Early Snows Blanket Canadian Prairies, Northern Rockies/Plains

Scene within Glacier National Park, MT following first snowfall of season (Image courtesy of Glacier National Park in Facebook)

It all started off with the recurvature of Super Typhoon Jelawat following a hit on Japan. This system was shown on modelling as a recurving storm and for many years, forecasters in the US would look at this as a sign of a ridge building up the western flank of North America while a trough dropping into the Central and eastern US 6-14 days after recurve. This had the hallmarks of quite the trough piledriving down the spine of North America with a strong storm system on it’s leading edge which not only would drive very cold early season arctic air south but produce a potential record breaking early season snowstorm.

Sure enough the trough and the cold air first entered the US over Montana slashing temperatures 30-40 degrees within hours, producing strong winds and snow which started out a couple of days earlier up over the Yukon and NWT of Canada all the way down the Canadian Rockies with the first snows falling in Calgary a couple of days ago.

Yesterday saw Billings, MT recieve a record 2.3 inches of snow and over the course of the past 24 hours, snows have been falling and accummulating across parts of Wyoming and will head over Colorado tomorrow. A large area of North Dakota has at least seen the flakes fly but areas stretching from Dickinson in the west to Fargo in the east bordering Minnesota has seen anywhere from 1 to 4 inches. The storm is ramping up and as it does so, a swath from Grand Forks, ND up through Northwest Minnesota could see an impressive 6-12 inch dumping with winds howlling out of the north, northeast bringing blizzard or near blizzard conditions.

NW Minnesota, S. Manitoba/NW Ontario to get slammed, possibly shut down by major snowstorm

As already mentioned, the strong low responsible for the snowfall is sliding east across the warm waters of the Great Lakes and this along with warmth and tropical humidity surging north clashing with cold, dry air coming down on the backside, will get this storm cranking. This is forcing heavier snows and stronger winds and so blizzard-like conditions are possible over northwest Minnesota, southern Manitoba and western and northwestern Ontario through the rest of today, tonight and into tomorrow.

Here’s the snow forecast off The Weather Network for southern Manitoba and NW Ontario through Friday.

Courtesy of The Weather Network

Grand Forks, North Dakota flips from unusual 80s on Monday to unusual near blizzard today!

I am seeing reports of 2,000 people without power across the Grand Forks, ND area following a near blizzard. Astonishingly it was 80 degrees here on Monday.

Graohic courtesy of Grand Forks NWS


Photo’s of the early season snows across the Fargo-Grand Forks area of North Dakota

Courtesy of valleynewslive.com

Courtesy of valleynewslive.com

Interesting article on early season snows in ND, MN from Grand Forks NWS.

Early Snows Not Unheard Of

When is the first measurable snowfall for the Red River Valley and Lakes Region? With the threat for some snow across the Valley and Lakes Region this week,  the question about early season snowfalls has been raised. Based on the  climatological record available, measurable snow is not at all uncommon  in early October. In fact, a glance through the data show that measurable snows have occurred in September.Typically, snow that falls early in the season  melts off and may even be followed by a period of much milder weather.
Notable early season snows in the Red River Valley and Devils Lake Basin include the October 2 1950 snowstorm and the October 7 and 8 snowstorm of 1985. Western North Dakota has seen heavy snows in mid to late September.
Below is a table of the earliest one inch observed snow fall based on  the 1940 to 2010 period of record. While this is not a comprehensive  list it is designed to give an idea as to when the earliest 1 inch of  snow has fallen. Due to the variability of weather from year to year and between any given  location, the first inch of snow can be more than two months later than a neighboring site. The  average first inch snowfall is based on the 1981 to 2010 climatology. Please note that by “measurable” snow we are speaking of 1 inch or more having been reported at the official observation location.

                  EARLIEST                           EARLIEST     NORTH DAKOTA    SNOW/YR  AVG 1IN  MINNESOTA        SNOW/YR   AVG 1IN CAVALIER 7NW     SEP 26/1972 NOV 3    AGASSIZ WLR    OCT 14/1959 NOV  7 EDMORE 1NW       SEP 26/1972 OCT 30   BAUDETTE       SEP 26/1941 NOV  1 FARGO HECTOR FLD OCT  2/1950 NOV 11   CROOKSTON      OCT  5/1974 NOV 11 FORMAN 5SW       OCT  2/1950 NOV 16   DETROIT LAKES  SEP 26/1942 NOV 10 GRAND FORKS NWS  OCT  2/1950 NOV 15   FERGUS FALLS   OCT  9/1970 NOV 15** HANSBORO 4NNE    SEP 11/1989 OCT 27   OTTERTAIL      OCT  2/1950 NOV  7 LEEDS            SEP 22/1995 NOV 3**  RED LAKE FALLS OCT  1/1974 NOV  8 LISBON           SEP 22/1942 NOV 13** THORHULT       OCT  2/1950 OCT 31 PETERSBURG       OCT  2/1950 OCT 28   WADENA 3S      SEP 25/1942 NOV 11 VALLEY CITY 3NNW OCT  2/1950 NOV 14   ITASCA ST PK   OCT  7/1970 NOV  9

**Indicates a few missing years of data.

Looking at the above table it is apparent that the  first inch of snow in the northern plains can occur quite early. Trace  snow amounts have been noted earlier than the dates listed above. Also,  there is no correlation between early season snowfalls and overall  winter precipitation. In fact, several of the winter seasons with early  accumulating snows ended up with below normal seasonal snowfall totals.

For additional information, contact the Grand Forks NWS at 701.772.0720

Denver’s up next for Friday night snow despite high of 83 degrees yesterday!

Could it snow in the Interior Northeast Late Weekend?

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