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This post covers when it snows in New York, how much snow to expect in any given month, as well as tips on things to do and how to dress for the snow and cold.
Typically, it starts to snow in New York in December and it stops snowing in early March.
January and February are the two most likely months to have snow in New York. December and March are not big snow months, but you should be prepared to deal with snow during these two months as well.
While it’s possible to snow as early as November and as late as April, snowfall in these months is extremely unlikely. Snowfall is certainly not of a concern from May through October, outside of the extremely rare occurrence.
A few things to consider about the averages and stats that we provide in the content below.
These Are Averages
The snowfall amounts are averages and actual snowfall can range quite a bit. In some years, NYC gets little to no snowfall, sometimes for even several years in a row. The opposite is also true. Check out our predictions for Winter 2018-2019.
The City Can Handle the Snow
Much to the chagrin of the city’s students, NYC knows how to deal with snow, even heavy snow. Snow removal teams are coordinated and dispatched with ruthless efficiency.
Both roads and sidewalks are usually clear of snow and ice just hours after a storm.
Go to a Museum
With the exception of the times around Christmas and Easter, snowfall usually coincides with tourist low periods. This means that NYC’s museums are near empty relative to the high season, particularly on weekdays.
There are enough indoor attractions and museums to keep you busy. And did you know that many NYC museums are free or offer pay-what-you-like days? Read about them here.
Unlike November, when snow is fairly rare, snow in December usually occurs on about 2-3 days during the month with 1 day, on average, receiving a snowfall of 1 inch (2.5 cm) or more. Heavier snowfalls of 3 inches (7.6 cm) or more occur only once every other year.
Historically in New York City, December has seen a very large range in snowfalls from one year to the next. December snow totals have ranged from only a trace of snow to nearly 30 inches (76 cm); however, the long-term average is closer to 5 inches (13 cm).
The risk for snow during December increase throughout the month with the end of the month about 3x more likely to see snow than at the beginning of the month. Regardless, you are more likely to deal with freezing rain than snow in December.
Be sure to check out our full NYC December weather post.
During January in New York City snow falls on about 4 days on average with 2 days normally seeing snowfalls of at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) and one day getting 3 inches (7.6 cm) or more. In the past, January has seen as little as 0 inches to as much as 36 inches (92 cm), however, the long-term average is about 7 inches.
It’s important to mention that there is likely to be more rainy days than snowy days in January. Waterproof boots or shoes are a muss, as the sidewalks can be slippery due to a mix of snow and rain.
Be sure to check out our NYC January weather post.
February is usually the snowiest month in New York City with snowfalls occurring on 3-4 days, with 2 of these days recording 1 inch (2.5 cm) or more and 1 day recording 3 inches (7.6 cm) or more. Past Februaries have seen total snowfalls from as little as a trace to almost 37 inches (94 cm); however, the long-term average is just over 9 inches (23 cm).
As with January, there are more rainy days than snowy days in February, with 7-8 days of precipitation. Check out our February NYC weather post for more details.
During March the snowfall risk tends to decrease rapidly, however, on average, you can still expect 2 days with some snow and 1 day with a snowfall of 1 inch (2.5 cm) or more. Snowfalls of 3 inches (7.6 cm) or more occur only about once every other year. Past years have seen snowfall totals for March ranging from 0 inches to almost 31 inches (79 cm), however, the average snowfall in March is about 4 inches (10 cm).
The risk for snow is highest near the beginning of the month and drops significantly by month’s end. Check out our March NYC weather post for more details.
As we mentioned above, there are many factors determining how much snow and precipitation, in general, will fall in NYC during any given winter, and predictions for any particular snow event aren’t accurate until approximately 2 weeks out.
However, certain trends, such as the El Nino, can create conditions that make precipitation more likely. This is the case for NYC for Winter 2018-2019.
The national weather service is predicting that during the months of Dec through February New York City should experience near normal temperatures with a 66% probability for wetter than normal precipitation. NOAA does not forecast seasonal snowfall amounts
Based on various developing weather patterns, Ocean Weather Services is predicting that the 2018-2019 Winter in New York City will most likely be colder than normal with above normal snowfall.
Ocean Weather Services
Winter in New York City requires at least one warm winter jacket or coat along with a warm hat and some gloves. Warm boots are also a good idea for any rain or snow days. Ladies, when visiting New York City in the winter, a coat or jacket is a must, as well as a scarf, gloves, and a hat.
If you plan on being outdoors sightseeing, a waterproof jacket will go a long way in keeping you dry in case of rain, sleet or snow conditions.
Layering your clothing will leave you feeling warm while outdoors, with the option to remove the layers while indoors.
You may even want to invest in a pair (or more) of thermal tops and bottoms to wear underneath your clothing, especially if you live in a warmer climate and not used to the colder weather. You can purchase these at stores like Walmart or Target from anywhere between $5 to $10.
Last, but not least, footwear is an important part of vacationing in a walking city like Manhattan. Waterproof boots or shoes will keep your feet dry. If you decide to wear fashion over comfort on a sun shining day, be sure to wear thick socks to keep your feet warm.
In our opinion, there’s nothing you can’t do when it snows, but of course, some things are more appropriate than others. We have created things to do posts for each month. You can check out our master post or the specific winter months posts below.
There are enough indoor attractions and museums to keep you busy. And did you know that many NYC museums are free or offer pay-what-you-like days? Read about them all here.
Some top ideas: