Snowstorms Feed

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)

 


December 2020 Weather Recap: Two Storms Grab Headlines

Janice huff wnbc dec2020

 

The lasting memory of December 2020 will no doubt be the snowstorm of Dec. 16-17.  The 10.5" of snow that piled up was the biggest snowfall in December since 2010 and the thirteenth December snowfall of 10"+.  Another highlight was the intense rainstorm that blew through the City on Christmas morning.  The month was 1.7 degrees above average - the City's 34th mildest December (since 1869).  But despite being milder than average it had more days with highs of 32° or colder than all of last winter (four vs. three).  Additionally, the big snowstorm produced more than twice as much snow as the previous winter (10.5" vs. 4.8").

 

  • Five days had highs of 55° or milder while six days had lows of 25° or colder.  There were three days with highs in the low 60s, evenly spaced, on 12/1 (62°), 12/13 (62°) and 12/25 (61°).  Five of the six days with lows of 25° or colder had lows of 24° (the outlier was the reading of 20° on 12/19).
  • The mildest and coldest periods of December occurred during the fifteen-day period from Dec. 11 thru Dec. 25.

 

Chart - december 2020 coldest_mildest periods

 

  • Christmas Day's high of 61° (before sunrise) made it the eighth Christmas with a high in the 60s, and the 0.92" of rain that fell was the third greatest amount on the holiday.  After the high was reached the temperature fell steadily throughout the day and was down to 29° by midnight.  This 32-degree drop was the greatest of any calendar date in 2020.
  • Although the month was on the mild side, five Decembers in the past ten years were even milder.

 

Chart - mildest decembers since 2011

 

  • December 2020 was the 29th December with ten or more inches of snow (nearly 20% of all Decembers).  However, it was the second mildest December (after Dec. 1912) to have this much snow.  Although their average temperatures weren't quite as mild as this December, the Decembers of 1948, 1959 and 2003 had considerably more snow (25.3", 15.8" and 19.8", respectively).

 

Chart - snowy mild decembers

 

  • Much of the month's 4.61" of precipitation (0.61" above average) fell from three storm systems, all which produced more than an inch of precipitation:  1.13" on Dec. 4-5; 1.52" on Dec. 16-17; and 1.16" on Dec. 24-25.
  • Finally, similar to November, December had a lot of days with gusty winds, with Central Park having nine days with a peak gust of 33 mph or more.  The peak gust of 47 mph occurred early Christmas morning.

 

Chart - December peak wind gusts

 Snowstorm of dec 1617 2020

 

Other December recaps:

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

 

 

 


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

 

 



 

 

 


Snowstorms From Back in "The Good Old Days" (1900 - 1949)

1910s snowstorm in newyrok_XXHistoricSnow-AST-8-superJumboBy far the most popular posts on this site are about snowstorms.  And after reading a recent photo essay in the New York Times about snowstorms of the distant past I was inspired to write another - this one about those that crippled New York in the first half of the 20th century.  It's worth noting that back then snow removal was on the primitive side, largely dependent upon on manual labor, so relatively modest accumulations created problems that might happen nowadays with significantly greater accumulations (i.e., six inches in 1910 might be comparable in inconvenience to what a foot or more of snow creates today).  Furthermore, since the work ethos of that era was different than what it is today, employers weren't as forgiving when treacherous weather conditions made it difficult for workers to get to their jobs.

 

WINTER OF 1901-02

Feb. 17, 1902 - This storm dropped 10".  (Similar to a few other winter storms in the first decade of the century, I was unable to find details about when the snow fell, what the hourly amounts were or what the wind speed and direction were for each hour of the day.)

 

WINTER OF 1902-03

Dec. 25, 1902- This was the second significant snowfall in the past two weeks.  After 6.4" fell on Dec. 12-14 (most of it falling on the 13th), 6.5" fell today. 

Feb. 15-17, 1903 - This was a snow and sleet storm, which began mid-day on the 15th, continued through much of the 16th, and ended mid-day on the 17th.  In total 9.8" accumulated (accounting for all of February's snow).  During the first two days temperatures ranged between 28° and 30° then fell into the teens around daybreak on the 17th.

 

WINTER OF 1903-04

Jan. 2-3, 1904 - All but a half-inch of the storm's eight inches fell today during the afternoon and evening.  Temperatures fell slowly thru the day, dropping from 26° to 13°. 

 

WINTER OF 1904-05

Dec. 17-18, 1904 - Bringing to mind December 1902, two significant snowfalls fell in the course of a week as seven inches fell on Dec. 12-13 and a half foot fell today.  Snowfall from both was pretty evenly split between the two days of each snowfall. 

Jan. 3-4, 1905 - Seven inches of snow fell between mid-afternoon on 1/3 and mid-morning the following day.  After passage of a cold front mid-morning on the 3rd (with winds shifting from the northeast to the northwest) temperatures fell from the low-40s to mid-20s, when snow began falling, and were in the mid-teens when the snow came to an end.  The snow was blown around by winds gusting between 25-30 mph. 

Jan. 24-25, 1905 - Snow began falling after 9PM and continued for 24 hours, accumulating 11".  It was a fluffy snow with just 0.54" of water content.  During the course of the storm the temperature dropped from mid-20s to low teens.  Snow fell heaviest between 8AM and noon on the 25th when an Arctic front moved through.  Besides the cold and snow, the afternoon also featured gusty winds (25-30 mph).

 

Vintage-snow-removal-in-the-new-york-city-late-19th-century-05

 

WINTER OF 1905-06

Feb. 8-9, 1906 - Six inches of snow fell, much of it during the morning of the 9th.  Temperatures were mostly in the 31° to 33° range.  Snow changed to sleet and freezing rain shortly after daybreak on the 9th and continued through mid-day. 

March 15, 1906 - This cold, late winter storm had temperatures that were only in the mid-20s (typical high for mid-March is mid-40s) as a half-foot of snow piled up.  Snow began falling shortly before daybreak and continued until 10PM.  Despite the cold temperatures it was a wet snow, with 1.09" of liquid measured.

 

WINTER OF 1906-07

Jan. 17, 1907 - It was very cold during this quick-moving six-inch snowfall, with temperatures in the mid-teens when the snow began, rising into the low 20s during the afternoon.  The snow fell during the daylight hours, coming down heaviest in the early afternoon.

Feb. 4-5, 1907 - Snow began around noon and continued for nearly 24 hours, accumulating 11".  It fell heaviest between 8PM and 4AM.  Temperatures stayed in a narrow range of 19° to 22°.  This storm followed a snowfall of four inches on the first two days of the month.

 

Snowy central park 1910s

 

Feb. 24, 1907 - Six inches of snow piled up between 1PM and 10PM.  Temperatures rose steadily, from low 20s when the snow started, to the mid-30s when it changed to rain and sleet in the final few hours.

March 10, 1907 - Much of today's six-inch accumulation fell between 1:00 and 5PM.  Temperatures ranged between 27° and 30°.  This was the winter's fourth snowfall of six inches or more since mid-January.

 

WINTER OF 1907-08

Jan. 23-24, 1908 - A 10-inch snowstorm began after dark on the 23rd, with three inches measured thru midnight, and an additional seven inches during the morning of the 24th.

 

Snowstorm 1908 by-9-E-14th-St-Jan-24-1908-300x214

 

Feb. 5-6, 1908 - The day began bitterly cold with a low of 1° above zero (the coldest reading of the winter).  Then the temperature rose all day and was 32° by midnight.  Snow began falling in the afternoon and continued into the next day with four inches falling on each day.  After 8" had fallen the snow changed to rain as the temperature rose to 40° (it tumbled back to 29° by midnight).  This snowstorm came almost one year to the day of an 11-inch snowstorm.

 

WINTER OF 1909-10

Dec. 25-26, 1909 - Snow began mid-afternoon on Christmas Day and fell for nearly 24 hours, accumulating eight inches.  Much of the snow fell on the 25th, and in above-freezing temperatures.

Jan. 14, 1910 - The biggest snowfall of the winter blanketed the City with 10" (0.5" of it fell on 1/15).  This came three weeks after a snowfall of eight inches.  Snow began falling shortly after midnight and fell steadily through late afternoon.  After the temperature rose to 33° late in the morning it fell steadily until 9PM when it was 20°.

 

WINTER OF 1911-12  

Dec. 4, 1911 - A morning snowfall of seven inches ended up being the biggest snowfall of the winter.  Precipitation began yesterday evening as rain but changed to snow overnight. The day's high/low of 33/19 made this the coldest day of the month.

 

WINTER OF 1912-13

Dec. 24, 1912 - A morning snowstorm dumped 11.4", making this Christmas Eve's biggest snowfall on record.  Snow fell heaviest between 4-9AM, when it fell at a rate of 1.5" per hour.

 

Snowstorm_NYCApril1915

 

WINTER OF 1913-14

Feb. 13-14, 1914 - On the 13th the temperature rose from -1° to the mid-20s by midnight.  Snow began falling after 7PM, fell heavily through the overnight hours and then changed to sleet around daybreak as the temperature rose into the low 30s.  9.7" accumulated.  Then on 2/16 there was a five-inch snowfall during the morning in temperatures that were in the teens.

March 1, 1914 - Rain in the morning changed to snow around lunchtime and by midnight 13.5" had accumulated (an additional inch fell after midnight on 3/2).  It was a very heavy, wet snow with a high water content (2.65") until around 9PM when Arctic air moved in.  This was the century's first snowstorm of a foot or more, and the first since February 1899, when 16 inches piled up.  This remains the longest period between snowstorms of 12 inches or more.

 

January 13 snowstorm in nyc

 

WINTER OF 1914-15

April 3, 1915 - The biggest snowfall of the "winter" blanketed the City on what was Easter Saturday as ten inches of heavy snow fell between 9AM and 11PM (eight inches fell between 11AM and 6PM).  During the storm winds from out of the north gusted to 25 mph and temperatures hovered around 30°, producing wind chills in the teens.

 

Weather - NYC snowstorm April1915

 

WINTER OF 1916-17

Dec. 15, 1916 - A snowstorm dumped 12.7" of snow between 7AM-9PM, with nearly ten inches on the ground by mid-afternoon.  The snow was very powdery, produced from just 0.59" of water (and by daybreak on 12/16 it had packed down to nine inches on the ground).  The day's high was 28°, the first of five days in a row with highs in the 20s.

April 9, 1917 - One of April's biggest snowstorms dumped 6.5" (0.1" of it fell late last night).  This brought the winter's total snowfall to 50.7" for the second year in a row.  The snow was over by 7AM and by noon the temperature was in the upper 30s, where it stayed for the remainder of the afternoon.  Combined with sunny skies, substantial melting took place and by nightfall there was less than two inches on the ground in Central Park.

 

WINTER OF 1917-18

Dec. 13, 1917 - The biggest snowfall of the winter began late in the afternoon and by the time the snow ended in the early hours of 12/14 9.5" had accumulated (eight inches fell today).  The temperature rose into the mid-30s as midnight approached, making it a very wet snow, with rain mixed in at times. 

 

1917-snowstorm-New-York-cars-trapped-833x900
 

WINTER OF 1919-20

Feb. 4-7, 1920 - One of New York's most extended onslaughts of winter weather of all time brought 72 hours of snow, sleet and freezing rain (beginning after 2AM on 2/4 and ending around dawn on 2/7).  During this punishing storm, 4.41" of liquid precipitation fell, 17.5" of it in the form of snow (five to six inches of snow fell on 2/4, 2/5 and 2/6); the rest was sleet and freezing rain.  For much of the storm temperatures were in the 20s, and winds gusted between 35 and 45 mph, with wind chills in the single digits.

 

February1920_XXHistoricSnow-AST-6-superJumbo

 

WINTER OF 1920-21

Feb. 20, 1921 - The winter's biggest snowfall amounted to 12.5".  Beginning shortly after midnight as rain, it quickly changed over to snow after 1AM and continued until early evening; it was a very wet snow, with 2.68" of liquid precipitation measured.  The temperature fell slowly through the day, from 35° to 22° (on the way to 14° by daybreak on the 21st).  Winds gusted to 41 mph.

 

WINTER OF 1921-22

Jan. 28-29, 1922 - New York was on the northern fringe of a winter storm that became known as the "Knickerbocker Snowstorm", named after a movie theater in Washington, DC whose roof collapsed from the weight of snow the night of 1/28, killing 98 moviegoers.  And although NYC escaped the paralyzing amounts of snow that piled up in Virginia, DC, Maryland and southeastern PA (6.5" fell in Central Park, the biggest snowfall of the winter), gale force winds clocked at between 35 and 50 mph howled for nearly 24 hours, beginning mid-day on the 28th.  Temperatures throughout the storm were in the 29° to 31° range, with chills in the low teens.

 

WINTER OF 1922-23

Jan. 3-4, 1923 - The biggest snowfall of the winter began this afternoon and continued until daybreak on the 4th, accumulating nine inches.  The temperature fell slowly through the storm, dropping from 33° to 29°.

Jan. 14, 1923 - Snow began falling after 10AM and by 5PM 7.8" had accumulated; then it changed to light rain for the next three hours as the temperature rose into the mid-30s.

 

Snowy street in nyc_1923

 

March 6-7, 1923 - Snow began falling around 10AM and continued light and steady for the next 24 hours, accumulating 7.3" (along with a mix with sleet and freezing rain after 4PM). This was the tenth snowfall of three inches or more this winter.  Besides the snow/ice, winds gusted to 30-35 mph, and temperatures were very cold on the 6th, with a high/low of only 25/19.

 

WINTER OF 1923-24

April 1, 1924 - It was no April Fool's joke as 8.5" of heavy, wet snow fell from mid-afternoon through 9PM.  Interestingly, snow fell mostly with temperatures two or three degrees above freezing.  Besides the snow, gale force winds gusted to 35 mph.

 

WINTER OF 1924-25

Jan. 2, 1925 - A blizzard dumped close to a foot of snow (11.5").  Snow began falling around daybreak and lasted until 11PM.  In addition to snow there were also periods of heavy sleet in the early afternoon.  Temperatures throughout the storm were in the mid-20s, but howling winds gusting between 35-40 mph produced wind chills in the single digits.

 

Trolley-stuck-in-snow-1925-photo-Acme

 

Jan. 20, 1925 - A fierce storm dumped seven inches of snow and ice, with much of the snow falling between 1:00 and 8AM before it changed to sleet, which was driven by winds that gusted close to 40 mph. The sleet came down heaviest during the mid-day hours as the temperature rose above freezing briefly before falling back into the 20s.  Snow returned in the storm's last few hours. 

 

WINTER OF 1925-26

Feb. 10, 1926 - Less than a week after a fierce blizzard brought 10.4" of snow and sleet (accompanied by wind gusts of 40-45 mph) another snowstorm dumped a foot on the City, much of it falling this morning between 3:00 and 9:00 (light snow began last night and accumulated 1.6").  Winds from this storm gusted between 30 and 35 mph.  Temperatures in the morning held steady in the low 20s and then fell slowly during the afternoon, reaching 11° by midnight.  (In a similar fashion, two snowstorms of 9.2" and 12.8" occurred just three days apart in early February during the winter of 1994.)

 

Snowstorm in 1926

 

WINTER OF 1926-27

Dec. 5, 1926 - 7.9" of snow fell on a very cold day, which had a high/low of just 24/11.  Snow fell heaviest from 1PM until 7PM.  This was the biggest snowfall of the winter and was the snowiest 12/5 until 2003, when 8.0" fell.

 

WINTER OF 1928-29

Feb. 21, 1929 - More than half of the winter's 13.8" of snow fell today as eight inches accumulated between 5AM and 2PM.  Temperatures were in the low-to-mid-twenties during the storm.

 

WINTER OF 1932-33

Dec. 17, 1932 - Snow that began late in the morning continued through the early AM on 12/18 and amounted to 7.2".  It was also a very cold day, with a high/low of only 20/11.  (The snow was gone by Christmas Day, which had a high of 59°.)  The next measurable snowfall wouldn't be for another seven weeks (on 2/4).

Feb. 11, 1933 - In just eight hours (1-9:00 AM) ten inches of snow fell, the biggest snowstorm in seven years.  Sleet mixed in during the final few hours even though temperatures were in the low 20s.

 

Snow in new york 1933

 

WINTER OF 1933-34

Dec. 26, 1933 - A little more than 24 hours after temperatures were in the mid-50s, a snowstorm swept into the City shortly after daybreak and by early afternoon ten inches had fallen, and temperatures were in the mid-20s.  An additional inch of snow fell in the early evening, bringing the day's snowfall total to 11.2". (Much larger accumulations would later fall on this date in 1946 and 2010).

Feb. 25, 1934 - On a brutally cold day (high/low of 16/9) light snow began falling mid-afternoon and fell steadily thru the following afternoon, accumulating 9.3".  This was the third snowfall of 7.5" or more this month and brought February's total snowfall to 27.9" (the other major snowfalls were on 2/1 and 2/19-20).  At the time this was the second snowiest month on record (now ranked sixth) and the snowiest February (since topped by Feb. 2010 and 2014).

 

WINTER OF 1934-35

Jan. 22-23, 1935 - This was a two-stage storm.  On 1/22 precipitation began in the morning as rain which changed to snow around mid-day as the temperature fell from the low 40s into the upper 20s; five inches was measured.  Then after a 13-hour break, winds shifted from the northwest to northeast and heavy snow returned late on the morning of 1/23.  Between 1:00 and 7PM it fell at a rate of an inch or more per hour and accumulated nearly thirteen inches.  Flakes fell until the wee hours of the next day.  Temperatures fell slowly throughout the day, dropping from 26° to 18° (and they'd continue to fall slowly the following day).  This was the first snowstorm of a foot or more in nine years. 

 

Weather - winter-storm-1935 

 

WINTER OF 1935-36

Jan. 19, 1936 - A winter storm brought heavy snow, sleet and gusty winds.  After beginning as light rain late last night, nine inches of snow piled up in the morning (mostly between 3:00-9:00) and the afternoon saw an onslaught of sleet that was propelled by 25-35 mph winds, producing wind chills in the single digits (the air temperature was in the mid-20s).  The sleet accumulated 2.5".

 

Snow storm before 1950s

 

WINTER OF 1937-38

April 6-9, 1938 - This was a sloppy four days of weather, with 6.4" of snow falling on April 6 and 7 (the biggest snowfall of the winter) and 0.95" of rain on April 8 and 9.  During these days temperatures were mostly in the 30s.  The low of 28° on 4/6 was the only April day in the 1930s with a low in the 20s.

 

WINTER OF 1938-39

Nov. 27, 1938 - Just six weeks after the latest 90-degree reading on record, back-to-back snowstorms dropped nearly 13 inches of snow in four days.  The first, on 11/24-25  measured 8.8" (3.9" on Thanksgiving Day, 4.9" the day after) while the snowfall that ended before dawn today (and began late last night) brought an additional four inches.  The high/low during these four days was 32/20, which was 18 degrees below average.  This was the snowiest month of the winter and the third snowiest November on record (after Nov. 1898 and 1882).

Jan. 13, 1939 - Beginning mid-afternoon, a snowfall of 8.8" (1.0" fell on 1/14) tied the Thanksgiving snowstorm of 11/24-25 as the biggest snowfall of the season.

 

WINTER OF 1939-40

Feb. 14, 1940 - It was a wintry day, as wind-blown sleet and snow fell throughout the day, accumulating 7.7" (an additional 1.3" fell overnight).  Late in the morning winds gusted to 50 mph.  Temperatures fell slowly, from the low-30s in the morning to low-20s by midnight.

 

WINTER OF 1940-41

March 8, 1941 - A fierce winter storm that began late last night brought heavy snow, sleet and high winds during the morning.  By 11AM 18.1" of snow had fallen (15.7" of it fell today); the precipitation then changed to light drizzle in the afternoon (the day's high was 33°).  At the time this tied with a snowstorm in January 1935 as New York's second biggest snowfall (it's now ranked tenth).

 

Weather.1941marchsnowstorm

 

WINTER OF 1942-43

Jan. 28, 1943 - The winter's nastiest storm dropped 7.1" of snow and sleet, which was accompanied by northeasterly winds that gusted to 34 mph.  Precipitation began at daybreak and continued through early evening.

 

WINTER OF 1943-44

April 5, 1944 - Four days before Easter Sunday a late season snowstorm dumped 6.5".  Beginning as rain a little after midnight, it changed to snow around 2AM and mixed with sleet around lunchtime before ending in mid-afternoon.  The snow came down heaviest between 3-5AM when three inches accumulated.  The day's high/low was 34/29.

 

WINTER OF 1945-46

Dec. 19, 1945 - An afternoon/evening snowstorm dropped 8.3" (all but 0.3" fell today).  This would be the biggest snowfall of the winter (and since March 1941).  Besides the snow, temperatures were also quite cold, with a high/low of just 23/20 (fifteen degrees below average).

 

WINTER OF 1946-47

Feb. 21, 1947 - Snow that began yesterday evening (accumulating 4.2" by midnight) continued through this morning and piled up an additional 6.5".  This 10.7" snowfall was the biggest in six years.  Temperatures were very cold, with a high/low of 24/14, sixteen degrees below average.

 

Nyc snow fort 1940s 

 

WINTER OF 1947-48

Dec. 26, 1947 - Snow began falling around 3:30 AM on the 26th and fell steadily all day, at times at a rate of two inches per hour (the forecast at daybreak called for a five-inch accumulation).  Winds gusted as high as 36 mph during the evening and temperatures hovered around 29° for much of the storm.  By midnight 25.5" had piled up and an additional 0.9" fell after midnight, breaking the previous snowfall record of 21" set by the great blizzard of March 1888; it would remain the City's greatest snowfall of all time until 26.9" fell in February 2006 (it now ranks third).  This storm came three days after a snowfall of 2.5".

 

Blizzard of 1947-time magazine

 

WINTER OF 1948-49

Dec. 19, 1948 - One year after the record-setting 26.4" snowstorm of Dec. 26 another formidable snowstorm crippled the City with 16.0".  At the time this was the shortest length of time between major snowstorms.  Since then there have been seven pairs of major snowstorms (of one foot or more) that have occurred with less than 12 months in between (the shortest time between being four weeks in January and February 1978.)

 

Weather - 1948 snowstorm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Intriguing Questions Readers Have Asked About New York's Weather

Question marksMany of us find weather reports of interest because they help with the planning of our day.  And historical weather information is of value as well.  As publisher of this blog I regularly get e-mails from attorneys, novelists, scholars, and persons researching family history who are seeking information about past weather conditions (their questions differ from those found in the "Comments" section of the blog, where weather hobbyists make observations about my analyses or recount an experience they had during a weather event).  On average I get one or two requests every month.  In this post I share some of the more interesting questions I've received. 

 

DEC. 16, 2018
SUBJECT:  WEATHER ON FATHER'S DATE OF BIRTH
 
I‘m doing some research about my dad. He died in 1991 at the age of 49.  He was from the Bronx and I’m trying to find out what the weather was like on June 3, 1942I know this is odd – I thought it would be easy to find out – but Google has been of little help.  (My dad was amazing – gay – and one of those lost to the AIDS epidemic.)  I stumbled across your blog and thought you might be of help.
 
Thanks for any light you could shed on the weather. As I near the age he was when he died - I’m trying to trace my dad's story. And the weather seems as good a place as any to start.
 
MY REPLY:   Hi Delia, you came to the right place for the information you were looking for.   June 3, 1942 was an overcast and cool day in New York.  The high/low was 70/52 (the average for early June is 75/59).  The day's low was the same as that of June 1 and 2, which were the coolest readings of the month.  Winds were out of the northeast (off the ocean) and that's largely the reason for the cloud cover.  There were some sprinkles before sunrise but nothing consequential.
 
 
DEC. 9, 2018
SUBJECT:  PLANNING AN OUTDOOR WEDDING
 
I saw your blog on NYC weather and had a question for you.  I am getting married next fall and we are booking a venue with outdoor space in NYC.  I wanted to ask you - when do you think there is less of a chance of a wash out - in mid September or mid October?  And which date do you think has better chance of good weather?
 
Appreciate any guidance from your expertise!
 
MY REPLY: Hi Matt, congratulations! As you might imagine, it's not a question with an easy answer (but not as challenging as a question from a colleague at work who was planning an outdoor wedding that had flags & balloons and wanted to know the chance of high winds).  No matter the date, even during traditionally drier times of the year, every calendar date has experienced significant rainfall (or snow).  However, on average, a calendar date sees measurable precipitation in NYC in one out of three years; however, this considers precipitation that's fallen anytime during the day, so this means the chance of precipitation during a particular time of day would be less than that. 
 
With this said, you'll be happy to know that the period you've chosen for the wedding is the time of year in New York that tends to have the most dates least likely to see rain.  In fact, half of the 25 driest calendar dates have occurred between Sept. 8 and Oct. 17, including eight of the ten driest dates. 
 
 
NOV. 25, 2018
SUBJECT:  WANT SNOW!
 
As strange or odd as it may seem, I like snow.  Living in Chicago, I especially like the way it quiets and slows down the city. I have been in NYC when it snows, most notably on the snowiest Thanksgiving Day on record, 1989, during which I enjoyed the Macy's Parade from the curb.  I've accidentally experienced other Big Apple snow falls of much lesser amounts.  Anyway, I know that you are a recorder of weather not a predictor of such, BUT based upon your records, what are some dates in NYC's weather history that have experienced a snow fall? My reason for asking is . . . as silly as it may be, I'd like to be in Manhattan during a snowstorm, so knowing the potential dates, based upon historical data, could help me plan. Now, yes, I know, that today's weather predictions are probably better than basing a decision upon history repeating itself, and I will keep watching TV for reports of those east coast circumstances that produce one of those famous nor'easters, but again, I was just wondering if there are any NYC dates that have been more reliable for snow than others.
 
MY REPLY:  Hi Charles, thanks for you intriguing question.  Not surprisingly, and as you suggested, I don't think any information I have is going to be of much help.  Probably similar to Chicago, the prime time of snowfall in New York is from mid-December thru mid-March; however, every season is different.  For instance, last winter we had four snowfalls of five inches or more, but only one of them occurred during this period.  Looking at all years in which records are available for Central Park (since 1869), February is most likely to see snowfalls of six inches or more.  And the four dates that have received this amount the most times are: Feb. 4, Feb. 12, Feb. 25 and Dec. 26.  It's happened seven times for each date, which means about once every 21 years, so it doesn't happen all that frequently.
 
A word of caution.  If you tried to schedule a trip when a snowstorm is predicted you might be disappointed because many predictions don't come to fruition because either the track of the storm changes slightly or the temperature in Manhattan may warm just enough to result in sleet or rain instead.  Or the storm may strengthen at the last minute or the storm track may change and take us by surprise (as was the case a few weeks ago).
 
So there you have it.  My question to you is, why not just go to Chicago for its big snowfalls?  :)
 
 
NOV. 15, 2018
SUBJECT:  TODAY'S SNOW - QUESTION
 
Quick question which I thought you might know - with today’s (11/15) relatively early measurable snowfall in Central Park - is 2018 one of the shortest periods of no-snow in NYC…. given that the city got 5.5” on April 2?

Was debating this earlier with one of my weather geek friends.
 
MY REPLY: Hi Mike, 2018 is tied with 1940 for eighth shortest time between last snowfall of the previous winter and the first snowfall of the next winter.
 
 
Chart - days between last and first snowfall
Note: Average # of days between last & first snowfall is 261 (3/21-12/8).
 
 
 
AUG. 12, 2018
SUBJECT:  NYC DAILY HIGH TEMP DATA
 
Rob, I've developed a new way to visualize large chronologically-ordered data sets (US Patent #9,747,652) and was looking to test it on a simple data set.  I've been trying to find a downloadable database that provides the daily maximum temperature for the Central Park weather station, which has been recording temperature data since 1869.  

I know that the data exists, but I'm not able to find it (neither have the librarians who have tried to help).  I found your website and thought that if you didn’t have this data, you’d know where to get it.

I've found composite information (average high & low temps, highest daily temps, etc.), but not true daily numbers.  I am “simply” looking for the daily high temp reading at the Central Park NYC or the last 54,645 days.  Shouldn’t be that hard, right?
 
MY REPLY:  Hi Chris, unfortunately, none of the sources I refer to for my blog are set up in a way that makes it easy putting together all of the daily highs/lows from 1870 onward.  The source I use provides daily highs/lows for individual months by each year.  Double click here for the link.  But, who knows, with your knowledge of spreadsheets, perhaps you can find a way to gather all of the information together.
 
 
JUNE 6, 2018
SUBJECT: SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR

I’m a writer working on a book about the build-up to the Spanish-American War. Several of the events that I’m describing took place in Manhattan in 1896 and 1897. I’d love to give an evocative description of the weather on those days, to help bring the events to life, and I came across your weather archive online. Do you think you could help me locate temperature and precipitation figures for a few dates, or point me toward a database with that information? I’d be so grateful for any help you can offer.

MY REPLY:  Yes, Wil, I can help.  The link (double click here) will take you to a NWS site for New York that I use frequently.

 

APRIL 24, 2018
SUBJECT:  DEATH FROM EXPOSURE TO EXTREME COLD?

I work for NBC4 in Washington, DC and a co-worker has a question about a non-record event from 1948.  She is researching her family tree and the trip down the rabbit hole has her wondering.  Her grandmother’s body was found on Nov. 24, 1948 but there is reason to believe she may have died several days earlier.  Foul play is not suspected in her death but cold and snow are.  Is there any way to get the high/low/rain/snow data from Nov. 17-24, 1948?  I checked NYC's Nat'l. Weather Service site but since no records were set during that period it’s hard to say exactly how extreme the weather may (or may not) have been.  Any help pointing me in the right direction would be appreciated.

MY REPLY: Hi Chuck, the circumstances behind your friend's request are quite unique as I occasionally get requests for weather conditions for dates of births, but never one this tragic.  The weather during this period (Central Park) had above average temperatures and included the warmest reading of the month, 74° Nov. 20. FYI, the month as a whole was very mild, and until 1979 was the mildest November on record.

 

MARCH 21, 2018
SUBJECT:  COGNITIVE DISSONANCE OF OUT OF SEASON SNOWFALLS

I’m writing a blog post about the cognitive dissonance created by today’s snowstorm in NYC. The idea being that snow in spring creates dissonance because we believe it shouldn’t happen.

Interestingly, I found a journal entry in my journal from two years ago today that mentioned it snowed.  I was trying to research the history of spring snow in NYC - whether minor snow showers or major storms like today (which everyone is calling major, but it’s not sticking on the sidewalks on 14th Street!).  I came across your site and was fascinated by it.  I saw  your post about major snowstorms but was wondering if you happen to have records of all the snow in March/April - specifically after the spring equinox (so early March wouldn’t count for this).  Maybe I’m just not seeing it on your site, but I'd love to point to evidence that this happens more than we think.

If it’s on your site, can you please point me to the link?  If it’s not on your site but you have the info, would you mind sharing it with me.

I will of course attribute the info back to you with links (Editor's note: she didn't).  If you want to check out my site, I blog at http://mymeadowreport.com.

MY REPLY: Hi Renee, significant snowfalls from mid-March onward happen infrequently in New York, especially accumulations of six inches or more, so today's snowfall stands out.  The 8.4" that accumulated today in Central Park, which is a significant amount in mid-winter, is the eighth biggest snowstorm this late in the season.  Before today the most recent major snowfalls so late in the season occurred in 1992 (6.2" on 3/19) and in 1982 (the blizzard of April 6 that dumped 9.6").  A lesser amount, 4.0", fell on March 29, 1970 (Easter Sunday) and again on April 7, 2003.  (By the way, the snowfall you mentioned in your journal was likely the 4.5" that fell in 2015 on March 20.) 

I wrote a post a few years ago that you'll likely find of interest, about the harsh winter conditions that occurred in the second half of March thru early April in 1956, 1958 and 1967.  To read it please click here.

Here are snowfalls of six inches or more that have occurred after 3/15 (since 1870).  You'll notice that a majority of them occurred in April.

11.8" - March 20-21, 1958
11.6" - March 18-19, 1956
10.2" - April 3, 1915 (the day before Easter)
10.0" - April 12-14, 187
5

9.6" - April 6, 1982 (the Tuesday before Easter)
9.0" - March 22, 1967
8.5" - April 1, 1925 (the Wednesday before Easter)

8.4" - March 21, 2018
8.0" - April 12-14, 1892 (4/14 was the Thursday before Easter)
6.7" - March 16-17, 1956
6.5" - April 5, 1944 (the Wednesday before Easter)
6.5" - April 8-9, 1917 (4/8 was Easter Sunday)
6.4" - April 6-7, 1938
6.2" - March 19,1992

 

JAN 7, 2018
SUBJECT:  NEW YORK CITY SKY CONDITIONS
 
Here is, I think, a strange request.  Is there a record of sky conditions (cloudiness) for 1932?
I am pretty sure I have a memory during my first six months. I remember looking out the window from my crib at a full moon and a clear sky. I was born in January 1932 so the period of clear sky, full moon should be around July.   Any help would be greatly appreciated.

MY REPLY: Robert, although your request is somewhat out of the ordinary (from the questions I usually get), you'll be happy to know that daily information is available about sky conditions for 1932.  Unfortunately, for some reason the monthly summary report for July is not available from the site I use.  However, looking at June and August, skies were clear on the following dates (based on the 9PM reading):

June 7 thru 10; June 17; June 20; June 22 thru 24
Aug 5; Aug 9;Aug 15;Aug 19;Aug 22 thru 26


Please keep in mind that these sky conditions are based on observations from Central Park, so they might be different elsewhere.
 
 
DEC. 22, 2017
SUBJECT:  APRIL BLIZZARD IN 1961?

I was reminded of some history today when a friend sent me this link:

https://i2.wp.com/allenginsberg.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Doc_3000_beatniks-riot-1.jpg

I was wondering how I could have missed it. I flew to San Francisco, I thought in April '61, and my plane's departure was delayed from LaGuardia by a day, thanks to a blizzard.  I swore I'd never come back, and ironically wound up living in Barrow, Alaska, from 1992-1999.

I did want to check my memory, though. I couldn't find a blizzard that April on your site and went all the way back to February 7th to find one.

I also found this, but there was no date:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIT4BRyz4qg

Can you tell if there actually was an April 1961 blizzard?

MY REPLY: Hi Frank, there was no blizzard in April 1961 (the high/low on April 6 was 53/44).  However, there was a blizzard 21 years later on that date that dumped nearly ten inches of snow on NYC.  The YouTube video is likely from the snowstorm of Feb 3-4, 1961, which dumped 17.4" on NYC.

 
NOV. 7, 2017
SUBJECT:  MOVING TO NYC

My name is Gabriel and I am from Barcelona. I am so happy of having found out your website full of weather data and events in New York!  There is so much information, it is amazing! I have also collected so many weather events from my country as well (but not published on the net, just notes and newspapers).

Like you, weather has been my hobby since I was 8 years old (now I am 33) and I started to collect weather data when I was 13 years old, and so far I am so proud of having a 20-year climatic record of my village!

I discovered your website because I was looking up some weather data from New York. Why New York?  Because I am moving there the next year.  My partner is from NYC and I have decided to move, to settle and start a new life.  I hope to find a meteorology or climatology ... if not at the beginning, later on. 

I will be living in Queens in an apartment. I will have to ask for permission to install a pluviometer on the terrace.  Not an automated one... I want to keep measuring the rain exactly as I have done it so far - with a test tube.  So that's why I have so much interest of collecting weather data from NY. The climate of NY is much more interesting than the one in Barcelona, I will be excited to be experiencing cold snaps in winter.

Do you still collect weather data in NY?  Where can I find daily data from Central Park or JFK, LGA airports? Or any official observatory?

MY REPLY: Hi Gabriel, I'm always happy to hear from other weather enthusiasts.  However, I'm not as motivated as you since I don't have a rain gauge, perhaps because Central Park's weather observatory is only four miles away from my my apartment.

I visited Spain ten years ago and went to Madrid and areas south (Toledo, Sevilla, Granada, Marbella), but I didn't get to see Barcelona.  I suppose your weather is on the mild side, perhaps even tropical.  Although I don't keep my own records of the weather anymore I still have my calendars of data when I did it as a boy in Pittsburgh.

Below are links that you'll find very helpful in understanding the climate of New York.  They provide monthly reviews of weather conditions going back more than 100 years for New York City/Manhattan and more than 60 years for LaGuardia Airport and Kennedy Airport (both airports are in the borough of Queens).  Central Park is the official reporting station for New York's weather information.  Not only will you find monthly recaps but recaps of each year.

CENTRAL PARK (Manhattan)

LAGUARDIA AIRPORT (Queens)

KENNEDY AIRPORT (Queens)

Yes, New York's weather can be very interesting because of it being situated along the East Coast.  And although our temperatures don't get extremely cold we do get our share of snowstorms.  Additionally, because of our proximity to the Atlantic Ocean summers aren't quite as hot as cities further inland, such as Philadelphia and Washington DC.  However, summer evenings/mornings can be very warm since all of the concrete and high concentration of office buildings prevents heat from escaping.

Again, it was a pleasure reading your message.  If you have any trouble with the links, or if you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.  And I hope you enjoy living in New York.

 

SEPT. 8, 2017
SUBJECT:  Steven Fybish

Hi Rob, thanks again for your blog.  Not sure if you've ever heard of or been in touch with this guy, but before the Internet, he was the only person I was aware of who was into NY weather statistics. I tired to contact him a couple of times via e-mail years ago but never heard back, although I wasn't sure if I had the right contact information.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/nyregion/stephen-fybish-who-had-much-to-say-about-the-weather-dies-at-80.html?ref=todayspaper

MY REPLY: Hi Ken, yes I had heard about Steven and recall reading a Times article about him a number of years ago.  Thanks for sending the link to his obituary.

 

JULY 27, 2017
SUBJECT:  SEEKING NYC PRECIPITATION FOR DISSERTATION

I am a hydraulic engineer in Hungary and - as part of my work - I collect and analyze data of the precipitation of my home city, Budapest. I work on my PhD, the topic is of course the rainfall data collection and analysis of Budapest.  In my thesis I would like to make studies on the spatial distribution and extent of heavy rainfalls.  For this work I plan some comparisons of cases of cities which have extended rainfall gauge networks (in my city we manage a network of 55 gauges in cca 550 km2).  By this idea I could get data from Toronto in the past months from an on-line database.

Hopefully I can get to New York City in the first half of September as a tourist, and I thought that this occasion could be supplemented by getting to know the rainfall measure network and data proceeding of NYC, even to meet some experts of this question. 

Browsing on the net I've found your web site "New York City Weather Archive" so I turn to you with my request of help.  Who can I seek with my interests, where can I get at least daily (hopefully more detailed) data from rainfall gauges of NYC as further data base for my study?

MY REPLY:  Hi Tibor, I can provide you with helpful information to get your thesis started.  In New York City, rainfall information is collected at Central Park (Manhattan), La Guardia Airport and JFK Airport.  It's available by year, month, day and hour.  Central Park's information goes back to 1869(Most cities in the US collect weather data, usually at their airports.)  The National Weather Service has a website that has all of this information. Click here for Central Park's information, which is arranged by month of each year.

Additionally, I've written a number of posts about excessive rainfall in New York City that you may find helpful:

Rainiest Back-to-Back Months

Greatest One-Hour Rainfalls

Unrelenting Rain: New York's Most Lengthy Rainy Spells 

 

MAY 4, 2017
SUBJECT:  MAY 1974 - SNOW?

Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for weather on your blog. I teach journalism at St. John’s University in Queens, and I’m reading a student paper in which the mother recalls stepping off a plane at JFK on May 4, 1974, emigrating from the West Indies, and seeing snow on the ground in Brooklyn.  I just read your Weather Archives, both the broad views and the close-up, and see that we had record-breaking heat at the end of April that year.  Is it likely that there would have been any snow that would have survived that heat? (Here in Queens, I have seen small mounds of snow on shady side streets survive late into the spring.)  I wouldn’t grade this paper down, of course. I’m just fascinated by the persistence of memory, the specificity of recall, that might not have been accurate yet vivid and “true” in the mind of the mother.

MY REPLY: Wayne, I'm glad your student's paper resulted in your finding of my blog!  There has never been accumulating snow in NYC in the month of May.  And on May 4, 1974 the high/low at JFK was 64/49 (and the last measurable snowfall that winter was on 3/29).  I also looked at the previous month in case he had the month wrong, but April 5 had a near-identical temperature, 63/50.  I thought that maybe she saw hail on the ground, but there was no precipitation on May 5.  Memories can play tricks on us - perhaps she was mixing up another trip to JFK that was during the winter.

 

MARCH 28, 2017
SUBJECT:  WEATHER CONDITIONS ON NIGHT OF 1931 MURDER

Hello Rob!  I enjoyed visiting your blog.  I am a baseball historian from Chicago.  In July 2017, I will be giving an oral presentation at the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research).  I am researching a murder homicide that took place in Brooklyn during the early morning hours of Oct. 5, 1931.  Two men visiting a speakeasy got into a vicious baseball argument during the 1931 World Series and a fist fight began leaving one man dead and the other incarcerated.  

I was hoping that you may be able to search your archives and tell me what the weather forecast was for the early morning hours of October 5, 1931 in Brooklyn.  I would be most appreciative and I will recognize you assistance by name, website, etc. when I give my presentation.

I thank you in advance for your time.

MY REPLY: Hi Matthew, I'm glad you found my website.  I happen to be a baseball fan so I'm glad I can help you out.  Oct. 5, 1931 came in the midst of an unseasonably warm stretch of days at the beginning of October that had temperatures that were more like August.  Oct. 5 had a high of 84°, which was seventeen degrees above average.  In the early morning hours of that day temperatures were close to 70° under fair skies (that's even above what the typical high should be that time of October).   

 

MARCH 7, 2017
SUBJECT:  SOLAR PANELS

Hi Rob, I would like to know if there are hour-by-hour, day-by-day records of sunny days. From January 2016 to the present.  I had solar panels installed about a year ago and I feel my local utility company is fixing the numbers to their own advantage.  Solar is based on direct sunlight not whether the temperature is hot, warm or cold.  And in this mild winter we've had, I don't see how they justify their rates. Please let me know.

MY REPLY: This is a tricky one since cloud cover can be very different from weather station to weather station.  Last summer, for instance, Central Park was much sunnier than Newark, LaGuardia or JFK.  And it can be very different compared to what part of the New York metro you live in.  With that said, the National Weather Service publishes monthly weather recaps featuring daily information; however, sky cover is provided for every third hour rather than hourly: 1AM, 4AM, 7AM, 10AM, 1PM, 4PM, 7PM, and 10PM.  If this might be helpful to you please let me know and I'll provide you with the link and instructions.    

 

FEB. 9, 2017
SUBJECT:  SCHOOL CLOSINGS

I enjoyed reading your post about New York City snowstorms from 1950 until 2016.  My wife, a former (if one from Da Bronx can ever be a "former" Bronxite) Bronx girl, claims she would walk to and from school uphill both ways in snowstorms.  She says school was never closed due to weather conditions. In your research on snowstorms, did you ever find information on any school closing in the 1950s and 1960s?  I would appreciate any information you may be able to give me.  Thank you.

MY REPLY:  Hi Michael, school closings is one aspect of NYC's weather that I haven't researched but I often hear colleagues who grew up in New York say that schools rarely closed before the 1980s.  I think part of the reason is that nowadays more kids and teachers take buses, drive cars and travel greater distances compared to the years pre-1980.  Also, parents today seem more protective and worried about the safety of their kids.  Finally, since so many parents are working it's a challenge for their schedules if their children stay at home.  

Also, especially since 2000 significant snowstorms have occurred with greater frequency than in the 1950s and 1960s. (So far, this current decade has had more snowfalls of 8"+ than any other full decade going back to when records first began in the 1870s.)  

Although the this link addresses 11 school closings since the blizzard of Feb. 1978, I thought you might find it of interest nonetheless.


Sorry I couldn't provide you with any statistics to answer your question.

 

OCT. 19, 2016
SUBJECT:  CENTRAL PARK TEMPS

As part of global warming research, I would like Central Park temps for 1am and 1pm on Oct 1, Oct 11, Oct 21, and Oct 31 for as far back in time as the data exists.  How do I get it?

MY REPLY: Rod, that's quite an ambitious project you're undertaking!  The link below from NOAA's Local Climatological Data website will enable you to find daily observations from Central Park going back to 1900 - with some limitations.  The months going back to the early 1960s have temperatures for every day on an every-three-hours basis (lucky for you, 1AM and 1PM are two of the times that are provided). The months before 1950 provide observations for every hour.  Unfortunately, the years during the 1950s thru early 1960s, and some years during the 1990s, have no hourly observations.  And for some reason there are no monthly reports from the late 1940s and some years before 1920.

 

MARCH 31, 2016
SUBJECT:  METS & YANKEES WEATHER STATS

When I was doing some research about big snowstorms in March, I happened to come across your list of weather conditions at all the Mets and Yankees home openers since 1970. Awesome work!

I’m planning to write a story about those weather patterns, along with the weather patterns for Phillies’ home openers, since we have a lot of readers in central and southern New Jersey who root for them.

I’m doing my own research on the Philly home openers, and it’s a grind!

Anyway, could I give you a call to ask you a few questions about your research?  Or could you answer them in an email? I think you deserve a lot of credit for all the work you did, and I’d like to get a few comments from you. 

MY REPLY:  Hi Len, below you'll find my answers to your questions.

— What motivated you to do all that research on the Mets and Yankees weather conditions?

Writing a blog, generating traffic is a big motivator so I'm always thinking of new angles I can put a weather spin to.  After I had written about weather highlights of every calendar date I decided it would be interesting to write about highlights of the major holidays.  After I finished these I expanded my definition of holidays and included events like the day of the NYC Marathon, the Gay Pride Parade and then the home openers of the Mets and Yankees.
 

— How long did it take you to find all those records and sort through them?
It took a while (at least a couple of weeks), especially because I was working on the home openers of the Mets and Yankees in tandem. Not only did I have to look at the weather conditions for each date (focusing on conditions during the afternoon hours), I also examined the box scores so I could add information that would be of interest to Mets and Yankees fans. Just a few weeks ago I added the games from the 1970s.  By the way, the post about the Yankees' home openers is much more popular, generating seven times as much traffic as the Mets post.  
 
 
— Did you use data from the same weather observation station for both teams? (Central Park, JFK or LaGuardia Airport?) or one place for the Mets and one for the Yanks?  (I’m asking this because my editors asked me to confirm some of the info on my own to make sure it matches up with yours.)
For the most part the conditions are based on Central Park's readings.  However, since Shea Stadium/Citifield are very close to JFK I'd also look at those reports as well to see if there were any big discrepancies, a big consideration in the springtime since wind off the ocean can make JFK much cooler than Manhattan. In fact, I occasionally make references to that fact. 
 
— Why are you so fascinated by the weather?
It's something I've been interested in since I was in the sixth grade.  In fact, I went to Penn State with the intention of majoring in meteorology.  However, after my first physics class stressed me out so much (and I'd have to take many physics classes), I switched majors - to Advertising.  Note, however, that I'm not so focused on the forecasting aspect, but the historical angle.  I enjoy analyzing statistics so it's easy for me to find many unique ways of looking at the years of data available.  (Professionally, I work in media research for an ad agency, which puts my analytical skills to good use.)  
 
 
JAN. 11, 2016
SUBJECT:  PONDERING TEMPERATURE AVERAGES

When we all think of average highs and lows, they move linearly and in the same direction always.  Meaning, that after the peaks of July 23 or so, the high temperature and the low temperature., when they move, move one degree at a time lower and lower…albeit very slowly at first, but with increasing speed as the earth’s tilt takes over, less daylight, etc.  You never see that, for example, on December 1 the average high is 50° and then on Dec. 2, it’s 51°, and then on Dec. 3, it’s 50°.  It never works that way.  You know better than I do.  It’ll be 50° for a few days…. then 49°….. then 48°.  It always moves in the same direction, until about Jan.24 or so, and then it starts moving up again.

Climate norms use 30 year averages.  The NWS in the above example uses 1981 through 2010.  That means, (forgive me, I know it’s obvious), that if you added up all the high temperatures on Dec. 24 for that 30 year period, and then divided by 30, you’d get the average high.

Dec. 24 this year was truly remarkable.  From 1981 through 2010, the sum of all high temperatures has to equal 41x30, or 1,230 for that date.  I presume that there is some rounding in there, but not too much.  For the average high temperature to be 42°, the sum of the years would have to be at LEAST 1,245, because dividing that by 30 gives you 41.5, which would round to 42.  In turn, it could be as low as 1,215, which would be 40.5 degrees, which would then round up to 41 degrees.

By adding a number that is 31 degrees ABOVE normal, the daily “normal” high MUST move up a degree, creating the anomaly of having the average high temperature on Dec. 24 exceeding that of Dec. 23,when we all know the trend should be moving downward.

Let’s use my low example.  Let’s say that 29 years averaged out to 40.5 degrees for December 24.   40.5*29 = 1,174.5.  ADD 72 degrees to that, and you get 1,246.5.  Divide that number by 30 and you get 41.55 degrees – otherwise known as 42 degrees, which is one degree higher than it was on Dec 23.  And that’s using the low example.  If the average is truly 41 degrees, the equation is 41*29 = 1,189 + 72 = 1,261/30 = 42.03 degrees.  The high example puts us at 43 degrees when averaging.

I think you get my point, so I’ll stop with the math, but in sum, on ANY day where the high temperature is more than 30 degrees above the “normal” 30 year high for that day, it has to increase by the daily normal high by one degree and create an anomaly.

MY REPLY: Hi Robert, that's a very interesting take on the subject of season averages.  I never thought about it the way you presented it.  However, I believe the process of deriving the averages is a bit more complicated.  If you averaged highs and lows of every day of the year I'm sure you wouldn't see a smooth transition from day to day.  Based on my experience at work, graphs are created using many different data points and I'm sure NOAA's averages are based on a smoothing of all of the individual data points.  Also, since each 30-year period for averages is used for ten years, 2015's won't be part of the 30-year averages for another five years, when the 1991-2020 norms are introduced.   

 

JULY 6, 2015
SUBJECT:  THANKS FOR HELP WITH MY NOVEL

I thought you might find it interesting that I just used your snowfall data for the first scene of my soon-to-be published novel, Pride's Children. It starts in Feb. 2005 (evening of the 25th), and I needed snow on the ground in enough depth to make the sidewalks slippery, with snow piled on the sides, as it gets in NYC.  I moved the scene from the 11th to the 25th (for plot reasons), so I had to check the snow and the moon’s phase (shifted from new to almost full in two weeks).

So thanks for putting the data up for people like me to use.

MY REPLY: Hi Alicia, I'm delighted I was able to help, thank you for letting me know.

 

NOV. 8, 2014
SUBJECT:  WEATHER HISTORY FOR HISTORY ABOUT AIDS

I’m a journalist, author, and filmmaker — at work currently on an in-depth history of AIDS activism in New York City.  I have stumbled upon your blog, and your deep interest in local weather history.  I wonder if you might allow me to ask you from time to time for information from your deep archives. For instance, the early evening of Nov. 6, 1991? 

MY REPLY:  Hi David, I'm happy to answer any questions you might have.  Regarding Nov. 6, 1991, it was a chillier than average day (high/low of 52/34, eight degrees below average).  In the early evening the temperature was in the mid-to-upper 40s under mostly fair skies.

 

NOV. 3, 2014
SUBJECT:  INQUIRY ABOUT NYC MARATHON WEATHER

What was the temperature at the start of 1996 Marathon?  Cannot find it anywhere.  I ran it in 3:49.07 (after crawling over the bridge and cramping after down slope of the Manhattan bridge). Still, it was awesome!

MY REPLY: Hi Steve, the 1996 Marathon (Nov. 3) was one of the chilliest. The temperature at 10AM was just 41° (after a low of 35°) and at 1PM it had risen to 48°, which was 11 degrees colder than average.  This year's Marathon wasn't quite as chilly in the AM but the high winds made it feel colder.  

By the way, if you haven't already seen it, I've written a post about weather highlights of past Marathons:  http://bit.ly/Sj2OVh

 
AUG. 8, 2014
SUBJECT:  WEATHER ON DATE OF ELLIS ISLAND ARRIVAL

Hi, I am hoping that you will be able to help me find out what the weather was like on March 15, 1913. I am writing a narrative for a client whose ancestors arrived at Ellis Island on this day.  I just thought it would be great to tell them what type of day it was when he arrived.

I hope you can help. Thank you very much.

MY REPLY: Hi Diane, weather on that date had temperatures a bit above average, with a high/low of 48/34 degrees. There was also drizzle and fog for a few hours around daybreak.

 

JULY 29, 2014
SUBJECT:  WHAT A SITE!
Hey There Rob, what a blizzard.  Thanks to your site I did a search and read some articles about
it. I was a 19-year-old Canadian boy living in New York on April 6, 1982. But what I'm interested is this...at about 3AM on April 7 I grabbed a cab at 73rd and Central
Park West for my place down in the Village. At the intersection of 7th Ave. & 33rd St., right
in front of Madison Square Garden the taxi went through a red light and slammed into a van
heading westbound on West 33rd. I went face first into the metal partition...nearly croaked,
as you
can imagine. Of course, I was in Bellevue Hospital for quite a long time and never even thought to search for any
newspaper reports or other documentation of my accident. After all my jaw being wired shut
was the least of my medical problems! So I was in no position to care at that time. I have no idea why, but tonight I thought I'd take a look online and see what I could find
without any luck. The fact that I'm back in rural Canada and you're in New York maybe you have an idea of
where I can search for any reports of my accident. Surely there must be something out
there considering how serious it was. If you have any suggestions I'd really appreciate it if
you could get back to me. Your site seems very comprehensive, that's why I thought you
might have some leads you could let me know about. Is there such a thing as Auto Accident
Databases? There is lots of documentation on the storm of course, and some mention of auto accidents,
but nothing more specific than references to a few pile ups and motorists being stranded
on various roads.
MY REPLY: Hi Larry, that's quite a story.  I'm glad you survived the ordeal. You may want to
check to see if the Daily News or New York Post have an archive of past issues.  Unfortunately,
since no one was killed, and since it occurred in the aftermath of an attention-getting
snowstorm, it may not have even been reported.  And although there is a database where
you can order official accident reports filed by the NYPD, it only goes back four years.     

I'm curious, did you move back to Canada after the accident or did you stick around longer? 
Were you here as a student at NYU?


Sorry I can't be of any further help - I have lots of sources for historical weather data, but
not this type of information.



MAY 27, 2014
SUBJECT: HELP

How are you?? You helped me once before and I am hoping you can help me again.  I need
to find out how many
days it rained or snowed in Jamaica, Queens NY during the period of
11/1/2010-7/17/2011. I would also like
to know other than those rain/snow days...how many
days during that same period was the temperature below
freezing. 
I appreciate whatever you can find out for me.
 
MY REPLY: Hi Christine, here is the info you were looking for.  It should be pretty self-explanatory.  The data come from the reporting station at JFK Airport.
 
 
MAY 22, 2014
SUBJECT:  GREETINGS FROM SWITZERLAND

I am a German speaking Swiss writer and am preparing my sixth novel, which I'd like to open at the beginning of the 20th century, perhaps on New Year's Eve in 1899 and continuing through January, February, March 1900. As you might imagine, it is important to have the historical truth and to know what the weather was like, i.e., if the rivers were frozen in New York City, especially on New Year's Day in 1900.  Do you know how i can get this type of information?  Do you have it?  Was it raining, snowy, cold, was the river frozen, windy, etc.  Or the contrary, warm etc.?  Are there any sites on the internet for the historical weather of New York?  I would be very glad if you could help me.

MY REPLY: Hello Catalin, the end of 1899 and beginning of 1900 was historically cold.  For eight days in a row, between Dec. 28 and Jan. 4,  the temperature never rose above freezing (0 degrees Celsius).  And there was just a little bit of snow.  Here is what the day-by-day temperatures were (high/low) in Celsius:

Dec 28, 1899   -2/-6
Dec 29, 1899   -3/-7
Dec 30, 1899   -7/-12
Dec 31, 1899   -7/-12
Jan 1, 1900      -7/-10
Jan 2, 1901      -7/-11
Jan 3, 1901      -4/-7
Jan 4, 1901      -2/-7  


Typical temperatures during this time of year are around 3/-3 C. (the formula for converting Celsius to Fahrenheit is:  Celsius temperature x 1.8 + 32 = Fahrenheit temperature.)

Despite this cold spell it's doubtful the rivers froze completely since temperatures that December before Dec. 28 were mostly above freezing.  Ice probably formed on the banks of
the Hudson or East Rivers, but not the entire river.  And the peak ice formation would have been on the last day of the cold spell.
 
 
FEB. 9, 2014
SUBJECT:  HELP WITH DISPUTE REGARDING SNOW REMOVAL

I live in New York city and work as property manager for a building that has plenty of square feet to cover when snow removal is necessary. This means any accumulation, even an inch of snow, requires snow removal.  In the past few years I have worked many hours and responsible for snow removal. I was wondering if you can help me out, is there a website or some kind of information I can obtain for daily snow accumulation for past years?  I found some monthly websites, but not daily, meaning I can not find anything on a given day of the week.  Reason being, Rob, there were years where I worked with snow removal, and my employer owes me overtime pay that I must submit, but I no longer have the records for this and employer does not want to acknowledge that they have these records only because they no longer have my information. Which only means they want to avoid paying me.  I know this email is out of the ordinary and please forgive me if this is not something you know, but will very much appreciate your help and guidance if you do have some information you can share with me.  Thank You in advance.

MY REPLY:  Not to worry, Sam, daily weather data are available for New York.  Click here and you'll be taken a menu page from the National Climatic Center's website for Local Climatological Data (which is the source I use for my website).  The page you'll be taken to is for New York City and is arranged by month.  Every month has detailed information for every day, including snowfall.  This document also provides the amount of precipitation that fell by each hour. (Please note that the information is based on NYC's official measurement site in Central Park.)


FEB. 7, 2014
SUBJECT:  REMEMBERING WARM FEBRUARY TEMPERATURE
 
Nice site Rob! I myself am and always have been a weather buff.  I was trying to navigate your site, and was wondering if you recall in the late '80s a period in February where we had temps in the '80s.   (During that decade I lived in NJ in Lake Hopatcong and then Highpoint.)  I think it was in the latter part of the decade.  (I also recall Dec. 1964 having a warm spell.)   Do you recall this?  Again, nice job.
                                                                     
MY REPLY:  Hi John, thank you for your kind comments about the blog.  New York has never seen any days in the 80s in February, but you may be thinking of February 1985 when we had a high of 75° on Feb. 24.  There was also a high of 76° on March 8, 1987.  The earliest 80-degree reading in NYC was on March 13, 1990 when the high reached an incredible 85° (36 degrees above average).  And regarding December 1964, there were three days in a row during the Christmas holiday (12/25 thru 12/27) with highs of 60° (but the month as a whole had sightly colder than average temperatures.) 
 
 
JAN 29, 2014
SUBJECT:  WEATHER HELP NEEDED FOR MURDER INVESTIGATION

I am working on a case that involves the murder of a livery cab driver in the Soundview section of the Bronx on Jan. 19, 1995 between 3:00 and 4AM.  A witness claimed to have witnessed the shooting from her bathroom window.  She even said that the window was open.  Her credibility has already been destroyed and the five people who were convicted and served 18 years in prison on the basis of her lies have been exonerated and are now free.  In any event I thought you might have ready access to what the weather was like in NYC at the time of the crime.  Can you share that with me and also let me know your source in case I have to back up my assertions about the weather.

MY REPLY: Hi Peter, the weather in New York at that time on 1/19 was on the raw side.  Skies were overcast, the temperature was in the upper 30s, with winds out of the northeast and there were some sprinkles of rain - but not enough for it to be measurable.

Please note that these were the conditions at the National Weather Service's reporting station in Central Park.  This information was taken from a monthly report published by NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

 

JAN. 6, 2014
SUBJECT:  ACADEMIC STUDY REGARDING HUMIDITY & NYC MARATHON

I am a researcher at the University of Montana and we are doing a running study and wanting to replicate the average temperature and humidity of the NYC Marathon.  I found your blog online, and found it very helpful. Thank you for the post. I am wondering, however, if you know the average humidity for the races. I am thinking of just the races since '95 since we want the study to be applicable to future races.

MY REPLY:  Hi John, attached are the data you asked about.  In addition to each year's relative humidity, I've also included the temperature for each hour.  Please note that all this information comes from NYC's official reporting site in Central Park.

If you're able to acknowledge in your study this contribution I'd be most appreciative.  Also, when the study is completed might you be able to send top-line findings?

 

DEC. 1, 2013
SUBJECT:  INQUIRY ABOUT SNOWSTORM IN 1977 IN NYC
 
I googled "snow storms in nyc in 1977" and was directed to your website. I am writing a memoir and I’m trying to remember if there was a snow storm in New York in 1977 where I lived at the time.  I would be very grateful if you could give me any info on this inquiry or could direct me to where I might find any info.
 
MY REPLY:  Hi Andy, there were no big snowstorms in 1977.  The largest snowfall was five inches and it occurred during the afternoon and evening of Jan. 14.  This preceded a major Arctic outbreak which saw the AM low go down to 2° below zero on Jan. 17.  That January was one of the nation's coldest on record.  The following year, however, NYC had two major snowstorms, one in January (13.6") and the other in February (17.7").
 
 
NOV. 16, 2013
SUBJECT:  TEMPERATURE ON DAY OF 2003 BLACKOUT

I found your website after watching a movie on Netflix called Category 7 about a monster storm that could be shut down by cooling a city by shutting off the entire power grid.  It was entirely unrealistic in terms of how quickly they showed the city cooling off but it still was an interesting point.  Would a city, could a city experience ANY kind of rapid drop in temp?  I doubt it. It makes me curious about whether the temperature dropped AT ALL on that colossal day of the Northeast blackout, which happened at 4:10 pm on Aug. 14, 2003.

Do you have the temperature data for that afternoon and evening?  Perhaps best if it comes with data of the days before and after to see how the temp. was dropping naturally in the evenings.

I couldn't find a place on your page to search for data of particular days. Would that be hard to do?  Or perhaps you know of a website that already has that feature.  I tried NOAA's Data center but the site is NOT obvious as to how to access data.  For one, they use a shopping cart system - but it's free!

Appreciate your help if you can.

MY REPLY:  Hi Poonam, thanks for your question.  The power of hurricanes is generated when they're over the ocean, fueled by very warm water.  Once a tropical system moves over land it weakens considerably because it's no longer over its power source, i.e., water.  Furthermore, cities are cooled by a storm's clouds and rain (even if they are still in the mild 70s), so a storm would need to be attacked while over the water to have any chance to weaken it.  

Regarding the temperature in NYC during the blackout of 2003, a hot air mass was over the City so turning off the power and AC would have little effect on the temperature (especially since power was off for less than 24 hours).  The day before the blackout, 8/13, the high was 87°; the day of the blackout the temperature topped out at 91°; the day after it was 89° - but I don't believe the two-degree drop was attributable to the power being out.  But regardless, scientists would need to cool the ocean to reduce a hurricane's power - but that cooling might cause a chain reaction of other events that might result in other problems.

Hope this sates your curiosity.  Please let me know if you have any other questions.

 

JULY 17, 2013
SUBJECT:  IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT CLIMATE

I saw that article about you and your weather blog in today's edition of MediaPost.  Very cool!

I've wondered about the availability and application of weather data archives.  Our Grand Poobah of meteorology here in Chicago, namely, WGN's Tom Skilling, manages regularly to come up with dang unusual statistics about most, highest, lowest, longest stretches, biggest changes, etc., etc.

What I'd love to see is a computer or phone app that identifies a PERSONAL view of where in the US the "best" weather is.  The key is everybody has a different idea of what "best" is.  I want to throw things at the TV when some anchor talks about how wonderful some 87-degree day is.  My personal "best" days would be: 70° +/- 8 degrees, humidity 10-30%, light breeze, 10-25% cloud, no precip.

From that, I'd love to see a list of the top 200 cities, ranked by the percentage of daylight hours that meet my criteria.  Better yet, a color-coded map!

My dream wanderlust-pleasing app would add a whole wealth of other personal preferences covering everything from crime and income levels (there are plenty of real estate apps that do that stuff), plus things like walkability and count of independent (non-franchise)bookstores and Italian restaurants.  And while realtors are prohibited from talking about religion or ethnicity, I wouldn't think other data suppliers would be prohibited from including that info and there is a positive case to be made for it:  if you happen to be a Bolivian Mormon, you might welcome finding neighborhoods that have others of the same persuasion.

One interesting measure that Census or Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) or somebody produces is average age of mothers upon first birth.  That would be very useful to home buyers who have kids.  If Mom is either 22 or 40 and has young children, she may well look forward to not being the unusual one on the block compared to other Moms.

Just rambling on!

MY REPLY:  Hi Kevin, thanks for your message - good to hear from you!

From what I've seen, most apps with weather info often just have very general data that, to me, indicates that the technicians don't fully understand the data.  They could go much further.

Based on your criteria, I think you'd enjoy living/visiting places out West, particularly in Colorado, Utah, northern New Mexico, eastern Washington and Oregon or Idaho - but only during the springtime and autumn.  And then, of course, there's always San Diego.  But if you have patience you'll probably experience these sunny, mild and dry days on occasion in Chicago as well.  Perhaps we enjoy them so much because they don't happen all the time.  Living in the Midwest, it's the blizzards, below zero temperatures and heat waves that make these moderate days feel so good.  You wouldn't want that all of the time, would you (I think I know your answer)?

 

FEB. 16, 2013
SUBJECT:  FEB 1978 BLIZZARD

I'm revising a novel set in NYC in what i planned to make 1978.  The revision has been necessitated by a piece of weather history which I overlooked until very recently: the blizzard of Feb. 5-7.

I love your weather history, but i see it only goes back to 1979.  Do you by any chance have data on NYC during that storm, like when they closed and re-opened the schools, and when they closed and re-opened the subway?

Thanks for all you put into your website.  Great, great stuff.

MY REPLY:  Hi Susan, that blizzard hit New York the year before I moved to the City.  However, that hasn't prevented me from having a good amount of information to share with you that might prove useful:

  • The bulk of the snow fell over a 24-hour period between 3AM on Monday, 2/6 and  3AM on Tuesday, 2/7.  There was a final period of snow between 10AM and 1PM that dropped an additional one to two inches.  The snow fell heaviest from noon on Monday thru 3AM on Tuesday.  And there was thunder snow in the early AM hours of 2/7!
  • Gale force winds of 30-40 mph created drifts of 3-4 feet. Because this was a dry snow it drifted very easily.  Winds were strongest on Monday between 10AM and 7PM.
  • The total accumulation was 17.7".  This came less than three weeks after another big snowstorm dumped 13.6" on 1/19-20.  In fact, in less than two-months time (1/13 - 3/3), 50" of snow fell in New York/Central Park.
  • Schools were closed for one day, on Tuesday.  Regarding the subway, some lines with outside tracks were shut down, but not the entire system (a system-wide shutdown has occurred just twice - when Hurricane Isabel hit in Aug. 2011 and Sandy in Oct. 2012).
  • I recall seeing a photo in Time Magazine showing tenor Luciano Pavarotti standing outside with a snow shovel at Lincoln Center where one of his performances was canceled due to the storm.  I believe Broadway shows were also canceled on Tuesday evening.
  • Although this storm was debilitating for NYC, it was Long Island, Boston and New England that were especially hard hit (similar to last week's snowstorm). 
  • A week later a smaller system dropped four more inches of snow (and another five inches fell in early March).  There was at least one inch of snow on the ground in Central Park through March 11.

Please let me know if you have any questions.  And good luck with the book.

 

JULY 16, 2012
SUBJECT:  RAINY SUNDAYS

Love your weather history blog!  But I seem unable to find out which May between 1999 and 2003 had the most rainy Sundays - and which Sundays were they?  Weather matters much in the mystery I'm writing.  This will be my 23d book, and no matter how fantastical some of my stories, I've tried to be accurate about the weather.

MY REPLY:  Hi Nancy, not a whole lot of rain fell during this period, but here's what I found:

> The rainiest of all the Sundays was May 23,1999 when 0.30" fell, and most of it was between 9AM-8PM.  This was  the only Sunday in May 1999 that had rain.
> May 2000 had rain only on the 21st and it was just 0.03".
> May 2000 had rain only on the 27th when 0.08" fell.
> May 2001 had rain only on the 12th when 0.16" fell (off and on in the AM and then between 5-7PM).
> Like all the other Mays, May 2002 had rain on just one Sunday.  It fell on the 25th but it was just 0.01".
 
 
MAY 21, 2012
SUBJECT:  NYC TEMPERATURE ON JUNE 8, 1980

Hello from a former gay NYC dweller.  I love your gay blog and I am using your weather blog in my novel, set in 1980, just before the AIDS epidemic.  I left NYC that year to move to Portland, Oregon.  The chapter I am currently writing takes place on June 8, 1980.  From you blog I learned it rained on that date.  Do you know the temperature that afternoon?

If it is somewhere on your blog, could you let me know so I don't have to bother you again. The novel is a romance about two men in 1980.  I learned the Tony Awards were the night before.

Thanks for both blogs-- enjoyable, useful.

MY REPLY:  Hi Jason, thanks for your nice message.  I'm delighted that you're a reader of two of my blogs!  Coincidentally, I've been reading a gay novel titled Running In Bed which is about a young man's life/experiences in NYC between 1977-1987.   

Regarding your question about June 8, 1980, a strong cold front caused the temperature that day to plummet from 80° in early afternoon to 52° by midnight.  The next morning's low was a very chilly 47° - and NYC hasn't had a June reading that low since then.  (However, July/August/Sept of that year were unseasonably hot.)
 
If you're interested in reading weather highlights for any given year, look at the Categories box on the right hand column of the blog's page and double click the category "By Year".
 
 
MAY 16, 2012
SUBJECT:  WEATHER DURING METS GAME

Hello.  I was in New York for a Mets game in July 2011. I had to take an early flight home because of severe thunderstorms and missed the game.  Can you clarify for me if on July 17, 2011 New York had severe  storms?  I can’t remember if it was that day or July 24 or July 31. I know it was one of those Sundays.  Thanks for your help!

MY REPLY:  Hi Rhonda, although no rain fell the date would have to have been July 17 because that was the only one of the three dates in which the Mets played at home (they played the Phillies).

FYI, a little bit of rain fell late in the afternoon on July 24, but it wasn't from a thunderstorm. 

 

Weather history

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Early Snowstorm Takes New York City By Surprise: What Happened?

Snow covered long island expresswayThe surprise snowstorm that crippled New York and its suburbs during the late afternoon and evening of Nov. 15, 2018 accumulated 6.4" in Central Park - the earliest date on record for a snowfall of six inches or more.  Snow began falling heavily shortly before commuters headed home from work, snarling rush hour traffic for hours; countless tree branches, many still laden with leaves (at least in NYC's five boroughs), snapped from the weight of the snow, creating a hazard for pedestrians, drivers and commuter trains alike.  What was so surprising was how readily the snow piled up on the streets and sidewalks. 

 

Damaged tree

 

The morning after the snowfall found me a bit sheepish because 24 hours earlier I had dismissively told a number of co-workers not to expect much in the way of accumulation in the City because the ground was still too warm for snow to lay on the pavement.  From the 14th floor of my office building I've often seen snow falling heavily, but it doesn't necessarily mean it was laying on the cement surfaces at street level.  Figuring this would be the case with this snowfall, imagine my surprise when I left work at around 6:15 and saw that snow had piled up not only on the sidewalks but on the streets as well.  (Fortunately for me I live in Manhattan so my subway commute home wasn't affected by the snow.)

 

So, what made this snowfall so disruptive?

  1. Novelty Factor. It was the first snowfall of the season, which always throws people for a loop.  (And, on average, first snowfalls are usually less than two inches.)  The fact that it occurred a month earlier than the typical first snowfall added to the siege mentality.  
  2. Lack of Warning.  There was no warning of a snowfall this significant for the City.  And although 1-2" inches had been predicted, even that amount was downplayed.
  3. Bad Timing.  Schools were letting out and commuters were leaving work early as the heaviest snow moved in.  (If this snowfall had occurred before daybreak, while children and workers were still at home, it would have caused only minor inconvenience.)
  4. Snow Intensity.  Although 6.4" doesn't seem like an amount that would bring things to a standstill, most of the accumulation occurred in a four-hour period, which meant that snow fell at a rate of one to two inches per hour (reducing visibility, which was another hindrance for drivers). 
  5. Colder Than Expected.  The coastal low pulled more cold air into the region than was expected, with the temperature dropping from 36° to 28° in just a few hours.  In March the area had been buffeted by a series of nor'easters that forecasters warned would bring heavy accumulations of snow, but temperatures in Manhattan hovered around 32° and 33° so the snow was more slushy than frozen, which inhibited accumulation.  And while the March 22 nor'easter produced a snowfall of 8.4", it fell over the course of nearly 24 hours.

 

As debilitating as it was, this snowfall may not go down in City weather folklore like the great blizzard of 1888, the Lindsay snowstorm of February 1969 or the post-Christmas blizzard of 2010 (to name just a few).  After all, unlike these classic snowstorms, the snow from this one, at least in the City, was mostly gone 12 hours after the first flakes fell as the temperature rose above freezing once the snow stopped, rain fell overnight, and the mercury was in the 40s by daybreak on 11/16. 

 

Nov 15 snowstorm

 

 


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)

Puzzling Snow-To-Water Ratios Between Central Park & LaGuardia During Recent Snowstorm

Oprah memeAlthough Central Park and LaGuardia are only seven miles apart, their snow: liquid ratios from the recent Dec. 16-17 snowstorm were very different.  Although the weather stations at each location reported similar amounts of snow (10.5" and 10.1", respectively) LGA's was from much less liquid (0.69" vs. CPK's 1.52").  Newark Liberty airport also had much less liquid than CPK but measured 11.4" of snow.  If the one-inch of snow for every 0.10" of liquid ratio applied, Central Park would have had more than 15" of snow, LGA just 7".

 

Chart - snow to liquid ratios dec 1617

 

This isn't the first time Central Park's snowfall was well below what the liquid content would suggest.  It also occurred during a March snowstorm in 2018 when 8.4" fell on March 21-22.  Central Park's 8:1 ratio (based on 8.4" of snow from 1.05" liquid precipitation) is what you'd expect for a heavy, wet snow while LGA's 15:1 ratio (9.7" of snow from 0.64" liquid) is what you'd expect in Arctic air - yet, the temperature at the airport was mostly 33°-34° during the storm while CPK's was 31°-32° (an average ratio is 10" of snow from an inch of water).

 

And the disparity between the two locations was even greater in the last few hours of the storm (after midnight on 3/22) as Central Park picked up 0.2" of snow from 0.06" of liquid while LGA measured 0.9" of snow from just 0.1" (which would produce a very powdery snow).  That's extreme and more common when the air temperature is in the teens, not one degree above freezing.  Bottom line, LaGuardia's ratio is very puzzling.

 

Chart - snow to liquid ratio
 

 Snow to liquid ratio


Biggest Snowstorms by Day of the Week

Days of the week Clip art snowflakesLooking at snowstorms of 10" or more by day of the week (there have been 54 since 1900) reveals Friday to be the day most likely to pick up this type of hefty accumulation (nine times).  By contrast, Thursday has never had a snowfall this big; the greatest accumulation has been 9.8", which happened twice - in February 1934 and most recently in the winter of 2018 (Jan. 4).  And although a snowstorm that dumped 20.9" in February 2010 started on a Thursday, less than half of the total (9.4") fell on that day. 

 

About two-thirds of the snowstorms in this analysis started on one day and ended the following day (and one storm in February 1920 had significant accumulations on three days).  Of the snowstorms which continued into the next day, the storm with the most significant accumulation on each day was the snowstorm of Feb. 25-26, 2010, which saw 9.4" fall on Thursday and 11.5" on Friday. 

 

New York's three biggest snowstorms each occurred on a different day of the week (and a different month): The biggest snowfall of all time, in January 2016, occurred on a Saturday; the second greatest accumulation, in February 2006, took place mostly on a Sunday; and the third-ranked snowstorm, in December 1947, buried the City on a Friday.   

 

One calendar date, Feb. 17, is shared by two Monday snowstorms (in 1902 and 2003); another, Feb. 10, is shared by two on Wednesday (in 1926 and 2010); and Feb. 11 has been the date of two Friday snowstorms (in 1983 and 1994).  Finally, there has been a 10"+ accumulation on the same day of the week in consecutive winters just once.  It happened on a Monday during the winters of 1978 and 1979, when 15.5" fell on Feb. 6, 1978 and 12.7" fell on Feb. 19, 1979. 

 

Chart - Snowstorms by Day of Week
 Chart - Two-Day Snowstorms