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New York City

To understand New York’s humid and temperate climate, you have to pay attention to the direction of the wind. If it is blowing from the west, it generally means dry weather for the city. The Appalachian mountain range creates an effective barrier between the Atlantic coast and the American Midwest. Most of the humidity contained in the winds from the plains condenses and precipitates as either rain or snow when it reaches these mountains. On the other hand, nothing stands in the way of the hot, humid air that travels from the Gulf of Mexico, in the south, right up to New York. This humidity, along with that of the warm Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, are strong contributing factors to the storms, hurricanes and snowstorms that hit the region. This is particularly true when these hot and humid winds meet up with a mass of Arctic air. The friction between the two air currents creates violent winds and heavy precipitation.

The humidity and heat of the Atlantic Ocean, however, have a beneficial effect since they temper the intense summer heat and the deadly cold of winter. This is no insignificant fact in a city where the mercury can rise to 40°C in the summer and drop to -25°C in the winter.

This chart provides the averages, and it is wise to take them with a grain of salt when packing your bags. To begin with, it will be warmer in the streets at noon than along the shore at midnight. Also, there have been numerous bizarre weather phenomena in recent years that are completely at odds with the statistics. El Niño has no particular regard for tourists...

You should also note that during the winter, some precipitation falls as snow. To get an idea of the levels of precipitation, consider that snow takes up about ten times more space than rain. For example, if New York experiences a particularly cold December with average precipitation, Time Square will be covered with about 97cm of snow before it rings in the New Year.

One last climatological phenomenon specific to Manhattan is worth mentioning. The office towers built here are artificial obstacles to the wind’s circulation. This can result in unexpected gusts and updrafts when the wind surges between the skyscrapers. This can be especially unpleasant if you are wearing a hat or carrying an umbrella or wearing a short skirt!

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