Sounds dramatic. The response to the title of this article, from some, will likely be: “Well, obviously.” But when you take a second to consider that we actually did live through one of the snowiest periods in the history of observed weather at New York City, it becomes fairly remarkable. The past 30 days or so have been nothing short of anomalous, with colder than normal temperatures (including a visit from an unusually impressive Polar Vortex) and well above normal snowfall throughout a vast majority of the forecast area.
The statistics don’t only confirm what we’ve known all along, they bring to the surface the reality of just how impressive the past month or so has actually been. The entire winter, in a certain sense, has been a giant anomaly — and it has been relentless. Things came to a bit of a head over the last 30 days, however, and our stats will focus on just how impressive the past month or so has actually been.
Consider this: New York City was only 1.5″ away from breaking the record for its snowiest 30 day period of all time today. Ultimately, we fell barely short, but a close second is equally as impressive as the record which still stands from 1949. Still, this January-February period (including all days in both months) is now officially the snowiest on record at Central Park since snowfall observations began. The 48.5″ in the past two months beat out the 47.3″ in January-Feburary 1996.
The winter also has become quite staggering in terms of number of events; whereas the snowfall totals are obviously impressive, the amount of chances that the area has had to receive heavy snow and the number of events which they did is equally as anomalous. The numbers speak to the active pattern which had settled into the area essentially from December onward, as well as the impressive low level cold air source and resulting numerous opportunities for snow.
2014 has featured 6 snowfalls of 3″ of more at Central Park, which is second only to 1995-1996’s record of 7.
The statistics don’t stop there; not even in this winter or the past few. What we’ve been living through over the last 5 to 10 years is also anomalous and impressive on a more grand scale. The past 5 years, to start, have been the third snowiest on average since records began. NYC has recorded an average of 40.8″ of snow over the past 5 seasons — almost a full 20″ over the actual average. 1876-77 and 1917-1918 were the only snowier 5 year periods recorded at NYC.
The average snowfall at NYC in this decade (2010’s) so far is 38.1″. Compare that to some of the averages from the 50’s, 70’s and 80’s (22.6, 21.3, 19.7″ respectively) and you begin to get an idea of how much snow there really has been recently. The snow in the 2010’s decade so far is #1 in NYC’s recorded history, beating out the 1890’s where 34.7″ was the average snow over a 10 year span.
It goes without saying at this point that not only has this been an incredible winter, but it has been an unbelievable 5 to 10 year period for snow. There have been a few ducks thrown in there (2008, anyone?) where very little snow fell, but for the most part it has been active and snowy — with volatile weather becoming a staple in the area’s winter season. This winter has trumped most of them so far; with a very cold, active and snowy pattern starting to break some very impressive records.
And there’s still an entire month of winter left.
A special thank you to our good friend Yehuda for contributing to these images and statistics.