Where is the Winter in New York?

Ever since November has come around I have been fearing the cold. I have shivered at the thought of putting on two extra layers, and a hat and mittens. I have been grossed out by the prospect of how long yet another winter in New York would be.

But now it’s January. We had spring-like temperatures in November. We had 10 Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) on New Year’s Day. And we had a wonderful warm, sunshiny day last Saturday. I am beginning to wonder what the lack of cold means for the rest of this year. So far, this has only been my second winter in New York.

Last year had been quite the opposite: After the summer of the century, the winter of the decade followed brutally and without much of a forewarning. Snow chaos one day after Christmas. Streets left uncleared days after the storm. Subways, which weren’t operating, and snow days at work. Feet-high piles of the white wonder which could not disappear to anywhere – not back onto the streets it had come from and not to the sideways which were still blocked themselves.
It had all started quite innocently on December 26th, when the first flakes of snow had come tumbling down the sky.
“Oh, how beautiful – your first snow in New York!” my German friend had exclaimed. She was visiting me together with her sister, and both had had their share of snow in Deutschland already for the year 2010. However, this was my very first snow in the Big Apple and I was pretty excited. But for some reason, the snow decided not to stop but rather to keep on coming down from the sky. During late afternoon we were fighting our way through a full-blown blizzard when coming from the post-Xmas-shopping spree (not worth it!) on 5th Ave. At night time I received a call from a friend who couldn’t make it out to his apartment in New Jersey. Both tunnels were closed and there was no way of getting across the bridge to the other state. He had to stay over in my place, which was slowly but surely turning into something resembling a youth hostel. We crammed together a few blankets and air mattresses but my friend and I thought we had to work tomorrow so we didn’t stay up as late as the others did. Of course the next day was a snow day. Snow day meant a work-free-day in New York.
The next day, I remember wandering around deserted Times Square which was covered underneath a still fluffy white blanket. I remember slipping when trying to cross streets. Then checking out Century 21, possibly one of those few stores open during that time. More snow coming down on December 27th. New Year’s Eve had indeed turned into a mess for those who stayed in the City. Philly was a bit warmer.

Hidden cars one day after the first blizzard
The streets were still not cleared two nights after this...
Troops of snow shovelers driving down Manhattan

And then January of 2011: Bittercold wind howling through the streets. So frosty that even the weather-proof BelaRussians did not want leave the house unless they really had to. I truly got to understand the meaning of wearing a hat: Not for the sake of looking good but for the sake of keeping your ears warm and your mind sane. There is nothing worse than cold wind that blows through one ear and escapes through the other –leaving your brain at a cold temperature. That is possibly also the reason I bought a fur-coat with a hood this year: After seeing how practical a knee-long coat was that offered the possibility to keep the wind away from your head, I was easily convinced to buy something equally practical for this winter. Up until then, I never understood the countdown advertised all around New York. “The countdown is on, 120 more days until winter ends,” I heard on the radio and read on subway ads all over the city. But those two months in the beginning of the year, I’m telling you, they really made you believe that counting down days to spring is the only option you have to mentally survive!
And while winter in Europe starts to clear up in February, this month is the worst on the American East Coast. I thought it couldn’t get frostier after December or January. But February pretty much topped it all: Getting outside was a true torture! Walking around Manhattan for no reason was not an option for me. Going out, having fun, or partying meant running from one bar or one club to another. It was definitely one of the worst but also one of the most entertaining times of my stay here. You really start appreciating the plans you have for New York when the weather is utterly disgusting outside. You start missing every minute of the past summer and start loathing the time spring will show up. Which of course was a long time from then, but how could we have known?

So, that was how winter in New York in 2010/2011 had been.

A nice contrast to what it is right now. I just started wearing a hat this morning. Not even for the purpose of necessity but just because it got “a little too cold” outside. Last Saturday felt like spring in March: People were wearing sweaters, dresses, or T-Shirts and strolling around Prospect Park and the Slope. In the beginning of January! If winter is truly to last until March, then we have about two more months to go. Two more months that might resemble winter. This year it just doesn’t appear to be very extreme. This being said, I’ m not sad anymore I never made it out to Jamaica in January. It has indeed been so mild I am not even getting the winter blues I had last year. The sun likes to shine very brightly now, feeding us with hope that spring will come around. I guess I’ll save that money up and spend it on other travels I intend to do during the rest of the year!

Prospect Park one year ago...
Prospect Park today!
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16 thoughts on “Where is the Winter in New York?

  1. crazy weather is everywhere!! there is a dusting of snow on the ground here in sweden… compared to piles of it usually. and what’s here now will be gone in a few days… gonna be about 7/40 degrees! craziness! by the way, i’m flying into new york next monday!!! but, not staying in the area, gonna visit family in connecticut & north carolina.

  2. I love the area W/O snow! But the trees are starting to bud over here in Jersey City – I wonder how the lack of snow will affect the trees and flowers?

    • That’s a good thought! I was just missing the white snow flakes, but I guess nature will suffer in its own way. Jersey City is not too far from here, so I guess we are somewhat in the same climate zone! 🙂

    • They were milder! The summer was less hot, which I really like the summer in New York, don’t get me wrong there! But the winter is simply awful! It’s the wind that makes it harsh. Winter in Germany is necessarily cold. It snows a few times and freezes, but it’s more fun to be there compared to here. Now Maryland or rather Maine must be worse, no?

      • i lived in Maryland until i was a teen, then we moved to the wilderness of Maine, now i live in Southern Maine – much warmer here.

        when it is very cold in New England, girls usually wear warm woolen slacks and warm boots to school or the office, then slip out of their heavy clothes into lighter office clothing. do they do that in NYC?

      • Yes, they did that last year here. Wearing rainboots/snowboots and then switching into ballerinas and sometimes even a T-shirt when in the office. It’s sometimes just not possible otherwise, as the heating is jacked up and it gets really warm inside the office. Just as it is freeeezing cold during hot summer months due to the AC. :-S

  3. I’m in upstate ny and here we are nearing the end of February and while we have gotten a few inches here and there , it has all melted the next day or the day after that! I’m praying so hard it continues this way! March is coming!

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