This winter, the city tied its second-smallest snow total on record. There was only a small trace of snow in Central Park in Feb, only the sixth time the park had no measurable snow in that month since records began in 1868. Coming on the heels of the world’s hottest year on record, the snow deficit was also a sign of climate change – though not in the way people might assume.

Climate change, said Mark Wysocki, the New York State climatologist, leads to volatile weather patterns. In Central Park, for instance, the past decade saw both the second-snowiest winter – 61.9 inches from December 2010 to February 2011 – and the second-least snowy, this season’s 4.8 inches.

Such unusual volatility in weather patterns from year to year can be a headache for officials, he said, especially in New York City, where each inch of snow costs about $1.5 million for plowing, salt and other responses.

“When you can have no snow within a five-year period or you could have record-setting snow, how do I plan a budget for a city like that with this kind of volatility?” Wysocki said. “Some years you save. Some years you go overboard.”

The lack of snow has drawn extra attention this year because of a steep increase in public awareness about climate change, identified for the first time as a top concern for most Americans in a long-running Pew Research Center survey. This winter was one of the top 10 warmest for many places across the country, including New York. New York did not have its hottest year ever in 2019, even though the globe did.

Source: The New York Times

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