A strange winter in New York City where flowers are blooming in Central Park and the city has just set multiple records, one for the longest measurable snow-free period over its 150 year period of official records (327 days) and for the city’s latest occurrence for measurable snow (which has yet to occur and hasn’t since march 9, 2022) have been set today (Monday, Jan 30th, 2023)–and New York City’s not alone–Baltimore, Washington D. C and Philadelphia await their first measurable snow

The record-breaking snow drought in New York City has been the subject of articles in recent days in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, the Washington Post–and other media organizations–and has social media is abuzz at the lack of snow. The normal date for the first measurable snow in NYC has been on or about Dec. 7th–yet such a snow has yet to put in an appearance this season.

The National Weather Service’s Eastern Region office has been blogging about the lack of snow in recent days–posting just yesterday (Sunday, 1/29/2023), “With no snow expected before midnight, New York City (Central Park) will set a new record for the latest first measurable snowfall. The lack of snow so far this season along the I-95 metro corridor of the mid Atlantic into the Northeast has been extremely unusual.” And the Eastern Region office has generated a list of the anemic and dramatically sub-par snowfalls reported at scores of NWS offices across its area of responsibility, noting, “While recent storms have brought parts of northern New England closer to normal, seasonal snowfall totals for most of the Eastern US continue to run well below normal. Map of 2022-2023 seasonal snowfall and listing of totals at Eastern US NWS climate stations as of January 29th.”

While the presence of a jet stream altering La Nina in the equatorial Pacific is no doubt playing a role by this winter’s altering storm tracks, Dr.Kieran Bhatia, a Princeton University Post Doc, notes the lack of snow coincides with warming which has taken winter (Dec through Feb) temps 6-deg warmer over the past 130 years. (See the temp graphs he’s posted below).

And an analysis of cold season precipitation trends by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes the dominance of Lower 48 weather stations noting MORE WINTER PRECIPITATION HAS BEEN FALLING AS RAIN THAN SNOW in the period from 1949 to 2020.

The New York City Department of Sanitation, responsible for cold season snow removal, is sitting on a 700-million supply of road salt. And NOAA’s Southeast Regional Climate Center reports the three month period through January 25th has been the warmest on record in the Northeast and New England, says Jonathan Erdman in an interesting Weather Underground article

HERE IN GREATER CHICAGO ARE, we’ve seen snow in recent days–including as much as 8″ over the weekend in the Wisconsin border area and more than 10″ in sections of southern Wisconsin. But the O’Hare seasonal snow tally to date is hardly anything to write about–even though recent snows have brought the January snow tally close to normal (9.5″ compared to 10.5″). For the full 2022-23 snow season to date, Chicago O’Hare snowfall is up to 13.8″–still only a little over 2/3’s normal (69%) of 20.1″.

It’s also interesting that this winter’s WHIPLASH La Nina temp regime, with its sharp but limited-length arctic blasts, has initiated some impressive lake-effect snows–like to two widely covered episodes in the Buffalo, New York area, one of which produce over 80″ of snow. These have been of limited coverage. But as one gets into a swath of the central Plains and parts the northwestern Midwest (see the NOAA Midwest Regional Climate Center % of normal snowfall maps I’m posting here for the past month) snowfall has been comparatively prolific and widespread.