Arctic Blast Brings Record Cold Temperatures to NYC

The calendar says November, but it felt more like January in New York City on Wednesday as a blast of frigid arctic air plunged into the region.

In Central Park, the temperature dropped to 25°F late Tuesday night and hit 23°F early Wednesday morning, setting new record lows for both dates. According to the NWS, the previous records of 26°F for November 12 and 24°F for November 13 were set in 1926 and 1986, respectively.

The high temperature on Wednesday only reached 34°F, which is 8°F colder than the normal low for this time of year. The average high for the city in mid-November is 55°F.

Produced by a deep dip in the jet stream, these unusually cold conditions are expected to hang around for a while. Temperatures are forecast to moderate slightly but still remain below average as we move into next week. Keep those hats and gloves handy!

Credit: The Weather Gamut

Weather Lingo: Blue Norther

Autumn is a transitional season when the heat of summer fades away and the chill of winter gradually returns. But, sometimes winter can be aggressive and show up overnight.

When this type of rapid temperature change happens, it is often called a Blue Norther. This is a fast-moving cold front marked by a quick and dramatic drop in temperature. A fall of 20 to 30 degrees in just a few minutes is not uncommon. They also usher in a dark blue sky and strong northerly winds. Hence, the name.

Blue Northers are most common in the central US, where there are few natural barriers to slow or block arctic air masses from moving south. They can occur throughout the year, but are most common between November and March.

One of the most famous examples of this weather phenomenon was the “Great Blue Norther” of November 11, 1911. As the front passed through the southern plains, temperatures dropped from highs in the 70s and 80s to the teens in just ten hours. In Oklahoma City, for example, the temperature reached a record high of 83°F in the afternoon and then plummeted to a record low of 17°F by midnight. Both records, according to the NWS, are still in place.

Twenty-four temperature changes from The Great Blue Norther of 1911. Credit: FOX

First Freeze of the 2019 Fall Season in NYC

After a warm start to autumn, Mother Nature brought New York City a winter preview on Friday.

According to the NWS, the temperature in Central Park dropped to 29°F late Friday night. That was the coldest air the city has seen since March and marks the first freeze of the season.

Compared to the above-average temperatures the city has been experiencing this season, this first nip of frosty air was a bit jarring for some people. But, mid-November is when the city usually sees its first freeze. The earliest 32°F reading on record came on October 19 twice, first in 1940 and then again in 1974. Our latest first freeze was on December 22, 1998.

Produced by a deep dip in the jet stream, these chilly conditions are expected to last for a day or two. Then, after a brief warm-up, another shot of arctic air is forecast to hit the city next week. Keep those coats and gloves handy!

Average Dates for First Frost. Credit: Cornell

Arctic Blast Brings Record Cold to NYC

After getting off to a relatively slow start, winter has kicked into high gear. For the second time this month, a massive arctic outbreak has sent most of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. into a deep freeze.

Here in New York City, the temperature peaked at just 16°F in Central Park on Thursday, tying the record cold high for the date set in 1935. The low dropped to 2°F, missing the record of -1°F by a few degrees. However, when you factor in the wind chill, it felt like a very memorable -17°F.

As cold as it was on Thursday, it was not the coldest day the Big Apple has ever experienced. That dubious honor, according to the NWS, belongs to February 9, 1934, when the air temperature reached a brutal low of -15°F.

The city’s normal high and low temperatures for this time of year are 39°F and 27°F, respectively.

This week’s unusually frigid conditions were the result of a deep dip in the jet stream and a lobe of the polar vortex reaching southward over much of the eastern part of the country. While a brief warm-up is expected over the next few days, it is still winter so keep those hats and gloves handy.

The temperature topped out at 16°F  in NYC on Thursday, tying the record cold high for the date. Credit: Melissa Fleming

First Arctic Blast of 2019 Sends NYC into a Deep Freeze

After a relatively mild start to the season, winter’s chill has finally arrived in the northeastern United States. An arctic outbreak has sent the region into a deep freeze with many cities dealing with the coldest conditions they have seen since last January.

Here in New York City, the mercury fell to 4°F in Central Park on Monday morning and the high only made it to 14°F. While this type of cold shot is not that uncommon in January, it felt rather jarring after the temperature reached the mid-40s the day before.

The city’s normal high for this time of year is 38°F and the normal low is 27°F.

Produced by a deep dip in the jet stream, these current frigid conditions are not expected to last much longer. After a brief warm-up, however, another shot of arctic air is forecast to hit the city next week. So, keep those coats and gloves handy!

When arctic air invades NYC, the Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain in Bryant Park often transforms into an icy sculpture. Credit: @nyclovesnyc

Extremely Cold Weather Can Be A Danger to Your Health

An arctic blast is expected to sweep across the northeastern United States this week. With temperatures expected to fall into the single digits, it is important to remember that, like extreme heat, extreme cold can be very dangerous.

Extreme cold causes the body to lose heat faster than it can be generated.  Prolonged exposure, according to the CDC, can cause serious health problems, including hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia is a condition of unusually low body temperature – generally below 95°F.  It impairs brain functions, limiting a victim’s ability to think and move.  Symptoms include severe shivering, drowsiness, confusion, slurred speech, and fumbling.  If left untreated, it can be fatal.

Frostbite is a localized injury to the skin and underlying tissues caused by freezing.  It can cause permanent damage and extreme cases often require amputation.  Areas of the body most often affected include the nose, ears, cheeks, fingers, and toes. Signs of frostbite include, numbness, skin discoloration (white or greyish-yellow), and unusually firm or waxy feeling skin.

While the symptoms of both hypothermia and frostbite can range in severity, victims generally require immediate re-warming and professional medical attention.

To stay safe in cold weather, the American Red Cross recommends:

There is No Such Thing as Bad Weather, Only Bad Clothing Choices

There is an old Scandinavian saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices.” While it can be applied to any season, it seems most relevant in winter.

Since the weather is going to do whatever it is going to do, it is important to be prepared for anything that Mother Nature throws your way. In winter, that means cold temperatures.

Extreme cold causes the body to lose heat faster than it can be generated. Prolonged exposure, according to the CDC, can cause serious health problems such as hypothermia and frostbite.

To stay safe this winter, remember to bundle up in layers and wear hats and gloves to minimize the loss of body heat.

Credit: NOAA

Cold and Windy Conditions Expected for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a long-standing holiday tradition in New York City.  For 92 years, it has marched rain or shine. Nevertheless, the weather has been a factor in the event several times over the years.

Famous for its giant character balloons, high winds are the main weather challenge for the parade. According to city guidelines, the multi-story balloons cannot fly if there are sustained winds in excess of 23 mph or gusts higher than 34 mph. These regulations were put in place following a 1997 incident where gusty winds sent the “Cat in the Hat” balloon careening into a light post, which caused debris to fall on and injure spectators.

The only time the balloons were grounded for the entire parade was in 1971, when torrential rain swept across the city. In 1989, a snowstorm brought the Big Apple a white Thanksgiving and the “Snoopy” and “Bugs Bunny” balloons had to be pulled from the parade because of damage from high winds.

This year, the wind could potentially be a problem again. Gusts are forecast to be between 20 and 30 mph during the parade hours. Temperatures are also expected to be a challenge. They are forecast to hover near record cold levels, with readings not getting out of the 20s. When the wind chill is factored  in, it will feel more like the single digits to low teens. This extreme cold will be more than a nuisance for holiday revelers, it will be dangerous. Frostbite is a real threat for anyone with exposed skin. So, bundle up if you are planning to be outside along the parade route.

Marching from West 77th Street to West 34th Street in Manhattan, the 92nd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is scheduled to begin at 9 AM on Thursday morning.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Paddington Bear Balloon floats down 6th Ave in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Credit: Macy’s

April 2018: Unseasonably Cold and Wet in NYC

April felt like a wild ride of weather in New York City this year. It produced both a record-breaking snowfall and a balmy summer preview with temperatures in the 80s. However, with 19 out 30 days posting below average readings, the cold won out in the end. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 49.5°F, which is 3.6°F below normal.

While unseasonably chilly, the month was not a record breaker. That dubious honor, according the NWS, belongs to April 1874 when the monthly temperature was only 41.1°F. The city’s warmest April on record was April 2010 with a mean temperature of 57.9°F.

In terms of precipitation, this April was unusually wet with 14 out of 30 days producing rain or snow. In all, the city received 5.78 inches of rain, which is 1.28 inches above average. Of that total, 49% fell during a single heavy rain event on April 16. Snow was also abundant with 5.5 inches measured in Central Park. Coming down during a single storm on April 2, it set a new daily snowfall record for the date. On average, the city gets 0.6 inches of snow for the entire month.

April was a wild ride of weather in NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut

NYC Sub-Freezing Cold Streak: Third Longest on Record

The extended cold wave that has been gripping New York City earned a place in the record books as it came to an end on Tuesday when the temperature climbed above freezing for the first time since Christmas.

Brutally cold temperatures dominated the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018 in NYC. Credit: Melissa Fleming

In all, the city experienced fourteen consecutive days with temperatures below 32°F. That, according to the NWS, is the third longest sub-freezing cold streak ever recorded in Central Park. The coldest day came on January 6, when the mercury only made it to 13°F. The wind chill made it feel even colder.

These unusually frigid conditions were the result of a deep dip in the jet stream and a lobe of the polar vortex reaching southward over much of the eastern US. While a brief warm-up is expected over the next few days, it is still January so keep those hats and gloves handy.

Credit: NWS