Every 10 years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updates its climate normals for thousands of stations. Think of it like the census for the weather.
The results for New York City were just released, and some of them may surprise you.
The new numbers represent the average temperature, snowfall and precipitation calculated from 1991 to 2020. It replaces the data from 1981 to 2010 and gives us a snapshot of how our climate in New York City has changed in the last 30 years.
The biggest takeaways are that in the past 30 years, the climate in the Big Apple has gotten warmer, especially in the winter. Overall, the average temperature for the entire year is 0.9 degrees warmer than the 1980s through the first decade of the 2000s.
The month with the most warming was December. From 1981 to 2010, the average temperature for December was 37.5 degrees. Now it's 39.1 degrees. That is an increase of just under 2 degrees.
January saw more than a 1-degree increase as well.
Overall, winters in New York City are averaging 1.2 degrees warmer than they did 30 years ago.
So, we're getting warmer winters, so we must be getting less snow, right? Wrong! Snowfall now is 4 inches greater than it was 30 years ago. We've gone from an average snowfall of 25.8 inches to 29.8 inches.
Here's what is going on. First, winters are wetter now. Precipitation for December, January and February is almost a half-inch (0.47 inches) more than 30 years ago.
The second thing we're seeing is more big snow events. Seven out of the 10 biggest snowstorms for New York City have happened between 1991 and 2020.
Also, three of them were in January, including the greatest snowfall ever of 27.5 inches in January of 2016.
Overall, the month of January now averages nearly 2 inches more snow than it did 30 years ago.
The report's findings that our climate is getting warmer and wetter mirrors the trend throughout the United States. The new normals are the warmest ever reported for the country.
Since the first climate census period from 1901 to 1930, the average temperature for the nation warmed by 1.7 degrees.