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February 2021 Recap: New York Trudges Through One of Snowiest Februarys On Record

 

Feb 1 snowstorm nbc nightly news

 

February 2021 was 1.1 degrees colder than average, and the eighth snowiest February on record, with 26.0” measured.  More than half of the snow fell on Feb. 1, when 14.8” piled up (in total, the storm produced 17.4”).  This was the largest accumulation ever reported on the first day of February.  Another highlight of the month was the severe Arctic outbreak in the middle of the month that plunged Texas, the southern Plains, Midwest and Ohio Valley into the deep-freeze, but barely brushed New York.  Although the month was colder than average, the coldest reading was just 17° (the month's only reading in the teens).  The month's colder than average status was driven by the average high, which was 2.7 degrees colder than average; meanwhile, the average low was slightly above average (+0.5 degree).  Finally, with 5.13" of precipitation, the month was among the ten wettest Februarys since 1930 (and 21st wettest going back to 1869).

 

This was New York's coldest February since 2015 and the first colder-than-average month since May 2020. It was also the first year since 2015 in which neither January or February had any readings of 60° or milder.  The 15-day period between Feb. 7 and 21 was five degrees colder than average (high/low of 35°/25°), with all but one of the days colder than average (10.2" of snow fell during this period).  Temperatures rebounded during the last six days of the month, and were six degrees milder than average (high/low of 48°/38°); temperatures were above freezing for the entire period.

 

Like January, there was just a 37-degree range between February's coldest and mildest readings (17° and 54° in February, 14° and 51° in January).  Since 1950, the typical range has been 49 degrees (11° and 60°); during these year just six other Februarys have had a smaller range, most recently in 2010 (29 degrees).  Meanwhile, the month's average diurnal variation (the difference between the high and low temperature) was just 9.5 degrees (February's average is 13.5 degrees), making it just the fourth February with a diurnal variation less than 10 degrees.  (The others were in 2010, 1969 and 1869.)  This was only the second Jan./Feb. in which both months had diurnal variations less than ten degrees.  (The other time it happened was in 1869.)  Jan./Feb. 2021’s diurnal variation of 9.7 degrees beat out 1869's by 0.1 degree for smallest variation.

 

Chart - smallest diurnal variation jan_feb

 

This winter’s December-February combo was the ninth snowiest on record.  It joined four other pairs from this century (the other five happened before the winter of 1962).

 

Chart - snowiest dec_feb combinatons

 

February 2021 joined sixteen other Februarys that had 20 inches or more of snow.  It was milder than all but two of them (February 1983 and 2006).

 

Chart - mildest februarys with 20 inches of snow

 

Looking at December thru March, February 2021 ranks as the fifteenth snowiest month, just 0.1" behind Feb. 2003, Jan. 1996 and Feb. 1894.  This February's hefty snow accumulation was quite a contrast to last February, which saw just a trace.

 

Chart - snowy feb preceded by no snow feb

Here are other February recaps:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2015

 

 


Snow Creates Excitement, But Rain Gets No Love

 Sled riding in central park_time out ny

Pity the rain.  It doesn't generate anywhere near the levels of excitement accorded snow.  (In a Brady Bunch analogy, rain is Jan, snow is Marcia.)  Perhaps it's because snow is a seasonal treat confined mostly to four months of the year (in New York), while rain has a year-round presence.  Snow is also limited by geography, so persons from warm climates get a thrill when they encounter snow.  Sure, kids may enjoy jumping in puddles, and it can be comforting hearing the pitter-patter of rain on the roof, but rain never enthralls us the way snow does.  It possesses a certain "je ne sais quoi" that rain simply doesn't have.

 

Marcia-marcia-marcia

Perhaps the enthusiasm for snow comes from childhood memories, e.g., sled riding, making snow angels, building forts, school closings, Christmas.  And although rain may generate feelings of gratitude from farmers, it doesn't inspire the fevered anticipation of a snowstorm.  No sporting events have been inspired by rain, nor does anyone think back wistfully about rain that fell on someone's wedding day; or a downpour that washed out a summertime barbecue; or a deluge that rained out a baseball game (football games, by contrast, are rarely cancelled because of snow). 

 

There's also something magical about how a snowfall muffles the din of the City, and how its shimmering silver-white color scheme can light up a winter night.  Rain, on the other hand, leaves behind a muddy residue and litters the sidewalks with broken umbrellas.  (And when I was growing up in suburbia, worms would appear on the streets after a rainfall.)

 

Snow transforms the cityscape as it piles on top of railings, mailboxes and cars, and beautifully etches tree branches.  (I've always been amazed that snow is able to accumulate on Manhattan's busy streets.)  With rain, everything basically looks as it did before the rain started, except that surfaces take on a sheen when wet (especially at night).   Another contrast is that snow depths can be easily gauged by sight, but not so much with rain.  While it's easy to tell the difference between a few inches of snow and a foot of it, can you tell the difference between a quarter-inch rainfall and one of one inch?  (OK, perhaps there are more puddles.)

 

Winter 2017 - snow blindness

I can attest to the draw of snow since my most popular posts, by far, are those that analyze snowfall, with audience-traffic many times greater than posts about rain.  (I've written 30 posts about various aspects of snow, double the number I've penned about rain.)

 

It should be noted that the love for snow doesn't extend to sleet.  And rain's attempts at a brand extension, i.e., freezing rain, gets even less love than rain.  Despite the accolades it receives, snow is by no means perfect.  Shoveling can bring on a heart-attack; flights are cancelled; plows push snow back onto recently shoveled sidewalks; eyeglasses get broken during snowball fights, and dogs whimper from the sting of rock salt on their paws.  But, like a favored child, these personality flaws are largely overlooked.  

 

The weather hobbyists among us pore over snowfall totals, fixating on every tenth of an inch of accumulation.  We become infuriated whenever a forecast doesn't deliver on its promise, and, oh, how we dread a changeover to sleet, or, God forbid, rain!  By comparison, there is very little grousing when a rainstorm "fizzles" out. 

 

Central Park's weather station is held in low regard by many because it seems to report lower snow totals than surrounding sites.  For some reason, it tends to have the least efficient water: snow ratio.  It may very well be a gross generalization (albeit based on years of observation), but it just seems that if Central Park and each of the area's three airports receive an inch of liquid precipitation, this amount will produce eight inches in the park, a foot at Newark, and and an amount somewhere in between at LaGuardia and JFK.  Who knows why?  (Detractors of Central Park's weather station suggest incompetence.)

 

One area in which rain and snow seem to get equal treatment is automobile advertising, where cars on rain-slicked streets seem to be featured just as often as those shown bounding through snow-covered country roads.

 

Car advertisement in rain

 Car ad in snow_audi

Finally, the snow experience in Manhattan is different from that of the suburbs.  The beauty of the snow lasts for just a day - two days max.  The sound of snowplows scraping the streets can be grating, and the transformation of snow into slush at street corners is dispiriting.  And be on the lookout for snow crashing down from the tops of buildings!  On the positive side, snow often results in suspension of alternate side of the street parking regulations, and those of us who are apartment dwellers aren't tasked with shoveling, so we can walk around taking selfies to our heart's content, or put on cross-country skies and pretend to be on a ski weekend.  And perhaps the best thing of all is that the hustle-bustle of the City is silenced for a brief time.

 

Snow selfie dec 2020

 

Snow vs rain

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


Months With 20" or More of Snow

20During the winter of 2021, February became the 36th month (since 1869) to have 20 inches or more of snow fall in Central Park.  This was the seventeenth February to gain this distinction, by far the most of any month (January's had eight occurrences; December's had six; and March, five).  Thirty winters have had one of these snowy months, and three have had two (winters of 1978, 1996, and 2011).  19 of the months with 20"+ had more than 25" (including Feb. 2021).  And four had 30" or more.  The snowiest month of them all is February 2010, which reported 36.9".  Below are more observations about these snow-choked months:

 

  • The first month with 20" or more snowfall was December 1872, when 27.0" was reported.  Despite February being the month most likely to have 20"+ snow, it didn't have its first overly snowy month until 1894, which was later than the first 20"+ occurrence for December, January or March.  (November and April have never had 20" or more; however, November 1898 came very close, with 19.0".  The most snow in April was in 1875, when 13.5" was measured.)
  • The most consecutive winters to have a month with 20"+ snow is just two, which has happened five times, most recently during the winters of 2010 and 2011.  The most consecutive winters without one of these snowy months is twelve, from 1936 thru 1947.  And there have been three ten-year gaps.

 

Chart - consecutive winters with 20 inches

  • The most days of measurable snow during a month with 20"+ is eleven, which occurred in March 1916 (25.5" fell) and February 1920 (25.3").  The fewest days of measurable snow during a 20"+ month is two, in February 2006, when one storm accounted for all of the month's 26.9" (at the time, New York's biggest snowfall on record).  And in January 2016 there were three days of snow, with 27.5" of the month's 27.9" falling on two of the days (which supplanted February 2006's snowfall as New York's biggest of all time).

 

Chart - most days of snow in month

 

Snow at radio city

 

  • Nine of the thirty-six excessively snowy months had no snowfalls of a foot or more; five had biggest snowfalls that were less than ten inches.   The smallest biggest snow was 7.0" in Dec. 1904, followed by March 1916, whose biggest accumulation was 7.6".
  • In a winter with a month of 20"+ snow, the least total snowfall for the entire winter was the winter of 1979, which had 29.4"; the 20.1" that fell during February of that winter comprised slightly more than two-thirds of the winter's total.  And in the winter of 1925,  29.6" of snow fell, of which January 1925 accounted for all but 2.2".
  • Two of New York's ten snowiest winters had no months with 20" or more: 1874-75 is ranked seventh,  and 1960-61 is the City's ninth snowiest winter.

 

Chart - snowiest winters with no 20-inch months
 

  • All but five of the thirty-six months were colder than average, including the coldest month on record, February 1934 (which had 27.9" of snow), the coldest March on record (1888, 22.3"), and fifth coldest December (1872, 27.0") and March (1916, 25.5").   The most above-average month to have more than twenty inches of snow is December 1948 (+3.9 degrees), followed by February 1983 (+3.0 degrees); January 2016 (+1.9 degrees);  February 2006 (+0.4 degrees); and February 1994 (+0.2 degrees).
  • Finally, "honorable mentions" go to December 2003, which had 19.8", and January 2014, which had 19.7".

 

Feb 1 snowstorm nbc nightly news

 

Here are a number of other posts I've written which discuss snowstorms in New York:

Comparing New York's Three Biggest Snowstorms

A History of Back-to-Back Snowstorms

New York's Snowiest 30-Day Periods

Remembering New York's "Snowmageddon" of Winter 2011

Survey of New York Snowstorms by Winter (1950-2021)

 


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

 

 

 


Winters With Snow Droughts Rather Than Snowdrifts

Sled with no snowA number of years ago I published an analysis about periods of cold winter weather that had little snow (Cold & Dry: A Snow Lover's Nightmare).  This new post focuses on the longest periods between snowfalls regardless of temperature.  And while I refer to these snowless periods as "droughts" that's somewhat of a misnomer since a typical winter in New York sees, on average, just twelve days with measurable snow, so it's not uncommon for many days to go by between snowfalls (however, "drought" was catchier than "extended number of days between snowfalls").  But as I was pulling the information together I realized there were variations on snow droughts so I've included them as well.

 

 

WINTER-LONG DROUGHTS

There have been ten winters with less than ten inches of snow, the most recent being the winter of 2020 (the average snowfall of winters since 2000 has been 33").  In the 1950s there were six consecutive winters, from 1950 thru 1955, with less than 20 inches; and there were five in a row with less than 15 inches, from 1928 thru 1932.  The least snow to fall in back-to-back winters occurred in 1997 and 1998, which had only 10.0" and 5.5", respectively.  (By contrast, there have been 18 snowstorms with greater accumulations than those two winters combined.)

 

No-snow-520x400

 

WITHIN-SEASON DROUGHTS

Since the winter of 1870 there have been eleven snow-free periods that lasted seven weeks or longer.  Two were in the 19th century and were in consecutive winters; all of the others have been since the winter of 1950.  The winter of 1953-54 stand outs for having two droughts among the eleven (that winter had 15.1" of snow).  The winter with the second longest drought, (1983) had the most snow, 27.2" (nearly two-thirds of the snow came from the blizzard of Feb. 17-18).

 

Chart - longest snow-free periods

 

WINTERS IN WHICH ONE MONTH DOMINATED THE SEASON'S SNOWFALL

A number of winters had sparse snowfall in all months but one.  The most recent was in 2016 when January had New York's biggest snowfall of all time.  And it also happened in the back-to-back winters of 1925 and 1926. 

 Chart - winters with 1 snowy month

 

BIG SNOWFALLS FOLLOWED BY LENGTHY HIATUS

  • It appeared the blizzard of Feb. 11-12, 1983 (17.6") would be the last snowfall of the winter, but then more than nine weeks later 0.8" fell on April 18.
  • In the winter of 1892 an eight-inch snowfall at the end of February was followed by 44 days until the next snowfall.  Two winters prior to 1892 there was another eight-inch snowfall, this one followed by 27 days with no snow.
  • On Dec. 27, 1934 11.2" fell and then the next snowfall wasn't for nearly five weeks (but the snow that fell on Jan. 28 amounted to just 0.1").
  • A snowfall of 8.9" on Feb. 26-27, 1991 was followed by 30 snow-free days.
  • On the first day of December in 1882 there was a nine-inch snowfall and then the rest of  the month was snow free.  The streak ended on New Year's Day when 0.3" was measured. 
  • A snowfall of 7.9" on Valentine's Day 1975 was followed by four weeks with no measurable snow.

 

BIG SNOWFALLS AFTER A LENGTHY HIATUS

  • NYC's second biggest snowfall of all-time, 26.9" on Feb. 11-12, 2006, came nearly four weeks after the previous snowfall (two inches on Jan. 16)
  • 15.3" fell during the "Lindsay snowstorm" of Feb. 9-10, 1969, breaking a string of 32 snowless days.
  • During the winter of 1995 a snowstorm of 10.8" on Feb. 4 came 23 days after the previous snowfall, which amounted to just 0.2".  (The Feb. 4 snowfall accounted for almost all of the winter's accumulation of 11.8".)
  • During the winter of 1908 a snowfall of ten inches on Jan. 23-24 broke a string of 39 days without snow.
  • The April blizzard of 1982 dumped 9.6" of snow 32 days after the previous snowfall on March 4 (of just 0.7"). 
  • In March 1981 a snowfall of 8.6" on the 5th broke a snow-free streak of nearly seven weeks.

 

MINIMAL SNOWFALL AT BEGINNING/END OF DROUGHTS

An argument can be made that qualifying a drought as ended when snowfall is less than an inch doesn't really mean a drought has ended since it's an insignificant amount.  There have been sixteen hiatuses of four weeks or longer in which a half-inch or less of snow fell at both ends.  The smallest amounts were dustings of 0.1" at the beginning and end of a 36-day streak in the winter of 1901; this was matched in the winter of 1975 when amounts of 0.1" were separated by 29 days.  Additionally, snowfalls of 0.2/0.1 bracketed 29 days in between during the winter of 1943, and two 0.2" snowfalls were separated by streaks of 44, 34 and 28 days in the winters of 1992, 1918 and 1934, respectively.

 

SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALLS BEFORE/AFTER SNOW DROUGHTS

Most recently, the winter of 2013 had a 26-day period with no snow that was book-ended by snowfalls of 11.4" (Feb. 8-9) and 4.0" (March 8).  And during the winter of 2009 a snowfall of 4.3" on Feb. 3 was followed by 25 days with no snow which ended when 8.3" fell on March 1-2.

In winter of 1915 a snowfall of 7.7" on March 6-7 was followed by 26 days with no snow and then there was a snowfall of 10.2" on April 3-4.  And earlier that winter snowfalls of 4.4" and 7.7" were separated by 30 snowless days.

The longest drought bracketed by significant snowfalls occurred during the winter of 1906 when a snowless period of 32 days began after a snowfall of 6.0" on Feb. 9 and ended when 6.5" fell on March 14-15.

The winter of 1875 had a four-week period with no snow, with a snowfall of ten inches five days before Christmas on one end and five inches on Jan. 18.

 

SNOW-FREE DAYS BETWEEN WINTERS

The average number of snow-free days between winters is 264 days (or 38 weeks, about the length of a full-term pregnancy).  The longest number of days with no measurable snow was 320 between the winter of 1972 and 1973 (Mar. 15, 1972 - Jan. 28, 1973), followed very closely by the 319-day respite in 2002 (Jan. 20 thru Dec. 4). 

Eighteen winters had their last snowfalls before March 1, the most recent being the winter of 2020, which had its last snowfall on Jan. 18 (2.1" fell).  The winter of 2002's last snowfall (3.0" was measured) happened one day later than 2020's and came just twelve days after the first snowfall.  Although the period between the two snowfalls was minimal, the fact that there was no measurable snow in November, December, February, March or April, makes this winter the title holder of the "Greatest Snow Drought" competition.

Finally, there have been six winters to go out with a bang, so to speak, with their last snowfalls amounting to more than nine inches.  Three were in February, the other three were after the spring equinox.  By far the greatest of these accumulations was the winter of 2010's final snowfall, a monster of a snowstorm, on Feb. 25-26, that buried the City under 20.9" (New York's fifth biggest snowstorm of all time). The other five winters: Winter of 1979 (12.7" on Feb. 19); 1915 (10.2" on April 3-4); 1967 (9.8" on March 21-22); 1903 (9.8" on Feb. 15-17) and 1982 (9.6" on April 6).

 

 

 


Comparing Central Park's Weather to That of New York's Three Major Airports

Central-park-28-weather-stationNew York City's official reporting site for weather conditions is situated in Central Park, but LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports also collect data, as well as Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey (the airports are 7, 16 and 27 miles away from Central Park, respectively).  Central Park is one of the few reporting sites in the US not located at an airport.  Although the park is surrounded by the "heat island" of Manhattan, its temperatures are influenced by the grass and trees, which retain the humidity more than the concrete surroundings of airports.  As a result, afternoon temperatures in the summertime don't rise as much as they do at the three airports, and nighttime temperatures don't fall as much during the winter or summer. 

 

I've looked at five statistics, which cover temperatures and precipitation for the 2000-2018 period.  Of the four weather stations, Central Park averages the most days with highs of 32° or colder and receives the most precipitation.  Newark is tops in the number of 90-degree days, lows of 32° or colder and snowfall. 

 

HOT WEATHER: HIGHS OF 90°+

Central Park: Averages 15.8 days. The biggest difference between CPK and Newark was in 2006, when CPK had only eight days, 50% below average, while Newark had 27, an average number for that site.

Newark: The hottest site, with 27.6 days.  It's the site that's reported the most in all but two years; in 2018 its 10-year streak of having the most was snapped.

LaGuardia: 22.1 days.  It was the site with the most hot days in 2007 and in 2018.

Kennedy: 11.3 days.  In 2018 CPK, NWK and LGA were well above their averages, but JFK had a below average number (eight).

 

COLD CONDITIONS: HIGHS OF 32° OR COLDER

Central Park: Averages 17.7 days.  It had the most of the four stations in ten years, and four first-place ties.

Newark: 15.9 days.  It reported the most in one year, and one first-place tie.

LaGuardia: 16.2 days.  It eported the most in two years, and one first-place tie.

Kennedy: 16.1 days.  It reported the most in two years, and two first-place ties)

 

COLD CONDITIONS: LOWS OF 32° OR COLDER

Central Park: An average of 68.7 days.  It's never led in this category.

Newark: 81.3 days.  In addition to having the most days in the 90s, it also averages the most cold nights.  It had the most in all but three years, one of them being 2018.

LaGuardia: 63.2 days.  Like CPK, it's never led in this category.

Kennedy: 75.9 days.  It had the most in three years, including 2018.

 

ANNUAL PRECIPITATION

Central Park: The wettest site, with an average of 51.36".  Six years reported 55"+ and two years had less than 40"; the wettest station every year but two.

Newark: 47.09".  Five years had 50"+; reported the most in 2017.

LaGuardia: 46.64".   Seven years had 50"+; it's never reported the most.

Kennedy: 44.48".  Four years had 50"+, five years had less than 40"; it reported the most one time, during the dry year of 2012 (when all four stations had less than 40").

 

ANNUAL SNOWFALL

Central Park: 33.9".  50"+ fell in three of the years; it had the most snow in three years,  including 2018.

Newark: 35.4".  Four years had 50"+; the snowiest site, it had the most in half of the years of the period, and tied with CPK in 2010.

LaGuardia: 32.9".  Two years had 50"+; it had the most in five of the years.

Kennedy: 29.6".  One year had 50"+; it had the most snow of the four stations in 2016.

 

NewYorkCityAirports

 

 

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Biggest Warmups Following A Snowstorm

Clipart_meltingsnowman2Less than 12 hours after the the last snowflakes fell from the 8.4" snowstorm of March 21-22, 2018, the temperature rose to 50° later that afternoon.  This was the greatest rebound in temperature following a snowfall of six inches or more since 1915 (when the high reached 51° the day after a snowfall of 10.2" on April 3).  Looking at lesser snowfalls (between two and six inches), there have been six that were followed by even milder temperatures, with the the warmest reading being 58° the day after a snowfall of 2.8" on March 13, 1943.  (Coincidentally, in March 1964, on the same dates as this year's 8.4" snowfall, a high of 50° was also reached the afternoon following a snowfall of 4.9".)  And looking at major snowstorms (accumulations of a foot or more), the biggest warm-up came after the 16-inch snowstorm of Dec. 20-21, 1948, when the high reached 42° on the afternoon of the 21st.

 

Going back to 1900, there have been five snowfalls of six inches or more that have been followed by a high of 45° or milder (either during the afternoon of the day of the snowfall or, if snow continued in the PM hours, the following day).  By contrast there have been twenty snowfalls between two to six inches that have been followed by temperatures of 45+.

 

Chart - Warm-up after Snowstorms

 Chart - Warmup after snow

 

Previously I posted an analysis that examined significant snowfalls that occurred the day after mild temperatures.  It can be found here.

 

March 21 snowfall
Snowy day in SoHo (March 21, 2018)

Biggest Snowfalls In Above-Freezing Temperatures

Spring-snowstorm-CentralPark-NYC-02April2018In high school science class we learned that snow falls in temperatures of 32° or colder; however, that's not always the case as accumulating snow has been known to fall in air temperatures above the freezing mark - as was experienced three times during the winter of 2018 when 4.4" fell on 2/17, 3.2" on 3/7 and 5.5" on 4/2 (and 5" on 3/3-4 in 2019).  This phenomenon happens when snowflakes fall through a shallow layer of air close to the surface that's a few degrees above freezing.  If the air is relatively dry, some of the flakes will evaporate, cooling the air enough to keep the flakes from changing to rain.  (This is a simplified explanation; a more in-depth discussion on the topic can be found here.)

 

During the past 100 years four days have had snowfalls of four inches+ on days with temperatures above freezing, six have had three inches or more and 17 days have had accumulations of two inches or more.  The 5.5" snowfall on April 2, 2018 has the distinction of being the greatest amount to fall with temperatures above 32°, breaking the previous record set 60 years earlier (4.7" on March 22, 1958).  Perhaps the reason so much accumulated was due to the fact that it fell heavily in a short period of time (five hours), thus hindering the rate of melting.  And as mentioned in the opening paragraph, the winter of 2019 saw a five-inch snowfall on March 3-4 in which the temperature got no lower than 33°.

 

33 degrees

 

Please note that this analysis is limited to days that had temperatures above freezing for the entire day.  Days in which snow fell when temperatures were above freezing but also had temperatures of 32° or colder for part of the day aren't included since hour-by-hour  precipitation is provided for the liquid amount that fell rather than snow.  (However, an exception to this limitation is the snowfall on 2/17 of 2018, when the high/low was 40°/28°, since I actively monitored the hourly temperatures and, therefore, was able to verify that no snow fell during the hours in the morning when temperatures were below freezing.  Instead, 4.4" accumulated in the evening/night when temperatures were above freezing.)

 

Chart - snow in above freezing temperatures

 

The coldest temperature for the dates on the above chart were either 33° or 34°.  However, there were a few dates with smaller accumulations in which the coldest temperature was 35°: 3/17/1965, when 1.1" was measured; 3/9/1955/0.1"; 2/15/1950/0.4"; 1/9/1932/0.2" and 4/2/1927/0.1".

 

Slushy snowstorm


The Magic & Beauty of the Season's First Snowfall

Washington square at night in snowOftentimes the first snowfall of the winter is inconsequential, e.g., since 1970 half of first snowfalls have been less than an inch.  Occasionally, however, the first snowfall produces a significant accumulation and transforms the City into a breathtaking winter wonderland.  Such was the case with the first snowfall of the winter of 2017-18 when 4.6" fell on Dec. 9.  What made it extra special was the fact that it fell over the weekend and during the run-up to Christmas.  Every year I think I won't traipse around in the snow taking countless photos, because how different can they be from previous snowfalls of previous winters?  Yet I can't resist the ineffable drawing power of snow, as shown in the photo gallery below.

  

 

Washington square park6
Washington Square Park

 

Tree tops in snow
A curtain of white, looking south on Sixth Ave. in Greenwich Village

 

Redandgreen
Traffic lights, with their green & red lights, serve as giant ornaments at Christmastime, even more so during a snowfall

 

Wash square park1
Washington Square Park

 

Wash park xmas tree
A view of the Washington Square Christmas tree seen through Ai Weiwei's art installation (thru Feb. 2018), titled "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors"

 

Wrought iron covered with snow
Snow has a softening effect on wrought iron fences

 

Wash square park3
Because Washington Square Park is just two blocks from my apartment  it's often where I start my picture taking

 

Snowflakes and flag
Giant illuminated snowflakes on Varick Street looked a little less out of place

 

Snow and lamplight
Brings to mind an illustration by Currier & Ives

  

Father demo square
White lights form a tree over the fountain in Father Demo Square (corner of Bleecker St. and Sixth Ave.)

 

Washington square xmas tree
The snow-laden Christmas tree in Washington Square Park

 

North square
North Square Restaurant sits on the northwest corner of Washington Square Park

 

Barrow street-first snow
A streetlight illuminates tree branches laden with snow and leaves (Barrow St.)


 

Photo Gallery from Winter 2017


Photo Gallery: Snowfalls of Winter 2017

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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