Record Low Temperatures and First Freeze of the Season for NYC

After a record warm October, a blast of frigid arctic air plunged into New York City this weekend.

The temperature in Central Park dropped to 25°F late Friday night and hit 24°F early Saturday morning, setting new record lows for both dates. According to the NWS, the previous records of 27°F for November 10 and 28°F for November 11 were set in 1914 and 1933, respectively.

The high temperature on Saturday only reached 38°F, which is 5°F colder than the normal low for this time of year. Overall, it felt more like January than November for the BIg Apple.

This cold plunge also marked the city’s first freeze of the season. While more extreme than normal, the timing of these frosty conditions is about average as the city typically sees its first freeze in mid-November. The earliest first freeze on record occurred on October 19 in both 1940 and 1974. The latest was on December 22, 1998.

Produced by a deep dip in the jet stream, these chilly conditions are not expected to last long. Temperatures are forecast to rebound to more seasonable levels in the next few days.

An Arctic blast sent temperatures plunging in NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut

When to Expect the Final Freeze of the Season

Most people associate spring with flowers and mild weather. But as a transitional season, it can also produce a rollercoaster of temperatures, including serious cold spells. Wearing a short sleeved shirt one day and a parka the next, you may start to wonder when the cold will finally fade away.

The answer to that question largely depends on location. Below is a map from NOAA that shows the typical final freeze dates across the continental US. While actual weather conditions vary from year to year, the dates shown are based on climatology – a thirty-year average of temperature data.

Here in New York City, our last freeze of the season usually comes in mid-April.

Credit: NOAA

March 2017 was More of a Lion Than a Lamb in NYC

There is an old saying that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. It refers to the transition from winter to spring that takes place during the month and the change in weather that usually follows. However, in New York City this year that tradition went out the window as March turned out to be colder than February.

This type of temperature flip-flop, according to NWS records, has only happened five other times in NYC history. The last time was 1984.

This March, twenty-one out of thirty-one days posted below average temperatures. Five of those days had highs that did not get above freezing. In the end, the city’s mean temperature for the month was 39.2°F, which is 3.3°F below normal.

In terms of precipitation, the city was unusually wet in March. In all, we received 5.25 inches of rain, which is 0.89 inches above average. Snowfall was also abundant, with 9.7 inches measured in Central Park. Of that total, 7.6 inches fell during a nor’easter in the middle of the month. March, on average, usually only brings the city 3.9 inches of snow.

This plentiful precipitation, according to the latest report from the US Drought Monitor (3/30), has erased the abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions that have plagued the city for months.

March was colder than February in NYC this year. Credit: The Weather Gamut

Dressing for Cold Weather

When winter rolls around, I am often reminded of the old Scandinavian saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

Since the weather is going to do whatever it is going to do, we all need to be aware of our environment and prepare for what Mother Nature throws our 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

Credit: NOAA

First Freeze of the Season for NYC

After a long hot summer and mostly mild autumn, winter has finally arrived in New York City.

According to the NWS, the temperature in Central Park dropped to 30°F late Friday night. That was the coldest air the city has seen since April and marks the first freeze of the season.

Compared to average, this first nip of frosty air arrived a bit late. The city usually sees its first freeze in mid-November.  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 current chilly conditions are expected to last through the weekend. Then, after a brief warm-up, another shot of arctic air is forecast to hit the city late next week. Keep those coats and gloves handy!

Average Dates for First Frost

Average Dates for First Frost in New York State.  Credit: Cornell.edu

An Autumn Chill in NYC

New York City, along with much of the northeastern US, is suffering from weather whiplash this week.

Last Wednesday, the temperature in Central Park soared to 85°F, setting a new record high for the date. This Wednesday, the mercury only made it to 51°F. That is a difference of 34°F! Our normal high for this time of year is 60°F.

Overnight lows in the city have also seen a dramatic decline. Dropping to 38°F early this morning, it was the coldest reading the Big Apple has seen since last April.

After enjoying summer-like conditions just a few days ago, these brisk temperatures are a reminder, albeit a jarring one, that autumn is a transitional season and winter is not too far off.

Ushered in by a dip in the jet stream, these chilly conditions are not expected to last much longer. Temperatures are forecast to rebound to more seasonable levels by the weekend.

A case of weather whiplash for NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut.

A case of “weather whiplash” for NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut.

A March-like Chill in May for NYC

The calendar says mid-May, but it felt more like March in New York City this weekend.

After a warm spring day on Saturday with readings in the 70s, a cold front swept through the region ushering in significantly cooler conditions. The high on Sunday only reached 57°F, which is 13°F below average. This dramatic cool down was also accompanied by strong winds with gusts in excess of 40-mph.

Moving from Sunday into Monday, the over-night low in Central Park fell to a chilly 43°F. That is the coolest May temperature the city has seen in three years. It was also just one degree shy of tying the record low of 42°F set in 1878. Our normal low temperature for this time of year is 54°F.

With Memorial Day – the un-official start of summer – just two weeks away, many New Yorkers will be happy to hear that temperatures are expected to rebound to more seasonable levels later this week.

Dramatic Temperature Swing brings NYC Another Bout of Winter

With unseasonably warm temperatures causing trees and flowers to bloom early across New York City, it has felt like spring here for more than a few weeks. But now, as April begins, winter has come fighting back for an encore performance.

The high temperature in Central Park on Friday was a balmy 79°F.  Today, it was only 45°F and even colder conditions are expected as the week goes on. So, what’s causing this dramatic cool down? The answer lies in the changeable pattern of the jet stream.

A persistent area of high pressure had been sitting off the eastern seaboard recently, creating a ridge in the jet stream and blocking any cold air from moving southward. Now, the pattern has shifted and a trough in the jet stream is allowing cold air to spill out of Canada and across the northeast.

The first wave of chilly air moved through on Sunday and caused powerful winds to whip through the area. The NWS reported winds gusts of 45 mph in Central Park and 64 mph at JFK airport.

Another wave of arctic air is expected tonight. With the temperature projected to plummet into the 20’s, the NWS has issued a freeze warning for the city and surrounding area – bad news for all the early blooming plants and trees. The forecast high for Tuesday is only 39°F. The city’s normal high for this time of year is 57°F and the normal low is 41°F.

As spring is a transitional season, temperature swings between warm and cold are not uncommon. But, after the city’s second warmest winter and fourth warmest March on record, many folks are finding this spring cold snap more than bit jarring.

Record Cold Valentine’s Day in NYC

An arctic blast sent NYC into a deep freeze this weekend. With temperatures dipping below 0°F on Sunday, it was the city’s coldest Valentine’s Day in one-hundred years!

According to the NWS, the temperature in Central Park fell to -1°F early Sunday morning. That is a staggering 30°F below average and shattered the previous record of 2°F set in 1916. It was also the first time the city’s temperature dipped below 0°F in 22 years. The high only made it to a frigid 15°F, a new record minimum maximum temperature for the date. When factoring in the wind chill, it felt as cold as -20°F. Our normal high for this time of year is 41°F and our normal low is 29°F.

As cold as it was on Sunday, it was not the coldest day the Big Apple has ever experienced. That dubious honor belongs to February 9, 1934, when the temperature fell to a brutal -15°F.

A weakened Polar Vortex and deep dip in the jet stream drove this weekend’s record cold conditions. But, temperatures are expected to rebound to above average levels by Tuesday. So, it seems this winter’s weather rollercoaster will continue moving forward.

A frosty heart. Credit: Baltimore Sun/AP

A frosty heart for a record cold Valentine’s Day. Credit: Baltimore Sun/AP

First Arctic Blast of the Season for NYC

After a delayed start, winter is off and running in the northeastern US. An arctic outbreak has sent the region into a deep freeze with many cities dealing with the coldest temperatures they have seen all season.

Here in New York City, the mercury fell to 11°F in Central Park this morning – the coldest reading the city has seen since February of last year. The high only made it to 29°F.  While this type of cold pattern is not that uncommon in January, it feels rather jarring after a record warm December. 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. But, after a brief warm-up, another shot of arctic air is forecast to hit the city next week. Keep those coats and gloves handy!