Snowfall in December: What to Expect from NYC’s Winter Weather

Ever wondered if the Big Apple turns into a winter wonderland in December? If you’re planning a trip to New York City during the holiday season, you’re likely curious about the city’s weather patterns.

Snowfall in December can transform NYC into a magical scene, straight out of a holiday postcard. But how often does this happen? Let’s explore the meteorological patterns of New York City in December and find out how often you can expect to see those enchanting snowflakes fall.

Stay with us as we dive into historical data, consider climate trends, and give you the lowdown on December snow in NYC. Whether you’re hoping for a white Christmas or just looking to plan your wardrobe, we’ve got you covered.

Key Takeaways

  • December weather in NYC is unpredictable but leans towards chilly conditions, with temperatures averaging between 3 to 6 degrees Celsius (37 to 43 degrees Fahrenheit). This weather prepares the ground for snowfall.
  • On average, NYC experiences snowfall for 20% of the days in December, a pattern established from examining historical weather data.
  • Despite the unpredictability, substantial snowfalls (>25.4mm) occur roughly once every five years in December, while lighter snowfalls (<6.4mm) are expected every two years or so.
  • NYC in December has a raw excitement due to its unpredictable snowfall, enhancing the city’s charm during festive activities like Christmas markets, ice skating, and visiting Rockefeller Center.
  • Climate change has a significant influence on NYC’s December snowfall, creating both decrease and sporadic increase in snow events. Monitoring evolving forecasts due to these changes is essential for planning a trip.
  • It’s recommended to prepare for a variety of weather conditions during a December visit, plan for both indoor and outdoor activities, and allow for possible delays due to snow management, to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable NYC experience.

Understanding NYC’s Weather in December

Post-November, NYC’s weather leans towards the chilly side, making way for December’s frosty climate. On average, December’s temperatures range from 3 to 6 degrees Celsius (37 to 43 degrees Fahrenheit). However, a shift into negative territory isn’t out of the ordinary. The presence of such chilly conditions sets the groundwork for snowfall.

Anticipate the possibility of snowfall, particularly in the second half of December. Snow in NYC during December isn’t guaranteed, given the climatic fluctuations playing a role. On average, however, expect 20% of the days in December to flaunt a snowfall, with 7 days portraying the probability of at least 1mm of precipitation.

Data from past decades shows a mix of snow-filled and snow-barren Decembers. A case in point – December 2010 saw a massive 686mm of snowfall, making it the snowiest December on record for NYC. Quite contrastingly, December 2015 registered a mere 2.5mm of snow. Remember these figures, but bear in mind the unpredictability of the weather.

Historical Patterns: Does It Snow in NYC in December?

Moving from the general climate characteristics of December, you’re now probably wondering about specific historical patterns of snowfall. NYC being a city of extremities, each year’s snowfall in December varies tremendously. These variations stem from unique combinations of atmospheric elements and oceanic patterns each year.

For instance, take the December 2010 blizzard, a storm that dumped a whopping 686mm of snow on the city. This event stands out significantly, considering an average December sees snow on merely seven days. Interestingly, the weather patterns shifted dramatically the very next year when December 2011 logged zero traceable snowfall, underscoring the city’s fluctuating December weather.

Similarly, 2015 made headlines for its lack of snow. The entire month only saw 2.5mm of its icy precipitation, a stark contrast to previous averages. It’s due to these extremes that you’ll frequently find New Yorkers checking their weather apps religiously in December.

Understanding this context, however, it’s crucial to note that despite the unpredictable nature, clear patterns emerge over the years. Looking at decades of data, NYC experiences snowfall in December 20% of the time, with an average snow depth of 4mm.

Moreover, when examining patterns of heavy snowfalls (>25.4mm), they occur roughly once every five years in December. For lighter snow (<6.4mm), you’ll experience them every two years or so in December.

While NYC’s December snowfall is highly variable, understanding these historical patterns can help anticipate what to expect. Remember, though, always to check the forecast before your trip as weather patterns continuously evolve. Weather, after all, is one of NYC’s true unpredictable delights.

Decoding the NYC Snowy Vibes

The unpredictability of snowfall in NYC in December signals raw excitement. Celebrating Christmas in a snowy Central Park is a dream for many. On average, snow falls here in 11 days of the month, with substantial precipitation on 3 days. For instance, in 2018, NYC experienced 16cm of snow by the end of December.

Certainly, as per the National Weather Service, the city has received more than 30cm of snow only four times since records began in 1869. Note, these occurrences were in 1947, 1960, 2003, and 2010. With Central Park recording its heaviest snowfall — 68cm in just one day — on December 26, 1947. Conversely, some years, such as 2011 and 2015, didn’t register any significant December snowfall.

Remember, data and historical patterns might draw a broad picture, but weather patterns aren’t set in stone. For instance, climate change poses a disruptor to these long-standing trends. A warming atmosphere can hold more moisture, meaning when conditions are right, it may bring more extreme snowfall events.

Don’t be fooled into thinking only/always heavy snow – even light flurries add to the enchantment of the city. Christmas markets, ice skating, and the beautifully bedecked Rockefeller Center add to the charm of a possible NYC December snow. So, the next time someone asks, “Does it snow in NYC in December?”, tell them there’s a good chance they’ll see some flakes, but always check the forecast before packing those snow boots.

Climate Change and Its Impact on NYC Snowfall Trends

Climate change presents a significant influence on New York City’s snowfall trends, particularly in December. As asserted by the Environmental Protection Agency, climate change precipitates shifts in weather patterns, altering phenomena like snowfall and precipitation.

Extreme weather events, like the infamous NYC Blizzard of 2010, reflect climate change’s impact. Following scores in the range of nearly 51cm snowfall mark, the city witnessed negligible amounts in subsequent Decembers (mainly 2011 and 2015). Such erratic weather patterns mirror climate change’s unpredictable results on NYC’s winter landscapes.

Renewable energy advocates, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), indicate that global warming exerts a warming effect on earth. Such warming reduces chances of snowfall, creating more rains instead. NYC, while still enjoying an average of three days with significant snowfall in December, is not immune to these changes. The unpredictability symbolizes climate change’s pervasive influence on New York’s December weather.

Studies affirm that climate change doesn’t just lower the instances of snowfall, but also sporadically increases them. The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) report detailed a peculiar phenomenon tagged ‘snow events.’ With increased oceanic temperatures, the evaporation rate multiplies, triggering a more significant atmospheric moisture content. The result? When cold weather does hit, the skies are more likely to unleash heavy snowfall. Events such as the 68cm record in December 1947, while rare, could become increasingly common.

Analyzing weather patterns, anticipating snowfall, and planning dreamy white Decembers in NYC is transforming. Climate change intervenes, bringing intriguing unpredictability to the winter wonderland of New York City. It’s essential, therefore, to keep tabs on the evolving forecasts, equip yourself for probable snowfall and also the chance of a warmer December.

Tips for Visiting NYC in December

Making the most of your NYC trip in December involves more than packing an extra sweater; it entails adapting to the city’s changing weather trends. Keeping an eye on weather forecasts proves crucial, given the increased unpredictability of winter weather patterns due to climate change. For instance, anticipation of heavy snowfall might encourage you to pack waterproof boots, while a warmer forecast might make the extra layer of clothing unnecessary.

When planning your itinerary, prioritize indoor activities such as visiting museums, theaters, and shopping malls, as they provide comfort in unpredictable weather. Examples of these are The Metropolitan Museum of Art or Broadway shows. In addition, NYC lights up during the holiday season. So, don’t forget to create time for remarkable outdoor festivities like the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting or ice-skating in Central Park, despite the colder weather.

Lastly, if your visit coincides with a snowstorm, don’t panic. NYC has a robust snow management system in place, ensuring roads, subways, and pedestrian areas are quickly cleared for your safety. Be mindful, however, that snow can delay public transportation and create traffic issues. As a precaution, it’s better to allow additional journey time to cover potential delays.

Also, remember to keep yourself hydrated during your visit. People often forget that cold climates can be as dehydrating as hot ones. If your body’s prepared, you’ll find that NYC in December, snow or no snow, is indeed a wonderful experience. Enjoy the city with its festive charm!

Your trip to NYC in December, given the uncertainty around climate trends, could be a snowy adventure or a crisp winter’s day outing. Either way, with just a little forethought and preparation, navigating the Big Apple during this time becomes a delightful brightness in the winter season.


So, does it snow in NYC in December? Absolutely, but it’s not a guarantee. NYC’s December weather is as diverse as the city itself, with some years seeing substantial snowfall and others barely a flurry. Climate change only adds to this unpredictability. But don’t let this deter you from visiting. NYC’s efficient snow management system ensures the city keeps moving, even in a snowstorm. Remember to check the weather forecast, plan some indoor activities, and embrace the outdoor festivities, regardless of the weather. A December trip to NYC can be a magical experience, provided you’re prepared for all possibilities. Stay hydrated, be ready for potential delays, and above all, enjoy the city’s winter wonderland when it does snow. After all, there’s nothing quite like NYC in the snow.

What does the article explore about New York City’s (NYC’s) December weather?

The article discusses the unpredictable patterns of NYC’s December weather. It emphasizes the fluctuating temperatures and outlines the historical snowfall data, comparing between high snowfall rates like in 2010 and minimal snow in 2011 and 2015.

How has climate change affected NYC’s winter weather?

Climate change has increased the unpredictability of NYC’s winter weather. It influences temperature trends and snowfall patterns, contributing to quite significant annual variations in snowfall levels.

What tips are suggested for visiting NYC in December?

The article advises visitors to monitor weather forecasts closely. Due to climate change-induced weather variations, it’s recommended to prioritize indoor activities, like museum and theater visits, while still enjoying some outdoor festivities despite the cold. Staying hydrated and prepared for possible delays is also advised.

How does NYC manage heavy snowfall?

NYC has a robust snow management system in place to deal with heavy snowfall. The article ensures visitors that despite climate change and varying snowfall rates, the city is well-prepared to handle snowy conditions efficiently.