21 - Today, with a high/low of 41°/33°, was the mildest day of the month (and the only day with a low above freezing).  Not surprisingly, this would be the third coldest February on record (it's since fallen to fifth).

March 18 - Today's high of 67° was the first daily high reading above 50° in ten weeks, since Jan. 7.

September 3 - Today was the fifth day in a row in which the temperature was stuck in the 70s. The high/low of these five days: 77°/71° (on 8/30); 78°/70°; 76°/70°; 75°/70°; and 79°/73° (today).  Another feature of today was heavy rain during the morning that amounted to 2.47", with almost all of it falling between 6 AM and noon. 

September 18 - Today's high/low of 77°/72° was the tenth time this summer temperatures were stuck in the 70s for the entire day - the most of any year (a record that still stands).

October 20 - Six of the past seven days had highs in the 70s (warmest reading was 77°) at a time of year when the average high is in the low 60s.  And four of the days had lows in the 60s (warmest was 68° on the 19th, a record that still stands).  Cooler air moved in later today after the exit of a coastal storm that produced 2.33" of rain between last night and noon today.

November 28 - The first significant rain in the past 38 days fell today, a period when just 0.20" was measured.  0.56" fell during the PM hours and continued into the following day, with an additional 1.01" measured.


- 1906 -

March 25 - Since March 13 the average high/low was just 35°/24°, twelve degrees below average, with every day's high colder than 40°.  This winter-like cold was accompanied by two significant snowfalls of 6.5" (mostly on the 15th) and 5" (on the 19th).  Before these snowfalls just 9.5" had fallen this winter. 

July 23 - Despite a sultry low of 80°, today's high failed to reach 90°, peaking at 87°.  This is the only instance in which an 80-degree low was followed by a high that stayed in the 80s.

September 21 - Today's low of 75° was the 61st day this year with a low of 70° or warmer.   No other year has had more (2010 came close, with 60 such days).  This amount was more than double the average of 30 days.

December 4 - The high/low was a bitingly cold 26°/13°.  This compares to the average high/low in the first week of December of 48°/33°.  Only Christmas Eve day would see colder readings this month (20°/12°).


- 1907 -

January 4 - For the second year in a row the first reading in the 60s fell on this date, more than two months earlier than the typical date (March 11).  The day's high in both years was 60°.  (At the time only 1876 had an earlier date for a reading in the 60s; since then, nine years have had first 60s on one of the first three days of January.)

February 5 - Since Jan. 17, 26" of snow accumulated from seven days with measurable snow.  Nearly half, 11", fell today.  And nearly the same amount would fall in the next two months (thru 4/9).

April 9 - Today's five-inch snowfall was the seventh of four inches or more in the past three months. 

November 10 - Today's high of 61° was the relatively chilly mildest reading of the month - and there wouldn't be another reading in the 60s until March 26.

December 31 - On the night of the first ball-drop in Times Square, the temperature was in the mid-30s under fair skies.


- 1908 -

February 6 - Today's snowfall of eight inches came two weeks after a snowfall of ten inches.




February 10 - This was the eighth day of the past nine with a high of 32° or colder.  The day with a high warmer than 32°, Feb. 6, had eight inches of snow.  The average high/low during these nine days was 27°/13°.

March 11-15 - This string of five days had very similar high temperatures, which were close to ten degrees above average: 53°-55°-54°-54°-55°. 

July 7 - This morning's low was a stifling 84°, close to the average high in mid-July, and the warmest low reading on record.  Another 84° low would occur in mid-August.  It would then be another 87 years before this reading was reached again (and once more in 2011).  Despite such a warm start, the highs on both days this summer reached just 93°.


Beach stroll 1900s

August 2 - This was the only day between July 18 and Aug. 17 not to have a low of 70° or warmer.

September 27 - This was the 21st day in a row with no rain.  (The other nine days of the month had rain on three days, which amounted to 1.91".)

October 16 - Today's high of 80° came five weeks and one day after the previous reading in the 80s (Sept. 11).  If that September date had remained as the year's last 80+ temperature it would have been one of the earliest on record for this occurrence.  (1902 holds the record, Sept. 2.)

October 27 - For the fourth day in row lows were in the mid-to-upper 60s, about twenty degrees above average, and warmer than the typical high during this time of year (61°).  Two of the days had record-high lows which are still standing (69° on the 25th, 66° on the 27th).

November 8-11 - The highs/lows of this four-day period were very similar: 56°/49°, 57°/46°, 57°/47° and 58°/47°.  These temperatures were five degrees milder than average.

November 18 - The 0.05" of rain that fell today was the last measurable precipitation of the month.  In total, just 0.71" fell, tying Nov. 1890 as the driest November on record (they've since fallen to third).  This followed a dry October and September, in which just 1.38" and 1.91" of rain fell, respectively.  The four inches of rain that was measured made this the driest fall on record (and the following year would be the second driest).  It would be two-and-a-half weeks before the next measurable precipitation fell (on 12/6).

December 26-28 - The highs and lows of this three-day period were very similar: 40°/35°, 40°/34° and 40°/35°.  And temperatures on 12/25 and 12/29 were somewhat similar as well (42°/36° and 43°/35°). 

December 30 - Today was the last day, and 94th day of the year, with measurable precipitation (0.12" of rain fell) - the fewest number of days on record (later tied in 1941).  The year's total precipitation, 41.01", was slightly below the average of the previous 40 years (43.58").


- 1909 -

April 29 - Today's rainfall of 0.91" was enough to be a record for the date, a record which still stands.  Only one other daily rainfall record is less than one inch (0.86" on Sept. 9, 1902).

August 16 - 4.80" of rain fell, but it wasn't from a tropical system.  At the time, this rainfall was tied for third greatest daily amount (it's now tied for 13th).  Rain on this rainy Monday fell heaviest between 10 AM and 9 PM.

August 21 - After 8.50" of rain had fallen in the first twenty days of the month, there would be no measurable rainfall for the next 15 days.

December 13 - A nor'easter produced 3.03" of rain (and an inch of snow at the onset), a record amount for the date, and the most to fall in one day in the month of December (3.25" fell for the entirety of the storm).  Rain fell throughout the day, but significant amounts fell after 11 AM; more than half of the rain fell between 7-11 PM.  

December 14 - Today's high of 53°, which occurred in the wee hours of the morning, would be the last high in the 50s until Feb. 27. 

December 15 - This was the last day this month with a high above 40°.  (The next time the high rose to 40°+ would be on Jan. 2.)

December 25 - Snow began falling mid-afternoon and by midnight seven inches had accumulated (an additional inch fell after midnight).  After 10 PM winds gusted to 30 mph.  This snowfall exceeded the Christmas Day snowfall of 1902 by half an inch to become the snowiest Christmas on record (which still stands).


 Hanging laundry


To read about weather highlights in other decades:

Late 19th Century (1869-1899)

































August 2020 Weather Recap: A Continuation of Summer's Above Average Temperatures

Isaias august 2020


Like June and July, August was warmer than average, but not to the degree of the two preceding summer months.  It was 1.7 degrees above average and the 23rd hottest August on record.  This followed June, which was 16th hottest (2.3 degrees above average), and July, which was 7th hottest (+3.5 degrees). There were no scorching heat waves, but the number of days with lows in the 70s was above average.  Tropical storm Isaias, which struck on the 4th, was August's weather highlight, followed by a thunderstorm on the 12th that was the month's biggest rain maker.  Overall, the month's 5.03" of rain was a touch above average.


There were four days in the 90s and six days with highs of 88° or 89°.  Hottest reading of the month was 92°. The two days with the warmest lows (78° on Aug 2 and 77° on Aug 11) failed to have highs of 90+.  There were no heat waves and none of the days in the 90s were back to back.


Tropical storm Isaias was largely a wind event, with well under an inch of rain measured.  A gust of close to 50 mph was clocked in Central Park while the area's major airports all had gusts around 70 mph.  By comparison, a severe evening thunderstorm eight days after the tropical storm produced 1.76", more than three times the amount from Isaias (0.55").


This was the seventh August in a row with no lows in the 50s (coolest reading was 62°).  There were 19 days with lows in the 70s, which was well above average (13).  Only six Augusts have had more; five others also had 19.  However, the number of days with lows of 75°+ was just slightly more than average, ranking 29th (and tied with six other years).  The fourth longest streak of days with lows of 70+, 20 days, ended on 8/7 (just two shy of the longest streak).


Finally, the summer of 2020 was the fourth hottest on record (tied with 1983).  However, it was tied for fourth warmest average low, but 18th hottest average high.  Although rainfall was slightly above average, it was enough to make 2020 the second wettest of the ten hottest Augusts (just 0.11" behind 1983).


Chart - 10 hottest summers

 Dog days of summer


Here are previous August recaps:








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




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 six 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, which was 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 reading in the 70s 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°.  And 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.




Central Park's Puzzling, Flawed Weather Station

Wtf 3This post has been a long time coming.  New York City, arguably the world's preeminent city, ironically, has a weather station in Central Park (serving as the official measurement site for NYC) that brings to mind that of a third world country.  There are regularly occurring instances of reporting glitches.  Last week, for instance, hourly sky conditions went missing.  (Looking out the window wasn't an option?).  This joined a host of other "irregularities": missing hourly precipitation/temperature reports (often during rainstorms); a five-month period in 2018-19 in which the anemometer was out of commission; a broken rain gauge that resulted in exaggerated amounts of rain for months in 1983; and flawed snowfall measurements in the winters of 2015 and 2016.



Central park weather site
Central Park's weather station at Belvedere Castle


The rain gauge fiasco occurred during a year that may have been the wettest on record as 80.56" was reported (16 inches more than the previous wettest year, 1972).  But it turns out that besides rain entering the gauge's calibrated opening, a faulty weld was allowing extra water to seep in.  Because of this malfunction, designating 1983 as the wettest year is questionable.  Although some cities in the mid-Atlantic did report their wettest year in 1983, confidence about 1983's amount in Central Park is lacking.  Like Barry Bonds' home runs, 1983 should have an asterisk placed next to it.  Meanwhile, 2011, which had 72.81", may actually be the legitimate wettest year.   


The revision of winter 2016's snowfall came nearly three months after the blizzard of Jan. 23, 2016.  At the time, the National Weather Service reported that 26.8" of snow had accumulated, which made it the City's second biggest snowstorm, 0.1" behind the blizzard of February 2006.  Then, curiously, the amount was revised upward by 0.7" in late April.  The previous winter the NWS revised New York's winter snowfall upward by 3.3" for three snowfalls.  Specifically, snowfall was adjusted on three dates: Jan. 6 (from 0.5" to 1.0"); Jan. 24 (from 2.5" to 3.6"); and Feb. 2 (from 3.3" to 5.0").


Frustrated_clip art

What makes this situation more frustrating is the fact that the metro area's three airports (LaGuardia, Kennedy and Newark Liberty) experienced none of these issues.  So what does this say about the Central Park operation?  A lack of trained employees?  A lack of enthusiasm by those manning the site (perhaps they're hired from the same pool of applicants as the DMV)?  Or, is it due to a lack of funding?  Whatever the reason, a city with the cachet of New York deserves better.


The greatest city in the world