First Measurable Snow

August 6, 2014 // Article by: Christina Speciale

**Above is a NASA satellite image from the October 2011 snow event**

Now that we are well into October, many in the Northeast are busy preparing for the upcoming winter season. In fact, places in the Rockies and northern Great Plains have already received their first flakes of the season. Given the trend in recent years for October to hold extreme events for us here in the Northeast, let’s take a look back to see when our first snow usually occurs in comparison to some impressive records.

As the table below shows, those along the I – 95 corridor typically do not see any of the white stuff before Thanksgiving. Although New England typically gets its first accumulation in late November, most others have to wait until mid – late December. However, considering that temperatures tend to drop to freezing over a month earlier, the atmosphere can certainly support snowfall as early as October.

When we look at some of the incredible snow records from October (check out the table below), many of the first measurable records were broken on October 10, 1979 when a pre – season snow storm swept up the East Coast. In fact, the storm forced one of the World Series games between the Orioles and Pirates in Baltimore to be cancelled. Of course, when it comes to some of the largest and most damaging October snow events, that honor goes to October 2011. In this storm, heavy, wet snow topped a foot over portions of the interior Northeast (reaching over 2 feet at some elevations in New England) and led to numerous fallen trees along with massive power outages. It’s important to note that October snow events are especially dangerous because snow covered leaves will weigh down trees, causing them to snap.



In terms of what to expect this October, WeatherWorks’ Long Range Team sees the possibility for yet another early season snow threat. The time period between late October and mid – November looks favorable which follows suit for the first snowfall observed over the past two winters. For more information on this event, see our October Outlook.