Weather in New York
Sprawling across three islands at the mouth of the Hudson River in the north-eastern United States, New York City’s climate benefits from the warm Gulf Stream of the Atlantic Ocean. This, coupled with the protection of the Appalachian Mountains inland, keep the city warmer than other big American cities at similar latitudes. The New York metropolis experiences a humid continental climate, typically unpredictable and registering great extremes of weather between winter and summer.
The average precipitation in New York is 1,260mm (49.7ins), spread quite evenly through the year. As far as temperatures go, the highest and lowest recorded extremes were -26°C (-15°F) in February 1934, and 41°C (106°F) in July 1936 respectively, which gives some indication of the wide winter-summer variation.
In New York the four seasons are well defined. Winters are very cold and damp, with varying amounts of snowfall, averaging around 68cm (26.7ins). Summers, by contrast are generally extremely hot and humid, and at night there is little relief because of the urban heat island phenomenon which radiates heat from the buildings, making conditions hot and unpleasant. The inbetween seasons of spring and autumn range from mildly chilly to warm, but humidity is low despite the unpredictability of rainfall.
New York is also subject to fierce storms – north easterly blizzards in winter and tropical storms in the summer and early autumn.
When is the best time to go to New York?
New York’s most uncomfortable weather is probably during the height of summer in late July to early August, with very high temperatures exacerbated by 90% humidity, making the city stifling and sticky, tempers rising along with the temperature. Similarly mid-winter, in January and February, is unpleasant with below freezing temperatures and the streets swept with icy winds, dirty slush underfoot after a snowfall.
Autumn (Fall) in New York (September to November) is regarded as the best time for a holiday in New York, when the air is crisp, cool and clear and the leaves are turning in Central Park. Spring is pleasant too, between April and June, with mild days and chilly evenings, though there is the ever-present risk of showers.
What to pack for a holiday in New York
There is one essential item for New York: a good pair of shoes– the city is massive and with so much to see, uncomfortable footwear makes for a difficult trip.
Summer in New York City can be swelteringly hot, so shorts and T-shirts are essential. Wear light coloured and lightweight clothing, with long sleeved shirts and jeans in the evening if it isn't too hot. Sunscreen, hats and sunglasses are important and it’s vital to stay hydrated.
As hot as summer is, winter can be unforgivably cold. Take some jeans, long sleeved shirts, hoodies and jerseys, a thick, waterproof coat (or raincoat), as well as a thermal or two, with a strong umbrella that will withstand a gust. Gloves, scarves and warm hats are also essential, and anything less than boots, sturdy walking-shoes or tough trainers won’t do well in the icy, wet weather.
Pack something smart for a special evening out or a formal event; there are some trendy world-famous spots in the city, as well as easy going places, so pack accordingly.
Weather in New York in January
Average temperature in New York in January: 0.5C, 33°F
Sea temperature in New York in January: 7°C, 45°F
Average rainfall in New York in January: 85mm, 3.3in
Note: The weather in New York in January is extremely cold, with sleet and snow a high probability and an unpleasant wind chill. The advantage of visiting New York in mid-winter is catching the January sales, enjoying the chance to ice-skate in Central Park, and take in the New Year celebrations in Chinatown.
Weather in New York in February
Average temperature in New York in February: 1C, 33°F
Sea temperature in New York in February: 5°C, 41°F
Average rainfall in New York in February: 79mm, 3.1in
Note: Cold, wet and windy with occasional snow, a holiday in New York in February is not for the faint-hearted. Pack heavy winter gear and plan ahead to enjoy indoor activities, taking in a Broadway show and fuelling up at good restaurants.
Weather in New York in March
Average temperature in New York in March: 5C, 41°F
Sea temperature in New York March: 5°C, 41°F
Average rainfall in New York in March: 104mm, 4.1in
Note: Spring officially arrives in New York during March, but the weather is unpredictable and it is the luck of the draw whether you experience a warm spell, or get stuck in the remnants of winter. The St Patrick’s Day Parade on the 17th brightens the scene considerably.
Weather in New York in April
Average temperature in New York in April: 11C, 51°F
Sea temperature in New York in April: 7°C, 45°F
Average rainfall in New York in April: 89mm, 3.5in
Note: Temperatures rise in New York in April as Central Park begins to don its green cloak. It is a wet month, with rain puddling in the streets, and April heat waves have been known when temperatures can climb as high as 21°C (70°F) over a period of days.
Weather in New York in May
Average temperature in New York in May: 17C, 62°F
Sea temperature in New York in May: 11°C, 52°F
Average rainfall in New York in May: 91mm, 3.6in
Note: New Yorkers come out in their droves during May to enjoy the onset of the warm weather, but a rain coat is essential because rain is endemic in spring in New York. Humidity is usually low, making conditions pleasant.
Weather in New York in June
Average temperature in New York in June: 22C, 71°F
Sea temperature in New York in June: 17°C, 63°F
Average rainfall in New York in June: 86mm, 3.4in
Note: The Big Apple heats up appreciably during June, but the high humidity of the summer has still to arrive, so conditions in the city are comfortable, with cool evenings. On average there are 10 wet days during June in New York, so bring a brolly.
Weather in New York in July
Average temperature in New York in July: 24C, 75°F
Sea temperature in New York in July: 22°C, 72°F
Average rainfall in New York in July: 102mm, 4in
Note: By mid-July the summer heat in New York becomes oppressive, exacerbated by humidity, distinctly unpleasant in the subways. There can be heavy downpours of rain. Despite this tourists flock to the city attractions and prices are high. Enjoy Macy’s 4th July Fireworks display and the outdoor shows and concerts in Central Park and Prospect Park.
Weather in New York in August
Average temperature in New York in August: 23C, 73°F
Sea temperature in New York in August: 23°C, 73°F
Average rainfall in New York in August: 119mm, 4.7in
Note: The weather in New York during August is hot, humid and wet, but it is the best month for outdoor summer sports events, festivals and concerts.
Weather in New York in September
Average temperature in New York in September: 20C, 68°F
Sea temperature in New York in September: 20°C, 68°F
Average rainfall in New York in September: 89mm, 3.5in
Note: An air of solemnity pervades New York in September as the city gears up to mark the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001. Weatherwise the heat of summer starts to wane, and by the end of the month temperatures and humidity levels become mild and bearable, though there are still a number of rainy days.
Weather in New York in October
Average temperature in New York in October: 14C, 57°F
Sea temperature in New York in October: 17°C, 63°F
Average rainfall in New York in October: 84mm, 3.3in
Note: By mid- to late October in New York the weather becomes chilly and autumnal, and by the month’s end the famed Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village is held in cold conditions. The leaves begin to turn in the parks making for a colourful spectacle.
Weather in New York in November
Average temperature in New York in November: 8C, 46°F
Sea temperature in New York in November: 13°C, 55°F
Average rainfall in New York in November: 89mm, 3.5in
Note: The winter woollies come out in New York in November, as the seasonal chill sets in, but despite the wet, cold weather the “city that never sleeps” is alive with events and eager shoppers preparing for the festive season. At the end of the month the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is lit.
Weather in New York in December
Average temperature in New York in December: 2.5C, 37°F
Sea temperature in New York in December: 10°C, 50°F
Average rainfall in New York in December: 84mm, 3.3in
Note: True wintry weather and the odd snowfall pervades New York in December, but the city is alight with retail activity and festive excitement. The Football and basketball seasons get underway. The month ends with a frosty night out for the traditional New Year celebrations at Times Square.