Thursday saw another snowstorm bring heavy snow to the Lehman Campus. At one point, the visibility was reduced to near zero as an intense band dumping snow at a rate of 3”-6” per hour moved across the campus.
By the time the storm departed Friday morning before sunrise, just over a foot of snow had fallen on campus. All the trees and buildings were plastered with wet snow as the sun rose in the wake of the storm.
Previously, I had blogged about the return of severe cold to the New York City area. Moreover, consistent with historic experience, severe cold returned after a brief thaw. The cold, alone, would make 2013-14 a stand-out winter in recent years. However, the winter has also distinguished itself as a snowy one in a nearly fifteen-year-long period that has featured relatively frequent large snowfalls and above normal seasonal snowfall.
Beginning in 2000, New York City has seen snowstorms dump a foot or more of snow twice as frequently as the historic average. Since 1869, New York City has had 37 one-foot or greater snowstorms, including last week’s, making the frequency of such snowstorms about once every four years. A similar pattern holds true with seasons having 50" or more snowfall. The historic average (including 2013-14) is once every 9.1 years. Since 2000, 50" seasons have occurred once every 4.7 years.
This winter has also seen two 10” or greater snowstorms. Only nine prior winters had two such snowstorms. The record is three, which was set in winter 2009-10.
In terms of seasonal snowfall, New York City has received 55.6” of snow to date. That makes the current winter the 8th snowiest on record, just below winter 1898-99, which saw 55.9" snow. Beginning with winter 1869-70, only 16 previous winters had received 50” or more snow. However, such winters have sometimes been clustered closely together and three of the last five winters have now seen 50” or more snowfall.
A few months from now, Lehman’s students will be basking in the rising temperatures and turning their thoughts to approaching final exams. Some will be readying themselves for Commencement. For now, a snowy winter is continuing to blanket the campus on a seemingly regular basis, and if the historic climate record is representative, March will see at least some snowfall. For the six winters that reached 50" or more snow by the end of February, the median March snowfall was 4.8". Among those six winters, the least was 0.4" in March 1873 and the most was 13.2" in March 1996. The snowiest March on record is March 1896 when 30.5" snow fell. That month was highlighted by a 10" snowfall on March 2 and a 12" snowfall on March 15-16.