A Spring-like February Weekend in NYC

Between picnics in the park and overflowing crowds at local ice cream shops, it felt more like late April than mid-February in New York City this holiday weekend.

The temperature in Central Park soared to 63°F on Saturday and 65°F on Sunday. Both days missed setting a new record high by only a few degrees. Overnight lows were also unusually mild. According to the NWS, a new record warm minimum temperature was set on Sunday with a reading of 53°F. The previous record of 49°F was established in 1997.

The city’s normal high for this time of year is 43°F.  Its normal low is 30°F.

Any snow that was left over from the storm earlier this month was no match for these spring-like temperatures.  More abnormally warm conditions are expected later this week, so keep that frisbee handy.

Not much snow left in NYC after a weekend with temperatures in the 60s. Credit: Melissa Fleming

Love of Winter

Today is Valentine’s Day, a holiday when images of cupid and hearts abound. But for me, it is George Bellows’ Love of Winter that always comes to mind as we mark the mid-point of what is usually New York City’s snowiest month of the year.

A longtime personal favorite, this 1914 painting captures the spirit of those who embrace the season. Filled with the blurred movement of skaters on a frozen pond and accented with spots of bright color that pop against the snow, it conveys the joy of being out in nature on a cold winter day.

While Bellows is better known for depicting scenes of boxing matches and urban life, art historians say he enjoyed the challenge of painting the varied lighting conditions produced by a snow-covered landscape. In fact, he wrote a letter to a friend in January 1914 complaining about the lack of snow in NYC that winter. He said, “There has been none of my favorite snow. I must paint the snow at least once a year.” Then, about a month later, his wish for snow was granted and this picture was created.

Love of Winter is part of the Friends of American Art Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.

“Love of Winter”, 1914 by George Bellows. Collection of the Art Institute of Chicago

First Major Snowstorm of 2017 Brought NYC a Case of Weather Whiplash

The first major winter storm of the season rolled through New York City on Thursday. The powerful, but quick hitting, system brought strong winds and heavy snow to the area.

According to the NWS, 9.4 inches of snow was measured in Central Park. The city, on average, gets 9.2 inches of snow for the entire month of February.

This classic nor’easter intensified quickly as it moved up the coast, drawing energy from both the clash of different air masses and the relative warmth of the Atlantic Ocean. Its unusually strong convection was reflected in the high number of thundersnow reports across the region.

As powerful as this storm was, it could have produced even higher snow totals if there was an area of high pressure to the north to block or hold it in place longer.

Nonetheless, this event has secured its place in NYC weather history. Never before has the city experienced a major snowstorm ( >6 inches) less than 24 hours after setting a new record warm temperature. This was a case of extreme weather whiplash!

More than 9 inches of snow blanketed Central Park, NYC on Feb 9, 2017. Credit: Melissa Fleming.

A Record Warm February Day in NYC

Walking around New York City on Wednesday, it was difficult to remember that it was still February. The temperature soared to 62°F in Central Park, setting a new record high for the date. The previous record of 61°F had been in place since 1965.

This was the second time this winter that a daily high-temperature record was broken in the Big Apple. The city’s normal high for this time of year is 40°F.

Venturing out without coats and enjoying lunch alfresco, many New Yorkers took full advantage of the unseasonable warmth. These spring-like conditions, however, will be short-lived. The city’s first major snowstorm of the season is expected to hit early Thursday morning. Get ready for weather whiplash!

Temperatures soared to record levels in NYC on Feb 8th. Credit: The Weather Gamut

Weather Gamut Founder Talks about Winter in NYC on WUTV

It was both an honor and a thrill to be asked back to The Weather Channel’s WUTV show on Monday night. As a New York City-based contributor to their PWS network, we discussed the temperature roller coaster that the city has been riding this winter and its impact on local snow cover.

The show, which dives into the science behind different weather events, airs weeknights from 6 to 8 PM EST on The Weather Channel.

Weather Gamut writer, Melissa Fleming, talks with Alex Wilson and Mike Bettes on WUTV. February 6, 2017. Credit: TWC and Melissa Fleming.

NYC Monthly Summary: January 2017

January was another month of wild temperature swings in New York City. We had highs that ranged from a chilly 23°F to a  record breaking 66°F. But with 20 out of 31 days posting above average readings, the warmth won out in the end. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 38°F, which is a whopping 5.4°F above our long-term norm. That makes January 2017 the Big Apple’s 19th consecutive month with an above-average temperature, its longest streak on record.

In terms of precipitation, January was unusually wet. In all, we received 4.83 inches of rain, which is 1.18 inches above normal. The majority of this plentiful total fell during the nor’easter at the end of the month. Snowfall, on the other hand, was about average with 7.9 inches measured in Central Park. All of this precipitation put a dent in the region’s extended drought. The city, according to the latest report from the US Drought Monitor (1/26), improved from moderate drought conditions last month to abnormally dry.

January 2017 was NYC’s 19th consecutive month with an above-average temperature. Credit: The Weather Gamut

A Record Warm January Day in NYC

The calendar says January, but it felt more like April in New York City on Thursday. The temperature soared to 66°F in Central Park, setting a new record high for the date. The previous record of 64°F stood since 1890. The overnight low temperature of 47°F was also record warm.

The city’s normal high this time of year is 38°F, but a “January thaw” is not unusual. Nevertheless, after getting 6.3 inches of snow over the weekend and temperatures only reaching the mid-20s on Monday, these spring-like conditions felt like weather whiplash.

Many New Yorkers enjoyed the unseasonable warmth, while others were sad to see the snow melt away. It is, however, still January. So, regardless of opinions, keep your winter gear handy.

January 12th brought NYC a record high temperature and a record warm low temperature. Credit: The Weather Gamut

2016 Ties for 3rd Warmest Year on Record in NYC

New York City experienced some noteworthy weather in 2016, especially swinging between the extremes of record cold and record warmth. In the end, however, the warmth won out. The city’s average annual temperature in Central Park was 57.2°F, which is 2.2°F above normal. That means 2016 tied 1998 for NYC’s third warmest year on record!

With a strong El Niño in place at the beginning of the year, the city experienced its second warmest winter ever recorded. That said, a number of arctic outbreaks sent temperatures plummeting a few times throughout the season. The coldest day of the year came on February 14 when the temperature dropped to -1°F – a new record low for the date.

When summer rolled around, it brought the city a number of very hot and humid days. The city typically sees 15 days per year with temperatures in the 90s, but 2016 produced a sweltering 22. The hottest day came on August 13 when the mercury soared to 96°F in Central Park. When humidity was factored in, the heat index or real feel temperature was in the triple digits.

While El Niño gave readings a boost early in the year, it dissipated in spring and was replaced by its cooler sister, La Niña. Nonetheless, every month of 2016 posted an above average temperature in NYC.

Precipitation was also erratic. While there were a number of heavy rain events, including some that broke daily rainfall records such as the 2.22 inches that came down on November 29, the city was mostly dry. Overall, NYC received 42.17 inches of rain in Central Park for the entire year. That is 7.77 inches below normal. This dearth of rain caused moderate to severe drought conditions across the city.

Snowfall, ironically, was abundant. During one of the year’s arctic blasts, a large amount of moisture was also in place to produce a major show event. Dubbed the “Blizzard of 2016”, this one storm dumped 27.5 inches of snow on the city. It was the Big Apple’s biggest snowstorm on record. For the calendar year as a whole, the city accumulated 35.3 inches of snow, which is 9.5 inches above average.

Records for the Central Park Climate Station date back to 1873.

Every month of 2016 posted an above average temperature in NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut

Only four months of 2016 produced average to above average rainfall in NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut

NYC Monthly Summary: December 2016

December felt like a weather roller coaster in New York City this year. We had highs that ranged from a cold 27°F to a relatively balmy 60°F. The warmth won out in the end, though. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 38.4°F, which is 0.9°F above our long-term norm. That makes December 2016 the Big Apple’s 18th consecutive month with an above average temperature – its longest streak on record.

In terms of precipitation, December was mostly dry. In all, we received 2.89 inches of rain, which is 1.11 inches below normal. Snowfall was also relatively scarce with Central Park reporting 3.2 inches for the month. The city usually receives 4.8 inches of snow in December. As a result of the this paltry precipitation, NYC remains in a moderate drought according the latest report (12/29) from the US Drought Monitor.

Credit: The Weather Gamut

The Chances for a White Christmas

The Holiday Season is here and many people are dreaming of a White Christmas. The likelihood of seeing those dreams come true, however, are largely dependent on where you live.

According to NOAA, a White Christmas is defined as having at least one inch of snow on the ground on December 25th. In the US, the climatological probability of having snow for Christmas is greatest across the northern tier of the country. Moving south, average temperatures increase and the odds for snow steadily decreases.

Here in New York City, the historical chance of having a White Christmas is about 12%. This low probability is largely due to the city’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and its moderating influence on temperature. This year, despite some chilly conditions and accumulating snow earlier in the month, NYC is expecting above average temperatures on the big day.  So, the city’s already minimal chance for a White Christmas has largely melted away.

Snow or no snow, The Weather Gamut wishes you a very Happy Holiday!

Source: NOAA

Source: NOAA