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Wildest Weather for the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball Drop

By Tim Ballisty
Published: December 29, 2013

Getty/AFP/Emmanual Dunand

It’s a tradition that’s become synonymous with New Year’s Eve: Since 1907, revelers have packed into New York’s Times Square to watch a glittering ball sink to the ground as the clock ticks towards midnight. These days, over a million merrymakers cram into the heart of Manhattan for the annual Times Square Ball, one of the most glitzy and widely-watched celebrations on earth. 

But this party isn't for the faint of heart. Those determined enough to make it often brave heavy crowd traffic, navigate security checks, spend hours on their feet and forego food and bathroom breaks to get a chance to have a front-row seat to the fete. 

A little winter weather? Just another hurdle to add to the mix.  

(MORE: Top 20 Meteorological Images of 2013)

From braving wind chills in the teens to getting soaked or snowed on, so far, determined carousers have proved that nothing—not even a little bad weather—can put a kibosh on the party.

Whether you’ve braved the elements, or are just glad you haven’t, here is a quick look at the hottest, coldest, soggiest, most snowy and just downright miserable New Year’s Eve celebrations on record.

(Midnight weather observations provided by the New York office of the National Weather Service) 

Coldest Ball Drop
Midnight Temperature: 1 degree
Year: 1917
Wind Chill: -18 degrees
Additional Info: Would you believe the high that day in New York City only reached 6 degrees!?

Warmest Ball Drop(s)
Midnight Temperature: 58 degrees
Years: 1965 and 1972
Additional Info: Warm southwest winds were responsible for the mild air. Earlier in the day, the temperature in 1965 reached a record high of 63 degrees.

(MORE: New Winter Storm on the Way?)

Coldest Streak
Years: 1996, 1997 and 1998
More Info: Midnight temperatures were awfully cold during this three-year span. When the ball dropped, observed temps were just 15, 17 and 23 degrees respectively. In 1997, winds were gusting to 20 mph with wind chill values sinking below zero.

Coldest (Last 10 Years)
Year: 2008
Midnight Temperature: 18 degrees
More Info: Winds were gusting to near 30 mph and wind chills sunk to near zero.

Falling Snow
Years: 1926, 1934, 1948, 1952, 1961, 1967, 2009
More Info: There were other years where snow fell on New Year's Eve, but these years represent the times that snow was falling while the ball was dropping. Looking back, it appears that the heaviest snow falling during a drop occurred in 1967 when moderate snow was reported with 2 to 3 inches of snow on the ground.

Worst Weather Pick
Year: 1975
Midnight Temperature: 34 degrees
Weather: Rain
More Info: Let's preface by saying this choice is subjective and up for debate, but you have to admit, the weather in 1975 could not have been pleasant. Imagine this: a light steady rain is falling with a temperature hovering just above freezing. Winds are out of the northeast at 18 mph. The wind chill value is just 11 degrees. NASTY! 

Post-Blizzard
Year: 2010
More info: It was a few years ago that New York was recovering from the post-Christmas Day blizzard that dumped 20 inches of snow. The city only had a few days available for snow removable before the New Year's Eve revelers streamed into the Big Apple.

"A heightened sense of urgency also reigned in Times Square, where hundreds of thousands of revelers poured in for New Year’s Eve," the New York Times reported. "By machine and by hand, workers picked up the snow that had collected on the edge of sidewalks and streets, then dumped it into trucks or into melters placed over storm drains." 

MORE: New Year's Celebrations Around the World

Associated Press

Fireworks explode over Elizabeth Tower housing the Big Ben clock to celebrate the New Year in London, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • New York
  • The Vatican, Rome
  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore
  • North Korea
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Manilla, Philippines
  • Beijing, China
  • Agra, India
  • Yangon, Myanmar
  • Ahmadabad, India

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