Why Hasn’t It Snowed Yet in New York City?

If there is still no measurable snowfall on Sunday, it would be the longest stretch of winter without snow since 1973.

Pedestrians with umbrellas walk through Times Square on a rainy day.
New York City has seen plenty of rain, but no measurable snow to date.Credit...Angela Weiss/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

It has been an unusually snowless winter in New York City.

In fact, the metro region has yet to receive its first measurable snowfall this winter — defined as at least 0.1 inches. If that continues until Sunday, it will match a record set in the winter of 1973, when the area went snowless until Jan. 29.

While two winter storms have dropped a considerable amount of powder upstate — western New York was hit hard by a late-December blizzard, with 51.9 inches recorded in the Buffalo region, resulting in at least 40 deaths — New York’s precipitation has been limited to rain.

Dan Cole, 71, a native Midwesterner now living in Queens, said on Monday that he grew up around lots of snow and was unbothered by this season’s trend, though he’s hopeful his grandsons, ages 2 and 5, will get to experience snow soon.

“So we can make a snowman, like we do every year,” Mr. Cole said, holding an umbrella; while there was close to a foot of snow upstate on Monday, it rained all morning and into the early afternoon in the city.

New York is also approaching its longest streak of consecutive days without measurable snowfall, according to the National Weather Service. Since March 9, 2022, it has been 320 days without snow so far, and the record, which was set in 2020, was 332 days between Jan. 18-Dec. 15.

Top 10 Longest Periods Without Snow in New York City

Source: National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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The lack of snowfall, according to Dave Radell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service of New York, has resulted from the tracks of recent storms: Their centers were north and west of the city, while temperatures were warmer in the five boroughs.

“We don’t have a lot of cold air hanging around,” Mr. Radell said. “The cold air is further up to the north, where they’ve had snow.”

John Brooke, 71, has lived in New York for 35 years but said he hardly recognizes the city now. “Back in the 70s, I lived in New Orleans,” Mr. Brooke said. “That’s what it’s like here now. It feels like I’m in New Orleans.”

The lack of snow so far is not likely to have any long-term consequences for New York, because there’s been plenty of rain, said Brian Ciemnecki, also a meteorologist for National Weather Service of New York.

“If we were not getting precipitation, this would be a totally different story, because then we’d be talking about drought,” he said.

On Jan. 29 last year, New York City was hit with a big snowstorm.Credit...Jose A. Alvarado Jr. for The New York Times

For the period from Dec. 1 until Monday, Central Park has recorded 8.81 inches of rain, 1.70 inches above normal, according to the Weather Service.

While the role of climate change in the lack of snow is complex, the absence of snow this winter comes amid the eight warmest years on record since 2014, according to scientists from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, who also recorded 2016 as the hottest year ever. On Thursday, NASA ranked 2022 as tied with 2015 for fifth warmest year, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration listed last year as the sixth warmest.

There’s also still a chance that the city might not reach that 50-year record on Jan. 29. Meteorologists say the winter storm Kassandra could move into the New York area on Wednesday and bring one to two inches of snow.

Last winter, New York recorded 17.7 inches of measurable snowfall, down from the average of 29.8 inches. The first date of measurable snowfall was Dec. 24, 2021.

Henry Fountain and Mira Rojanasakul contributed reporting.