It felt more like June than April in New York City on Friday. The temperature in Central Park soared to 80°F, marking the city’s first 80-degree day of the year.
Topping out at 17°F above average, the day was unseasonably warm. However, it was not a record breaker. That honor belongs to April 19, 1976, when the mercury soared to 92°F. The low temperature was 58°F, which is also warmer than normal for the date.
This spring heat was the result of a ridge in the jet-stream that allowed warm southern air to move further north than it normally would at this time of year. These balmy conditions did not last long, though. A heavy rainstorm moved through the region over night and brought temperatures back to more seasonable levels.
Summer does not officially begin until June 21.
Credit: The Weather Gamut
March 2019 felt like a weather roller coaster in New York City. Producing several days of weather whiplash, highs ranged from a frigid 26°F to an unseasonably balmy 75°F. In the end, however, these extremes nearly balanced each other out. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 41.7°F, which is only 0.8°F below average.
In terms of precipitation, rainfall was also slightly below normal. In total, Central Park reported 3.87 inches of rain, which is 0.49 inches below average for the month.
Snowfall, on the other hand, was abundant. After experiencing a snow drought for most of the winter, the first few days of March produced 10.4 inches of snow in Central Park.That is more snow than the city saw in November, December, January, and February combined. March, on average, typically only brings the city 3.9 inches of snow.
March 2019 felt like a temperature roller coaster in NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut
The calendar says March, but it felt more like May in New York City on Friday.
The temperature soared to 75°F in Central Park, missing the record high by just 2°F. But, with the mercury only dropping to 49°F at night, it did tie the record warm low temperature for the date that was set in 1913.
The normal high and low temperatures for this time of year in NYC are 49°F and 35°F, respectively.
With below normal temperatures dominating the beginning of March, this sudden warm up felt like weather whiplash. Just a week earlier, there was snow on the ground with snowmen dotting the landscape in parks across the city.
But, as with most things that go up, they must also come back down. Cooler conditions are expected to return over the weekend.
What a difference a week can bring: the same snowman in Central Park one week apart. Credit: Melissa Fleming
On this day in 1888, one of the worst snowstorms on record hit New York City. Here is a look back at some of the facts from that historic storm.
Snow fills the street and sidewalk on Park Place in Brooklyn, after the Blizzard of 1888. Credit: NOAA.
- 21 inches of snow was measured in Central Park, the 4th largest snowstorm on record for the city
- Wind gusts reached 80mph, causing blizzard conditions
- Snowdrifts reached as high as 30 feet in parts of the city.
- The storm shut down transportation systems and left people confined to their homes for days.
- It took NYC 14 days to fully recover from the storm.
- As result of the paralyzing impacts of this blizzard, the city moved all overhead wires underground.
March rolled into New York City this year like a lion.
Below average temperatures and snow have been the prevailing weather stories all week. In fact, the first four days of March produced more snow than the city has seen all winter. To date this month, 10.4 inches of snow has been reported in Central Park. On average, March typically brings the city a total of 3.9 inches.
This winter, overall, has been below par in terms of snow in NYC. Including the record snowfall in November, the city has seen 20.5 inches of snow so far. The season usually brings the Big Apple 25.8 inches of snow, with February producing the biggest storms.
February was a month of wild temperature swings in New York City. Producing several days of weather whiplash, highs ranged from a frigid 21°F to an unseasonably warm 65°F. However, in the end, these extremes balanced each other out. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 36.2°F, which is only 0.9°F above average.
In terms of precipitation, rainfall was also slightly above average with twelve of the month’s 28 days posting measurable rainfall. In total, Central Park reported 3.19 inches of rain, which is 0.10 inches above normal.
Snowfall, on the other hand, was scarce. February is usually the city’s snowiest month on the calendar, but Central Park only received 2.6 inches of snow this year. Of that total, most it fell during storms that produced a wintry mix of precipitation. On average, February produces 9.2 inches of snow in the city.
February was a weather roller coaster in NYC. Credit: The Weather Gamut
Powerful winds battered the northeastern United States on Monday. More than 900 reports of wind damage were posted across the region.
Here in New York City, a high wind warning was issued by the NWS. Gusts reached as high as 58mph at LaGuardia Airport in Queens.
The strong winds downed trees around the five boroughs, tore awnings from restaurants, and even caused a partial scaffolding collapse at a building on Manhattan’s upper east side. The tempest also prevented a cruise ship, the Norwegian Gem, from docking in the city. Loaded with passengers, gale force winds kept it sitting off the coast for hours. Significant airport delays and cancellations were also reported.
The reason for these blustery conditions, like most weather events, is about location. The region was wedged between an area of low pressure to the northeast and an area of high pressure to the west. As they moved closer together, a strong pressure gradient developed and the winds blew faster and faster.
Strong winds caused damage around NYC. Credit: NYPD 19th pct.
A major snowstorm can happen during any month of the winter season, but in the northeastern United States, they tend to happen most often in February. In fact, February is the snowiest month of the year, on average, for most places across the region.
The reason for this has a lot to do with seasonal weather patterns. That is, certain weather patterns are more likely to develop at different times of the year in different places across the country. In February, that pattern is highly conducive to producing major snowstorms in the northeast.
In general, that set up involves a large ridge in the jetstream over the west coast of the US with a deep, negatively tilted trough, in the east. The trough allows cold air from the north to spill down over the region. This means that any precipitation that falls will likely come down as snow. Another key factor is the warm water of the Gulf Stream, which flows just off the east coast. Storms that pass over it tend to rapidly intensify. Then, following the jet stream northward, storms often encounter an area of high pressure over eastern Canada that slows their forward movement. As a result, more snow can fall over the same location boosting accumulation totals.
This is reflected in the statistics of the North East Snowfall Impact Scale (NESIS), which shows that the most category 3 or higher snowstorms occur in February. Ranked on a scale of 1 to 5, a category 3 is described as a “major” snowstorm, category 4 is considered “crippling”, and category 5 is an “extreme” event. The classifications are based on the size of the area covered, number of people affected, and snowfall totals.
In New York City, a winter season will produce 25.8 inches of snow, on average. Of that total, 9.2 inches comes in February.
Data Source: NWS
January was another month of wild temperature swings in New York City. It produced two arctic outbreaks and a record cold day on one end of the spectrum and a few days that felt more like early April on the other. Highs ranged from a frigid 14°F to an unseasonably balmy 59°F. In the end, however, these extremes balanced each other out. The city’s mean temperature for the month was 32.5°F, which is only 0.1°F below normal.
In terms of precipitation, January was about average for rainfall. The city received 3.62 inches of rain, which is only .03 inches below normal. Most of that total, however, fell during a single storm.
Snowfall, on the other hand, was scarce. On average, the city gets 7 inches of snow for the month. But this year, only 1.1 inches was measured in Central Park. The cold air and moisture, which were both plentiful in the city in January, just did not coincide to produce a big snowstorm.
Credit: The Weather Gamut
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