Since 1970 New York has experienced fifteen snowstorms of one-foot or more (more than half of them in the past ten winters). An additional seven storms have dumped between 10 and 12 inches. The summary of storms that follows lists not only these big ones but others in the five to ten-inch range, since even these can be debilitating, especially in Manhattan (these smaller storms often produced greater accumulations in the suburbs). The storms, 56 in total, are arranged by calendar date. If you’d like to see a list arranged by each winter, double click here.
Jan. 1, 1971 – Old Man Winter waited until New Year’s Eve revelers returned home before dumping the largest snowfall of the winter. 6.4″ of snow accumulated between 4AM-4PM, with much of it falling in the storm’s initial three hours. This was the century’s largest New Year’s Day snowfall (and second all-time after a nine-inch snowstorm way back in 1869).
Jan. 2-3, 2014 – A sprawling winter storm moved into the area during the evening with snow beginning in NYC at 6:30 and continuing into the overnight hours. In total 6.4″ fell. Besides snow and gusty winds, there was Arctic cold to contend with as the mercury fell from the upper 20s when the snow started to 18 degrees by midnight and down to 11 by daybreak.
Jan. 4, 1988 – The City woke up to 5.8″ of snow that fell overnight. It was the winter’s biggest snowfall. Four days later a steady light snow fell throughout the day, accumulating an additional5.4″.
Jan. 7-8, 1996 – A crippling blizzard began Sunday afternoon and continued until early afternoon thenext day. It immobilized an area from West Virgina through Massachusetts and dumped 20.2″ on Central Park, the third greatest snow total in NYC history (13.6″ fell on Jan. 7 and 6.6″ on Jan. 8, records for the dates). At one point five inches of snow fell between 5-7PM. Wind gusts of 40-50 mph whipped the snow into three and four-foot drifts on many side streets.
Areas west of NYC reported considerably more snow than Central Park: 32″ in Staten Island; 28″ in Newark; 26″ in Allentown, PA; and 31″ in Philadelphia. Temperatures were also very cold with a high/low of just 22/12 on the 7th and 23/16 on the 8th.
Jan. 11, 1991 – 5.7″ of snow accumulated during the afternoon and evening before changing to rain overnight as temps rose into the mid-30s (close to one inch of rain fell). Despite the changeover it was a record amount of snow for the date.
Jan. 11-12, 2011 – Snow began the night of the 11th (three inches fell by midnight) and was over by daybreak, totaling 9.1″. The 6.1″ that fell during the morning of the 12th was a record for the date.
Jan. 13, 1982 – A late afternoon/nighttime snowstorm that dumped 5.8″ on NYC was the same winter system that affected Washington, DC earlier in the afternoon when an Air Florida jet crashedinto the Potomac River minutes after takeoff, killing 78. The following day an additional 3.5″ of snow fell from an “Alberta clipper” that moved through in the evening hours.
Jan. 20, 1978 – Snow that began yesterday evening fell at a rate of an inch per hour between 2-7AM, and by 2PM 13.6″ had fallen. This was NYC’s biggest snowfall since the “Lindsay snowstorm” of February 1969. (However, in less than three weeks this storm would be largely forgotten, overshadowed by the great blizzard of February 1978.)
Jan. 20, 2000 – The largest snowfall of the winter, 5.5″, caught forecasters by surprise. The accumulation was held down when sleet and freezing rain mixed in. The same storm buried Raleigh, NC with 20.3″ of snow, the largest snowfall in that city’s history.
Jan. 21, 2001 – A quick-moving snowstorm dumped six inches of snow on Sunday morning, a record for the date. The flakes stopped flying by 8AM.
Jan. 21, 2014 – A wind-driven snow began at around 9AM and fell throughout the day and evening, with 11″ on the ground by midnight – a record for the date (an additional 0.5″ fell after midnight). Besides wind and snow, the storm was made more fierce by Arctic cold, with temperatures in the teens all day. The storm extended from DC to Boston. Its timing couldn’t have been worse for commuters, who had to contend with getting home in the teeth of the storm. Accumulations were even greater on Long Island.
Jan. 22, 1987 – A daytime snowstorm dumped 8.1″ of snow on the City while much of Long Island picked up a foot or more. (Virginia, DC, Maryland, Delaware and South Jersey bore the brunt of the storm.) The City’s accumulation was held down when sleet mixed in. This was NYC’s biggest snowfall in four years and would be the biggest until the March 1993 Superstorm.
Jan. 22-23, 2005 – A weekend snowstorm began early Saturday afternoon and by daybreak Sunday13.8″ had fallen (8.5″ fell on Saturday, 5.3″ on Sunday). After a very cold a.m. low of 9 degrees on the 22nd, the high of 25 was reached at midnight. This was the biggest January snowstorm since the blizzard of 1996.
Jan. 26-27, 2011 – Snow began falling heavily by late afternoon and blizzard conditions developed after nightfall. By midnight close to 13 inches had fallen, and by the time the snow wound down at daybreak on the 27th 19 inches had piled up. (This was just one month after the post-Christmas blizzard socked NYC with 20 inches.) Shortly after midnight I ventured outside to snap photos and found traffic mostly at a standstill on the streets of the West Village, with taxis on Seventh Ave. pointed every which way. The quiet usually associated with a snowfall was broken by the sound of spinning tires. This furious spinning produced an odor of burning rubber that pervaded the air.
The 6.7″ of snow that fell before daybreak on the 27th was a record for the date and brought the month’s snow total to 36.0″ – the most ever in January. (Just one year earlier 36.9″ of snow fell in February.) In the past thirty-three days, beginning with the Christmas blizzard, an incredible 52″ of snow fell. And for the first time NYC had two snowstorms of 19″ or more in one winter.
Jan. 27-28, 2004 – Snow moved in after 8PM and by the time it ended early the next morning 10.3″inches of powdery snow had accumulated (six inches of it fell tonight). January 27 was the fifth day in a row in which high temperatures were colder than 25 degrees.
Feb. 3, 1996 – 7.5″ of snow, which was over by daybreak, fell in advance of the coldest air of the winter. This was the the third snowfall of six+ inches this winter (with one more of that magnitude two weeks later). I had flown down to Key West for vacation the day before thinking I had escaped, but a few days later the Arctic cold penetrated all the way down to the Keys and it felt like more like fall.
Feb. 3, 2014 – One day after the high temperature was 56 degrees, eight inches of heavy, wet snow fell during the morning and afternoon as the temperature hovered around the freezing mark. Today’s snowfall was a record for the date and was the third accumulation of six inches or more this winter (just the eighth winter since 1960 in which this has occurred). Snow began falling less than nine hours after the Super Bowl, played in northern NJ, had ended.
Feb. 4, 1995 – Only 11.8″ of snow fell during the winter of 1994-95 and almost all of it fell today as10.8″ of heavy, wet snow fell furiously on a Saturday morning (close to three inches fell between 6-7AM) before changing over to rain at around 9AM. Then the coldest air of the winter moved in overnight.
Feb. 6-7, 1978 – Less than three weeks after 13.6″ of snow buried the City, an even bigger snowstorm struck. Snow began before dawn and by midnight 15.5″ had fallen in Central Park. An additional 2.2″ fell the next morning. Snow, drifted by wind gusts of 30-40 mph, fell heaviest between 7PM-1AM, when it fell at a rate of more than an inch per hour.
The storm’s 17.7″ accumulation made this NYC’s biggest snowstorm since December 26-27, 1947, when 26.4″ buried the City (later broken in February 2006). This was the first winter in 17 years to have two snowstorms of one foot or more. Snow would be on the ground in Central Park for the next five weeks.
Feb. 8-9, 2013 – An intense winter storm developed off the Delmarva peninsula during the day and by nightfall near-blizzard conditions were common in NYC and points north and east. An icy mix of light snow and wind blown sleet began at daybreak and fell throughout the day, becoming steadier and heavier after dark. By midnight, 6.3″ had fallen in Central Park; by the time the snow ended shortly before daybreak on Feb. 9, 11.4″ had piled up. This was the City’s 15th biggest snowfall since 1970. However, this amount was manageable compared to Suffolk County and New England, where accumulations of two to three feet were common.
Feb. 8-9, 1994 – After January saw a large amount of sleet and freezing rain NYC finally got a storm that brought snow as nine inches fell. It came down especially heavy between 9AM-1PM, but the snow predicted for the rest of the day didn’t materialize as it came down as sleet. Snow resumed after midnight and an additional 1.8″ fell.
Feb. 10, 2010 – Four days after a monster snowstorm stopped short of NYC’s doorstep, another one made its presence known today and dumped 10″ of heavy, wet snow. Because the daytime temperature was just above freezing (the high was 34) it prevented main streets from getting much in the way of accumulation.
Feb. 11, 1983 – A monster snowstorm moved in Friday afternoon and continued until the wee hours of the morning on Saturday. The storm really cranked up between 8-11PM when six inches of snow came down. When the last flakes had fallen 17.6″ had piled up. It was the biggest snowfall in NYC since 1978 (when 17.7″ fell on Feb. 5-7) and at the time was the sixth biggest snowstorm in NYC history (it’s now ranked twelfth).
Feb. 11, 1994 – 12.8″ of snow fell during a snowstorm that began shortly before daybreak and continued into Friday evening. This was just three days after a nine-inch snowstorm and was NYC’s biggest snowfall since 1983, which happened to occur on this date as well.
Feb. 11-12, 2006 – New York was the bulls-eye for a record-setting amount of snow over the weekend. Beginning the night of the 11th as light snow (2.8″ fell by midnight), it turned heavier after midnight and between 4-10AM Sunday morning the snow was falling at a rate of two inches/hour (between 8:25-9:25 nearly four inches piled up).
When it was over 26.9″ had fallen, a half-inch more than the City’s previous record on Dec. 26-27, 1947. Snowfall totals outside of NYC were also impressive but not nearly as much as what Central Park picked up. This storm accounted for two-thirds of the winter’s total snowfall. Only 1.3″ of snow fell for the rest of the winter.
Feb. 12, 1975 – A quick-moving winter storm delivered the biggest snowfall of the winter, with 7.8″piling up between 8AM-3PM. Snow fell at the rate of one-inch per hour for five consecutive hours. This was the biggest snowfall of the eight winters from 1970 thru 1977.
Feb. 13-14, 2014 – An intense storm system moved up the East Coast and brought with it high winds, heavy snow in the morning (9.5″), rain in the evening (accompanied by thunder & lightning) and more snow after midnight (3.0″). This was the winter’s fourth snowfall of 6 inches or more, something that’s happened in just one other winter since 1950 (in 1958). This snowstorm brought the season’s snowfall to 54.0″, moving it up to 7th on the all-time list.
Feb. 16-17, 1996 – Snow fell throughout the day and by the time it came to and end shortly after 1AM 10.7″ had piled up (9.9″ of it fell on the 16th; the rest after midnight), the third snowstorm this winter of eight-inches or more. It was a fluffy snow with just 0.52″ of water content.
Feb. 16-17, 2003 – After beginning Sunday night (when 3.5″ fell), the brunt of the Presidents’ Day blizzard kicked in and dumped an additional 16.3″ on Monday, making this NYC’s fourth biggest snowfall on record. (Since then three snowstorms during the winters of 2005/06, 2009/10 and 2010/11 have surpassed it.) Ferocious winds gusting over 40 mph created snow drifts of 3-5 feet. And although Monday’s temperatures were quite cold (high/low of 26/14), they were a warm-up from Sunday’s frigid 15/8.
Feb. 19, 1972 – A nor’easter packing 40 mph winds brought the biggest snowfall of the winter, 5.7″, but it was part of a sloppy mix of snow, sleet and rain so there was never more than two to three inches of snow on the ground at any given time. Temperatures didn’t go below freezing until evening. In total 1.64″ of precipitation was measured.
Feb. 19, 1979 – A fast-moving snowstorm buried the City on Presidents’ Day with 12.7″ of snow between 4:00AM-noon. However, the storm’s deepest snows, of 18-24″, fell in Virginia, DC, Maryland and Delaware. The storm came in the midst of a deep freeze that saw fifteen of the past nineteen days with high temperatures at the freezing mark or below, averaging 14 degrees below average. Including today’s snowfall, 20.1″ of snow fell during these nineteen days. Another President’s Day storm with even more snow would strike NYC 24 years later.
February 22, 2008 – Six inches of slushy snow fell during the morning into the early afternoon, the biggest snowfall of the winter – and the largest accumulation since NYC’s all-time snowstorm two Februarys ago. Today’s snow was also a record for the date.
February 24, 2005 – Snow moved in during the evening and by 3AM six inches had accumulated.
February 25-26 2010 – After beginning in the morning as steady rain a changeover to snow occurred in the afternoon and developed into NYC’s third major snowstorm of the winter. 9.4″ fell by midnight and an additional 11.5″ of snow fell on the 26th, ending in the early afternoon, bringing the storm’s two-day total to 20.9″. This was the fourth largest accumulation in NYC history – and just 0.1″ shy of the total from the great blizzard of March 1888.
With this storm February’s total snowfall reached 36.9″, the most ever measured in any month. (And this was without getting any snow from the big Mid-Atlantic blizzard of Feb. 4-5 that stopped at our doorstep.) This turned out to be the last snowfall of the winter.
February 26, 1991 – A surprise snowstorm dumped 8.9″ of wet snow, the biggest accumulation in eight years (since 17.6″ buried the City in on Feb. 11-12, 1983 ). Because the temperature was just above freezing for much of the day the snow didn’t accumulate much on the streets or sidewalks. This was the winter’s third snowfall of five inches or more.
February 28-March 1, 2005 – March came in a like a lion camouflaged as a lamb by all of the snow covering him. 7.7″ of snow fell from a storm that began the afternoon of Feb. 28 and ended at daybreak on March 1. It wasn’t a cold storm as the temperature rose into the low 40s after the snow ended. This was the third accumulation of five inches+ in the past ten days. Combined, 18.7″ fell from these snow events.
March 1-2, 2009 – 8.3″ of snow fell from a quick-moving storm that began the night of the 1st (when 1.8″ fell), making this the largest accumulation of the winter (and the most to fall in three years). 12-15″ fell out on Long Island.
March 5, 1981 – A heavy, wet snowfall of 8.6″ was the biggest snow of the winter and a record amount for the date. It also has the distinction of being the second largest accumulation in the month of March in the 1970-2014 period.
March 5-6, 2001 – Call this the storm that couldn’t. The City was put on high alert after 15-24″ of snow was predicted during the weekend. City schools and some businesses were closed on Monday and we waited, but it was in vain as the storm never lived up to its billing. The storm strengthened later and further north than predicted. New York received 3.5″ as a consolation prize. However, Long Island received significant accumulations.
March 8-9, 1984 – Snow moved in the night of the 8th and by daybreak 6.9″ had accumulated (5.1″ of it on the 9th), making this the biggest snow of the winter. It was a powdery snow with just 0.38″ of water content.
March 13, 1993 – The great March Superstorm (also called “Storm of the Century”) paralyzed the Eastern third of the nation and dumped 10.6″ of snow on NYC. The heavy snow changed to sleet and rain later in the afternoon, a Saturday, reducing the predicted snow total by about six inches. The sound of the sleet lashing against my windows, propelled by 40-60 mph wind gusts, was deafening. All told, 2.37″ of precipitation fell. To read a first-person account of the storm double click here.
March 16, 2007 – An all-day onslaught of sleet and snow dumped 5.5″ of icy precipitation, the biggest snow of the winter. This storm somewhat resembled last month’s severe sleet storm onValentine’s Day, but this one had considerably more snow. The total amount of precipitation was 2.07″, a record for the date. This was the last snowfall of the winter, a winter in which just 12.4″ fell, quite a contrast from the previous four winters, all of which had at least forty inches of snow.
March 19, 1992 – The biggest snowfall of the winter occurred today, a sloppy 6.2″. This tripled the winter’s relatively snowless snow total to 9.4″. Just two degrees separated the day’s high and low (33/31).
April 6, 1982 – Just 1.1″ of snow had fallen in February and March when a blizzard dumped 9.6″ of snow on the City today, less than a week before Easter. More than a foot fell in New Jersey and Westchester County. The storm started as rain in the pre-dawn hours and changed over to snow mid-morning and lasted through late afternoon. By midnight the temperature had fallen to a record low 21 degrees. This was the most snow to fall so late in the season since ten inches fell on April 3, 1915. To read a first-person account click here.
April 7, 2003 – Four inches of snow fell, the biggest April snowfall in twenty-one years. This brought the season’s snowfall close to 50 inches.
October 29, 2011 – An intense nor’easter lashed the area with high winds and outrageously early snowfall. The 2.9″ of heavy, wet snow that was measured in Central Park was the most ever to fall in October (5.2″ fell in Newark and over a foot buried northern NJ, parts of NY state, Connecticut, western Massachusetts and New Hampshire).
Since the temperature never fell below freezing there was no serious accumulation on City streets (except for slush). However, the day’s low of 33, which occurred in the early afternoon, was the coldest reading in October since 1988. Total liquid precipitation from the storm was two inches. Remarkably, twelve weeks would pass before the next measurable snow (4.3″ on Jan. 21, 2012).
November 7, 2012 – Just nine days after the region was raked by hurricane Sandy’s high winds and record storm surge, a nor’easter lashed the area. It moved far enough off the coast to pull cold air into the area, changing the rain to snow by 2PM. This was just the fifth snowfall of one-inch+ to occur in November in the past 40 years – and the first since 1997. 4.7″ fell (4.3″ of it today), making it the earliest 4-inch snowfall on record (the previous record was in 1989 when 4.7″ fell on Nov. 22-23). It was also the largest accumulation of the calendar year, topping the 4.3″ that fell on Jan 21.
November 22-23, 1989 – A Thanksgiving Day snowstorm along the Mid-Atlantic (which began late the previous night) dumped 4.7″ of snow on NYC; however, it was over by the time the Macy’sparade began. Although this wasn’t officially a wintertime snowfall it was larger than any accumulation during the 1989/90 season. The day’s high topped out at just 31, twenty degrees below average.
December 5, 2002 – One year after record warmth occurred on this date (high of 70 degrees) six inches of snow fell, the biggest snow so early in the season since 1938.
December 5-6, 2003 – Snow fell during the afternoon and lasted into early evening, accumulatingeight inches (more than was predicted). This snowfall came one year to the date after six inches fell. It was part of a two-stage storm that brought more significant snowfall the following day. That day, a Saturday, the City was under a blizzard warning for much of the day and an additional six inches of snow fell. The high temperature rose to only 28 after a morning low of 23. Just a week into the month and this was already the snowiest December since 1960, when 19.8 inches fell.
December 9, 2005 – 9.3″ of snow fell in the past six days. The 5.8″ of wet snow that fell on this Friday morning was a record for the date.
December 19-20, 1995 – Beginning today and continuing into tomorrow NYC experienced its biggest December snowstorm since 1960 as 7.7″ fell (10-12″ had been predicted). Less than 10 miles away, La Guardia Airport was buried by 15″.
December 19-20, 2009 – This first snow of the winter was a snowstorm that moved in late in the afternoon on a Saturday. By the time it ended at around 4AM on Sunday 10.9″ had fallen. Long Island received considerably more with parts of Suffolk County buried by more than 20″.
December 26-27, 2010 – Snow began falling during the afternoon and by evening blizzard conditions had developed. When the flakes stopped flying the following morning 20 inches had piled up. The City was largely unprepared for a storm of such intensity (and mayor Bloomberg was on vacation at an undisclosed location).
This was the sixth biggest snowstorm in NYC’s history (and it shared its dates with New York’s landmark 1947 snowstorm that dumped 26.4″). It was the second 20-inch accumulation of the year – the only year to have two storms of such magnitude (the first was on Feb. 25-26 when 20.9″ fell). The blizzard’s bulls-eye was west of NYC where most towns in New Jersey were buried by more than two feet of snow (e.g., Newark measured 24.2 inches).
December 28, 1990 – Today’s 7.2″ snowfall (which began late last night) was the largest accumulation in nearly four years (since January 1987) and the biggest December snowfall since 1960. Snow ended shortly before 11AM.
December 30, 2000 – A foot of snow fell as the year was winding down. It was a record for the date, the most snow since the blizzard of January ’96 and the biggest December snowstorm since 1960. This Saturday snowstorm was a fast mover, lasting just eight hours (5AM-1PM).