How Does This Winter Compare to New York’s Coldest Ever?

Written by Angie Menjivar
Published: February 25, 2023
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New York state is home to the city that never sleeps, where nearly nine million people hustle and bustle through the day and night, giving the region a palpable buzz. Despite its reduced surface, New York is the 4th populous state in the country, with just under 20 million inhabitants. Winter in New York City invites visitors from all over the globe to enjoy attractions like the Rockefeller Christmas tree, New Year’s celebrations, and ice skating rinks surrounded by skyscrapers. As temperatures dip, locals and tourists can enjoy comfort foods like hot chocolate, fondue, and the year-round favorite, pizza, which seems to hit the spot in a different way when the weather gets icy. New Yorkers definitely know how to handle sharp temperature drops during the winter season. But how does this winter compare to New York’s coldest ever?

New York City during blizzard
New York City Manhattan Midtown street under the snow during a snow blizzard in winter.

©Nick Starichenko/

The Coldest Winter Ever Recorded in New York’s History

New Yorkers know how unforgivingly ruthless the weather gets, with blizzards and polar vortexes raging through the state when winter rolls around. Snow is a part of life during the winter season, with Camden receiving a whopping 50 inches in 24 hours back in 1966. Whiteface Mountain, located in the northeastern region of New York, had a snow depth of 119 inches in 1943.

Also, in the northern part of New York is a hamlet called Old Forge. In 2020, the recorded population was barely 606. Though tiny, this hamlet endured the coldest day ever recorded in New York’s history. On February 18, 1979, temperatures plummeted to -52 degrees Fahrenheit! Though Old Forge experienced record-breaking freezing weather, other spots throughout New York state have also dipped well below freezing temperatures. For example, on February 9, 1934, Syracuse temps dropped to -24.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Even New York City saw subzero temperatures this same day in 1934, plunging to -15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Average Highs and Lows This Year

This winter, Queens broke its previous record, with temperatures sinking down to a frigid 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Central Park also dipped down to 4 degrees Fahrenheit on January 4 but didn’t break its previous record of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. However, with wind chills factored in, New Yorkers felt the blistering cold was more like -15 degrees Fahrenheit. This arctic blast didn’t halt the city, but many chose the comfort of their homes over the merciless conditions outdoors. While winter can be unrelenting, the temperatures in New York City range between 28 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. Rarely do temperatures dip below 14 or spike higher than 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

This year a new record was set for the latest snowfall ever recorded in Central Park. By the end of January, New Yorkers were still perplexed and waiting for their usual winter experience. They had been told to expect a warmer and drier climate compared to previous years, but little did they know they would be breaking the record from 1973 for the latest measurable snowfall. They barely made it with just 0.4 inches measured and fell second to the current snow-free record, previously set at 332 days (this winter, New York City made it to 329 days). The month of January has also experienced record-breaking temperatures above average — all 31 days with no cooler-than-average days.

Central Park, New York City with snow
This year a new record was set for the latest snowfall ever recorded in Central Park.

©John A. Anderson/

Animal Migration in New York

New York City is located along the Atlantic Flyway, meaning birders get a fantastic opportunity to watch various birds migrate every year. Birds of prey, shorebirds, songbirds, and waterfowl make their way across this migration channel, providing a striking visual display. Between March and June, New Yorkers can enjoy spring migration. American woodcocks are some of the first birds you can spot, followed by red-winged blackbirds and common grackles. As March continues, birders can spot pine warblers, fox sparrows, and golden-crowned kinglets. Finally, the tail end of April brings forth hermit thrushes, black-throated green warblers, and ruby-crowned kinglets.

About two weeks into June, the fall migration starts. Birders can spot their favorite animals all the way through December, but the peak season usually falls around the middle of August through the middle of October. Some shorebirds headed south (like spotted sandpipers) may stop briefly by Central Park, but Jamaica Bay is definitely more of a hot spot for these birds. Toward the end of July, a couple of passerines like black and white warblers, yellow warblers, and American redstarts pass through. In August, you can see several other birds, including blue-winged and chestnut-sided warblers. About two weeks into September, ruby-throated hummingbirds pass through. At the end of September, birders can spot sparrows and finches. Chipping sparrows make their way around, with purple finches sometimes trailing off in early November.

A black and white warbler perched on a branch against a blurred background
New Yorkers can easily spot black and white warblers toward the end of July.

©Mircea Costina/

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Snow in New York City
Snow in New York City.

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About the Author

Angie is a writer with over 10 years of experience developing content for product and brand reviews, focusing much of her time on animals of all types. A cat owner herself, she enjoys writing articles on beloved pets that both inform and entertain her audience.

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