According to climatology, January brings the coldest weather of the year for NYC. That being said, the climate is warming, and despite that, the month still brings some big snowstorms.

In recent years, some of the biggest snowfalls have occurred in January. 

What You Need To Know

  • The biggest snowstorm to ever hit NYC happened in January 2016

  • 4 out of the top 10 biggest snowstorms for NYC happened in January

  • With a warming climate, big snowstorms in January are becoming more common

  • 4 out of the top 5 biggest snowfalls in January have occurred in the last 25 years, with records dating back to 1869

The biggest January snowstorm to hit NYC happened just a few years ago. It was on January 24-26 of 2016 when 27.5 inches of snow buried NYC.

Streets in Boroughs like Queens remained under feet of snow for several days as the city scrambled to clean up the mess.

Many city residents were outraged with the city's response to the big storm, blaming the mayor and the Department of Sanitation for the delay in getting roads cleared.

Here's a fun fact. At the time, the storm measured at 26.8 inches of snow, making it the second-biggest storm on record for NYC. But a few months later, the number was revised to 27.5 inches, making it the biggest snowstorm on record.

For a long time, the most dramatic storm to hit the city was the Blizzard of 1996. Although this storm didn't drop the most snow for a single storm, it did bring wind gusts to 50 mph with snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour.

The wind caused snowdrifts that reached as high as 8 feet.

Schools were closed for the blizzard, and that was a big deal! Before the blizzard of '96, the last time schools were closed due to weather was in 1978. We were apparently tougher in dealing with the weather back then. 

When we look at the top 5 biggest snowstorms to hit NYC in January, something interesting becomes apparent. A warming climate does not mean less snow.

Weather records in the city date back to 1869. Yet, 4 of the top 5 biggest snowstorms in January have occurred in the last 25 years.

The reason for this is that a warming climate means more moisture and stronger storms. Yes, more of these storms are likely to bring rain rather than snow, but when all the ingredients align, the snowstorms can make history.