Early start to winter ≈20% of USA is covered in snow already

While early autumn snowstorms aren’t uncommon in US weather history, they tend to be quick affairs that melt off quickly in a day or two. This however is a bit different in that we have a significant portion of the northern Midwest plains and northern Rockies are snow covered and it is not quickly dissipating, in fact it is increasing. Since October 10th the coverage has increased from 13.2% of the USA covered by snow.

This map below is from NOAA’s NOHRSC National Snow Analysis page.


Here is the accompanying table and discussion:

October 13, 2009

Area Covered By Snow: 19.9%
Area Covered Last Month: 0.0%
Snow Depth
Average: 0.7 in
Minimum: 0.0 in
Maximum: 728.8 in
Std. Dev.: 2.1 in
Snow Water Equivalent
Average: 0.1 in
Minimum: 0.0 in
Maximum: 403.4 in
Std. Dev.: 0.4 in

By way of comparison, here is the October 13th USA snow cover for the last few years:

2003- .7

2004- .3

2005- 1.7

2006- 3.7

2007- .3



What is also interesting is the 6 year trend of snow depth on this date.


2003- 38.2 in

2004-322.6 in

2005-456.9 in

2006-223.2 in

2007-458.1 in

2008-600.6 in

2009-728.8 in

You can watch the snow cover advance in the animation they provide:

Click for animation of the last 72 hours

Weather Summary

A series of potent systems moved across the coterminous U.S. this weekend, and they brought snow to the north and rain to the south. Late last week, heavy rain fell across the south, which continued to aggravate river flooding and keep soils most.

On Friday, up to 1 foot of snow fell at higher elevations in Wyoming, mainly due to upslope flow from a surface low which moved across the Plains. This same system produced up to 1 1/2 feet of snow to mainly Nebraska Friday and Saturday. Lighter amounts – up to 1/2 foot – fell across the southern Dakotas. On Monday, another system produced light snow across the Upper Midwest and western Great Lakes.

Much of the Western snowpack is cold and stable due due to unseasonably cold air temperatures in those areas. Along the southern edge of the snowpack – from southeastern Idaho to southern Wyoming and from southern Nebraska through southern Iowa, warm and melting conditions were present.

A deep, strong offshore system off the West Coast with potent onshore flow will cause widespread heavy rainfall across the northern two-thirds of California. Up to a foot of snow is possible in the high-elevation central Sierra Nevada, but it will be mixed with rain.

The energy of this West Coast system will shift northward and bring moderate rainfall – 1 to 2 inches – to the coastal Northwest and the Cascades on Wednesday and Thursday.

A midlevel trough will develop across the eastern U.S., and a stationary front across the South will be a focus for heavy rainfall through midweek, and this rain will shift to the Middle Atlantic states late this week.

As the West Coast system lifts northward, midlevel ridging will develop progress smartly across the West. Daily maximum temperatures are expected to be above freezing in much of the West by Friday. The ridge will move into the central U.S. by the weekend and bring seasonable temperatures to the Plains and Upper Midwest, causing snowmelt there.

Snow Reports

Top Ten:

Station ID Name Elevation






Report Date / Time(UTC)
SCBN1 2MI.SE SCOTTSBLUFF,NE 3865 8.500 24 2009-10-12 11
6097C_MADIS NASHUA 8.3 SSW, MT 2051 7.000 24 2009-10-12 13
ELON1 ELLSWORTH,NE 3914 7.000 24 2009-10-12 14
SIDN1 6MI.NNW SIDNEY,NE 4331 7.000 24 2009-10-12 14
MLNN1 MULLEN 3264 6.500 24 2009-10-12 14
NFKW4 SHOSHONE LODGE NORTH FORK 6726 6.500 24 2009-10-12 17
LBGW4 LA BARGE – COOP 6624 6.000 24 2009-10-12 17
2312H_MADIS HARTFORD 0.5 N, SD 1621 5.000 24 2009-10-12 11
2683C_MADIS YODER 6.5 SSE, WY 4301 5.000 24 2009-10-12 14
BWRN1 BROADWATER 3WNW 3599 5.000 24 2009-10-12 13

h/t to WUWT reader Mike Bryant


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“The Earth has a fever”.


NOAA recap for October:
Temperatures at or above normal
Snow at or below normal
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment….

Richard deSousa

Might this be because of the two volcanoes which erupted earlier this year plus the colder PDA cycle getting ramped up?

Mike Bryant

Anthony, On that website, you can also see the US continental snow coverage percentage for October 13 back to 2003.
2003- .7
2004- .3
2005- 1.7
2006- 3.7
2007- .3


Ah, good news. Anything to show up the ninnies in charge. Now if only the earth would open up and swallow the Federal Reserve building.

NK (09:03:29) : “The Earth has a fever”.–ManBearPig
I’d say it’s got the chills.


Definitely the results of Global Warming!!!

Dave D

Looks like I’ll be winning all my bets that this winter will be colder and with more snowfall than the last 2 “cold” winters, despite El Nino – whoops, I forgot, there’s not one AGWer with enough spine to take my bet… Ahhh well.

Henry chance

Now is the time for Climate Progress to post fires and 2099 forecasts. If you don’t like today’s cold weather you can tune into the AGW networks and see hot in 2050.
This doesn’t help the Carbon Credit scheme trading prices. You can buy a ton for a dime.
Hey man. Got change for a paradigm??


Albedo up, temperatures down.

Dan Lee

How inconvenient.

My car had ice on the windscreen this morning. Coastal (ie *mild*) New Jersey.

Jim Clarke

Let’s see…above average temperatures for September, followed by unusually early snowfalls in October. Sounds like weather to me!
Now lets ask the biosphere…from humans down to single-celled pond plants…which they liked better: the (relatively) warm September or the winter-like October? If climate was controlled by a democracy, October would be above average as well.

Mike Bryant

Henry chance,
Climate scientist out of work says, “Buddy, can you paradigm?”

Larry Holder

Yeah, but just wait, in ten years it’s going to get really warm… just wait.


Is this merely a coincidence that this is happening as the sun goes into a long minimum? Personally I wonder if it isn’t too early for the sun to have an affect, but I’d like some response from those much wiser than I.

Bob Shapiro

O.T.: There have been 3 meteoroids in the last week or so. Does anyone know how much effect the solar wind has on this size (several kilo) “particle” coming in from outside our solar system?
What effect would a solar wind at solar maximum have had on repelling these meteoroids, keeping them from reaching the earth?


Did Watts cover how June-Sep was the warmest on record, despite a solar ebb?
Didn’t think so.
REPLY: I did cover the NOAA report for Sept, see the story below this one. And if you can provide a link to the story you reference I’ll add it also. Can’t cover what I don’t know about. – Anthony


Here in Calgary (just north of Montana) I can assure you we’re looking at real winter conditions today. I’m so glad I got a new car last month, the traction control, ESP and ABS have definitely been well tested now.
Interestingly, we broke a heat record in September (35 C, and our warmest day of the year 2009!) and 20 days later we broke a cold record (-17C). Interesting times!
I keep telling people that weather varies, but we are certainly within the range of “normal” and have always been. Nothing unusual is happening here. Nothing!


Anthony, I made a comment in Open Thread about snow coverage over in the interior of Russia. IIRC, I believe I read an entry by D’Aleo a year or two ago about the correlation of early snowfall in Siberia and how cold the NH winter is. It looks like snow has come much earlier this year to Siberia than 2008.
Oct 12, 2008: http://www.natice.noaa.gov/pub/ims_gif/ARCHIVE/EuAsia/2008/ims2008286_asiaeurope.gif
Oct 12, 2009: http://www.natice.noaa.gov/pub/ims_gif/ARCHIVE/EuAsia/2009/ims2009285_asiaeurope.gif
Look for a hard, long winter…


It is interesting too as the sun is still fairly high in the sky. The impact of that snow on reflecting visible light back into space is much greater now than it would be in, say, December.
And a note about the storm that just passed through the SF Bay area: in my 13 years here, I can’t remember a storm that blew over so many trees. On my way to taking my son to school there were trees blown over everywhere. Three large trees in the park were down including two that were snapped off at the trunk some 10 feet above the ground. They weren’t blown over due to soft soil … they snapped in half. This was probably due to the fact that the leaves were still green and on the tree increasing the wind resistance. Trees in yards are down, there are branches all over the place. This was one doozy of a storm.
Ben Lomond in the Santa Cruz hills got 9 inches of rain. 6.25 inche fell in Corralitos. A municipal water department in the coastal region sent out the following to city employees: At Green Valley & College Rd. in the Corralitos Creek USGS has recorded 1,056 cubic feet second (or 473,933 gallons per minute) and a creek height of over 7.6ft. The most they have ever recorded prior to today was 387 cfs (173,685 gallons per minute) in 1963. What we received in the last 12 hours is almost half the amount of rain we received all of last year.
And all of this fell in 24 hours.


Typhoon Melor followed me home (LA), although since I had to land in San Fran and endure significant flight delays before — finally, exhausted — I reached destination, Melor mistook its “target” (me) tracked since Oct. 8 and directed its ire on Central and Northern CA. Ha!
Tongue out of cheek, and weather not climate: I read that the West Coast storm has broken all records for this time of year since 1962. If this stat is true, it seems that the current El Nino cannot be to blame. We have had many more rxtreme El Ninos without this kind of early rain and snow (central Sierras). Perhaps that huge cold spot in the Eastern Pacific with the negative PDO is showing off? Giving us a taste of what is to come in company with a grand minimum?
Like in Japan when I could not sleep through Melor’s dumping rains and howling winds, I could not sleep last night because of the very loud, steady drumbeat of rain. And this is October in Southern CA? My nerves are also a little unsettled after having just read one historical account of the Wolf Minimum years, W.C. Jordan’s book “The Great Famine: Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century”. (Thanks to a WUWT commenter — sorry, forgot who — for the citation.)


Back2Bat (09:12:12) :
“Ah, good news. Anything to show up the ninnies in charge. Now if only the earth would open up and swallow the Federal Reserve building.”
Reply: Here here! And the UN too while it’s at it.
Despite the UK Met office predicting a mild winter here, I’ve already filled the oil tank for the central heating and cut half a cord of logs for the stove. This could be the long winter of discontent which finally starts the demise of the great CAGW scam (and a few politicians as well). :-))

Mike Bryant

I wonder how long it will take the NOHRSC to adjust this data…
Mann from about three feet of snow accumulation to over SIXTY feet since 2003… I wonder how much snow it really is since there has obviously been compaction as well…


ENSO Wrap-Up
A regular commentary on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation

Summary: Weaker Trade winds warm central Pacific
Central Pacific Ocean temperatures warmed over the past fortnight in response to weakened Trade winds, and remain at levels typical of an El Niño event. Leading climate models suggest tropical ocean temperatures will remain above these thresholds until at least early 2010.


Weather isn’t climate, but this Fall sure is starting off to be a douse…brrrr!
On another weather front…
(Reuters) – Wed Oct 14, 2009 – Quiet Atlantic hurricane season a boon for insurers
“Thanks to El Nino, the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season has been the quietest in more than a decade, offering a reprieve for residents in the danger zone and a chance for insurance firms to refill depleted coffers.
With the peak of the season — late August to mid-October — now behind, the Atlantic-Caribbean basin has seen just two hurricanes and a total of eight tropical storms.”
“…sea temperatures in the tropical Atlantic are cooler, by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.12 degrees Celsius) on average…”
Yes, we’re in the middle of the hockey stick alright…

Richard Heg

Its the Sun silly


Anthropogenic greenhouse gasses are causing global warming which is causing global cooling. It’s worse than we thought!

anna v

Snow in Hawai,
Mauna Kea it is ( not Loa :))

With 729 inches maximum snow depth, Glacier National Park may not only be back in business, but may have to expand to boot!
Are you sure this isn’t a typo? — Over 60 feet seems a bit much for any place that isn’t Buffalo!


Patience is all that is required. If the current solar trends continue, the snow in the driveway will be piled so deep, the ice getting so cold, the dog hiding under the furnace, that everyone on planet earth will know that AGW is a hoax, save for Al Gore.
This may be the winter that AGW dies. But don’t think that will stop the politicians from demanding their carbon taxes, no siree.
Why would anyone think the sun didn’t play a major role in earth’s climate? How would the climate have changed when man wasn’t even around.
Another thing to ponder — how do we know the CO2 levels are too high and not too low? And how would we even know?

Douglas DC

Funny, I don’t see an Impressive Nino,but the icy fingers of Nina wrapping around his neck….


CodeTech (09:39:28) :
Your car has ESP?!!!
Gotta git me one a dem! Just think, it would be able to foresee accidents and avoid them! Or speeding tickets!

I question their methodologies as they have almost my entire viewing area with snow cover when in fact, none of my viewing area has snow on the ground currently (eastern ND and western MN). Most of my area only had a brief snowfall on Friday night (0.5″ to 1″) that quickly melted Saturday morning. We may briefly get more tonight, but it’s October, it’s not going to last long (half a day).
More important than brief snow is the fact that October is running 9 degrees below average for the first 13 days of the month in Fargo, ND, quite the anomaly in an already cold climate.

Alec, a.k.a. Daffy Duck

A very early-season snowfall is possible across the region from late Thursday into Friday night. The main threat is to the higher-elevations of Central PA.

Robert M.

You guys are just a bunch of mouth breathers, why don’t you guys be quiet and let the professionals handle the situation. The tiny amount of snow reoport here has allready mostly melted, sort of. It is just weather, none of this white stuff matters. NOTHING that has occurred or will occur that invalidates our models. False claims of cold weather put forth by deniers will not change the truth. As a matter of fact just the other day a new GISS station located in rural Yellowstone proved that the planet is getting warmer as the temperature was a constant 100 degrees Celsius. Furthermore, in an effort to appease the hairy knuckle dragging denier crowd we will be moving the official GISS station in Hawaii away from the airport and it’s UHI. The new station located in very rural Kilauea crater is expected to help prove that AGW is occurring faster then expected and that action needs to be taken immediately!!!


Live by the sword, die by the sword:
For the last couple of decades we have had a global warming angle of every bit of bad weather possible:
Bad river floods: Global warming, global warming, global warming…
Hurricane hits: Global warming, global warming, global warming…
Drought: Global warming, global warming, global warming…
A few hot days: Global warming, global warming, global warming
A few wet days: Global… (you get the picture)
Now we have some cold weather, yes just weather. We might, or might not, have a cold winter. C’est la vie. But if we do have a bad winter it will have a disproportionate impact on public and perhaps political perceptions of the truth or falsity of the whole case for AGW.


The % will be back below 10% by the end of the week.
Also, who has a 700″ of snow on the ground with a 400″ water equivalent on Oct 13? That sounds like a glitch.

Yes, indeed!


Time to buy shares in a snowshoe manufacturing company 🙂

John Galt

If we don’t stop this running away global warming ASAP, we are all going to freeze to death?


This is interesting as it actually shows an increasing rate of second and subsequent year’s snow.
Any data for mountains in the Canadian or Siberian Arctic?

Frank Skog

That map is outdated at the least. What little remains of the snow in Minneapolis can only be found on the north side of structures. Snow covered we are not. Last Monday yes, but no longer.

Alec, a.k.a. Daffy Duck

One more:
Central Europe hit by heavy snow
and what’s up with cryosphere today? they are down more often than not.


Lloyd (09:27:20) :
If you don’t know how it works (cooler climate associated with Deep Solar Minimum) then you don’t know when it started working.
If it was accumulated L&P over the limit needed to start the cooling, then the Deep Solar Minimum grinds the salt into already colder wounds.
By how much?
Did it start the PDO flip to cold, just exacerbate it, or is it simply a never mind?
Does the Arctic Ice recovery make for another clue, or does where the Arctic Ice is favoring to form mean anything?
Are the 2 volcanoes popping off in response to, and aggravational effect of, or in coincidence to the Minimum?
Is the cooling a form of “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”, or are we just plain unluckily lucky to get the AGW Climate Circus Monkeys off our backs?
To say that all these things mysteriously happen concurrently is beating the proverbial pants off the odds.
Billions will now see where this thing is going and draw the Cooling for Dummies conclusion. They won’t make any further effort than that.


I am waiting for the whining to begin:
“Weather is not climate”. “Weather is not climate.” Ad infinitum Ad nauseum.
Here is the new official AGW mantra:
Har har.
P.S. Just turned my heat on here for the first time here in balmy Norfolk, VA. In light of the many recent positive-AMO-fueled mild winters here, this October feels different from many recent years past.
And the IPCC, Gore, Hansen and others are doing the world a GREAT disservice in screaming chicken little if the world warms.
Fear the cold, not the warm.
There is a reason warm periods are called “climatic optima”.
Fear the cold….and not the warm.
WHY is this so hard to understand???
Norfolk, VA, USA

Håkan B

No better in Scandinavia, snow yesterday in southern Sweden, it’s getting close to Copenhagen, some 150 km away, snowstorms in that region really aren’t nice.


Yeah, what’s happening in Canuckshire?

Joel in CA

crosspatch (09:41:40) :
My thoughts were that this is the type of intense system we wouldn’t see on the central coast until mid/late November. During many years, we would be in the midst of a hot and dry “indian summer” right now. The stats you listed on the water totals are very eye-opening though. Certainly El Niño-like in terms of the shear water volume, but cooler than the last few El Niño events.
And yes, there was floral carnage all over my yard. Heavy potted plants were strewn around like they were made of styrofoam. A 25 ft. tree fell over, luckily away from the house!