The Physics
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Volume of New York City's Annual Precipitation

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
"Rain". World Book 2005 Edition. Chicago: World Book. [map] 800–1200
million m3
Lyons, Walter A. The Handy Weather Answer Book. Accord Publishing Ltd. 1997. "… In terms of total annual rainfall, Seattle has about 39 inches, whereas the Big Apple gets about 42 inches and Miami's heat is cooled by almost 60 inches annually …." 860 million m3
Frei, Allen. New York City-Central Park, NY Historical Weather Data. Hunter College of the City University of New York, 13 June 2005. OriginalSource: National Weather Service, San Francisco. Results based on data collected from 1961-1990. [see table below] 960 million m3
Table of Average Annual Precipitation and Temperature. Missouri Botanical Garden. Derived from NOAA climate data (1961-1990).
City StatePrecipitationTemperature
960 million m3
Average Inches of Annual Precipitation in the United States 1961-1990. Water 2025: Preventing Crises and Conflict in the West. US Department of the Interior. 800–910
million m3
Average Precipitation
  Year Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
in. 47.25 3.42 3.27 4.08 4.2 4.42 3.67 4.35 4.01 3.89 3.56 4.47 3.91
mm 1200 86 83 103 106 112 93 110 101 98 90 113 99

Ever wonder how much it rains in NYC? Well, let me tell you, the Big Apple is anything but a dry city. We get plenty of rain each year, about 114 cm (45 inches) -- about 71 cm (28 inches) of that is snow. Since the area of New York City is 801,800,000 square meters, the average annual volume of precipitation in NYC is …

801,800,000 m2 x 1.14 m = 914 million cubic meters

Out of New York City, Seattle, and Miami, the average annual rainfall in NYC is second only to that in Miami which is 152 cm (60 inches) on average!!! We definitely get more rain than Death Valley, California, which receives less than 5 cm (2 inches) of rain annually! Those people must be really thirsty!

People measure rainfall in several different ways, which include using different devices such as simple funnel gauges (a cylinder that collects rainwater) and supplicated radar systems (uses radio waves to measure precipitation).

Annually, the earth receives approximately 86 cm (34 inches) of precipitation. That means that New York City gets about 28 cm (11 inches) more rain than the average city!!! If we have ever felt like we haven't had rain in awhile, or that we're having a drought, imagine what it must be like to always live with such a small amount of water.

Despite the phrase "April showers bring May flowers", we actually get more rain in May than in April. NYC's wettest month of the year is actually November, with nearly 11 cm (4.5 inches) of rain and or snow in that month! Even with that, February is the snowiest month of the year, wit han average of over 20 cm (8 inches) of snow in that month.

On average, NYC's annual precipitation is 114 cm (45 inches), and the volume is 914 million cubic meters. We are just a little bit above average in our annual precipitation rates, just as in everything else.

Laura DePalma -- 2005

Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Normals & Extremes, Central Park, New York, 1869 to Present, National Weather Service Forecast Office, 01 April 2006. [see tables below] 1020
million m3

The National Weather Service identifies May as the wettest month, not November as the student who wrote this essay stated.

Editor's Supplement -- 2008