Today in New York Weather History: May 5

 

1940

Today's high of 71° was the year's first reading of 70° or warmer, coming about six weeks later than usual, and the first 70-degree reading since 10/26.  The year's first 80-degree reading would come two days later (two weeks later than usual).

1965

The day after the high reached 90° (23 degrees above average) today's was only 62° (five below average).

1980

After a low of 57° the high jumped to 90°, a record for the date.  This was the first 90-degree day of the year, about three weeks earlier than average; thirty-one more would follow (most of them in July and August).

 

90

1988

0.83" of rain fell in the three hours between 4-7 PM.  1.11" fell for the entire day.

1993

For the third day in a row the high temperature was 69°, slightly above average for the first week of May. 

1998

Yesterday and today had the same high/low of 62°/55°.  However, where today differed was that the afternoon was rainy (0.57" fell) while yesterday was dry.

2007

This was the fifth day in a row in which the morning low was 50° or 51°, which was close to the average for the first week of May.

2009

Gray and drizzly conditions persisted for a fifth day in a row, keeping the temperature from rising very much; the high was 54° (fourteen degrees below average), just slightly above the morning low of 51°. 

 

Clipart_rainyday

2010

This was the fifth day in a row with highs in the summer-like 80s (average high in the first week of May is in the upper 60s).  This streak was book-ended by highs of 78° on 4/30 and 5/6.

2017

Torrential rain poured down in the middle of the day, with 2.72" falling between 11 AM and 2 PM.  Overall, 3.02" fell during the course of the day, easily breaking the old record for the date (1922's 1.24").  This was the biggest rainfall in three years (since 4.97" fell on April 30, 2014), and the fifth greatest daily rainfall in May (tied with May 8, 2013).

 

Janice huff may 5 rainstorm

2019

It was a rainy and chilly day, with 1.31" measured and PM temperatures just in the low 50s (most of the rain fell in the morning and after dark).  This was the tenth day of the past eleven with measurable rain, a period in which 2.67" of rain fell (today, the rainiest of these days, accounted for nearly half of the total).  It was also the twenty-second day of the past thirty-one with measurable rain (today was the rainiest of these twenty-two days as well).

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April 2021 Weather Recap: Above Average Temperatures, Below Average Rainfall.

 

 Pink blossoms new york city

April 2021 featured ten days with highs of 70° or warmer, the first time April reported this many since 2010, and just the tenth time overall.   (The average number of such days in April is six.)  This above average number of warm days resulted in the month's average high being 2.5 degrees milder than average (its average low was 0.7 degrees above average).  Of the ten Aprils with ten or more highs of 70° or warmer, just four rank among the ten mildest Aprils.  This April ranked 22nd (out of 153). 

 

Chart - aprils with 10+ 70-deg highs
 

The month's  coldest temperature was 28° (on 4/2), which was the coldest reading in April in five years.  And although this April was significantly milder than April 2020 (which was 2.7 degrees colder than average), its coldest temperature was eight degrees colder.  The warmest reading was 85°, which is close to what the warmest reading in April has averaged since 2000 (last April was an exception, with a mildest reading of just 68°).   This reading came five weeks after the year's first reading in the 80s (82° on 3/26), and it was the warmest reading since Sept. 5.  

 

The month's warmest reading was on 4/28, but the most above-average period of the month was the seven days between April 4 and 10, when temperatures were eight degrees above average (high/low of 68°/49°).  In total, the month had twelve days that were five degrees or more above average, and five that were five degrees or more below average.  

 

Another highlight of the month occurred on 4/8 when the humidity dropped to 7% during the afternoon - the second lowest level this century.  Finally, April's rainfall of 2.69" was nearly two inches below average.  All but 0.05" fell between 4/11 and 4/30.

 

Here are April recaps of the past five years:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

 Park avenue in the spring


How "Back-Door" Cold Fronts Impact New York's Springtime Weather

 

Back door cold front

 

For the most part, cold fronts move from west to east in the Northeast, but, occasionally, chilly air arrives from the opposite direction.  When it does, this occurrence is known as a "back-door" cold front.   Because such a front's winds usually come in from the ocean, this type of front is often associated with overcast skies (sometimes with drizzle); its east-northeasterly winds bring damp and chilly air. 

These incursions of chilly air that come from the opposite direction occur mostly in the springtime, when their cooling effect is enhanced by the wintertime water temperature of the Atlantic Ocean.  In terms of geographic reach, these fronts mostly impact New York City, the Jersey shore, and New England; only occasionally do they extend as far inland as Philadelphia, Baltimore, or DC.

What follows are 40 instances of the more impressive back-door fronts that have come down from the cold Atlantic.  As you'll read, six of the years had two notable back-door fronts.

 

East to west

June 4, 1895 - Winds shifted from the southwest to northeast during the afternoon, breaking a five-day heat wave (its record highs on June 1, 2 and 3 are still standing).  Between 3PM and 8PM, the temperature dropped from 91° to 64°.  The following day would be overcast, with temperatures stuck in the 60s. 

April 25, 1915 - This date experienced, perhaps, the greatest temperature swings of any in New York's weather history.  After the temperature soared from 47° shortly after midnight to 91° at 3:00 PM, winds shifted to the east-northeast, and the temperature plunged to 52° by midnight.  This was the result of a strong warm front moving through for about ten hours (9 AM-7 PM), then being displaced by a back door cold front.  No rain was produced by the passage of these fronts.  Two days later, a similar scenario unfolded.  After reaching 92° shortly before 4:30 on 4/27, a back-door front moved through a few hours later, and the temperature dropped to 54° by midnight.

April 1, 1917 - In the span of just eight hours, the temperature plummeted from 83° to 44° as a back-door cold front moved through and winds shifted from the southwest to the northeast.  This was the warmest reading of the month, with the next reading in the 80s not occurring for another seven weeks.

March 19, 1918 - After a balmy high of 76° was reached at 3:00 PM (a record for the date that still stands), the wind shifted from the southwest to the northeast, and the temperature dropped like a rock, and was half that reading by midnight.

May 23, 1925 - After the high reached 91°, winds shifted from the southwest to northeast late in the afternoon, and by midnight the temperature had fallen to 59°; the temperature on the afternoon of 5/24 was only in the upper 40s.

July 1, 1933 - After a high in the low 90s, a severe thunderstorm from 8:30-10:30 PM dumped 2.17" of rain.  During the storm the temperature dropped from 88° to 72°, where it stayed for much of the next 24 hours.  And on 7/3, afternoon temperatures got no higher than the mid-60s.  

March 27, 1939 - Today's high/low of 73°/39° followed one of 72°/39° three days earlier.  However, while the low on 3/24 was in the pre-dawn hours, the low today was at midnight after winds shifted to the northeast in the PM hours.  And the following day had temperatures in a narrow range of 35°-40°.

April 25, 1939 - After rising from 53° at 4:00 AM to 86° for a few hours in the early afternoon, winds shifted to the northeast mid-afternoon and the temperature dropped back to 52° by 11:00 PM.  And then three days later the high would be only 46° (20 degrees below average).

July 4, 1941 - Just two days after a torrid high/low of 98°/78°, and winds out of the southwest, today was rainy, foggy and cool, with winds from out of the northeast, and a high/low of just 64°/62°.  Today's high would be July 4th's coolest until 1978.

 

Reverse
  

March 22, 1945 - In the midst of the very mild second half of March, today was an outlier as the high reached only 40° (the low was a seasonable 35°).  Winds were out of the northeast, skies were overcast and light showers fell throughout the day. 

April 13, 1955 - A chilly high of 46° came just two days after a high of 84°.  Skies were overcast and winds were from the northeast.

July 6, 1956 - Although yesterday was cool (high/low of 66°/58°), today was even cooler as the high/low was just 61°/57° under gray skies and winds from out of the northeast.  These two unseasonably cool days followed consecutive days in the 90s.

June 1, 1959 - Today's chilly high of 64°, under mostly overcast skies, followed a five-day warm spell at the end of May that had highs averaging 87°.  Today's conditions were the result of a back-door cold front that moved in from New England last night. 

April 30, 1962 - After three days of summer-like warmth (highs of 91°-89°-80°), and winds from out of the southwest, winds shifted to the northeast after midnight and daytime temperatures were only in the mid-40s. 

April 19, 1964 - The day after the high reached 86°, a "back-door" cold front moved through, and by mid-afternoon the temperature dropped into the mid-50s.  (And on 4/21 the high would be just 44°.)

May 5, 1965 - The day after the high reached 90°, today's was 62°.  Winds came from a north-northeast-easterly direction.

April 28, 1966  - It was a dreary, raw, and damp day, with light rain in the morning.  With a high/low of only 42°/39°, today had the coldest mean temperature of the month.  On 4/26 the mercury dropped from 73° late in the afternoon, to 49° by midnight.  Then the high/low the next two days was 52°/40° and 42°/39°.  Winds were from out of the north-northeast.

April 20, 1972 - The temperature at 4:00 PM was quite chilly, at 43°, a drop of 32 degrees since midnight, and forty-three degrees from yesterday afternoon's 4:00 PM reading of 86°.  This was a result of winds shifting to the northeast from dawn to dusk.

May 24, 1975 - Today's high of 93° (the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend) was the year's first reading in the 90s.  However, the heat was short lived as a cold front from the northeast moved through during the evening, dropping the temperature to 61° by midnight, and into the upper 50s by the following afternoon. 

 

Overcast

Aug. 11, 1979 - The day after a high of 95°, today's temperatures in the afternoon were only in the mid-60s after the wind shifted to the northeast during the morning.  The next day was equally cool (after a chilly AM low of 57°) - and  a wet one, as 1.68" of rain fell; this was on top of 0.87" of rain that fell the night of 8/11. 

March 29, 1985 - This was the third day in a row with exceedingly mild temperatures, and today was the warmest of the three with a high of 82°.  Then a back-door cold front moved through after dark, and by midnight the temperature was down to 55°, on its way to down to 46° by daybreak on the 30th (but still well above average).  

April 19, 1985 - After the temperature soared to 88°, a back-door cold front moved through during the evening, and the temperature was down to 51° the next morning.  Then the cool air retreated on the 21st, and after two more days with highs in the 80s, winds backed around and came from the east late in the afternoon on the 22nd, cooling the temperature down to 53° by midnight.  

March 30, 1989 - After the wind shifted to the northeast, the temperature fell all day, from 76° to 50°; the next day the high/low was 50°/41°, which wasn't far from seasonable, but it was quite a cool-down from 3/29's high of 82°.

March 14, 1990 - One day after Central Park recorded its earliest 80-degree reading on record, the warm front that delivered this extraordinary warmth retreated south of the area, as winds shifted to the northeast, and by afternoon, under a bank of clouds and fog, temperatures tumbled into the mid-40s, forty degrees colder than yesterday. 

May 23-25, 1992 - It was a Jekyl & Hyde Memorial Day weekend.  Saturday had mid-summer conditions, with a high of 92°.  Then a big change came on Sunday as a strong cold front pushed through in early afternoon, and temperatures plummeted from the low 80s to 45° by midnight.  Monday felt more like October, with overcast skies and a high of just 61°. 

April 12, 1996 - The high reached 80°, and then winds shifted to the northeast late in the afternoon, dropping the temperature to 55° by midnight, and 45° by daybreak on the 13th.

May 10, 2000 - After three days with highs in the 90s, winds shifted from the southwest to the east, bringing in much cooler air, and by daybreak today, the temperature was in the mid-50s, where it stayed for the rest of the day.  

June 12, 2000 - One month after a back-door cold front cooled down a hot spell, it was replicated today, with late afternoon temperatures in the upper 50s, and winds coming from the east-northeast 24 hours after temperatures were in the low 90s.

 

Northeasterly winds
 

April 16, 2003 - After peaking at 88°, winds shifted to the northeast and by midnight the temperature was down to 51°.  And on the 17th temperatures slowly fell all day, and it was 36° at midnight.  Winds remained out of the east-northeast for the next six days.

May 14, 2004 - The day after the high reached 86°, the temperature was only in the low 60s in the early afternoon.  However, the wind shifted later in the day and temperatures were back into the mid-80s on 5/15.

April 20, 2006 - Today's high of 83° was the warmest reading of the month.  A back-door cold front moved through during the evening, and by midnight the mercury had fallen to the mid-50s, and the mercury was mostly in the 50s for much of the next day, and stuck in the 40s on 4/22 as a developing nor'easter moved up the coast .

April 29, 2009 - The day after the high reached 90° (and dropped 25 degrees by midnight as winds shifted to the north-northeast), the temperature was in the mid-50s by daybreak.

July 19, 2012 - After yesterday's extreme heat (high of 100°) and humidity, today's high, under mostly overcast skies, was just 76°.  Never before has there been such a drop-off in temperature the day following a reading in the triple digits.  The next day the temperature was around 70° during the afternoon. 

May 28, 2014 - One day after a sultry high of 86°, today was overcast, with afternoon temperatures only in the upper 50s.  The back-door cold front passed through after 10 PM, and the temperature quickly dropped into the low 60s, then gradually falling into the 50s by daybreak, where it stayed for the rest of the day. 

June 1, 2015 - After a week of temperatures in the summery mid-80s today, was 30 degrees colder, with periods of rain, drizzle and fog.  Today's high in the 50s was chillier than any day in May - the first time this has ever occurred.  And tomorrow would have similar conditions. 

May 20, 2017 - An early, three-day heat wave came to an end last night after a shift in wind direction.  Today's afternoon temperatures were in the low 60s, which was about 30° cooler than the highs of  the previous three days.

Nov. 4, 2017 - The day after temperatures were in the mid-70s, the temperature at daybreak today was nearly 30 degrees chillier, the result of a shift in the wind direction; afternoon temperatures were twenty degrees cooler.  On the positive side, skies were mostly clear.

April 8, 2019 - After peaking at 79° at 4 PM, winds shifted from west to northeast, and by midnight the temperature was down to 49°.

October 3, 2019 - The day after the mercury soared to 93° (the first reading in the 90s in October since 1941), winds shifted overnight to a northeasterly direction, and temperatures this afternoon were only in the mid-50s.  Light showers and drizzle fell throughout the day.

 

Overcast Skies_Brooklyn Bridge_RedHanded_StockF

 

 

 

 

 


March 2021 Weather Recap: Mild & Rainy Last Two Weeks

 Daffodils of march

 

The first week-and-a-half of March 2021 was exceedingly dry, with just 0.16" falling thru St. Patrick's Day.  (3/1 was the only day with rain.)  Then, in the last two weeks of the month, regular rainfalls returned, with 3.25" measured (more than 50% above average for that period).  The beginning of the month was also on the cold side, with temperatures four degrees colder than average through the 8th (the coldest day was 3/2, with a high/low of 33°/21°).   The rest of the month was six degrees above average, largely due to the last twelve days of the month, which were nine degrees milder than average (high/low of 64°/45°).  Overall, the month was 3.3 degrees above average, and was the 13th mildest March on record (March 2020 was eighth mildest).   The average high was 4.4 degrees above average; the average low was 2.3 above average.

 

The month's highlight was the record high of 82° on 3/26 – the first reading in the 80s in March since 1998 (and the eighth year in which the first 80+ occurred in March).  Besides this first reading in the 80s, March also had the year’s first readings in the 60s (3/9), and 70s (3/11).  This was just the third year in which all three occurrences happened in March, joining 1945 and 1977.

 

82 degrees

 

For the second year in a row, there was no measurable snow in March, just the second time this has happened; the first time was in 1945 and 1946.  And for just the fifth time, February, which was one of the snowiest, was bookended by a January and March with little snowfall.

 

Chart - snowy february bookended by snow-free months

There were eight days that were ten or more degrees milder than average (including 3/26's high of 82°, which was 29 degrees above average), and two others that were more than ten degrees colder than average.  14 days were five degrees or more above average (including eight in a row, from 3/21-3/28, that were seven or more degrees above average); eight were five degrees or more below average.

 

After back-to-back months with diurnal variations below ten degrees, March's was 16.6 degrees (average is 15.1).  Additionally, the range between the coldest and highest temperatures in March was 61 degrees (21° and 82°), the widest range since 2007, when it was 67 degrees (11° and 78°).  This was in contrast to January and February, both which had variations of only 37 degrees. (The greatest range in March is 72 degrees, which was in 1990, when the temperature extremes were 13° and 85°.) 

 

The month had fifteen days with humidity levels that dropped to 25% or lower at some point in the day (usually in the afternoon), with the lowest being 12% on 3/15 at 4:00 PM (and there were two other days with lowest humidity at 13%).  Finally, ten days had a peak wind gust of 35 mph or higher, with the peak gust at 44 mph, which was clocked during the evening of the 26th (the day with a high of 82°).   

 

Here are March recaps from the five previous years:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

 

 March_2021_iphone_calendar-scaled

 

 


Marches of 19th Century Were Far More Wintry Than They Are Today

The_Dakota_1880s

 

Of all the months of the year, March has warmed up the most since the 19th century (1869-1900).  While the average annual temperature so far this century (thru 2020) has been 3.6 degrees warmer than the average annual temperature in the late 19th century, March is 6.3 degrees warmer (April is next, at +5.2 degrees).  In the 19th century, March's average temperature was 36.5°, which would be considered quite cold for March of recent times (and more typical of what February's average is); the last time it was that cold in March was in 1984.  (March 2018 was a cold one by today's standards, with an average temperature of 40.1°). 

 

Eight of the coldest Marches on record are from the 19th century (and 18 of the 25 coldest).  Additionally, 16 current record lows in March are from the 19th century as well as 15 record-low highs.  (One outlier is March 5, 1880, which had a record high that is still in place.)   Five of the six Marches with the the most highs of 32° or colder fell between 1875-1896.

 

Chart - cold cold march of 19th century

Eleven daily snowfall records established in that century still stand today.  The first, third and tenth snowiest Marches occurred in 1896, 1888 and 1890.  But of all of the snowstorms of one foot or more that the City has had, just one was from the 19th century - the Great Blizzard of 1888 that buried the City under 21".  (And for nearly 60 years it was the biggest snowstorm of all time; it's now the City's fourth greatest snowfall).

 

Blizzard of 1888 (2)

 

Ten of the thirty-two Marches had at least one reading in the single digits (for a total of 16).  Since then, just five other years have had it happen.  The last time was in 1967.  The frequency of such frigid March readings dropped from once every three years, to once every generation (24 years). 

 

Here are wintry highlights of the cold Marches of the late 19th century:

March 1, 1869 - High/low of 26°/4°.

March 14, 1870 - This was the fourteenth day in a row with highs of 40° or colder (the average high was 34°); six of the days had highs of 32° or colder.  9.5" of snow fell during this two-week period.  And March 17 was the sixteenth day in a row with lows in the teens or 20s.

March 5, 1872 - This morning's low was 3°, the coldest reading ever experienced in March.  This was the second of three days in a row with lows in the single digits, the most of any March.  This is the third coldest March on record.

March 21, 1872 - High/low of 27°/14° on the first full day of spring. 

March 20, 1875 - An ice storm on the first day of spring dropped 0.54" of liquid precipitation in temperatures that were below freezing all day (high/low was 31°/22°).

March 23, 1875 - Five of the past six days had highs of 32° or colder.  Average high/low during these six days was 31°/18°.

March 18-19, 1876 - Lows of 9° on both days.

March 10, 1877 - The day after the mildest reading of the month (57°), the temperature at daybreak was 21°.  This was the first of eleven days in a row in which there were no highs milder than 40°; four days in a row would see lows in the teens (coldest reading was 10° on 3/19).  The average high/low during this very cold outbreak was 32°/22°.

March 19, 1877 - Yesterday's and today's frigid highs and lows of 26°/12° and 22°/10° were comparable to the Arctic cold experienced on the same two dates the previous year (30°/9° and 27°/9°). 

March 12, 1883 - This was the tenth day in a row with highs colder than 40°.  High/low during this time was 33°/17°.  Two snowfalls during this streak amounted to 5.5".

March 30, 1883 - A snowfall of 4.5" was the sixth snowfall of four inches or more this winter (this was despite the fact that no measurable snow fell in December).

March 1-5, 1884 - The month began with five days with highs of 30° or colder, with two reporting highs of 21° and one, a high of 18°.  Average high/low during these days was 23°/12°.

March 30, 1884 - It was a very late date for a sub-freezing high temperature (31°) at a time of the month when the average high is around 50°.

March 18, 1885 - Today's low of 8° was the 18th in the single digits or colder this winter, breaking a tie with the winter of 1872-73 for most on record (later passed by the winter of 1918, which had 20 frigid lows).

March 24, 1885 - This was the eighth day in a row with lows in the teens or colder.  The average low during this stretch was just 13°.  (March 1885 is the third coldest on record).

March 21, 1887 - Today's high of 49° was the mildest reading this March - the only March with its mildest reading below 50° (it would happen a week later as well).  By comparison, January and February each had a reading in the low 60s.

March 29, 1887 - The temperature fell slowly throughout the day, from 29° shortly after midnight to 19° nearly 24 hours later.

March 2-25, 1888 - Thirteen of the days had highs of 35° or colder and fourteen had lows in the teens or colder.

March 12, 1888 - The Blizzard of '88 (also known as the Great White Hurricane) roared into an unsuspecting New York during the morning and brought the City to a standstill for the next few days.  16.5" of snow fell today, with an additional 4.5" falling tomorrow into the early morning hours of the 14th.  This was New York's biggest snowstorm until Dec. 1947 (it's now ranked fourth).  In addition to the large amount of snow, the storm's danger was magnified by mountainous snow drifts created by winds that gusted between 45 and 55 mph, and extreme cold, as the temperature dropped from 33° to 8°.  

March 13, 1888 - A bit more snow (three inches) fell today from yesterday's blizzard, but what stood out  was the extreme cold (even by mid-winter standards) as the high/low was just 12°/6° - the second coldest day ever experienced in March (the high/low on March 5, 1872 was 10°/3°).  With gusty winds still prevalent, wind chills were below zero.  This was the fourth March in the 1872-1888 period to have two or three days with lows in the single digits; since then it's happened in just one other year (in 1916).

March 19, 1890 - A late season snowfall of six inches was the largest accumulation of the winter, beating the snowfall of Dec. 14 by half an inch.  March 1891 had four snowfalls of three inches or more; they totaled 17.1", which is the tenth greatest accumulation for the month.

March 2, 1891 - The morning low of 9° was the coldest reading all winter.  This was similar to last year when the only reading in the single digits was also in March (7° on 3/7). 

March 18, 1892 - Snow that began falling late last night continued through this morning and accumulated eight inches (the 7.2" that fell today is the most to fall on 3/18).  This was the biggest snowfall of the winter (passing a six-inch snowfall on 1/16) and came in the midst of an unseasonably cold 12-day stretch (March 11-22) in which the high low was a cold 34°/22°.

March 15-16, 1896 - Less than two weeks after a snowfall of ten inches on March 2, an even bigger snowstorm dumped a foot of snow.  (And in between these two storms, four inches fell on 3/12.)  It began early in the afternoon of the 15th and by midnight 6.5" fell; an additional 5.5" fell the next day through midday.  Then the snow changed to rain as the temperature rose into the mid-30s.  Then on 3/23, 4.5" fell, bringing the month's total snowfall to 30.5".  This would be Central Park's snowiest month until Feb. 2010, and is now ranked third (Jan. 2011 also had more).  High/lows of 28°/15° on 3/24 and 32°/23° on 3/27.

March 11-18, 1900 - Lows were 22° or colder for eight consecutive days.  The average low was 16°.

 

Womens muff

 

 


A Taste of Summer: The Year's First High of 80+

 First
Since 1980, the average date of the first reading of 80° or warmer is April 21 (a month later than the average date of the first reading of 70°+).  This is about a week earlier than 1900-1979, and two weeks earlier than the 1869-1899 period.  It's happened as early as March 13 (in 1990) and as late as June 7 (in 1924).  1918, 1927, and 2010 had their first reading of 80+ occur on the same date as each year's first high in the 90s. 

 

The average high temperature on the day before the first 80+ reading has been 70°, on the day of the first 80+, it's been 83°, and the high on the day following has averaged 74°. 

 

About one-third of the years have had a day of 80° or warmer on the day following the first 80+, but 16 years didn't have their second high of 80°+ for four weeks or more.  The greatest number of days to elapse before the second 80+ reading was 57 in 1928 (April 6-June 1).  The most recent lengthy hiatus was 41 days in 2013 (April 10-May 20).

 

Eight years have had their first 80+ high in March.  The first time it happened was in 1921, the most recent occurrence was 100 years later, in 2021.  Meanwhile, a first 80+ in June has occurred just once (1924).

 

Chart - earliest and latest first 80

 

On the day with the first high of 80° or warmer, the diurnal variation has averaged 27 degrees (this compares to a 14-degree variation for any day of the year).  The  greatest variation was 43 degrees in 1929, when the high/low was 89°/46°.   The smallest variation was 16 degrees in 1908 (81°/65°).

 

Chart - greatest diurnal variation on day of first 80
 

The chilliest low on the day of  the first 80+ reading was 43° in 1936 and, again, in 1990.  The warmest low was 68° in 1898.  The chilliest day-before high was 49°, in 1977.  The chilliest day-after high was 50° in 1921, and 51° in 1939.

 

29 years (about once every five years) had a warmer reading on the day after the first 80+ reading.  The warmest day-after reading was 93° in 1988.   The last time the day-after was warmer was in 2009, when the  high was 92° (the first 80+ reading that year was 88°).  The warmest day-before reading was 79°, which has happened in four years, most recently in 1955.  (And ten other years had a day-before high of 78°.)

 

April 19 is the date that's had the most first 80+ occurrences - in ten years.  And it's happened in seven years on April 25.   The most consecutive years to have the first 80+ occur in May is six, from 1873-1878. 

 

There have been six pairs of years in which the date of the first 80+ was the same:

> April 18, in 2015 and 2016

> April 15, in 2002 and 2003

> April 19, in 1972 and 1973

> April 26, in 1969 and 1970

> May 16, 1931 and 1932 (and in 1933, the date was 5/15)

> April 19, in 1914 and 1915

 

There have been fiver pairs of years in which the dates of the first 80+ were at opposite ends of the early/late spectrum.

> 1997 - May 19/ 1998 - March 27

> 1988 - May 23/ 1989 - March 28

> 1984 - May 23/1985 - March 29

> 1945 - March 20/ 1946 - May 25

> 1920 - May 28/ 1921 - March 21

 

Finally, measurable rain has fallen on the day of the first 80+ reading in 20% of the years (similar to the day of the first reading of 70+).  The biggest rainfall on this date was 0.67" in 1984 (May 23) as afternoon thunderstorms moved in after the temperature peaked at 81°; the second most was 0.60" in 1951 (4/29).

  80 plus

 

 


2021's Weather Happenings

 

 2021JANUARY

January 26 - The 0.1" of snow that fell was the first measurable snow since the 10.4" snowstorm of Dec. 16-17, nearly six weeks ago.  Today's high and low were just three degrees apart (34°/31°).

January 31 - Until this evening, the month was set to become one of the five least snowy Januarys on record, with just 0.1" measured.  However, the opening volley of snow, from a snowstorm that would bury the City tomorrow, moved in this evening, and by midnight two inches had accumulated.  This was the most snow to fall on this date since 1898 (when five inches piled up).  The 2.1" that fell this month made this the third January in a row with well below-average snowfall (Jan. 2019 had 1.1", Jan. 2020 had 2.3").

 

FEBRUARY

February 1 - A monster snowstorm that moved in last night buried the City today, and largely exited by daybreak the following day.  In total, 17.4” of snow was measured, with 14.8” of it piling up today.  The rate of snowfall was greatest from mid-morning thru mid-afternoon.  The temperature rose from 22° just after midnight to 34° in the early evening, when the snow mixed with freezing rain and drizzle, which put a stop to further significant accumulation.  15”-24” accumulations were common throughout the region.  Besides the snow, high winds were also an issue, gusting between 30-40 mph in Central Park.  

With this snowstorm, the winter became New York’s twelfth with two or more snowfalls of ten inches or more (the first one was on Dec. 16-17, when 10.4” fell).  This was New York’s biggest snowfall in five years (when New York experienced its biggest snowfall of all-time), and tied for fifteenth greatest accumulation on record (with Feb. 3-4, 1961). 

February 7 - Today was Super Bowl Sunday, and up until this year, the most snow to fall on this occasion was 1.5" in 2000.  That amount was easily eclipsed today, when a fast moving storm dropped 4.5" from mid-morning thru late afternoon (Central Park was low-man on the totem pole as most surrounding areas had six to eight inches).  It was a wet snow, that began falling when the temperature was 37°, with the temperature not reaching 32° until early afternoon.  This brought the month's snowfall to 19.9".

February 16 - While the Southern Plains, Midwest and Ohio Valley were subjected to severe cold, snow and ice, New York basked in mild temperatures and sunny skies during the afternoon as the temperature rose to 51°, the first reading in the 50s since Jan. 2 (when the high was also 51°).  This respite broke a nine-day streak with colder than average temperatures (but below average temperatures would return the next day).  Before the sun came out a period of heavy rain fell before sunrise, amounting to 0.82". 

 

MARCH

March 5 - Sunny and cold (high/low of 37°/23°) with very low humidity in the afternoon, which bottomed out at 17% between 3-4:00.  This was the lowest humidity reported in Central Park since the first week of May last year.

March 9 - Under fair skies, the temperature rose into the 60s for the first time this year, about five weeks later than the typical date for this occurrence.  The day's high of 64° was the mildest reading since Thanksgiving Day (when the high was 65°).  Also, the air was also quite dry, dropping to 23% during the afternoon.

March 12 - One week after the humidity dropped to 17%, it was even lower this afternoon, bottoming out at 13% during mid-afternoon.  The last time Central Park reported a level lower than this was on today's date in 2016, when it was 12%.  Today's humidity was at 20% or lower for 11 consecutive hours.  Besides the low humidity, the day also featured very mild temperatures, with a high of 68°.  The day also had the year's first low in the 50s.

March 15 - Afternoon humidity fell to 12% during the afternoon, the lowest reported in Central Park since March 2016.  Additionally, dew points were extraordinary low, dropping below zero a few hours before daybreak and remaining sub-zero thru the wee hours of 3/16.  (And during the afternoon they were below -10°.)  Today was also the 14th day in a row with no measurable precipitation, the longest streak of dry weather since last June.

March 17 - This was the 16th day in a row with no measurable precipitation, matching last year's longest dry streak in September; these are the longest dry spells since an 18-day streak in the fall of 2017.  

March 18 - After one of the driest first halves of March on record (0.16" was measured), light rain that began at around 9 AM continued for the rest of the day.  The rain amounted to 0.60", and was the first measurable precipitation since 3/1.   Temperatures were mostly stuck in the mid-40s.  

March 26 - Between noon and 2:00 winds shifted from the southeast to the southwest and the temperature jumped from the low 60s to low 80s.  Today’s high of 82°, a record for the date, and the first reading in the 80s in March since 1998.   This early jump into summer was a surprise since the predicted high was in the low 70s.  This became the eighth year to have its first reading of 80+ in March, and the fourth earliest date (after March 13, 1990; March 20, 1945, and March 21, 1921).  Interestingly, this early first 80 followed last summer’s early last 80, which happened on 9/10.

 

APRIL

1 - Temperatures were in the chilly 44°-50° range during the Home Opener of the Yankees, made even chillier by blustery conditions, as winds gusted between 25-30 mph.  The only positive aspect of the day (the Yankees lost to Toronto in 10 innings) was that the sun began to break through the overcast skies during the second half of the game. 

4 - Despite starting out overcast, it turned into a beautiful Easter Sunday as the skies cleared late in the morning, and the temperature rose to 65°.   The air was also quite dry, with the relative humidity falling to 23% late in the afternoon.  

6 - On a stunningly beautiful day, the high reached 70° and the humidity dropped to 7% late in the afternoon – the lowest humidity level reported in Central Park since 2007 (6% on March 30).  This followed 13% humidity yesterday afternoon (and March had a day with 12% humidity, and two others with 13%).  For five hours the humidity stayed below 10% (and dew points were in the 3°-5° range).

8 -  Skies were sunny, the mercury rose to 70°, and the Mets came from behind in the bottom of the ninth inning to win their home opener against Miami, 3-2.  As so often happens, the Mets had better home-opener weather than the Yankees, as skies were brighter, and it was about twenty degrees warmer.  

28 - In a span of ten hours the mercury shot from 52° (at 4AM) to 85° (2PM), the warmest reading since Sept. 5 (when the high also reached 85°).   Yesterday's high, by contrast, was a slightly below average 64°.  Today's diurnal variation of 33 degrees was the greatest since Jan. 13, 2018, when it was 39 degrees (high/low of 58°/19°).  This was the year's second reading in the 80s, occurring five weeks after the first. 


February 2021 Recap: New York Trudges Through One of Snowiest Februarys On Record

 

Feb 1 snowstorm nbc nightly news

 

February 2021 was 1.1 degrees colder than average, and the eighth snowiest February on record, with 26.0” measured.  More than half of the snow fell on Feb. 1, when 14.8” piled up (in total, the storm produced 17.4”).  This was the largest accumulation ever reported on the first day of February.  Another highlight of the month was the severe Arctic outbreak in the middle of the month that plunged Texas, the southern Plains, Midwest and Ohio Valley into the deep-freeze, but barely brushed New York.  Although the month was colder than average, the coldest reading was just 17° (the month's only reading in the teens).  The month's colder than average status was driven by the average high, which was 2.7 degrees colder than average; meanwhile, the average low was slightly above average (+0.5 degree).  Finally, with 5.13" of precipitation, the month was among the ten wettest Februarys since 1930 (and 21st wettest going back to 1869).

 

This was New York's coldest February since 2015 and the first colder-than-average month since May 2020. It was also the first year since 2015 in which neither January or February had any readings of 60° or milder.  The 15-day period between Feb. 7 and 21 was five degrees colder than average (high/low of 35°/25°), with all but one of the days colder than average (10.2" of snow fell during this period).  Temperatures rebounded during the last six days of the month, and were six degrees milder than average (high/low of 48°/38°); temperatures were above freezing for the entire period.

 

Like January, there was just a 37-degree range between February's coldest and mildest readings (17° and 54° in February, 14° and 51° in January).  Since 1950, the typical range has been 49 degrees (11° and 60°); during these year just six other Februarys have had a smaller range, most recently in 2010 (29 degrees).  Meanwhile, the month's average diurnal variation (the difference between the high and low temperature) was just 9.5 degrees (February's average is 13.5 degrees), making it just the fourth February with a diurnal variation less than 10 degrees.  (The others were in 2010, 1969 and 1869.)  This was only the second Jan./Feb. in which both months had diurnal variations less than ten degrees.  (The other time it happened was in 1869.)  Jan./Feb. 2021’s diurnal variation of 9.7 degrees beat out 1869's by 0.1 degree for smallest variation.

 

Chart - smallest diurnal variation jan_feb

 

This winter’s December-February combo was the ninth snowiest on record.  It joined four other pairs from this century (the other five happened before the winter of 1962).

 

Chart - snowiest dec_feb combinatons

 

February 2021 joined sixteen other Februarys that had 20 inches or more of snow.  It was milder than all but two of them (February 1983 and 2006).

 

Chart - mildest februarys with 20 inches of snow

 

Looking at December thru March, February 2021 ranks as the fifteenth snowiest month, just 0.1" behind Feb. 2003, Jan. 1996 and Feb. 1894.  This February's hefty snow accumulation was quite a contrast to last February, which saw just a trace.

 

Chart - snowy feb preceded by no snow feb

Here are other February recaps:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2015

 

 


Snow Creates Excitement, But Rain Gets No Love

 Sled riding in central park_time out ny

Pity the rain.  It doesn't generate anywhere near the levels of excitement accorded snow.  (In a Brady Bunch analogy, rain is Jan, snow is Marcia.)  Perhaps it's because snow is a seasonal treat confined mostly to four months of the year (in New York), while rain has a year-round presence.  Snow is also limited by geography, so persons from warm climates get a thrill when they encounter snow.  Sure, kids may enjoy jumping in puddles, and it can be comforting hearing the pitter-patter of rain on the roof, but rain never enthralls us the way snow does.  It possesses a certain "je ne sais quoi" that rain simply doesn't have.

 

Marcia-marcia-marcia

Perhaps the enthusiasm for snow comes from childhood memories, e.g., sled riding, making snow angels, building forts, school closings, Christmas.  And although rain may generate feelings of gratitude from farmers, it doesn't inspire the fevered anticipation of a snowstorm.  No sporting events have been inspired by rain, nor does anyone think back wistfully about rain that fell on someone's wedding day; or a downpour that washed out a summertime barbecue; or a deluge that rained out a baseball game (football games, by contrast, are rarely cancelled because of snow). 

 

There's also something magical about how a snowfall muffles the din of the City, and how its shimmering silver-white color scheme can light up a winter night.  Rain, on the other hand, leaves behind a muddy residue and litters the sidewalks with broken umbrellas.  (And when I was growing up in suburbia, worms would appear on the streets after a rainfall.)

 

Snow transforms the cityscape as it piles on top of railings, mailboxes and cars, and beautifully etches tree branches.  (I've always been amazed that snow is able to accumulate on Manhattan's busy streets.)  With rain, everything basically looks as it did before the rain started, except that surfaces take on a sheen when wet (especially at night).   Another contrast is that snow depths can be easily gauged by sight, but not so much with rain.  While it's easy to tell the difference between a few inches of snow and a foot of it, can you tell the difference between a quarter-inch rainfall and one of one inch?  (OK, perhaps there are more puddles.)

 

Winter 2017 - snow blindness

I can attest to the draw of snow since my most popular posts, by far, are those that analyze snowfall, with audience-traffic many times greater than posts about rain.  (I've written 30 posts about various aspects of snow, double the number I've penned about rain.)

 

It should be noted that the love for snow doesn't extend to sleet.  And rain's attempts at a brand extension, i.e., freezing rain, gets even less love than rain.  Despite the accolades it receives, snow is by no means perfect.  Shoveling can bring on a heart-attack; flights are cancelled; plows push snow back onto recently shoveled sidewalks; eyeglasses get broken during snowball fights, and dogs whimper from the sting of rock salt on their paws.  But, like a favored child, these personality flaws are largely overlooked.  

 

The weather hobbyists among us pore over snowfall totals, fixating on every tenth of an inch of accumulation.  We become infuriated whenever a forecast doesn't deliver on its promise, and, oh, how we dread a changeover to sleet, or, God forbid, rain!  By comparison, there is very little grousing when a rainstorm "fizzles" out. 

 

Central Park's weather station is held in low regard by many because it seems to report lower snow totals than surrounding sites.  For some reason, it tends to have the least efficient water: snow ratio.  It may very well be a gross generalization (albeit based on years of observation), but it just seems that if Central Park and each of the area's three airports receive an inch of liquid precipitation, this amount will produce eight inches in the park, a foot at Newark, and and an amount somewhere in between at LaGuardia and JFK.  Who knows why?  (Detractors of Central Park's weather station suggest incompetence.)

 

One area in which rain and snow seem to get equal treatment is automobile advertising, where cars on rain-slicked streets seem to be featured just as often as those shown bounding through snow-covered country roads.

 

Car advertisement in rain

 Car ad in snow_audi

Finally, the snow experience in Manhattan is different from that of the suburbs.  The beauty of the snow lasts for just a day - two days max.  The sound of snowplows scraping the streets can be grating, and the transformation of snow into slush at street corners is dispiriting.  And be on the lookout for snow crashing down from the tops of buildings!  On the positive side, snow often results in suspension of alternate side of the street parking regulations, and those of us who are apartment dwellers aren't tasked with shoveling, so we can walk around taking selfies to our heart's content, or put on cross-country skies and pretend to be on a ski weekend.  And perhaps the best thing of all is that the hustle-bustle of the City is silenced for a brief time.

 

Snow selfie dec 2020

 

Snow vs rain

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


Months With 20" or More of Snow

20

 

During the winter of 2021, February became the 36th month (since 1869) to have 20 inches or more of snow fall in Central Park.  This was the seventeenth February to gain this distinction, by far the most of any month (January's had eight occurrences; December's had six; and March, five).  Thirty winters have had one of these snowy months, and three have had two (winters of 1978, 1996, and 2011).  19 of the months with 20"+ had more than 25" (including Feb. 2021).  And four had 30" or more.  The snowiest month of them all is February 2010, which reported 36.9".  Below are more observations about these snow-choked months: 

  • The first month with 20" or more snowfall was December 1872, when 27.0" was reported.  Despite February being the month most likely to have 20"+ snow, it didn't have its first overly snowy month until 1894, which was later than the first 20"+ occurrence for December, January or March.  (November and April have never had 20" or more; however, November 1898 came very close, with 19.0".  The most snow in April was in 1875, when 13.5" was measured.)
  • The most consecutive winters to have a month with 20"+ snow is just two, which has happened five times, most recently during the winters of 2010 and 2011.  The most consecutive winters without one of these snowy months is twelve, from 1936 thru 1947.  And there have been three ten-year gaps.

 

Chart - consecutive winters with 20 inches

  • The most days of measurable snow during a month with 20"+ is eleven, which occurred in March 1916 (25.5" fell) and February 1920 (25.3").  The fewest days of measurable snow during a 20"+ month is two, in February 2006, when one storm accounted for all of the month's 26.9" (at the time, New York's biggest snowfall on record).  And in January 2016 there were three days of snow, with 27.5" of the month's 27.9" falling on two of the days (which supplanted February 2006's snowfall as New York's biggest of all time).

 

Chart - most days of snow in month

 

Snow at radio city

 

  • Nine of the thirty-six excessively snowy months had no snowfalls of a foot or more; five had biggest snowfalls that were less than ten inches.   The smallest biggest snow was 7.0" in Dec. 1904, followed by March 1916, whose biggest accumulation was 7.6".
  • In a winter with a month of 20"+ snow, the least total snowfall for the entire winter was the winter of 1979, which had 29.4"; the 20.1" that fell during February of that winter comprised slightly more than two-thirds of the winter's total.  And in the winter of 1925,  29.6" of snow fell, of which January 1925 accounted for all but 2.2".
  • Two of New York's ten snowiest winters had no months with 20" or more: 1874-75 is ranked seventh,  and 1960-61 is the City's ninth snowiest winter.

 

Chart - snowiest winters with no 20-inch months
 

  • All but five of the thirty-six months were colder than average, including the coldest month on record, February 1934 (which had 27.9" of snow), the coldest March on record (1888, 22.3"), and fifth coldest December (1872, 27.0") and March (1916, 25.5").   The most above-average month to have more than twenty inches of snow is December 1948 (+3.9 degrees), followed by February 1983 (+3.0 degrees); January 2016 (+1.9 degrees);  February 2006 (+0.4 degrees); and February 1994 (+0.2 degrees).
  • Finally, "honorable mentions" go to December 2003, which had 19.8", and January 2014, which had 19.7".

 

Feb 1 snowstorm nbc nightly news

 

Here are a number of other posts I've written which discuss snowstorms in New York:

Comparing New York's Three Biggest Snowstorms

A History of Back-to-Back Snowstorms

New York's Snowiest 30-Day Periods

Remembering New York's "Snowmageddon" of Winter 2011

Survey of New York Snowstorms by Winter (1950-2021)

 


January 2021 Weather Recap - Winter Makes Late Appearance

Late bloomer

 

If you're not a "winter person", then the first three weeks of January 2021 were tolerable, as temperatures were six degrees above average (with every day but two above average), and there was no snow (average high/low was 43°/33°).  Then, the jet stream shifted, and the last nine days of the month were five degrees colder than average (high/low of 33°/22°).  On the last day of the month conditions became even more wintry.  Up until the 31st, it appeared the month was going to be among the five least snowy Januarys on record, as just 0.1" had fallen.  But then, the opening volley of snow from a snowstorm that would bury the City on Feb. 1 dropped two inches between 6:00 and midnight - the most snow to fall on this date since 1898. 

 

Despite being 2.2 degrees above average, January's mildest reading was just 51° (on Jan. 2).  This was, by far, the mildest January to have its warmest reading this cool.  Previous Januarys with mildest readings that were either 50°, 51°, or 52°, had an average monthly temperature of 28.9°, which is is 5.9 degrees colder than January 2021 (34.8°). 

 

The coldest day of the month was the 29th, with a high/low of 25°/14° (thirteen degrees colder than average).  This was the coldest day in two years (since a high/low of 21°/11° on Feb. 1, 2019).  

 

With just 2.1" measured, this was the third consecutive January with snowfall that was well below average (January 2019, had 1.1", January 2020 had 2.3").  It was the fifth string of low-snow Januarys.

 

Chart - minimal snow consecutive januarys

 

With an average high of 39.7°, and an average low of 29.8°, January's diurnal variation was just 9.9 degrees, making this just the third January whose average high and low was less than ten degrees apart.  The two others were in 2017 and 1869 (variations of 9.4 and 9.8 degrees, respectively).  This narrow diurnal variation was largely due to the month's average low being notably more above average than the average high (+2.9 degrees vs. +1.4 degrees, respectively).

 

Here are previous January recaps:

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014