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This Winter's Blizzard Was the City's Biggest in History, Report Shows

By Kathleen Culliton | April 28, 2016 4:07pm
 The Central Park Conservancy measured snowfall in Central Park at 27.5 inches, which breaks the record set in 2006.
The Central Park Conservancy measured snowfall in Central Park at 27.5 inches, which breaks the record set in 2006.
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DNAinfo/Heather Holland

NEW YORK CITY — The blizzard that hit the city in January, at first considered the second largest in history, was actually its biggest ever, according to new data.

The National Weather Service initially reported that Central Park received 26.8 inches of snow in the 2016 blizzard, a number based on findings from snowfall measurement volunteers from the Central Park Conservancy.

But Central Park actually got a whopping 27.5 inches of snow during the Jan. 22-23 blizzard, making it the heaviest snow accumulation the city has seen since it started keeping records in 1869, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The slight inaccuracy was due to a communication error between the Conservancy, which correctly measured the snowfall, and the National Weather Service office in Upton, N.Y., according to the report.

“Snow measurements are extremely difficult to take because precipitation is inherently variable, a problem compounded by strong winds and compaction during a long duration event,” said Louis Uccellini, Ph.D., director of the National Weather Service.

“Still, it’s important that we scrutinize questionable measurements and reject those that scientists deem invalid to ensure the public’s continued confidence in the U.S. climate record.”

The correction gave the 2016 snowstorm the extra inch it needed to break the city record for biggest blizzard, which was set by the 26.9 inch-storm in February of 2006.

The NOAA snow team also found that findings from Newark Liberty International Airport's weather observers may have been reporting inflated numbers since 1996.

Snowfall observers are supposed to measure snowfall every six hours, but the Newark airport team took measurements every hour.

The Newark team has since been retrained, but the old Newark Airport snowfall record of 27.8 inches from the 1996 blizzard still stands.