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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.

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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.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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