Past Early Northland Snowfalls

Potential Early Winter Storm for Parts of the Northland

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With a seemingly early winter storm on the horizon for the Northland, it brings forth the question just how early in historical comparison this potential snowfall actually is. Digging a little into the historical data, snowing this early is not necessarily rare. Both of the climate locations at International Falls and Duluth have recorded their first snowfall already this season, with Duluth receiving a trace amount of snow on September 19th, and then a tenth of an inch on September 21st, and International Falls receiving a trace amount of snowfall on September 21st.

There is currently a Winter Storm Watch out for Koochiching, Northern St. Louis, and Northern Itasca counties effective from Thursday afternoon through Friday evening. The Duluth area is currently forecast to recieve less than an inch of snow, whereas areas in the winter storm watch could get 6" of snow or more. Please see the NWS Duluth website for the most up to date forecast and our winter storm page for up to date information about this winter storm in particular.

The earliest one inch snowfall records for both the International Falls and Duluth areas have come and gone for this season, as displayed by the tables below. The average date of the first 1" snowfall for International Falls is November 5th, and the average date of the first 1" snowfall for Duluth is November 6th. Although this is a month from when winter storm in question is forecast to affect the area, when compared to the historical values, an inch of snow coming this early in October does not seem as out of place as initially thought.

International Falls Earliest 1" Snowfalls
Year Day
2003 September 30th
1993 September 27th
1981 September 30th
 
 
Duluth Earliest 1" Snowfalls
Year Day
1991 *September 18th
1985 October 1st
1977 October 10th
*Actual snowfall was 2.4" on this date

The larger anomaly comes with a significant snowfall this early in the season. In this case, we'll use 6" as the threshold. Based on the intent to look for early season snowfall, the months examined were limited to September and October. As displayed by the charts below, when looking at 6" of snow or greater, the most recent year that amount of snow has fallen during the months of September or October was 1966 for Duluth and 1917 for International Falls. The data set for International Falls is based on a time period from 1900 - 2012, and the data set for Duluth is based on a time period from 1885 - 2012.

International Falls 6" and Greater Snowfalls
Amount Date Year
6.0" October 18th 1917
 
 
  Earliest 6" or Greater Total
  6.0" October 18th, 1917
 
Duluth 6" and Greater Snowfalls
Amount Date Year
10" October 23rd 1933
7.9" October 15th 1966
6.5" October 8th 1925
  Earliest 6" or Greater Total
  6.5" October 8th, 1925


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