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On this winter, records, and cold

I enjoy data. New York City’s weather station has been keeping data records for 152 years. Yes, that’s right, observers have been collecting weather data in New York City since 1863. That, my friends, is a long time ago. Since then, there have been an innumerable amount of impressive weather events. Hurricanes, winter storms, severe weather, flooding, heat, cold. New York City’s geographic location features an incredible amount of variability and extreme differences based on location. These simple facts, as straightforward as they are, make this winter — especially from February through early March — all the more impressive.

When looking at this winter as a retrospective, although it isn’t yet over, one can easily become caught up in statistics and information. This February through March in New York City will go down in the record books as one of the more impressive and extreme winter weather periods. For both cold and snow, the past 60 days have been historic.

February 2015 was specifically impressive. With the immense amount of statistics available, we (with the help of our good friend Yehuda Hyman) have compiled several of the most relatable and noteworthy.

February 2015 in New York City ended with an average temperature of 23.9°, which is the 10th coldest month of all time and the coldest month since January 1977 finished at 22.1° (38 years).
– It was the 3rd coldest February of all time and the coldest since February 1934 finished at 19.9°, which is the coldest, all time (81 years).
– The 2° low on February 20th was the coldest low temp after February 20 year since it was 1° on 2/25/1914.
– The 17.6° average temp for the week of 2/15-21 was the 42nd coldest week in February history and the coldest in 1979.
– If you only count from 1950, it was the 11th coldest February week, with 8 of the top 10 coming from February 1979 and the other two from 1958.
– As for late February cold, for weeks that began 2/15 or later, the week of 2/15-21 was the 3rd coldest of all time and the coldest since 1896.
– Out of close to 4,000 February days on record, 2/20/2015 is tied for 37th lowest temp at 2°
– In terms of late February, that 2° is tied for 10th lowest.
– The 4° on 2/24 was the 7th coldest temperature ever after 2/23 and the coldest since it was 1° on 2/25/1914.
Finally, if we look at it from late February temps post 1950:
The 19° high on 2/20 was the 6th coldest and the 21 on 2/16 was 8th.
The 2° low on 2/20 was the 2nd coldest.
Four of the top 9 coldest late Feb lows since 1950 came from this month.
This winter also featured an extremely impressive stretch of colder than normal air which lasted in excess of 30 days.
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Although calendar winter is not over, the statistics piling up in March are already equally as impressive. With below normal temperatures continuing, New York City received another significant snowfall on March 5th. This brought the seasonal snowfall at New York City solidly above normal once again.
Consider this final statistic:
The 15 year period from 2000 to 2015 featured an average annual snowfall in New York City of 34.0″. This is the highest 15 year average annual snowfall since the 15 year period from 1892-1907.
As I said early, I like data. And the data, right now, says we are living through a historically wintry period in New York City.
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