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Central Park breaks record - no snowfall in February

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For the first time since federal officials began keeping weather records in 1869, the month of February has passed without a trace of snow falling in Central Park.

"The simple explanation," said Todd Miner, a meteorologist at Pennsylvania State University, "is that it has been too warm to snow."To confirm the obvious, Miner provided details: February usually brings about 8.5 inches of snow to the city, with temperatures averaging 31.5 degrees. But through Friday, February temperatures were 6.9 degrees above normal. No snow has not meant a lack of precipitation - nearly 11 inches of rain have fallen this year, 4 inches above normal.

These balmy conditions hardly seem possible when compared with 1996, when New York recorded 75 inches of snow, including 21.2 in February. Now, Miner said, the city could break its record for least snowfall - 2.8 inches in the winter of 1972-73. So far this winter, only a half-inch of snow has been recorded. "There is a decent shot," Miner said.

"This is a typical El Nino winter, warm and wet," said Mike Wooldridge, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

While Miner agreed that El Nino had influenced New York's wea-ther this winter, he noted that the weather phenomenon did not always dictate little snowfall.

During the El Nino winter of 1977-78, he said, New York recorded 50.7 inches of snow. The city's average snowfall is 28.3 inches.