New York City is close to recording its first snowfall of late

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  • New York City has yet to catch its first measurable snow of the season.
  • This is close to the record long wait for this, which was set 50 years ago in late January 1973.
  • There is a chance of enough measurable snow to fall this week.
  • The snowiest month of the year still lies ahead along the I-95 corridor.

New York City could finally see its first snowfall of the 2022-2023 season this week, in what would be the longest wait for the first snowfall of the season in 50 years.

As of January 23, New York City’s Central Park had recorded only a trace of snow since it fell. That’s more than 11 inches less than their season’s average snowfall so far.

That’s despite two recent storms, named winter storms Iggy and Jimenez by the Weather Channel, that each dumped significant amounts of snow in the interior Northeast, but only rain in New York City.

On Wednesday, another winter storm, called Cassandra, will move to the northeast. This time, the cold air could linger briefly as rain begins to fall in New York City. This means light snow is possible for a few hours on Wednesday before warm air changes to precipitation in the late afternoon.

(more: New york city hourly forecast)

If Wednesday’s storm can only shed 0.1 inch of snowfall, it could be several days before the next chance for snow.


Snow and rain forecast

(Here’s the forecast for rain and snow between now and Sunday, January 29, the day the first measurable snowfall of the season was recorded in New York City’s Central Park.)

This could flirt with the record for the scarcity of snow ever.

The first snow accumulation of the season in New York City occurred 50 years ago, when Central Park waited until January 29, 1973.

Typically, the city picks up its first measurable snow (at least 0.1 inch) by mid-December. Last season, the first measurable amounts of dust arrived on Christmas Eve.

But it’s not unprecedented to wait until January.

It’s the 15th time since 1869 that Central Park has failed to pick up any measurable snow during the month of December. This last happened seven years ago, when the first melt accumulations of the season occurred on January 17, 2016.

The lack of snow isn’t limited to New York City.

Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., are also awaiting their first snowfall of the season. Philadelphia is closing in on its record-long wait for that first season — February 3, 1995 — while Baltimore and Washington, D.C., both previously waited until February 21 and 23, respectively, also in 1973.

2022-23 season-to-date snowfall (in inches) from the time of the first snowfall of the season through January 22, 2023.

Why is there so little snow?

The weather pattern since fall has been more favorable for snowfall from the west to the northern plains.

More specifically, low pressure systems often reach the West Coast, intensify in the high plains of the Rocky Mountains, and then track into the northern Great Lakes or eastern Canada. This is a typical pattern for late fall or spring, as it funnels winter storms across the Dakotas or nearby areas.

Meanwhile, high pressure remained persistent over eastern Canada and the northeast, keeping much of that region warmer than average.

An upper-level weather pattern anomaly over the United States and Canada from October 1, 2022 through January 20, 2023. Areas of persistent low pressure are marked by “L” and blue lines over the west and plains. High pressure areas are marked with the letter “H” and green, yellow and orange lines over eastern Canada and the Northeast.

(Original analysis: NOAA/PSL)

According to the Southeast Regional Climate Center, the three-month period ending Jan. 22 was among the warmest late October through late January periods on record for the Northeast and New England.

As cold air swept through the Northeast, it swept across the Great Lakes and caused heavy lake-shaped snowfall in Buffalo and Watertown, New York, in late November and December.

As noted earlier, recent storm tracks brought snow to the interior Northeast, but pulled warm air into the Interstate 95 Northeast Urban Corridor, bringing rain.

The snowiest month is still ahead

Despite this snow-free scenario, it is too early to declare the rest of the snow season a failure.

First, some cold air is expected to push into the Northeast next week as the calendar turns to February.

All else being equal, this could be the difference between recent wet systems and storms that produce at least some light snowfall in the snow-poor I-95 corridor.

(more: Temperature forecast for February and April)

This also corresponds to the February date.

Average snowfall in New York City is February (10.1 inches). This typically coincides with the historic peak of major snowstorms in the Northeast from late January through February.

Typically, Central Park picks up two-thirds of its snowfall after January 22. This works out to just under 19 inches if the rest of the season is average.

This graph shows the amount of seasonal snowfall loss in Central Park through January 22, 2023 (annotated in brown text), compared to the amount of seasonal snowfall after January 22 (annotated in blue text).

(Original chart: NOAA/ACIS)

As previously mentioned, 2016 was the last time New York City waited until January for its first measurable snow of the season.

Less than a week after the first late snow arrived, the East Coast was hit by Winter Storm Jonas, a record-breaking snowstorm for New York City and several other cities.

This doesn’t mean another Jonas will happen this season, but it shows how quickly a quiet snow season can turn around. Whether the snowy pattern will develop later in February or March remains uncertain.

So, if you’re afraid of shoveling or driving in the snow, enjoy this extended scarcity while you can.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment, and the importance of science in our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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