How Rare was October's Midwest Snow?

November 8, 2019 // Article by: Mike Mihalik

A good portion of the Midwest saw its first significant snowfall of the season during the last week of October.  This included the Chicago metro area, where over 4 inches of snow fell from two different storms.  The first flakes stretched east into the Ohio Valley, but most of what fell wasn’t more than a coating.  However, as impressive as this may be for so early in the season, measurable snow has fallen even earlier.  The table below shows the average first measurable snow dates along with some record early snow data.

  Average First Snow Storm Earliest Measurable Snow Earliest 3" or more
Chicago, IL 11/16 - 0.9" 10/12/06 - 0.3" 10/19/89 - 3.8"
Indianapolis, IN 11/13 - 0.3" 10/18/89 - 0.2" 10/19/89 - 7.5"
Dayton, OH 11/11 - 0.1" 10/18/89 - 0.2" 10/19/89 - 4.8"
Cincinnati, OH 12/2 - 0.6" 10/19/89 - 5.0" 10/19/89 - 5.0"
Columbus, OH 11/14 - 0.1" 10/19/89 - 0.4" 10/30/93 - 3.6"


One thing you’ll notice is that the earliest measurable snow from Indianapolis to Columbus was the result of the same storm.  In fact, that storm lasted 2 days and produced a widespread 4 – 8+ inch snowfall for much of the Ohio Valley.  So while the weather can fluctuate quite a bit in the Midwest, winter does arrive very early some years, but average first storm dates are mainly in mid-November with the exception of Cincinnati.

So that’s it for this early taste of winter in the Midwest.  Plenty more to go for sure, but of course we’ll keep you ahead of the storms.