Welp, it’s official: New York City has been snow-free for the longest time in its recorded history this winter. On Monday, January 29, the city surpassed the previous date of the longest amount of time without snowfall in a winter season, beating out a record set in 1970.
New Yorkers have seen a few flakes fall this winter, a couple sad flurries (there’s one out my window right now as I write this)—but that’s not what this record measures. The record is for measurable snowfall, defined as at least 0.1 inches (0.3 centimeters) of snow that stays on the ground. By this definition, we’re still at zero, and there’s nothing in the forecast to suggest that’s about the change any time soon.
NYC isn’t the only place that has seen a record-breaking dearth of snow this winter. Philadelphia is nearing its own record, which was set on February 3, 1971, for the latest measurable snowfall in winter; there’s some chance of snow Tuesday evening, but higher temperatures mean it’s likely that the snow won’t stick. (The city also saw a totally snowless winter between 1972 and 1973.) Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Atlantic City are also all experiencing unusually snow-free winters, although all three of those cities have their latest date of first measurable snowfall in late February, so there’s still some time.
The lack of snow in the Mid-Atlantic corridor is thanks to a number of factors. The winter storms that have hit Pennsylvania and western and upstate New York hard have simply avoided the areas closer to the coast. The La Niña climate phenomenon in place this winter is playing a role in making temperatures warmer. And climate change is also contributing to warmer temperatures—as well as more intense snowfalls when they actually do happen.
“We’ve had warm winters in the past, but we’re seeing a lot more of what I like to call the yo-yoing of winters,” National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Stachelski told the New York Times. “We’re seeing more extremes where it’s flipping from very snowy to not very snowy. That’s where you could argue that there might be some definite influence from the overall global weather patterns going on.”