John Wheeler: When do we usually get the first snow?
Essentially, it has to be cold enough to snow at a time when a weather system capable of bringing precipitation is in the area.
FARGO — When is it going to snow? This question is often asked of forecasters in our region during fall and before the first snow has fallen. The answer can be specific only when the short-term forecast contains snow. The reality is much more open-ended. The first snow of the season is driven by a combination of weather and climate factors. Essentially, it has to be cold enough to snow at a time when a weather system capable of bringing precipitation is in the area.
In our region, this combination of factors can come together at a wide range on the calendar. Sometimes the fall is very dry, and sometimes it is very warm. Sometimes, however, it is merely a matter of the cold and the precipitation not occurring in sync with one another. Most locations around the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest have recorded first snows in September but have also not had more than flurries until after the New Year.