It snowed again in New York City on Tuesday, bringing the city's total for the winter to 56.6 inches. Or, put another way: about four feet, eight-and-a-half inches of snow — almost exactly the same height as a yellow cab. This is very unusual.
- It has been the second-snowiest February after 2010 — and with 10 days to go.
- It has been the fifth-snowiest winter through February (after 1996, 2011, 1873, and 1948).
- It was the eighth-snowiest January on record.
- It will have been the seventh-snowiest winter ever, even if no more snow falls.
Here's how the year-to-date (blue) and annual totals (gray) look for each season the NWS has tracked. As you can see, in many years there's still more snow to come once February is over.
Another 19.1 inches, and we would have a new all-time high record, at 75.7 inches — or almost 6' 4".
How snowy has it been? The NWS made this graphic:
That's right. It has snowed, after today's one-plus inches, almost a foot more in Central Park than in Anchorage, Alaska so far this winter. So far.
It also prompts the inevitable question: What about global warming? The first response, as always, is that weather and climate are not the same, and that a one-year aberration in snow totals will occur even after the planet has warmed significantly. The second response is that there has been about 20 percent less snow over the last 50 years than there was over the fifty years from 1869 to 1919.
On a decade-by-decade basis, this is what the average per-year snowfall has looked like.
With the exception of the four years of this decade — which is skewed significantly by this year's heavy snow totals — snowfall on a per-year basis has generally been down. But climate change predicts precisely the sorts of weird, heavy snowfalls we've seen. One predicted effect of a warmer climate: storms with more precipitation, with hotter, drier intermediary periods. In 2012, a study indicated that storms had, in fact, included more precipitation over the past few decades, including snowstorms.
Oh, also: Part of the reason New York has passed Anchorage's snow totals is that Alaska has been in the grips of a record heat wave. If you're going to debate global warming based on the weather, mention that, too.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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