The National Weather Service announced today that the Central Park Conservancy will take over measuring snowfall during the winter of 2015-2016. This marks and end of a 22-year run for the Central Park Zoo, where snowfall has been measured since 1993. The National Weather Service trained 20 or more individual employees at the Central Park Conservancy over the past several months in order to make the transition as easy as possible, and to improve accuracy of snowfall reporting in New York City.
Measurements at the Central Park Zoo had come under significant scrutiny over the past several winters, . This came to a head in 2015, when the National Weather Service retroactively adjusted snowfall totals that were reported by the Central Park Zoo. Three snowfall events (January 6th, January 24th, and February 2nd) were adjusted to increase snowfall amounts based on surrounding observations.
In prior years, the meteorological community was often left wondering why Central Park was reporting lower snowfall totals than surrounding stations. Frequently, Central Park’s snowfall observations would be lower than LaGuardia, Teterboro, and Newark, despite similar or or even more adverse conditions at surrounding locations.
Central Park has one of the oldest standing snowfall and weather observation records, dating back to 1869.
The official statement from the National Weather Service is attached below:
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW YORK NY 322 PM EST MON DEC 21 2015 ...CENTRAL PARK CONSERVANCY TO PROVIDE OFFICIAL SNOW MEASUREMENTS FOR NEW YORK CITY... BEGINNING THIS WINTER...CENTRAL PARK CONSERVANCY WILL TAKE OFFICIAL NEW YORK CITY SNOW MEASUREMENTS IN CENTRAL PARK FOR THE NEW YORK NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE IN UPTON. THESE IMPORTANT SNOW OBSERVATIONS WILL ASSIST WEATHER FORECASTING AND CONTRIBUTE TO THE ACCURACY OF THE OFFICIAL U.S. CLIMATE RECORD FOR NEW YORK CITY. THE CONSERVANCY IS TAKING OVER THIS VOLUNTEER JOB FROM THE CENTRAL PARK ZOO...WHICH HAS PROVIDED THE SERVICE FOR THE PAST 22 YEARS. SNOWFALL REPORTS FOR CENTRAL PARK PROVIDE ONE OF THE LONGEST CONTIGUOUS SETS OF WEATHER DATA IN THE COUNTRY...DATING BACK TO 1869. AS THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE'S NEW YORK CITY OFFICE IN UPTON COVERS WEATHER OBSERVATIONS FOR ABOUT 10 PERCENT OF THE U.S.POPULATION...THESE MEASUREMENTS ARE SECOND TO NONE IN SIGNIFICANCE FOR CLIMATOLOGICAL STUDIES. WEATHER SERVICE STAFF RECENTLY TRAINED 20 MEMBERS OF THE CONSERVANCY IN HOW TO PROPERLY TAKE AND REPORT SNOWFALL MEASUREMENTS. THE SNOWFALL OBSERVATIONS...TAKEN IN NEAR REAL TIME 24 HOURS PER DAY...WILL ALLOW THE NWS AND NYC EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT TO MAKE BETTER DECISIONS TO PROTECT LIVES AND PROPERTY. BY MONITORING THESE OBSERVATIONS...THE NWS MAY DECIDE TO ISSUE...CANCEL OR ALLOW AN ADVISORY OR WARNING TO EXPIRE. THESE OBSERVATIONS ALSO WILL BE USED TO VERIFY FORECAST ACCURACY. IF MORE SNOW IS ACCUMULATING THAN FORECAST...NYC EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT MAY COORDINATE WITH CITY AGENCIES TO ADJUST EVENT RESPONSE. THE CONSERVANCY WILL BECOME THE OFFICIAL SOURCE OF THESE SNOWFALL AND SNOW DEPTH OBSERVATIONS...CONTRIBUTING TO A LONG STANDING CLIMATE RECORD. SNOWFALL OBSERVATIONS ARE PUBLICLY AVAILABLE ONLINE IN PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENTS...LOCAL STORM REPORTS AND CLIMATE DATA REPORTS ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE. FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION CONTACT THE OBSERVATION PROGRAM LEADER AT TIM.MORRIN@NOAA.GOV.