The spring equinox is still a few weeks away, but meteorological winter (December, January, and February) has officially ended and it tied the winter of 1990-91 as the seventh warmest on record in New York City.
The season, with daily highs ranging from 25°F to 69°F, felt like a temperature roller coaster. But in the end, the warmth came out on top. The city’s average temperature for the season, according to the NWS, was 39.2°F. That is an incredible 4.1°F above normal.
In all, sixty-three out of ninety-one days posted above average readings and every month was warmer than its long-term norm. In fact, February 2020 was the city’s fifth warmest February on record.
In terms of snowfall, the city received a paltry 4.8 inches in Central Park, which is a staggering 16.5 inches below average. That makes the winter of 2019-2020 the fourth least snowy winter on record for the Big Apple.
This winter’s pattern of prolonged periods of warmth separated by a few short-lived cold snaps was largely driven by the North Atlantic Oscillation’s positive phase occurring more often and lasting longer than its negative phase.
The city’s warmest winter on record was the 2001-2002 season with an average temperature of 41.5°F. Central Park weather records date back to 1869.
Credit: The Weather Gamut
February 2020 was not only a month of weather whiplash in New York City, but it was also a month for the record books in terms of above-average temperatures and below-average snowfall.
Of its twenty-nine days, twenty-two produced above-average temperatures, including one that was record warm. This unseasonable heat helped drive the city’s mean temperature for the month up to 40.1°F, which is 4.8°F above normal. That means February 2020 tied February 1954 as the fifth warmest February on record in the Big Apple. The top spot belongs to February 2018, when the average temperature for the month was 42°F.
February is usually the city’s snowiest month on the calendar, but this year only a trace of snow (less than 0.1 inches) was measured in Central Park. That makes February 2020 the second least-snowy February on record. Only 1998 produced less snow, with a definitive 0.0 inches. On average, February brings the city 9.2 inches of snow.
Rainfall was also somewhat scarce. Only 2.54 inches was reported. That is 0.55 below normal for the month.
Credit: The Weather Gamut
February is usually the snowiest month on the calendar in New York City, but to date this year we have not seen a single flake. This shortfall of snow is indicative of the weather pattern that has dominated the region for most of the 2019-2020 winter season.
To produce snow, you need moisture and cold air in place at the same time. While the city has had a few cold snaps this winter, they have not lasted very long. Consequently, the storms that have rolled through the area dropped mostly rain. In fact, the city currently has a rain surplus and snow deficit.
Here is a look at the current stats for the season (December 1 to present):
All measurements in inches. Credit: The Weather Gamut
The spring equinox is still a month away, so things could change. If you are a snow-lover, keep your finger crossed.
Snow is in the forecast for New York City today. Here are some fun facts to ponder as the flakes fall:
- All snowflakes, regardless of shape, have six sides.
- Snow crystals are translucent, not white. The white color we see is caused by sunlight that is reflected off the crystals.
- Most snowflakes fall at a speed of two to five feet per second. That is roughly the same speed as a person walking casually.
Enjoy the snow!
Credit: Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley
The Holiday Season is here and many people are dreaming of a White Christmas. The likelihood of seeing those dreams come true, however, is 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 decrease.
Here in New York City, the historical chance of having a White Christmas is 11%. This low probability is largely due to the city’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and its moderating influence on the temperature.
The snowiest Christmas on record for the Big Apple, according to the NWS, took place in 1909 when seven inches of snow was reported in Central Park.
This year, with temperatures forecast to be in the mid-40s on the big day, the city’s already minimal chance for snow has largely melted away.
Snow or no snow, The Weather Gamut wishes you a very Happy Holiday Season!
New York City saw its first snowfall of the 2019-2020 winter season on Monday.
According to the NWS, 1.5 inches of snow was measured in Central Park. While not a blockbuster event, it was exciting to see the flakes fill the air. With all the holiday lights and decorations on display, the snow also added to the city’s festive atmosphere.
The timing of this first snowfall was about normal for the Big Apple. On average, the first flakes of the season are seen in early to mid-December. Our earliest first snow event on record was on October 21, 1952, and our latest was January 29,1973. New York City typically gets 4.8 inches of snow in December and 25.8 inches for the entire winter season.
Credit: Melissa Fleming
The winter season can produce various types of precipitation – rain, freezing rain, sleet, or snow. The form we see at the surface depends on the temperature profile of the lower atmosphere.
All precipitation starts out as snow up in the clouds. But, as it falls toward the Earth, it can pass through one or more layers of air with different temperatures. When the snow passes through a thick layer of warm air – above 32°F – it melts into rain. If the warm air layer extends all the way to the ground, rain will fall at the surface. However, if there is a thin layer of cold air – below 32°F – near the ground, the rain becomes supercooled and freezes upon impact with anything that has a temperature at or below 32°F. This is known as freezing rain. It is one of the most dangerous types of winter precipitation, as it forms a glaze of ice on almost everything it encounters, including roads, tree branches, and power lines.
Sleet is a frozen type precipitation that takes the form of ice-pellets. Passing through a thick layer of sub-freezing air near the surface, liquid raindrops are given enough time to re-freeze before reaching the ground. Sleet often bounces when it hits a surface, but does not stick to anything. It can, however, accumulate.
Snow is another type of frozen precipitation. It takes the shape of six-sided ice crystals, often called flakes. Snow will fall at the surface when the air temperature is below freezing all the way from the cloud-level down to the ground. In order for the snow to stick and accumulate, surface temperatures must also be at or below freezing.
When two or more of these precipitation types fall during a single storm, it is called a wintry mix.
Precipitation type depends on the temperature profile of the atmosphere. Credit: NOAA
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
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.