This post covers when it snows in New York, and how much snow to expect in any given month.
We also provide tips on things to do, and how to dress for the snow and cold.
As a retired meteorologist turned tour guide, I didn't expect that I would use my experience as a forecaster in my new career in tourism.
But here I am, finding myself answering more weather questions as a blogger than I ever did as a weatherman.
So, here are answers to some frequently asked questions about when it snows in NYC and what you should expect.
- Snowfall by Month
- This Winter's Prediction
- How to Dress
- Things to Do in the Cold
- When is it Best to Visit NYC
Typically, it starts to snow in New York in December and the snow season stops 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 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 2023-24.
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.
You could also listen to our NYC Travel Tips podcast episode on the pros and cons of visiting NYC in each of the 4 seasons.
This podcast offers bite-sized audio clips with tips on how to plan your trip to NYC. You can get our podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
NYC HOTEL DEALS ON TRIPADVISOR – If you haven’t already booked your accommodations.
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 in December increases 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.
JANUARY SNOWFALL IN NYC
In January, 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 are likely to be more rainy days than snowy days in January.
Waterproof boots or shoes are a must, 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 SNOWFALL IN NYC
February is usually the snowiest month in New York City with snowfalls occurring on 3-4 days.
Two of these days will record 1 inch (2.5 cm) or more and 1 day will record 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.
MARCH SNOWFALL NYC
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.
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) does not forecast seasonal snowfall amounts.
However, the best snowfall estimate for this winter in the Big Apple is for near-normal totals.
The average winter snowfall in New York City is about 25 inches.
So, Ocean Weather Services is predicting that the 2023-24 winter in New York City will most likely be between 22 and 27 inches.
Early forecasts predict precipitation in NYC this winter to be at usual levels.
Early indications suggest winter temperatures will be warmer than normal across the eastern part of the United States, which includes NYC.
As winter advances warm ocean temperatures along the US East Coast may intensify coastal storms and produce locally heavy snow events over the US Northeast during mid to late winter.
Winter in New York City requires warmth and waterproofing.
We write in detail about winter packing on our Winter Packing List, but you can find the highlights for what to wear in the winter in NYC listed here:
1. Waterproof Jacket
Camel Crown has affordable 3 in 1 winter hiking jackets that come in men's and women's cuts for the trifecta of winter wear: warm, waterproof, and stylish.
2. Extra Layers
Layering your clothing will leave you feeling warm while outdoors, with the option to remove the layers while indoors.
- A perfect option is the 32 DEGREES down vest is ultra-lightweight with a flattering fit, or the Wantdo Packable vest (which you can also buy jacket style and has a pouch for easy packing).
- Merino Wool Base Layer tights (men's and women's style) are perfect for wearing underneath - especially if you'll be outside for long stretches like a walking tour or waiting for the ball to drop on New Year's Eve.
A small portable compact umbrella that fits in small bags will help keep you dry whether it is rain or snow.
4. Winter Accessories
- Warm wool socks are a must.
- A scarf is essential. You can pick from 45 different colors for an Achillea Pashmina (or get a reversible one for more outfits!)
- A warm hat and gloves.
5. Extra Warmth
Our biggest tips are always to bring things that serve multiple purposes and for winter travel, you can't do better than a portable charger.
You never know when you'll find a working and available outlet, so why not find one that does double duty as a hand warmer?
Zippo makes a rechargeable handwarmer that also has a USB port to charge your devices.
6. 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.
- Vivobarefoot Gobi is hands down the best stylish winter boots for traveling,
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.
And our tours go out, snow or shine.
And we have several tours, such as our Grand Central Terminal Tour, that are partly or entirely indoors.
You might also want to head underground to learn about the artwork of the New York City Subway.
We offer an audio tour that you can use any time you like. The terminal is open from 5:30 a.m. until 2:30 a.m. each day.
There are enough indoor attractions and museums to keep you busy.
Did you know that many NYC museums are free or offer pay-what-you-like days? Read about them all here.
Some top ideas:
- September 11th Museum
- Museum of Natural History
- New York City Public Library
- Grand Central Terminal
- TV Show Taping
- Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
- Radio City Music Hall