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Weather Talk: Snow in early October is not unusual at all

There was nothing unusual about the snow on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

True, snow does not always fall in the first half of October, nor does it always fall in November or December. With records to 1881, and ignoring little fraction-of-an-inch snows that quickly melt and are just as quickly forgotten, the average date of the first 1-inch snowfall in Fargo-Moorhead is Oct. 31, but this is a statistic that has tremendous year-to-year variability.

The earliest 1-inch snow on record was Sept. 25, 1912. There have been two winters, 1943-44 and 2014-15, when the first inch of snow fell after midwinter on Jan. 27, 1944, and Feb. 10, 2015.

Cold season precipitation tends to come in bursts. The weather will be active for a while and then quiet for a while. To get an early snow, the weather must hit a pattern that is both cold and active at just the right time. The last time there was measurable snow this early in Fargo-Moorhead was 2006, when 2.2 inches fell on Oct. 10.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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