April 28, 2016 / 8:25 PM / 4 years ago

Officials say January blizzard was New York City's largest

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Yorkers who weathered the monster blizzard that clobbered the U.S. East Coast in January can now take pride in knowing they lived through the city’s largest snowfall on record, thanks to a revised estimate issued by federal officials on Thursday.

A man walks through falling snow in front of the New York State Capitol building in Albany, New York, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The National Weather Service said it was bumping up the reading in New York’s Central Park over the weekend of Jan. 22-23 to an all-time high of 27.5 inches (69.9 cm). The previous reading was 26.8 inches, or a 10th of inch shy of the previous record was 26.9 inches, recorded in February 2006.

The broad review followed questions about preliminary readings at eight official sites after the historic storm, which dumped as much as 40 inches of snow in some areas in West Virginia.

The agency said it uses a complex method that involves reviewing surrounding snow totals and fresh estimating to check measurements, a spokeswoman said.

“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,” Louis Uccellini, director of the National Weather Service, said in a statement.

“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,” he said in explaining why the review was conducted.

An investigative team formed by the National Weather Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, determined the Upton, New York forecast office misrecorded readings from the Central Park Conservancy, leading to the inaccurate preliminary measurement there.

A record measurement of 28.1 inches at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey was determined by the team to be inaccurate.

Meteorologists expect to issue a revised reading in May, leaving the 27.8 inches recorded in 1996 as the current snowfall record for the time being.

The NWS team validated a 17.8 inches reading at Washington’s Reagan National Airport after concerns that the measurement was too low. The reading was consistent with other measurements near the airport, the agency said.

Editing by Frank McGurty and Marguerita Choy

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