October Surprise

A pre-winter snowstorm left its mark on the northeast this weekend.  Heavy, wet snow fell from Maryland to Maine in record amounts for the month of October.

The storm was a classic nor-easter.  It moved up the east coast pulling in moisture from the Atlantic Ocean.  The area of low pressure also pulled in colder air from the NW producing snow, instead of just rain.  In addition, this storm delivered the rare sounds of thunder-snow.

In New York City, we set a new record for October snowfall with 2.9 inches in Central Park!  October snowfall here is rare, but not unprecedented.  The last time we saw the flakes fly this early was in 2002, but that event did not produce any accumulation.  For measurable snowfall (0.1 of an inch or more) in the October, we have to go back to 1952 when 0.5 of an inch fell.  The record amount, prior to this weekend, was 0.8 of an inch in 1925. Typically, we do not see measurable snow in NYC until December.

The excitement of this early snowfall did not come without a price.  Many of the trees in the area still have leaves on their branches.  The leaves provide more surface area for the snow to accumulate.  The extra weight was too much for some trees and caused many branches to break and fall.  In some cases, entire trees were split in two.  In Manhattan, Central Park is reported to have lost 1,000 trees in the storm.  That is more damage than the park endured from Hurricane Irene this past summer. Downed trees also damaged aboveground power-lines causing outages in many areas.

Depending on your point of view, the storm could be seen as Mother Nature’s trick or treat. Either way, the residents of the northeast will remember the snowstorm of Halloween weekend for years to come.

Pumpkin in the snow, October 2011

Autumn Tree in the Snow

Photo credit: MF at The Weather Gamut