Spring in NYC could bring more snow than winter

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Wintry weather has been hard to come by this year across the New York City area, with little snow to speak of and just a handful of days that required folks to bundle up with heavy winter coats.

Only 2.2 inches of snow fell from the start of meteorological winter on Dec. 1 through the end of February, with temperatures during this period averaging more than 5 degrees above the historical average. January was a month for the record books, as it was the first time since record-keeping began that the temperature every day of the month was above the historical average.

A warm spring day in Central Park.
People enjoying the nice weather at Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, Saturday, May 2, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Ronald Blum)

Meteorological spring kicks off Wednesday, March 1, and will be followed by the start of astronomical spring on the equinox, which takes place this year on Monday, March 20, at 5:24 p.m. EDT. However, the changing seasons could be followed up with more chances for snow than at any point during the winter.

How warm will it be in NYC this spring?

The first half of March may be mild across the New York City area, but AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok, who leads AccuWeather’s team of long-range forecasters, said that setbacks are likely later in Mach and into April.

The polar vortex could send a wave of Arctic air across the northeastern United States during meteorological spring. However, temperatures may not drop as low as during the Arctic outbreaks in late December and early February when the mercury plummeted into the single digits in New York City.

Plants confused by early warmth:

Gardeners who are making plans for the upcoming growing season will need to monitor the forecast closely and be prepared to take action to protect any outdoor plants due to the looming threat of late-season frost and freeze events, forecasters warn. Pastelok said the season’s last frost could occur in late April or early May across the Northeast, which is near to slightly later than the historical average.

Temperatures in May are forecast to remain near to slightly below the historical averages in New York City, resulting in a reduced chance of a heat wave before the official start of meteorological summer on June 1. Temperatures during the first few days of May are usually in the upper 60s, and historical averages rise into the mid-70s by the end of the month.

Will it snow in NYC this spring?

Snow lovers in New York City had to wait until Feb. 1 to enjoy measurable snow, although only 0.4 of an inch fell in Central Park. As of Feb. 28, seasonal snowfall in the city was 22 inches below the historical average, evidence of the snow drought that unfolded across most of the northeastern U.S. this winter.

The prospects for accumulating snow could increase throughout March. The first month of meteorological spring could be snowier than any month of the winter.

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Morning commuters walk through the snow outside the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, April 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

An atmospheric traffic jam near Greenland, which meteorologists refer to as a blocking pattern, is forecast to develop during the spring. This weather pattern promotes colder conditions across the Northeast and increases the chance for major coastal storms to develop, including nor’easters and bomb cyclones.

Pastelok warned that even if the blocking pattern develops as predicted, it will not necessarily guarantee a blockbuster snowstorm in New York City during the spring. “[Nor’easters] are rain producers, they are wind producers, they cause beach erosion, they can cause multiple things,” Pastelok said.

Looking back: In 2022, a late-season storm spread accumulating snow across the interior Northeast on April 18-19, including 14.6 inches in Binghamton, New York. However, the storm only brought rain to New York City and other cities along the Interstate 95 corridor.

Seasonal changes already underway

Spring is a transitional season that can be like a meteorological roller coaster ride, but the overall trend points toward warmer days and diminishing chances for snow. The sun is the driving force behind the sweeping changes in spring with the sunshine becoming stronger as the season progresses.

The strengthening sunshine and higher sun angle will make it more difficult for snow to accumulate during the daytime. Even when snow accumulates in spring, it tends to melt faster than snow that falls in December and January.

Warmer weather is coming: At the start of March, temperatures in New York City typically top out in the mid-40s with the sun above the horizon for around 11 hours and 20 minutes per day. By early May, days are more than 14 hours long with temperatures frequently topping out around the 70-degree mark.

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