4th Snowiest October on Record

By Russell Russ

It was a warm, pleasant and colorful October in Norfolk – until the end of the month. On October 30, this month became Norfolk’s fourth snowiest October over the last 89 years. After a long warm and dry fall it was quite a shock for many to see everything covered in new white snow. Much of the state saw some snow, up to two inches in many locations. In the northwest and northeast hill towns there were reports of over four inches. Our growing tradition of some sort of storm rolling in around Halloween held true again in 2020. The fall foliage season, a nice one just like last year, began in September and peaked as usual around October 8-12. By the end of the month most trees were mostly bare except for a few species, most notably the oaks and Norway maples.

The month’s high temperature of 72 degrees was observed on October 22. The low temperature of 21 degrees was observed on October 31. By the last couple of days of the month, with snow on the ground and on the trees, a skim of ice forming on some small ponds and temperatures in the low twenties, it felt like winter was upon us. The monthly mean temperature of 49.4 degrees was 1.6 degrees above normal, ranking it tied with 1998 as Norfolk’s 20th warmest October over the last 89 years. Norfolk’s warmest October was in 2001 with 55.3 degrees. The coldest was in 1974 with an average temperature of 42.0 degrees.

The total precipitation for the month was 5.09 inches, 0.74 inch above normal. It was the first month of the year with a monthly precipitation total that was more than just a little above normal. Norfolk’s wettest October occurred in 1955 with 17.28 inches (also second wettest of any month). The driest October was in 1963 with just 0.63 inch (also the third driest of any month).

The total snowfall for the month was 4.6 inches, ranking it as Norfolk’s fourth snowiest October. The 4.6 inch snowfall on October 30 also ranks it tied with a snowstorm on April 17-18 as Norfolk’s second largest snowstorm of 2020. Through October, our largest snowstorm of 2020 was the 6.1 inches that fell on March 23. The months of January and February measured some snow, but they lacked any significant snowstorms. The average snowfall for October is 0.9 inch. Norfolk’s snowiest October (by far) was 2011’s 23.8 inches.

Through October, the total precipitation amount for the year was 34.27 inches. Even with October’s surplus we still are 9.22 inches below normal for the year. There still are two months to go in 2020, but it is looking like it could be a top ten dry year this year. Currently through October, 2020 ranks as Norfolk’s second driest year behind 1965’s year total of 33.89 inches. The year of 2020 is also lacking in snowfall. With just 35.7 inches of snowfall through October, this year is currently ranked as the second least snowy year behind 1998’s 33.0 inches. Unless the snow really flies in November and December we could be looking at a top five least snowy year.

It has been stated that November can sometimes predict what type of winter we will have. The first few days of November were cold with snow, then there were several days with record and near record warmth, then by the middle of the month it turned very cold. It seems to be anyone’s guess what the winter, let alone November, will be like. New England weather is very interesting to say the least.