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No Snow in NYC Feels Nice — But Also A Little Unsettling


New Yorkers know that there isn’t a white Christmas every year, but by the end of January, the city usually has enough powder for sleighs and snowball fights to appear.

That is not the case this winter. It has been 50 years since the city waited for its first snowfall of such a long season. It was a record-breaking absence that left many residents grateful, regretful and worried, in turn.

Rachel Reuben, a personal chef, is quietly pleased that she hasn’t seen measurable snow — defined as more than 1/10th of an inch — in New York City in the past 325 days.

According to meteorologists, the city is approaching two snow-related milestones. New York City will most likely set a record Monday for the latest measurable first snow in winter, beating January 29, 1973.

Less than a week later, New York City may eclipse its longest streak of consecutive days without snow. The current record of 332 days was set on December 15, 2020.

The last time it snowed was on March 22. But even as she enjoyed the snow-free weather, 66-year-old Reuben couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy.

“If it’s a harbinger of climate change, it’s not a good thing,” Reuben said on an unusually balmy Saturday as she walked her dog in Central Park.

She echoes many New Yorkers who have said that despite the small joys of not shoveling snow or walking through ash-covered streets, the mild weather still feels eerie.

New York City usually gets snow in mid-December, but this absence means New York is a month behind its average pace.

New York and other major cities along the I-95 corridor are experiencing some of the least snow in the last half-century. Conditions are poised for the start of a relatively warm winter, meteorologists say: The area is warmer than usual, thanks in part to La Nina — a periodic climate pattern originating in the Pacific Ocean, now for the third year in a row.

“We’ve had warm winters in the past, but we’re seeing more of what I call,” said Chris Stachelski, the National Weather Service’s east coast supervisor. unusual changes of winter.

“We are seeing more extremes where it goes from a lot of snow to not a lot of snow,” he said, adding that although there had been less snow in the past, fell more, but now the pendulum swings have become more frequent. “That’s where you could argue that there could be certain influences from general global weather patterns going on.”

This winter’s extreme change can be seen in a stretch of upstate New York. Syracuse is one of America’s snowiest cities, averaging more than 120 inches of snow annually, but it’s only received 25 inches of snow this winter, making it three feet behind the season’s standards. Nearby Rochester received 15 inches less, compared with the usual 50 at this point.

However, to the west of both cities lies a heavy snowfall: Buffalo is experiencing one of its snowiest winters in 50 years. About half of this season’s snow has fallen in one a deadly blizzard.

Stachelski explains that the stark differences between different parts of New York have to do with the hurricane’s path.

“Typically, we get a lot of snowstorms from offshore storms, coastal storms, blizzards and sometimes smaller amounts coming from what we call Alberta clippers,” he said. “And we really don’t have either of those this winter leading up to the snowfall.”

Bill Morache, 35, said he misses the snow very much. Morache, an architectural historian who lives in Morningside Heights, is a native of New Hampshire, a state that periodically gets a lot of snow. He’s been in the neighborhood for about a decade and has been looking at old photos and reminiscing about having to dig his car out of the snow.

“It’s true,” he said of climate change. “You can see it happening.”

Jonathan Van Sleet, a construction worker who lives in Queens, said he was “very sad” that there was no snow this year. He grew up making snowmen and has fond childhood memories that he wants to share with his children.

“Usually when it snows, it’s a special event that the kids get excited about,” he said as he went out with his wife, Ana, who said she didn’t want to have to shovel. “But this year we’ve been excluded from typical activities, like indoor play days and trying to find work to do.”

However, some New Yorkers are taking the absence of snow as a possible sign that the city will experience a snowstorm in February, which despite being the shortest month, almost always feels like It’s a deep winter.

“People keep saying, ‘You know, what if we don’t get that big storm from this year?’ And I said, ‘Wait until February,'” says Anna Muller, 30, who works for a company that stores people’s clothes. “I feel like February always throws a curved ball.”

Stachelski, the meteorologist, also warned against jumping to conclusions too soon.

“It’s still too early to stick a fork in the winter,” he said. “There’s definitely been some winters around here in the last 20 or 30 years where there’s not a lot of snow at the beginning of winter, and then at the end of the season, it’s been terrible.”

Tea Kvetenadze and Samira Asma-Sadeque contribution report.

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