NYC’s seasonal snowfall: 3rd largest on record

New York City Seasonal Snowfall Now 3rd Greatest in the Record (since 1868); Frigid Moscow

Guest post by Joseph D’Aleo, CCM

New York City metro area after a welcome thaw late last week, saw cold return this weekend and then a light snow this morning. A snowblitz in January delivered 36 inches of snow, the second snowiest month, behind only the 36.9 inches set last February.

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This moves the city into third place behind just 1947/48 and 1995/96.

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Minneapolis received another foot of snow and now. Snowplows had trouble keeping up.

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As of 6:00am on February 21st, this winter season is guaranteed to be at least the 11th snowiest on record in the Twin Cities.  The current seasonal snowfall total stands at an impressive 73.4 inches. The average seasonal snowfall in the Twin Cities is 55.9 inches.  The following graphs were both updated shortly after midnight on February 21st.

Snow Season Amount (inches)
1983-84 98.6
1981-82 95.0
1950-51 88.9
1991-92 84.1
1961-62 81.3

2010-11 73.6 (11th snowiest so far)

With an active stormy pattern and another month to go, both cities and more in between have a chance to advance in the seasonal rankings. See how NOAA study shows snow records last winter in Mid-Atlantic had natural causes.

Also see how Moscow Shivering In “Coldest Winter In 100 Years” Minus 30°C for days…13C below normal…homeless people dying…hands and feet are freezing…

That’s what we are hearing from a few media outlets in Europe, those who have dared to mention the “cold-snap” word and to write about reality. It’s been cold in Scandinavia, much of Europe, North America and Russia too. Where’s all the warming? Heck, even the oceans are below normal.

52 thoughts on “NYC’s seasonal snowfall: 3rd largest on record

  1. In the UK, after the hugely cold December, January and February have been nothing abnormal in England. There’s been quite a bit of snow in the Scottish mountains, which means that the doom and gloomers who said winter alpinism was dead in Scotland have realised the folly of their ways……..

    To me, it looks like a winter with quite a lot of extreme anomalies from the mean, both colder and warmer, as well as snowier/drier.

    All one hopes is that the truth will out…….

  2. Except that, using your chart, the correlation does not hold up that well for the small scale variation in temperature. In other words, we’re in a high period of both temperature AND snowfall right now, historically speaking, and variations are not well correlated.

    Of course, you being only 40% skeptic makes it difficult to dig into such a detail objectively, I’m sure.

    Mark

  3. February 2010 thru January 2011 is less than a year and totals 72.9 inches. Yes I know the year isn’t counted that way.

    But if Tiger Woods gets credit, and rightly so, for holding the four majors in a year just, not a single year, then snow totals can count that way too.

  4. A headline from today’s WSJ – part of news summaries

    “Home Depot’s fiscal-fourth-quarter profit climbed 72% amid heavy demand for snow-removal gear. The also retailer boosted its dividend nearly 6%.”

    HD is scattered far and wide so they are not picking up some local weather phenomena when they see snow removal equipment sales surging. It doesn’t prove anything but it says that lots of consumers spending big bucks think it will snow again. They are not sitting around wondering if their children will know what snow looks like.

  5. The question I keep asking warmists who contort facts to make big snowfalls fit their theories is this: If lots of snow in winter now “proves” global warming or climate change or whatever you’re calling it this season, what did it prove in 1872?

    No answer so far.

  6. I’m not very sophisticated and I’m certainly not a scientist but whenever I hear some “expert” declaring a weather event to be proof of their desire for anthropomorphic global climate disruption/warming/change, I ask “what was causing this type of weather in 1936 or 1948 or 1956″ or whenever it is that I find it happening in the past. With the advent of the internet it’s simple to produce weather records to show that no matter what is going on now, it’s all happened before.

    AlGore’s acolytes certainly have been shot in the foot by his “invention”.

  7. R. Gates says:
    February 22, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Thanks for the weather update. Historically (over thousands of years, and based on ice core data) the warmer periods have seen the highest snowfall accumulations.
    ——————————————
    I imagine that not even you would claim that what causes evaporation in a given region at a given time is the global temperature averaged over latitude, season and diurnal variation. You would probably hesitate to attribute the coolness that produces snow rather than rain to that same average. But you happily imply that the two together are the product of an average global teperature.

  8. R Gates 11:36 am

    “Thanks for the weather update. Historically (over thousands of years, and based on ice core data) the warmer periods have seen the highest snowfall accumulations.”

    Then we are in trouble because its also very cold.

  9. RGates:

    Thanks for the weather update. Historically (over thousands of years, and based on ice core data) the warmer periods have seen the highest snowfall accumulations.

    See: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/alley2000/alley2000.gif

    For the very basic truth of this.

    Just sayin’…

    ——————-

    Sorry old boy. I don’t trust those “reconstructions”. For one thing, the O18 to 016 proxy, is just trash as far as I’m concerned. (And YES, I have the background!)

    I found like 3 papers correlating Snowfall with “average” temperature…in the Northern Hemisphere. Trend was always consistent. Colder winter, more snowfall (based on “average” temperature for the season.)

    I think what you and the AWG apologists are missing is that, yes, when it is VERY cold, the snow is less (air can’t hold the water), when we talk about the “average” seasonal temperature…over the span of a season, if it drops EARLIER to the snowfall capable range, it starts SNOWING earlier. And likewise, continues LONGER on the far end of the season.

    Most interesting is my histogram analysis of MN temperatures, (based on a local meteorologist’s reconstruction using data going back to 1820, from Fort Snelling, Mpls, MN) shows the fact there there almost always is a “seasonal drop” over a period of a week to 10 days, and a commensurate “jump” on the spring side.

    Then in the WINDOW between, it snows. Sure, in our area there are 1, 2 or 3 weeks with multi degree F below zero, but this is a small part of the season, and effects overall snowfall consistently and with little regard for the “average temperature effect”.

    Thus the old phrase, “It was a cold AND snowy winter!”.

    Max

  10. Interesting that none of those record snowfalls occured in the 1970s when we were on the verge of descending into an ice age.

  11. Forecasters are calling the the possibility of snow in the San Francisco Bay area this weekend according to the SF Chronicle.

  12. @RGates

    Interesting how that shows temperature has been dropping steadily but slowly since 10k years ago. Makes you wonder what caused the enormous, sudden spike though of around 10C, eh?

  13. So, 6 out of the 10 of the snowiest months are in the last 20 years out of 139
    and 2 of the 6 snowiest winters are during the same time period.
    (similar ratios seem to exist up here in MA.)

    maybe they are right – global warming does cause more snow /sarc

  14. The Central Park seasonal chart isn’t clear. Does it include any Feb. ’11 data? IAC, another 16″ puts the total over the top, all-time.

    If the “season” includes March, should be a slam dunk!

  15. R. Gates says:
    February 22, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Thanks for the weather update. Historically (over thousands of years, and based on ice core data) the warmer periods have seen the highest snowfall accumulations.

    See: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/alley2000/alley2000.gif

    For the very basic truth of this.

    Umm, I don’t think Joe meant to compare this season to the tail end of the last glaciation.

    The “very basic truth of this” in D’Aleo’s context applies in places where you can have some warming but still be cold enough to have a snowy winter. It is false in areas where warmth means several would-be snow storms become rain storms.

    Had the New York City area had a warmer winter this season they would have had less snow. The storm track would have shifted north too, (unless your brand of global warming keeps the jet stream in place), and I would have had a warmer and snowier winter. Fortunately, we can get some good snow storms in New Hampshire in March.

  16. Off the top of my head I would have thought the spread in snowfall between Central Park and Minneapolis would have been much more dramatic. Without looking at the records I would probably have guessed close to double. You learn something new every day.

  17. R. Gates, that’s a very impressive graph. However, I think they did a bit of cherry picking of their data.

    The last 10K years look like this.

    All the data (last 50K years) looks like this.

    The basic truth does not appear all that impressive, does it ?

    The data can be found at NCDC.

  18. R. Gates,
    I think you failed to notice that the temperature scale is inverted at

    Snowfall is increasing with decreasing temperature

  19. crosspatch says: Forecasters are calling the the possibility of snow in the San Francisco Bay area this weekend according to the SF Chronicle.

    I saw it snow (but not settle) for 15 minutes in the Oakland hills at 1000′ on Sunday (2/20), that’s probably the fifth time I’ve seen it snow there in the 17 years I lived there. I believe Mt Diablo had snow on it this weekend as well, was covered in clouds when I saw it.

  20. Snowfall is increasing with decreasing temperatures….

    ….but is over all precipitation/water increasing

    no

    Which is the total opposite of what they said about warmer air and more moisture.

    Bottom line, it’s cold.
    If it wasn’t cold, it would rain.
    …and rainfall is down

  21. Overall it looks like a slightly above average winter. Certainly well within the expected deviation of WINTER…

    On the flip side the cold snap would be a problem, but all Jones has to do is flip some of those -30C days into +30C days and the average anomaly will show up as normal. Since that seems to happen during the winter it will not be surprising to see that happen again soon.

    John Kehr

  22. R. Gates wrote: “Historically (over thousands of years, and based on ice core data) the warmer periods have seen the highest snowfall accumulations.”

    Wow! I can’t imagine how unbearably hot it must have been during the last Ice Age!!!
    How ever did the polar bears survive???

  23. Chuck Norcutt says:
    February 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm
    R. Gates,
    I think you failed to notice that the temperature scale is inverted at

    Snowfall is increasing with decreasing temperature
    _____
    Uh, no, I didn’t notice that because…that’s not the case.

    Just a general comment here. The correlation in the ice core data between greater snowfall accumulation and higher temperatures is neither in dispute nor a matter of “cherry picking”. Of particular note, is the rapid decline in snowfall accumulation as temperatures plummeted during the Younger Dryas cooling. This period shows the effect most readily of what happens during the advance of glaciers and what cooler oceans and a cooler atmosphere can do to snowfall accumulation…it decreases. This is not big surprise from a basic physics standpoint. What some fail to realize is that glaciers don’t advance because of large increases in winter snowfall accumulations, but rather, because the snow that does fall fails to melt during spring and summer, and thus get’s added to in the following winter. The snow fails to melt because of the cooler temps, but the cooler temps lead to less accumulation in the winter.

    What’s the upside of all this? The advance of the next glacial period will NOT be heralded in by increasingly big snows in the winters, but by cool springs & summers where it is so cold that not much melting gets done (at the higher latitude & altitudes first, where the glaciers begin) and thus the glaciers will begin to grow each year, and slowly move south and down the mountain valleys. But, like Younger Dryas period, the temperatures will cool and actual accumulation rates for each year will be lower as well.

  24. R. Gates says:
    February 22, 2011 at 11:36 am
    Thanks for the weather update. Historically (over thousands of years, and based on ice core data) the warmer periods have seen the highest snowfall accumulations.

    See: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/alley2000/alley2000.gif

    For the very basic truth of this.

    Just sayin’…

    ____________________________________________________________

    So you are taking the evidence from one location, at the heart of the Greenland Ice Sheet, as demonstrating that snowfall decreases with temperature over the entire Northern Hemisphere?

    Wow. Just wow.

    Geological reconstructions indicate that during the peak of the last glaciation, the Northern USA was covered with ice 1-2 miles thick, but that the climate in the Southern USA was not very different from what we experience today.

    Stop and think for a moment what effect such a strong latitudinal temperature gradient, over relatively short distances may have had on snowfall rates. The last 2 winters give a pretty good indication of what happens when Arctic air masses clash with Sub-tropical air masses.

    Multiply this effect by 10, or maybe 100, and you may start to get a handle on the sort of conditions likely to have prevailed over the USA during the last glaciation.

    All that ice didn’t get there by itself.

  25. Anything is possible says:
    February 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm
    R. Gates says:
    February 22, 2011 at 11:36 am
    Thanks for the weather update. Historically (over thousands of years, and based on ice core data) the warmer periods have seen the highest snowfall accumulations.

    See: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/alley2000/alley2000.gif

    For the very basic truth of this.

    Just sayin’…

    ____________________________________________________________

    So you are taking the evidence from one location, at the heart of the Greenland Ice Sheet, as demonstrating that snowfall decreases with temperature over the entire Northern Hemisphere?

    Wow. Just wow.

    Geological reconstructions indicate that during the peak of the last glaciation, the Northern USA was covered with ice 1-2 miles thick, but that the climate in the Southern USA was not very different from what we experience today.

    Stop and think for a moment what effect such a strong latitudinal temperature gradient, over relatively short distances may have had on snowfall rates. The last 2 winters give a pretty good indication of what happens when Arctic air masses clash with Sub-tropical air masses.

    Multiply this effect by 10, or maybe 100, and you may start to get a handle on the sort of conditions likely to have prevailed over the USA during the last glaciation.

    All that ice didn’t get there by itself.
    _____
    Neither did the large chunk of ice that sits atop the coldest one of the driest places on earth…Antarctica. Essentially, Antarctica is still in a glacial period and is exactly the kind of conditions the N. Hemisphere saw during the last glacial advance (the Younger Dryas period)…cold and dry with whatever snow that falls not melting and slowly building up into large thick glacial masses.

  26. Sorry for this O/T, but I did not know where to turn:

    Can we get the birds’-eye low-down on what happened to Joe Bastardi and his resignation from Accu-Weather? It seems like another purge of “deniers” by the climate establishment inquisitors. Can we get him to post here or at WUWT?

    Many fans, I’m sure, want to know.

  27. Obviously it’s the runaway greenhouse effect caused by co2, when all the warming causes more precipitation, then in winter as all the warm moister in the air cools down it falls as increased levels of snow. people here should look up what “climate change” means. /Sarc/JK
    No really look it up, some people are actually saying these things it’s so funny to read!!

  28. R. Gates says:
    February 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    “Neither did the large chunk of ice that sits atop the coldest one of the driest places on earth…Antarctica. Essentially, Antarctica is still in a glacial period and is exactly the kind of conditions the N. Hemisphere saw during the last glacial advance (the Younger Dryas period)…cold and dry with whatever snow that falls not melting and slowly building up into large thick glacial masses.”

    _____________________________________________________________

    Antarctica is a completely different kettle of fish from North America.

    It has been in a glacial age ever since it became separated from South America 15 million years ago, at which point the establishment of the Southern Circumpolar Current effectively separated it, climatically, from the rest of the planet.

    The Younger Dryas advance (since you quoted it) took place over a mere thousand years. Having studied it in some depth at University, there is little doubt in my mind that it was fuelled by similar levels of precipitation to those observed today, but the colder conditions meant that a much greater proportion of that precipitation fell as snow, rather than rain.

    The same principal IMO, only on a larger scale, can also be applied to the formation of the Laurentide and Fenno-Scandanavian ice sheets following the last inter-glacial c.110k years ago.

    Your perception of ice ages as bitterly cold, essentially dry periods where ice never melts simply doesn’t work for me. I see them as much more dynamic events where ice sheet accumulation occurred because winter snowfall occurred on a grand enough scale to exceed the considerable ice melt which would have taken place at the edges of the ice sheets during the summers.

  29. Anything is possible

    One thing is sure in the record. Cold comes on fast and inexorably. Because of the high heat of fusion of ice, melting is much slower to proceed. That contributes to long glaciation spells separated by brief warming periods. We are in a warming interglacial that lasts less than a third of the time. Enjoy it. One of these grand minima, such as is forecast for the next several decades, may be irreversible.

  30. Anything is possible says:
    February 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm
    R. Gates says:
    February 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    “Neither did the large chunk of ice that sits atop the coldest one of the driest places on earth…Antarctica. Essentially, Antarctica is still in a glacial period and is exactly the kind of conditions the N. Hemisphere saw during the last glacial advance (the Younger Dryas period)…cold and dry with whatever snow that falls not melting and slowly building up into large thick glacial masses.”

    _____________________________________________________________

    Antarctica is a completely different kettle of fish from North America.

    It has been in a glacial age ever since it became separated from South America 15 million years ago, at which point the establishment of the Southern Circumpolar Current effectively separated it, climatically, from the rest of the planet.

    The Younger Dryas advance (since you quoted it) took place over a mere thousand years. Having studied it in some depth at University, there is little doubt in my mind that it was fuelled by similar levels of precipitation to those observed today, but the colder conditions meant that a much greater proportion of that precipitation fell as snow, rather than rain.

    The same principal IMO, only on a larger scale, can also be applied to the formation of the Laurentide and Fenno-Scandanavian ice sheets following the last inter-glacial c.110k years ago.

    Your perception of ice ages as bitterly cold, essentially dry periods where ice never melts simply doesn’t work for me. I see them as much more dynamic events where ice sheet accumulation occurred because winter snowfall occurred on a grand enough scale to exceed the considerable ice melt which would have taken place at the edges of the ice sheets during the summers.
    ____
    Yes, I do see the glacial periods as cold and dry (when compared to interglacials) but I never used the term “bitterly”. In general though, the parts of the N. Hemisphere covered with ice were certainly more like Antarctica then something warmer and wetter.

    I actually only originally made the simple comment that over thousands of years, in and out of glacial periods, ice cores records show that we see generally the snowfall ACCUMULATION rates drop when it is colder and rise when it is warmer, and that the reasons for this are based on simple physics. More generally, I also think we would benefit by discussing N. Hemisphere winter vs. late spring snowcover extent if we want to look at climate changes, as it will more indicative of a changing climate to see growth or decline in late spring/early summer snowcover extents, as this would indicate of the snow is starting to stick around later in the season. As has been the case for many decades now, we’ve seen a decline in N. Hemisphere late spring/early summer snowfall extents. (note: this is a completely separate issue from accumulation!) See:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global-snow/2010/6

    When the next glacial period comes again, (assuming there are humans around to record such an event) you’d see both the above graphs begin to reverse, as the May and June N. Hemisphere snowcover would begin to increase as less melting would occur with cooler temps.

  31. Fact: 2010 had the warmest summer on record in NYC history.

    REPLY: Sorry, wrong season, we are talking about snow and winter in this thread; do try harder to keep up – Anthony

  32. Average snowfall for the Minneapolis/St. Paul will add another 15 inches from now until summer.

    That would move us to the third snowiest winter at 90 inches. The average plus one additional 8″ storm would result in 1st place.

  33. I think there is a problem on your chart. The largest snowfall from one storm for NYC was a 26.9 inch storm on February 11-12, 2006. That storm alone makes the snowiest month list. Maybe the December 2006 is February 2006? You say NYC metro area, maybe your measurements are for a northern suburb, or LI, or some average?

    -Rob

  34. The best indicator for judging the fierceness of any given season is to sample reaction to the appearance of any change to said season. Today in my home state the people were marveling and applauding the beautiful weather. It was in the fifties with a brilliant blue sky and bright burning sun. We are all so wanting the arrival of spring and the change to a more temperate clime, it’s proof positive of the extremity of this winter’s weather. I’m all about this coming change. Winter proved its virility and no one wishes to assail it any longer. Forward spring! Heck, let us pass spring by and go directly to summer! Please excuse me now… I have to hunt down my slippers… sigh…

  35. RomanM says:
    February 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Interesting graphs. Just by eyeball, it appears that sometimes snow leads temperature, and sometimes the reverse, and sometimes they’re in synch, but lately they’re opposed.
    From which I conclude that both are dependent variables, being “driven” by one or more other (“independent variable”) factors and forces. One of which, a very minor one, might be CO2 levels, though it is probably at best an intermediate link in a dependency chain.

  36. If you want to warm up, go over to “Climate, Etc.” and read Judith Curry’s verbal wrestling match with Gavin Schmidt. Shazaam!! The gloves are off and the desperation of Gavin and “The Team” comes through loud and clear. Dr. Curry is a first rate scientist, but I have news for any mugger looking at her purse: Don’t even think about it…

  37. Gary says: at 5:56 pm
    Today in my home state the people were marveling and applauding the beautiful weather.

    I currently live in Washington State east of the Cascades – 100+ miles south of the lake used in the study mentioned in another post, that is, Castor Lake. The NWS expects our area to have temperatures of 8, 4, and 7 F. for Thur., Fri., and Saturday evenings this week.

    We are marveling also; applauding – not so much.

  38. R. Gates says:
    February 22, 2011 at 11:36 am

    Thanks for the weather update. Historically (over thousands of years, and based on ice core data) the warmer periods have seen the highest snowfall accumulations.

    I do hope there is no implication of man in your flattening temperature graph? Now lets see the “the very basic truth of this.”

    “The CSI Team’s analysis indicates that’s not likely. They found no evidence — no human “fingerprints” — to implicate our involvement in the snowstorms. If global warming was the culprit, the team would have expected to find a gradual increase in heavy snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic region as temperatures rose during the past century. But historical analysis revealed no such increase in snowfall. Nor did the CSI team find any indication of an upward trend in winter precipitation along the eastern seaboard.”

  39. Fact: 2010 had the warmest summer on record in NYC history.

    REPLY: Sorry, wrong season, we are talking about snow and winter in this thread; do try harder to keep up – Anthony

    Oh, I forgot, we only talk about cold weather events on this site.

  40. Just reporting. After two 70F (21C) days last week, snow returned to western MD. Nothing unusual, but the 4.5 inches of snow/sleet had a remarkably high water content of 1.01 inches (~26mm). That’s some pretty dense frozen precip — like shoveling concrete.

    It was needed here, the ground surface until last week was frozen all winter & all the previous snow that recently melted had run off and not soaked into the ground.

  41. Peter says:
    February 23, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Fact: 2010 had the warmest summer on record in NYC history.

    REPLY: Sorry, wrong season, we are talking about snow and winter in this thread; do try harder to keep up – Anthony

    Oh, I forgot, we only talk about cold weather events on this site.

    Now, Petie: the one large SITE (WUWT) has many separate THREADS. This one happens to be about NYC’s snowfall. I’m sure if you search, you can find a thread about summer. Specifically, the La Nino summer of ’10, vs the La Nina winter of ’10-’11. K?

  42. Modz: typo (with an unfortunate history!): El Nino, not La Nino. ;0
    pls fix!
    I blame a coffee-fueled all-nighter climate surfing.

  43. North of Mpls/St.P we’ve lagged, this winter, behind their run at the all time record. Likely to be broken this weekend with another 8-10″ on tap.

    Of course that was to be our total for Sun.-Mon. storm. Acuality was above 20″. Not Buffalo, NY or Copper Harbour, MI totals but impressive to us. School was called for Mon.

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