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NYC’s Record-Approaching Snowless Winter Trudges On: Why Is This Happening?

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Our boots, shovels and snowblowers have seen a different kind of accumulation on them so far this winter: dust. Snow, on the other hand, has been almost completely absent in New York City since winter began almost a month ago. In fact, KNYC, as the National Weather Service refers to the Central Park weather observation station, has reported zero measurable snowfall over the last 316 days, since March 9, 2022.

John Homenuk, The City

Republished with Permission: The Roosevelt Island Daily News

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Central Park was blanketed with snow during the city’s first storm of the season, Jan. 7, 2022.
Snow covered Central Park in the first snowstorm of last winter, Jan. 7, 2022. | Jose Martinez/THE CITY

The drought of snow is approaching records as New York City cruises toward the end of January with a brown landscape and a seemingly endless deluge of rainfall events. Here are some eye-opening statistics:

From a meteorological perspective, the snow drought grows more impressive by the day. Still, there’s no specific weather phenomenon that can be identified as the root cause. There are plenty of reasons to go around. In December, NYC observed several days of impressive cold as temperatures plummeted 20 degrees below normal. The weather pattern around that cold air mass didn’t cooperate to produce a storm system, and as a result, we left that air mass without any snow to show for it. 

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Since then, the pattern has been dominated by a strong Pacific jet. When the jetstream in the Pacific Ocean strengthens and extends, it typically brings mild air and lots of moisture with it. This instance was no different, with the Pacific jet leading to historic rainfall in California and bouts of record-breaking warmth in the eastern U.S. over the past few weeks. 

The thing with cold is that it needs to be committed to result in snow. Fleeting cold air masses do no good in terms of winter storm potential. Historically, NYC’s snowstorms are dominated by cold air, which is locked in by a strong high pressure to our north. These areas of high pressure allow moisture to move into NYC while keeping the cold in place to ensure that precipitation falls as snow. Those important high-pressure systems have simply not been there so far this winter, which has led to bouts of cold that move away just in time for storms to reach our area. 

The weather pattern in place over the next week or two doesn’t look quite as hostile for snowfall as it has lately, but it also doesn’t look particularly favorable either. There are a few waves of low pressure approaching the area next week that will need to be watched, but the same high pressure that’s been missing all year is absent on forecast model guidance once again. 

At this point, it’s a very real possibility that NYC will flirt with breaking both records discussed above — both the longest number of consecutive days without measurable snow and the latest-arriving measurable snow in a winter season. We are respectively 10 and 16 days away from breaking those records. 

THE CITY is an independent, nonprofit news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York.

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