The idea of New York in wintertime conjures up images of Manhattan’s Times Square and Central Park shrouded in snow. Not this year.
No snow on Sunday meant the city broke a 50-year record for the latest first snowfall of the season.
It is also close to recording its highest number of consecutive days without any measurable flakes.
The snowless streak has New Yorkers puzzled, some questioning their love-hate relationship with the white stuff.
“It’s really sad,” retired teacher Anne Hansen said. “Basically, we don’t like to see the snow, but now we’re sorely missing it.”
The Big Apple usually gets its first dusting in mid-December. Last season it arrived on Christmas Eve.
A heavy load often results in “snow days,” beloved by children and office workers who gets days off school and work.
Kids grab their sleds and head to the nearest grassy slope. Adults cross-country ski around the main parks.
“You stay home, you drink hot cocoa. It’s beautiful and the dog loves it,” filmmaker Renata Romain said.
Joy turns to despair fairly quickly, though, as the snow turns yellowy-brown, trash piles up on the sidewalk and trips to the laundromat become hazardous.
“The snow is pretty to look at the first day, but afterwards it’s dirty and I don’t like it. It’s slushy, it’s nasty,” Romain said.
New York City meteorologists define snowfall as snow that measures at least 0.25cm in Central Park. Some flakes fell on Wednesday, but not enough to count.
The longest residents had previously waited for measurable snow was Jan. 29, a record set in 1973, according to the US National Weather Service.
This season is now the longest wait since records began in 1869.
New York is also approaching its longest streak of consecutive days without snow. The current record is 332, which ended on Dec. 15, 2020.
Sunday was day 326 of what Accuweather has called a “snow drought.”
“It’s very unusual,” meteorologist Nelson Vaz said, adding that the global La Nina weather pattern was responsible for keeping colder fronts further north and west.
Up to 1m of snow fell last month in Buffalo in northern New York state, near the Canadian border, killing at least 39 people.
However, 600km southeast, in New York City and surrounding Atlantic coastal areas, the precipitation has meant significant rainfall amid mild temperatures.
Only 1932 had a warmer first 25 days of January in New York than this year, Weather.com data showed.
Scientists have said that climate change is causing winters to be warmer and shorter.
“It’s disconcerting,” Hansen said of recent balmy days that have felt more like fall.
New York has never gone an entire cold season without measurable snow.
With February usually its snowiest month, a white blanket could soon envelope the Big Apple yet.
“That’s what makes New York, New York,” Romain said.
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