October 2020: A Snowy End in Parts of the Northeast

November 6, 2020 // Article by: Cody Hewitt

(Above) Snowfall from Tolland, CT on October 30th, 2020. Photo courtesy of Sean Toutant @Toutant2001 on Twitter.

What began as a mostly quiet descent into the heart of fall ended on a snowy note for parts of the Northeast. Overall, however, the month was rather mundane both in terms of temperatures and precipitation. The ongoing drought in New England would be beaten back a smidge, but not enough rain fell during the month to make up for several months of precipitation deficits.

Drought monitor for November 3rd, 2020. Image courtesy of droughtmonitor.unl.edu.

High pressure began October, but a series of fronts followed that made for active weather by the end of the first week. The only severe weather event of the month occurred on the 7th as a gusty squall line formed along one of these fronts, resulting in numerous reports of downed trees and power lines across Massachusetts. An EF-0 was even recorded in Millis, MA, though thankfully lasted for less than a minute.

In what is still a seemingly never-ending hurricane season, the remnants of Hurricane Delta, the second storm to impact Louisiana, skirted the region on the 12th-13th and left over 1” of rainfall in spots. While this was needed in New England, the area would have to wait until the end of the month to see more substantial precipitation. A frontal system just days later provided the Northeast with another 0.50-1.50” of rainfall, helping push the month close to normal. The third week was marked by a relatively warm and quiet stretch. In fact, temperatures surged 5 to 10 degrees above normal, making for mild days well into the 60s and 70s. 

Despite the period of summer-like weather, the tables turned toward Halloween as the combination of an upper level disturbance over the Midwest and the remnants of Zeta merged to create widespread rainfall. 1.50-2.50” fell for most, which helped take parts of New England out of the more extreme drought categories. Most of the rain largely fell on the 29th, however a secondary system behind Zeta pulled down cold air into the 30th, making for an unusual cold snap. This resulted in an uncommon October snowfall across New England. While parts of northwest NJ and in the Hudson Valley saw up to 2” across the higher hills, up to half a foot fell across central Massachusetts, with Boston’s Logan Airport receiving 4.3”, shattering its October record! Even Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut saw several inches, the greatest of which was measured across the higher elevations. Amazingly, wet flakes and brief ice pellets even fell across New York City!

The following nights gave a further taste of winter as temperatures crashed into the 20s breaking records. The night of the 30th was the coldest with even Upton, NY recording of low of 27 degrees! Despite this twist that closed out the month, October was generally near normal or on the warm side. Places such as Maryland finished the month 3 degrees above normal. And thanks to moisture-laden systems, the whole I-95 corridor bested their precipitation normal by one or two inches.