Remembering the 2011 Snowtober Nor'easter

September 29, 2021 // Article by: John Leo

Just about 10 years ago, October 29, 2011 to be exact, a powerful early season Nor'easter produced heavy snow from West Virginia to Maine. For most, that Saturday morning started fairly wet with rain falling. However, as the storm strengthened, cold air rushed in on the backside of the system and was also dragged down from aloft from heavy precipitation. As a result, temperatures fell into the low to mid 30s by late Saturday morning.  The rain then mixed with and changed to heavy, wet snow. Trees, many still with leaves, could not withstand the additional weight of the heavy wet snow and began to snap under the increased pressure. In fact, two of our meteorologists practically jumped out of their chairs when a large branch snapped just outside the window here at our Weatherworks headquarters in Hackettstown, NJ.  As the wet snow continued to accumulate, many more branches broke and even entire trees were uprooted across much of the Northeast as they became burdened by the snow and blown by frequent wind gusts of 35 - 40+ mph.  Some locations in Massachusetts even gusted close to 70 mph !!

October 29, 2011 snowfall map courtesy of NWS/NOAA

Snowfall amounts were incredible for October (or really for any time of the year) with 8 - 16 inches falling from West Virginia through PA/NJ and into the Hudson Valley of New York. However, the worst of the storm was clearly in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.  Here amounts exceeded 18 - 20 inches with the hardest hit areas even topping 30 inches !!  Keep in mind, this is heavy, wet snow...not the powdery stuff seen in the dead of winter. Needless to say, numerous power outages occurred and many secondary roads were closed as a result of fallen trees and power lines. Amazingly, over 3 million people across the Northeast lost power with many residents without power for a week or more. State of emergencies were declared in several states with many schools and businesses closed for up to a week. Obviously, most Halloween festivities were canceled or postponed.

Palmer, MA - October 30, 2011