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January 2020 Weather Recap: Mild, Dry, Largely Uneventful

Mild

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Here are analyses of the previous six Januarys:

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014


2020's Weather Highlights

 Happy new year 2020

JANUARY

1 - It was a raw and overcast first day of the year with the mercury mostly stuck at a seasonably cold 38° during the daylight hours.  This was similar to conditions two days ago, except that day had rain. 

8 - This was the last day of an 18-day streak with above average temperatures (based on mean temperature).  It was the longest such streak since last winter, which was of similar length during practically the same date range (12/20-1/6).  And the average high/low of the two streaks was nearly identical: 47°/37° this winter vs. 48°/37° last winter.  The mildest reading of this recent streak was 57°, the coldest was 28°, which occurred tonight as midnight approached.

9 - With a high/low of 34°/23°, three degrees below average, this was the only day between Dec. 22 and Jan. 16 that was colder than average.  The other 25 days were ten degrees above average (high/low of 50°/37°).

11 - The mercury soared to 69°, easily breaking the previous record from 1975 by six degrees.  Today's high was twice as warm as two days ago (34°) and was the warmest reading in January since a high of 72° on Jan. 6, 2007 (like today, it was also a Saturday).  Today's reading was 31 degrees above average, the most above average for a daily high since Feb. 21, 2018's high of 78°, 35 degrees above average.  Today's high/low of 69°/51° was more typical of the temperature split on May 5.  Lastly, after rising to 60° at around 9:00 AM the temperature stayed in the 60s for the rest of the day.

12 - It was a beautiful May weekend in January as today's record high of 68° followed yesterday's record-setting 69°.  Today was the better of the two days because skies turned clear by mid-morning  while yesterday was a mix of dim sun and light overcast.  This was just the third time in January that Central Park reported back-to-back highs of 65°+.  (And January 1932 is the only case of three consecutive days.)

18 - One week after a record-setting high of 69°, today had quintessentially wintry conditions as a steady light snow fell during the afternoon, amounting to 2.1"; this was seven weeks after the winter's previous biggest snowfall of 1.6".  The temperature was in the 20s during the daytime hours but rose above freezing after 6:00 PM (peaking at 37° as midnight approached), changing the snow to sleet and then rain for a few hours.  This was the last measurable snowfall of the winter, the earliest date on record (one day earlier than the previous latest date, in 2002).

20 - With a high/low of 31°/20°, today was just the second day this winter with a high of 32° or colder.  It came nearly five weeks after the first such occurrence, on 12/19 (when the high/low was 25°/16°).  For comparison purposes, a typical year has nine days with highs this cold by 1/20.  Since 1980 four winters had just one day with a high of 32° or colder by this date, most recently in 2013. (and like this winter, there was one winter with two). 

 

FEBRUARY

7 - The previous record high for this date, 54° in 1938, was the coolest reading to be a record, but it was broken today during lunchtime; however, at 56° it was still the coolest reading to be a record.  And one of just four record highs to be in the 50s; the others are: Jan. 16 (58°); Feb. 2 (59°); and Dec. 19 (58°).  A vigorous cold front moved thru early in the afternoon, dropping the temperature to 33° by midnight (a peak wind gust of 46 mph was clocked at dusk in Central Park).  This was the coldest reading so far this month, making it just the second February on record to have no lows of 32° or colder in the first week (the other occurrence was in 1877).  

15 - This morning's low of 14° was the coldest reading of the winter, passing the low of 16° back on Dec. 19.  However, the day with the winter's coldest daily mean temperature continued to be 12/19 as today's was two degrees warmer (high/low of 25°/16° vs. 31°/14°).  Only the winters of1932, 1975 and 2002 have had a milder reading for their coldest temperature (four other winters have had 14° as their coldest reading).

24 - This was the fourth day in a row with very low humidity levels during the afternoon, i.e., in the 15%-19% range for a number of hours each day.  The last time there was such an extended number of days with such low humidity in February was in 2004 (Feb. 25-March 1).  Today's high of 62° was the mildest of the month.

 

MARCH

1 - Today's low was 25°, the coldest reading of March and the last reading of 32° or colder this winter (average date of the last freezing or colder temperature is 3/31).  A typical March has twelve days with lows this cold.  Only March 1942 had fewer days (i.e., zero).

9 - After getting very close on 1/11 (high of 69°), today had the year's first high in the 70s.  Under sunny skies the mercury rose to 72° (twenty-five degrees above average).  This was two weeks ahead of schedule and the warmest reading since mid-October.  Today's low of 47° was what the typical high should be on this date.

20 - After a foggy start the sun broke through during the afternoon and the temperature jumped from the mid-50s at noon to 77° shortly before 5:30 (26 degrees above average).  The day's 30-degree jump in temperature from the morning low of 47° at daybreak was the biggest rise in temperature since a 32-degree rise on May 2, 2018 (from 48° to 80°).  The temperature stayed in the 70s until after 11 PM, then a cold front moved through overnight and the mercury fell to 42° by 9:00 AM on 3/21.  The City's next reading in the 70s wouldn't occur until May 2.  

 

APRIL

7 - Today's high of 68° was the mildest reading of the month.  This became the first April since 1940 to have no readings in the 70s or warmer.  (Since 2000 the average warmest reading in April has been 85°.)

13 - Nearly two inches of rain fell from an intense storm system that had produced deadly tornadoes in the Southeast the day before.  The 1.92" of rain that was measured was a record for the date, easily breaking the old record from 100 years ago.  Besides rain (which fell largely between 1AM-6PM) gale force winds raked the area, gusting close to 40 mph in Central Park and between 50-60 mph in many suburbs.  Temperatures rose into the 60s as the storm departed in the early evening, and the day's high (67°) was reached after dark.   

 

MAY

1 - Although today' high/low of 66°/53° was just one degree above average this broke a 16-day streak with below average mean temperatures.  The average high/low during this streak was 56°/42°, seven degrees below average.  This was the longest below average streak since March 2018, when there was a streak of 22 days. 

2 - Usually a high of 73° in early May doesn't warrant attention, but this year it did because this was the first reading in the 70s in more than six weeks (since 3/20).  

3 - Under sunny skies, today reported the year's first reading in the 80s (80°).  This was the first year since 2014 to have its first 80 in May rather than in April (average date of the first 80°+ reading is 4/22).  The last time the temperature was this warm was on 10/2 last year when the mercury soared to 93°.

7 - Today was the the second day of the past three to have humidity that dropped to 16% during the afternoon.  The last time humidity was this low in May was in 2007.  And back then it also happened on two days (5/3 and 5/13).

8 - A rare springtime incursion of Arctic air moved through during the afternoon and by midnight the mercury had fallen to 36°.  This was a record for the date, the first May reading in the 30s since 1978 (38° on 5/1), and the coldest reading in May since 1966 (36° on 5/10).  Light rain fell during the PM hours, amounting to 0.45".  (It should be noted that the reading of 36° credited to today actually occurred shortly before 1 AM Daylight Saving Time on 5/9, but the NWS uses Standard Time year-round for its records.)

9 - This morning's record low of 34° (with wind chill in the mid-20s) was Central Park's coldest reading in May since 1891.  And snow flurries that fell before daybreak tied May 9, 1977 as the latest date for a trace of snow.  This morning's reading was colder than April's coldest reading by two degrees.

10 - For the third year in a row Mother's Day had well below average temperatures.  This year, the low of 39° was the chilliest reading on Mother's Day since 1977 (low of 38°).  However, unlike the previous two years skies were clear and the temperature rose to 64°.  Although this was five degrees cooler than average, last year's afternoon temperatures were only in the mid-40s, and the year before that they were in the mid-50s. 

12 - Last week, on 5/5 and 5/7, the humidity in Central Park dropped to 16%, which was the lowest in May since 2007.  This afternoon it dropped to 15%, which is the lowest reported in May this century.  Despite sunny skies it was a chilly day, with a high of 59° (average high for the date is 70°).

23 - Much of today's 0.65" rainfall, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, poured down between 11 AM and noon.  Up until today less than an inch of rain had fallen this month (0.95").  Today's rain was 0.03" shy of the most to fall on the Saturday of the three-day Memorial Day weekend, which was in 1982.

30 - Today and yesterday both had a high/low of 81°/67° (eight degrees above average).  But whereas yesterday was on the sticky side, with afternoon dew points in the upper 60s, today was noticeably more comfortable, with dew points in the afternoon down into the upper 40s.  And it also had a lot more sunshine.  Yesterday and today were also the first back-to-back days with highs in the 80s, about three weeks later than usual, and the latest since 2013.

 

JUNE

6 - Warm and uncomfortably humid with a high of 86°; the dew point was in the 68°-70° range all morning thru mid-afternoon. This was the first reading of 85° or warmer this year, the latest date for this occurrence since 2008 (when it happened on 6/7).  Today also had the year's first low of 70°+, which was just a few days later than the average date.  The humidity dropped sharply after a mid-afternoon shower.  Meanwhile, Newark and LaGuardia airports had their first readings in the 90s.

22 - Today's high of 90° was the first reading of 90+ this year.  And although it was about four weeks later than the average date of the first 90+ (5/28), it came a week earlier than last year.  Skies were partly cloudy and it was on the humid side.

27 - A 15-day streak with no measurable rain ended today when 0.09" of rain fell in the early afternoon.  (This was the longest dry streak since one of 18 days in the fall of 2017.)  And a 7-day streak with highs of 85° or warmer (the longest such streak since a 10-day streak in June 2010) ended when the high, due to clouds and showers, got no higher than 80°.  Despite the slightly cooler temperatures the dew point in the middle of the afternoon was an uncomfortable 73°.

 

JULY

1 - This morning's low of 67° would be the coolest reading of July, setting a new record for mildest "coolest" reading in any month (breaking the previous record of 66° in July 2008).  It would also be the only day this month with a low that was below average (and it was just one degree cooler than average). 

6 - The mercury soared to 96°, the hottest reading of the year.  Fortunately, the humidity was very low (30-35%).  Relief arrived late in the afternoon when strong thunderstorms dropped a little more than a half inch of rain, mostly between 4-5 PM, cooling the temperature to 70°.

10 - Tropical storm Fay zipped from North Carolina to the Jersey Shore, soaking Central Park with 2.54" of rain, with most of it pouring down between 1:30-4:30 PM.  This amount was 1) a record for the date; the greatest one-day rainfall since May 2018; and 3) the first measurable rain on this date since 2003.  The temperature and dew point were both in the 70s all day, giving the air a pronounced tropical feel.  (With a high of 77°, a streak of 21 days with highs of 80° or warmer was snapped, the longest such streak in four summers.)   This was the fourth "F"-named tropical system to affect NYC since 1970, but it was the only one that didn't strike in September. 

11 - Following yesterday oppressive conditions, today was even more uncomfortable as afternoon dew points rose from low 70s to 74°-77°.  Additionally, today's afternoon air temperature was 8-10 degrees warmer (low 80s vs. mid-70s).  Two heavy downpours in mid-afternoon and evening produced 0.75" of rain, one day after 2.54" poured down from tropical storm Fay. 

22 - Today was very similar to last year as it was the fifth day in a row with a high in the 90s (it reached 92° today) and then a severe thunderstorm dumped 1.23" of rain between 7-8 PM.  The night's rain brought July's rainfall to 5.53", making it the wettest month of the year (so far).  This was the third year in a row in which an inch or more of rain was measured on this date.

24 - Due to nationwide closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mets didn't play their home opener until today.  And although it was played in mid-summer, it didn't have the warmest reading of any home opener.  Under mostly cloudy skies, the temperature during the game was in the the upper 70s (average high is 84°), which was cooler than home openers in 1977 (90°), 1991 (90°) and 1998 (86°); however, it was on the humid side, with dew points hovering around 70°. 

31 - A new record for July was established this morning when the day's low temperature of 70° was the 26th day this month with a low of 70° or warmer, breaking the previous record from ten years ago.  However, for a while the record seemed like it might be in jeopardy when the temperature dropped from 74° to 70° during heavy rain showers after 1 AM.

 

AUGUST

4 - Four weeks after the City was lashed by tropical storm Fay, an intense tropical storm, Isaias, blew through the area today, packing quite a punch.  Because the center of the storm moved further inland than anticipated, the City was spared heavy rain, but winds gusted to 48 mph in Central Park and 78 mph at Battery Park City in lower Manhattan (and 68, 69 and 70 mph at Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports, respectively).  While just 0.55" of rain fell from daybreak thru lunchtime in Central Park (much of it between 11AM-noon), four inches+ flooded eastern Pennsylvania.  Although it wasn't associated with Isaias, a severe thunderstorm late last night dumped practically the same amount of rain in about 30 minutes as fell this morning.

7 - Rain that began around daybreak cooled the temperature to below 70° for the first time since July 17.  This 20-day streak was the fourth longest of its kind, just two days shy of the record set in the summers of 1980 and 2010 (and a streak of 21 days occurred in 1988).  The mercury sunk to 66°, which was the coolest reading since a low of 65° on June 29. (The day's forecast low had been for the low 70s.)

12 - Very tropical conditions brought heat (high of 90°), stifling humidity (the dew point reached 77°, producing a heat index around 100°), and then a severe thunderstorm during the late afternoon.  The 1.76" of rain that poured down (almost all between 4-5 PM) was more than triple the 0.55" that fell last week from tropical storm Isaias.  

 

SEPTEMBER

10 - Today's high of 82° was the last reading of 80+ this year.  Among summers with 20 or more days of 90+ (this summer had twenty such days) this is the earliest date for the last 80+; the usual date is Oct. 4.   (Among all summers the earliest date for the last 80+ high was in 1902 on 9/2.)  Two other summers that reported their last reading of 80°+ few days later than this year's had considerably more days in the 90s : 1966, which had 37 hot days, had its last 80+ on 9/11, and 1999, which had 27 hot days, had its last 80+ on 9/15.

21 - The morning low of 49° was the first temperature chillier than 50° in September in seven years, and the earliest date for this occurrence since 1993 (when it was on 9/20).  Today's low came after lows of 50° the previous two days.  (Since 2000 the average date for the first low in the 40s has been 10/5.)

25 - For the past week a strong high pressure system was anchored over the Northeast, bringing fair skies, low humidity and the coolest temperatures of the month.  It was also responsible for keeping the remnants of two hurricanes (Sally and Beta) south of the area.

26 - This was the sixteenth day in a row with no measurable rain, one day more than June's dry streak, which had been the longest this year.  The last time there was a lengthier streak was during the fall of 2017 when there was one of eighteen days (Sept. 20-Oct. 7).

 

OCTOBER

12 - Moisture from the remnants of hurricane Delta moved into the area and produced a steady, but light, all-day rain that amounted to nearly one inch (0.96"); an additional 0.34" fell the following day.  Winds out of the northeast, gusting between 25-30 mph, kept the temperature unseasonably cool.  The high of 57° (which occurred shortly after midnight) was the first maximum reading in the 50s since 5/9.

16 - Starting this morning at around 10:00 a steady rain moved in and by midnight 1.36" had fallen.  Two-thirds of this amount (0.91") came down between 11 AM and 2 PM.  The day's high of 66° occurred in the overnight hours, but quickly dropped into the low 50s once the rain started.  This was the second year in a row in which more than an inch of rain fell on this date (last year, 1.83" was measured).

29 - The remnants of hurricane Zeta (which struck the Gulf Coast last night) merged with the energy from a winter storm that struck the southern Rockies and Plains earlier in the week, resulting in rainy and raw conditions in the Mid-Atlantic states.  Rain began around 7 AM and continued until mid-day on the 30th.  1.53" fell today, 0.64" the next morning.  The rain fell heaviest from 10 AM until 3 PM today, with nearly an inch measured.  After the rain became lighter gusty winds of 25-30 mph moved in. 

31 - This morning's low was a frosty 32°, the first reading of freezing or colder in October since 1988 (which also occurred on Halloween).  This was the coldest reading this year since March 1 (when the low was 25°). 

 

NOVEMBER

8 - Today's high of 75° (18 degrees above average and one degree shy of the record for the date) was the warmest reading in six weeks (since 9/28), making Nov. 2020 just the seventh November since 1900 to have a warmer reading than October's (Oct. 2020's warmest was 74°). The previous time it happened was in 2003.

11 - Despite overcast skies and the arrival of rain after 2:00 PM the temperature rose into the low 70s.  This was the sixth day in a row with highs of 70° or warmer, which set a new record for the month of November (breaking a tie with Nov. 2015).  The average high during this streak was 74° - seventeen degrees above average (highs were 70°-74°-75°-75°-74°-72°). The rain (which amounted to 0.78") didn't cause the temperature to drop much as it stayed in the mid-60s.  Combined with a dew point that was also in the mid-60s, the air had a tropical feel to it.  Every day of this streak was 10 degrees or more above average, equaling another six-day streak back in January with temperatures this much above average.

Today also saw a low in the 60s for the second day in a row, something that hadn't occurred in November since 1982 (which had a four-day streak).  And at 64° it was one of the mildest daily minimum readings on record for any November (and was eight degrees milder than the average high for the date). 

15 - A squall line tore through the area this evening from 8:15-8:45 PM, delivering a brief downpour and high winds.  With a gust of 41 mph, Central Park got off relatively easy compared to the area's three major airports, which clocked peak gusts in the 58-62 mph range.  And although the rain was torrential in my neighborhood (Greenwich Village), Central Park reported just 0.06".  Finally, the day's mild high of 64° occurred just as the squall line was moving through.

18 - Today's unseasonably cold high/low of 36°/30° (14 degrees below average) was half as warm as it was a week ago, when the high/low was a balmy 72°/64° (19 degrees above average).

26 - It was Thanksgiving Day, and a pre-dawn deluge seemed a distant memory by afternoon when the sun came out and the temperature rose into the mid-60s.  Not only was today's high of 65° tied for third warmest on the holiday (behind 1933's 69° and 2007's 66°), its low of 55° was the mildest of any Turkey Day as was the mean temperature of 60.0°.  And the 0.79" of rain that poured down this morning was the seventh greatest amount to fall on the holiday, and the most since 2006 (which was the rainiest Thanksgiving, with 1.72" measured).   

 

DECEMBER

16 - An intense nor'easter brought the season's first measurable snow, which began late in the afternoon.  By midnight 6.5" had piled up, and the snow continued overnight thru daybreak (adding four inches).  This was December's biggest snowfall since the post-Christmas blizzard of December 2010 that paralyzed the city with 20".  Today's snowfall was more than twice the amount that fell during the previous winter (4.8").  It was also a record amount for the date.  With 10.5" in total this was the thirteenth December snowstorm to dump ten inches or more.  This storm dumped tremendous amounts of snow in Pennsylvania, New York State and New England, with some locations picking up between two to three feet (Binghamton, NY had 40").

Besides the snow it was also quite cold.  Today's high/low of 31°/24° made this the first day of the winter to have a high of 32° or colder.  Winds gusting between 30-40 mph created wind chills in the 10°-15° range.

19 - Today and the previous three days had very similar, cold temperatures: 31°/24° (on 12/16); 33°/24°; 32°/24°; and 32°/20° (today).  These four days were nine degrees below average.  Coincidentally, last December had a an equally cold four-day period at about the same time (Dec. 18-21), with an average high/low of 32°/21°.

25 - A fierce storm lashed the area overnight, with rain and strong winds that gusted to 45-65 mph (a gust of 47 mph was clocked at Central Park).  The 0.92" of rain that fell was the third greatest amount to fall on the holiday (behind 1945 and 2002).  The high, reached a few hours before daybreak, was 61° - the eighth time the high was in the 60s on 12/25.  After the rain and wind exited, sharply colder air moved in, dropping the mercury to 29° by midnight.  With today's mild high, 2020 became just the second year (2015 is the other) with highs in the 60s on Christmas Day (61°), Thanksgiving Day (65°) and Easter Sunday (63°).

 

 

 


Remembering New York's Top Weather Stories of 2019

Annual reviewAfter pondering the various weather events that occurred in New York over the course of 2019, my choice as the year's biggest story is a sizzling hot day in October.  Although there had been 90-degree readings in October before, they were a long time ago - in 1927, 1938, 1939 and 1941.  (By comparison, April had fifteen readings in the 90s in the years after 1941.)  But on Oct. 2 the mercury soared to 93°.  It was somewhat ironic that this hot autumn day occurred in 2019 because the year's first 90-degree reading wasn't until the end of June, which was a month behind schedule, and there were no 90-degree readings in September.  What follows are the other meteorological highlights that were candidates for top story of 2019:

 

HOT & COLD

Two days in January had especially cold readings: 14°/4° on Jan. 21, 16°/2° on Jan. 31.  These were among the five coldest days in the past 25 years.  At the other end of the thermometer, the year's hottest reading was 95°, which happened during a July weekend, 7/20-21.  (LaGuardia, JFK and Newark topped out at 100°, 99° and 99°, respectively).  Both days also had lows in the 80s (and during the afternoon of 7/22 the dew point reached an absurdly high 79°, the highest in nearly 40 years.)  Although this reading was well below the hottest temperatures experienced in past summers, the month ended up being New York's 11th hottest July on record, due largely to consistent warmth throughout the month, not only during the daytime but at night as well (the month had July's fifth warmest average low).

SNOW DROUGHT

2019 wasn't a snowy year, with just 16.6" measured, the least snow since 2012 (the years 2013-2018 averaged 40 inches of snow).  Much of the year's snow was concentrated in the first four days of March, all which had an inch or more of snow - the first time a streak of this length occurred in any month of any year.  The 10.4" of snow that accumulated on these four days accounted for well over half of calendar year 2019's snowfall .

DAYS OF PRECIPITATION WELL ABOVE AVERAGE FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW

After 2018 established a new record for most days with measurable precipitation, 2019 followed with the fourth greatest number of days.  But while 2018 was the fourth wettest year on record 2019 ranked 28th.  May had 19 days of precipitation, which was the second most for any month (the most is 20 days, in July 1871 and May 1888); this followed 18 days of precipitation in April (most ever for that month).

MOTHER'S DAY HAD WORST WEATHER OF ANY HOLIDAY

A nor'easter brought a cold, all-day rain that amounted to 1.32".  Temperatures fell into the 40s around daybreak and stayed there for the rest of the day; this meant afternoon readings were 25 degrees colder than average.

JULY RAINSTORMS BROUGHT BIGGEST RAIN TOTALS

The year's two biggest rainstorms came five days apart in July as 2.33" poured down on July 17-18 (from tropical storm Barry) and 2.19" fell on July 22-23.

THANKSGIVING WEATHER

Blustery conditions on Thanksgiving Day (winds gusted between 25-37 mph) forced officials in charge of Macy's Thanksgiving Parade to order its famous balloons be flown much lower than usual, with some nearly scraping the pavement.  (For most parade goers, however, the wind was more bearable than the previous year's frigid temperatures.)

DRY MOMENTS

Despite all of the days of precipitation, and three months with more than six inches of rain, there were moments when the air dried out.  For instance, September was among the ten driest on record, with just 0.95" measured - the first month with less than an inch of rain in six years.  Then there were a number of days with extremely low afternoon humidity levels: March 24 and 26 (13% and 14%), Sept. 19 (15%) and Nov. 16 (13%).  Lastly, despite December being one of the ten wettest, it also had a ten-day period with no rain or snow, tying a ten-day period in September for longest precipitation-free streak of the year.

YEAR ENDS WITH WET DECEMBER FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW

Finally, December was the wettest month of the year (7.09"), just the third December to gain this distinction.  The first two weeks were particularly soggy, with five inches measured - the third greatest amount to fall in the first two weeks of December. 

 

Here are other annual recaps:

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

(For more detailed information about each month's weather, choose Monthly Recaps in the Categories box in the left margin.)


December 2019 Repeats December 2018's Wet Conditions

Dec 13 grand central wreath

 

December 2019 was the wettest month of the year and fifth wettest December on record (7.09" was measured).  Much of its precipitation fell in the first two weeks of the month.  In fact, the 5.05" that was measured during this period was the third greatest amount to fall in the first two weeks of any December.   Looking at temperature, the month was slightly above average (+0.8°).  Although Dec. 1-22 was 2.5 degrees colder than average, the rest of the month was mild enough (+9 degrees), to push the entire month into the above average column.  The mildest reading of the month was 58° (on 12/10), making this the first December since 2005 not to have any readings of 60° or warmer.  The coldest reading, 16° on 12/19, was three degrees colder than the typical coldest reading of December.  The 19th was also the only day that had a high of 32° or colder (25°).

 

Despite the month's surplus precipitation there were ten consecutive days with no measurable precipitation (Dec. 19-28).  This matched a 10-day stretch in September - the longest dry spells of the year.  (September 2019 had just 0.95" of rain, making it the eighth driest September on record).  Coincidentally, last year's wet December (ninth wettest) also had a ten-day stretch with no precipitation.

 

Being the wettest month of a year is rare for December.  Before 2019 only two other years had December as their wettest month - in 1957 (when 5.26" was reported) and in 1973 (9.98" was measured).  Another distinction for Dec. 2019 is that it was just the 13th month to have more than seven inches of rain as well as a streak of 10 or more days without any measurable precipitation.  (The longest streak during one of these months was thirteen days in June 2006).

 

Chart - 7 inches monthly rain

In addition to the soggy first two weeks, other December highlights included the season's first measurable snowfall on 12/2 (1.3" fell) and an out of the ordinary snow squall of 10-15 minutes during the afternoon of 12/18 that ushered in the coldest weather of December (0.4" accumulated, and an additional 0.3" fell from a snow shower a few hours later).  Additionally, the first four days of the month had highs/lows stuck in the 30s, just the sixth time there's been a streak of this length or longer.

 

Snow squall dec 19 2019

 

Finally, December 2018 and 2019 joined December 2008 and 2009 as the second pair of consecutive years to be among the ten wettest Decembers (2009 is #4; 2019 is #5; 2008 is #9; and 2018 is in tenth place). 

Previous December recaps:

2018

2017

2016

2015

 

 


Today in New York Weather History: December 17

 

32degrees

 

Dec. 17 is the average date of the first high temperature of 32° or colder (based on the period 1970-2020).  It's happened as early as Nov. 22 (in 2008) and Nov. 23 (1989), and as late as Jan. 20 (1986).  In more than half of the years the first high of 32° or colder was 31° or 32°, but it's been as cold as 20° (which happened in the winter of 2007-08, when it occurred late, on Jan 3).   

 

1904

A snowfall of six inches (three inches this evening, three inches tomorrow morning) came four days after a snowfall of seven inches.

1919

Four days after the temperature reached 61°,  tonight, shortly before midnight, the mercury dropped to one degree above zeroThis was the first of fifteen days this winter with lows in the single digits or colder.

Arrow down

1932

Snow that began late in the morning continued through early morning on 12/18. amounting to 7.2".  It was also a very cold day, with a high/low of only 21°/10°.  (The snow was gone by Christmas Day, which had a high of 59°.)  The next measurable snowfall wouldn't be for another seven weeks (2/4).

1951

Today's frigid high/low of 20°/8° (22 degrees below average) would be the coldest day of the winter.  Skies were clear.

1971

This was the twelfth day in a row with above average temperatures.  During these dozen days temperatures were ten degrees above average.  Even after passage of a cold front early this morning, and temperatures falling throughout the day, the mean temperature was five degrees above the norm.  This stretch of mild weather followed a two-week period of colder than average weather. 

1973

The epic ice storm that began yesterday afternoon continued through this morning.  Conditions were worse than yesterday as sleet and freezing rain fell at an even heavier rate.  In total, 1.46" of precipitation fell - all in the form of sleet or freezing rain.  The temperature stayed below freezing all day, and by midnight had fallen to 17°. 

 

Clipart_icicles1996

Light showers through early afternoon amounted to 0.12".  This was the 146th day this year with measurable precipitation, establishing 1996 as the year with the most days of precipitation in the 20th century, passing 1972, the previous crown holder.  And there would be six additional days of precipitation before the year ended.  (The average number days of precipitation per year is 121.)

1998

Today was the 25th day in a row with above-average temperatures.  During this stretch of mild days temperatures were ten degrees above normal.  This would be the mildest December since 1984.

Clipart_sun 

2000

Today's high of 62° was a record for the date, just one of five days with above-average temperatures during a December that was quite cold (5.5 degrees below average) - the coldest since 1989. 

2001

This was the 18th day in a row in which no low temperature was duplicated.  During these days (beginning on Nov. 30) they ranged between 32° and 58° - all above average.

2012

Only three degrees separated the day's high (43°) and low (40°) on a raw, "gloomy Gus" kind of day. 

2013

Light snow, occasionally mixed with sleet, fell throughout the daytime hours and amounted to 1.5".  This was the fourth snowfall of the past ten days, totaling 8.6".  Three of these snow "events" delivered one-inch+ - the most such snowfalls in December since 2005.  Besides being snowy, the ten days since 12/8 were also quite cold, with the average high/low of 35°/26°, nearly eight degrees below the norm.  

 

Snow_peoplewalking

2015

It was a mild and rainy day.  The 1.25" of rain that was measured in Central Park fell mostly between 11 AM and 4 PM.  This was the eighth day in a row that had a mean temperature more than 10° degrees above average.  The average high/low during these days was 63°/52° - nineteen degrees above average.

2016

Six days after the first measurable snow of the winter (0.4"), today saw the first snowfall of one inch or more as 2.8" accumulated between 4-8 AM.  Then it changed to sleet, then to freezing rain, all of which was over by noon.  (By contrast, last winter's first one-inch snowfall wasn't until 1/23 - the blizzard that buried the City under its biggest snowfall on record.)

 

Snow_december 2016

2018

Light wraparound showers in the wee hours of the morning (amounting to just 0.03"), remnants from yesterday's rainstorm, made this the 152nd day this year with measurable precipitation, tying 1996 for the all-time record.  What distinguishes 2018 from 1996 is that its total precipitation for the year was more than five inches above 1996's (with two weeks remaining in 2018).

2021

Just three days after Central Park registered its lowest humidity level in December this century (20% later in the afternoon), today had an even lower humidity level - 14% (also during late afternoon).  As low as this was, it was twice as high as the 7%  humidity reported on 4/6 of this year.

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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

 

 

 


November 2019 - Cold & Dry

The-month-november

 

November 2019 was the 31st coldest November and 32nd driest (going back to 1869).  It tied November 2012 as coldest November of this century.  Nine days had lows of 32° or colder, the most since 2013 and well above the 21st century average of three.  Looking at precipitation, the first 17 days of the month had just 0.25" of rain.  1.95" was measured for the entire month (more than two inches below average), with much of the rain concentrated during the seven days between 11/18-24.  Despite the cold temperatures no snow fell.  Other interesting aspects:

 

  • The 11-day period between 11/8-18 was ten degrees below average (six days had mean temperatures that were 10-20 degrees below average).  The month's other nineteen days had temperatures that were close to average, resulting in the month being 3.8 degrees colder than average overall (its average low was 4.5 degrees below average).  This was the most below average of any month since March 2015 (-4.4 degrees).
  • Half of the Novembers that were colder than Nov. 2019 occurred in the 19th century (1869-1899).  Looking at the past 100 years Nov. 2019 tied for ninth coldest.
  • The mildest reading of the month was 71° in the early hours of 11/1; the coldest reading was 23° on 11/13.  That reading was a record for the date and followed a record low of 25° the day before that. 
  • Since 1970 November's mildest reading has averaged 71°, which was the same as this November.  However, the second mildest reading has averaged 69°, but this year's was only 62°, which was the chilliest second mildest reading since November 1977.
  • Gusty winds on Thanksgiving Day somewhat marred Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Up until a few hours before the parade started it was uncertain whether its famous balloons would be permitted to float high above the streets of Midtown Manhattan, but it was decided to let them participate at a much lower height than usual.  Wind was the only issue as temperatures were at seasonable levels and there was no rain.

 

Low flying balloon at macys parade

 

  • On 11/13 the relative humidity at mid-day fell to an exceptionally low 13%, the lowest humidity reported in November in the years of the 21st century.  It was also the only date outside of March and April with a humidity level this low.
  • Last November, 3.3 degrees colder than average, seemed more wintry than this November because it featured a 6.4" snowstorm and had one of the coldest readings ever reported in November, 15°.  It also was one of the wettest Novembers.  While its average high was 0.9 degree colder than this November, it's average low was 1.9 degrees milder.  Like Nov. 2019, the equally cold Nov. 2012 was dry (1.81").  However, a big difference was that Nov. 2012 had a snowfall of 4.7" on 11/7-8 (the earliest accumulation of four inches or more).

 

Chart - 10 coldest novembers since 1960

Other November recaps:

2018

2017

2016

2015

 

 November in union square park nyc

 

 


A Reading in the 90s Makes October 2019 Memorable in New York

Oct 26 - mums abingdon sq park

 

Although above average rainfall characterized October 2019, a day of sizzling heat at the beginning of the month is likely what many New Yorkers will remember.  After having no days in the 90s in September, the high on 10/2 was a torrid 93°, 24 degrees above average - and the first 90-degree reading in October since 1941.  (The high the next day, however, was thirty degrees chillier.)  As for the rain, 6.15" was measured, the most in October since 2006, and the second rainiest month of the year (May had 6.77").  A little more than half of the month's rain fell on two days: on 10/16, when 1.83" fell, and 10/27 (1.38").

 

The month was three degrees warmer than average and was the 24th mildest October on record (but it ranked 12th for average low).  And although it had just a few days with highs of 70° or warmer or lows in the 60s, the month also had very few days with highs in the 50s or lows in the 40s (the chilliest reading was 43° on the 19th).  Similar to September, October ended with 11 days in a row with above average readings (averaging six degrees above average).  Temperatures between 10/3-20 were average while the other 13 days of the month were seven degrees above average.

 

In the years since 1900 three out of four Octobers have had their chilliest readings in the 30s or 20s.  October 2019 joined only five other Octobers whose chilliest lows were 43° or milder.  (The mildest reading to be the chilliest October low is 45°, which happened in 1945 and again in 1971.)  The typical chilliest October temperature is around 38° (fourteen Octobers since 1900 had chilliest readings of 32° or colder; the last time it occurred was in 1988).

 

Chilly willy

 

The low on Halloween was 60°, 15 degrees above average.  It joined 10/1 and 10/2 as the only days in October with lows in the 60s.  The high of 71° on 10/31 was the warmest reading on the holiday in ten years, when the high was also 71°.  It was also the mildest reading since 10/14.  (And although 10/31's high of 71° was 22 degrees cooler than 10/2's, its low was just three degrees lower.)

 

Spider web

 

Finally, October's plentiful rainfall followed a very dry September, in which just 0.95" was measured.  And while this was a decided contrast, it wasn't nearly as extreme as Sept/Oct 2005 when  October saw 16.73" after a paltry 0.48" in September; April/May 2007, when April had 13.05" and May had just 1.88"; and Aug/Sept 1882, when September had 16.85" and August only 1.14".

Contrast

Here are links to other October recaps:

2018

2017

2016

 

 

 


September 2019 - One of 10 Driest Septembers On Record

September

 

September 2019 was the first month since October 2013 to have less than an inch of rain and was the eighth driest September on record (0.95" was measured).  Thru 9/20 the month had average temperatures, then the last ten days were eight degrees warmer than average, resulting in the month being 2.4 degrees above average (24th warmest since 1869).  Although it was warmer than average, the month had just one low of 70º+, the fewest in September in ten years (there were none in 2009).  It was also the first September since 2011 not to have any highs of 90° or hotter. 

 

This September added to the record set last year when September 2018 was the fourth in a row with an average temperature of 70.0 degrees or warmer.  September 2019, however, was the "coolest" of the five.  However, a record that was tied last September, the sixth September in a row with a high in the 90s, wasn't broken this year as the hottest temperature this was 89°.  (It occurred on 9/23 - the same date as the month's only low in the 70s).

 

Chart - past five septembers

 

Two-thirds of September's paltry amount of rain fell in the first six days of the month, split mostly between Labor Day (when 0.30" fell mid-day, the most to fall on the holiday in sixteen years) and 9/6, when the most northernmost band of hurricane Dorian dropped 0.27" in less than an hour during mid-afternoon.

 

Chart - 10 Wettest Septembers

Finally, humidity of 15% or lower occurs very infrequently in New York, and when it has happened it's been confined to March and April (in the years since 2000) - until 9/19, when it dropped to 15% for a few hours that afternoon.  The last time the humidity was this low in September was on Sept. 11, 2001, when it bottomed out at 16%.

 

Here are recaps of the five previous Septembers:

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

 

 Sept 15 - lower manhattan



 

 


One Word Sums Up New York's Weather in August 2019: 'Uninspiring'

August

 

August, much like June, had close to average temperatures (+0.3 degrees).  Perhaps the most interesting story during this month of uneventful conditions was the twelve-day period from Aug. 17 thru 28 in which the first six days were very warm (average high/low of 89°/73°, including the month's three days in the 90s) followed by six days that were pleasantly cool (high/low of 75°/64°).  The month's three days in the 90s went no higher than 90° (something which has occurred just once before, in August 2014).  Finally, this was the sixth consecutive August with no readings in the 50s.

 

The month had somewhat below average rainfall.  The 3.70" that was measured was the least precipitation since February's 3.14".  Much of it fell on three days: 1.18" on 8/7, 0.64" on 8/18 and 1.01" on 8/22.  (Although August 2019 had less than average rainfall there were six drier Augusts in the 2010s.)  There were ten thunderstorms or brief periods of heavy rain in the three weeks between 8/3 and 8/22.  They occurred mostly in the afternoon and evening and were responsible for the day's lows occurring in the evening rather than at around daybreak.  Without these cool downs there would have been five days with lows of 75° or warmer rather than one.

 

Here are recaps of the four previous Augusts:

2018

2017

2016

2015

 

Aug 17 jefferson mkt